Mispronouncing words because you’ve only ever read them

This is the curse of every bookworm, right?  You know how to spell the word, you know what it means, you can use it in a sentence…but you can’t pronounce it correctly because you’ve never heard it said aloud.

Most of my examples come from historical fiction.  And I’m usually corrected by my mum when discussing the books with her.

The funniest one we ever had was when my sister, my mother and I were discussing a historical Scottish novel and my sister said ‘Och aye’.  She pronounced och as ‘otch’ rather than ‘ock’.  My mother and I just about wet ourselves laughing.  Not a cruel, laughing-at-someone-else’s-misfortune laugh, but just that uncontrollable laughter you get when something tickles your funny bone.

I’m not immune to it, and I’m more than happy to entertain people with my mistakes.  Two of the ones that amuse my mother the most are victuals and blackguard.  She was highly amused when I pronounced them as ‘vick choo als’ and ‘blak gard’, instead of ‘vittles’ and ‘blaggard’.  Ugh.  I’ve got blackguard down pat now, but I’m constantly forgetting the correct pronunciation of victuals.

Waistcoat is a trickier one.  My mother likes to remind me that it should be ‘weskit’, but honestly, if I said ‘weskit’ to anyone in my generation (I’m in my 30s), would any of them know what I was talking about?  Maybe in the UK?  I dunno.

There was one that I didn’t know I was saying incorrectly until I read the correct pronunciation in a book.  Ha ha!  Oh, the irony.  So, the American state, Arkansas.  Yup, I pronounced it as it was written.  Then a character, who was actually British, tried to pass herself off as being from Arkansas, and was corrected by the person questioning her.  “I know you’re not from there, because the locals say it ‘ar kan saw’.  I was all ‘Wait, what?’ So I Googled it, and yeah, I stand corrected.  I guess all the Americans knew that one, huh?

Hmm, another one that always catches me out is archangel.  I know it is ‘ark’ instead of ‘arch’, but my brain always wants to say ‘arch’.  Colonel and lieutenant catch me unawares too.  I know they’re pronounced ‘kernel’ and ‘left tenant’, but I forget.  My brain wants to say ‘col on el’ and ‘loo tenant’.  I work for two ex-army guys, so I really need to get those ones correct.  By the way, I am aware that the Americans do say ‘loo tenant’, not ‘left tenant’, but as a New Zealander I should be speaking British English, not American English.

The one I hear most commonly mispronounced, ironically, is pronunciation.  I’m forever correcting people on that.  You don’t use the ‘ounce’ sound, it’s an ‘unce’ sound instead.

One my son pronounced wrong, because he’d read it rather than heard it, was monk.  It should rhyme with dunk, right, but he said it as if it rhymed with donk.

When I was thinking about writing this blog post, I did a little Googling and came up with some others that surprised me.

Conch.  Who the hell knew that was pronounced like ‘konk’?  I’ve never heard it said that way before.  Bizarre.

Forte.  Apparently, unless you’re talking about music, it’s pronounced the same as fort.  I just…  That doesn’t work in my head.  So writing is my fort?  It just sounds wrong, don’t you think?

Ooh, here’s a good one – quinoa.  I was definitely one of those clueless people who pronounced it as ‘kwin oh ah’ when it first became trendy, instead of the correct ‘keen wa’.

Sometimes Google contradicts itself.  I found articles that said niche should be pronounced ‘nitch’ instead of ‘neesh’ and then other articles that said the opposite.

But you wanna know the most shocking one of all?  This is a serious ‘hold the phones’ moment, I promise.  Flaccid.  We all know how to pronounce flaccid, right?  Well, apparently it’s pronounced ‘flaksid’ instead of ‘flassid’.  No shit, go and Google it.  I’ll wait.

I know, right?  Like seriously, what the fuck?  ‘Flaksid’?  I just… I… No.  Just no.  My mind is going ‘Nonononononononono!’  Ha ha!  ‘Flaksid’?  Mind. Blown.

So what words do you commonly mispronounce?  Did you learn any new ones from this blog post?

A book review of Maya Banks’ Just One Touch

I have just finished reading Just One Touch by Maya Banks.  Maya Banks is probably my favourite author, which is really saying something when you read more than 140 books each year like I do.  I loved her Montgomery and Armstrong series, set in historical Scotland, which started with Never Seduce A Scot.  I have reread it a number of times.  I also loved her contemporary military KGI series, especially Whispers in the Dark, the fourth book, which I’ve reread a number of times. And I really enjoyed the first three books in the Slow Burn series which are contemporary military romances with strong paranormal aspects.  I’ve read quite a few of her other books too, including a few of her more risque books.  So, having said all that, Just One Touch, the fifth book in the Slow Burn series, is so below Maya Banks’ normal standards. I rated it just one star.

First off, there was the instalove. Jenna is a healer, and when Isaac is shot, she heals him. This is their very first interaction. Apparently Jenna doesn’t just heal Isaac’s body, but his soul too. He likens to her to an angel. Despite others she heals having very similar reactions, Isaac decides he is in love with Jenna, and she has no choice but to love him back. There is virtually no mention of any other facet of Jenna, just her amazing healing ability. He barely even knows her.

Jenna has lived an extremely sheltered life. She has never been touched in kindness by a man, let alone had a kiss or fallen in love. She falls for Isaac’s worship of her, and believes they are meant to be together. Again, she barely knows him and is more in love with the idea of being loved than anything particular to Isaac.

Secondly, Isaac’s ‘love’ for Jenna is more like obsession. There are numerous mentions of how he can’t ever let her go and how lucky it is that she loves him too because he wouldn’t let her go either way.

“God, I’m such a bastard to even think that way, much less say it out loud, when you’ve been a prisoner for damn near your entire life, and yet here I am locking you up again and refusing to free you. But honey, it will be the sweetest of prisons. I swear on my life that I’ll spoil you ridiculously and pamper and take care of you and love you so damn much that you never look at it for what it is—a prison—but instead you’ll only see your forever home.

Um, what? That’s so wrong, not to mention illegal. Just because you treat her well doesn’t mean that you can take away someone’s freedom and right to choose.  He even acknowledges the similarities between Jenna’s kidnappers and himself, noting that the only difference is that he would adore her instead of using her. Her permission seems irrelevant.

He swallowed back his sudden insecurity, because Jesus fuck, he was as crazy and obsessed and over the top as Jaysus, only Isaac’s obsession was with making her laugh, smile, giving her every single thing, no matter how large or small, her heart desired from now until the end of their time on earth together. And then he’d simply follow her into the afterlife, where he’d continue driving her every bit as crazy as he knew he’d likely drive her in this lifetime, and he felt not one iota of remorse, nor would he ever apologize, for his brand of obsession.

It’s all so wrong. And so shockingly beneath Maya Banks’ normal standards of book. Do NOT be put off Maya Banks if you haven’t read her other work. I’d even recommend the first three books in this series, where we meet Ari, Gracie and Ramie. Those three books were fantastic. The fourth didn’t do much for me, but this fifth Slow Burn novel is not worth your time and attention.

Either/Or book quiz

Angela shared this either/or quiz, so I thought I’d answer it.

I’m a little defeated by my personal preferences in reading (particularly the fact that I haven’t read the vast majority of the classics), but never mind. I look forward to seeing her next installment. In the meantime, here are my answers…

1) Paper or digital?
I love paper books, but I read digital for a number of reasons. Digital books are cheaper, and when you read as many as I do, that has to be a consideration. Digital books take up significantly less room! My husband used to get so annoyed with all my books taking up space in our tiny house. Now it’s not an issue, even though I own far more books than I did before. Digital books also offer privacy – no one knows what you’re reading. 😉

2) Romance or sci-fi?
Well, romance of course. I have read some sci fi, but yep, definitely romance.

3) History or current events?
Hmm, I don’t tend to read non-fiction, so this question is really historical or contemporary. I enjoy both, actually, but have gone away from historical in recent years, so I’d have to answer contemporary right now.

4) Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?
Who the fuck is Hercule Poirot? *runs off to Google* Oh, okay. Well, Sherlock Holmes I guess, since I’d never heard of the other guy.

5) Twilight or Hunger Games?
Hmm… Based on the movies, I’d definitely say Hunger Games. But to be fair, I’ve read the Twilight series but never read the Hunger Games series, so… *shrugs*

6) Jane Eyre or Anna Karenina?
I haven’t read either. Neither appeal.

7) Harry Potter or Narnia?
This is a bit like the Twilight vs Hunger Games question. Based on the movies, I’d say Harry Potter. But of the two series, the one I’ve read is Narnia. I just didn’t like the religious overtones of the story. If you put that aside though, both are good stories.

8) History or biography?
I’m not into reading biographies, so I’ll go with historical fiction for this one.

9) Stand alone story or series?
Definitely a series. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some stunning standalone books out there, but I love following the secondary characters into their own books. Yup, definitely series.

10) Dante or Tolstoy?

11) Sauron or Jadis the White Witch?
Hmm… Weird choice. I guess Sauron?

12) The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew?
Nancy Drew I guess, since I was a girl and therefore more inclined to read Nancy Drew than the Hardy Boys.

What are your answers? Do let me know, and also pop by the original post and let Angela know too!

A writing bucket list

In perplexity,
we make lists
in order to not admit to ourselves
that we’re slaves to our
failing memories,
wishing to not escape convenience.
And forgetting the list
illustrates the primary principle:
we can’t be what
we can’t conceive,
and it mustn’t have been
important if we didn’t
bother writing it down.
Essentially, passing the blame
on to something
profoundly and confoundingly
pointedly pointless.

by Norb Aikin, writing as Fivesixer on Writing.com

I love lists. I have all sorts of lists. I have to-do lists, and bucket lists (yep, plural!), and project lists… Lists for home, lists for work, lists for Writing.com… Lists of things I want to write, lists of books I want to read, lists of prompts I want to answer… Truly I’m just about at that point where I need a list of all my lists! Ha ha!

So, I thought I’d share my writing bucket list with you. This was inspired by a senior moderator on Writing.com who gave some really helpful guidance on creating a writing bucket list:

  • Continue to add to your list
  • Never delete a task from your list
  • Complete tasks as life permits
  • Update completed tasks
  • Shamelessly copy ideas from others

It’s that last point that makes me want to share mine with you.  Because then you can steal what works for you, and build your own writing bucket list.

I created my writing bucket list in 2015. Quite a number of tasks relate back to Writing.com, because that’s where I do the vast majority of my writing. I’ve given links where possible, so you can go and check out what the contest or challenge is all about. Some of the links might be only visible to site members, but if you want to sign up, it’s easy and free.

Personal writing
*Box* Write a short story based on one of my ancestors
*Boxcheck* Write a short story based on my own life – Safely Forgotten (I want to do another one, based on my actual memories, rather than a story someone else told about me)
*Boxcheck* Write a poem about Boxing Days – Boxing Day
*Boxcheck* Write a poem about my dad – Play it again, Sam
*Box* Write a poem about my mum (I wrote one about a hospital visit she had, but obviously that’s not what was intended by this task)
*Box* Write a poem about my older sister
*Boxcheck* Write a poem about my younger sister – Ties of Blood and Water and Childhood Memories of a Younger Sister
*Boxcheck* Write a poem about my husband – Sweet As, Desideratum, In my sleep and From verbose to succinct
*Boxcheck* Write a poem about my son – Parental Time Warp
*Boxcheck* Write a poem about my daughter – My Chirpy, Chatty Invalid
*Box* Write a poem about my father-in-law
*Box* Write a poem about my mother-in-law

*Box* Complete the Comma Sense class at the New Horizons Academy (Everyone can use more lessons on those pesky commas!)

Step out of my comfort zone
*Box* Complete The Challenge (A list of tasks that include writing, reviewing and interacting with other Writing.com members)
*Box* Complete a project at the Merit Badge Projects (Writing to a particular theme or genre, where you choose from a limited number of possible themes or genres)
*Boxcheck* Complete a challenge at a very Wodehouse challengeBiff Belfry (Tasks specific to a particular theme or genre, where you don’t know the theme or genre until after you’ve signed up)

Endurance challenges
*Boxcheck* Complete NaPoWriMo (Writing one poem per day for 30 days in April)
*Box* Complete the October NaNoWriMo Prep Challenge (A series of challenges to lay the background work for your NaNoWriMo novel)
*Box* Complete NaNoWriMo (Writing 50,000 words of a brand new novel in 30 days in November)
*Box* Complete my children’s fantasy novel Grand and Epic Adventures
*Box* Edit my children’s fantasy novel Grand and Epic Adventures (Obviously I can’t do this until I’ve finished it!)
*Boxcheck* Complete an ‘I Write’ challenge (Writing at least one poem, short story or novel chapter and one review per week for three months)
*Boxcheck* Complete a full month of the Construct Cup (Writing a poem every day for 30 days, utilising ridiculously difficult and constraining prompts)

*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Action/Adventure official site newsletter – Epic Journeys and Adventures
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Comedy official site newsletter – Performing on Command
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Contests/Activities official site newsletter – Read The Rules and Something For Everyone
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Drama official site newsletter – Bringing your drama to life
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Fantasy official site newsletter – Fantasy For The Uninitiated
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com For Authors official site newsletter – Stepping out of your comfort zone
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Horror/Scary official site newsletter – Darkest Verse
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Mystery official site newsletter – Life’s true mysteries
*Box* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Noticing Newbies official site newsletter
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Poetry official site newsletter – A Perpetual Poetry Pupil, Expanding My Horizons, What makes a winner? and It’s not true!
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Romance/Love official site newsletter – What is a romance novel?, Heroes and Heroines with Impairments, LGBT in Mainstream Romance, Romance in Real Life and Paranormal Romance
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Short Stories official site newsletter – Fact is stranger than fiction
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for the Writing.com Spiritual official site newsletter – Learning about other religions and A Burden Shared
*Boxcheck* Write an article for the Writing.com Blogging Bliss unofficial blogging newsletter – July 2015 Blogging Bliss Newsletter

*Boxcheck* Do 30 book reviews at Angel Product Reviews
*Box* Do 7 item reviews each month for three consecutive months for Writing.com’s Paper Doll Gang

*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for the Short Shots: Official WDC ContestShort man on a power trip
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for the What a Character! : Official WDC ContestA Dark Art
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for the Rhythms & Writing: Official WDC ContestRise Up
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for the Journey Through Genres: Official ContestKnowing Her
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for the Try Something New ContestA Haunting Sweetness
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for The Prompt Me ContestFlower prompt
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for Picture a StoryStriking A Chord
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for Dark Dreamscapes Poetry ContestTime Is Slipping Away
*Boxcheck* Submit an entry to Shadows and Light Poetry ContestThe Scene Is Set
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for the Monthly Poetry ContestChristmas Magic
*Box* Write and submit an entry for The Weekly Quickie Contest
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for the WDC Teen Contest
My Job Is Done

*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for The LGBT Writing ContestThe Phoenix
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for Honoring our VeteransWaiting
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for Precious Gifts ContestCaitlin
*Box* Write and submit an entry for Three Prompts
*Box* Write and submit an entry for the Paradise Cove Writing Challenge
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for the Night & Day Poetic Prose ContestWaiting
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for the Verdant Poetry ContestThe Scene Is Set
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for the We Write for Kids ContestThunderstorm
*Boxcheck* Write and submit an entry for The Writer’s CrampThis Night
*Box* Write and submit an entry for the Magic Words Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry for the Rebel Poetry Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry to Distorted Minds Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry to Bite Size Poetry Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry to No Dialogue Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry to DreamTime Dragon’s Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry to Supernatural Writing Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry to Decade Dash
*Box* Write and submit an entry to Pretty Pesky Prompts
*Box* Write and submit an entry to Folklore Monthly Writing Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry to Mysteries of the Mind Contest
*Box* Submit an entry to the Support a Fellow Poet Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry for the Write From the Heart Story Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry for the Tales of Seduction
*Box* Write and submit an entry for the Zodiac Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry for the Fabulous Fantasy Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry for Elizabeth’s Poetry/Short Story Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry for A Story Poem Contest
*Box* Write and submit an entry for Open Expressions: A Poetry Contest

*Box* Catch up on my outstanding 2013 blog entries
*Box* Catch up on my outstanding 2014 blog entries
*Box* Catch up on my outstanding 2015 blog entries
*Box* Catch up on my outstanding 2016 blog entries
*Boxcheck* Catch up on my outstanding 2017 blog entries
*Boxcheck* Write a blog entry for Blog City and submit it promptly – I’ve always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library
*Boxcheck* Write a blog entry for Blogging Circle of Friends and submit it promptly – Childlike Wonder
*Boxcheck* Complete an official month of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge
*Box* Participate in a full month of unofficial camping activities with the 30-Day Blogging Challenge
*Box* Complete a full month (20 or more entries using prompts from a single month) for Welcome To My Reality

*Box* Fill a journal with writing.
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my sister in England
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my godson in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my goddaughter in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my grandmother in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my great uncle in England
*Box* Send a snail mail letter to my uncle in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my my friend Beth in America
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my old nextdoor neighbour
*Box* Write and send a snail mail letter, card or postcard to every member of The Snail Mail Group

An interview with author S. H. Pratt / C. K. Brewer

‘“How goes the battle?” Spencer asked as he sat beside her with his own lunch.
“Not bad. Did you know that there is someone famous teaching here?” Rissa smirked.
“You know, I’d heard that rumor. I hope the fame won’t go to everyone’s head.” Spencer teased.
“I think we’re safe. Fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Rumor has it that the famous person left fame and fortune behind because she’d lost all of her marbles and really needed to collect them.” Rissa sighed sadly.
“Oh no, not the lost marble syndrome! I wonder how successful her campaign to collect her marbles is going.” Spencer commiserated.
“Beautifully. She has settled down, found a nice man who kisses her like she’s the only soul he’s ever wanted, reconnected with her family, and found a possible direction for her life away from fame and fortune.” Rissa deadpanned. Spencer chuckled.
“Only soul, huh?” he arched an eyebrow over the frame of his glasses. “How do you know he isn’t kissing her like that because she’s the only soul who ever made him want to kiss that way?”
“I don’t, but that certainly raises some interesting points, doesn’t it?” Rissa snickered.
“Points indeed,” Spencer laughed.’
~ The Artist’s Touch Epic Romance Book 1 by S. H. Pratt

You’ve published a number of novels as S H Pratt. Tell us a little about them and your journey to being a published author.
The romance novels I’ve published are all heavily based in real life headlines and psychology. Many of them have a strong suspense thread woven through them as well as some humor to lighten things up. I began writing semi-seriously as a teen but shelved it in favor of attempting to find ‘a real job’. Turns out my ‘real job’ is being a full-time mom and a full-time writer. I attempted to conform to the standard of Harlequin Romance Publishing but was told that because my writing deals with such intense psychological matter, it was too dark for their readers. Because I love my stories and refuse to dumb them down or soften the subject matter, I chose to research my options which led me to publish my work independently. I love the freedom this choice has afforded me and have left the notion of being with a Big 5 publishing company in the dust.

There are a great number of self published books these days, and a common complaint is that they are not sufficiently edited. Did you edit your own books?
I say I edit my books myself, but this is not entirely true. I have a team of alpha and beta readers who read through each chapter as I write them. Then I read through the entire manuscript from the beginning and then again, starting from the end and reading forward. After that, I have a proofreader/editor who is a friend of mine read through it (we trade our editing services – I read her works and she reads mine) and then before I publish, I still read it through again, this time out loud as though to a group of people. Unfortunately, as a human, misspellings still get through, but I’ve found that I’m more thorough and picky than most editors I’ve come across.

Did you find that you had to bring in experts of any description (eg. cover designers) at all? Or did you do the whole process by yourself?
I began this crazy journey into self-publishing with the notion that a small self-publishing company would be better than me trying to do everything myself. Unfortunately, I found a company that was less than reputable with interests more in my money than my books. Their “editing” was horrendous and I hated the covers they did. Because I don’t use models of any sort on my covers, it seemed to flummox them. After my contracted two books were done, I fired them, took back control of my books and republished them. My husband is a photographer and doesn’t mind when I bring him flowers and an idea for a cover. Between he and I, we create covers that pertain to the story within that are different from the typical “Fabio” style of covers. I also have a fair number of professionals, like medical personnel, peace officers, etc. who willing read parts (or sometimes the entire book) to ensure that the facts I’ve used are correct.

Do you think that different skills are required for writing novels as opposed to short stories?
I do think that you need different skills for writing full length novels than you do for short stories. However, I believe the skills used for the short stories strengthen the ones necessary for novels. I actually use short stories, particularly those with specific word counts, to help me eliminate extraneous words and ideas. This then translates into stronger novels with less ‘fluff” in them.

Like me, you have gifted children. We both know the struggle of finding age-appropriate reading material that challenges our children, and both of us have taken it upon ourselves to ‘fill that gap’ by attempting to write a children’s novel. How have you found writing a novel for gifted children? What were the challenges for you? 
I find writing children’s fiction to be much more challenging, in general, than romance. In romance, my world around me is the world I use and the source of my inspiration. However in my kid’s fantasy work, I have to create the world including its flora, fauna, and details in minutia. Also, as my intention was to give kids around the age of ten and up content that is appropriate while still challenging them, I have to use extra caution to keep the content child friendly. It sounds easy but has presented me with the need to rethink my own thought processes. I love writing the fantasy stories though because it’s a refreshing and invigorating change and challenge from the romance.

‘The monumental stone vibrated, shaking the temple violently. Srÿche stood, bracing himself in the stone archway, struggling to stay upright through the intense quaking. He watched, his black eyes narrowed, as a blue haired imp Shimmered into being in the archway across from him. She was miniscule compared to his six foot height, but he knew she was his equal in power. He felt the Magic radiating off of her across the expanse of the room and it made his bones ache.
Safina stood in her archway, her arms stretched out wide against the stone in an effort to stabilize herself. She nodded politely to Srÿche, her azure blue hair bobbing. He ignored her, turning away with a scowl, and focused his attention back on the stone. Safina rolled her eyes and turned her gaze to the stone as well.
As they watched, the monolithic stone began to glow a warm amber color. Small pieces of the crumbling temple began to fall as the quaking intensified, nearly bringing the pair of Magicians to their knees. Just as the shuddering reached a tempo that threatened to destroy the temple and everything within it, the quaking stone split in two and an unearthly voice echoed through the temple.

“Under Marching Moon afar;
A humble child born;
Noble and Royal hence;
To seek the DragonStar;
Mend the sword t’was torn;
Save Velania from obsolescence.”

As the echoing voice died, the vibrations reached a new pitch that sent a massive shock wave emanating from the broken rock. As if drawing a deep breath, the air seemed to flow rapidly into the fissure. With an earth shattering explosion, a second, stronger shock wave burst from the stone. The entire temple exploded in a mass of stone and dirt leaving only the two archways standing.
Safina and Srÿche, both doubled over from the force of the Magic, fell to their knees and covered their heads as the temple fell around them. The Magical shock wave overcame them, making their bodies scream with pain and their minds spasm in agony. As the Magic ebbed and the quaking slowed, the two Magicians rose slowly. Breathing heavily, exhausted, and aching from the intensity of the Magic, they stood, surrounded by the rubble of what once had been the Temple of the Oracle. Without a word, look, or acknowledgement of each other, they Shimmered and disappeared.’
~ DragonStar by C. K. Brewer (to be released 2018)

Have your kids read your work? What did they think?
Obviously, they don’t read the romance, but yes, my two youngest children have read the first novel of my fantasy series, DragonStar. They were my first beta readers and according to their constant questions as to when the actual book will be in their hands, I believe they enjoyed it. They said they did anyway. *Laugh*

What made you decide to use two different non de plumes?
I write adult romance with extreme subject matter and occasionally strong language as S. H. Pratt. I really, really didn’t want kids of 10+ to pick up one of my romance books and be scarred for life. Therefore, prudence dictated a second name strictly for fantasy and science fiction. *BigSmile*

Is there a reason that neither of your non de plumes use a full first name?
My full name is quite long and I didn’t want to take up half the book cover with it so I shortened it to my initials and that is my romance author name. Also, I didn’t want to worry about privacy should the miracle happen and I suddenly become famous.
As I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants with the fantasy name but knew I wanted something that could not be confused with my romance author name, I took an old family name (Brewer) and then took my grandmother’s name on that side of the family and my favorite cousin on that side and used their initials rather than sounding weird with “Clara Kyle”.

Do you agree with the old adage ‘write what you know’?
I absolutely do.

It’s much more comfortable for me to write about things I have some knowledge of rather than trying to put my mind into a dark void of the unknown. Granted, I still heavily research things I know or have experienced because I don’t know everything about it, but I find it’s easier to put a bit of me into the story if my emotions are tied with the subject matter.

What’s the most important writing skill you’ve learned?
I think it’s to accept that writing is fluid. Every day is new and my skills shift ever so subtly. Without that constant change and growth, writing would become a bore and would cease to be a challenge. As a result, my editing skills, plotting skills, and imagination have all improved.

What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Don’t give up and don’t stop learning. If you have a story to tell, tell it. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t and understand that in writing that story, you need to let yourself grow with the experience as a writer, editor, proofreader, reader, and person.

You can check out more of S H Pratt’s work here:

And you can follow C. K. Brewer on Facebook.

Rise Up

Each piece of armour, selected with precision and ridiculous overthought, sat in a pile on the corner on my bed. I stood in my underwear and tried to inhale peace and tranquility, but only managed to suck in a faint taste of dust and desperation. This was it. This was the point of no return.

I drew on a pair of jeans that were so tight they redefined the term ‘skinny jeans’. I nearly fell, and ended up in an ungainly sprawl across my unmade bed. I tugged until my fingers ached, inching the jeans up my thighs. There was something ridiculously satisfying about gliding the zip up and pushing the button through the hole. I stood up and did a few knee bends, reminding myself that walking like a bow legged cowboy wasn’t part of the plan.

A white crew-neck T-shirt followed. It had that brand-new, straight-off-the-shop-shelf blindingly white glow, but I’d run through it through a wash cycle so it had that comforting fragrance of fabric softener. It smelled like home, even if home was an illusion. Maybe I just liked the smell. Was it lavender? Jasmine? I tugged it on over my head, wondering at the train of my own thoughts. Was I really contemplating fabric softener perfumes right now? I smiled a little, kind of amazed that I even could.

I left the jacket for now, and reached for my pride and joy – a pair of knee high vegan-leather boots. They’d cost me a shitload, but they were perfect. As I slid one foot in, then the other, I felt my smile grow. Fuck yeah, I loved these boots.

I sat down on the chair that accompanied the desk in my room, and reached for the items I’d set out earlier. I started with the tinted moisturiser. I’d thought about using a proper foundation, but I found the moisturiser had a more natural feel. I could forget I was wearing it. Nothing about this look was supposed to be subtle, and comfortable wasn’t what I was going for either, but fuck it, I wanted to be… me. I wanted to feel real. Fan-fucking-tastic, but real.

I applied the eyeliner with a steady hand, grateful for the wonder that is Youtube and the people who put makeup tutorials on there. You really can find anything online these days.

I finished my makeup and speared gelled fingers through my hair. I was going for that carefully mussed look, the one that says I don’t mind getting dirty, but also screams ‘You want this!’

When I was happy with my hair, I anointed myself with a cacao and amber scent that made my senses tingle. I grabbed the jacket that matched the boots, and glanced around the room before sweeping the few items I’d used into a backpack and reaching for the door handle. Shoulders back, chin up. I looked amazing, and I knew it. Tonight was my night.

I walked down the stairs, and was nearly at the front door when my father yelled my name from the living room. “Liam!” I spun on one heel and cocked an eyebrow. “What the hell are you wearing?” he growled, looking me up and down. “You look ridiculous. Are you wearing makeup?” I nodded, smirking. “Boys don’t wear makeup! You look like a goddamn girl! Tell him, Margaret. Tell him he looks like one of those pansy sissy boys. I didn’t raise no goddamn pansy. Get back upstairs and wash your face.”

I reached for the handle behind, and swung the door open. “No,” I replied. I wasn’t wasting emotion on this argument. Tonight I was embracing myself, and anyone who didn’t like it could go screw themselves. I’d had enough of caring about other people’s opinions.

“If you walk out of here like that, you can forget about coming back,” he spat. I smiled. Goddamn predictable as always. Good thing I’d packed my shit and had somewhere else to stay.

“Don’t wait up,” I tossed over my shoulder as I sauntered down the drive. I ignored the blustering and smiled up at the evening sky. Oh yeah. Tonight was definitely the point of no return.






Prompt: Go to a book you’re currently reading, and turn to page 56. On that page, go to the fourth complete sentence. That’s your prompt…at the end of your entry please list the title, author, and sentence.

This cracks me up. I followed the instructions and the sentence I got was ‘Was he there now?’ But you know what makes it so funny? It was preceded by so many more interesting sentences! *Facepalm*

‘Alone in my room, I could take off my pants – because fuck pants – sit on my bed in my briefs, and eat. My give-a-fucks were at level zero. And knowing Ian’s room was right down the hall didn’t make shit any better. Was he there now?’

*Laugh* See what I mean?

This book is the third one in the Cyberlove series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell. The first one was Strong Signal, which I read in March and rated 4 stars. It featured a gamer who streamed on Twitch, and a soldier. It was an interesting read for me, because I had no knowledge of Twitch, and very little knowledge of gaming and streaming if I’m honest, and my husband started streaming on Twitch at about that same time. So yeah, I was quite fascinated by the insights into that world that my husband was entering.

The characters were really well developed, and Kai was fantastic. I loved him. He had these wonderfully extroverted traits, but also suffered from crippling social anxiety, to the point where he couldn’t even go to the supermarket. He hid behind his online persona, something I think many people online can relate to.

I must admit, I skipped the second book in the series. It featured another soldier, but seemed to deviate from the gaming world, which I found more interesting. The third book, Hard Wired, is back to the gaming. Cherry and Garvy are mods for Kai’s Twitch stream, so Kai and Garrett from the first book make a few appearances. That theme of hiding behind an online persona comes back – while Garvy is much the same online as he is IRL, Cherry is not like anyone expected. There’s a lot of soul searching going on, and I’m enjoying the book. So far it’s proving as good as the first.