Once Upon an Ever After available for Digital Pre-Order Now

Once Upon an Ever After

I am pleased to announce that the first WordCrafter fantasy anthology, Once Upon an Ever After: Modern Fairy Tales & Folklore is scheduled for release on August 23, and is now available for digital pre-order through this Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/mKdWGV

Once Upon an Ever After: Modern Fairy Tales & Folklore

This unique and imaginative collection of eleven thought provoking fantasy stories will delight readers who enjoy stories of wishes gone awry.

What happens when…

A woman desires to carry on her family’s legacy, uncovering a long-buried curse?

A not so perfect witch casts a spell to defy age and preserve her relationship with her handsome shapeshifting familiar?

A time traveler longs to be the savior of knowledge lost?

An incompetent delivery boy becomes an unlikely savior of forgotten artifacts?

A magic mirror yearns for a different question?

A tiny story witch desires to share her stories with the world?

Spells are cast, unlikely alliances made, and wishes granted, sometimes with surprising outcomes. You’ll love this anthology of modern myths, lore, and fairy tales. Once you read these twisted tales, you’ll be sure to be careful what you wish for….

If you liked Gilded Glass, you’ll enjoy Once Upon an Ever After: Modern Myths & Fairy Tales, short stories with thought provoking themes, captivating characters and diverse cultures, from humorous to horrifying, from the legendary past to possible futures and back to the here and now.

Reserve your copy today! : https://books2read.com/u/mKdWGV


Writer’s Corner: Where do I go from here?

I just finished up the spring semester at Western State Colorado University. We completed our class project, the Gilded Glass anthology, and.my solo project, Weird Tales: The Best of the Early Years 1926-27, which was quite the learning experience, but also a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the summer residency, where we will finish up our degrees and do a massive book launch party for the Gilded Glass anthology, and for each of our solo projects at the end of July.

Here is the release schedule for our cohort. Some of them are already out there. I’ve included the pre-order links in case you are interested in purchasing new renditions of any of these classic works. I think we all had fun bringing them back to life. And check out those fantastic covers!

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Today, I was listening to the last podcast episode of the Six Figure Authors podcast, and they were discussing their future plans now that the podcast is ending, (much to my dismay), and it made me start thinking about where I want to go with my writing career now that we’re wrapping things up and this chapter of my life is coming to an end. At the end of this summer, I will once again be on my own in my writing career. I hadn’t thought about it before, but summer’s end brings with it not only the book release event and graduation, but also the loss of access to my mentors Kevin J. Anderson and Allyson Languierra and the support and advice of my wonderful cohorts, and I have no idea what 2023 will bring. I need a plan.

This year, I’m set, with the release of the Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships poetry anthology this last semester, the launch of Ask the Authors 2022 writing reference anthology currently under way, and three short fiction anthologies planned for later in the year: Once Upon an Ever After: Modern Fairy Tales & Folklore an (August); Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception (September); and Visions (October). (Hmmm… It seems this is the year of anthologies for me.) But, I need a plan for what comes after that.

Hmmm… I’m revising Delilah to be a part of the Women in the West series with hopes of getting that out by the end of the year, but I keep adding ideas for the series, so I may wait to release until I have at least one more of the books ready to go, so that might be in the plan for next year, although it was originally a part of the plan for 2022. Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about my Playground of the Gods science fantasy series, and the first book is actually with a beta reader right now. But I’ve also been tossing the idea trying it as a serialization around. If anyone has experience on serialization, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Either way, those stories will be a part of the 2023 plan. In addition, I’ve been thinking on a time-travel romance adventure story that I started in 2021, “The Outlaw & the Rockstar”, and those characters have been teasing my brain, so I’ll probably add that to the 2023 agenda. That will give me between 2 and 5 releases of my own books for the year, which isn’t too bad if I can pull it off. Of course, I’ll also want to do an annual poetry anthology and the annual writing contest and anthology, so I can add two more book projects to the agenda.

I don’t think I will be lacking for projects once I’ve bade academia good-bye. In fact, I’m tired just thinking about the whirlwind schedule I just outlined. But you know, I think it will be worth it, if it can enable me to move my writing career to a full time level. The first thing you need to do if you want to sell books, is to write books, so I’m sitting pretty good on that plane. I’m working to revive my monthly newsletter, which I believe will be one of my most valuable marketing tools, and organizing a multi-genre newsletter swap group to help spread the word on releases. I’ve got good lists for possible reviewers built for all the anthologies planned for 2022, which will work for the annual anthologies, but will have to be created for my own books, and this blog is a book marketing tool, too. It’s a place where readers can come to learn about my latest projects, and my readership is growing, so I think I’m on the right track there.

Well…, would you look at that? Why was I worried? I have a plan…, and I think it’s a good one.

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Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you. She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”); and Where Spirits Linger (“The People Upstairs”). Her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, and her short story collection, Last Call, are both available in both digital and print editions.

In her spare time, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. In addition to creating her own imprint in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion, and online writing courses through WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. When not writing or editing, she is bird watching, or hiking, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.

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Sign up for the Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Newsletter for and book event news for WordCrafter Press books, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of Kaye Lynne Booth’s paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, just for subscribing.


Deadline approaching for the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest & a chance for inclusion in the Visions Anthology

Visions

Just a reminder:

The deadline to enter the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, May 31st. There’s still time to get your submission in for a chance to have your story included in the Visions anthology alongside other esteemed authors, but don’t delay. You can find the full submission guidelines and entry here.

The deadline is fast approaching and will be here before you know it. The winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card in addition to being featured in the anthology, but you can’t win if you don’t enter. If you write fantasy, science fiction, horror or paranormal short fiction, I want to read your story!


BOWLESIAN! – Tumbleweeds and Little Girls

Tumbleweeds and Little Girls

They had the tumbleweed ambassador on the news a month before the big battle. The news guy and news girl said he was intelligent, and then a local representative of the Plains and Wildlife Service translated for him because tumbleweeds can’t talk and must sign everything by rolling and hopping and what not.
“We mean your people no harm,” said the Plains and Wildlife Service guy. He spoke kind of slow and choppy. I guessed he wasn’t actually, what do you call it? Fluent in tumbleweed?
He said, “The war has started, whether you realize it or not. The Prairie Queen has an army of deer, antelope and coyotes. She’s got the power of fire. She murdered our Wizard Father and made her castle from our dead tumbleweed brothers and sisters. The crazy bitch!”
I winced at this last word. I’m only twelve years old, after all. My dad used to talk real rough like that. He used to cuss and laugh and say to me, “Don’t repeat that to your mother, Amie Masterson. I don’t want to fight no little girl.” Then we’d roughhouse a bit. My dad died last year, though. Some kind of cancer. Mom never told me which.
I don’t usually watch the late news. I’m supposed to be in bed. But Mom passed out on the sofa early. I laid a blanket over her and picked the empty wine bottle off its side so it wouldn’t drip on the carpet.
The Plains and Wildlife Service guy said, “Have you not noticed her spot-fires outside your city? We want to kill your precious girls!”
The tumbleweed popped up into the air and spun angrily.
Plains and Wildlife Guy said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. We want to utilize your precious girls. We have no defenses. We need soldiers. The Prairie Queen cannot stand against the wealth of your girls. Or so we believe.”
There was some more talking. I was getting sleepy.
The news guy said, “And of course we know the city has been expanding into the Queen’s prairieland at an exponential rate.”
And the news girl said, “Right you are, Tom. In retrospect, that may have been a huge mistake. Oops.”
And then a commercial for local heating and cooling repair came on. I went to kiss Mom on the forehead. She moaned softly, smiled for a second, and then settled into a noisy, listless snore. Mom is a good mother, but I think Dad dying did some stuff to her. I guess that’s normal. She never used to drink wine.
There was a knock at the door. I was scared for a second, but only because Mom said never to open the door to strangers at such a late hour.
There was another knock.
“Mom,” I said, “someone at the door.”
Mom didn’t wake up. I nudged her, shook her, but still nothing, all snores, drool dribbling from the corner of her mouth. I went to the door, looked through the peephole.
There was nobody there.
“The heck?” I said. I slid back the deadbolt and opened the door.
A tumbleweed sat on our welcome mat. It had a leather glove duct-taped to its scrawny, scratchy limbs. It was kind of a big tumbleweed. The color of autumn wild grass. It leaned in to, like, look in our house.
“Is this because I’m a precious girl?” I said.
The tumbleweed shook.
“And you’re recruiting all the girls and that means me, right?”
It shook again.
“Only thing is I can’t leave. Mom’ll be super pissed. Oops. Mom’ll be super angry.”
The tumbleweed rolled, over and over, until the glove and duct tape came undone and stuck and sat limp and kind of sad on our porch. The tumbleweed wiggled and bent toward the glove.
I shrugged and picked it up. There was a big rock inside. There was also some red dirt. I brought the dirt to my nose to sniff it. It smelled salty, briny, kind of like how I imagine the ocean smells, like vast rotting shipwrecks beneath the waves where porpoises and turtles swim and play.
“What’s this stuff?” I said.
The tumbleweed smashed into my leg. My hand jerked, the dirt flew, a bunch of it went up my nose.
I sneezed.
Someone said, Me entiendes?
I sneezed again. A big cloud of red flew from my nostrils.
Someone said, Ne me comprenez-vous?
“Huh?” I snorted. “S’that even English?”
Oh, English, English! Oh, of course! Yes, how sally of me.
“What? Sally?” I wriggled my nose and wiped allergy tears from my eyes.
Silly! Silly! Of course! Stupid Dumb-Dust. I’m dumb, you know? All tumbleweeds are dumb. Call me Aaron. Aaron Sisymbrium Altissimum. Don’t worry about that last part. That’s my family name. Are you ready to be a soldier, girl?
“Soldier?” I said. “You mean to fight the Prairie Queen?”
That’s precisely what I mean. Time is short. Matters are barbiturate.
“Barbiturate?”
Aaron twitched. Desperate! Desperate! If we don’t stop her now, she’ll kill all the tumbleweeds, and then, girl, she’ll kill all the humans, too.
I looked over my shoulder. Mom was still snoring away on the couch. Wine makes adults snore. That’s something I learned.
Come on, soldier, said Aaron, no more dilly dallying. Don’t you want to make your fellow humans proud?


I learned a lot of things in Tumbleweed Army. I learned how to march, how to roll up into a little ball to protect myself. Learned how to say, “Yes, ma’am!” like I meant it. Most of all, I learned coyotes and deer and antelope were really scary because they could eat the tumbleweeds and break the wizard’s spell and use their shoulder-mounted flamethrowers to burn everything. The Prairie Queen had the power of fire. She wanted to burn it all, burn the world, which I guess included my home and my mom, which is why I stayed.
There was a girl there called Jade. She was an older girl. Really pretty, with deep almond skin and bright green eyes. We’d be in the middle of flamethrower-dodging exercises, and she’d come up to me and look at the way I was darting and dodging around, and she’d say, “Looking real good, Masterson. Looking real sharp.”
The tumbleweeds didn’t do any of the teaching or drilling themselves. They only knew tumbling. They left it to all the thirteen and fourteen-year-olds to teach us everything we needed to know. Maybe they should have asked for the real army, the adult army. Even they seemed weirded out by a little girl army, and sometimes they acted like they didn’t know how they’d ended up with us at all.
If the adult army was looking for us, they never found us, secret and hidden away on the outskirts of the city like we were. Also the tumbleweeds had this special concealing magic. The last thing they had left of their Wizard Father.
Aaron told me, Our Wizard Father was a great man. He granted us intelligence and the freedom we so cherish. But the concealing magic’s fading. We can’t stay hidden from the Queen forever.
I was like, okay, you’re fine, the older girls know everything. They’ve designed this whole thing and know everything there is to know. That’s probably why our uniforms were pink and sparkly, and why our flags carried pictures of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, and why even though the cutoff age was fourteen, you could tell they were serious and skilled and were girls on a mission, girls ready to kill.
I missed my mom. I’m not going to lie about that. I missed her so bad it didn’t matter to me she didn’t listen anymore when I talked to her about school, or that I always saw her crying first thing in the morning, or that everything Dad made her promise when he was in the hospital sort of, well, just went forgotten and we didn’t talk about it. I was in that army for four weeks, then we had the big battle, but I never forgot Mom, and I guess she never forgot me, but I couldn’t say goodbye to her just in case I might die, because the tumbleweeds were real, real strict about enemy code breakers and antelope misinformation squads.


One night as I was laying down to sleep in my tent, Jade came and undid the tent flap and she and a few girls brought in a little white cupcake with a single candle flickering and hopping kind of like a tumbleweed.
“What’s this?” I said sleepily.
“It’s your birthday, Masterson,” said Jade.
“My birthday?”
She nodded and said, “Make a wish.”
I wished to kiss a boy, but knew it probably wouldn’t come true because there were no boys for miles and miles. Me and the girls shared the cupcake, but the cupcake was made out of mashed potatoes, because the tumbleweed galley only had potatoes because Aaron told us all you eat is potatoes in the army and we didn’t argue.
“Jade,” I said, choking down my last bite. “Do you think things will go back to normal after this? I mean, after we kill the Prairie Queen and all? Do you think all us girls can go back to how we were?”
Jade thought about this. She nodded. “Yes, I think we can. At least I hope we can. Wizards and Queens and Dumb-Dust, all that stuff shouldn’t exist. I think it only exists because the world needs stuff to make you wonder. You know what I mean? My Dad always says, ‘Boy it really makes you wonder’. I think that sort of thing is really important.”
“Why?” I said.
One of the other girls chimed in. “Because everything would be so boring otherwise.”
“Boring’s not bad,” said Jade. “Boring’s only bad if you get used to it. There’s always people stepping on other people. Trying to take things that don’t belong to them, you know? Because people get used to that, too. Like that spot where our city and their world meet up….”


So there was this spot where our city and their world met up. For miles and miles, our buildings rose high, and interstates ran, and traffic lights blinked red, yellow, green, red, yellow, green.
But on this spot, there were a few loose suburban fingers of little houses that looked nice but that also all looked the same, and those fingers kind of stretched out, and then they ended, and their world was beyond, the prairie world, high grass and rolling hills, pretty wildflowers and peaceful vistas.
The wind could rustle through, and it could carry a dry, dusty scent, and maybe there’d be pollen on the wind, but there were no honking car horns or televisions blaring. People didn’t shout at each other. There were no people. The city wasn’t there yet. Maybe it would be someday. Of course it would be. The city just kept growing and growing and growing, and nobody bothered to ask the Queen if it was okay. Nobody stopped to think it might be a bad thing if the prairie world got swallowed up, got paved over, with houses and restaurants and, you know, post offices and stuff built all over it.
We had the battle on that spot. It was time. No more hiding. Me and all the girls—thousands of girls—we lined up at the fence line of that last wandering suburban finger. The hot mid-afternoon sun beat down on us. Smell in the air like columbines. We came in our pink sparkly uniforms, with our flags waving. The grenade girls all had purple caps. Girls with rifles had big red badges on their chests. There were also film-crew girls, who’d appointed themselves to the rank, who held up smartphones and snapped selfies with the battlefield-to-be in the background.
I was light infantry, just like Jade, and that meant we had no weapons, only pig-tails and three-ring binders, because the tumbleweeds had chosen girls for a reason, and we all figured we’d be even scarier all dressed up for school.
Prairie Queen’s afraid of school girls. Prairie Queen’s afraid of school girls.
We kind of told each other that over and over again, sort of like a, what do you call it? A mantra?
Prairie Queen’s afraid of school girls.
Prairie Queen’s afraid of school girls.
And we said it again and again, and it made us less afraid, even though we knew we might die that day.
The ground beneath our feet trembled. Far off across the field, over the rise and fall of grassy hills, we saw the first ranks of animals and their flamethrowers. The coyotes were the fastest and lightest, and they ran ahead of the herd, belching fire, scorching earth, I guess to scare us. They howled and yipped at the antelope and deer. You kind of figure antelope and deer don’t make noises, but they do. This strained, desperate, sharp kind of screaming noise. And when there are thousands of them—and there were thousands—it comes off like a banshee wail, like a great roaring throat sound loud as jet engines.
I don’t know why, but the sound made us cry. It was so loud. The screaming, the yipping, the flames and flames and flames. I cried like I knew a soldier should never cry. But it was okay, because Jade cried, too. Maybe I felt like running home to my mom, and maybe Jade did also, but she didn’t, she stood there like she was the bravest crying girl in the world, and she called back to us through her tears, “Steady, now! Wait until you see the whites of their eyes!”
And I didn’t know what that meant, because animals don’t have white eyes, but I stood my ground all the same, even though my legs trembled, even though the tears drenched my uniform and my tongue felt stuck to the roof of my mouth.
The tumbleweed commanders came rolling out to marshal our forces. I saw Aaron there with Commander Johnston Salsola Kali.
Commander Johnston waved a scraggly little twig-limb and said through the Dumb-Dust, Today you do your species proud! Today you are not girls, but women! Human women of distinction, finery, and absolute quality. We have no idea how it is you came to defend us, but be not afraid, dear human beings! For though you may die—yes, you may die, yes, yes!—for though that may be so, remember, one and all, that the Queen may take your lives, but she shall never take your Sweden!
In unison, the thousands-girl army said, “Huh?”
Commander Johnston said, Bother! Freedom! Freedom! Freeeeeeedom!
The army roared. Girls fired rifles in the air. They said, “Freeeeeeedom!” Even though freedom wasn’t really the thing, but getting trampled and burned up, but a cry of freedom was enough, and I said it, too.
Jade told us to stand at the ready. We did. She told us to march ahead at the quick step. We did that, too. I think the older girls had watched old war movies before the battle, so everything they were telling us to do was really smart and accurate for what soldiers are supposed to do in battle.
We marched at the quick step. The rifle girls and grenade girls were right behind us. The rifle girls fired rounds over our heads. This was smart because the animals kind of flinched and froze at the noise.
Bang! Bang! Bang, bang, bang!
And anyway, it wasn’t the animals we were after, but the Queen, who, tumbleweed intelligence told us, would be in the middle of her formations, in the mobile command station made of dead tumbleweed bodies all stuck together.
“Double-time, march!” said Jade.
We picked up the pace.
Coyotes snapped and howled at us. The deer and the antelope shot steady burning jets of fire. We began our dodging maneuvers, still in ranks, still in line, but dodging that fire like crazy.
A girl beside me—Kirsten—went down screaming. Our standard bearer went up in flames, but the next girl in line—a film-crew girl—picked up the smoldering flag and soldiered on, still bravely snapping selfies and snagging footage of the whole bloody mess.
And it occurred to me that the world was a crazy place. It made you wonder. Really made you wonder, you know? Girls weren’t supposed to be soldiers. Were they? Were girls supposed to be soldiers? I bent over Kirsten. Girls weren’t supposed to be soldiers, were they? Little girls? Kids and teenagers? I froze to the spot. I tried to touch her. Girls weren’t supposed to be soldiers. She was too hot, too bubbling, too much melted Kirsten. Girls weren’t supposed to be soldiers. They weren’t, were—
Jade slapped me.
“Snap out of it, Masterson!” she said. “The command station! Look, it’s right there!”
And it was right there. It looked like a castle on wheels. Made of tumbleweeds. Thousands upon thousands of poor dead tumbleweeds.
Burn the world! Burn it all!
Nobody else would die! Nobody!
Jade and I and the remnants of our unit—all told, seven girls—we darted in and out of flames and animals. Grenades exploded all around us. Dying things, dying from bullet wounds, dying from the burn.
We mounted the ramp of that mobile command station. We tried to punch through the tumbleweed walls, but the Queen had cast a spell, and the walls were solid as steel.
Jade told us to begin the chant, the mantra. We began it.
“Prairie Queen’s afraid of school girls! Prairie Queen’s afraid of school girls! Prairie Queen’s afraid of school girls!”
The mobile command station rolled to a stop.
“Prairie Queen’s afraid! Prairie Queen’s afraid!”
The animals stopped. Their roaring streams and jets and flames. They stopped their screaming. The coyotes stopped howling and yipping and yapping.
“Prairie Queen’s afraid of school girls!”
And our army stopped, too. Nobody told them what to do if the animals quit fighting. Nobody expected that. The battlefield went silent, all but the wind, and the flickering and popping of little grass fires here and there, and us seven girls, and our chanting, our mantra.
“Prairie Queen’s afraid of school girls! Prairie Queen’s afraid—”
“The Prairie Queen fears nothing!”
The voice boomed and echoed across the field. It was low, brassy, not human at all.
The command station exploded.
I went flying. I hit the ground. The air rushed from my lungs.
Tumbleweed shrapnel bit at me, scratched me up. I felt the pain of it, but I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t breathe at all.
The voice came again. With a kind of wispy whipcrack to each syllable.
“The Prairie Queen fears nothing! Nothing!”
Like the blast of a shotgun, my breath came back to me. I sucked in air like it was a thick milkshake, like the best chocolate milkshake I’d ever tasted.
Hands took hold of me, lifted me, jerked me up. My feet didn’t touch the ground.
“You, girl! Do you think I fear you?”
It wasn’t hands that had a hold of me. And it wasn’t a nasty old Queen hovering inches from my face. I expected a scary old lady. The Prairie Queen was a blade of wild grass. Just a single, tall, stout blade of wild grass, with no face, no mouth, no eyes. Split from her body, willowy grass arms, with little willowy grass hands. She shook me. She said, “What stupidity! What inane musings! To think I could fear this dull creature! This girl. You people. You take so much. I will take from you!”
And then she threw me to the ground and started whipping me with her green grassy hands.
It stung. It slivered and sliced. I started bleeding. The girls just watched. The animals watched. Stunned.
“Help!” I said. “Help!”
“You will not take from me,” screeched the Queen. “You will not take from me.”
She whipped me. Welts and cuts and lacerations and ripping, tearing skin. I curled into a ball, like the older girls had taught us, but the whipping kept coming and kept coming and kept coming.
A little ball of fire started circling her wild grass head. The Queen said, “Burn the wizard. Burn the weeds. Burn your city to the ground!”
The ball grew and grew, and it circled faster and faster and—
Movement in the field.
A tumbleweed rolled and hopped over me and smashed into the Queen. The ball of fire circling her head exploded. The tumbleweed ignited. The Queen ignited, too.
“Masterson!” Jade was moving now. She tossed me a grenade. I pulled the pin and flicked it at the Queen.
The burning tumbleweed was in the way. I rolled behind an antelope carcass.


Mom found me bleeding on the sofa the next morning. There was a collection of wine bottles in our living room. And also a bunch of notebooks and pens and candy wrappers. And also pizza boxes because adults like whole pizzas and whole bottles of wine. That’s something I learned.
Mom was drinking from a fresh bottle, sort of stumbling down the hall. She spotted me and said, “Oh my God, Amie?”
“Hi, Mom.”
She dropped the bottle. Wine splashed our white carpet. She flung herself at me and started kissing me all over and crushing me.
“Ow!” I said. “Ow, Mom! I’m hurt. I’m bleeding.”
“Jesus Christ, you’re bleeding!”
“I know.”
“Band-Aids! Hydrogen Peroxide!”
Mom patched me up as best she could. We both agreed I should go to the hospital, though. War’s like that I guess. Sometimes people die. Sometimes they have to go to the hospital.
I watched the television as she fawned over me and poured peroxide over all my wounds. It bubbled and itched and burned. I still watched TV.
The Plains and Wildlife Service guy translated for Tumbleweed Commander Johnston. I didn’t need him to, though.
Commander Johnston said, This day, this VQ day, this victory over the Queen, we shall remember it always, just as we shall remember and honor anew a bond of brotherhood between weed kind and humankind. Let it never be said your people backed down when all free folk everywhere fell under the flaming, fiery yoke of prairie oppression.
“It’s absolutely crazy,” said my mom. “It’s crazy you girls had to do this.”
Commander Johnston said, Your girls are our heroes. We don’t know why you sent them to us. All we know is we’re glad you did.
At this, Plains and Wildlife Guy paused, and, loud enough for the studio microphones to pick him up, he said, “What do you mean? You specifically said girls. Precious girls. You took them from us before we even—”
Commander Johnston quivered. No, the girls were your idea. You’re the ones who kept saying girls, girls. We asked for pearls. Thousands of precious pearls. As a means of currency. You know, to buy the aid of Southeast Asian mercenaries.
Plains and Wildlife Service Guy looked into the camera. He shook his head. He sighed and rubbed his temples.
Regardless, said Commander Johnston, it was the bravery of two—one weed, one girl—who gave us our victory, who stopped the wicked Queen and her lust for death and destruction. Aaron Sisymbrium Altissimum. Amie Masterson.
My mom paused.
We owe our lives to you.
And then they showed the moment. The moment I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Aaron went rolling and hopping. It was Aaron. It was his death all over again. He smashed into the Queen. They both ignited. Jade threw me the grenade. I flicked it, rolled away. The screen went white for a moment. Big boom. And that was the end of the war.
“Dear God, Amie.” My mom’s voice was soft, barely above a whisper. “You did that?”
I nodded, staring at the screen, watching the replay, feeling all those grassy whip lashes again and again, feeling that impact, the way it hit the antelope carcass. Smell of gunpowder. Shrapnel in my leg. Antelope meat in my hair and in my mouth.
“You did that?” my mom said again.
“I did. I did do that.”
“But you’re just a little girl.”
I put my hand on hers. Squeezed it.
“Mom?” I said.
“Yeah?”
“Too many wine bottles. Less wine, okay Mom?”
Mom hesitated. She nodded and said, “Okay, less wine.”
“And Mom?”
“Yes, honey?”
“It was my birthday last week.”
“I know.”
“Can I have a cake? A real cake? Not a potato cake.”
“What’s a potato cake?”
“It’s what you eat on your birthday when you’re in the army. Don’t you know anything about the army?”
Mom stared at me. She glanced at the TV, the footage, the whipping, the fire, the explosion. She shook her head.
“No,” she said, “I guess I haven’t the slightest clue.”

THE END


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Ahead in 2022 on Writing to be Read, WordCrafter and author Kaye Lynne Booth

Well, we’ve all made it through another year and now have a whole new year ahead of us. I’m not into making resolutions that will just be broken, probably before the month of January has come to a close, but it seems like this time of year always brings about changes, so I thought I might share with you the changes planned for 2022, some of which are already in process.

Writing to be Read

On Writing to be Read, we have a few changes to the line-up. Jeff Bowles will only be doing one blog series, “Words to Live By”, on the first Wednesday of every month. Art Rosch will be doing “Mind Fields” and “The Many Faces of Poetry” bi-monthly, alternating every other Friday. Robbie Cheadle will still be offering all three of her monthly blog series. While “Growing Bookworms” and “Dark Origins” will keep their spots on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, but “Treasuring Poetry” will be moving from it’s Saturday spot to the third Wednesday of each month.

My new series, “Writer’s Corner” will appear once a month on Mondays, as will my reviews, including any “Review in Practice” posts. I was considering making my monthly “Chatting with the Pros” series into a podcast, but I think that will have to wait, since I have so much on my plate already for 2022. So, what I’m wondering now, is does anyone miss this series and would like to see me bring it back on the blog? If you do, or you would, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. It will help me to decide whether or not this series is worth reviving.

Author Kaye Lynne Booth

Back in May, for the 2021 WordCrafter New Beginnings Virtual Writing Conference, Anthony Dobranski, author of Business Class Tarot, did a workshop on the use of the cards he created. We didn’t have a great turn-out in 2021 and there were numerous set-backs, including my loss of internet causing me to miss out on a full day of the conference I was hosting, so when no one showed up for this wonderful workshop, Anthony was kind enough to do a reading for me. It was a lot of fun and I was surprised at how accurate to my own life his reading was. One of the things that was revealed was that I was trying to do too much and I needed to enlist others to take a part of the load on me, because I have always tried to be a one woman show and do all the various tasks involved in being an independent author and publisher. (You can see the video of the full reading here.)

Acting on the revelations from that reading, as I ramp up to transition into a full time writing career, with several releases planned for 2022, I realized I needed beta-readers and reviewers, and others to just help spread the word on social media, and so the Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Street Team group was born. It’s a great group with members who support my writing endeavors and want to be a part of the process. Members have exclusive access to behind the scenes information, opportunities to weigh in on scene and cover creation, and early access to new releases and book events, in exchange for their support as beta-readers and reviewers, or their help in spreading the word through their social media channels.

I’m also reviving my newsletter after letting it fall by the wayside for over a year. Newsletter recipients will receive early notice of new releases and book events, and sometime news of works by other authors bi-monthly. You can sign up for my newsletter here.

My first release for 2022 is scheduled for June, with the re-release of Delilah, in an edition that is the story I originally intended to tell. (You can find out more about the decision for this change here.) The current edition of Delilah will come down from the Amazon shelves sometime in April, and the new edition will be released wide, so it will be found not only on Amazon, but on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Baker & Taylor, Bibliotheca, Borrow Box, Overdrive, Scribd, and other selected digital book outlets because WordCrafter Press publishes through D2D. (I’m a member of their affiliate program. Sign up for your own D2D account here.)

In the past, I told you about my science fantasy series, Playground for the Gods. The first book in that series was my thesis project when I was earning my M.F.A. at Western State Colorado University, back in 2016, so the it has been finished since then, yet you’ve never seen the implied promise of publication come to fruition. In 2022, I plan to release not just Book 1: The Great Primordial Battle, but also Book 2: In the Beginning, and Book 3: Inanna’s Song sometime toward the end of the year, but release dates for these haven’t been set yet.

WordCrafter Press & Author Services

WordCrafter Press has some great releases coming in 2022 as well. An updated version of the writing reference, 2022 Ask the Authors, is scheduled to be released in March. The original Ask the Authors, was taken from a Q&A blog series I ran in 2018. While the much of the advice offered from the 17 different authors who participated in that project is still valid today, this edition will address the changes in the publishing industry since the original edition was published and will feature an anthology of essays on craft and publishing in addition to the Q&A advice. This edition will feature advice from 13 authors, including Bobby Nash, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Nancy Oswald, Christopher Barili, Mario Acevedo, L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, Kevin Killany, Paul Kane, Jeff Bowles, Enid Holden, Christa Planko, and myself, Kaye Lynne Booth.

The call for submissions for the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest posted on January 3rd. However, in 2022, WordCrafter Press will be putting out not just this one anthology, but a total of three short fiction anthologies. In addition to the Visions anthology, which contest submissions may be included in, that will be released in August, there will be two by invitation only anthologies: Slivered Reflections, which will be released in September, and Once Upon an Ever After, which will be released in November.

In 2021, we released the first edition of Poetry Treasures poetry anthology, featuring the works of Robbie Cheadle’s 2020 “Treasuring Poetry” poet guests on Writing to be Read, and we’ve decided to do it again. 2022 Poetry Treasures will feature the works of the 2021 “Treasuring Poetry” guests for a spectacularly unique poetry anthology, and will be released April to celebrate National Poetry Month.

WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services

Last, but not least, Write It Right Quality Editing Services is open to new editing clients in 2022. If you’re looking for affordable quality editing, Write It Right could be the editing service you’ve been looking for. A part of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services.

I’m looking forward to 2022. I hope you’ll all join me in the coming year, as it promises to be a good one.

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2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest: Call for Submissions

Visions

The 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest is now open for submissions. The submission deadline of May 31, 2022. The winner will receive a $25.00 Amazon gift card and their story will be guaranteed to be featured in Visions. All finalists will also receive an invitation to be included in the anthology, which offers a small royalty share for your story contribution. Submission guidelines are pretty simple, but as they are different from last year, I suggest you read and follow them carefully.

Submit your story with a cover letter to KLBWordCrafter@gmail.com with “Submission: [Your Title]” in the subject line and pay the $5 entry fee below.

Contest Entry

Enter the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest for a chance at an invitation to the Visions anthology and a grand prize $25 gift card.

$5.00

WordCrafter Press wants your visions.

For 2022, WordCrafter Press is looking for original short stories in the fantasy, science fiction, horror or paranormal genres. Past contests and anthologies have been limited to paranormal, and for Visions, your story can still have a ghost if you like, but it is not required. What I’ll be looking for for the 2022 WordCrafter anthology are your very best thought provoking stories, the kind of stories that will stay with readers long after they close the book.

WordCrafter Press is looking for original short stories to include a mix of fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical, and paranormal elements. Previously unpublished stories only.

Genres: Paranormal, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror or any combination there of.

Length: up to 5000 words

Submission Deadline: May 31, 2022

Pay: Royalty share

Rights: First Anthology Rights and audio rights as part of the anthology; rights revert to author one month after publication; publisher retains non-exclusive right to include in the anthology as a whole. 

Open to submissions from January 1 through April 30, 2022.  

Submit: A Microsoft Word or RTF file in standard manuscript format to KLBWordCrafter@gmail.com

If you don’t know what standard manuscript format is, review, for example, https://www.shunn.net/format/classic/

Multiple and simultaneous submissions accepted.

Find some helpful tips for submitting short fiction here, but mainly just follow the guidelines.


A Challenge and a Review: Dead of Winter

“Winter Comes”

The Challenge

This post is a response to a challenge issued on Teagan Riordain Geneviene’s blog, where she challenges readers to create a piece of art in the medium of your choice, inspired by her book, Dead of Winter: Journey 1: Forlorn Peak.

Recently, I’ve been dabbling in Japanese and English syllabic poetry, and I knew that I wanted to create a poem for this challenge. The image and poetry above is my response to Teagan’s challenge. It is a Shadorma poem, an form of syllabic poetry which may have originated in Spain, comprised of a sestet, or six-line poem with a syllabic count of 3-5-3-3-7-5 (Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, by Sally Cronin). Although no where have I found that Shadorma can appear with images to add meaning, like the Japanese Haiga poetry, I’ve found nothing that says it can’t, so I have featured mine with the image above.

They both create a feeling like what I felt after reading Dead of Winter, so might actually serve as a different type of book review. I think the poem could easily stand alone, so maybe that’s okay.

Dead of Winter

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RBBVRGX?tag=relinks-20

My Review

Dead of Winter: Journey 1: Forlorn Peak, by Teagan Riordain Geneviene is a brief little tale that sets the stage in a world where strict control prevents the protagonist, Emlyn, from revealing her gift of seeing and communicating with the dead. In this short tale, Emlyn receives a warning of what’s to come in the rest of the series. “Winter is coming…”

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Dark Origins – Peter Pan, Lost Boys who are murdered and mermaids who are Sirens.

Most of us know the Disney version of Peter Pan featuring Captain Hook, Mr Smee, Wendy, John, Michael, and the Lost Boys. Oh, and Tinkerbell, of course.

I am not sure how many people have read the original play called Peter Pan or the boy who wouldn’t grow up, written by J.M. Barrie in 1904, but it is a far cry from the innocent tale presented by Walt Disney.

We know from the Disney film that Peter Pan doesn’t want to grow up, but no mention is made of the extreme lengths Peter Pan is prepared to go to fight it.

Consider this extract: “The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two.

To put it bluntly, Peter Pan kills the lost boys to keep them from aging. While the film presents the view that Peter Pan is seeking eternal youth, he is, in fact, obsessed with death. This characteristic is believed to come from J.M. Barrie’s own childhood experience of losing his brother, David.

According to an article in The Herald, six-year old Jamie Barrie was hugely impacted by the death of his older brother, David, at the age of fourteen. David was said to have died the day before his birthday when he was accidently knocked over by a friend while skating, and fractured his skull on the ice. The article speculates that the ‘friend’ was in fact, young Jamie and that he was rejected by his mother as a result of the accident. You can read more about it here: https://www.heraldscotland.com/default_content/12469608.tragedy-behind-neverland-jm-barrie-cause-brothers-death/

And then there are the mermaids…

In the original Peter Pan story, the mermaids who inhabit Neverland all live in the lagoon. They enjoy the company of Peter Pan but are malevolent to everyone else. The are extraordinarily beautiful and have amazing singing voices, but they are vain and unfriendly.

The mermaids spend their days playing in the rock pools and ocean around Marooners’ Rock and they retire to their coral cave homes beneath the waves at night and during high tide.

The mermaids change when the moon is out and transform into darker creatures. They utter and wail strange calls in the moonlight. Captain Hook is terrified of the mermaids, calling them the ‘loreleis’ and saying that the lagoon is the most treacherous place in Neverland. A lorelei is a siren of Germanic legend whose singing lures Rhine River boatmen to destruction on a reef.

Picture credit: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q5397781

If you are interested in the true story behind Peter Pan and the life of J.M. Barrie, you can read more here: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2014/12/78880/peter-pan-jm-barrie-true-story

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

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Paid Writing Opportunity – Call for Short Fiction Submissions

I recently embarked on the journey toward yet another degree – an M.A. in Publishing at Western State Colorado University – and I am studying under the prolific bestselling author and founder of WordFire Press, (and inductee into the Colorado Authors Hall of Fame), Kevin J. Anderson. For one of the publishing projects that must be completed for graduation is a cohort produced anthology. This will be the third year that the publishing cohort at Western has been headed by Kevin, and the third anthology that they have published.

Each of the previous year’s cohorts have produced an outstanding anthologies featuring stories by reputable author names, as well as new discoveries. You can see my review of Unmasked, last year’s anthology, here. The first year, Monsters, Movies & Mayhem received the Colorado Book Award. Both of these exceptional anthologies are available from amazon, your favorite bookstore, or buy direct at wordfirepress.com/gpcw.

This year’s cohort worked hard to develop the theme and guidelines over the past two weeks, and I’m really excited about this anthology. One of the cool things about this opportunity for writers is that it pays per word, if your story is chosen. Since I am a part of the publishing team, I’m not eligible to submit, but all of my readers are. I strongly encourage you to check out the guidelines below, get the gears turning and crank out an original story to submit for this year’s anthology. Feel free to share with anyone who might be interested.

Tips for getting your story accepted: Read the submission guidelines and follow them.

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MIRROR, MIRROR:

Modern Myths

Executive Editor: Kevin J. Anderson

When you’re alone with your reflection, are you prepared for what you see?

A prince in disguise? A monster revealed? An alien race?

Mirrors can be truth-tellers, wish-granters, face-concealers, illusion-makers, even monster-summoners. Maybe the mirror shows an evil twin, or an echo of the life that should have been. Or a portal to another world. 

What happens when it shatters?

Once upon a time, no one knew the phrase “Once upon a time.” You’ve read the classic stories. Now write the lore you’ve always wanted to read. Explore this creative challenge from your own unique perspective informed by your roots, culture, and background. We want original fables, folklore, and fairy tales for an eclectic anthology showcasing a new dawn of an old artform.

Imagine a canon of diverse characters for today’s readers to love and loathe. Gaze into the mirror, whether literally or figuratively—classic or genre-bending, grim or whimsical, as long as it is new and fresh.

We are looking for original short stories (prose poems will also be considered) to include a mix of fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical, and romance elements. Must be appropriate for a “PG-13” audience. Please, no copyrighted characters. Previously unpublished stories only. Women, BIPOCs, LGBTQIA+, neurodiverse individuals, and other minorities are strongly encouraged to submit.

Length: up to 5000 words (firm limit)

Rate: 6¢/word on acceptance.

Rights: First Anthology Rights and audio rights as part of the anthology; rights revert to author one month after publication; publisher retains non-exclusive right to include in the anthology as a whole. 

Due: We are open to submissions from August 30 through October 15, 2021.  

Submit: A Microsoft Word or RTF file in standard manuscript format to 

https://wordfirewestern.moksha.io/publication/2/3/submit

If you don’t know what standard manuscript format is, review, for example, https://www.shunn.net/format/classic/

One submission per person, please. NO SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS. 

Edited by Kevin J. Anderson with an editorial team provided by Western Colorado University Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Publishing MA students. Anthology made possible by a generous contribution from Draft2Digital.

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Time to bring the “Willow of Ashes” Book Blog Tour to a close

Willow of Ashes Book Blog Tour

Willow of Ashes has been a great tour. I’ve known Ellie about a year, and I learned things I didn’t know about her and her books. For this blog stop, we’re going to wrap things up and recap the highlights about the book. We covered the basics about this book in my introductory tour post on Day #1. This award winning fantasy novel is book one of the NecrSeam Chronicles series, and it is also available in audiobook through Libro and Google Play.

Willow of Ashes

Five kingdoms face destruction. Two brothers fight to prevent it. Their epic adventure of magic, love, and loss will become a timeless legend.

The five realms of Land, Sky, Ocean, Dream, and Death have been at peace for centuries, but that peace is threatened when dark forces seek to destroy it. The Gods have chosen a champion to protect the world, yet unexpectedly that champion was born as twin necromancers whose magic was split at birth. Only together would they be strong enough to survive what’s to come. But now one of them has died… and his soul became trapped inside his brother.

The coexisting twins embark on a journey across the five realms, determined to be normal again. But their quest of hope turns into a living nightmare when they stumble into an army of undead beasts that have been unleashed on the lands by a vicious sorceress. With the help of new comrades and a mysterious lady Reaper skilled with the scythe, they must fight for more than a new life. Now they fight for the future of the themselves.

Willow of Ashes is available on Amazon

Ellie Raine

Author Bio

“Writer’s Digest award-winning fantasy author Ellie Raine is a voracious BookWyrm when it comes to epic adventures, detailed world-building, and thrilling battles. Fueled by coffee-bean concoctions brewed by the finest caffeine alchemists in the land, she only emerges from the depths of these daring tales when she is summoned by her loving king and their darling daughter: the Dragon Princess Felicity, in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA.

Her first book, Willow of Ashes, won First Place in Fantasy for the 2019 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Ebook Awards, as well as Honorable Mention in Fantasy for the 2019 Readers’ Favorite Awards.”

We had a lot of fun on Day #2 over at Roberta Writes, where Robbie Cheadle did a wonderful Q & A with the author, Ellie Raine. We learned how Ellie accidentally became an award winning author of a story intended to be a video game.

Day #3, we heard from Ellie, herself in a guest post on This is my Truth Now, where she talks about the inspiration behind this story and the Necroseam universe.

Willow of Ashes

On Day #4, I posted my review of this fresh and original new series starter. With traditional elements of storytelling scattered throughout, usually with an unexpected twist to them, this book was unlike any story I had ever read before. Fresh and original, with interesting and unusual characters you can’t help but like, I highly recommend this book.

The Day #5 blog stop was on Robbie’s Inspiration, with a guest post from Ellie, where she talks about what it’s like to revisit the early beginnings of the five book series of the Necroseam Chronicles. Willow of Ashes is that beginning, and it is so cool that this award winning novel is now available on audiobook, too.

On Pictures from the Kitchen, Barbara Spencer hosted Day #6, with a guest post from Ellie that was designed to help us understand the Necroseam universe, including a chart to help translat the Grim language.

That brings us right back here. I want to thank you all for delving into this fresh new fantasy journey on this tour. If you joined the tour later in the week and missed some blog stops, or you’ve followed with us all the way through the tour and just want to go back and revisit a stop, click on the links above. Willow of Ashes and the Necroseam Chronicles are definitely worth reading. If you’d like to learn more about Ellie and her books, you can check out the following links.

Check out the books!

Aizelleraine@gmail.comwww.

NecroSeam.com

wwwEllieRaine.com

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!