Happy Release Day, Carnival of Curses!

Last week I shared some end of summer favorite books, and today I’m sharing my very own summer story! Since we’ve been sorely lacking on fair season this year, I’ve written a dark carnival novella for the next Seasons of Magic installment, Carnival of Curses! It came out yesterday, but I wanted to take this week’s blog post to really spotlight it. I’m so proud of this story, and I think you will enjoy it as well!

Here’s a little more about it:

  1. It’s a frog prince retelling set in contemporary times.
  2. I fell in love with the characters and hope you will, too.
  3. My favorite character is a vampire acrobat named Marisol. She has a pegasus circus pony named Ferdinand, and she was inspired by Avatar’s Ty Lee.

Nell should have known better: kissing frogs will only get you cursed.

High school senior Nell is a pro at hiding what she wants, from her college plans to her feelings. She’s so used to her own lies that she thinks nothing of the one she tells the green boy at the county fair’s kissing booth. But a lie to the green boy is meant to ensnare humans just like her—and trap them in the Fae circus master’s carnival forever.

Alone and forgotten by everyone she knew, Nell has no choice but to find her place in this dangerous, magical new world. But the carnival is more than it seems, and the curse has ensnared many more than just Nell. With time running out before the carnival moves on, can Nell bring them all together to fight back against the dark magic of the Fae?

Or will Nell and her new friends serve the Fae forever?

Carnival of Curses is part of a standalone series of novellas, Seasons of Magic. If you like found family, dark carnivals, and seasonal tales, then you’ll love Selina J. Eckert’s mysterious frog prince retelling. Grab your copy to leap into dangerous performances and fatal secrets today!

You can get a copy on Amazon or other major retailers!

And since you’re here… how about an excerpt???

~~~

Nell clapped and cheered from her place in the bleachers as a line of high school students leading goats paraded through the arena. Kirsty was near the middle, holding a shining silver collar around the neck of a Nubian goat. It was black with white spots, and its long ears flopped with every step.

The line of students stretched from one end of the arena to the other, coming to a stop as they spread out evenly, and each handler raised their goat to a table for the judges to observe. The three judges, ribbons that identified them pinned to their chests, began evaluating the entrants on clipboards.

Mid-clap, Nell froze, and the applause faded from around her. She turned her left hand over and stared at the back. Was her skin… green?

“Hey, Nell!” Sam flopped down on the bleachers next to her. “What did I miss?”

She quickly covered the green spot with her right hand, heart pounding. “They just started. You only missed the parade.”

Sam nodded and started cheering as the judges approached Kirsty, but Nell couldn’t focus. The green was so similar to the color of the green boy’s skin… could he have had something to do with it? Was whatever he had contagious?

The rest of the competition passed in a blur, and she barely even noticed when Kirsty took second place, even when she stood with Sam and cheered along with him.

They met with Kirsty afterwards, and Nell forced herself to smile at her friend. “Congrats, girl! Though you totally should have taken first.”

“Definitely,” Sam agreed.

“Thanks!” Kirsty beamed at them, holding up her red ribbon. Her smile faded, and she cocked her head at Nell. “Everything okay?”

Nell shoved her hands in her pockets, forcing a stiff, wooden smile. “Yeah, of course! Just happy for you.”

“Hmm.”

Sam leaned closer to her. “Are you sure? You look a little… green. Are you feeling sick?”

A wave of cold washed over her. She looked green? Like, not just her hand?

“I’m fine. Listen, I’m gonna run to the bathroom. Meet you guys by the Ferris wheel?”

She ran off before either of them could answer, imagining their bewildered faces behind her. She rushed past the line of women waiting to get into the fancy, air-conditioned restroom, ignoring the disgruntled grumbles and shouts after her. She slid to a stop in front of a mirror, peering at her reflection.

Green. She was turning green.

It had to be the green boy’s fault. What else could it be? He realized she wasn’t going to help him, whatever it was that was wrong, and he cursed her. It was the only explanation.

She had to get him to remove it.

She whirled from the mirror and shoved past the line again, amid more shouts and angry shoves. But there was no time for them, no time for muttered apologies. There was a week left in the fair, and if she couldn’t get the boy to fix her now, she didn’t have much time to find a solution. How many stories had she heard? Wasn’t it true that most curses needed to be broken by the curse-maker? Or a true love’s kiss. But she wasn’t sure she even had one of those.

She pushed her way through the crowd in the direction of the kissing booth, ignoring the spinning lights and tinny music that only seemed to be mocking her now, telling her she was turning into a carnival freak.

She burst through the last line of laughing faces and stumbled to a stop in front of the kissing booth. The boy had been slumped behind the counter, hand propping up his chin, but he straightened when she appeared, smiling coldly.

“Well, well,” he said. “Back to reconsider?” She slammed her hands on the counter and leaned forward. “What did you do to me?”

~~~

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy Carnival of Curses!

Get your copy: Amazon ~ Other retailers

5 Awesome Books for the End of Summer

Wow, where did summer go???

It seems we’re already halfway through August, and I’m a couple weeks behind in getting you a new blog post. My apologies! I could give you all kinds of excuses… or I could give you five fresh book recommendations?

Since we’re wrapping up the summer, let’s take a look at some good summer and end-of-summer stories. I have a mix of different genres here, so hopefully there’s a little something for everyone.

Without further ado, here are 5 great books to close out your summer!

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through these links. However, I have chosen these books because I read and enjoyed them by purchasing them myself or borrowing through the local library.)

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

This is a great summer contemporary! Meet Andie, a politician’s daughter who suddenly finds her summer wide open. So what should she do? How about start a dog walking business? And maybe meet someone new…

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Sticking with the contemporary theme for a minute, how about prankster Clara and her rival, Rose? When Clara takes things too far at their senior prom, both of them are sentenced to summer working her dad’s food truck. Together. Or else.

This was a delightful story of unexpected friendships and summer jobs.

One S’more Summer by Beth Merlin

Okay, so I may be light on fantasy this week. But we’re switching from YA to adult here.

Gigi is about to lose her crush to her best friend… and she has to be part of the wedding. So to get herself a little distance and perspective, she decides to sign up as a camp counselor at the place where she always felt she belonged: Camp Chinooka. But there’s more there than just an escape there, and Gigi has to find herself and come to terms with her feelings before her whole life unravels.

Of all the books I’m recommending today, this one gives me the biggest end-of-summer vibes. And I can almost smell campfires!

Laid Back Camp

Okay, completely switching gears here, I have a manga I just started. Laid Back Camp is exactly what it sounds like: all about camping, no drama, no stress. But a cute story and characters you can fall in love with.

Honestly, this is one of the most relaxing things I’ve read in a while. If you find you need a break, this may be the book you’re looking for.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

This one is a nonfiction story following Cheryl as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail alone. She talks about her life, what led her to the trail, the trail itself, and how she found herself again by hiking it. It’s a really fascinating story steeped in nature.

And if you like stories like this, I have a bonus story: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Like Wild, this book is all about a hiking trip, but it’s along the Appalachian trail and gives you some history of that trail as well. I really enjoyed this story, and it has a VERY unexpected ending… at least to me!

And Remember…

The second Seasons of Magic: Fireflies & Faeries book comes out on August 20th! (Any links to my own books, like Carnival of Curses below, are not affiliate links)

You can pick up your copy of Carnival of Curses on Amazon or these other retailers. If you want some summer fair fun (since all my local fairs were canceled this year), a vampire acrobat, a pegasus circus pony, and a frog-boy, you’ll adore this contemporary fantasy retelling of the Frog Prince!

I had a ton of fun writing it, so I hope you all enjoy reading it.

Until next time, happy reading! 😀

5 Great Beach Reads (and 5 Honorable Mentions)

Dreaming of the sand and waves? Take a step closer with some beach reads!

This has surely been a summer like no other, but somehow I still managed to make it to the beach (socially distanced, of course). But for anyone who’s dreaming of the beach and can’t get there, whether you’re landlocked or don’t want to take the risk heading out, I figured now would be a good time to share some books that will give you that beach feel!

So without further ado, let’s dive into some beachy reads.

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through these links. However, I have chosen these books because I read and enjoyed them by purchasing them myself or borrowing through the local library.)

Top Picks

The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble

If you like a bit more literary fantasy, this is perfect! In this story, you follow Clara on her epic quest to save her mermaid sister’s life. It’s full of adventure, magic, peril, and found family. Lots of fun and very lyrical!

Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle

This is a YA contemporary that takes place in the Outer Banks, NC (if you saw my survival recommendations post, this book was on it). The main characters, Sophie and Finn, are stranded on the islands and must survive a hurricane and reunite with their families. A great tale of missed connections, survival, and the beach!

The Siren by Kiera Cass

This is absolutely one of my favorite mermaid books! Follow Kahlen and her siren sisters as they struggle with their call to kill humans. I’ve never read a book with a better ocean character – and yes, the ocean itself is a character – and such a deep moral struggle. Fantastic writing and such a strong set of characters.

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

This is basically a river pirate book (and there is a second book out now; it’s a duology!). Caro sets off to rescue her father, who has a booming river trade and is favored by the god of the river, and finds herself embroiled in political intrigue and deep questions of her own destiny and desires. Also, the hardcover of this book has a really pretty cover: it’s soft and has streaks of GLITTER!!!

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

This is what I’d call a science fantasy (and it is a long, scientific one!). If you like science and sirens, like I do, this is the perfect read for you! Imagine that a ship goes to the middle of the Mariana Trench and all hands disappear. Then imagine you’re part of the expedition that sets out to find out what happened. Just be ready for some mermaid horror.

Honorable Mentions

Say It’s the Sea by Kristina Mahr

This one is an awesome poetry collection by a very prolific poet. I put this one in honorable mentions because while it does include some oceanic vibes, those poems don’t make up the entire collection. But there are some real gems in here!

Tears of the Sea by Savannah Jezowski

This is yet another mermaid story (I’m sensing a theme), honorable mention because of the length. It’s only a short story, but the writing is so clear and beautiful, and it evokes such strong emotion as we watch LeRae yearn for humanity from her place in the water.

Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

This one isn’t the ocean, but it is a resort on the edge of a lake…in a world run by terrifying supernatural creatures. It’s book 6 in The Others series, but it absolutely stands on its own. I fell in love with these characters so much, and it was such an amazing read, just like all the other books in this series.

A Chance for Sunny Skies by Eryn Scott

This one is honorable mention because it also doesn’t actually have ocean. What it DOES have is an adorable romance, lots of weather talk, and such a lovable, feels-filled story! I love the What’s in a Name series by this author – it’s full of adorableness, humor, and feels!

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey

This is the only nonfiction selection on this particular list, but it’s a good one. If you’re interested in surfers looking for the wave of a lifetime or learning how waves (and rogue waves) work, this is a fantastic read! There’s lots of science and human interest in this, and it was a super fun read.

Closing Thoughts

There are plenty more books I could put on this list (like more mermaid stories because mermaids), but I think this list covers it pretty well! I hope I’ve provided a good variety of reading material, with nonfiction, poetry, contemporary, and, of course, fantasy.

There’s also that book actually titled Beach Read…def on my list, but I have not yet acquired it. Has anyone read it yet?

Do you have other suggested beach reads? What stories make you think of the ocean? Share them in the comments, I’d love to build my list and help you build yours as well!

Until next time, happy reading! ❤

Three Great Places to Draw Inspiration for Creativity

I have to admit, sometimes it’s hard for me to find inspiration for blog posts. And honestly, sometimes that extends to larger projects, like books, art pieces, or DND campaigns. This is a sentiment a lot of creatives often share, and people can find their inspiration in a lot of different places. So where can we look for ideas when we’re feeling blocked? Where can we search from the comfort of our armchairs or couches or desks? Let’s take a look at three places online we can search for ideas.

Real life

Honestly, is there anything stranger than real life sometimes? *gestures vaguely*

But current events aside, you may find that you can be inspired by the things going on around you. As an exercise, try setting a timer for 5, 10, even 30 minutes (and believe me, a timer is important if you don’t want to lose the rest of the day). Then, scroll through the home page of a news site or even Facebook. Write down as many ideas as you see pop up…don’t worry about if you’ll use them or what you’d use them for. The idea is to pick out things you might not have noticed otherwise, things that can be used for character or world development, maybe even the basis of a plot.

Other media

Another way to come up with ideas is to see what other people are doing. In order to refill your own creative well, you may find that consuming other stories is key. So watch Netflix for a couple hours a couple times a week. Read a few books (and you should probably be reading books anyway as research for yourself). Take time to see what you enjoy in stories or what interests you in documentaries and let yourself dwell on those things. Then, when you’ve done some research into things you like to consume, see if you can figure out how to incorporate those ideas and tropes in your next piece.

Internet

There is an abundance of inspiration to be found online as well, some of which can count as real life or media. But I want to draw your attention to a few particular places online.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to find photos and artwork to inspire you and to create digital mood boards. I do this for just about every story I write! I’ve also talked a bit about how to use Pinterest for your writing in a previous post, so I’ll leave it here for now. 🙂

Photo sites

I won’t list specific ones, but sometimes all you need to shake an idea loose is the right photo. Take some time to scroll through stock photo sites or photography communities.

Tumblr and other blogs

You may also find ideas in blogs across the internet. See what other people are discussing that strikes a chord with you. Maybe it’s a single thought that’s the theme for a new piece. Do you agree with what you’re reading? Disagree? Have more thoughts? Expand on that.

Wikipedia

Finally, Wikipedia is a wealth of information. And it’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole. Follow a link trail and learn new things about a topic that interests you. But, much like with the news or social media searching, you may want to set yourself a timer.

Final Thoughts

Before I close for the week, I want to be clear that what I’m talking about today is simply finding inspiration – a single idea that you can develop on your own. This does not mean taking whole ideas and stories (no plagiarism, copyright infringement, or other illegal activities!). It simply means looking at something that interests you and seeing how you can make it your own story.

But I do want to emphasize that we are surrounded by stories all day every day. With practice, you’ll be able to pick them up and set them aside for later. I don’t know about you, but I keep a file on my computer of random ideas I may eventually use. Maybe it’s time to start your own file, too!

Keep your eyes open, and let your mind wander. You never know where you’ll find your next idea.

Ambient Sound Recommendations to Improve Your Writing Day

Hey folks! Last week we discussed the benefits of using ambient sounds and I admitted I’m terrible at following my own advice (I regularly watch TV while writing instead of using tools like ambient sounds to boost my focus). But today, I wanted to share three resources for those of you who want to give ambient sounds a try. These are all resources I have personally used for both writing and for setting the mood while DM’ing a D&D game (so dungeon masters, listen up!).

Online Resources

Rainy Mood

This site is by and large my favorite. It plays the sound of rain, and as a pluviophile, I love putting it on as white noise in the background.

Coffivity

This is another one that’s fun. For free, it lets you choose from three different coffee house settings to give you some ambient noise. Especially good for right now to make you feel like you’re sitting in your favorite coffee shop. All you need is a fresh cup for yourself, and you’re all set!

Ambient Mixer

This one is also fun. There are so. Many. Choices. And you can search for specific atmospheres you’re looking for. I know there’s also a way to make your own mixes, but I’ve never played with that part of the site.

Apps for your Phone

There are also a couple apps I have on my phone for those times when I’m not connected to the internet on my computer. Rainy Mood has an app with some free ambient noise for you, the Rainy Mood Lite app. There’s also Relax Forest that I really love, which has a whole bunch of forest tracks for you to listen to for free. I run on Android, so I can’t promise these are also on iOS. But if you can get them, they are fantastic!

YouTube

I linked my own personal playlist of writing sounds, but there are so many. Just search for whatever setting you’re working in, and voila! Instant atmosphere.

Final Thoughts

Ambient sounds are a great way to focus, and today I’ve shared some of my favorite tools (psst, they can also double as ways to set the mood for events like parties). If you have a favorite I haven’t mentioned, feel free to let me know about it in the comments! Or if you’ve tried one of these and hate it, let me know that, too!

Either way, I hope you found the last couple weeks useful, and I’ll see you next time!

The Benefits of Ambient Sounds for Creativity

Hey folks! So this is going to be one of those “do as I say, not as I do” kinds of posts. I’m going to talk a little bit about how ambient sounds can improve your writing process (notice I said CAN, as this doesn’t work for everyone…but it’s something to try as you experiment with your own methods!). But I will also be the first to admit that I only use ambient sounds sometimes because I am very, very distractable.

Let’s dig in!

Improving Focus

The biggest reason I’d personally give for using ambient sounds is to improve your focus. I tend to watch TV while writing (I know, I know…cut me some slack, I work full time and have lots of TV to catch up on and only evenings and weekends to do it!), but if I really need to buckle down and get stuff done, throwing on a pair of noise-canceling headphones and selecting some ambient noise can really help me put my mind to the task.

I’ve found that using sounds can reduce my impulses to check my email and social media obsessively (I have a really bad habit of that) and pull me into the story and the story alone. By limiting what is going into my ears, I’m limiting what my brain is doing and preventing the attention splitting so I can work just on the story.

Writing Habits

This next point is really similar to the first. Besides helping to improve focus, using ambient sounds can help get you into the mood for writing more quickly as part of a pre-writing or writing ritual. You may have heard about this before, but it’s part of conditioning yourself to work and your mind to think about writing.

Think of it this way: when you use specific sounds or scents regularly with a specific activity (like a particular candle or ambient sound), those things begin to be associated in your mind. In this way, when you light that candle or turn on that track, your brain settles into writing mode much more quickly because it knows what usually comes with those sensations.

Setting the Mood

Finally, ambient sounds are awesome for setting the mood-something that can apply to both readers and writers (writers, you may even want to suggest the ambient sounds you used to your readers as part of a book soundtrack).

Choosing the right sounds can really help you get into the heart of your book, feel like you’re in the setting, and set the tone. This can also help to improve your focus and get you into the story much faster.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully by now you’re seeing how closely these three points are linked…ambient sounds do so much with so little! These are just a few quick tips for why ambient sounds may benefit your writing (or reading) process. Next week I’ll share a few of my favorites, including some online sites, offline apps, and a YouTube playlist I have for myself.

But until then, how do you feel about using sounds during your reading or writing? Do you love it? Hate it? Are you like me and know you should use it more but don’t, or do you find it doesn’t do anything to help you? Let me know in the comments below or over on Twitter!

~~~

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Survival Part 3: 5 Survival Story Recs

It’s time for some book recommendations.

Hey there, word nerds! I know I missed last week, but I’m back now with those promised book recommendations.

Last month, I shared reasons why I love a good survival story as well as what makes for good survival story writing. We discussed the perseverance of the human spirit, ingenuity, and hope as successful elements of the story, as well as the need for tension and layers of conflict. All the stories I’m sharing with you today have bits and pieces of those things, and they range across genres…including a nonfiction selection that’s light on the tension but high on the page-turning!

Let’s dig in. 🙂

Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

I just recently read this, as it only just came out this year. It was a bit shorter than I expected, but that just meant I could consume it in a sitting…and honestly, I wasn’t able to put it down once I started. It’s got the self-discovery, the high stakes, and the ingenuity. Seriously, I couldn’t believe some of the things this girl thought to do in order to survive! And it ended on such an interesting note, including some crushed dreams while rerouting to new ones. It was a story with real consequences and had me questioning the whole time if she’d make it or not.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

This is by far one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read (and if you’ve been around a while, you’ve definitely heard me talking about it!). Set just after the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano, it follows the journey of a kid named Alex, separated from his family just before the eruption and trying to survive and find them again in a world devastated by volcanic winter. There are intense highs and lows in this trilogy, following the best and the worst that humanity has to offer, and it has one of the best, most hopeful and inspiring endings I’ve ever read in a trilogy.

The Martian by Andy Weir

This book, if you haven’t heard about it or seen the movie yet, is a near-future sci fi adventure following astronaut Mark Watney after an unfortunate series of events leaves him stranded on Mars, alone. Much like Be Not Far From Me, it showcases both ingenuity and the perseverance of the human spirit, but in a new setting on another planet. The voice is entertaining and full of gallows humor, and ultimately, this book left me with such a warm fuzzy at the end that makes me fall in love with it every time I think about it.

Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle

This one is probably a lesser-known book, but it is a young adult novel following Sophie and Finn, a couple of teens reconnecting after years in different schools and thrust together after Sophie is separated from her family and stranded during an evacuation. Together, they must survive a hurricane in the Outer Banks and get Sophie back to her mom.

If there’s one thing that can make me love a survival story even more, it’s throwing in a nice, big storm. 🙂

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

And for the nonfiction pick, though I could pick a few (see the lightning round!), nothing quite compares to Bill Bryson’s tale of his attempt at the Appalachian Trail. It’s got his own experiences on the trail, good and bad, as well as a bunch of the history and science of the trail and everything along the way. I also enjoyed that one of his stops was Palmerton, PA…just a stone’s throw away from my own hometown! I won’t give away any spoilers, but I also appreciated the thoughtful ending with unexpected events.

Lightning Round!

Finally, I’ll give you a few more bonus picks that I personally enjoyed, but with less info (I will give you the genre, though).

Antarctic Tears by Aaron Linsdau (nonfiction)

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (nonfiction)

Stormsurge by Shawna Lynn Brooks (Romance novella)

No Safe Haven by Kyla Stone (Post-apocalyptic)

Labyrinth of Shadows by Kyla Stone (fantasy Minotaur retelling)

Final Thoughts

Thanks so much for coming with me on my survival story kick! If you love or hate these kinds of stories, I’d love to know why. And if you have any more recommendations for me, please let me know! I’m hungry for them.

Let’s chat in the comments or over on Twitter!

PS: I have a new reader group just for you guys! Head on over to Facebook if you’re interested in talking about all things fantasy or my books specifically. Also, this is where I’ll be sharing links to eARCs, so if you’d like a chance to read one of my books for free, you’ll need to be part of this community!

Let’s chat in Readers of the Realms!

Survival part 2: How to Write Survival Stories

Last week, we discussed why I personally love survival stories. We talked about how they can showcase the ingenuity of humanity, the way they can make us as readers think and problem solve, and how they reveal the strength of the human spirit.

Today, I’m going to speak a bit closer to the writers in the room. What is it about a survival story that makes it strong, that pulls on a reader’s heartstrings? How do we create a powerful survival story? Let’s look at four key points of a good survival story.

There needs to be high stakes conflict

Survival is high stakes, so the circumstances in which the character finds themselves needs to be high stakes as well. There have to be heart-pounding moments of terror, moments when it’s really uncertain if the character will survive. Mild circumstances or when there is any doubt in the reader’s mind about the possibility of the character not surviving will kill the tension of the story before it even begins. So no long, slow, tedious walks in the forest – at least not without encountering something more immediate. But we’ll get to that in point 3. 😉

Don’t be afraid to cut your character off and make them suffer. I know that sounds horrible, but without it, the story falls flat.

Conflict needs to be both internal and external

It’s really easy in a survival story to focus on the conflict of person vs. nature, since that’s the main focus of most survival stories. But that is a superficial story structure, and without something more, the reader won’t connect or care about the outcome of the story.

Just like in any story, we need something to make us care, and often that’s the internal conflict. We learn about the bits and pieces of the main character’s life, the things they’re struggling with, and how it relates to the life-or-death circumstances in which they find themselves.

We get to know the character, and then we can care about what happens to them.

There needs to be urgency

It’s so easy to write a slow survival story. I know. I’ve done it.

But that’s boring.

I know, it might be plausible to see a person slowly starving or something similar, but it doesn’t exactly drive the story forward. (refer back to point #1)

But, if you give the character a deadline of some sort – a life-threatening injury, danger to someone they love that is imminent – it adds a layer of tension to the story that will keep the reader of the edge of their seat, begging to know what happens next, begging to know if they’ll make it or fail/die.

It needs to be plausible

Finally, your survival story needs to be plausible. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve seen that are grounded on faulty premises…one that comes to mind is a post-apocalyptic EMP story in which the EMP killed most of the life on Earth. Right there, that is not realistic, as EMPs only affect electronic devices. Not the health of a creature.

So whatever circumstances your character finds themselves in, it needs to be something truthful, believable, and scientifically plausible, or you’ll lose your reader.

Final Thoughts

So now that you’ve heard what I consider to be the key elements to a good survival story, I’m interested to see what you think makes it. Are there other components you can think of? Other conflicts you like to see in these stories? Let me know in the comments or send me a tweet!

Happy writing, and see you next week for some of my favorite survival story recommendations!

Survival Part 1: Why I Love Survival Stories

Let’s talk books!

This week I’m going to start a 3-part series on survival stories. Why? Well, I’ll get into that this week. But the background is three-fold: I am a longtime lover of the survival story, the novel I’m querying right now is a fantasy survival story, and I just finished reading a new one (which I loved!).

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but right now is not the time I’d necessarily expect I’d want to read survival stories. We’re in the middle of weird times (yes, I am also getting tired of people calling it “unprecedented times”) that feel a little too post-apocalyptic. Personally, I’ve noticed a split between those who want to read ALL the post-apoc and those who want nothing but fluffy. At first, I did want those post-apoc books. Then I wanted fluffy. And now, as things are starting to stabilize again, I’m good with reading slightly more survivally stories.

There are several things that really appeal to me about this kind of story.

First, these stories showcase ingenuity in a way nothing else does. There’s something to be said for dropping a person in a seemingly impossible situation only to see them come up with solutions like MacGyver with nothing more than a shoelace or their own hair. Yes, that really did happen in the book I just finished. As someone who’s never had to fight for my life in a life-or-death struggle, I never would have come up with that. Amazing to see the things a person can come up with when the situation arises.

Next, these stories make us think, but in good ways. They remind us that we really don’t have it that bad, but beyond that, they make us think what we would do if thrown into a situation like that. They are books for critical thinking wrapped up in a pretty package of drama and edge-of-your-seat excitement. They show the raw sides of humanity and let us consider both the good and the bad.

Finally, there is nothing like a triumphant survival story to showcase the human spirit. It can show us the lengths we can go to in order to make it through a difficult situation. And they show us the pure determination and grit, the hope. They show us how people come together in impossible situations to take care of each other, like in The Martian (we’ll go through some specific recommendations in a couple weeks). They show us how people can rise above the terrible things that could happen.

And honestly, that’s the biggest draw of the survival story: the triumph of the human spirit.

Next week we’ll discuss five important elements to writing a survival story, and the week after that I have some good recommendations, but for now, tell me what you think. Do you enjoy this kind of story? Why or why not? What is it about them that make you feel that way? Let’s chat in the comments, or tweet me @selinajeckert!

Fae Bargains and New Beginnings

Spring stories! Yay!

I don’t know about you, but I kind of feel like we all missed spring this year.

Today, I went out to the grocery store after being on full quarantine for two weeks. It was sunny…and very, very hot. And all the trees are in full summer leaves.

I missed all the gentle spring air and flowers.

But in a way, today felt like a fresh start after weeks of working from home and a completely destroyed sleep schedule. I got sunshine, ate some vegetables, and have renewed energy for my writing, no matter the other things going on in my life and the world around me. It’s a great feeling.

And another new thing happened yesterday: All That Glimmers released! AND I now have a BookBub!

This novella is the first spring installment of Seasons of Magic, and though it deals with the heavier topics of grief and guilt, it’s also a contemporary fantasy set in the same world as Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks. So if you liked Fae in that story, this is the next one for you. 🙂

Three things you’ll find inside:

  1. A deer Fae, complete with antlers.
  2. Friendship.
  3. New beginnings.

Here’s a little more about it (and keep reading for a sneak peek!):

Hallie just made the stupidest mistake of her life. Twice.

After the loss of her longtime friend, college student Hallie just needed a win. Too bad she got rejected from the only graduate program she applied to. But when a mysterious Fae appears offering to change that rejection to an acceptance, her choice seems clear. And all she has to give him is her first discovery—her academic firstborn.

But when the time comes to pay up, Hallie can’t go through with it. She never counted on a discovery that could bring her friend back to life. So she offers a new bargain: she keeps the knowledge, but she must figure out who this mysterious Fae is…or stay in the Spring Court forever. Now she must race the clock to investigate the Court, solve this mystery, and find out how to bring her friend back. Otherwise, she can forget about fixing her mistakes and say goodbye to her human life for good.

This retelling of Rumplestiltskin is a powerful story of loss, acceptance, and new beginnings. How far would you go to fix your worst mistakes?

You can get it on Amazon here or anywhere else here!

And now…a sneak peek!

Hallie crumpled the paper between her fists as the first tear hit her desk.

Of course she didn’t get in. Sabine University’s folklore program was only the most competitive in the country. And of course she didn’t apply anywhere else. And of course she had already told her parents—who already told everyone they knew—that she was a shoo-in.

And of course Kat had tried to tell her.

Stupid. She should have listened to Wyn. To Kat. But Kat was gone now, and it seemed she’d taken every good thing along with her.

Hallie rubbed at the fresh red scar across her collarbone. Even if she wanted to forget it all, she couldn’t.

After the accident, she had nearly failed her last literature class, missing the deadline for the biggest paper of the semester. Luckily, the professor had been understanding and let her turn it in late. Even a C was better than a 0.

And she got nothing done the entire week of the funeral.

And now this. Hallie sincerely hoped it was true that bad things came in threes. Maybe this meant the bad was finally past, like the spring shower pelting her windowpane.

How was she ever going to explain to her parents?

She tossed the crumpled paper onto her crowded desk where it was lost amidst her notes and books for finals. None of it seemed to matter now. She might as well skip her last final tomorrow and start packing up her dorm room. She stretched her arms over her head and leaned back in the chair, taking a shaky breath.

“You could always ask for help,” came a voice from behind her.

A male voice.

Hallie’s chair hit the cement floor with a thunk, and she spun to face the intruder without standing. A boy about her age stood in the door, his hair shaggy and storm-tossed from the wind outside. His black frames almost hid his eyes behind the glint of the fluorescent light, and behind him, her dorm’s door was definitely still closed. And locked.

“How did you get in here?” She swiped at the tears on her cheeks.

“The more important point is that I’m here,” he responded with a toothy smile. “After all, this is what you wanted, isn’t it? Don’t you want to know how I can help you?”

The air seemed to shimmer around the young man. There was more to him than what she could see, she knew that. Yet, in this moment, it didn’t seem important that she remember why she should care. Why she might worry. Wyn, as a Fae, had taught her something, but Hallie’s brain was fuzzy, like this boy radiated something to make her forget.

Her locked door was concerning. But she had summoned a Fae, any Fae, in the hopes that she could still fix at least one thing in her life. She just never thought one would actually appear.

And then she was speaking before she even realized it. “How can you help me?”

His grin grew even wider, were that possible. He took another few steps into the room. The crumpled rejection letter rolled from the pile of notes and smoothed itself in front of her. She snatched it up and held it to her chest as if she could hide the painful words from him.

“I can make that rejection…” He thought for a moment, looking up into a distant corner. A sharp tooth glinted in the artificial light of the dorm. “Transform.”

“Transform?”

“You want to get in, right? To be a student at Sabine? Well, I can make that happen.”

Hallie’s breath caught in her throat. He could get her in? How?

“I have ways,” he said, as if reading her thoughts. “But it won’t be for free.”

Her heart dropped. Of course. No magic was ever free.

“What do you want?” she forced from her wooden lips.

He smiled again. “Not much. I just want your first discovery. Your academic firstborn, if you will.”

“What?”

“I get the credit for your first discovery, my dear. That’s all.”

That was it? Her first paper would belong to him, whoever he was? That didn’t seem so bad. Her mind scrambled furiously, trying to see a downside to the offer, but nothing came to mind.

She should stop here. Think on it. Sleep on it. Wasn’t that what Wyn had always told her? Don’t trust the Fae too easily?

But why? She could change her fate. And all it would cost was a single piece of research. Didn’t she have a whole lifetime ahead of her, anyway? Her entire life to learn folklore, to find out where story and truth intersected?

She nodded slowly. “Okay.”

“Wonderful!” he said.

The boy stepped forward, extending a hand. She rose from her desk chair and took it. Vines of golden-green magic wrapped around both their arms, and the air hummed with energy. She could feel it sinking into her skin, a warmth like the first breath of spring air.

He released her hand and gestured at the letter, still clutched against her chest. “Look.”

She pulled it away, her eyes scanning the page quickly.

Congratulations, it said in place of We are sorry to inform you

Hallie caught her breath. So easily? Could it really be that simple? She looked back up at the boy.

“It is done,” the boy said. And then he was gone.

ONe more time…here are those links: YOU CAN GET IT ON AMAZON HERE OR ANYWHERE ELSE HERE!

~~~

News!

As I mentioned briefly above, if you’re on BookBub, I’m there now! You can find me and my recommended reads here. See you there! 😀