Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Flash Fiction

Happy Holidays by JosDCreations
Used by permission from JosDCreations

The Ad

by IE Castellano

“Baubles bringing you down?  Has your jingle lost its jangle?  Bows have you in knots?  Is cheer a challenge?  Milk and cookies souring on the mantle?  Are you finding that giving the perfect gift has left you listless?

“Yes, with frosty days and icicle growing nights, a new bird is here to stay.  Silver bells ring on street corners and in front of shops.  Toys fill the stores.  Candy canes hang from branches.  Holly wreaths decorate doors.  Mistletoe dangles where all can see.  Nutcrackers guard everything sweet.

“Yet sometimes, rosy cheeks fail to glow.  Eggnog misses the mark.  Garland falls off the railings.  Jack Frost nips the nose a tiny too hard.

“Do not fret!  When standing in lines for hours ceases to delight, it’s easy to keep your stockings hanging with care.

“Introducing Holiday Joy!  One dose will have you seeing red and green.  With regular use this holiday season, all that’s tinsel will sparkle.  Little lights will twinkle in your eyes.

“Enjoy roasting chestnuts again!  Dance with sugarplums!  Build gingerbread castles!  Drive your sled down the silver lane!

“For only twelve easy payments of fifty-five eighty-eight, you, too, can re-light the joy of the season.  But wait!  If you act now, we’ll take off an entire payment, making it just eleven easy payments of fifty-five eighty-eight.

“But that’s not all!  With your order of Holiday Joy, you’ll receive a bonus bottle of Holly Jolly instant spray.  Small enough to carry in your purse or pocket.  And simple to use!  Just one squirt will restore your Ho, Ho, Ho.  Spritz in the mall or while waiting for that parking space.

“Say good-bye to fruitcake filled nights.  Sail away from that misfit island.  Clatter those sleigh bells with Holiday Joy!

“And if you call in the next thirty minutes, we’ll double the offer!  That’s two Holiday Joys and two bottles of Holly Jolly instant spray!  Keep one for yourself and give a friend Holiday Joy this year.  Reclaim your inner elf.  Only pay additional shipping and handling.

“Whoa!  Hold your horses!  Who can forget their pets this season of giving?  Ask your operator about Reindeer Magic.  Safe for dogs, cats, and ferrets.  Reindeer Magic has dogs wagging their tails in three quarter time and cats purring Bing.

“Do not delay!  Order now!

“Operators are standing by.  Sorry, no C – O – Ds.  Add seven ninety-nine for shipping and handling.  In Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Vermont, Texas, North Carolina, Idaho, Maryland, and California, include applicable sales tax.  Allow four to six weeks for delivery.  For priority overnight arrival, add fourteen seventy-five.  Gift wrapping available upon request.  Joy and jolliness guaranteed to work within five minutes directly following use.

“Holiday Joy side effects include making snowmen, singing carols, drinking hot chocolate, and rocking around the tree.  See your doctor if these symptoms persist beyond January sixth.”


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Book Fair Appearance

     Who?  Me and about 20 other authors

     Where?  Norwin Public Library in Irwin, PA  (Caruthers Lane off of Route 30)

     When?  Saturday, December 13th

     Time?  Noon to 3 pm

     Books?  Yes

Title Page with pen--Where Pirates Go to Die by IE Castellano
My latest all ready to sign
I’ll be signing all my titles:  Where Pirates Go to Die, Tricentennial, The World In-between, Bow of the Moon, and Secrets of the Sages

Come say hi!  I’ll be sitting at the Laurel Highlands Publishing table with fellow author, Thomas Beck (who will, incidentally, be signing his cozy mysteries).

Tom’s new release (just out on the 4th) is entitled: The Tommy Two Shoes Mysteries: Entangled.  Lots of intrigue, some head cracking, and a touch of romance splattered on those pages.  I am looking forward to reading the third book of his series next year.

In the neighborhood?  Stop by.  Books make great gifts (if I do say so myself).  With roughly 20 authors and many genres from which to choose, someone could find presents a plenty for that grab bag or secret santa or loved one or friend or enemy (who I am to judge?).

When you come, I’m the short haired brunette in the ultra high heels.  See you there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Let the Adventure Begin

One ship, a small band of Pirates, and an entire Galaxy in pursuit

Where Pirates Go to Die

The Chase Begins

The elusive and calculating Pirate known as Naria escapes from Torquor Prison, throwing the Galaxy into a panic.  Dignitaries of the Milky Way Circle employ any means necessary to recover what Naria stole.  After the pursuit across the Galaxy, will justice finally be served?

The space opera is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Do You Choose?

The World In-between (Book 1) by IE CastellanoSecrets of the Sages (Book 3) by IE CastellanoBow of the Moon (Book 2) by IE Castellano
Where Pirates Go to Die by IE CastellanoYuletide Magic (The World In-between series prequel) by IE CastellanoTricentennial by IE Castellano

The Hunt by IE Castellano in Moon Shadows
Recently, I was asked which one of my books is my favorite.  With the upcoming release of Where Pirates Go to Die, I have seven titles—plenty from which to choose.  My easy answer:  how can I?

The World In-between series is my baby.  With three novels and a short published, I am waist high into this epic portal fantasy.  Each book adds layers of complexity and a few new characters.  When I was talking about the series, someone asked why I wrote a male protagonist as a female author.  I told him it suited the story.  He looked at me strange.  The male main character tells the story from his point of view.  But is it his story or another’s?  Perhaps by book six, all will be revealed.

After writing Tricentennial, the avenue to science fiction opened before me.  I enjoyed the straightforward story line and the faster pace.  Laurel Highlands Publishing is releasing the second edition by the end of the year.

The Hunt (in Moon Shadows) was my first short story.  It will have a sequel in which I will use the scenes I had to cut to stay within the word count parameters.  Hunted takes place twenty some years later.  Plan on more ghosts, slashing, and screams in the night.

Penning Where Pirates Go to Die surprised me.  While staying within the cat and mouse chase, a darker element worked its way into the story.  My characters wanted what they wanted and who was I to deny them?  Third person omnipotence gave me a range of bad and not so bad heads in which to play.  Not to mention different planets, aliens, ships, and space stations.  It turned into a fun story with all the different characters and futuristic places.

Can I choose a favorite from the above?  Absolutely not.

Each project brings something new and exciting.  The ones I am working on now keep the pen dancing across the page.  Do I love them?  Yes.  Will I ever have a favorite?  Only time will tell.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nitroboosting in ... Three ... Two ... One

ebook cover for Where Pirates Go to Die by IE Castellano

My space opera, Where Pirates Go to Die, has a cover and a release date of 12 Nov.

The elusive and calculating Pirate known as Naria escapes from Torquor Prison, throwing the Galaxy into a panic.  Dignitaries of the Milky Way Circle employ any means necessary to recover what Naria stole.  After the pursuit across the Galaxy, will justice finally be served?

Countdown to launch T minus 27 days.

The ebook can be preordered at Amazon, Google Play, Kobo, Apple, and Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Moon Shadows Book Signing News Clipping

From the Mount Pleasant Journal  October 9, 2014
Moon Shadows Book Signing New Clipping
 I'm on the far right.  :) 

Last Wednesday's book signing at the Mount Pleasant Farmers' Market was a sunny success.  I had a great time meeting everyone who came.

Moon Shadows is available at your favorite retailer.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Google Play, and Smashwords.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Signing

In the rural wooded highlands not far from Pittsburgh, a small town called Mount Pleasant nestles in hilly Westmoreland County.

On Wednesday afternoons, the Mount Pleasant Farmers' Market blossoms to sell local wares in a parking lot on Main Street.

To celebrate the worldwide release of the Halloween themed anthology, Moon Shadows, Laurel Highlands Publishing has organized a book signing at the Mount Pleasant Farmers' Market.

Wednesday, Oct 1st, I will be signing copies of Moon Shadows, the World In-between, Bow of the Moon, and Secrets of the Sages.

When:  Wednesday, Oct 1st, 1pm to 6pm

Where:  Mount Pleasant Farmers' Market  (Shop Demo Depot parking lot on State Road 31)

I will be joined by fellow authors: Fred C. Adams, Thomas Beck, Renny Kalp, and Janice McLaughlin.

If you're in the area, come out, pick up the latest book, and say hello.  I'd love to meet you.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Reading Subscriptions

I never thought I’d say it.  I love my ebook subscription service.

When I received my free subscription for being an early adopter author on Scribd, I honestly thought that I’d never use it.  Then, my books were reported as being read.  I gave it a second look.

Although I had wasted a month not reading, I browsed the books on their site.  I chose books and added them to my library.  Books were picked by cover and description.

After downloading the Scribd app on my phone, I began to read.  Sometimes, I read before bed, and, sometimes, when I didn’t feel like getting up yet.  I found myself reading while I waited for my food to grill or during the rare times I wasn’t writing.

My voracious reading habit returned.  I consumed book after book—any book that looked interesting—regardless of publisher or author.  Half the time, I had no idea who I read until afterwards.

Some books I did not finish.  But, with a subscription, I can take chances on a book.  Any I did not like, I deleted from my library and I simply touched the next one.  So easy.

I found many that I enjoyed.  The River Maiden by Meredith Stoddard had characters that kept me going to the next page.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series when it comes out.

I have bigger authors on my to read list, too.  However, I have yet to get around to reading them.  Finding something new and unknown makes reading exciting.

Scribd is $8.99 a month for unlimited ebook reading.  They also offer a free trial.

There are other ebook subscription services.  And I am sure more will pop up in the coming months and years.  I haven’t tried any of the others but Scribd.  From what I have devoured on there, thus far, I will be continuing my subscription once my free year ends.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Moon Shadows Rising

Moon Shadows Halloween Anthology by Laurel Highlands Publishing

Seventeen stories touch the unknown, the unseen, and the undead. Visit what we avoid. Step into the shadows of the moon.

My short story, the Hunt, is one of seventeen stories chosen for Moon Shadows, a Halloween themed anthology, published by +Laurel Highlands Publishing.

Loosely based on the Wild Hunt of European folklore, the Hunt tells the story of one ghost Hunter's destiny.

The ebook is available for pre-order at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Kobo, and Google Play.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Poetry Wednesday 20 Aug 2014


The screech of car tires
quick turn of wheel
still hitting a little form
that broke upon the steel
and lay in a small bundle
staining the road red ...
"I her too late,"
was all the drunk driver said.

Another drink for the road
was too many that day
a small precious child
would never again play;
for the parents - no answers
only these words instead ...
"I her too late,"
was all the drunk driver said.

By: Dale Sahlberg

For visually impaired:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Typing: the Follow-up

In a previous post, I talked about using Dragon text to speech software.  After using it, I have to update my recommendation.

I used the software to transcribe the second half of Secrets of the Sages.  At first, I thought it was great.  Then, it wasn’t so great.  Let me explain.

Secrets is epic fantasy, which means we authors tend to use strange names.  I taught Dragon names like Baldur, Colvin, Goscislaw, Alvar, and Hatcher.  Half the time, it would not type those names when I said them.  I found that frustrating.  There was no explanation for why Dragon stopped transcribing.  I resigned myself to typing the ancient tongue and ancient Fairy languages.

In general, it messed up a lot.  I would have to talk it into corrections.  Those didn’t go so smoothly either.  The command, “Go to End,” became “Good and.”  I always had to say, “Cap Hope” when I wrote about Berty’s niece, Hope.  But that was because I used a regular word as a name.  However, it would automatically capitalize brown and a few other regular words when I didn’t want it to.

Then, there were the mispronunciations.  I said, “Being.”  It wrote, “Been.”  I’d say, “Where.”  It would type, “Were.”  And so on and so forth.  I was born and raised in the North Eastern United States.  My accent is … well … relatively nonexistent.  But even if you spoke to me and thought I had an accent, the word, “been” is pronounced “Ben.”  “Where” could be mistaken for “wear” or “ware” and “were” sounds like “her.”

After that debacle, I found that it wouldn’t always type the beginnings of a sentence.  The omissions became so bad, that I needed to consult my original handwritten manuscript to know what it was supposed to say.

Dragon didn’t learn.  It would open other programs instead of typing what I was reading on the page.  Sure, the words or something that resembled words appeared on the page more quickly than typing, but editing took much longer.

When I type, my typos usually consist of “tot he” for “to the” or I have a tendency to leave off letters such as “the” instead of “they.”  Et cetera, et cetera.  Dragon took editing for typos to a new level.  Entire words changed or were absent.  Capitalization was screwy.  And don’t get me started on punctuation.

I found myself screaming into the microphone.  Dragon became more trouble than it was worth.  All the time it “saved” was lost during editing.  My subsequent books are being typed the old-fashioned way.  The concept behind Dragon sounds fantastic.  My experience with the software scrapes bottom.

My opinion:  Until Dragon fixes its issues, steer clear.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Exploring Doran

After receiving an obscene down payment of lons to begin his search for the elusive Naria, Dirk takes his ship to Doran—considered an insignificant planet by many—to pick up some regulars for the hunt and then some.

From Chapter 9 of Where Pirates Go to Die:

Bars and scorpions littered the dusty streets of New Arizona.  Dirk passed the General Store without a peek through the grit-laden windows.  New Arizona was a well-worn city, although no one would admit to ever being there.  It did not have the glitz or glamor of Galaxis.  No fancy boutiques lined its unpaved avenues.  People traveled there to get away from the prying eyes of the Patrolbots and savor more unsavory delights.
 A battered wooden sign swung over Dirk’s head.  Reading, “Fox and Hound,” he entered.  An older woman greeted him from behind a desk in a cozy, sterile lobby.  “May I help you?” she asked with a smile.
 “I have an appointment with two-two-three,” Dirk said.
 The woman pressed a button.  A young teenage boy entered through a door behind her.  After she whispered in his ear, he nodded.
 “Follow me,” the boy said.  They climbed a narrow staircase.  A few men and a couple of women exited rooms off a long hallway.
 The boy unlocked a door with a metal key.  Opening the door, the boy recited his spiel.  “We’re a clean facility, so please use the cleansing station.  Anti-transfer spray is provided.  Your Eroi will be right with you.  Tips are always welcome.  Pay at the front desk when you leave.”  He closed the door behind Dirk.
 In the center of the room, he waited.  Dirk would not sit on any of the chairs and consciously avoided the bed.
 A man entered through a door on the opposite end of the room, wearing nothing more than a sock below his rippling abs.  “Oh, it’s you,” he said.
 “Don’t sound so disappointed, Drake,” said Dirk.
 “I was hoping you’d be a real customer,” Drake said, flopping on the bed.
 Dirk dropped a bag of spare parts on the table.  “I’ll make this quick.  What do you know about a pirate named Naria?”
 Raising his eyebrows, Drake said, “Take your scraps and go.”
 “You’re loyal to her?  What is she, one of your regulars?”
 “It’s not like that,” Drake said.  “You saved my life, Dirk.  My loyalty lies with you.  I just don’t have anything to tell you about her.”
 “What about her crew?  Pistol?  Gorm?  Wretch?  Bob?”
 Sighing, Drake propped himself on his elbow.  “I may have seen Pistol browsing the Flower Bazaar on Daisy not too long ago.  Bought untraceable explosives.  She said that she was experimenting, but she bought much more than for experiments.”
 Perhaps to break someone out of a highly secure prison, Dirk thought.
 “You want info about Naria, go see my former employer.”
Drake nodded.  “Be prepared to pay gobs of lons.  Don’t mention me.  That’s if you can find him.”
“Thanks.”  Dirk left the bag on the table as he walked out.
When he reached the bottom of the stairs, a woman wearing a satin corset under a see-through robe stood in a doorway.  “A word,” she said.
He entered her boudoir without question.
“Sit,” she ordered.
Carefully, he sat on a red, poufy chair.
Lounging on a chaise, she took a long drag from a pipe.  “I let you come and go as you please, Dirk,” she stated.  “Drake, who you found for me, is an excellent employee.  He brings in the lons.  Women love him and some men.  For years, I have tolerated your fact-finding missions in my establishment.  It’s time I cashed in the favor you owe me.”
Dirk waited for her to continue while she puffed on her pipe.
“Being an Eroi is not for everyone,” she lectured.  “That’s why the oldest profession is overrun with androids.  There is still something to be said for the human connection.  That is why people seek us.  Anyway, I need you to take a girl off my hands.”
“A girl, Madam?”
“Take her anywhere she wants to go, within reason.”
“It’s not a good time.  I'm hunting a dangerous criminal.”
She laughed.  “You’re always chasing someone or something.”
“Who is going to look after this girl?” Dirk asked.
“She can look after herself.”  Getting up, she pressed a button near the door.
A figure of a woman entered the room.  Dirk noticed her large travel bag.
“Selina,” said Madam, “this is the man I mentioned, Dirk.”
Dirk’s eyes traveled up from her boots, over her clothes, which could never hide a weapon, to her face.  Selina was barely a woman.
“You’re welcome back here anytime,” Madam told Selina.
Selina half smiled.  “Thanks.”
Madam made a weak attempt to hug her, but did not.
“Good-bye,” Selina said, then walked out the other door with her bag.
“Take good care of her,” Madam said to Dirk.
Selina and her bag waited in the lobby.  She followed Dirk onto the dusty streets.
“I don’t run a shuttle service,” Dirk told her.
“I know what you do,” Selina replied.
He led her into one of the bars.  “Madam told you?”
“She told me enough,” she said.  They sat at a table in the back corner of the room.  “I am not a child.”
“Never said you were.”
A waitress brought drinks while Dirk studied the room.  No one batted an eyelash at Dirk sitting with such a young woman.  That was what he liked about Doran.  People minded their own business.  When Cheat entered, he immediately walked to their usual table.
Sitting with them, Cheat stared at Selina.
“Cheat is my First Mate and pilot,” he said.  “Selina will be joining us.”
“We got everything we needed,” Cheat mentioned without taking his eyes off of her.
Dirk caught a glimpse of Selina’s plump lips caressing the rim of her glass.  As she downed her drink, he knew that bringing her aboard his ship was a bad idea.  Hoping that he would be dropping her off at the next stop, he said, “Let’s get off this poorly terraformed rock.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Digging into Dirk

A monologue from a main character in my upcoming space opera, Where Pirates Go to Die.

Name:  Dirk

Occupation: Bounty Hunter

I know what you’re thinking.  How is it possible to be a Bounty Hunter in this day and age?

DNA tracing just shows where a person has been, not where that person actually is.  Full or partial facial recognition doesn’t give you much unless you know the person’s pattern.  Thermal imaging can’t tell exactly who is there.

All this data that tracks our every move needs interpretation.  Sure, there are algorithms and all this other schmact that I don’t care about to analyze our thoughts and future actions.  However, they can’t do my job.

When a Patrolbot enters a less than reputable den, criminals scatter like cockroaches.  I enter like I’m one of them.  And they always give up information for the right price.

Not everyone is cut out to be a Bounty Hunter.  My connections keep my stick tabs full of lons and my ship flying in every quadrant in the Galaxy.

You think you can do what I do?  Can you stay one step ahead of the Flyers so they don’t “relieve” you of your payment?  Are you prepared to shoot anyone who gets in your way?  Can you step on both sides of the law without being covered in schmact? 

That’s what I thought.  Now, scuttle back to the safety of your perfectly terraformed, Galaxy-run hunk of rock.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Flying High

Blue Angels at Air Show
The Blue Angels against a blue sky.

The roar of engines tearing through the blue. The smell of jet fuel mingling with sunscreen. Fighting against the tidal wave of the hordes. Yesterday, I attended the Air Show. The flying was amazing.

What I learned:
  1. What people can train their bodies to endure is incredible. 5 Gs? Most of us would have passed out well before.

  2. In a large crowd, half will be pushing strollers.

  3. The only shade lies under the planes on display. Unless you have a hangar into which to duck.

  4. Everyone holds up their phones or tablets to take pictures. No one uses a real camera anymore, including yours truly, unless equipped with a telescopic lens.

  5. The only thing that surpasses my not so great picture taking is my attempt at video taking.  (My brother took the pic above.)

  6. I should invest in a portable phone charger.

  7. Just by watching how the planes do those tricky moves, my mind begins to roll.
I am very excited to get my pen gliding across the page and integrate what I saw into one great space battle.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fly Me to the Moon

There’s a lot of flying in a space opera.  (I know, you’re shocked.)  Where Pirates Go to Die mainly centers around one non-Galaxy-regulated ship, the Tigerlily.  To watch some spectacular flying in person, I’m heading to the Air Show this weekend. 

As many of you know, my brother is a pilot.  The aviator’s club to which he belongs gave Air Show VIP passes and is throwing a hangar party all afternoon and into the evening.  And, as a good sister, I get to go, too!  (Yay me!)  There’s a rumor that the Blue Angels will be guests at the hangar party.  Their flying is nothing short of awesome.  (Need to remember to bring earplugs for when those jets pass.)  I hope the rumor is true.  How cool would it be to meet them?  Hopefully, they will be able to give me some of their limited time to ask them plenty of questions about flying those fighter jets.  What I won’t do for research.

I’m hoping to pick up a few good moves for Wretch (the Tigerlily’s pilot) to use, especially during the final in-space battle.  Maybe, I’ll even take some halfway decent photos with my phone to share.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Upcoming Projects

After launching Secrets of the Sages, I have no time to rest on my laurels.  Not wanting a big celebration or party, I simply pick up my pen and keep writing.

Four books are all at different stages of completion.  First, I am writing Whispers, the fourth book of the World In-between series.  It begins a couple of weeks after Secrets of the Sages ends.  Escalating war leads to a high body count and to happy occasions being crashed. 

Second, I can see the end of my space opera, Where Pirates Go to Die.  Think of it as kinda like Firefly meets Pirates of the Caribbean.  It includes some interesting characters, cat and mouse chase scenes, robots (including androids), and high tech thievery.

Third, I am thoroughly researching a contemporary fantasy.  And by thoroughly, I mean I read and take notes until my eyes pop out and become bloodshot.  Quite fun.  I am getting some great fodder for continuing the scene that I had to leave hanging because I needed to do research.  I like my fiction to hinge on something either believable or common knowledge, like a myth or fairy tale.

Fourth, I have my non-speculative fiction (fantasy/sci-fi) detective story.  Yes, it is a departure for me.  And yes, I tend to write this story more slowly than the others.  Right now, I have my former homicide detective, who happens to hate the sight of dead bodies, investigating a missing person case turned serial killing case.  Her new job as a private eye has her reluctantly working with the FBI.  One of the agents is incredibly handsome, which could potentially lead to a conflict of interest.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

No Secret Lasts Forever

Secrets of the Sages by IE Castellano

The magical adventure continues… Book three of the World In-between series.

Since first stepping through the portal, Berty has always found the Empire mysterious—full of secrets awaiting discovery. Revealing secrets comes with a price, especially magical secrets. His world begins to unravel. Unless Berty exposes the ancient magical secrets the Seven High Sages concealed from history, he could lose everything and everyone he loves.

Secrets of the Sages, book 3 of the epic fantasy the World In-between series is now available.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quoting Secrets

Secrets of the Sages by IE Castellano

Seven Sages
Seven Seals
Seven Secrets
Soon Sinister Steals
--The Pixie Priestess

A gathering of quotes from the upcoming epic fantasy, Secrets of the Sages.  Book 3 of the World In-between Series.

“Our destiny is the product of what we chose to do with our innate abilities.”

“I’ve pinned my husband to the wall in under five seconds.  And that was with only one crossbow.”

“This world is full of things we have forgotten, things we do not understand and things well out of our control.”

“I’m afraid the walls have ears.”

“I believe that people have the right to defend themselves, their families and their villages.  If someone chooses to fight for the opposition, then so be it.  People must do what they feel is right in their hearts.  Those who make that choice do not need to learn from us.  If the Empire must teach a person self-defense, then that is because there is an opposition.”

“Your brothers can learn how to behave themselves in the Emperor’s presence.”

“Your job is to protect the Empire.  I am only one man.”

“The Empire is in a state of flux, Lieutenant.  Sometimes we must change in order to stay the same.”

Berty awoke with the feeling that he was being watched.  He hated that feeling.

“You’d rather torture yourself in other ways?”

“You make it sound as if there are only two options.  I’m sure there are plenty ways to die in a place like this.”

The Dwarf drew silent as he watched Berty pass with the last Empress draped in his arms.

The twinkles disappeared quickly like the short blink of summer lightning bugs before they blended in with the grass.

“I am emptying the ocean with a thimble.”

Silvia’s smile was the sunshine in the morning rain.

“I don’t know who annoys me more, lawyers or government officials.”

He could see fear and uncertainty dwelling in her pools of brown.

Nothing inside could help fill the emptiness deep in his heart.

“She has to learn to balance.  For the rest of her life, hers will be a world in-between here and there.”

“What’s not to like about magic?”

“I have no idea what I’m doing and my tie is going to choke me when I least expect it.”

“Perhaps, it is not too late to right the wrongs of my foremothers.”

“All I can think about is how dare someone do that to my little brother.  I want to rip the person limb from limb.  Merely going to jail doesn’t seem to be enough.”

Following Hatcher, they passed gruesomely tall, brutally ugly, club wielding variations of the Trolls Berty came to know.  Their quick glare gave Berty fearsome shivers.

On a molecular level, magic and science were probably indistinguishable.  Magic was the manipulation of energy—it could not be created or destroyed.  It just changed shape.

“Everything else is out of my control.  And I’m okay with that.  Let the fates lie where they may.”

“When we promised Hope an adventure with her uncle, this is not exactly what I had in mind.”

Secrets of the Sages is available for Pre-order on Kobo and Google Play.  Available everywhere May 7th.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Writer's Outing

On Saturday, I participated in a Writer's Salon.  A topic is chosen beforehand and we set out writing about the subject. At the Salon, we read our musings, then we discuss.

Our topic was Creativity and Substance Abuse Being Synonymous.  We were to write about 500 to 600 words.

Six of us read.  One was a poem.  Another was a play where the writer coerced other writers to be actors.  One other wrote a short story about muses and the remaining two wrote about personal experiences (not always their own).  It was a fun afternoon of musings, discussion and food.

When I thought about Hemingway's quote, "Write drunk, edit sober," I wrote the following:

(By the way, I don't condone drinking and writing.  Only drinking after writing, if you must.)

The Secret of my Success
IE Castellano

What is the secret of my success as a writer?  I get asked this question in many interviews, especially after I say that I do not suffer from writer’s block.  More accurately, I should say that I do not suffer from writer’s block anymore.

I barely remember my last bout of writer’s block.  I sat there, staring.  No words would come.  The blank screen mocked me.  “What a useless lump you are; can’t even eke a word onto the page.  Ooh, here sits a writer.  Can’t believe you actually call yourself that.”

The longer I sat, the less the words wanted to flow from my fingertips.  I had to move around.  I had to do something else, just for a while.  My ears discerned the word “loser” as I walked away from my desk.

Everywhere I looked, my sanctuary glared at me.  The jeers echoed off the walls.  Grabbing for my coat, I tried to avoid the laughter attacking me from all angles.

I escaped my compression.  The sidewalk became my savior.  Silence filled my head while my feet pounded rhythmically.

Derogatory names haunted me every time a person passed.  Pairs of eyes dismissed me like the lowliest of peasants.

I slipped through a door.  A dim coziness welcomed me.  No one gawked at my flawed person.  Not even the man polishing glasses behind the bar.

Finding a solitary stool, I rested my weary, broken spirit.  The man approached without judgment, wanting to know what I would have.  My eyes searched the bottles behind him.

A red coat with a tall, fuzzy, black hat spoke to me.  “Drink me.”  My ancestors probably would have waited to see the whites of his eyes.

The man sat the glass of clear liquid on the highly polished wood.  My first gulp burned the ghosts of my blank pages out of my throat and nasal passages.  The following sips sang of woodsy juniper.

With confidence pumping through my veins, I returned to my all-knowing, cocky computer.  It snorted as my hands reached for the black keyboard.  My fingers tickled the keys with the grace of a classical composer.  Words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, scenes, books all flowed from my fingertips.  There was no stopping my creativity.

A couple of blocks away from my solitary watering hole, I found my muse sitting on a shelf at the store.  I took him home with me.  Any time of the day or night, he could inspire me to write my masterpieces.

My red-coated friend watched over me as I typed.  His whispers of encouragement drowned out the naysaying from my computer.  Like magic, words flowed from my fingertips.  Elation filled me.

I’m a little tea pot, short and stout.  Here is my handle.  Here is my spout.  When I get all steamed up….

I did experiment, over the years, with other things.  Writers always try to find other sources of inspiration, other springs from which we can drink.  Nothing ever worked as well for me.  Some writers swear by this or that.  I find myself choosing the comfort of my first muse.  To each his own, as they say.  We all find our own secrets that get us through the blank pages.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Making the Cut

Writing my story

I love writing to the rhythm of a spring rain.  Sitting in my bedroom, the pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof place a spell over my pen.  To the April music, I finished my ghostly short story for Moon Shadows, a +Laurel Highlands Publishing Halloween anthology.

The Hunt clocked roughly a thousand words heavy of the 5,000 word upper limit.  It was time to cull my pretties.

When I write, I fall in love with each and every word.  I choose them carefully.  I string them together with precision.  How can I possibly eliminate one word, let alone whole lines or *gasp* entire scenes?


Although pressing the delete key pains me, sentences shortened.  Mind you, tightening of the story would happen during editing anyway.  However, a few words here and there do not lighten the word load.

I pruned two scenes.  As lovely as they were, they had to go.  The deleted scenes setup for a sequel to the Hunt, but they were not essential to plot advancement.  I will use those scenes as flashbacks in the sequel.

By the end of the Hunt, I slashed well over five hundred words.  It reads like a lean, mean hunting machine.

Shaving a story is more than stabbing in the dark.  Annihilation is deliberate.  Just as there is a rhythm to writing, there is a rhythm to the slaughter called editing.  How will you make the cut?