Thursday, April 28, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Liana Brooks April 15, 2016

Image acquired from the Internet Hive Mind via

Many people recently have been talking about Privilege. I ran into two very good examples which helped me grasped the topic better.

One in visual form, "What is Privilege?" , a YouTube video available here:

And the other a blog by Liana Brooks, which she basically broke it down into gamer card game rules like Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, or Munchkin

And if you have spent anytime on the Internet, you likely have run into this example of how to teach privilege in a classroom setting:

I think what I liked most about Ms. Brooks example is it meets the last instruction of the classroom setting - to use your privileges to achieve all you are capable of while still advocating for those behind you. The challenge, of course, is doing it in a constructive manner.

I often leave writer and reader exercises. Today I have a different challenge. 

First, write down your privilege cards. For example: Internet Access, Ability to Read, etc. Use the above links to get a feel for them. Maybe include bonuses you have worked on (read above middle school level). Then sometime this upcoming weekend consciously use one of your privilege cards (as described by Ms. Brooks here)  to help someone whose deck is stacked against them in a situation. (Basically a "one good deed" challenge on steroids.)

Take you present work-in-progress main character and create a list of the character's privilege and bonus cards. Then create a situation where his/her privileges would make them fail to win the "hand" (situation) being played.
... If you are unable to do so, you character may be too powerful. Just something to think about. You may need to switch genres to get this to work - for example your character is a superhero, but you put them in a urban noir situation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Writing Exercise: POV
[Exercise #3 - Writing Exercise]

POV Study
Write a scene - 100 words or less. Write is again from a different POV - change to first, second, third person, change the third person, change from close third to omniscient. Whatever floats your boat.

Spinning between eddies, the boat never gained the shore despite Adam paddling over the side with his one good hand. The fight, then the storm, had left him bruised, battered, and barely capable of movement. Daylight was approaching, bringing promise of more sunburn and dehydration, with a slim chance of discovery on the abandoned winter beach. Adam will die in that boat if nothing changes. (words 65)

Grimacing against the pain of broken ribs, Adam rebraced against the side of the shattered boat. He dangled one arm down in the cold sea water, using his last strength to push against the eddy current keeping him achingly close and forever far away from the twilight shadowed beach. If his other arm worked, he would swim for shore, but the grisly compound fracture made his arm only useful as a maggot breeding ground. Two days he had watched the abandoned winter shoreline tease with promise of solid land, skin blistering under the sun, lips bleeding through the salt-crust under moonlight. He had started losing time. Time his enemies were using to get away. He dared not go unconscious again. He would not wake up. (words 125)

My choice omniscient to close third

(first published 2/5/2015; republished in new blog format 4/19/2016)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Flash: Crossing Over Through the Dog's Eyes

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at
[Crossing Over Through the Dog's Eyes - flash story]

Whining confusion, the dog looked up where her head lay in the old man's lap. She first looked up at her favorite human through one eye then another, then lifted her head to stare across the swollen mud-choked stream where the rest of the pack just crossed with their herds and looked back in question. Her human just raised his hand and patted her matted, wet fur between her ears, settling her jaw onto his leg as she continued to stare at him.

A sneeze took her, finally clearing the mud from her nostrils allowing her to smell the spring flowers surrounding them. The churned soil from the passing of their many beasts and peoples provided a pleasant underscent to the floral smells, nearly overpowering the wet odor of ice snow melt and rain runoff from half-frozen ground carried by the waterway.

She was sick of the water. The sky fell in broken drops nearly every day since the family had started walking from the flat den to the mountain den. Everywhere streams, trickles, rivers, and creeks carved new passages, stealing the joy of running and herding into an arduous task with sucking-slipping paws. She wasn't sure why her human had decided to leave the others.

He had gone down to the water with everyone else, her pups and their mates and their pups and humans. Even gone into the twisting waters with the others. But the water was deeper than the others they had crossed on the walk since the snows started melting. She barely paddled across and collapsed on the far shore panting. When she realized he hadn't followed, she had to swim back and nearly didn't make it. Swimming wasn't like running; it tired her. Maybe that was it. He was tired and needed to rest before swimming.

Her nose nudged into his palm, and he lifted it to pet her again. Down the neck and across the back, soothing the soreness in her joints and spine. She had lived a long time with this human, and her body creaked nearly as much as his did.

Finally, he said something in that strange soft speech of theirs ending with "Come on." She started for the creek again before realizing his scent was getting more distant and looked over her shoulder. Blinking once to clear her failing eyesight, she verified he was walking AWAY from the pack scent trail. A whine escaped between her teeth. But he was her human, so she ran to catch up with him.

(words 420 - first published 4/24/2016)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Blog: Crossing Over POV

The inspiration for Crossing Over came from a combination of the painting and a video or news story I once saw. But the flash felt wooden so I tried rewriting it. Tomorrow's flash is the result of experimenting to get a story to work the way the writer envisioned it.

The flash is to capture an event and a feeling.

First I tried rewriting it by changing the POV from third person to first person. The story still didn't convey the emotions I felt it should. Finally I found what I believe is the correct POV. Not where I expected it to be at all. Let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading, Erin Penn

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words April 12, 2016

Image acquired from the Internet Hive mind, via

Today's visit to MagicalWords reveals another treasure from R.S. Belcher related what happens to your work after the initial writing stage: The League of Extraordinary Beta Readers.

While many people concentrate on professional wordsmiths, like editors and agents, getting your work read by READERS is important too. Mr. Belcher nicely sums up some of the things to look for in a beta reader. Editors find technical goofs, but a beta reader can give feedback like "I just don't like this guy; don't know why". When three beta readers give the same feedback on, for instance, the secondary love interest hero, things may need to be fixed.

Another good post related to Beta Readers in MagicalWords:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Author Spotlight: Gail Z. Martin

Book Cover from Amazon

Gail Z. Martin is a prolific writer of multiple genres. Her series include the epic fantasies of The Ascendant Kingdom Saga (with the just released book Shadow and Flame) and The Chronicles of the Necromancer; the urban fantasy of Deadly Curiosities; and steampunk The Jake Desmet Adventures (Iron & Blood) written with her husband Larry N. Martin. Plus she has written several non-fiction books on how to publish, for example 30 Days to Social Media Success (how to use twitter, blog, linkedin etc)

I have the great advantage of living near this author. It is advantage because this wonderful writer is open to teaching and helping others on the publication path. She hosts a monthly meetup in the Charlotte area "The Thrifty Author's Publishing Success Network" which she and several of her published author friends share their experiences. This is not a writer's workshop or a critique group, but a once a month meeting on the status of the publishing industry. Topics covered have included how to attend a convention as a panelist, how to leverage social media, what to expect from an editor, and using Kickstarter, Patreon, and other crowdfunding sources. I've learned so much from the meetings, plus have met a lot of great authors in the Carolinas.

Ms. Martin regularly attends ConCarolinas, which is where I first found out about her monthly meetup as well as a regular contributor to MagicalWords. I'm just amazed at how open and willing she is to help people who make the effort to learn about the business. Is she going to help critique you work or say you did a good job writing? ... no, that is not her thing. What she does do through her non-fiction books is give you the tools to actually publish through an agent or by yourself, develop a marketing plan, and know about the business - taking the mystery out of what do after you finish writing.

As for her own writing, she carefully researches her topics, bringing a level of reality I rarely find in reading. Her style includes several short repeats throughout the books which lend themselves to reading, putting down to due chores and go to work, and picking up again. Since I tend to swallow series whole in a weekend, I find this particular part of her style annoying but I know it is beneficial to many readers.

My personal favorite of her series is the Deadly Curiosities and related e-short stories The Deadly Curiosities Adventure Books. Her research into different types of historical artifacts, whether dead photos or Indian blankets makes the antique shop really come alive.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Flash: Crossing Over

Painting entitled: A Laborer At Celeyran

Wearily, the old man sat down on the rock. Spring flowers surrounded him, blooms created by the spring rains. Before him the rains combined with melting snow from the distant mountains had swelled the creek to a full swirling torrent of mud, sticks and foam. His nomadic family barely made it across with their herds. Everyone except for him.

He had made the journey more times than he could count. The miles embedding agony into his legs .. knees ... ankles ... hips, screaming all his years at him, whimpering the distance from the winter lowlands to the summer mountain pastures.

Three creeks they had already crossed in their long journey to green grass. Sweetwater, Yellow River, Narrow Ford. Four more waterways lay ahead. This creek his family named Abandon.

When they had to leave his mother behind, unable to carry her across all those years ago, he had watched her go to a bare rock. Maybe even this one. There she sat. He had looked over his shoulder a dozen times until too many hills were between them. She never moved.

His father, left behind a handful of years later **screamed** at them and kept trying to splash across, until the waters swept him away. As the strongest male, he had been too busy trying to keep youngest, humans and herd, from drowning.

He vaguely remembered when his grandparents no longer could make the journey.

At least he hadn't needed to leave Jacomina behind. She died from the cough many winters ago, her bones in the mound.

The dog worried him. Most of the dogs stayed with the family, but BlackFoot stayed behind. The dog wore a track between the waters where everyone crossed and where the old man was sitting. Eventually it sat beside him on the rock and put its head into his lap, whining. He petted its head.

No one looked back as they walked over the hills. Not that he could see. Nodding once the last of the animals crested the hill, the old man stood and began to look for shelter. He knew he wouldn't last until the winter return, but the dog needed caring. A den of some sort. More rains were coming.

(words 370 - first published 4/17/2016)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Pictures

(Cool Blog picture removed when investigation indicated cartoonist sells the product. Did not want to violate his efforts.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Editing Rants: Distances

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at


Please for the love of goodness know where things are located and how long it will take you to get there with various transportation methods. Normally my rant of this type is about medieval or regency romance type settings in England where a distance can vary from one hour to several days ... by horse - to the same location in the same story - when the map says 20 miles on smooth roads originally installed by the Romans.

Today edit is a British author writing about America (rather than the other way around). Atlantic Ocean to Chicago by horseback is NOT five days. Horseback is not that much faster than walking when going through forested areas. And doing it while dodging zombies ... well, let's just say more like five weeks than five days.

Maps are your friends - USE THEM!


Writing/Reading Exercise: If your present work-in-progress or you present read is set in the real world, review distances for things. 

Humans walk about 3 miles an hour, 4 miles an hour is a brisk walk and not sustainable over distance (except for infantry on a forced march). Horses go about 4 miles an hour steadily. And travel for both is usually limited to daylight hours - summer has much longer travel time than winter. Caravan and large groups need to start and end the day sooner than a couple of lone travelers. Bikes go 10 to 15 mph, and cars, when they first came out went the ridiculous speed of 20 miles per hour - equal to an easy day's walk in an hour! (Scientist were worried about our ability to breath at those speeds.)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Flash: Bunny Hop Line

Image originally on Breathless Press; found again on Pinterest
Cannot find original attribution
[Bunny Hop Line - flash story]

Howie always knew a police lineup was in his future. He just always figured it would be for a break and enter, or a bar brawl, or a drug deal, or a hooker who was a cop in disguise, or speeding. He actually hoped for the speeding. Speeding would mean they had set up a full road block and used a plane to catch him during one of the times he pushed over a hundred. His boys would buy him drinks for a year on that story alone.

He never thought it would be for helping out at a kid’s birthday party. God, the cops wouldn’t even let him take off the bunny ears during his mug shots. The fuckers were laughing their asses off.

It had gone wrong, oh ... so ... wrong.

(words 132 - originally appearing at Breathless Press 9/4/2013 for the 4/8/12 Sunday Fun - and published on the blog on 4/9/2013; republished in new blog format on 4/10/2016.)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words July 19, 2013

Image courtesy of Carlos Porto at

An adage I have learned as an embroiderer is "as you sew, so shall you rip". For every stitch that makes it to the final product, two more stitches have been removed. Or so/sew it seems/seams.

With writing comes editing and to get good editing, you have other people whom you have deliberately BEGGED to kill your baby. It hurts. It hurts bad.

Mindy Klasky captured this in "Five Stages of Grief (Critique Edition)" for Magical Words back in 2013. Read it, know it. And for the love of goodness, realize when you hit stage 3 what is happening and do not burn your work. 

(Yes real people do destroy their work. I have seen it happen with friends, amazing, talented friends - poets, authors, writers, calligraphers, artists. Realize it is a STAGE. If you need to burn it, print out a second copy and take that into the backyard and rip it into little, little pieces and light each on fire. Then come back and move to stage four. Please!)

Again the link is here:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book Review: Steel's Edge (The Edge #4)

Book Cover from Amazon

Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews
Charlotte de Ney is as noble as they come, a blueblood straight out of the Weird. But even though she possesses rare magical healing abilities, her life has brought her nothing but pain. After her marriage crumbles, she flees to the Edge to build a new home for herself. Until Richard Mar is brought to her for treatment, and Charlotte’s life is turned upside down once again.

Richard is a swordsman without peer, future head of his large and rambunctious Edger clan—and he’s on a clandestine quest to wipe out slavers trafficking humans in the Weird. So when his presence leads his very dangerous enemies to Charlotte, she vows to help Richard destroy them. The slavers’ operation, however, goes deeper than Richard knows, and even working together, Charlotte and Richard may not survive...

An awesome contemporary romantic "urban" fantasy. Last of the four book series, the manuscript can be stand-alone or enjoyed at the end of a long reading marathon. At this time I have only read books one and four.

Ilona Andrews, a husband and wife team, write banter like they took notes during a few of Benedict and Beatrice (Much to do About Nothing) private arguments. Sexy, funny, witty. The men of the series are warriors and the women stand by their side with their special abilities, kicking ass and maybe even scarier than the male loves; Charlotte, the heroine of Steel's Edge, certainly is the more dangerous of the two. All the heroes and heroines are strong people.

And the worldbuilding is delicious. It isn't so much political intrigue as sociological intrigue. Unless you know how to move through the society, you got problems. In the first book it was trying to fit in with the isolated Edgers, and in the fourth book maneuvering through the challenge of a three-hundred-year old aristocratic society - it isn't a Victorian novel on manners, but picking the right color gown can mean the difference of getting in to see the person you need to assassinate.

Steel's Edge is clearly a three-act book - the first on the Edge dragging Charlotte out of her hidey hole back into the land of the living and personal hurt, the second an unholy absolutely amazing preparation for and then battle at a slaver's town, and finally going after the big slave bosses who move at the very top of society. In each act Charlotte's and Richard's relationship develop further and the stakes get higher.

I loved meeting up with the children from Book 1 - George and Jack - again in Book 4. They have grown older, now full teenagers and on the cusp of adulthood. And I may forgive the Andrews the first major death of the book ... if they write two more romances set in the Edge. I want to see who George, Jack, and even Sophie end up with.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Flash: Funner (Part 2)
[Funner (Part 2) – flash story]

Joe was trying to get little April to accept puréed carrots, when his wife said out of the blue, “Yes, I believe funner is a word. Fun, funner, funnest.”

The peanut butter and ginger jelly sandwich was placed where their personal 4-year old tornado named Scott would land as soon as his milk glass was added. She returned to the kitchen to pour the final attraction, and then start assembling their more adult sandwiches. Joe wouldn’t mind a PB and J himself, but Cheryl tried to keep them on a somewhat non-strict diet. Thirties brought a little gut to both of them and she dislike buying clothes just for “upsizing” as she put it.

Scrapping up the carrots that were using osmosis to feed his favorite daughter through her cheeks and bib, Joe tried to place the conversation … it took a moment. Reorienting the food through the more proper channel of her small mouth, he was able to respond, “Nope, I am pretty sure funner is not a word. Did you look it up?”

Delivering the last of the Saturday lunch to the table, Cheryl mouth pursed in consternation as her husband got a point in the debate. “Well, no.” She pulled out her smartphone after sitting down. Booting up, she started navigating through menus looking. “Let’s see, some stuff about funner added to the dictionary in 2010 … Urban slang … oh here is something. Both noun and adjective, but not … drat.”

The arrival of their oldest made her put the smart phone aside, as she saved various glasses from spilling and laid down the requirement of eating at least three apple slices as well as half the sandwich before leaving the table. Joe concentrated on cleaning up the baby, the highchair, the plastic beneath the high chair and finally himself before joining his family at the kitchen table and snatching the phone for himself. Juggling April on one knee, and scrolling through the Google search he found a good article and passed it over to his wife after Scott started counting the Fritos on his plate.

She read through it, taking a bite of her chicken sandwich. Cheryl sipped some black cherry Kool-Aid then returned the phone and said “I believe the circumstances were very informal and therefore the usage stands.”

Joe laughed at loud, thinking back to exactly what he was doing during the "circumstances" of its usage. Glancing at the phone, he confirmed the article he had found boiled down to “Funner should not be used in formal writing, though it’s usage has been accepted for informal writing. For formal English writing, more fun should be used.”

“Agreed. In addition, I will concede we were not writing at the time.”

“Funner … Fun .. Ner … f.u.n.n.e.r.” Cheryl stated and spelled.

Laughter took them both, with April’s baby chortle joining in. Scott looked up from his counting; not understanding the joke, but enjoying the laughter, his high pitch child squeals joining in.

(words 498 - first published 1/2/2013; republished in new blog format 4/3/2016)