Monday, December 12, 2016

Joey Young, Teenage Zombie Hunter

Hi all.

In honor of  The Walking Dead having had its mid-season finale, I decided to give you a look at something I wrote a while back. My students asked me what I thought would happen if a teenage boy was the only one left in a zombie apocalypse.

This is what I came up with:

Brushing your teeth just doesn't feel as satisfying when a horde of hungry, flesh-eating monsters is trying to break down your door.

The news this morning called it a virus, careful to avoid words like cannibal, zombie, or brain-slurping demon. But I've played enough video games to know what's really going on here.

I, Joey Young, have been training my whole life for this.

When I walk into the kitchen with my backpack, it's empty. My parents never came home from work last night, so I celebrated by eating a family-sized bag of Pizza Rolls, raw, then throwing up on our dog Reginald. The poor idiot is blind, so he didn't see it coming.

I never really considered the fact that my parents wouldn't be back by this morning, and so now it's weird that the words "my parents are gonna kill me" might actually come true.

In the first kitchen drawer, there is a switchblade knife that my dad bought during his midlife crisis. He thinks no one knows about it. I throw it in my bag, not because I think I'll be able to kill any zombies with it, but because I know for a fact I will look like a badass slinging this thing around. This is important because I'm banking on the fact that girls during the end of the world will be less picky. This knife is chick catching material, just saying.

After I slice my pinky open, though, I decide to maybe give it a rest. I shove in a bunch of kitchen knives wrapped in paper towels next, and - as an afterthought - a potato masher.

Next item on the agenda? Mom's taser.

My parents are - were? - sadly anti-gun. Because of this, my mother insisted on a "more humane? weapon in the house. I totally disagree. A taser will make you crap yourself, and I'm sorry, there is nothing humane about a grown man going code brown against his will. I would rather be shot dead.

But where does she keep it? The Almighty Purse maybe... a gigantic fake Michael Kors that no one even pretends to find attractive. The only reason I know what it's called is because she practically introduces it before herself.

Hi, this is my Michael Korsssssssss, and I'm Judy.


Sadly, chances are my mother the zombie is carrying the Almighty Purse with her, introducing it to all her new undead pals.

So, armed with a potato masher in one hand and Dad's illegal knife in the other, I decide to take on the horde.


Yes, tomorrow will be fine. But for right now, there is another bag of Tostitos in the freezer and Mountain Dew in the garage.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

5 Things All Writers Should Know About

 I was recently asked if there are any awesome resources out there that I recommend to newer writers, and I realized that there are actually a bunch. So here is a list of some awesome websites, apps, and more that I highly recommend for every writer -- new or not. 

1. Baby Names Genius (free)
If you write fiction like me, you likely get sick of trying to come up with names for characters. Also, being named Stormy, I think I have some (unrealistically) high standards for a name to be fitting, unique, and interesting. That's why you need this app! The awesome thing about this app is that it not only presents you with a bunch of baby names at the touch of a button, you can browse by gender, origin, country, and more. My favorite feature, though, is the "genius" button, where you can thumbs up or thumbs down names, and using some sort of cool science-y algorithm, the app gives you more of what you like. And those names you thumbed up? They save so you can go through them later. MAGICAL.

2. (free)
I am a visual person, so I love seeing my characters come to life. With Hero Machine (also free!), you can do just that. It does take time, but you create animated versions of your characters like the one I have below. Once you're done, you can save in two ways - just a headshot or full body. The background is also relatively customizable, and the color choices are absolutely incredible! Check it out!
My main character, Eroyn Fairchild 

3. (free)

Again with the visual stuff. is a free tool that allows you to create quotes layered over images. Of course Photoshop does the same thing, but uh... it costs money. This website is obviously much simpler, but it gets the job done. And it lets you choose the format, whether it be a FB or Twitter cover or something else. Here's one I made for promo for my upcoming release The Elimination. 

4. The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it For Life by Twyla Tharp ($11.80)
Okay, so now we're done with free stuff. But if you're truly a writer, you have to be okay with investing in yourself. This book is one investment that I really recommend. Even if you aren't a writer, the book is applicable to any creative outlet. In fact, the author was a dancer before she wrote the book. You can buy it here. Or pretty much any other book retailer. 

5. MiracleBind Notebook ($17.29)
This notebook is the stuff dreams are made of. The "MiracleBind" refers to the fact that the binding is made specifically so that you can remove and rearrange pages easily. On top of that, you can buy refill pages, so you can use the notebook as long as it will hold up. And so far, for me, it's been a year and still going strong. That may not seem like a long time, but if you knew the places I've dragged that notebook to, you'd be applauding it. The Blueline website carries the notebook, and I promise it's worth the money.

This list is not even scratching the surface of the resources I use on a regular basis, but it is a pretty good place to start. I'm sure that there will be a part II in the future, but for now, check these out! 
What do you use? 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Free Write Friday Winner #3

Hi all! As you may know, I have been accepting submissions for a #FreeWriteFriday contest! This is the second one that I've run, and this time, I did not include a prompt, so the entries were all over the place in the absolute best way.

And in an unprecedented instance of awesome writing, myself and my judges decided that there will not be one entry published but two. 

So today, I am so pleased to announce that Wesley Martin, author of "The Man Eating Hashbrowns" has won #FreeWriteFriday #3! The second place winner - Kit Jackson, whose piece is untitled - will be published later in the month because I and the other judges felt that it has an undeniably spooky Halloween vibe! So without any further ado, here is "The Man Eating Hashbrowns!" 

There is a man with me at Denny’s. He is sitting in the corner by the exit that faces the window. He is staring out at the street on which nothing particularly interesting is happening, and eating hash browns. I am not a big fan of Denny’s hash browns. They are kind of moist and don’t taste like anything. But it is not the hash browns that interest me, it was the way the man is eating the hash browns. He is shoving them into his mouth with such a vigor that little bits of hash brown went flying in every direction. I wish I was this passionate about eating at Denny’s.
I almost feel bad for the hash browns. They surely do not want to go in such a horrible way. I can almost hear their screams as they are torn into pieces, defenseless against this massive and powerful adversary.
The Denny’s is completely silent, save for the sound of the man devouring his hash browns and the distant weeping of the old gods. I ponder my pancakes, sitting there so lifelessly on my grime-coated plate at three in the morning at a Denny’s in rural Idaho. I do not know how I got here. No one ever knows how they end up at Denny’s, life just drops us here in the middle of the night. Perhaps it is fate that has brought me too this spot, or perhaps it is because I am completely drunk. Life is truly a mystery.

The man has finished his hash browns now. He gets up and leaves without paying for his food. No one stops him. No one cares enough to try. I finish my pancakes silently, the voices of the old gods serenading me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Winner of Free Write Friday #2

   So after a week of open submissions and lots of tough deliberating, a winner for #FreeWriteFriday #2 has been reached! 

Congratulations to Adrian Bojan, of Berks County, for his untitled story below. Give it a read. It definitely touched my heart, and anyone who has a pet that is part of the fmaily will surely agree. 

Here it is:

There was once a girl named Alyssa who lived in Oley, Pennsylvania. She owned a light brown Labrador Retriever, whose name was Rusty. Alyssa absolutely loved Rusty, and she would beg her parents to bring the Retriever wherever they went. Whenever Alyssa would go to school, Rusty would follow her to the front door and wait there for her until she came back. Everytime Alyssa got home from school, she would get jumped on by Rusty. They were best friends, until one tragic day. On the last day of school when Alyssa got home, Rusty wasn’t there to jump in her and lick her face.
She called, “Rusty? Where are you Rusty?”
Rusty was nowhere to be found. Alyssa ran outside panicking, looking everywhere for her beloved dog. She then felt her phone vibrating in her back pocket. It was her mom. As she answered the phone, her mom told her calmly,“Come to the Veterinarian, it’s an emergency”.
Alyssa ran to the Veterinarian as quick as she could. When she walked in, she saw her parents sitting in the back of the room, with tears in their eyes. Alyssa walked to them and asked,
“What’s wrong? Where’s Rusty?”
Her father looked at her and told her,“Go through those doors”.
Not knowing what was about to happen, Alyssa slowly walked through the double doors. She was greeted by a tall, slender women with blue eyes.
“Alyssa,” she began. “Rusty is diagnosed with cancer, I’m afraid he doesn’t have much time. I would say your goodbyes now,” she concluded, leaving Alyssa alone in the room.
Her eyes full of tears, she approached the body of her best friend.
“Rusty no! This can’t be happening! I’m dreaming, someone wake me up please!” Alyssa cried.
She buried her head into Rusty’s body, her tears soaking his fur.
As Rusty’s eyes began to close for the last time, he looked at Alyssa in the eyes, waving his tail and barked one. Rusty’s eyes began to close. Rusty was dead. Alyssa’s eyes burned with loss and grief. She picked up Rusty in her arms and walked out of the room. She walked past her parents, still with tears in her eyes, and walked out the front door. Once she was home, she grabbed a shovel and started to dig a hole in her backyard. After she was done, she carefully laid Rusty in the hole. Before she buried him, she put his favorite chew toy and bone on top of him and started to cover his lifeless body. Alyssa would never be the same again.
It’s been 3 years after Rusty’s death, and Alyssa is still struck with loss and grief. Everyday she goes outside and visits Rusty’s grave. Sometimes she swears she can hear him barking and walking up the stairs, but she knows he’s gone. Even though Rusty is gone, Alyssa still has dreams of her and Rusty doing everything they used to do. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Why I Owe it All to my Hometown

Here's what you need to know about my hometown:
1. There's probably more cows than people. And I like it that way.
2. The people there are great, despite being accidentally racist on occasion. 
3. We like guns. Like, a lot. 
4. Seeing a tractor in the school parking lot was in no way shocking.
5. There are no secrets. Ever. 
6. Everyone is your grandma. And they show love by feeding you.
7. It is the reason I am who I am today.

All joking aside, I seriously love my little podunk slice of heaven. I remember being seventeen and perpetually bitter, wanting nothing more than to leave that itty bitty town in my rear view mirror and never look back. And when I went to college, I had every intention of doing that.
But then something changed.
The city was loud and rough and though I learned how to take care of myself real quick, I ached for rolling hills and dairy farms. I had an accent here, and the food was awful. 
And when I moved away to Virginia for a job, I thought the ache would subside. I always wanted to live in the south, didn't I? So why was the longing only getting sharper?
I came back to Pennsylvania a little over a year ago, and nothing ever felt as good as passing state lines back into the north. It wasn't home, not really, but it was closer. And then I realized.

My hometown is what built me. The people, the country air, the teachers and coaches and friends and old boyfriends, all of it. And to this day, they do nothing but push me up so I can reach the sky. 

I released my second novel in April of this year, and never before have I felt the love and support of my community so strongly. 

So I know this post is all over the place, but this is long overdue.

Thank you. Thank you - Rome, Pa. - for motivating me to make you proud. Thank you for always taking me back, even when I tried to leave. Thank you for encouraging my goals, even when they were a long shot. I met them because of you.

And please don't ever think that I take that for granted.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Free Write Friday #2 -- Loss

Since I just started back to school this week, I think it's about time to have another Free Write Friday writing contest! My 8th graders just experienced FWF for the first time, and they ROCKED it. So proud of their creativity and bravery. This teacher is one happy camper. 
Image result for happy teacher
On another note, this week's FWF topic is loss.

 Interpret that whatever way you want-- as long as it relates somehow to the concept of loss, you're in the clear! 

A reminder for the rules: 
1. No more than 500 words
2. All genres (poem, short story, essay, etc) are accepted
3. You must email it to me by this coming Friday (September 2) at

Your prize:

This week, I'm giving away a signed book plate, postcard, or an eBook of "The Feathered Egg" (a fantasy short story)! The choice is yours if you're our victor.

Your work will also be featured on my blog, and I will promote it in my author's groups. 

Write on! Any questions? Email, tweet, message, smoke-signal me! 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

On Finishing the Job

No, I'm not talking about murdering someone. Or am I? 
Guess you'll have to find out.

Two days ago, I finished draft one of book two in my YA dystopian trilogy. The week leading up to me punching the last key (violently, I might add) was the absolute worst week ever. I could not for the life of me remember why I ever liked writing, why this story matters, or why anyone would possibly care about it. And it got me thinking: it must be like that for other writers, too.

One of my very good friends once told me that she has a mind full of hundreds of stories, none of which she'll ever finish. I do think she'll find the one that begs her to finish it, but I still feel her pain. 

This one is for those of you who are wrestling with the second act, the last few chapters, or even the last few words. 

In the words of Mortal Kombat, FINISH HIM.

Here's what happened to me in the days after I finished writing draft one.

1. I read books. FOR PLEASURE.
Okay, this is so big for me. If you're anything like me, reading books you enjoy has taken a back seat to writing books you enjoy. I read a few books every few months, but that is nothing like the avid reader I used to be. This week alone, I finished reading two manuscripts that friends have given me, a YA novel (Rite of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich), and - of course - "The Cursed Child" is next on the list. I can't even describe to you how amazing it is to have time for all this.

2. I finally did my hair.
And put on makeup. And left my house... you get the picture. I honestly do not know what came over me in the past week, but I turned into a little couch troll with permanent laptop imprints on my thighs. I think I might have worn the same pair of pants for a few days, and then I forgot about pants altogether. So when I finally got up, stretched, and looked in the mirror, it's safe to say that I was more than a little grossed out. 
On the upside, after seeing the hideous post-writing beast, brushing my hair made me look like a supermodel. 

3. I cleaned my house. 
And it turns out, that was desperately needed. There was a veritable mountain of dirty dishes, my laundry hamper looked sort of like it might get up and walk away, and the recycling was blocking the door. I'm not proud of it. 

4. I remembered that there are other people in the world. 
I have friends! And they still love me, even though I was basically unreachable for the end of July. It takes a special sort of person to be able to understand that I'm a writer, which means I'll disappear sometimes, and when I resurface, I will not smell good. So, yeah, my people are pretty cool.

5. People got excited.
This was so so so awesome. As soon as I announced that the manuscript was done, people were clamoring to know when they'll be able to get the book, and that just melted my heart. Of course I love my characters and story, but when somebody else does? There's just something about people falling in love with the story that I love. 

6. I felt good.
By far, the best thing that happened - and the reason you should always push through - is the euphoria you feel when you look down and realize you said all you meant to say. That feeling is unlike any other. I danced around my house like a lunatic, ate a bunch of ice cream, felt ill, then danced around some more. 

So you should do it. Go finish the THING. 
You can do it, I promise. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Birthday America -- Here's Your Gift

Yay it's America's birthday! So I won't take long on this post, only long enough to tell you that on this glorious of occasions, I have a gift for you, America (And, you know, every other country I suppose). Here is part two of my newest story, "The Feathered Egg"! Enjoy here or on my Wattpad.

Part II of "The Feathered Egg" - The Boatman's Song

Crispel Habok was a large man, and though his excitement about his daughter’s wedding was boundless, his purse was not. These things in conjunction made it impossible for him to find suitable wedding clothes, and for that reason, he could not attend. Amya, upon discovering this, declared that she would not cross the Great Water without him. Their love, admirable though it may have been, ensured that Yadia would have to cross the Great Water alone, just as her sister had one week prior. The difference was that Sasia would be greeted by a husband, while Yadia would be greeted by no one. Still, she was not afraid, and she was not upset with her parents for their decision. Truth be told, this passage would be much cheaper, and it set Yadia at ease to know that she would not need to sell as much fish as she had previously thought. She wasn’t sure how long her talents would reign in the marketplace, so fewer wedding clothes to buy was good news.
She did relish in buying her own, however. She settled on a bright goldenrod set with a matching veil, scarlet hand-embroidered details, and twinkling anklets in the same deep red hue as the thread holding it all together. It was blinding beside her other clothes from Munkai Island, but at the floating barn of Castor, she knew that she would be little more than another face in the rainbow of wedding goers. Her clothes would pale in comparison to the jeweled splendor of a Castor wedding. She expected that she may well go blind within a fortnight.
All that aside, she felt like royalty when her mother’s eyes grew as round as saucers beholding her other daughter dressed in such lavishness.
“Oh Yadia,” she breathed. “Perhaps one of the men there, at the floating barn, perhaps--”
“Mother.” Yadia smiled sadly. “I will not scout a husband at my sister’s wedding. No man will give me a second look, we both know that.”
“He need only look twice to see you,” her mother said softly. “And with Sasia married, perhaps more people will. You are not all that plain, you know.”
“I know,” Yadia said, though she did not quite believe it. She did not mind being the plain sister. It was much preferable to being on display.
“Leave your veil loosened.” Amya fingered the light fabric of the scarf as she spoke. “Let them see you, even if they do not choose to look.”
Yadia was confused by her mother’s words, as she often was, so she just smiled and pulled a few strands of dark hair forward so that it was visible. It was the same deep mahogany of her eyes, and with the bright yellow beside it, she could admit that she did look pleasant. She knew, though, that “pleasant” would not be enough to draw the eye of a man attending such an extravagant event. But that was all right with her.
She gave her luggage, such as it was, to her navigator. He was a scrawny man missing several teeth in his crumbling mouth. When he smiled, his eyes and gums both glittered black. She was not altogether comfortable with the man her father had chosen to convey her across the Great Water, but she had no other choice. She must get to Sasia. It may be the last time she ever saw her sister, given that her rich husband would not likely make a habit out of traveling to Munkai Island. Still, she tucked a small filleting knife from the HABOK tent into her slipper, wrapped in a rag. She could dress a large fish in under a minute, so she imagined that a man wouldn’t hold up all that well against it.
Goodbyes were shorter with Yadia than they had been with her twin. Her parents looked grayish, like worn out rags in dingy dishwater. In other words, they were beginning to look like the rest of Munkai. Despite their lack of money and energy, there was no shortage of love. Her father kissed the top of her head, and her mother even looked a bit tearful as her boat sliced through the water and into the fog. Once her parents were out of sight, Yadia withdrew her little blade, hiding it in her sleeve for safekeeping.
The fog was all-consuming. Not seeing was something that Yadia was used to, but the utter silence, the stillness of the world, was something that she was unprepared for. It made her shiver under her gauzy sleeves, pulling her veil closer to her neck. It was even worse when the boatman began to sing. The song was low and mournful, in the language of another island, not the common one. Its foreign intonations made her feel inexplicably sad and thoughtful, but at least it distracted her from the oppressive mist.
It was said that the floating barn of Castor was staffed by one hundred people hand-chosen by the family. They even lived in cozy cells within the barn for all their lives. It was a thought that Yadia could not seem to get from her mind, and she wished she could. She had no experience but that which she learned from her father’s fishing business. The one thing that the floating barn did not raise? Fish. It was ridiculous to think that her sister could somehow get her a job there; people on all the islands of the Great Water wished for the same, she knew.
The only difference is that the other people of the Great Water don’t have Sasia as a sister, she was reminded by an unbidden thought. Soon to be Lady Castor, she corrected herself. She wondered whether she would be allowed to call her sister by her first name after the union. She hoped so; there was no chance that she would stop using her twin sister’s first name. It was her favorite word to say, from the moment she could speak. She felt a smile touch her face as she remembered that for her sister, her own name was the most important word in their language. Yadia’s first word had been “no,” and Sasia’s had been “Yadia.” It said a great deal about them both.
Yadia reclined against the rough stern of the little vessel, letting the mist in the air form little droplets on her eyelashes. Through the droplets, the world looked shiny and sparkling instead of dull and gray. It helped her fight off the anxiety from the boatman’s song and drift off to sleep.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New Free Fantasy Story!

Apologies for my absence, internet friends! I've been all over these past couple weeks (Firefly Music Festival; woo hoo!) and I'm just getting functional again after a yucky summer cold. To make up for lost time, I'm going to shut up and give you what you want, which is FREE CONTENT.

Yes, really, free. I've been so grateful for the support I'm getting from people reading my new novel, The Separation, and so I wanted to give back to YOU.

If you're anything like me, you pretty much live your life around watching Game of Thrones. If you don't, good GRACIOUS you better start. I mention this because the story I'm about to share with you is comparable to GoT's genre. If I had to label it, the label would read something like medieval-fantasy-awesomeness.
But you can judge for yourself. The story will be 10(ish) segments long, and I'll release them every week or so. If you don't like reading on here, check out my Wattpad account where it will also be available.

Happy reading, all!

The Feathered Egg -- Part One -- Yadia Habok

“I really must go now.” Sasia’s kiss fell on the apple of her sister’s cheek like a feather. She adjusted her headscarf and, after one last tearful smile, she disappeared from the little house on Munkai island. Yadia could not see her step into the narrow boat that would convey her twin sister across the Great Water, but she know that must be happening now. She had to get to the wedding somehow. It was Sasia’s marriage, after all.
Yadia sighed when she looked back at the house without Sasia in it. Not only was she gone, it seemed that she had taken their parents with her. Yadia’s mother was draped across the window sill, allowing herself to look haggard now that Sasia was out of sight. Her father was at work fishing the Great Water. They had all been working as much as possible to get the money to send Sasia to her husband. Even Yadia had stopped going to school and began helping her father fish. Now, with the wedding only a week away, Yadia could not even return. Not only had she missed the last exam of the term, the other girls at the Munkai school would never treat her the same now that Sasia was to be wed to a son of a Castor.
It shouldn’t matter, Yadia thought bitterly. It’s not as if Sasia’s new life will make mine any different.
But she knew that was not true. Sasia would be a Castor now, the richest people this side of the Great Water. Their floating barn was the envy of all the residents on Munkai. It was said that you could see its shape for miles and miles before you arrived. It was also said that the barn was a gift from the gods to Polix Castor in the years when magic was still alive and well. His sons had maintained the massive structure, filling it with stock of all kinds, for hundreds of years. Soon, Yadia would at least get to test the former theory. She was set to follow her sister across the Great Water to the floating barn of Castor in only a week. Though the wedding was sure to be dazzling, Yadia could not find it within her to be excited.
“Yadia,” her mother called softly. “Go into the market and find your father. You must help him sell today. Our work is not over.”
She sighed. Of course she knew it was not over. It would never be over. The family had hired a travel vessel for Sasia -- no cheap endeavor. It was for that vessel, and new wedding clothes, that Yadia and the rest of her family toiled. It would be easy for her to be angry with Sasia, but it would be no use. Yadia’s twin was pure, and she ought to know. They had shared a womb, a bed, and a mind for their entire lives. It was not like the stories the marketplace crones would tell; no magic was involved. But with only a look, Yadia could tell what her sister was thinking. She imagined it worked both ways, but now it would be hard to ever ask. Her sister was a half a world away, and Yadia was selling smelly fish in the market on Munkai.
It did not take long for her to locate her father’s tent. She’d been there time enough to know the tent solely from the feel of its canvas between her fingers. She did not need to read her father’s name hastily scrawled across its side. HABOK it read. Then, simply: FISH. Her father was not a clever man, and she wished he had let her do the lettering. She’d gotten top marks for penmanship at school.
As she swept the canvas out of her way, a gush of air entered her veil, and she held her breath to defend against the odor of fish. Yadia suddenly found herself in a new world of bickering men tearing money from each other’s fists one moment and laughing heartily the next. After she’d gotten used to this, Yadia found that she liked the cacophony of the marketplace. It allowed her to slip, unnoticed, tent to tent or dock to dock as the case may be. The men thought nothing of a dark clothed little Munkai girl, covered all but her eyes. That made it easy to get their money. She could tug on their arms just a little, lead them, guide them. And somehow they never seemed to notice the plain brown eyes that peered out from under her headscarf. They only noticed the fish, meager though it was, and usually they bought some. Yadia’s father said that business had never been so good as when she was there, “assisting.”
While she led them, she listened. They spoke of all sorts of things, in all sorts of words, most of which young ladies should not use. Yadia’s mother made sure that she never repeated what she heard in the market ever since she got caught whispering curses in Sasia’s ears. If her sister hadn’t been so quick to blush, they may never have been caught. But, as always, Sasia was too good of heart to be found guilty.
That’s why it was so easy for her parents to choose Sasia to become the bride of Tristan Castor. And her beauty didn’t hurt. But even the most beautiful girl in the world would have no chance to gain the admiration of a Castor without some intervention from the gods, which is what Yadia’s father attributed their good fortune to. Yadia wasn’t so sure. The story seemed to have reached legendary status on Munkai Island for as often as he told it. Each time, she thought it grew more and more extravagant. The last time she had heard it, it had gone something like this.
When Crispel Habok had married Amya Bodom, it had been for love, not status. Such was the way on Munkai, and thankfully his bride was thankful for it. What Crispel lacked in cleverness, he made up for in affection, though he would shower most of it on his wife before he fathered twin girls. Even then he worked as a fish merchant, long days spent on the Great Water alone and even longer nights finding his way back to the young Amya. On one such journey home, he came across something that would change the course of his life forever.
It looked like half an almond silhouetted in the reflection of the moon. After a moment, even Crispel could recognize that it was an overturned vessel, and the water was deadly still. Unlike most people of the Great Water, Crispel could swim, a side effect of having watched fish every day since he had gotten old enough to row. And in that moment, something struck him, and he leapt overboard.
At this part in the story, Yadia always rolled her eyes because her father said that the gods led him beneath the water with a glowing orb, an orb which led to a motionless body. Once Crispel had pulled the man aboard his own humble vessel, his body leaden with wet silk, he discovered that the man was not breathing. Somehow Crispel revived the man, and if the story was to be believed, a solid gold fish had spilled from his open mouth and disappeared into the Great Water. Regardless, when the man regained his senses, he was so overcome with gratitude for his savior that he made a significant promise: his first born son would wed the first born daughter of this man. It was then, and only then, that his life’s debt could be paid. Crispel readily agreed, although it wasn’t until morning light that he recognized the golden C emblazoned on his clothes as standing for Castor. The man was Lord Oryan Castor, and to be married to his son was better fortune than anyone on Munkai Island could ever dream of receiving. It was indeed a blessing from the gods, until Crispel fathered twin girls two years later.
As the story went, Crispel and Amya had decided to wait until they came of age to decide, but when Amya gave birth to Sasia, her beauty was so profound that they chose on the spot. And as she grew, she only became more comely, not to mention sweeter than any child the island had ever seen. And Yadia simply grew up beside her.
That was the part in the story when everyone would clap and cheer and Yadia’s parents would take Sasia’s veil off so that everyone could see how truly beautiful she was. And Sasia would blush and stutter until everyone had taken their fill of her face.
At least she was able to escape that, Yadia thought. She knew, just as she knew everything about her sister, that Sasia didn’t much like being shown off. When Yadia yearned to take her scarves off in the heat of the day, Sasia wrapped hers even tighter. The only person she allowed to look upon her face was Januel, the boy who helped her father sell in the market. Januel knew that in order to keep his job, he mustn’t stare, so he seemed the only man around whom Sasia relaxed.
“My darling!” The booming sound of her father’s voice pulled Yadia from her reverie brusquely. “I’ve needed you all day. Thank the gods you are here! There, a traveling group has just docked, go and lead them my darling.”
With a kiss on the top of her head, Crispel pushed her gently out of the tent toward the new group of men. Within just a few moments, Yadia had them all laughing in her father’s tent, buying scrawny silver baitfish. The haul today was especially pathetic, but they hardly seemed to notice. She only hoped she could keep providing them to her father. Before long, she would need to find a husband herself, though the prospect brought her no joy. In the meantime, she decided, she would stay married to the fish.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Free Write Friday Winner "In Memory Of"

Here she is! The ever talented Amelia from PA is in 8th grade (technically 9th, now, I suppose), and she wrote this poem in response to the prompt "in memory of." Enjoy her work, and feel free to leave comments! She is now the proud owner of The Separation in addition to getting her work published here.

In memory of the best friends,

Who found themselves at your side and decided to stay a while
Who treated you like royalty and made you feel extraordinary
Who held your hand when you got too scared
Who smiled at you while the rest of the world glared
Who came along with you to places you wanted to go
Who taught you about the strange things you didn’t even know
Who waited on you while the others went ahead
Who made you feel alive when you started feeling dead

In memory of the people who lost that kind of best friend,

Who lost that special person they held in their heart
Was it a fight or was it just time that tore you apart?
Who’s tired and lonely without them by your side
Who wonders each night if they can even survive
Who hates to know that special person is out of their life
Who’s mind is constantly filled with horrible strife
Who has a hole in their chest where that person should be
Who’s crying so much they can hardly breathe
Who’s got sadness, worry, memories and pain
All at the same time, rushing through their brain.
Who knows it will never ever be the same

Because when your best friend becomes a stranger it can drive you insane

Nice job, Amelia! To the rest of you: keep submitting! My judges and I loved reading your work last time. Maybe, just maybe, the next winner will be you.

Monday, June 6, 2016

In Defense of Print on Demand Publishing

This post is for my writer-folk out there. If you're immersed in the world of publishing, no doubt you have come across the demonizing of print on demand. It is so often considered an invalid form of publishing even if - like me - you have a small traditional publisher who is doing most of the legwork but using POD services to distribute.
Just in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, let me define POD for you. POD stands for print on demand, a type of publishing in which the publisher does not pre-print books and instead waits for orders to roll in and then prints the amount of books needed to fulfill the order.

Make sense?

To me, it makes perfect sense, but the rest of the writing community might have you think otherwise.

Their main arguments:

Anyone can do it.
This is slightly true; if you go onto a platform like Createspace, any person can create a text and have it available for purchase. But guess what? In this day and age, people can pretty much create, publish, and sell whatever they want anyway. Self-publishing has been and continues to be tremendously popular, whether the content is ground-breaking or hot garbage. And of course the internet provides never ending possibilities for publishing in ways that we could never before have imagined, so why are we worrying about the exclusivity of publishing?

The product isn't made fast enough.
Wrong. Lots of people would have you believe that because POD requires the book to be ordered before it's printed, the book will take forever to ship. But the proof is in the pudding. For example, if you go onto and order my novel The Separation, you can select 2 day Prime shipping. And it gets there on time, every time. ALL HAIL AMAZON.

See? It's for real. 
It doesn't look professional.
This argument is just plain silly. A book looks the way its creator made it look. It doesn't magically become sloppy when it gets printed. If a book looks unprofessional, it's because it wasn't made by professionals. For example, at Evernight (my publisher), there is a team of lovely, talented, WONDEROUS people who do layout, cover design, and all that goes into making a book look spectacular. And they do an incredible job, I might add. The POD peeps just print the book they're sent. 

The books are nonreturnable, so stores don't want to buy them.
Okay, this I can wrap my head around. Nobody wants to lose money, so why order a book that you can't send back? Well, a variety of reasons. First off, if a book is promising, it shouldn't matter. Stores can buy small shipments and sell that stock before trying to buy in bulk. Simple problem, simple solution. Of course, corporate often rears its ugly head in this scenario, so believe me, I'm not naive enough to believe that this solution works every time.

It's non-traditional.
So is wearing no pants, but I enjoy that too. Just kidding. Or am I? But back on topic. Who cares whether publishing is "traditional"? The industry is changing, and it's not waiting on the rest of us, though our fragile egos like to think otherwise. So GET WITH THE PROGRAM, PEOPLE. Or you just might get left behind.

*Side note: my personal favorite part of POD is that it is infinitely more earth-friendly. For the big six publishers, eliminating waste is not a priority. POD only fulfills the orders which roll in rather than printing 1,000 copies, selling 500 and then throwing 500 away. If you're anything like me, the idea of throwing books away makes you want to vomit, so this option is appealing. 

So in conclusion, love your earth, love indie books, and love POD. <3