In Lori J. Fitzgerald’s Words: Writing and Marketing the Shorter Forms of Fantasy Literature

A dragon writes a cryptic message with its ember breath in the evening sky…

Lady Rhiannon watches from the turret wall with an ache in her blood. She’s the only person who can decipher the message as the sole keeper of the Dragon Tome. When an old enemy threatens the castle, her father charges his knight with escorting her to a safe haven—the same knight Rhiannon had a crush on as a girl. But she must now convince him to change his plans, for she has her own sacred charge to fulfill…

So begins a journey to hidden ruins where magic slumbers in the stones and love lies in the heart, waiting to awaken. As Rhiannon and the knight face seemingly insurmountable odds, only the dragon knows if they can fulfill their destiny…

Writing and Marketing the Shorter Forms

I love reading short stories. Perhaps because with two small kids, a household to run, and fundraising duties in my children’s school, I can never seem to finish a novel the way I used to. It drags on for weeks and I lose that exciting momentum that pulls you through a longer, complicated plot. So it seemed natural that when I began writing again, after taking a long break due to my teaching career and motherhood, I would craft in the shorter form. The Dragon’s Message is a novelette, one of three that I have planned in the Dragon Tome world.

According to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, flash fiction is up to 1,000 words, a short story is 1,000-7,500 words, a novelette is 7,500-15,000 words, and a novella is 15,000-25,000 words.

I think writing in one of these shorter forms is perfect for the writer who is coming to the desk as a second career. After all, I can’t refuse to cook dinner because I have a writing deadline (imagine the family mutiny!), but I can outline a character sketch or even type a paragraph or two if inspiration hits while dinner is in the oven and the kids are watching their after-homework TV shows. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment that I am fulfilling my passion and enriching my mind and soul by finding the time, here and there, to write. Of course, The Dragon’s Message did take me approximately four months to finish. But it was worth it, and I’m in no rush. I’ve gotten better at finding blocks of time to write, and have two more stories finished  (and waiting patiently for their turns), and one in the works.

There is a great market for shorter literature on social media. Many people will scroll through Twitter or Facebook on their commutes, lunch breaks, or waiting for appointments. I’ve found it a blessing to schedule posts and tweets especially during these key times of the day. And many of these readers are like me, looking for a great fantasy story in their little personal spaces of the day to spark their imaginations.

An excerpt from The Dragon’s Message, a Dragon Tome Novelette

The Dragon's Message


When Rhiannon was small and had just learned to read, her mother brought her into the hall one day when her father was on campaign, and led her to the large table upon which a great map of their lands lay. She instructed Rhiannon to read the words of the landmarks: castle, road, mountain, forest, village. The young girl touched words inscribed over a place where trees met craggy peaks. “What does that say, my love?” her mother prompted.

“Here be dragons,” Rhiannon answered, glancing up at her mother.

Her mother nodded, smiling. She knelt down in front of Rhiannon so they were at the same height. The lady’s hazel eyes sparkled as she whispered, “I have a secret to share. But I can only share it with a little girl with red and gold hair,” she pulled playfully on Rhiannon’s braid,” who knows how to read.” Rhiannon giggled. “Are you a little girl such as this?” Rhiannon nodded eagerly, and her mother laughed. She stood up and gestured at a tapestry on the wall. “Come, child, the dragon guards our treasure.”

Hand in hand they walked to the tapestry of the sleeping dragon. “Your great-great grandmother wove this tapestry when she was an old woman. It took her a long time to complete, with her hands gnarled so, like the twisted oak by the drawbridge.” The dragon was curled up in front of a turret, with stone dolmens in a semi-circle behind it, interspersed with trees and a mountain peak in the background and bright blue sky above. The dragon’s scales were crimson and woven through with glittering gold thread, and its curved horns and talons were gold. As they paused in front of the large tapestry, Rhiannon looked closely at the eyes of the dragon; she thought perhaps she could see a slit of gold, as if the dragon were only pretending to be asleep.

Rhiannon’s mother stood on tiptoe and moved part of the tapestry to the side, revealing a slit in the stone wall. With her free hand she reached in and drew out a large leather-bound tome. She motioned her daughter to come sit with her on one of the benches that lined the walls. “Look and listen well, my daughter,” she said, and ran her fingers along the smooth cover, “this book is our special treasure, and it contains many secrets within its pages. I am going to teach you how to read them.” She opened the book as Rhiannon snuggled closer to her, her mother’s loose red-gold hair falling over the girl’s shoulder and brushing the crinkly parchment pages of the book which she turned until she came to the picture of a girl.

“The first secret is a story…”  

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Lori FitzgeraldLori J. Fitzgerald lives in New York with her fellow English Major husband and their two little bookworms. Medieval literature is her passion, and she wishes she could spend more time traipsing around Renaissance Faires and shouting “Huzzah” at jousts. She was a middle school English teacher for many years and was best known for her dramatic readings of The Princess Bride. Lori is currently a Staff Writer for the website Once Upon A Fan, the popular fansite for ABC’s hit show Once Upon A Time. You can contact her by email at or on Facebook or Twitter.


Wandering Around in Tracy Falbe’s Words: Werewolves of the Renaissance



Werelord Thal
A Renaissance Werewolf Tale


Thal is wanted for Devil worship and shape shifting but still boldly walks the streets of 16th century Prague. Jesuits hunt him. Mercenaries fear him. Musicians sing his praise, and women are captivated by his alpha swagger.


Many think that fantasy stories are all “made up.” Quite contrary to that belief, writing historical stories, as fantasies tend to be, requires a great deal of research. Tracy is here today to share a little of what she learned in researching Werelord Thal.

The Role of the Condottieri Mercenary Captains in the Renaissance

The Renaissance is known for so many lofty things like great art, rediscovery of ancient science, navigation of the oceans, and book printing.

But it was also a time of bitter religious conflicts, gunpowder weaponry, and escalating wars between rising commercial empires. Many men were needed to fight the incessant conflicts, especially since “canon fodder” was a new class of combatants. Armies are terribly expensive for kings to keep handy. So like today, rulers started “outsourcing to private contractors” to save money. Therefore a class of mercenaries became useful when one prince needed to destroy another prince.

In the late Middle Ages, mercenary captains or warlords arose in Italy because the numerous warring states of that sunny peninsula had more money than soldiers. Mercenaries from all over Europe found employ among Italian princes. Their warlord leaders were called condottieri, a word based on the Italian word for contract. They would be contracted to find their own soldiers and fight whoever they were being paid to attack.

Because the condottieri were not natives motivated by love of country, they valued profit and survival more than glory. The increasing employ of condottieri by nobles and kingdoms began to transition the nature of warfare from a so-called “noble” pursuit grounded in chivalrous sentiments to a cutthroat and sneaky one. Blasting apart walls with gunpowder was much better than valiant charges on horseback.

The profit motive of condottieri naturally made them susceptible to changing sides. The highest bidder gets the best warlord with the most soldiers. The condottieri were often quite effective at what they did and amassed fortunes and political power. Men of non-noble birth were even known to succeed in this career and become influential.

As the Renaissance progressed and nation states took shape and grew wealthier, the wars became larger. The demand for mercenary troops increased, and condottieri were crucial to waging campaigns.

In the book Furies: War in Europe, 1450 to 1700 by Lauro Martines, this era of warfare is known for the rise of the entrepreneurial warlord. They would try to keep profits high by finding the cheapest labor they could, often by abducting men or emptying jails to force men into soldiering. Nations did this as well, but often it was performed by the contractors. Cheap soldiers and effective tactics meant for fast fights and more money for the commanders.

In my newest novel Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale I developed a condottiere character. (Condottiere is the singular form of condottieri.) Condottiere Valentino Sangoro of Milan is hanging about Prague in the story because so much conflict is simmering below the surface. The book is set in 1561 when the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire were gearing up to halt the spread of Protestantism. The character of Valentino was my vehicle for illustrating the contentious atmosphere and the dirty business of Renaissance warfare.

In this little exchange between Valentino and the hero Thal, I display the greedy faithlessness that I imagined for a typical condottiere.

Once they were alone, Thal asked, “Who are these associates Carmelita wanted me to meet?”

Valentino lifted his beer. “Her in-laws are Protestant agitators. She’s involved with a group of nobles plotting to drive out the Church,” he said and took a drink. He wiped his mustache and shook his head at their folly. But it did not matter. A lot of money was going to be on the table sooner or later, and the highest bidder would have the best cause in Valentino’s view.


 Interested? Here’s more:

Born of a witch and a sorcerer, he is summoned when his desperate mother casts the werewolf spell before facing torture and execution. Burdened with her magical call for vengeance Thal seeks the men that killed her. His hunt is complicated when the Magistrate’s stepdaughter Altea Kardas crosses his path. Horrified that her community is burning women to death, she can confide her doubt and fear only to Thal.

Click here for a four chapter preview of Werelord Thal.

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All Romance


tracy-falbeI consider writing a necessary activity that I enjoy. I have the most fun writing in the fantasy genre. I find inspiration in history and like to contemplate warfare before gunpowder and life without modern technology. Placing characters in an elder fantasy world fascinates me and allows me to explore age-old notions of bravery when combat was often done face-to-face. Magic is another story element that adds to the pleasure of writing in this genre.

Wandering Around in L. Blankenship’s Words: Interview with a Prince

Disciple is a gritty fantasy romance series in six parts. The Disciple Half-Omnibus collects the first three parts into one meaty ebook. Part IV will be on sale March 1st!


War is coming. Kate Carpenter is only a peasant girl, but she’s determined to help defend the kingdom and its bound saints against the invading empire. Her healing magic earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the master healer; now she must prove herself ready to stand in the front lines and save lives.

She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though. This is no time to be distracted by romance — the empire’s monstrous army will tear through anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical founts. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.


Interview with a prince:

Prince Kiefan is the only surviving son and heir of the king of Wodenberg. Like his father, he has a reputation for discipline and stern expectations–and he’s eager to prove himself now that he’s come of age. I had some questions for Prince Kiefan at the beginning of Disciple, Part I. He’s about to leave on a vital secret mission to find allies for the kingdom.


L: You’re an alpha male in training and this secret mission is your most important command yet. Do you feel ready for this?

Kiefan: I trust the saints’ judgement. Though Father and I disagreed over the cavalry charge that I led some months ago, he cannot deny that it won the battle. The saints have judged me fit to lead and I will not fail in my duty to them or my people. 

L: You didn’t expect the master healer to send his apprentice, though.

Kiefan (frowning): No, I was told he would be with us in this, and then he brought Kate in his stead — but the saints affirmed her, gave her charge of our well-being. One must work with what’s given. 

L: It’s not because she’s a girl, is it?

Kiefan (he laughs): I squired with Captain Aleksandra. Any who dares doubt her will be put straight on the matter of a woman’s strength and courage. But Kate’s no disciple of the sword. She’s a healer. It’s clear enough this will be no easy journey across the mountains — none have made it and returned, that any know of. The saints ask much of us, as it is.

L: So the problem is more that she’s — bookish?

Kiefan: Kate has never even been in the saddle before today. Surely she’ll learn it, but yes, she’s spent more time among books than —

L: I hear you’re fond of books yourself.

Kiefan: Father’s seen that I’ve studied tactics and —

L: No, I mean those philosophy essays you’ve been sneaking peeks at.

Kiefan (frowns): Father’s kept my days busy enough with serious matters.

L: There’s nothing wrong with a little philosophy, surely?

Kiefan: The king of Wodenberg must be a knight, firstly. He must see to duty. We’re at war.

L: Yes, it’s always duty for you. Including a political marriage someday.

Kiefan (gets up from his seat, impatient): The privileges of the throne have their price. I’ve a mission to lead. (strides away, armor clinking)

L: You’re not concerned about traveling with a cute, philosophy-reading healer?

Kiefan (circles back): Pardon?

L: Well, she is cute.

Kiefan (spreads one hand, confused): Yes, certainly she’s… cute. Philosophy?

L: Oh, yes. She’s been reading those essays too. Her teacher might’ve sent some homework with her on the mission.

Kiefan (doesn’t know what homework is, but he gets the gist): Why should that be troublesome?

L: I’m sure it won’t be, Mr. All Work And No Play.

Kiefan: Which books is Kate bringing?

L (shooing him off): It’s not part of your duty, is it? Go, you’ve got a mission to lead.


Disciple I

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L3-250pxL. Blankenship started writing animal stories as a kid and it’s just gotten completely out of hand since then. Now she’s out publishing her gritty fantasy and hard science fiction adventures. L grew up in New Hampshire but currently lives near Washington, DC. She blogs here.





In Kristen S. Walker’s Words: A Flight of Marewings Book Tour


Korinna’s life gets turned upside down when the ghost of her father suddenly appears. Her father was duke of Kyratia City and he wanted Korinna to marry his warlord, the foreign mercenary Galenos, and inherit his title–but the city’s Council has other plans. When the Council denies Korinna’s right to rule, she decides to join Galenos’s mercenary company and tame a wild marewing in order to take the city by force. But people whisper that the late duke’s untimely death was murder, an induced madness that forced him to dance himself to death–and now that madness is spreading. Can Korinna become a marewing rider and conquer Kyratia in time to save everyone?


A Flight of Marewings is availible from SmashwordsAmazoniBooks and Barnes & Noble. You can also find it on Goodreads.

Check out the Rafflecopter giveaway to win a print copy of A Flight of Marewings or one of 5 ebook copies

All About Marewings

My newest epic fantasy novel focuses on monsters called marewings, which are part horse, part dragon, part demon—all warped together by magic. Cynthia invited me to talk more about what is a marewing and the role they play in my fantasy world.

The Mystery of the Marewing
In my fantasy world, not everything is known about marewings, because they tend to avoid people and they’re hard to study. Ever since their first appearance several centuries ago, they’ve been the subject of speculation and legend. Some people believe that they are a gift from Kylara, the goddess of war, while others think that they’re demons sent to punish humanity. But since no one knows for sure, the wild rumors can fly. Strangest of all, no one knows how they breed, because like their name implies, only female marewings have been observed; nor has anyone seen a pregnant or infant marewing. Where they come from is a total mystery.

A few things are known for sure. Unlike some other monsters that attack humans or attempt to infiltrate human habitation, marewings are reclusive, and their flight allows them to avoid people by keeping to the mountains and other remote areas. They resemble horses in many ways, including diet. Their wings are very large and leathery, but even so, these aren’t enough to keep the large animals airborne. They seem to get their lift from the magical cloudfruit.

Cloudfruit trees grow in marshes and swamps for most of the year. When the fruits start to grow, they’re encased in a hard pod or case that keeps them submersed in fluid. But when they ripen, by the light of the last full moon before the Longest Night, these pods crack. The air activates the magic of the cloudfruits so they literally float up into the air—pulling the rest of the tree along with them! Marewings gather and eat the fruit, which gives them power to fly for another year.

The Bond Between Marewing and Rider
When marewing herds come to the cloudfruit groves once a year, this is the only chance for a human to catch a marewing. Would-be riders must climb the floating trees, harvest fruits, and try to lure a marewing closer. If they’re successful, the rider and marewing form a mystical bond that can last a lifetime.

While marewings won’t let most people come near them, their rider is their closest companion. Riders still have to train and learn how to work with their mount in order to fly together successfully, but somehow, they seem to have a connection that allows them to communicate more effectively than most human/animal pairings. This bond only happens once for a marewing, and they will never accept another rider in their lifetime—and since marewings can remain active for more than thirty years, that’s quite a commitment!

Use in Military Strategy
Marewings are one of the few types of monsters that can be trained to work with humans, and they’re effective for one thing: fighting. Since there are no true horses, and the native donkeys do not cooperate in combat situations, most combat takes place on foot. But marewings give a great advantage to soldiers by allowing them to fly over fortification walls and mountains to attack their enemies directly. Because of their advantage, the number and skill of marewings in a mercenary company can determine their likelihood of winning a battle.

Marewing riders mostly fight from a distance, using bows. Crossbows have less range and can be awkward to load while riding, so most riders prefer to use a recurve bow for maximum range and power. But up close and personal, the marewing herself is a deadly combatant, with sharp teeth, cloven hooves, and a fierce protectiveness for her rider.

Marewings are monsters and we don’t know everything about them. Riders have gained some understanding and use that in military strategy. There may be more to learn in the future, especially if mage-scholars can come to an agreement with marewing riders like Korinna and Galenos to study them more closely. Read A Flight of Marewings and keep an eye out for future installments in the Wyld Magic series if you want to learn more!


Kristen S. Walker

Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a princess with a flying horse, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. Her new epic fantasy novel, A Flight of Marewings, tells the adventure of a duke’s illegitimate daughter who must stop her father’s murderers–by taming a dangerous monster. A Flight of Marewings is now available in print from Amazon and digitally from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. To read a sample chapter or check out Kristen’s world-building references, please visit You can talk Sherlock, horses, and crochet with Kristen any time on Twitter or Facebook.

In Marsha A. Moore’s Words: Finishing an Epic Tale: the Final Enchanted Bookstore Legend

Marsha A. Moore joins us today to wander around the words. Congratulations are in order. Marsha has just completed the final book, Quintessence, in a five book epic fantasy series, the Enchanted Bookstore Legend. She is back again after posting here in November of 2o12 after completing the third book in her series. And now she’s going to tell us a little about how it feels to finish a five book series. So let’s welcome Marsha by seeing what she has to say and leaving some comments.


Barbaric Dark Realm warfare threatens to overtake all Dragonspeir lands, including the Alliance. Lyra McCauley, the fifth Scribe of the Alliance, finds herself in a desperate competition to gather four missing keystones. Those amulets of the four natural elements guarantee victory for the side possessing them. The Dark Realm’s alchemist, Eburscon, beats her to finding the water gem, the Pearl of Pendola. Three more keystones remain: the fluorite containing earth energy, the moonstone of the sky, and the fiery, dangerous Emtori Ruby.

The powerful gems, stolen centuries ago, channel astral energies and can restore much-needed Alliance power—the last hope. The wizard, Cullen, who is Lyra’s beloved, relies on Alliance magic for his immortality and will perish if the land falls to the Dark Realm.

Lyra must use her rare magical energies of quintessence to guide her to the hidden keystones before her opponents, who plan to destroy the Alliance, or to claim the power of quintessence for themselves.

In the above description of the final Enchanted Bookstore Legend my heroine, Lyra, is desperate to master the ultimate power of quintessence. You might wonder—what is Quintessence, and how will it help Lyra?

It’s an alchemical term, referring to the fifth essence or element, ether, the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies. The other four natural elements are air, fire, earth, and water. This fifth element is superior to the others. It is the divine spark hidden in all things, the reflection of the Celestial Fire. Quintessence is formed by the perfect balance of the four natural elements. The harmony of the fifth power is an exalted state.

In the world of Dragonspeir, quintessence is the greatest power that any magical being can possess. As the fifth Scribe, Lyra is capable of earning this power. But she has had to work hard, enduring many hardships and risking her life. Over the course of a series of five books, she’s completed numerous dangerous quests. She’s also made many treasured friends along the way. On all of those adventures, I’ve enjoyed guiding her and her beloved wizard, Cullen, along with his animal assistants, Kenzo the tiger owl and Noba the pseudodragon. Those four rest very close to my heart.

I’ve invested over three years writing this epic tale. During the last year, I’d been eager to realize the culmination of the twisted, interwoven storylines. However, while writing the final book, Quintessence, when I approached the last five or six chapters, I hesitated and had to force myself to go on. That’s not my normal rhythm, usually ending a novel like it’s burning my fingers. And I well knew what the plot required. I just didn’t want to part with my characters and that incredible fantasy land.

With the series now complete, I feel proud of my work. Looking back, it seems a huge accomplishment. But it was an effort of love, without hardship, so completing the path feels like only a small milestone. What I’m more proud of are my characters—the strength, compassion, loyalty, and love they shared. I feel like a happy parent seeing children leave the nest, sad for my characters to leave my daily life, but thrilled they will now share their endearing qualities with new readers.

At times, even though I’m eager to enjoy the storyline while writing a new book, I feel lost as I awkwardly attempt to shape new characters. They seem like strangers I must work to get to know. Frustrated with the slow process, I often ache to write more about Lyra, Cullen, Kenzo, and Noba. Perceptive readers of my legends will be aware that two important child characters, one good and one evil, remain at the end of the fifth legend with futures that could be potentially significant. Some days, I love to daydream about those two children…what paths they might take in the world of Dragonspeir.

Thank you, Cynthia, for inviting me to share my experience with your readers.


All five volumes of the Enchanted Bookstore Legend are available on Amazon.

Seeking a Scribe: Enchanted Bookstore Legend One

Heritage Avenged: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Two

Lost Volumes: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Three

Staurolite: Enchanted Bookstore Legend FourQuintessence: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Five







Check out the Tour-Wide Rafflecopter Giveaway Contest:

            1 ebook set of Enchanted Bookstore Legends, a 5-part epic fantasy romance series

            5 ebook copies of Quintessence: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Five

ends January 31, 2014

The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are Epic Fantasy Romance novels about Lyra McCauley, a woman destined to become one of five strong women in her family who possess unique magical abilities and serve as Scribes in Dragonspeir. The Scribes span a long history, dating from 1,200 to present day. Each Scribe is expected to journey through Dragonspeir, both the good and evil factions, then draft a written account. Each book contains magic with vast implications.

Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her.

When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction.


Marsha A. Moore Marsha A. Moore is an author of fantasy romance. Much of her life feeds the creative flow she uses to weave highly imaginative tales.

The magic of art and nature often spark life into her writing, as well as watercolor painting and drawing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transformed into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Marsha is crazy about cycling. She lives with her husband on a large saltwater lagoon, where taking her kayak out for an hour or more is a real treat. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical! She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and recently completed a year-long Kripalu-affiliated yoga teacher training program. The spiritual quest of her yoga studies helps her explore the mystical side of fantasy.


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A Sunday With Tea, Learning About Pu’erh

It’s time for a tea post.

 My sister gifted me with some tea, really nice tea, from China. Pu’erh to be exact. So, I stuck it on my shelf and admired the beautiful case, thinking “I can’t drink that, it’s too nice. I couldn’t make it right.”

 Well, 2014 is for living and for action, so, I decided to cross pu’erh tea off my list today .

What better to brew this tea than the celadon my Aunt gifted me from a trip to China she had a few years ago.


 I have no idea how to make Pu’er tea, so I turned to the internet. After a little reading I discovered pu’erh is not your average brew.

The several sites I referenced agreed on the basics. Pu’erh comes in a few different forms. Basically, you can have loose leaf or cake, raw (young) or fermented (ripe). And the first step is to rinse the tea. And you can steep it several times once rinsed. Since it is typically prepared in a tiny cup, steep time is always about 10-20 seconds, longer the more you steep it.

My tin case came with ten pre-measured single serving sized cakes.

Pu'erh tea tin

I know I have a raw type from Yunnan from searching the package. Thank you Internet!  Since the box is printed ALL in Chinese, I have no idea what it says though. 

 Take 1

To be honest, my first thought was “why waste good tea?” So I skipped the rinse step being a frugal young woman stuck in the leaves poured the water and let it go. Big mistake! It was so bitter I spat it right into the sink and dumped the cup, leaves and all. I wasted a whole cake. L

 Take 2

The sage advice of the internet finally got my attention. I stuck the cake in the celadon strainer and just covered it with boiling water. I poked at it (technical terminology) with a spoon until it all fell apart and drained it/dumped the rinse water. This no longer pained me, it is NOT worth drinking.

steeped pu'erh tea


I topped off the cup with more boiling water and let steep for 20 seconds. It was dark and rich smelling. The leaves smelled very fragrant. But it was so hot! Fortunately the trick with the celadon is that you pour some into the lid so it cools quickly and you can sip it. Genius!

ready to sip tea


This time, it tasted like good tea–a million times better than the unrinsed batch. I couldn’t believe it.

I put the leaves under again for 20 seconds. Still delicious. This continued until steep number 4. I’m chicken to steep tea longer than 30 seconds. I don’t enjoy bitter tea, so I’m hesitant to steep this stuff longer.

 What I will do differently on take three:

  • I won’t use boiling water
  • I’ll break up the cake before rinsing
  • I’ll try steeping it for up to 40 seconds on the 4th steep.

 What makes Pu’Er so special Anyway?

  • From what I gathered pu’er comes from a specific varietal of the tea tree (Camellia sinensis), which has broader leaves.
  • Pu’er tea actually gets better with age (like wine)
  • You can use boiling water to steep it (if it suits your taste)

I referenced Horse Road Tea, Tea Vivre and Bana Tea Company for tea brewing tips.


Reading Journal: Books read in 2013

Not the best year for books read. Not the best year for a lot of things. But here is this year’s list.

To Green Angel Tower, Part 2-Tad Williams, 1/24

Wise Man’s Fear-Patrick Rothfus, 2/15

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children-Ransom Riggs, 5/17

The Warded Man-Peter V. Brett, 6/5

The Desert Spear-Peter V. Brett, 6/23

Spellbound-Blake Charlton, 8/23

Do the Work-Steven Pressfield, 11/8

Kushiel’s Chosen-Jacqueline Carey, 12/16

Kushiel’s Avatar-Jacqueline Carey, 12/28

I’m noticing I finished some trilogies here, and parts of others. That gives me some feeling of completion. I’m still waiting on  a few final volumes to come out. Here’s to 2014.

I've Been Hitting the Keyboard Again

Some may ask if this is a good thing. It is, of course! On November 9th I sat down and plotted out a 10 installment serial novel. I’m not giving myself a choice about making this a reality. It is going to happen and it’s going to take at least a year and a half. Lots of time for the project to go and change on me.

It took me ten days to pound out the rough draft of the second story in this series. I was shocked to come out with a 14,000 word MS Word document (because, yes I still use Word to write, don’t you?). Boy does it have issues! I look forward to correcting them. The part about writing I thrive for the most is revision.

So my little celebration to completing the rough draft is putting up this blog post.

Truth is, those 10 days that I  forced myself to sit and write, they were grueling. Going through grad school I had a set-in-stone schedule. Having been away from writing so long (shame on me!) I don’t know how I did it. In fact, going into that story, I was afraid that I’d forgotten how to write. How ridiculous is that? I’s not like I’d been in a major car accident or something. I’ve just been busy being boring, going to work and watching TV because there is only so much time in the day. But what I had forgotten, was my good writing habits.

If you make it a habit, it will happen. I know people who swear by writing every day. While I don’t think I can do that, yet, I can get pretty close. In fact, that is the only way my 10 mini-book series is going to happen.

Greater Portland Scribists Launch 3rd Collection

My friends over at Lost Luggage studios have been super busy lately. They’ve just completed the 3rd Scribings Anthology from the Greater Portland Scribists group. I’m excited to see more work from this group so I’m sharing the inside cover info with you here (because I can) so you can have a taste for yourself! 


Change is inevitable. Everything that happens in your life alters you, forever, for better or worse. Whether the change occurs to one person or to a whole society, it eventually affects us all.

Scribings, Vol 3: Metamorphosis contains six stories from the Greater Portland Scribists that explore changes, from the self-inflicted alterations of a glory seeker to a victim forced to learn how to live his life all over again.


Genre: Anthology (multiple authors) / Science Fiction / Urban Fantasy

Formats: Ebook and Paperback

Length: about 54,000 words


Six Authors

Scribings, Vol 3: Metamorphosis features stories from six authors who live around Portland, Maine. This volume includes stories from returning authors Richard Veysey, Timothy Lynch, and Jamie Alan Belanger; as well as stories from new GPS members Shelli-Jo Pelletier, Steven Inman, and D.L. Harvey.


Six Stories

Each member has contributed one story about a drastic life change. Sometimes the transformations happen at the physical level, sometimes emotional, and sometimes entire civilizations are altered forever. Here’s a brief tease of each story:


Third-Person Hero by Jamie Alan Belanger

An arrogant youth has one last chance for fame. Will cheating bring the success she desires?


 Last Defender by Shelli-Jo Pelletier

After centuries of forced servitude, the last living gargoyle must decide if he will still uphold his kind’s sacred duty to protect.


 Disruption by D.L. Harvey

After ingesting a toxin, Braven’s life is disrupted. Will an accidental romance and a foreign planet get him back to where he was?


 Otherkin by Steven Inman

Marcie saw life as sink or swim, but her new friend led her to depths she didn’t imagine.


 Four Degrees by Timothy Lynch

The straw that broke the planet’s back.


‘Rose in Dreams by Richard Veysey

A boy discovers great power in a realm beyond dreams… and is ensnared in a nightmare from which he may not wake.


If you haven’t been introduced to the Scribings series yet, don’t panic! While some of the stories across volumes take place in the same worlds, each story is carefully crafted so that it stands on its own. But now is a great time to start reading all of our work. Get these free PDF samples below and you can start reading a sample from each story today: