Saturday, December 22, 2012

Going Home

       Shalom stepped off the bus and gazed up and down the small stretch of her old hometown in Maine, which held only a convenience store, gas station, and bar. If it weren’t for the bar, there would be no bus stop this close to home, so she should consider herself lucky. But she still had four miles to go. Shalom glimpsed the telltale red truck peeking out in the lot behind the bar, bright against the gray sky, and her stomach knotted. The last time she saw it, her cottage had burned to ashes. Along with her mother.

       Ben had been the one who stopped Shalom from running into the flames.  Maybe she could’ve saved her mother. The rational part of her brain knew it had been too late, but casting blame was easier than holding the entire weight of guilt on her like a log in her backpack. 

       She shifted from foot to foot while considering her options.  Ben had loved her mother. Each time he spoke to her, his faced betrayed his true feelings. He would drive Shalom without asking questions. Other neighbors would ask, “Did you come all this way from New York City alone? Where’s your guardian? Did you run away? Just what do you think you’ll do out there on the edge of the forest with your home gone?" 

He’d understand.

       As she took a step towards the store across the street, drizzle prickled her nose and cheeks. Tendrils of chill had already wafted through the gaps inside her thin jacket. It would be a long way to walk in the rain. 

       Before she mustered courage to take the last few steps, Ben stepped out from the store. The bells on the wreath jingled as the door closed behind him. A beard covered most of his weathered face, just like she remembered.  He glanced up at the dreary sky before he saw her.  She waited for him to notice her, just a few feet away. His head came down and his eyes widened.  He reached her in two strides.

“Shalom, you cut your hair. You look just like… your mother.”

She touched her the edge of her bob nervously and nodded.

       Ben’s eyes sparked with questions. But he didn’t ask them, just like she knew he wouldn’t.  Instead he exhaled in a whistle and said, “You want to go home, don’t you?”

She nodded again.

He turned towards his truck, and she followed.

       After a year away, stepping into the truck was both familiar and foreign. She’d missed it.

       They drove. The only sound was the squeak of the windshield wipers.  The air thickened with questions unspoken. Any town gossip?  How was Ben since the fire? Was he keeping an eye out on the land she'd inherit in six years?  

       The only hue besides gray was the crimson of the hood and the green still clinging to the wintry fields. Shalom covered this length of road thousands of times, many of them in the very truck she sat in when her mom’s beat up old car broke down. Did Ben ever start the car?  Did it still run?  If it didn’t, Shalom figured he tinkered with it until the car hummed to life again.

       Ben's truck passed the familiar trees just where Shalom’s property began.  She wished it were summer, so leaves would cover the skeleton-finger branches. If it had been a rainy day like this one on the day of the fire, perhaps her mother would’ve survived. Ben turned right. The truck lurched back and forth over the tiny dirt road leading to her house. The garage stood alone.  As it loomed closer, its disrepair became starker.  Had a year weathered it or was it the new perspective she had viewing it?

Before the fire consumed her mother, the tiny home had been their refuge. 

       Ben stopped in front of the garage.  Shalom mumbled a thank you before jumping down.  Her feet tread on sacred ground.  Time and weather had taken most of the evidence of the home and fire away, but her mother's spirit still lingered like fog. Shalom crouched down and grasped a clump of mud, imagining herself as a little girl clasping her mother's hand.

       She stood up and wiped her hands together to clean them.  Ben's truck waited, idling.  She stepped inside.  He didn't say, "Where to?" He didn't have to. He put the truck in gear and drove away.  

This story is dedicated to anyone who 
has suffered a loss in December.

This is a picture prompt from The Mag.  
Why don't you give one a try?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Clichés and Contest!

One of my favorite bloggers, Michael Offutt, is a talented writer and illustrator.  He has an EPIC blog tour going on now.  He’s offering a free short story.  You can also win bookmarks and signed books.  You can even win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!  Read on to find out more. 

The tired clichés that I break in Oculus by Michael Offutt

There are many clichés in fiction, so I set out to break a few of them in my writing. I do kind of wonder if it will annoy readers or not. Thus far, the reception has been great. Anyway, I’ve compiled a list of things that I tried to do differently with Oculus. Here they are:

1)    All jocks are stupid. In Oculus, Jordan is a jock, yes, but he’s also incredibly smart as well as loving.
2)    All gay guys are really promiscuous and sleep around. Jordan is happily monogamous with his boyfriend, Kolin.
3)    All gay guys are effeminate like Kurt in Glee. Not true.  The only difference between Jordan and a straight guy is who he sleeps with at the end of the day.  That’s just his identity, and he’s comfortable in his own skin.
4)    Every Excalibur story has basically been told. Not true. I think by the time I get done, people will say, “I never thought of this angle on the whole Excalibur myth.”
If you would like to check out more about my books, please visit my page below:

6 signed copies being given away tour wide, open to international shipping Rafflecopter code a Rafflecopter giveaway Link to grab code

Also each stop can give away a bookmark, also open to international shipping. Please choose a winner and send me the name, email and mailing address.

Michael Offutt

Genre: Sci-fi

Book Description:

Autumn has arrived in New York, and Jordan Pendragon attends his first classes as a freshman at Cornell. Born with a brilliant mathematical mind, he balances life as a research assistant with that of a student athlete.

But Jordan also has a quest. He must find the Black Tower, a monolithic edifice housing a thing that defines the very structure of the universe. Jordan believes it is buried somewhere in Antarctica under miles of prehistoric ice.

October finds Jordan earning a starting position with the Cornell hockey team. But a dark cloud gathers over his rookie season. Unexplained deaths, whispers of a cannibal cult, a prophecy, and a stone known only as the Oculus, cast a shadow over his athletic ambitions. It is the start of a terrifying journey down a path of mystery, murder, and to a confrontation with an Evil more ancient than the stars.

Free short story that's a lead-in to this book series:

About the Author:

Michael Offutt writes speculative fiction books that have science fiction, LGBT, and paranormal elements. His first book, "Slipstream" has received some critical acclaim and was published by Double Dragon in the spring. The sequel, "Oculus" came out in November 2012. He has one brother, no pets, and a few roots that keep his tree of life sufficiently watered. By day, he works for the State of Utah as a Technical Specialist. By night, he watches lots of t.v., writes, draws, and sometimes dreams of chocolate.

Michael Offutt graduated from the University of Idaho in 1994 with a Bachelor's degree in English.

He keeps a blog and would appreciate a visit or two even if all you want to do is say hi.

Twitter: @MichaelOffutt

One lucky commenter will win a bookmark.  Good luck!  
Visit Michael's blog and leave a comment
to be included in the $50 drawing!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vines, Vignettes, and UnVeilings

The Best of Vine Leaves Anthology 2012 is out! 
I’m excited and proud to be a part of this anthology, 
especially because the journal is unique. 

In late 2011, Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius founded Vine Leaves Literary Journal to offer the vignette, a forgotten literary form, the exposure and credit it deserves.
The vignette is a snapshot in words, and differs from flash fiction or a short story in that its aim doesn’t lie within the traditional realms of structure or plot, instead it focuses on one element, mood, character, setting or object.
The journal, published quarterly online, is a lush synergy of atmospheric prose, poetry, photography and illustrations, put together with an eye for aesthetics as well as literary merit. The annual print anthology showcases the very best pieces from across the year.
From the haunting prose of Theresa Milstein and Carrie Mumford, to the controversial and quirky work of H. Edgar Hix and Greg Belliveau, the pathological effects of cigarettes and apple seeds, ice sculptures and mental illness are explored. We meet a lovable old man named Joseph and find out how the good old washing machine can change one’s life. Oh, and how could we forget a mention of the mother with the scissors?
Each vignette merges to create a vivid snapshot in time and place. Prepare for big stories in small spaces, between and beyond the words.
Read one at a time.
Taste them. Savour them. Live them.

When Jessica invited me to submit to the first issue of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, I didn’t know what a vignette was, but (after some research) that didn’t stop me from writing one.

It wasn’t accepted.

Undaunted, I wrote another.

It was accepted.

I was excited to be a part of the second issue of the online journal in April 2012.  When I read it and appreciated the quality of the chosen pieces, I was proud to have my name amongst such talented writers. I was even prouder when it was chosen for The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012. 

ORDER your copy TODAY:
For more than three copies contact us sale[at]emergent-publishing[dot]com for discounts on shipping.

Vine Leaves Literary Journal:
eMergent Publishing:

Have you ever written a vignette?
Would you submit a poem or vignette to Vine Leaves?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Benefits of Writing Short Stories

Lynda Young is visiting my blog today to tell you why writing short stories benefits you as a writer.  Her short story is part of the gorgeous anthology above. 

8 Benefits of Writing Short Stories by Lynda R. Young

Thank you, Theresa, for having me here today. Since my short story, Birthright, appears in the recent release of the Make Believe anthology published by J. Taylor Publishing, I thought I'd talk about the benefits of writing short stories.

  1. To hone our craft. Because short stories are short compared to novels, they don't allow for rambling text, a gaggle of characters, or oodles of backstory. As a consequence, they help us to be concise in our language and focused on weaving a tight tale. This skill is necessary in all our writing and will reflect in our novels.

  2. To refresh our creativity. When a writer has been slaving over a novel for a few months, a year, or more, creativity can take a beating, especially when that writer is entrenched in the editing stage. Taking a break to write a short story can inject life back into our creative minds without losing a lot of time from our novels. I wrote Birthright because I needed a break from my manuscript and came across the call for submissions for Make Believe.

 3. To explore a concept. I came up with a great idea for a novel, but I wasn't sure about the world I wanted to set it in. So I wrote a short story purely to explore the concept of the world before I delved into the novel.

 4. To build a resume. Building up a body of work gives confidence to agents and publishers. Short stories can help us do this because they are quick to write and easier to get published than novels. A strong resume of published works shows we're serious about our writing career, and it shows we have at least some experience with publishing and deadlines.

 5. To expand our platform. Editors, agents, and publishers are looking for writers with a strong platform—yes, even for fiction writers. In other words, they want people who are visible, who have credibility, and have proven they can reach a target audience. Most of us will turn to social media for this platform, but I feel we shouldn't stop there. The more we get our name out there, the better it will be, and short stories are a great delivery system for getting this done.

 6. To give us valuable industry experience. It's one thing to read about what happens when a piece is accepted for publication, it's quite another to experience all the processes—the structural edits, line edits, copy edits, marketing requirements and other hodgepodge that goes along with getting published.

 7. To bolster our confidence. Confidence is a writer's best friend. The simple act of finishing a project is enough to boost that confidence and short stories allow us to do that.

 8. To top up that flailing income. Writing doesn't pay well for most of us, so anything we can do to add to the dribble of income is worth considering. Sure, the first couple of short stories we write and publish won't gain us much, if anything, but as we write more, the coins start to trickle in. Soon you'll be able to afford that stationery set you've always wanted.

Can you think of other benefits of writing short stories? 
Why do you, or don't you, write short stories? 
What do you like about reading short stories? 

About Make Believe: An anthology of fantasy short stories, some set in fantastic worlds, others set in more familiar surroundings, all intriguing and well worth the read (in my humble opinion).

Purchase links:

About the Author: Lynda R. Young lives in Sydney, Australia, with her sweetheart of a husband who is her rock, and a cat who believes world domination starts in the home. She writes speculative short stories and is currently writing novels for young adults. In her spare time she also dabbles in photography and all things creative.

You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Colonization Confidential

Aubrie Dionne is blog touring for her book, Colonization.  Recently she visited my BLOG
 to tell us about her book, but today we learn more about her. She shares how she manage to write so much and what we can expect from her in the future!

You’re one of the most prolific writers I know.
Thank you, Theresa! I want everyone to know you worked hard as my critique partner on this book and it’s become so much better with your suggestions! Thank you for helping me!

Do you have a writing schedule?  If so, what’s your writing schedule?
I do have a schedule. I write in the mornings before work, then in the evenings after work. I work Mon- Thurs 3-8. So those are always good writing days. Fridays I work all day at the University, so that’s usually a bad writing day. Saturdays I teach flute lessons in my home, so I write when people cancel, or at the end of the day. Sundays I get to write all day.
This year I increased my word count goal to 365k for the year, or 1k per day (30k per month). This seems to be helping me stick to writing and not wander around on the internet for so long!

Do you have a specific # of words you write in a day?
I try for 1k a day, but if I miss a day, then I have to write 2k the next day and so on. I had a bad week during band camp- so I had to make up for it by writing more the week later. Sometimes I have a bad month- like May I wrote only 10k for some unknown reason. Maybe I was burnt out. So I’m trying to make up for that this month because I have a lot of time off.

How many books have you published?
6 books, two novellas, and a bunch of short stories. One book is out of print now- which is fine because it was my first one and has a lot of mistakes.

What is the genre(s) of Colonization?
I’d say YA sci fi romance. It’s sort of post-apocalyptic- but the apocalypse happened a long time ago. I don’t think it’s dystopian because the world is pretty nice-not so bad. LOL

Finish this statement: If readers like books by __?______________, they’ll like Colonization.
I’m not sure about this one because I haven’t read many YA sci fi books. Maybe Lauren Oliver? I did enjoy her series starting with the book Delirium. But, maybe not Suzanne Collins because her books (the Hunger Games trilogy) are much darker.

Do you have another book coming out after Colonization?
Yes, there will be two more in the trilogy: Reconnaissance and Alliance. The second book was actually inspired by a comment you had about the first. I’m developing the other characters in the series by giving each one their own book. Recon. It will be told through Nova’s POV, and Alliance will be told through Lyra’s POV. 

What are you working on now?
I just finished my very first contemporary romance for Entangled Publishing’s new Bliss line. I didn’t think I could write one until I tried- which is good advice for everyone out there- you have to try each genre before you automatically dismiss it as something you can’t write! Now I’m finishing a fantasy romance, and starting a new contemporary romance about two scientists investigating the Loch Ness monster! This fall I’ll start writing the third book in the Paradise Reclaimed trilogy.

Quick Questions:
Plotter or panster? Used to be a panster- now I’m more of a plotter because I have to submit outlines to my agent and my publishing company BEFORE I write the story! It saves so much time on the acceptance end of things.
Quiet or music? I listen to Radio Gaia while I write!
Laptop or desktop? Desktop
Mac or PC? PC
Coffee or tea? Both- I love caffeine!
Wine or other? Wine- although I read somewhere that it causes belly fat, so I’ve cut back.
Day or night? Night!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, and for supporting me in my writing journey!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Outcast and Break from You

Susan Oloier is one of my favorite online writer friends.  If you don't know her I recommend you follow her blog and find her on Facebook. Susan has written a book which tackles the unfortunate reality of bullying. And she's teamed up to tour with Rebecca Green Gasper, who has written a book about dealing with an abusive boyfriend.

Susan Oloier


Noelle dreams of a different life, one where Trina Brockwell doesn’t exist. Trina has bullied Noelle since junior high. Now she’s tired of it. With the help of her black-sheep aunt and a defiant new classmate, Noelle seeks revenge. But vengeance comes with a price: Noelle risks friendship, her first love, and herself to get back at those who have wronged her.

Rebecca Green Gasper

Break from You

Love shouldn’t hurt this much…Brooke Myers wants to believe she has it all: the perfect guy, the perfect relationship, the perfect life. She wants to believe it so much that she's willing to overlook the fear, the isolation, and the pain her boyfriend has caused her. She knows it isn't right but tells herself that love isn't always easy. However, when a fire destroys the restaurant during homecoming dinner, she forms an instant bond with the boy who saves her, one her boyfriend wouldn’t like. With the pain of a concussion reminding her of how bad things can get, she is forced to re-evaluate the relationship she has with her boyfriend and face the ghosts that haunt her. Brooke once believed love was all it took…but is it enough? Is it truly love when you've lost yourself in it?

Thank you for visiting.  
If you're American, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  
xo Theresa

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Show and Tell in a Nutshell

Show and Tell in a Nutshell... clever title, Jessica. 

     I could’ve used a book like Jessica Bell's when wrote my first manuscript.  My writing education had consisted of one creative writing class in high school and another in college.  (I also endured the grammar bits of English classes with limited comprehension, but that’s another story.) 

     After I wrote “The End” on my first manuscript, I looked it over a few times for mistakes, deemed it DONE and… *cringe* began querying.  An editor at Candlewick was kind enough to send me a full letter rejection of feedback.  That was when I first heard I needed to show—not tell.

I didn’t really know what that meant.

     My research led me to believe I needed more dialogue.  So I’d show, tell, show, tell, show, tell…

You get the idea.

Obviously I didn’t get it.

     It took me years to improve my writing skills dramatically.  When I began scouring agent blogs, I finally saw enough examples that I figured out the difference.

I’m slow. 

     Since then, my writing has improved greatly. When I receive critiques and rejection, it’s for lots of ludicrous  ridiculous other reasons. 

     But I’m not sure I sometimes don’t tell when I should be showing. Like all mistakes, it’s easier for me to spot when I read someone else’s manuscript than when I try to revise my writing. So I’m buying this book. 

Thanks for saving us from ourselves, Jessica!

Click to add me to Goodreads!
Have you been told there's a little too much telling in your novel? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!

In Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing you will find sixteen real scenes depicting a variety of situations, emotions, and characteristics which clearly demonstrate how to turn telling into showing. Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. A few short writing prompts are also provided.

Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a light, convenient, and easy solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. Keep it in the side pocket of your school bag, throw it in your purse, or even carry it around in the pocket of your jeans or jacket, to enhance your skills, keep notes, and jot down story ideas, anywhere, anytime.

If you purchase the e-book, you will be armed with the convenient hyper-linked Contents Page, where you can toggle backward and forward from different scenes with ease. Use your e-reader's highlighting and note-taking tools to keep notes instead.

The author, Jessica Bell, also welcomes questions via email, concerning the content of this book, or about showing vs. telling in general, at

“Jessica Bell addresses one of the most common yet elusive pieces of writing advice—show, don't tell—in a uniquely user-friendly and effective way: by example. By studying the sixteen scenes she converts from “telling” into “showing,” not only will you clearly understand the difference; you will be inspired by her vivid imagery and dialogue to pour through your drafts and do the same.” ~Jenny Baranick, College English Teacher, Author of Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares
“A practical, no-nonsense resource that will help new and experienced writers alike deal with that dreaded piece of advice: show, don’t tell. I wish Bell’s book had been around when I started writing!” ~Talli Roland, bestselling author

Purchase the paperback:
$4.40 on Amazon US
£3.99 on Amazon UK

Purchase the e-book:
$1.99 on Amazon US
£1.99 on Amazon UK
$1.99 on Kobo

About the Author:
The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.

For more information about Jessica Bell, please visit: