Spark Prompts #3 – Darkness

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My response:


The young man scoffed. “That’s just your excuse to make bad decisions.”

“An excuse? No, Demtri. It’s simply an explanation as to why we do what we do,” his older brother remarked.

Demtri scrunched his face, the urge to argue diminishing with the cool air of the evening. Instead, he pulled up his hood over his head before gripping the edges of his cape.

“Can we get this over with Josef? The sun will be up before we know it,” he whispered.

His brother flashed him a grin. “Now that’s more like it.”

Down the alleyway they sprinted, jumping over trashcans and dodging debris with grace given to them by their feline hybrid blood. The roughened pads of their feet muffled their footsteps. No one would know they were coming. Demtri continued to follow Josef, their movements synchronizing like a symphony. Upon reaching the street, his older brother shot out a cautious hand to stop.

“Now we wait,” Josef whispered.

Demtri tucked strands of his thick black hair back into his hood. Maintaining an unrecognizable identity would be for the best. If the public knew what they really were it would be the death of them. Still, he considered whether or not such an outcome was certain. Would the authorities really kill him and his brother if they were caught? What if there were other hybrids of the dark just like them?

“There. That one,” Josef said with an extended finger.

Demtri traced the direction with bright eyes, curious to see who would be their intended prey. What he didn’t expect was a beautiful olive-skinned woman waiting by the bus stop. He squint his eyes to focus on her. Her lips parted as though whispering, but by the way she swayed her hips Demtri concluded she whispered a song stuck in her head. The way she fiddled with the ends of her chestnut hair made his pulse quicken.

“N- no. I don’t think she’s got anything,” Demtri said.

“Oh? And why not? She’s young, she’s alone, and judging by the size of her coat, I’m sure those pockets are holding plenty,” Josef said with a sly smile.

Demtri strained his neck as he looked to the left and to the right for any other possible victim. Only traffic lights and littered gutters extended in both directions. The poor woman left them only one choice.

“Let’s go,” Josef commanded.

The pair rushed the woman, circling her on both sides. She shrieked once they approached her. Josef grabbed the lapel of her coat and peeled it off of her. Buttons popped from their seams before clinking as they met the ground. Demtri dove for the coat and began fishing through its pockets. He shoved a coin purse into the inside of his cape.

“Get off of me!” the woman cried as Josef wrapped his arms around her.

“It will be over soon,” Josef said.

“Well, I tried to warn you,” she whispered.

The woman gripped Josef’s forearm and stepped to the right. In one fluid movement, he flipped over her and collided to the ground. He cried out in pain as the back of his skull bounced on the concrete. She mounted him and pinned both his outstretched arms to the ground.

“Hey!”

Demtri threw the coat aside and charged the woman. He grabbed her shoulder in an attempt to free his brother. A low hiss emitted from her as she spun toward Demtri. Before he knew it, he found himself on his back. The woman pounced onto his torso, pressing her knees into his ribs. Demtri’s eyes widened as he watched the woman’s irises transform into black slits. She bent forward, her face only inches away from him. His breath became light as a feather.

“You’re one of us too,” he whispered.


What did you think of this dark tale? Got one of your own? Feel free to share!

Until next post,

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Spark Prompts #2 – Extraordinary

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Her laughter shot up to the treetops, threatening to reveal their location.

“That’s the most preposterous thing I’ve heard all day!”

His gaze met the tips of his leather boots, her words shrinking him further than his three-foot dwarven stature. A twig snapped underneath his heel as he swept the forest floor.

“So much for being honest,” he murmured.

Her laughter faded into a sweet sigh. She traced his jawline through his thick beard before lifting his chin with her knuckle, forcing their eyes to meet.

“Daknar, I’ve never heard you speak in that manner. You’ve slain dragons, wear their hide as armor, for the Maker’s sake, but now you speak in terms as flowery as the spring’s meadow? It’s not like you,” she admitted.

“That may be,” he whispered.

He leapt up onto the tips of his toes. Wrapping his arm around her neck, he pulled her down to his level. She let out a yelp before her lips curled into that smile of hers, the same one she greeted him with at their first meeting.

“But your effect on me has always been a good thing, Faelena.”

Their lips pressed together, warming him like a bonfire. It had been too long since he’d had the pleasure of inhaling her intoxicating honeysuckle-scented skin. After another moment lingered, she pulled back and cradled his callused hands in hers.

It was then he saw it. Sorrow stole her smile. Her gray eyes glossed over with tears. She sniffed as she broke from his embrace.

“Faelena, what’s the matter?”

“We don’t have much time,” she whispered.

He failed to suppress a scoff. “Please don’t spoil our time together with the formalities. Come, sit with me and let’s enjoy each other’s company.” He fished through his leather pack, tossing items onto the leaf-speckled ground.

“Here, I brought you something.”

Lifting his hand, he presented her with a gift that cost him nearly all his earnings. Silver chain draped over the edge of his hand. The oval centered stone shone bright like the stars in the summer’s night sky.

“For you, my love,” he said as he presented the necklace to her.

“Moonstone!”

Seeing the bright white reflect in her eyes was all he needed. He knew it was her favorite.

“Allow me,” he offered as he waved her closer.

Reaching behind her, Daknar secured the ends of the chain together. The silver draped across her ivory skin as if it had belonged there all along. She turned around and flashed a smile brighter than the stone she wore.

“Thank you.”

“Of course,” he replied.

They exchanged smile for smile, Faelena’s cheeks reddening right before him like a rose in full bloom. A breeze blew through the trees, leaves falling like rustic raindrops onto their heads. Daknar reached out to brush back a chunk of her gray hair.  He hooked it behind her pointed ear before dropping his hand down to the nape of her neck to pull her closer. She gripped his forearm.

“Why do we continue to fool ourselves? We can’t be together. We’ll never be,” she groaned.

“We are here right now, Faelena. Of course we can be together.”

“Ha, a dwarf uniting with an elf?! Have you forgotten the war just across the river? Our people will never be at peace. The elves would kill me where I stand if they caught us being intimate, no less just speaking with each other.” She shook her head. “I should’ve never let you seduce me.”

Daknar chuckled. “Me seduce you? Oh no, my dear. You were the one to seduce me. I had never seen a woman wield an axe the way you do. Such strength and such elegance. Of course I had to speak with you.”

“Even though you stumbled on your words like a drunk in the dark,” she jeered.

“Yes, yes I did. But if I hadn’t we wouldn’t be here now.”

He pulled her close, his head resting against her chest. He closed his eyes to the rhythm of her heartbeat.

“You worry too much,” he whispered.

“Perhaps you don’t worry enough, Daknar.”

Looking up at her, he recognized the sorrow returning to her face. He pressed his thumb into the cleft of her chin. True as the sun setting in the west, their lives were in danger. But being with her gave his life purpose. She shed light onto his otherwise dark world. To be with her was worth any risk.

“Faelena, let them come right now and shoot me dead with the truest arrow if it would please you. My love for you cannot be bound. In this life and even into the next, nothing will stop me from finding my way back to you.”

She grabbed the lapel of his tunic and drew him in for another kiss.


Enjoy this writing prompt response? Let me know! And always, feel free to share your response. I love reading them!

Until next post,

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Spark Prompts – Prompt #1

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Hi there! I’m excited to launch Spark Prompts, a set of writing prompts all geared toward sparking your creativity. Whether you’re suffering from writer’s block or need some new inspiration, take these prompts as a means to finding your story. When you’re done, feel free to share using the hashtag #sparkprompts so we can read your creation.

Here’s the first prompt:

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My response:

Her hazel eyes scanned the sky once more. Holding her right hand out, she counted four fingerbreadths meeting the horizon. There was plenty of time left in the day; evening would still have to wait.

Fishing a hand in her messenger bag, her skin grazed the leather strap of her goggles. Searching further, dried biscuit crumbs nestled themselves underneath her fingernails. Finally, she grasped the rolled up parchment paper she had been looking for. After pulling the paper out, she shrugged off her bag’s strap, sending her belongings to meet the overgrown blades of meadow grass. Slumping to the ground, she lay prone with the paper held out in front of her. The cotton skirt of her dress clung to her sweaty calves. She sucked in a breath as she adjusted her weight to relieve her sore ribs poked by her corset’s ribbing. Wildflowers of orange and purple painted the otherwise dry land. The sight of the hillside made her lick her chapped lips. Even the land ached for rain. Peeling back the paper’s edge, she laid it flat on top of the earth, grass crunching upon itself underneath the blanket of parchment. The blueprints to an aircraft stared back at her. Creases and folds transformed the otherwise stiff paper into makeshift worn leather. She had memorized these blueprints to where she no longer required the physical copy, but her father’s initials in the bottom right corner reminded her of why she kept it.

An old sky dog he was known as. Many nights she spent with her father listening to his stories of far away travels and mysterious discoveries as a sky captain. Though his travels kept them apart, she always looked up to him. To her, he encompassed strength, nobility, creativity, and freedom with a dash of whimsy.  Her heart’s desire was to make him proud.

But the voices of others flooded her mind.

Women don’t belong on airships.

You’re as delusional as your father.

A woman can never outrank a man.

She spat into the grass, the negativity turning her mouth sour. So what if a woman has never been sky captain? Traditions, like rules, were meant to be broken.

A loud hum overhead directed her focus upward. Propellers whipping the air forced her hair back like a sudden gush of wind. Sitting up on her knees, she marveled at the vast aircraft above her. The Aviator airship descended toward the city’s docks, ready to reunite with society.

Her eyes met the blueprints once again. Her father may have failed to produce a working ship, but who was to say she couldn’t do it? His legacy would live on; she’d make sure of it. With that, she folded the plans up again, placing them back into her messenger bag. She rose to her feet and readied her belongings over her shoulder. There was work to be done.


What did you come up? I’d love to hear your story!

Until next post,

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For the Love of Updates – Part 3

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The New Year is upon us, but can you believe January 2018 is almost finished? I thought this was the perfect time to divulge what I’ve been up to. Quite a lot of exciting things happened at the close of 2017, so here’s a recap:

Querying Vanity:  Yes, my steampunk ghost story is off in the query trenches! I’m anxious to hear back from some hopeful replies from amazing agents and publishers. I’ve learned that typing “THE END” on my final draft has only been the beginning. However, I’m beyond thrilled that I’m now one step closer to getting Vanity into your hands soon!

Participated in NaNoWriMo 2017:  Last November marked my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. It provided a great distraction while waiting to hear back on queries. I didn’t finish my first draft as intended, but oh my goodness, I’m really excited for this next sci-fi trilogy of mine. Book One that I’ve entitled “Project Gen 2.24” is set in the near future about a coder named Adam whose skills are put to the test to save humanity from the sinister plans of a cyborg. As his work begins, Adam discovers his role in the project is much larger than his binary commands. Don’t worry, I’ll entice you more with this later.

Our Family Grew:  From following me on social media, some of you may know I gave birth to our third and final child in December. While writing is a great passion of mine, I can say with certainty that welcoming our daughter was the best way to end 2017. We are enjoying getting to know her and look forward to seeing her personality blossom.

Beyond a recap, I also want to share with you some goals/expectations for 2018. Here’s what I have in store for you:

Sign to publish Vanity:  A major goal of mine this year is to successfully sign to get my debut novel out into the world. While I know the publishing game involves a lot of waiting, I’m optimistic my querying will not go to waste. I’ll keep you posted on any details that I can!

Finish Project Gen 2.24:  Quite the ambitious one, aren’t I? For some writers, a break from writing one manuscript before beginning another is needed. But what is a writer to do when a new story is begging to be written? My outline has been crafted, I’ve gotten several chapters written, and I have one awesome critique partner cheering me on. With that combo, I’m looking forward to cranking out this story that has been sitting on the sidelines for too long.

More Blogs and Writing Prompts:  Part of December 2017 was dedicated to revamping and brainstorming my future blogging schedule. As such, I’ve felt compelled to include a way to give back to the writing community. One of my favorite things to do is to encourage other writers, especially when writer’s block seems to surface in others. As such, I’m going to be posting writing prompts that I’m calling Spark Prompts. Did you know my idea for Vanity came about all because of a simple writing prompt? I hope you’ll join in the fun! You’ll be able to share your own responses or enjoy reading what my mind comes up with. Either way, it will give you a break from scrolling through social media feeds while waiting in line, right? 😉

 

I think those are all the updates at this time. How did 2017 fare for you? What are you goals for 2018? Feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to as well.

Until next post,

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Benefits of Journaling (Even if You’re Not a Writer!)

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Is it just me or have you been struggling with taking time for your well-being too? If you scour the Internet, you’ll find varying opinions of what we should eat, when we should exercise, what our ideal body weight should be… the list goes on. One area of reaching our optimal health is being overlooked – our mental health. While improving our physical health through diet and exercise can impact our mental health, I want to introduce you to another way to improve your well-being. The use of journaling has many benefits, and I’d like to take the time to share some with you.

Now as an old school (emphasis on old school) writer, I own more journals/notebooks than I do lipsticks. Something about putting pen to paper and letting my thoughts flow is therapeutic. You may not consider yourself a writer, but I don’t want this to inhibit the freeing release journaling provides. Allow me to explain why journaling is something you need in your life.

1. Free Expression. There are instances where the opportunity doesn’t come for me to speak openly about my thoughts and feelings. Whether it’s because I don’t want to offend someone, I feel like I’m just venting, or I don’t have time to spare regurgitating my thoughts, journaling provides the means to be open and honest. My journaling is without the intent of an audience – I’m writing for myself. The paper doesn’t judge me. The only time my pen interrupts my speech is when it runs out of ink. I’m free to write whatever my heart desires. I don’t have to stick to a certain format either. Starting off “Dear Diary” is not my method. Some of my entries are as simple as:

Today was pretty mediocre. Nothing too bad or good. That is all.

Other times my length exceeds my expectations and I’m left with pages upon pages of my soul spilled out before me. Drastic difference right? The freedom to say whatever I want/need allows me to be relentless with my honesty.

2. A Time for Reflection. The freedom to write with honesty produces a great means for reflection. There are times I’ll reread my journal entries and smile as I relive the happy moments. Other times I’ll reread other entries and realize my viewpoint was wrong or whatever I was complaining about was nothing more than making a mountain out of a molehill. Because thoughts and feelings are fleeting, reflecting on journal entries provides a means of keeping your perspective in check. It can also give insight as to patterns you can recognize. Are your thoughts and feelings projecting the lifestyle you desire? Are you crying out for help? (If so, please get the help you need. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/)

3. You are in Control. Because journaling is writing for yourself, you are in control of how and when you journal. There are times when I spend an hour or more jotting down ideas. As I mentioned earlier, some days I’ll only write a line or two. While I strive (and fail on repeat) to journal every day, you may find this doesn’t work for you. You will find what works for you, and I encourage you to continue it.

4. Private Time. Allow this to be your time. Like deep breathing and meditation, you will serve yourself best by writing for yourself. It’s not often I share my journal entries. When I do, it’s usually to enrich someone else’s life and not focus on myself. Memoirs are written with similar intent. Perhaps you’ll find your journaling should be read by others which is great! However, when in the moment of writing don’t let an audience dictate what you produce. This is your time to be honest.

5. You Can Do It Anywhere. Previous generations held great value in writing letters and keeping journals. Some may blame the advancement of technology for this practice’s demise. While there may be some truth there, does having an electronic device inhibit the means of journaling? Absolutely not. Most devices come equipped with a feature similar to a notepad. Likewise, journaling apps provide an easier and helpful way to record your entries. The beauty of journaling is you can jot down your ideas practically anywhere. There are times where all I will have is a pen and the back of a receipt. I also have typed journal entries in my phone. Journaling doesn’t need to be done in an office. It can be done while waiting in line, while hiking on a trail, on a lunch break – the possibilities are never-ending.

The benefits of journaling are abundant and it will enrich your life. Like strength training, journaling is a way of keeping our mental health in check. It’s a fantastic way to keep your perspective in check. Because you are the writer, you can write whatever and wherever.

Do you journal? What works for you? Not sure how to get started? My next post will cover the basics of getting started and forming a habit of journaling. Stay tuned!

 

Until next post,

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Photo Credit: Marcel Hol at http://www.freeimages.com/photo/little-black-book-2-1464302

#LennReads – Book Review of Sinking

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I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting great authors when I attended the Gold Rush Writer’s Conference back in May.  One author I met was Sarah Armstrong-Garner, the author of the Sinking trilogy.  I was sold when she described SINKING as a girl named Jocelyn who washes upon the shore of Ireland void of her memories set in the 18th century.  I loved this story and am excited to reveal my thoughts.

My Likes:

  1. The cover art. When I first was introduced to Sarah, I couldn’t help myself but first compliment her on SINKING’s cover art.  I seem to recall repeating the word “stunning” throughout our conversation.  Am I right?!
  2. The settings. Sarah does a remarkable job at transporting readers to the icy waters of Ireland.  Throughout the story, readers also experience the life of a sailor.  A trip to India allows readers to feel the vast difference of India’s heat.  This story will have your cheeks glistening with ocean spray, your hair whipped by the wind, and the taste of curry on your tongue all thanks to the great storytelling.
  3. The characters. The mystery of Jocelyn draws readers in from the first few pages.  She’s fierce yet vulnerable.  As a reader, you will understand Jocelyn’s identity crisis and find yourself torn on whether she belongs on land or in the depths of the sea.  Jocelyn also finds herself entangled between other characters and is forced to deal with other’s intentions for her future.

My Dislikes: 

  1. Thomas Corwin. Among all the characters that you will love this guy will make your skin crawl.  Sarah does an excellent job illustrating a stuck-up rich man who only cares for himself.  However, this character has moments of softness, most often when he’s spouting off apologies for his temper.  Don’t be fooled by these moments.  I’m convinced Thomas Corwin is Lucifer’s cousin with a handsome smile.  You will love to hate him.
  2. The ending. The only reason I say I dislike the ending is because I wanted the story to keep going!  I was left wanting more.  Thankfully, Sarah was kind enough to include the first two chapters of the next book, DRIFTING.  And good news, DRIFTING is scheduled to be released early 2018.

 

Overall Impression:  If you love Ireland, mysterious pasts, or beautiful descriptions, SINKING offers all of the above and then some.  Sarah Armstrong-Garner takes readers on a journey where the life of land and sea intertwine.  You will be left anxious to read the trilogy’s next book and continue the journey.

My rating: 5 stars.

For more details on SINKING and Sarah Armstrong-Garner, visit her Web site at www.SarahArmstrongGarner.com

 

Until next post,

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For the Love of Updates – Part 2

It’s time for some updates!  There have been a number of changes since I last gave you an update on my life.  I’m happy to mention there are three big updates regarding my reading, my writing, and a personal update.  (Scroll down to Number 3 if you’re short on time because it’s my most exciting update. *wink* ) Let’s get started!

  1. My Reading. As part of studying the craft of writing, I’ve been alternating between reading fiction and nonfiction. I finished a fantastic YA fantasy book called SINKING by the lovely and talented Sarah Armstrong-Garner. I’ll be posting my full review of it tomorrow, so be sure to check it out!  I’m almost done with Stephen King’s ON WRITING and let me say, if you are a writer, GO READ HIS BOOK!  His life story is inspiring enough, and King discloses his tips and tricks on how he has had success in the writing world.  He’s named King for a reason.
  2. My Writing. My WIP (work in progress) for my debut novel VANITY is still coming along. I’ve made some revisions after having feedback from beta readers which has been such a blessing because it means I’m perfecting this story just for you, my dear reader.  Like any investment, editors can be pricey, so I’ve been working extra in my daytime job to save money to send my story to an editor for review.  I’m hopeful I’ll have the means to send my manuscript to an editor this coming fall.  Once I get my manuscript back and make some revisions, it will be my turn to brave the query trenches… DUH – DUH – DUH!  In the meantime, I’ve also been gearing up for attempting NaNoWriMo this November for the first time.  (Feel free to join me!) I’ll be blogging throughout my experience to let you know how it goes.
  3. A Personal Update. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  I figured this would be the best way to tell you my exciting news…

Announcement

Yay!  My family and I are so excited for this bundle of joy.  After our loss last October, I struggled with patience and wondered if our clan was complete.  It was a reminder that sometimes you can do everything right and things can still end up wrong.  I was also reminded that holding onto hope can bring us experiences that supersede our well-thought-out plans.

 

What have you been up to?  Any personal updates to share?  Let me know in the comment section.

Until next post,

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