Tim Jeffreys, a Featured Spotlight

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If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Tim Jeffreys.

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What motivates you to write?

A need for escapism, intellectual stimulation, control perhaps, and – every so often – revenge.

Are you a full-time author? If you have another job, what is it and would you like to become a full-time author if you could?

I do have another job working in a small office in a dental hospital four days a week, which you’d think would be fertile ground for horror stories but hasn’t actually inspired any yet.  I would like more time to write, but I’m not sure being a full time writer would be good for me.  I’m the sort of person who needs a reason to get out of the house and mix with people because left to my own devices I probably wouldn’t bother.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Generating ideas.  I write regularly and I don’t wait for inspiration, so I need a constant stream of story ideas. I also write quickly so the ideas in my notebook get burned up pretty fast and I have to come up with more all the time.  Coming up with an original idea that inspires me is the hardest part.

 

From “Combustible” by Tim Jeffreys

“Wait a minute. Want to see something cool?”

Eun sat back on her heels and gazed up at me. She nodded. “You do cool stuff like your brother?”

“Way cooler than that. Ritchie’s not the only talented one in our family.”

I held out one hand, palm upwards.

Eun stared at it. Her eyes shone in anticipation.

I concentrated as hard as I could. What I attempted was a difficult thing to do on demand. It usually happened when I got emotional—angry or excited or joyful. That was when I had to remind myself—watch out, it’ll happen. The amount of times I had scorched the sheets when in bed with Serena, the amount of times I’d had to rush out the next day and buy new ones to hide what I’d done. Or when we rowed, I had to remind myself to keep my hands balled into fists; and Serena sometimes looked at them as if she thought I was going to hit her.

Sensing that Eun was losing interest, I picked an emotion. Anger. I thought about the time I’d come home and found Ritchie and Serena alone together in the flat. They were fully dressed, sat in the living room on opposite sofas, drinking wine and chatting, but I knew something had gone on. I could feel a weird tension in the air. I could almost smell it.

“Hey, baby brother,” Ritchie said when he saw me, and I knew it from his voice, from his expression, from the too-casual way he sprawled on the sofa. I could see it in Serena’s smile when she looked up. I could see it in her eyes.

Eun fell back on her haunches as a small blue flame leapt up in the centre of my palm. She made a small grunting noise, clawed at the floor, then staggered to her feet. I held out my hand towards her, grinning, but she reared away.

“What you do?”

“It’s a talent of mine. I can make fire in my hand. See?”

Serena’s fears from earlier bloomed again in Eun’s eyes. I closed my hand into a fist, smothering the flame.

“Cool, huh?”

 

Tim Jeffreys is the author of five collections of short stories, the most recent being ‘Another Shore’. His novella, ‘Voids’, co-written with Martin Greaves was be published Omnium Gatherum Media in 2016.  His short fiction has appeared in various international anthologies and magazines.  He also edits and compiles the Dark Lane Anthologies where he gets to publish talented writers from all over the world.  In his own work, he incorporates elements of horror, fantasy, absurdist humour, science-fiction and anything else he wants to toss into the pot to create his own brand of weird fiction.  Visit him online at www.timjeffreys.blogspot.co.uk.

ON FIRE is available now: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and the Transmundane Press store.

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Will Waller, a Featured Spotlight

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If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Will Waller.

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What do you find to be the easiest thing about writing? What is the hardest?

By far the easiest thing for me to do is come up with premises for stories to write. The hardest… I don’t know if difficult is really the operative concern, but my biggest fault as a writer is being too easily satisfied. Since I have so many premises, when I finish drafting and editing one, I want to be done. So, sometimes I’m too easily satisfied. Unfortunately, good writing rarely works like that.

What did you edit out of this story?

The mean-spirited parts.

What are you doing to market yourself?

I’m not, really. The audience I have I have because I’m mouthy and opinionated, and because I’ve been part of a few different publications, including The Fantasist Magazine, which I founded and still run with my fiancé. I’ve always been strange, I think, in that I don’t really enjoy talking about my own writing. Working in publishing gives me something else to talk about at the bar at a con, or any other context, really. If that helps me market myself, and I’m not sure it does, it’s really only because people remember me as the odd young person not trying to tell everyone who will listen about his novel.

 

From “Torch” by Will Waller

This is the story of Stingy Jack:

You’re a blacksmith in a small Irish town. You’re a gigantic fucking asshole, so naturally people try to kill you, but this is a fairy tale, so even with an axe in your back, you get to bargain with the Devil while you both get a pint. You say, “I have a great idea,” and nothing good ever happens after that. There’s a thing with a coin and a plan to steal some souls, then a cross, and it all ends with you getting another year of life. You spend that year having an affair in a small town with a woman who doesn’t tell you she’s already pregnant. After she leaves, the Devil corners you under an apple tree, but you’re still not ready to let it go. Again with the crosses, but this time, you’re stupid. While he’s stuck in that tree, you make him swear to never take your soul. When you try to catch up with the woman, she tells you about her new baby girl. You’re supposed to act like the summer never happened. The pearly gates are closed. She doesn’t want you near her good china. So, you hit bottom and head to Hell to set up shop, but when you get there, the Devil laughs at you. He won’t let you in. You made him swear he wouldn’t, but he remembers your college days, and he has a sense of humor. He sticks some Hellfire in a turnip, so the burning smell can light your way while you wander. He says it’s to help, but the fire carries the memory of the summer, and the memory, with the smell, clings to every new relationship. You fall into old habits and become a shadow of yourself, but the only thing that people see is a hopeful, little light bobbing in a stinky mist. Other people mistake your light for guidance and lose themselves in a swamp they don’t see following your little light. Knowing you’re lost anyway, you wander west, chasing an old college friend, hoping he can set you right.

 

Will Waller is an author of speculative fiction, scholarship, and experimental writing originally from the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York. After two years in San Francisco spent working as an editor for Eleven Eleven Journal, he relocated to St. Louis to found The Fantasist Magazine. His writing focuses on memory, music, and the weather, and has been featured by Bay Area Generations, Heavy Feather Review, Rivet Magazine, and the On Fire anthology of Transmundane Press.

Follow our Amazon page for On Fire’s release this December 1st!

Sean Padraic McCarthy, a Featured Spotlight

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If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Sean Padraic McCarthy.

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Are you a full-time author? If you have another job, what is it and would you like to become a full-time author if you could?

I’m not a full time author. I work in the mental health field as a human service coordinator. And yes, if I could support myself from writing, I would; although I would like to teach part time.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I’m always working on at least a few stories—and usually a novel—at the same time, so if one stalls, I just jump to another. I also find that writer’s block is much more torturous when thinking about writing; once you go into your writer’s mind—with either pen on paper or fingers on the keyboard—the answers are usually more accessible.

Who is your favorite character in your current story and why?

Both Sophie and Kinsley.  I love Sophie’s heart and innocence, and I love Kinsley’s alertness, practicality and wisdom, and I love the way the two of them look out for each other.

 

From “A Solstice Memory” by Sean McCarthy

Inside the house the twins stood waiting for me. They’re not identical, but they look alike. Sophie has darker hair, a slightly lazy eye, and freckles on her nose. A little taller. Kinsley is more compact, and more assured. An athlete.

“Dad,” she said.

“Yeah?’

“That wasn’t a dead cat you were burying this morning.”

“What do you mean?”

She beckoned for me to follow her, and slid open the door onto the back covered deck. Cheryl has always kept the back deck looking nice. A bar, and our grill, a teak dining table. More hanging plants, and potted herbs. And on the side wall of the house hangs a collections of faces. Masks. One, wooden, is a tree spirit, a bearded face in the bark. One is Pan, painted dark green, leaves in his hair. One is a gray stone cherub. And one is from Haiti. A tear drop shaped, with a bone through the nose, eyes in panic, and the mouth locked open in scream. Wild strands of hair, standing on end. My brother-in-law, a sociologist, game me that one. He told me it is very old, and one of kind, probably worth a lot of money, so we probably shouldn’t hang it out here, free to steal, but Cheryl insisted we do, insisted we hang it with the others, so she didn’t have to look at it every day.

Kinsley was already down on the lawn. “Come on.”

I looked at Sophie.

“I’m not going down there,” she said. “Not again.”

Kinsley stopped some twenty feet from the shed, from the pet cemetery.

I caught up.

“Look.” She pointed.

But she didn’t have to.

The hand stuck up from the earth. Rotten and gray. The yellow finger nails clawed at the soil.

“He wants out, Dad,” Kinsley said.

“Well, let’s see if we can stop that.”

“You can’t be burying dead guys in the yard. Mom’s gonna get really mad.”

 

Sean Padraic McCarthy’s short stories have been published or are forthcoming in Glimmer Train, The Hopkins Review, The Indianola Review, South Dakota Review, The Sewanee Review, 2 Bridges Review, Prole, Water~Stone Review,  Hayden’s Ferry Review, Shadowgraph Magazine, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and South Dakota Review among others. His story “Better Man”–originally published in december magazine—was  listed as a “Distinguished Story”  in The Best American Short Stories 2015, he was recently named a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction, and he is a 2016 recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Artist Fellowship in Fiction Award. 

Follow our Amazon page for On Fire’s release this December 1st!

ON FIRE Cover Reveal

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I have been thinking about Ria’s parents for a long time. What their stories are, how they came together to make Ria—the spontaneous meeting that changed the world.

And no, I’m not being dramatic. Although Ria is not the one, she’s the catalyst for the one.

Cue the fake stadium roar that kind of sounds like a ghost instead.

Aderyn proved to be more of a mystery than Tatiana did, but his growth into mortality has made him such an interesting person for me as does his connection with the children in this story.

I rather enjoyed the surprises he’s brought me. So, let me introduce him to you:

 

New York City was heavy with fog and exhaust as Aderyn Tanguy returned to Tisch Hospital to check on his person of interest. Little Avery’s long limbs reanimated with uncanny energy, but the pale sheen to her dark skin drove suspicion into his gut.

The night before she’d been so close to death that he pulled out every trick he had to keep her heart beating, but he left her weak and steady when her mother arrived for visiting hours. This, however, was miraculous and not his handiwork.

Her wide nostrils flared as he stepped into her new room, closing the door behind him. “Morning, precious. How long have you been awake?”

She blinked at him, long lashes and wild eyes. Her nostrils flared again.

Cachu hwch, he’d given her everything she could handle, but she’d died anyways.

Freshly awake. Must have been. Avery sat with her hands bunched in the white sheets around her lap. Disinfectant and bile lingered in the room. No hints at fresh blood. She hadn’t bitten anyone yet.

Thick canines pressed against her plump mouth as he breached the end of her bed.

“Where’s your mother? Hmm? Had any other visitors?”

Uninhabited hunger dilated her pupils, but she posed him little danger. Vampires rarely attacked healers. Most creatures didn’t. Perks of being a phoenix. The phoenix.

“It hurts.” Her words slurred, saliva sputtering from her thick lips.

“I know it does, precious. I know.”

Her fingers loosened from the sheets, but Aderyn grabbed her face and immobilized her with his gaze. Delving into her mind produced a blur of muted colors and bright red blood. Cold. Sharp. Prickling. Pain. The soft edges of a face passed through her vision before nothingness.

She didn’t remember anything. Just as well.

Aderyn snapped her neck, cringing at the blow that rebounded within him as he laid her back against the white pillows. “Sorry, precious. You didn’t want that life, no way.”

Layers of lemongrass lingered on her pillow, but no other traces were distinct enough to lend to a trail. Pushing back the curtain for the yellowed window. Entrance after he’d left was possible, but no clues. The place was clean, as it should be.

Eyes closed on the way out the door, he’d take the memory of her with him—the one’s full of hope instead of death.

Fog danced with his boots on the streets of lower Manhattan. Four blocks north, he used a payphone to check in, popping a quarter and dialing his handler.

What?” Fury seethed in the breath on the other end of the line.

Why was the big guy answering the phone? “Sir, no go on the mini-human.”

“Leads?”

“Minimal.” Aderyn leaned over the payphone box and cleared the smell death from his sinuses with a shift in the air. Lemongrass weaved through wind.

“Stick around.”

The phone clanked dead, and he replaced the receiver.

Not an investigator, Aderyn scouted the street. Beyond the wet gravel and litter, the ghost of other paranormals laced through the human scents.

At his back squatted a small storefront with a sparkling window. Inside, a mane of blonde curls shook and shimmied under the command of two equally pale hands. Her hair shifted to reveal startling blue eyes, lined with extravagant lashes, and guarded by a spattering of freckles. They looked right through him.

Into him.

Her smile rivaled the sun.

And it disappeared before the ching of storefront bells revealed her again.

“Bad news?”

“That obvious?”

An elegant one-shoulder shrug lifted the sage in her hands. “Well, when you have to answer a question with a question, you’re in deeper than you want to be.”

Disposable lighter flicked under her thumb, the sparks refused to light, and he took it from her before he thought not to. Aderyn ignited the fumes spitting from the top.

“Well, you’re handy to have around.” She leaned in, dropping the end of her bundle into the flame and blowing it out to plumes of smoke. Stepping around him, her fingers trailed over his shoulder, and she waved her smudge stick in the corners of the entrance.

Holding the door open, she peeked out. “Pure enough to follow me inside?”

He did.

“Lock the door. My foot traffic doesn’t start until the afternoon.” Smoke circled in on itself as she looped the store and stubbed the stick out gently. “Back here, bad news.”

She disappeared behind a waterfall of beads, fingers catching the cascade like a mating dance. The back was warm and dark, illuminated by Christmas lights. As the heat closed in around them, Aderyn caught the hints of nutmeg and clove.

“Did you want to talk about your trouble?” The space maneuvered him beside her, but she didn’t seem to mind. Her touch danced up his arm, filling his senses like a drug. “Or forget about it?”

The way her thumb brushed his mouth drowned him in hope. This type of thing didn’t happen. Not to him.

 

Join us for our two giveaways below!

And don’t forget that my friend Ali Abbas’s novelette, Like Clockwork, is on sale for 99 cents.

Giveaway One:

$25 Amazon gift card giveaway

Giveaway Two:

Win one of five copies of Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild and Other Stories by following Transmundane Press on Amazon. Only available for US participants.

 

Hello. My name is Alisha, and I am a Caffeine Addict.

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My addiction knows few bounds. After a week of intense grading, coffee has become my crutch once more. Four down and four to go? Refill the mug and hope my brain cells don’t melt, or combust, or simply give up on me.

It happened the other day. I laid down for a nap at 6:30 and woke up at 6:30…am…

Oh, the life of a professor/editor/business-owner/writer/wife/step-mom. Man, that’s a lot of slashing.

I wonder if my ingrained need to keep productive fuels my coffee addiction. It certainly works the other way around.

I don’t have to wonder—and maybe, now, neither do you—why Ria, my caffeine-fueled vampire, seems to drink a million cups per book. It’s her ultimate distraction—her ability to take a moment, calm down, collect herself, or avoid an awkward conversation that’ll likely happen anyways.

She also has the same trait of staying busy and stretching herself thin: working two job (Holla, I hear that), navigating her own survival, and taking on the world—in a more literal sense than I do.

Let the apocalypse reign, so long as we can still have our cups of joe.

Can you survive without your flavor of caffeine? What’s the one thing you couldn’t survive without?

Did You Know…About the Ningyo. How to Become an Immortal, Part One

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The ningyo are Japanese mermaids, but they’re different from the pretty, western versions many of us are used to. They’re often described as monkey-mouthed, half-human-half-fish creatures. And these poor things are famous for being eaten.

For good reason, their flesh is both tasty and leads to astonishingly long life.

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Now, Japan has some pretty weird shit in their waters, and the ningyo are no different. Catching them are believed to bring on storms and bad luck, so they’re often thrown back. And washing up on shore warns of oncoming war or disaster.

But of course, if one’s lucky enough to sample mermaid meat and get a taste of the ningyo, they’ll be rewarded with immortality. Seems like a storm or catastrophe is a small price to pay.

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Several fictional stories utilize this myth in their story-lines, like Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid Forest or the Mermaid Saga, an anime/manga series that centers on Yuta who ate mermaid meat and lived for more than five-hundred years and searched for a cure to the more common side effects of this treat: death or becoming a damned creature known as a Lost Soul.

And its origins come from Yao Bikuni, a myth that depicts a young woman eating some after getting drunk at a party, and she stayed sixteen for over eight-hundred years before she became a nun and died in a cave.

Want to read more? Check out this link.

Guilty of Goal Goldbricking.

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Let’s talk about goals.

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I made a lot for this month, and I tried for the first half to keep on track, but as usual, I got caught up with life and my family, and now, I’m behind. A thousand-words-a-day behind.

But let me say something about goals and procrastination. The only thing that will keep me from finishing this is me. Getting behind doesn’t mean giving up, and I’m happy, frankly, that I’m getting anything done, as I’d let this story sit dormant for almost a year as other projects took over. I’m okay with the other three sitting and waiting for this one to get done, since it, too, will have to sit and wait to be edited afterwards.

Nanowrimo, for me, is designed to kick my rear back into action so that I can get my own creative work done because the rest of the year will be devoted to editing.

So, as long as I keep going, I’ll get my shit done and meet my goals.

Without the guilt of not getting it done sooner.

Are you participating in Camp Nanowrimo? Link me to your project below.

Not participating but still have massive goals to meet? Tell me about them and your tricks for staying on track.

Plan With Me: July & Quarterly Planning

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Summer is a time for big, creative goals. I focus on creation and new habits as the rest of the year is devoted to editing and publishing and grading…

So. here’s what I’m currently focusing on and how I’m keeping myself on track.

One of my favorite things about summer is that I don’t have a second job to get in my way of working out, which means I can up my workouts from two or three times a week to five or six. The problem is…I’m home all day…with all of that food I buy each week…

That’s why I implemented two spreads, my 21 Day Challenge, which incorporates four exercises I actually enjoy doing, and a longer plan for my workouts in hopes of creating variety and mixing up my normal heavy-lifting workouts with cardio programs and light weights.

I also have a special spread for July Camp NaNoWrioMo and my four major writing projects for the year. I’m actually working on the same project I started for last year’s NaNoWriMo, which got put on the back burner for the After the Happily Ever After anthology.

I’m excited to dig into each of these again, my snarky YA paranormal detective, Boden’s journey home, a fire story about Ria’s father, and the prequel to Loving Red. The last three are short, so I’m hoping I can tackle each one with enough vigor to get their first drafts complete, or near-complete. You can join my cabin, Transmundane Team, or simply wish me luck. I know I’ll need it.

Finally, I’ve updated my quarterly goals to be more beneficial to me as a whole rather than simply working towards a better business. Sometimes, I forget other things exist outside of publishing, and I really need to focus on family, my home, and personal development with a bit more cohesion than I have been.

And in case you were wondering what planning for the next three months looks like. Here’s a quick peek.

How do you plan? Set goals? Stay productive? Share your process and hopes with me. I’d love to cheer you on!

Want to see my entire set up? Check out my plan with me on YouTube.

 

Did You Know…About Phea and James?

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I know, this isn’t my normal DYK post, but I’ve been in a sharing mood.

I’m a fan of context and connections and deeper meanings, so this is from the author’s mouth…urm, fingers? You know what I mean.

Two of the oldest characters featured in my Broken World series, Phea and James have pasts locked together with violence, manipulation, and the struggle for power.

If you’ve read “Maiden of the Underworld,” you know about Phea’s beginning. But if you haven’t, let me give you a recap: Phea is the daughter of Chronos, the Primordial god of time and an Atlantean woman. She’s set against the twin gods of the Atlantean pantheon: Markandeya, the god of the underworld; and Jydios, the god of war. Without too many spoilers, she dies, becomes the first vampire, finds some romance, and makes some heart-breaking sacrifices. Hers is a tragic story.
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There’s much more I haven’t written about her past yet, like how she started the war between vampires and shifters because she was jealous of her son’s wife and family. Or how she’s the grandmother of all shifters. Unfortunately for the lot, blood ties don’t seem to curb her cruelty. She’s merciless.

How does James fit into this? Well, mini-spoiler: James is the reincarnated Jydios—the war god that tricked and murdered Phea to steal her power by using her love for him against her. Does that give her some more sympathy? Kinda, yeah. Does it undo the six-thousand-year-old torture she lays down on James? No, not really. It’s complicated.

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Jydios tortured and killed any demi-god who had the balls to visit his real godly temple. That’s more than two dozen sacrificed to feed his well of power. James knows this, the knowledge beaten into him by Phea, and he understands that he suffers for the dharma branded on his soul.

The two of them have been allies and adversaries at once. She was given a child that abandoned her, so Phea made James abandon his wife and child, taking their second from them before his birth. She claimed and refuses to release him, although she invites others to her bed to test his faith and force him to fight for her. He fights to survive and does her bidding because he has no other choice.

He really doesn’t. Because Phea’s powers were bestowed on her from the higher pantheons, she can control him just enough to disable his uprising, but he doesn’t make it easy on her.
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Especially now, he’s played his trump card, and they both have limited time to put their warring plans in motion to see who really controls their kingdom.

So there it is, some Broken World history. Want to read their story? Got some unanswered questions? Let me know!

In the meantime, I’ve got four full novels and three short stories in the world. Take a look and catch up in time for the upcoming stories featuring Ria’s father, Aderyn Tanguy, and Boden’s trip home to see his family for the first time in better part of a millennia.

Reading as an Editor

I am doomed. I can’t seem to finish reading most of the books I pick up. I can’t do it. And I used to read between fifty and one hundred books a year. Last year, I started thirty and completed four.

I get shit sometimes for reading multiple books at once. But I’ve always had the belief that all books require a certain attitude or mood. So, I’ll start something that speaks to me, and if I can’t struggle past the first few chapters, I’ll put it down for another time.  Once, I finished a book four years later, sporadically struggling through a few chapters at a time. As it turns out, the book developed into quite the story by the end. The last seventy-five pages flew by, and I was glad to stick it out.

The majority aren’t so lucky, and I often wonder what’s wrong with me. Why can’t I read?

Then, those books come along that sucker punch you right in the kidneys. The Hunger Games was one. Divergent was another. The Testing, Cinder, The Clockwork Scarab, and Feed, etc. They have a rather distinct theme—young adult, satirical, dystopian fiction. This is my brightest of geek buttons, and if I ever decide to go for my PhD, this is what my dissertation will focus on. Ask me for a book to read, and most of them will be in this niche. Just saying.

Anyways, the reason for the massive DNF pile is my equally large list of pet peeves: dialogue tags and adverbs—especially together—passive voice, vague words, and missing Oxford commas. Believe me, the list is rather extensive.
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Instead of wallowing on this inability to read, I need to learn to focus on those moments when a writer can capture me despite the faults I might find in their style or grammar—ones that remind me that my voice is not the only voice—ones that make me throw away my editing pencil for the cats to play with and feel the adrenaline of being surprised by a story.

I had two of those moments this year, and I’m concerned that it’s already June…maybe the two-day train ride without my laptop will help.

Anyways, the first was Red Queen, which I’m almost finished with and will review soon. Man, this had character and a world I’m not used to seeing. A mix of mutants, future dystopia, and a medieval system. Plus that snarky, quick-witted, and rebellious female lead that I love all too much. *Coughs* Ria*Coughs.* Since I first wrote about this in my March newsletter, I’m still almost done with the novel. I ran out of steam again, and I don’t know why, but I’ll get there.

The second book that gripped me probably harder than a book has in the last few years was Like Clockwork, and I had the privilege of publishing this novella. Before you know it, this story has its nails in you, and it drags you, stumbling behind, until the very last word. And by the way, I read the story at least seven times, and the layers Ali needed to deliver the blow that he does grew more and more complex with each read. He truly did a brilliant job.

So, tell me, do you read more than one book at a time? How do you overcome reader’s block?