Monday, February 18, 2019

WEP/IWSG February Challenge-28 Days



It's time for another WEP/IWSG Challenge! This month's prompt is special because it's the result of a IWSG contest. Lots of great ideas came in, and Toinette Thomas submitted the winner.

28 Days. A lot can happen in the course of 28 days. I'm sure we'll have a lot of excellent entries. Here's mine. I hope you enjoy it.


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28 Days

My blood runs like ice in my veins.

I double check the calendar and count forward from the star scribbled in black pen. That little star is nestled in the corner of an ordinary Saturday. When I put it there, I didn’t imagine I’d soon be agonizing over it.

28 days have passed.

4 weeks.

672 hours.

No matter how I break it down, the numbers aren’t fundamentally different. They all point to one inescapable truth.

It’s amazing how many events can fit into such a short span of time. You can meet someone who seems like everything you’ve ever wanted in a partner. You can go on a few dates and stay up late into the night talking about anything and everything. You can open your heart and lay your soul bare in front of someone for the first time.

And then that person can take all that trust and hope you’ve placed with them and shatter it. They can disappear from your life as quickly as they entered it.

All those things can happen in 28 days.

I sigh and stare at the numbered squares. I told myself I would wait it out, that I was freaking out over nothing. My stomach rolls as I think about all those lies I formed in my own mind. And I can’t help but form a few more. The stress might be throwing me off, I tell myself. It’ll come. Of course it’ll come. I try to ignore the glaring fact that my body runs like clockwork. I’ve never been late before.

There’s a first time for everything, my brain tries to tell me.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Stars burst before me as I press my hands against my eyelids. When I pull them away, it takes several moments for my vision to clear. The brown paper bag I picked up from the store this morning waits for me on the counter. My shoulders slump as I move to pick it up and head to the bathroom.

I triple check the instructions on the rectangular box before I open it. I’m numb as I go through the motions. If I don’t think too much about what I’m doing, then it won’t be real. The thought is ludicrous, of course, but it’s a constant problem for me. If I’m too anxious about a situation, I can’t face it like I should.

That’s why it took you four days to realize Ethan wasn’t going to call you again, my brain tells me.

The truth cuts deep.

I finish the test and sit down on the edge of the bathtub to await the results. The stick sits beside the sink, just above my line of sight. The cool porcelain grounds me a little. The seconds tick by as I try to calm my racing heart.

I wonder where Ethan is. He certainly isn’t about to tear his hair out with worry like I am. He’s blissfully unaware of how unstable the world is beneath my feet. If he knew, would he care? My gut tells me no.

My brain has plenty more to say on the subject. Why did I trust him? I barely knew him. He seemed like everything I ever wanted, but I should have known better. Anyone can pretend to be the perfect partner for a couple of weeks. Why was I so stupid? What will Mom have to say about all of this? She warned you about guys like him, didn’t she? Is finishing college still possible?

The thought spiral threatens to swallow me whole.

Then it’s time to check the test. Results in 2 minutes or less, the box said. I grip the side of the tub until my knuckles turn white. My fingers ache. “You have to look now,” I tell myself sternly. “Waiting isn’t going to change the answer.” With one forceful motion, I push myself to my feet and look at that fateful stick.

+

I let out a shaky breath. My stomach drops, and I wobble in place. Such a little sign. Simple. In elementary school, it resulted in easy answers. 1+1=2. Except that equation doesn’t seem so uncomplicated, either. Not anymore.

The numbers in my world have changed.

9 months.

Then 18 years.
 
No, not 18 years. A whole lifetime. A lifetime of guidance and worrying about another human being. The gravity of it washes over me, nearly knocking me off my feet.         

In a mere 28 days, my world has changed forever.

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Word Count: 755
FCA

Big Red Review

Big Red

By Damien Larkin

We have always been here...

Suffering the side effects of Compression travel, soldier Darren Loughlin wakes up screaming from a gunshot wound that isn’t there. Despite a fractured memory, he is forced to recount his year-long tour of duty on Mars to uncover the mysterious fate of Earth’s off-world colonies and the whereabouts of his shattered battalion.

With time running out, Darren recalls his tour of duty with the Mars Occupation Force in New Berlin colony, their brutal MARSCORP masters, and the vicious war against the hostile alien natives.

But as he exposes the truth, Darren suspects he is at the centre of a plot spanning forty years. He has one last mission to carry out. And his alien enemy may be more human than he is…

Release date - May 14, 2019
$18.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 304 pages
Science Fiction - Military FIC028050/Alien Contact FIC028090/Alternative History FIC040000
Print ISBN 9781939844606 / EBook ISBN 9781939844613
$4.99 EBook available in all formats



Bio:


Damien Larkin is a full-time stay-at-home father of two loud (but happy) young children. When not tinkering with apps as a side project, you can find him reading everything and anything to do with psychology, history and science fiction. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland.

Links:



Dancing Lemur Press offered me the opportunity to read and review this book before publication, and I happily accepted. I'm always eager to read a new science fiction book, after all. 

Without further delay, here is my review!

Big Red can be described in a lot of ways. It’s military science fiction. It’s also an alternate history story. Most importantly, though, it’s the story of people who have been thrown into extraordinary circumstances that test the very limits of human endurance. I found myself rooting for these characters as they struggled for survival and understanding in a hostile environment.

The story opens with soldier Darren Loughlin as he regains consciousness. He is disoriented and trying figure out how he got there and what’s happening to him. The urgency mounts as those around him demand to know what happened to him and the people he was serving with. There is a very real sense that time is of the essence as he tries to pull together the fragments of his memory.

Throughout the novel, the reader journeys with the protagonist between past and present. We learn his history as he begins to recall it, seeing how he ended up on Mars against his will and all that he was expected to do while he was there. There were moments of humor and camaraderie that left me rooting for these characters. There were also moments of heartbreak and horror. As the story unfolds, we get clues that indicate all is not as it seems.

The technology was fascinating, and I thoroughly enjoyed how the time travel aspects of the story played out. This story is full of twists that kept me turning the page, and it all resulted in a satisfying conclusion. All in all, this is a great read for sci-fi fans!


Friday, February 15, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-February 15, 2019


It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

I'd like to start by celebrating an accomplishment I never imagined I'd be able to pull off. I recently learned to solve a Rubik's Cube! Not only that, but I've since done it several times, and I've been getting faster each time I do it. I've seen lots of people who can solve them in under a minute, and I'm nowhere near that quick. I've pulled off doing it in about five minutes, and I'm not sure how much faster I can get. Either way, I'm pretty happy with myself about that.

I'm also celebrating the fact that we don't have much winter left. My boys had two days of school canceled this week because of snow, which is insane considering how many times that's happened in the last two months. My oldest is worried they're not going to have any summer break left at all if this continues, and I can't blame him. No one wants to go to school when it's really nice outside.

Lastly, I shared post on the IWSG Anthologies blog. In that post I talk a little about how my story "Oddly Suited" came to be. I also share a a small excerpt of it. If you're interested, please check it out!

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-February 8, 2019


It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

While we've still had some nasty winter weather this week, it's still been significantly better than it was last week, so I'll take it. Is winter nearly over yet? Please tell me it is.

I've fallen behind in the editing I've been doing on my WIP over the last few weeks, but I dove back into it this week. Hopefully I can keep going with it and make some real progress.

My boys are excited about Valentine's Day next week. They love handing out valentines in class. My husband and I don't have any actual plans for Valentine's Day (other than the fact that we have parent/teacher conferences that evening), but as long as I can use it as an excuse to eat chocolate, I'm okay with that.


What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Insecure Writer's Support Group-February 2019


It's the first Wednesday of the month, and you all know what that means! It's time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has rounded up another great group of co-hosts: Raimey Gallant, Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for support and lots of great resources for writers!

First of all, I'd like to encourage you to check out Michelle Wallace's post today. She kindly offered to host a piece talking about the benefits of participating in Write...Edit...Publish. If you'd like to read about 1o reasons why you should join WEP, you should check that out!

Secondly, I have a post up on the IWSG Anthologies website today. There I talk a bit about the theme for the upcoming anthology Masquerade: Oddly Suited.

Now let's move on to the question of the day.

The optional question for February is: Besides writing what other creative outlets do you have?

I've been doing a lot of jigsaw puzzles lately. I find it relaxing, and I enjoy watching the picture come together as I work on it. Doing puzzles with a toddler in the house has been challenging. I have to keep them out of reach if I don't want to end up with missing pieces.

I also like making bath bombs. While mine aren't perfect (Iowa's fluctuations between extremely humid and dry air make it hard to perfect the recipe to avoid cracking), it's still fun to get creative with colors and scents.

By the way, the picture does not feature any bath bombs I made. This is merely a depiction of what I wish mine looked like.

How about you? What creative outlets do you have other than writing?


Friday, February 1, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-February 1, 2019



It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

It's been a strange week. The weather left us all cooped up in the house for days. I'm certainly thankful that our furnace was able to keep up with our insane weather. The wind chill outside was between -50 and -60 for a couple of days. School was canceled for the kids for 4 days straight, and since it was too cold to go outside, they've been going stir crazy. The good news is that we're on the verge of a warming trend. We should see temperatures of above 40 degrees by the end of the weekend, and I can't wait for it.

I'm also celebrating the cover reveal for the upcoming IWSG anthology Masquerade: Oddly Suited. There's something thrilling about seeing the cover for a new book (especially if you have a story included in it!), so being able to share that with the world felt great.


Masquerade: Oddly Suited
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Release date – April 30, 2019
Young Adult Fiction: Romance - General/Paranormal/ContemporaryPrint ISBN 9781939844644
EBook ISBN 9781939844651

Find love at the ball…

Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual Traveler or a virtual date to the ball?

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solace, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…

I've also been promoting another anthology this week. The Young Explorer's Adventure Guide: Volume 5 came out in December, but the publisher is doing a publicity push this week. I may be biased since I have a story published in this one as well, but I think this is a wonderful collection of science fiction stories for middle grade readers. If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, please check it out!


Finally, I'm celebrating another upcoming WEP Challenge. The prompt for this month is 28 Days. A lot can happen in 28 days, so there are plenty of ways for submissions to play out. If you'd like to take part in this one, hop on over to the website and sign up!


What would you like to celebrate?