Ch21Con 2018 Blog Tour

2018 blog tour banner


Hello, readers! Today we’re participating in the Ch1Con & Ch21Con 2018 Blog Tour, an annual tour in preparation for this year’s conferences, which brings original content from the Chapter One Events team to a number of fantastic, writing-related blogs. You’re on one of those right now!

Chapter One Events is a nonprofit organization that brings writing information and publishing opportunities to young writers—culminating in the annual Chapter One Young Writers Conference (Ch1Con, ages 11-20) and the brand new Chapter Twenty-One Conference (Ch21Con, ages 21-29). The Chapter One Events team is composed of a mix of middle school, high school, college, and twenty-something writers, who work together to create a unique, inclusive experience for young attendees.

The two conferences bring tweens, teens, and young adults together to hear from accomplished authors their own age, participate in professional workshops, and celebrate the influence young writers have on the world. With an atmosphere that combines the professional aspects of writing conferences with the awesomeness of hanging out with fellow young book nerds, Ch1Con and Ch21Con are truly can’t-miss events!

This year, Ch1Con (ages 11-20) is bigger and brighter than ever, with more opportunities, cooler giveaways, and a new roundup of fantastic speakers headlining the conference. And the inaugural Ch21Con (ages 21-29) will feature the same speakers and opportunities—just tailored to a slightly older audience. Both conferences will take place Saturday, August 4th at the Hilton Garden Inn – Chicago O’Hare in Des Plaines, IL (a suburb of Chicago). Registration is currently open on the conferences’ respective websites at an early bird discounted rate of $74.99. (This price includes a complimentary pizza party lunch during the conferences, with alternate options available for those with dietary restrictions.)

The speaker lineup features Karuna Riazi (author of The Gauntlet – Simon & Schuster), Amanda Foody (author of Ace of Shades – Harlequin Teen), Christine Herman (author of The Devouring Gray – Disney-Hyperion, spring 2019), and more! Between the awesome presentations and workshops, attendees will have the chance to participate in literary trivia games and giveaways, with prizes including professional critiques, signed books, and advance readers copies (ARCs). There will also be an author panel open to any and all questions at the end of the conferences, followed by a book signing by participating speakers.

During downtime, all participants are free to explore Chicago, relax at the beautiful hotel (where a discounted block of rooms is available for attendees), and network with one another, establishing the sort of vital connections that can jumpstart careers and create lifelong friendships.

The conference weekend will kick off with parties on Friday evening. For the Ch1Con crowd, this will be a picnic at the nearby Chippewa Woods Forest Preserve, which is about five minutes’ walk from the hotel. There will be a group order to Jimmy John’s for those who would prefer not to bring their own food. (In case of inclement weather, alternately the Ch1Con party will take place at local eatery Tiffany’s Restaurant.) For the Ch21Con crowd, the Friday night party will be an informal cocktail hour hosted at the hotel bar, the Garden Grille & Bar.

More information on transportation and lodging can be found on the Ch1Con and Ch21Con websites. Early bird registration is currently available here for Ch1Con (ages 11-20) and here for Ch21Con (ages 21-29). Those under 18 need a parent or guardian’s consent in order to register.

For those in need of financial assistance, Chapter One Events is hosting a spring short fiction and poetry-writing contest, for which the prizes are discounted conference admission and publication in an eBook anthology. Learn more about the contest here (for writers ages 11-20) and here (for writers ages 21-29).

So, if you’re a young writer and you’re interested in these conferences, register ASAP! With a growing number of tweens, teens, and young adults discovering the magic of Chapter One Events, seats are sure to sell out fast. The last day for early bird pricing is May 31st. For more information and to join the Ch1Con and Ch21Con communities online, check out the following links:

Chapter One Young Writers Conference (Ages 11-20)


Chapter Twenty-One Conference (Ages 21-29)


And, of course, you can follow the rest of the Ch1Con & Ch21Con 2018 Blog Tour at: or


The Chapter One Young Writers Conference

Every story needs a beginning. This is yours.


The Chapter Twenty-One Conference

The twenties are rough, man. We’ll get through them together.


Medieval Heroes and the Plus-Sized Women That Love Them – Guest Post by Rose Wynters


There’s just something really romantic about men from the past, isn’t there?

Be it a medieval soldier, pirate, gladiator, or swordsman, I’ve always been intrigued by them. Medieval men were tough. They had to be. Life was hard for them, back in the days when many had to fight just to survive.

They were also very chivalrous. They appreciated women. Period. Back in those days, there was a strict code when it came to love and romance, and society didn’t tolerate any mistakes. There were two classes of women back then. Those who were “available” for a good time, and those that weren’t (at least without a wedding band).

I’ve always had a true passion for history, and I find the past amazing. There have been so many changes throughout the centuries that it is absolutely mind-boggling. Not only have we developed technologies that people in the past would like have never dreamed of, but society as a whole as changed.

Nothing about the Endurers’ series is set in stone, though. So far, I’ve introduced some of the older heroes, the guys that were born hundreds of years ago. They’ve had to learn to adapt to these changes as the years have passed, and quite honestly, many of them miss the lives that they used to lead. But even despite the years that have passed them by, the Endurers have never lost their chivalrous ways… and they never will. Their individual code of honors is ingrained in them, and this makes them different from many of the men today.

But as the series unfolds, don’t be surprised if a modern-day male emerges as a hero. There haven’t been a lot of additions to the Endurers over the past century due to one simple fact… it takes a certain type of man to be one.

The books in this series have mostly featured plus-sized females, although this is not set in stone, either. There’s really no reason for this, it’s just the way it turns out. Historically speaking, the men found real and true beauty in a Rubenesque form. You can see this in many of the paintings that originated during those times.

And although society might have changed its ideals of what is beautiful or not, the Endurers haven’t. Many of these men are attracted to a full-figured woman, they aren’t the least bit concerned about what the modern day ideal might be. In their days, being slender equaled starvation, and quite simply, they can’t understand why now people would starve themselves to remain that slim. It baffles them.

But although the Endurers prefer plus-sized females, the women they meet have a hard time understanding this. They’ve had to deal with their weight all their lives in a world where being overweight is viewed as ugly and repulsive. The way that people have treated them has always seemed to start and end with how much they weigh, and really, they are tired of it. Some might even say they are resigned to living on the outskirts of society.

The way they have been treated by others has really hurt these heroines, although they don’t necessarily realize just how much. After years of insults and ill-treatment by shallow people, it’s left its mark on them. They certainly don’t think they’d ever have a real chance at being with a gorgeous man, much less having said gorgeous man to actually adore them. So, immediately a barrier is thrown up. Many men would walk away at this point, but not the Endurers. They love a good challenge.

Sexual attraction, once it happens, is usually too hard to ignore… even if someone is determined to avoid it. The Endurers are strong, smart, determined, and very seductive, and as time goes by, the heroines notice. It would be impossible not to. And they start to see the real differences between a medieval male and the modern day one, and their resistance starts to crack.

I hope you enjoyed this little introduction into the world of the Endurers.

Rose Wynters

My Favorite Christmas Memory by Lynda J. Cox – Guest Post

Lynda J CoxHi. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may all the blessings of the season be upon you. My name is Lynda, and I’ll be your guest blogger today. I was asked to blog about my favorite memory of this holiday…I have so many wonderful memories. I remember as a kid, the anticipation that Christmas Eve brought; finding the secret hiding places where my mom and dad kept all the treasures my brothers and I would open on that magical morning; the midnight services at the church we attended with the sanctuary bathed and glowing in the soft, muted illumination of candlelight; sleeping under the tree in hopes of catching Santa Claus—and to this day, I love to view my home illuminated with only candlelight and the glow of hundreds of tiny lights on the Christmas tree—the look of pure wonderment when my kids were little and they would stagger into the living room Christmas morning and see the tree surrounded by all the gifts that Santa Claus had brought; snuggled on the couch with my best friend and husband as we watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve; laughing riotously with my dad the first time we ever watched A Christmas Story; watching all the classic Christmas specials with my grand-children…

But, my most poignant memory of all happened when my oldest grandchild was just two years old. Her parents were going through a rather difficult time personally and their coping mechanisms involved illegal drugs and alcohol. It had reached the point where my husband and I knew we had to take legal measures to protect our grand-daughter. It was not a conclusion we had reached lightly or a step we took quickly. We were told by our attorney and we knew that our odds of gaining guardianship of that precious little girl were very slim, even though we had been granted temporary, emergency guardianship.

A protracted legal battle ensued and even though we did everything we could to shield that little one, she was still being used by her parents in an ugly manner. More than once I rocked her to sleep, assuring her that her mommy did love her and we were not going to steal her from her daddy, contrary to what he had told her. I cannot count the tears I dried from her little face because she had been told by mommy that daddy was going to take her away from all of us and that we didn’t love her, we only wanted to hurt mommy by keeping her from her mommy. Anger does not begin to express what I felt for the childish manner my daughter and her significant other emotionally abused that little girl.

A week before Christmas, we had a final court date. The judge refused to allow any more continuances requested by either parent. Before court began that morning, I asked both parents, in the unlikely event we were granted permanent guardianship of their daughter, if they would please join us Christmas morning—to be there before she woke up to share that moment of wonderment and amazement at all the treasures Santa brought during the night. Both parents said they would think about it, but they were both certain one of them would have custody of the child.

At the end of the day, we were granted permanent guardianship. And, neither parent was there Christmas morning. Just my husband and I were there to see the amazement on her little face.

After several years, I have seen how my daughter has put her addictions behind her. I have watched her grow into the woman I knew she can be, that I have always known she truly is—one who loves her children very much, one who would never harm her children in any manner (and I can only guess how deeply distressed she is by the ill-thought-out things she said to her child during that legal battle), and one who would take a bullet for either of her children. She is a strong, intelligent, beautiful woman.

And, for the first time in eight years, my grand-daughter won’t wake up on Christmas morning here. We terminated the guardianship this fall. This year, she will wake in her mother’s home and race to a tree with presents. It’s how it should be. Because now I can be “grandma” and spoil her rotten, as I’ve wanted to do from the moment she was born. I will make this Christmas my favorite memory of all.


About Lynda:

Lynda J. Cox will tell anyone who will listen that she was born at least one hundred and fifty years too late, and most definitely in the wrong part of the country. She holds a master’s degree in English with a concentration in creative writing from Indiana State University after earning her BA from the same university as a non-traditional student. (Think being old enough to be mom to 90% of the students in her freshman cadre.) She’s kept busy with two spoiled rotten house cats, a 30 plus year old Arabian gelding who has been nicknamed “Lazarus” for his ability in the later years of his life to escape death, and quite a few champion collies. When she isn’t writing, she can be found on the road, travelling to the next dog show. She loves to chat about books, the writing life, and the insanity which is called a “dog show” and can be reached through her Facebook page.

Learn about Lynda’s book, Smolder on a Slow Burn

Connect with Lynda:








Smolder on a Slow Burn by Lynda J. Cox – Western Historical Romance Book Tour, Giveaway, and Review


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Virtual Book Tour Dates: 12/9/14 – 1/6/15

Genres: Western Historical Romance



My Review:

I’m a Civil War history buff and reenactor, as well as living near the Elmira prison camp as mentioned in the book.  What drew me into this story were the well-written characters, but what kept me hooked was the historical accuracy and attention to detail that the author used throughout the book.  The romance was wonderfully believable, and if you enjoy an action packed story, this is the book for you.

From the first scene on the train with AJ and Allison to the nail-biting trial scenes, the story draws the reader in, chapter after chapter.  The dialogue and pace were very believable.  I didn’t put this book down once, and read it in one sitting to the conclusion.

I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy Civil War era stories, and individuals who enjoy adult romance novels (aka bodice rippers!).  The heroine is a tough cookie, so don’t expect any shrinking violets in this story (wait until you meet the cook wielding a rolling pin!).

I gave this book a 5 out of 5 stars.  Definitely one of the best historical romance books that I have ever read.

Read Lynda’s Guest Post:  My Favorite Christmas Memory


When your life has been stolen from you and the man responsible wants you dead, where do you run? Who do you trust?

Allison Webster dreams of having an adventure like the characters in the books she loves. But there is no romance in being pursued by a man who wants her dead for educating the children of former slaves. Unlike the heroines she reads about she doesn’t have a trusty companion to rescue her…until she literally runs into A.J. Adams, a former Confederate cavalry officer. Now, she just has to convince A.J. he really is the honorable man and hero depicted in the dime novel she is reading.

When everything you fought for was stripped away, even your honor, what is left to fight for other than revenge?

Branded a “traitor” for more than ten years, scarred by harsh treatment in an inhumane prisoner of war camp, A.J. Adams wants revenge. Allison Webster’s arrival into his life provides the bait to destroy the men who murdered his wife and daughters and kidnapped his little brother. The men pursuing Allison are the very same men he has sworn to kill. Falling in love and admitting he might actually be a hero means surrendering his need for vengeance. Surrender is not part of A.J.’s battle strategy.

See the book trailer on Youtube 



A.J. watched her make her way from the boxcar with as much dignity as it appeared she could muster. The memory of that tiny waist in his hands and the slightness of her build had startled him. The barrier of that shapeless dark green sedge skirt vanished the moment his hands closed around her waist, and he could envision long, lithe limbs. He didn’t make it a habit to imagine any woman undressed, but this one knocked every bit of his equilibrium out from under him and he didn’t have the slightest idea why she did.

When she met his eyes, he’d been taken back. Slender, feathered brows lifted and eyes the color of melted chocolate widened—widened enough he was sure she saw all the way into the black abyss that was once his soul. Bright color flooded her cheeks when he told her to have a seat on the hay bale. Her slight Georgia drawl, hidden under layers of what sounded to be years of formal education, knifed into his chest.

He had watched her discreetly tuck several strands of walnut hair back under that ridiculous hat perched on her head. Realizing he had been staring at her, A.J. turned his back, letting the rapidly moving landscape occupy his gaze. She was lovely, he had to admit that. Walnut hair kissed with warm gold, high cheekbones that curved just enough to give her an elfin cast, a pert little nose, and the darkest chocolate eyes he’d ever seen combined into a rather alluring image. It had been a very long time since he had looked at a woman and not compared her to Cathy. He had sworn, as he knelt at Cathy’s grave that there would never be another. Now, a little slip of a thing had gotten in past his carefully constructed battlements and stirred something in him he could have sworn an oath to be long dead and buried beneath a live oak in Kentucky.

She was right, he was no gentleman. Sliding the door shut in her face hadn’t been the most gentlemanly thing he could have done, but he had long ago given up being anything that might even resemble a gentleman. He’d given that up sometime during his tenure in a veritable hell on earth called Camp Infernum. If he’d harbored hopes of regaining anything that came close to gallantry after watching men fight one another like animals for a scrap of moldy bread, all hope died on a warm spring afternoon when he collapsed to his knees at Clayborne at the graves of his wife and daughters and learned his younger brother had been taken by a band of roving deserters. A.J. knew his veneer of civility was just that—a veneer hiding a wounded, dangerous animal.


Buy Links:


Wild Rose Press

Barnes and Noble


another author photo


About the Author:

Lynda J. Cox will tell anyone who will listen that she was born at least one hundred and fifty years too late, and most definitely in the wrong part of the country. She holds a master’s degree in English with a concentration in creative writing from Indiana State University after earning her BA from the same university as a non-traditional student. (Think being old enough to be mom to 90% of the students in her freshman cadre.) She’s kept busy with two spoiled rotten house cats, a 30 plus year old Arabian gelding who has been nicknamed “Lazarus” for his ability in the later years of his life to escape death, and quite a few champion collies. When she isn’t writing, she can be found on the road, travelling to the next dog show. She loves to chat about books, the writing life, and the insanity which is called a “dog show” and can be reached through her Facebook page.


Connect With The Author:







Enter to win an ebook copy of Smolder on a Slow Burn! This giveaway will run 12/9/14 – 1/6/15. Open worldwide! Enter through Rafflecopter.


Tour Information:


Smolder on a Slow Burn Tour Banner


A Christmas Tradition by Lucy Varna – Guest Post

Ball and BowAbout this time each year, my father reminisces on a Christmas-time tradition his family followed. On the morning of Christmas Eve, he and his siblings would look out the window and see their grandfather, Paw Martin, walking down the road, shoulders stooped, hands behind his back. Paw was a slow walker, so while his house was less than a quarter mile away from the home where Dad was raised, it took him a good long while to shamble down the dirt road between the two. Plenty of time for the kids to see him coming, but they always waited.

Eventually, Paw would make it down the road and up the hill to the house. He’d knock on the door and the kids would open it, faces expectant as Paw said, “Christmas Eve gift!”

Originally, the person who called this greeting out first was to receive a gift. Over time, as older generations faded and new ones were born, the tradition has morphed into a determined and often coordinated campaign to trick people into receiving the greeting unknowingly in order to accumulate bragging rights for the coming year. Technological advances have made sneaking the greeting into the earliest part of a conversation nearly impossible. My family has adapted by going to sometimes ridiculous lengths. Is caller ID alerting the intended recipient of your call? No problem! A neighbor’s phone works just as well, and is far more likely to be answered with a simple hello rather than a hastily called, “Christmas Eve gift!” Far more frequently, one person will call Dad, accept his greeting graciously, and then pass the phone off to a sibling or spouse who shouts out the greeting, to which Dad responds, “You got me, but next year…”

Yes, we’re a sneaky bunch, but it’s all in good fun.

This is perhaps my favorite Christmas tradition. Remembering the antics we go to in order to pull one over on each other always brings a chuckle, and it’s a way for us to honor the memory of loved ones who are no longer with us.

I hope each of you enjoys a safe and happy holiday season. Oh, and, Christmas Eve gift!


Connect with Lucy Varna, author of Tempered:



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A Christmas Memory from my Childhood by M.C. Norris – Guest Post

M.C. NorrisM.C. Norris is the author of Deep Devotion, Krengel & the Krampusz, and The Dread Owba Coo-Coo.  He dropped by this holiday season to share a wonderful gem of a Christmas memory with us!  You can learn more about him and his projects on

It was one week before Christmas.  I was in third grade.  Seemingly out of nowhere, the teacher asked for a show of hands to determine how many students in the class still believed in Santa Claus.  I vividly remember my anxiety mounting as I looked one way, and then another, to see that no other hands were wavering in the air but my own.  I recall some grins, and even a few snickers.  The teacher smiled wryly at me.  “Michael,” she inquired, “why do you still believe in Santa Claus?”

Slowly, I lowered my hand.  “Because I talked to him on the phone.”

As a parent, my father was a bit of a creative deviant who perhaps enjoyed partaking in holiday trickery more than the children being tricked.  It was all in good fun, but my dad couldn’t have known the looming ramifications when he enlisted his buddy to play the role of Santa Claus on the other end of the phone in hope of talking me out of a particular gift on which my heart had been set.

It was the Bat Cave.

Back in the 70’s, there were no such things as “action figures.”  We had dolls.  Super heroes and G.I. Joes were all eight-inch dolls with removable clothing and even realistic hair that was sometimes glued to their squish-able heads, which was an unfortunate feature for the G.I. Joe from the Sea Wolf toy set, whose bristly hair and beard fell out in patches after a few weeks of nightly immersion in a bathtub, where he was pitted against a menacing rubber squid that circled his flooded submarine.  At the time, the campy Adam West version of Batman was still wildly popular, as well as the animated Hanna Barbara productions that aired on Saturday mornings, such as Batman and the Superfriends.  The year when the Bat Cave playset appeared on the scene was probably around 1979, and I was probably around seven or eight-years-old.  To the best of my recollection, the Bat Cave playset was a plastic base with molded computers and stalagmites that served as a foundation for a cardboard backdrop that was a printed screenshot of the actual Bat Cave, as it was portrayed on one of those popular shows.  For years, I’d been using cardboard boxes and Styrofoam packaging to create temporary models of Bat Caves that I’d store beneath my bed until such time as my mother grew tired of them and threw them out.  I was ready for the real deal.  The Bat Cave playset was finally available, and it was all that I wanted for Christmas.

Now, I’m not sure whether this particular item was overpriced, constructed of poor quality, or a combination of both, but my dad hated it.  He couldn’t stand the idea of buying it.  Every time that I’d bring it up, my dad would retort that it was nothing but a cardboard piece of crap, and that he could make me a much better Bat Cave than that.  My dad was quite a craftsman, but I must admit, I had my doubts about his ability to craft anything remotely more awesome than the playset that was being advertised on the back of every comic book being printed that Christmas season.  In fact, I couldn’t imagine settling for anything less, until the night when my dad suggested we call the North Pole, and I could hear it from Santa himself.


Was such a thing even possible?  Why, in all my eight-years, had my dad been holding out on an option to actually call Santa Claus and speak directly to the man himself?  I was stunned, and it all happened so suddenly that I’d scarcely time to react before he’d picked up the beige, goosenecked rotary phone on my grandparent’s counter, and he dialed up the North Pole before handing the phone right over to me.  I didn’t know what to say, but as it turned out I didn’t need to say anything, because the next thing I knew the voice of Santa Claus was booming right in my ear. He of course knew exactly who I was, and why I’d called, without my ever having to explain myself.  It was a shot of pure, undiluted 190-proof Christmas magic, rushing through every whorl of my brain.  Star-struck, I could only nod my head in some semblance of understanding as Santa corroborated exactly what my dad had been telling me for months, that the Bat Cave was nothing but a cardboard piece of junk that was so poorly designed that his elves had actually halted the production line for that item, and they were in the process of doing a total recall.  Santa then suggested, with an almost frightening intuition, that I might ought to ask my dad to make me a better Bat Cave than the one that was being so falsely advertised.

Christmas morning of 1979 arrived. I remember the astringent smell of fresh paint emanating from a large, dome-shaped package that was almost too heavy and awkward for a boy to lift from beneath the sappy branches of the real Christmas tree.  When I tore away the colorful wrapping paper, I gawped down at a homemade Bat Cave, jigsawed entirely out of ¾” plywood, and painted a dark, chocolate brown.  Even divorced of its wrapping paper it was almost too heavy to carry.  I had to slide it into the clear, with its splintered edges snagging at and tearing at the shag carpeting.  There was no way that it was going to fit on my bedroom shelf, nor would it slide under my bed, being so large and ungainly.  No, it was obvious from the moment I laid eyes on it that this plywood playset would have to be stored out in the garage, where I could play in a realistically cold and lightless environment that mirrored the inhospitable conditions of an actual cave.

The old man had really put some work into it. A huge black and gold Batman symbol blazed from the center of a great arched panel that served as the backboard.  Screwed to the lower sidewalls, which remained forever tacky beneath their coats of brown paint, were ranks of imagined computers that the old man had fashioned from the dusty guts of old telephones and radios.  My Bat Cave was the toyland equivalent of Eddie Murphy’s homemade McDonald’s burger, with all of the chunky onions and peppers hanging out of it, and it was no small irony that it had been created by the same man who would forever retell the tale of the wounded look in his own mother’s eyes when he’d once opened a package thirty-some years earlier to stare down in utter horror at a homemade version of the western shirt he’d wanted, sewn from material patterned with cute little skunks. Wisely, I remembered the lesson from this familiar anecdote, and I opted to break that cycle of lifelong regret that my dad tried to initiate in that fateful moment when he’d held aloft his skunky cowboy shirt on Christmas morning, frowned at his mama, and wrinkled his nose.  Rather than showing any sign of disappointment, I thanked the old man, hefted the enormous abomination by its splintered edges, and staggered beneath the weight of its stupendous bulk into the frigid garage, where I would play with my superhero dolls beneath the mindless glare of a couple of half-frozen cats named Simon and Kuma.

Trickery and deceit.  That’s my family tradition.  In the same vein as my old man, when he handed me the phone to talk directly to Santa, or when he’d point at the flashing red light of an airliner plying Christmas Eve’s starry skies, and he’d assure me that it was none other than the blinking nose of Rudolph, I have made every effort to trick and deceive my own children, not just at Christmas, but at every occasion.  The Tooth Fairy left not just coins beneath pillows at our house, but elaborate letters to the children, explaining how their teeth were ground into powder as a sort of nostrum to save the life of an ailing Toadstool King.  Leprechauns weren’t just celebrated on Saint Patrick’s Day, they were hunted, trapped, and even feared, as they would always manage to escape the clever traps we’d set for them and leave, in their wakes of rage, subsequent paths of destruction all around the house.

When I revisit the memory of glancing uneasily around that 3rd Grade classroom, with my skinny arm wavering alone in the air, what I feel is love and pride.  I love the fact that I was the last kid in my grade to release my hold on my beliefs; I love my dad, and all the trouble that he went through to build me a Bat Cave that was no doubt immeasurably better (and lasting) quality than the cardboard piece of junk that was being advertised in every comic book printed in the fall of 1979, and I’m proud to be a part of that family tradition of trickery that not only inspires, but galvanizes the magic of childhood.


Beyond and Into the Sonar Galaxy by B. Truly – Guest Post

B. Truly authorMeet B. Truly, author of Sonar the Crashing.  In this guest post she shares what draws her to the science-fiction genre.

I’ve always wondered what lies beyond the Milky Way. Some of my favorite sci-fi shows and movies were Dune, Roswell, and Stargate. I like how Dune showed the human-like species planet that they lived on. Arrakis and Dune were similar to Earth, but had several differences. Giant worms roamed the surface of Dune. They produced spice which was the key to the universe. The spice created by the worms allowed them to fold time for space travel. It was a very intriguing storyline.

On Roswell I loved the mysterious alien beings. As they uncovered pieces to the puzzle of who the really were; I felt like I was a part of their group. It was later learned that some of their race survived because Tess traveled back to their home planet Antar, at the end of season 2. I did always wish I could have actually seen their planet, and know what happened to their race.

Stargate was always a thrill to watch. It was exciting because this series actually let you explore other planets and galaxies by traveling through the Stargate.

After these shows ended I had more questions about the universe. I decided to answer some of those questions by creating by own beings from another planet. Earth is a common element that is thrown into the mix in a lot of stories. They always talk about their home planet, but you have to make your own perception. I wanted to take a journey where the story involved Earth, but the reader actually got to experience the other world.

Sci-fi combined with romance and action is my favorite. The best part of writing sci-fi has been creating various powers for the characters. It was also amusing to develop alien sexuality and powers they possess. Humans are a curious race. There has to be some differences with our DNA and sensuality.

In the Sonar Series I created the Sonar galaxy which is 300 million light years away. The plot of the story revolves around amnesia, fate, and destiny. I wanted to explore what happens when a husband falls in love with another woman because he doesn’t remember his wife. Is it more than déjà vu? With the Romeland family it may be destined to be true.

From wormholes to portals, black holes and supernovas, there are no bounds that sci-fi hold. For me, sci-fi defines a mysterious adventure. It’s a genre that never gets old.

Sonar the Crashing

By: B Truly

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Guest Post – ‘Twinkle’ Author SJ Parkinson on Writing Authentic Military Novels

In this guest post, ‘Twinkle’ author SJ Parkinson shares how he goes about writing military novels, and the research necessary to deliver an authentic experience to the reader.


In several of my novels, I’ve gone to great lengths to research the various military branches that I present to the reader. Even though I write fiction, I still try to depict the armed services accurately. The reason for this is quite simple, it makes the work more plausible. As a reader myself there is nothing I hate more than seeing a piece of information I know is wrong. My favorite example is seeing a hero with a revolver, then three pages later the author writes about changing magazines in that weapon. Revolvers don’t have magazines and from that point on you cannot believe what you are reading. The world the author built up is now shattered by the inaccuracies and enjoyment of the book past that point, for me at least, is unlikely.

I typically do one to two weeks research on a novel before I begin writing. Twinkle involved three months of solid research to ensure all of the aircraft, tactics, weapons, and even radio call signs were as accurate as I could make them.

When you write about the military there are always two major obstacles to overcome as an author. First, by their very nature military operations are conducted in secrecy. This makes it difficult to represent the operations of the armed services accurately. The atmosphere of OPSEC (Operational Security) often means details are hard to come by. This is understandable as lives are literally at risk if certain information is released. As an example, that same security limits me personally as some of my duties in the air force are still classified after thirty years. As I once said, “The best fiction grows in the shadows”, but that doesn’t mean you can make up tactics and strategy willy nilly. The battle scenes have to be structured logically and make sense. Members (and former members) of the military read books as well and they are not shy in trashing badly written books. An author who takes liberties, even in a fictional novel, can end up taking a lot of flak (pun not intended) from military members. It’s a bit of a rock and hard place situation, but it can be navigated if you use due care.

The second obstacle lays in the way the military communicates. When they are in combat using radios, they don’t speak in a way that a civilian would normally comprehend. Here’s transcript of a 1981 air battle near Libya. There are two jets involved, 102 and 113 and Bare Ace is their controller:

102:       102’s got one 214 16 miles out, that’s all I’ve got.

102:       He appears to be turning a little bit left giving us a left aspect. I’m in single target track.

102:       14 miles 21,000.

Bare Ace: 113 say your heading.

113:       113s heading 070

102:       10 miles

102:       102. The bogeys got us on his nose now 8 miles.

102:       We’re at altitude, twenty thousand feet 6 miles.

Bare Ace: 102, 113 your vector 100.

Bare Ace: 102 state.

The pilots and controller in this example use code words along with short concise sentences to keep each other informed of what’s going on in the battle space. Yet, a civilian would be confused as they have no reference to the vocabulary. A glossary can help, but you don’t want readers to reference that ten times a page. It breaks the rhythm of the story and will frustrate many. Instead, an author needs to translate that confusing nomenclature into sentences everyone can understand while keeping the essence of the scene believable. It can be done, but does require work because as I said earlier you don’t want to change things so much that you alienate your military readers. It’s a balancing act to be sure, but certainly not impossible.

In my last sci-fi novel Predation, I received a five star review from a gentleman who said, “The combat is so vividly written that I was there in my mind and almost breathless on numerous occasions.” When you read such a complimentary review, the many hours you spent creating the action scenes become worthwhile. A different five star review concluded, “An ex-military man that I work with said the descriptions were accurately written.” The smile on my face after reading that sentence validated all the effort I’d put into the novel.

Twinkle has many military elements in it and is certainly my most ambitious novel to date being literally global in scope. I hope you can find the time to read it. Thank you for this opportunity to address your readers.

SJ Parkinson


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