• Stories

    To Swim Among Stars

    Originally published in Mundelein Writes: Nature, by the Mundelein Arts Commission, Mundelein, Illinois, 2018 Astrid Ventas sat in the jungle and looked out the window into the sea. She hated it here. Not just the jungle, though that was bad enough. It was humid, smelled of decay, and was full of insects with an alarming degree of self-awareness. She hated the whole dome system though; the desert and the arctic and the beautiful meadow. All of it. She hated being trapped in a web of glass bubbles meters deep in the ocean. But the jungle served as a refuge. All the others, the ones who believed in their purpose, felt…

  • Writing Prompts,  Writing Tips

    Imagining the Future: Tips and Prompts for Writing Science Fiction

    One of the most common settings for science fiction novels and short stories is the future. Who doesn't want to imagine what the future will be like? As a writer you have the power to make the future a bright happy place where the problems of today are only a distant memory. Or you can make a dark future where everything has compounded into apocalyptic proportions. But where do you start?

  • Writing Tips

    The Importance of Writer Expectations

    One of the most important elements of a story is the reader’s expectations. I’m not talking about guessing what readers want or trying to write for the market. Writer’s must find the balance between fulfilling the readers’ expectations and surprising them in pleasing ways. If the reader’s expectations are fulfilled too exactly, they will get bored because they can always tell what is going to happen next, but if the writer puts in too many twists and turns, the reader will get confused and frustrated. There are different levels of expectations to keep in mind and they can be treated differently. The way you handle the reader’s expectations for the…

  • Writing Tips

    How to Make Your Setting a Character

    The setting of your story should be dynamic enough that it acts as its own character. By forcing your protagonist to consider elements of the setting when making decisions, you fill your your world and create a more compelling story.

  • Mythology Prompts,  Writing Prompts

    10 Writing Prompts from Bulgarian Folklore

    The inspiration for this post came from Yana, a reader. Thank so much Yana! You can check out her blog here. I never knew how rich Bulgaria’s culture is and how many fascinating tales they have in their folklore. Many of them take directions the reader isn’t expecting and that makes them even more fun to read. Enjoy these brief summaries and the prompts that I came up with from reading them. I got the first story from a wonderful video Yana showed me. It’s absolutely beautiful, please watch it. The rest are from the websites fairytalez.com and theculturetrip.com. Title photo By Okotuki [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons 1)…

  • Stories

    The Flight

    I wrote this short one all in one sitting. I sometimes start writing with a line and see where it takes me. I rarely make it a whole story with no planning, but this is one of those. I am planning two more to make a kind of a series. More of a triptych for flash fiction. Get some different perspectives on the story. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know in the comments what you thought. The blue glow of her hands told me she knew she’d found me at last. The others dining at the inn had all stopped eating and drinking and laughing to look at…

  • Creating Magic Systems,  Writing Prompts

    Inspiration for Magic Stories

    You have done your brainstorming and are well on your way to setting up the rules for a magic system. Now what? If you want to share it with others you’ll need a story that showcases it. I have come up with 10 prompts to guide you through thinking about different aspects of your world and your magic and how you could craft a story out of it. For more tips on turning your idea into a story, see my article here. 1) Lack of Magic I have only read one book that I can recall where it was commonplace for everyone to have magic and the kid who doesn’t…

  • Creating Magic Systems,  Writing Prompts

    12 Prompts to Create a Magic System

    One of the most fun things a fantasy writer can do is invent a magic system. Pure creativity, no boundaries honed into a coherent system that does have rules unique to a world you created. There are few things more satisfying. As part of my series on Creating Magic Systems, I have come up with a list of prompts for starting the process. I am sure that every conceivable magic system has already been tested by some writer somewhere. I am not claiming that the following prompts are never-seen-before ideas but they are good starting points. Prompts to get you thinking about your system and how you can make it…

  • Writing Prompts,  Writing Tips

    How to Turn Your Idea into a Story

    Okay, you’ve come up with a great idea, but how do you turn that into an actual story? This is, for some, the hardest part. Often, once you know what the story is, the part where you turn that into a written text is no big deal. (If only, right?) I have come up with a list of questions meant to help you dig into your idea and find the threads of narrative hidden within. They are divided into three main categories: Conflict, Characters, and Setting. Some of the questions seem like duplicates but by virtue of appearing under a different category they are slightly different, with slight nuances. I…

  • Stories

    Legacy

    I’d like to apologize for my absence the last couple of weeks. As they say, life happens.  This is a short story I wrote based on the first prompt in my Irish Mythology list. I couldn’t get that scene out of my head and it turned into this flash piece. I hope you enjoy it! Gann looked out over the battlements. The cold fog clung to his beard and beaded on his skin. The watchmen had called for him as soon as the ship was spotted. The initial sighting had caused quite a stir. No ships should be coming from the northern sea at this stormy time of year. High winds…