Word and Story Hunter, a New Series of Posts on Writing

Word of the Week: Yen

A yen is a strong desire, urge, or craving for something.

I have a yen to discover the right word the first time I write a draft of my work, but the reality is I often find a beautiful word that fits and then reuse it multiple times in a page of my rough draft writing. It’s kind of embarrassing when I’m caught, so I must hunt for the right synonyms or even rewrite complete sentences to keep my writing from falling into unplanned repetition.

This hunt led me to stary wryly calling myself a Word Hunter. I used it on my name badge at Realm Makers 2022 and guess what? People asked me about it. When I tried to explain that I used it as a way of reminding myself of my need to hunt out new words for my writing, they seemed surprised. I suppose the phrase could imply I have a robust vocabulary. I have a decent reading vocabulary, but when it comes to writing or speaking, I have a tendency to stick to words I can pronounce easily.

This experience led me to think about the phrase, but I didn’t want to strike it from my name badge. I had a yen to be worthy of it. I started thinking about what it means to hunt for something, to forage into the underbrush, and stalk the wily prey of wild words, and I decided it did fit, not only with individual words, but with the way I write stories.

Often, I am minding my own business, walking along, when a story startles out of the underbrush like a wild rabbit, but then, it goes still, frozen and staring at me in shock, trying to figure out if it should flee or stay.

So, I gaze at the story sideways, writing quietly through the ramifications of different plot angles and hoping it doesn’t race away before I can at least capture its likeness in a picture.

And so, this is the beginning of my Word and Story Hunter Series of posts, where I will do my best to capture the phrases, words, ideas, and momentary enjoyments of my writing hunt. Each post will be short. Each might be a wee bit random, as ideas leap through my mind.

Next Wednesday is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day, but the rest of the Wednesdays in December will be dedicated to jumping jots about being a Word and Story Hunter.

NEW Reviews of Writing Books, a Series

I love to read. I have loved reading for most of my life.

As a writer, I read genre books, poetry, and non-fiction, specifically writing craft books, writing encouragement books, writing prompt books, books that inform my writing, and writing business books. This last year, I embarked on a writing business and writing marketing book binge. I read seven books on writing which focused on the business of writing and marketing, Plus, I’m currently finishing up two more books on the business of writing and marketing.

I decided it’s time to start reviewing some of these books and recommending the ones I love to my fellow writers.

The first one I’m reviewing is one I’ve reviewed before, but I wanted to highlight it once again at the start of this series, since it was the first book on the writing business that I read this year.

The Business of Writing Short Stories: Writing, Submitting, Publishing, and Marketing by Shannon Lawrence (horror writer by night) is the definitive work on the business of writing short stories.

This book has everything you need, from non-nonsense tips on writing short stories, publishing short stories, and marketing short stories. It is jammed full of information, and I recommend it for anyone who wants to write short stories successfully.

I have been writing short stories for over three decades and I wish someone had given me this book back in college, or ten years ago when I started trying to make a business of writing. I highly recommend it as a book for any student of writing, any writer who wants to make a go of it, and anyone who needs a little help going in the right direction with the business side of writing short stories.

Truly an excellent book and a must for any writer’s shelf.

Official book blurb:

Whether you’re looking to add short stories to your repertoire as a solo pursuit or in addition to novel writing, The Business of Short Stories covers every aspect from writing to marketing. Learn the dynamics of short story writing, where to focus your editing efforts, how and where to submit, how to handle acceptances and rejections, what to do with reprints, and how to market yourself and your stories online and in person. The information in The Business of Short Stories has been distilled from over a decade of short story publishing experience so you don’t have to learn the hard way. You’ll find information on submission formatting, cover letters, querying a collection, sending proposals to writing events, how to create a website, SEO, social media, and so much more. This is an invaluable resource for short story writers.

At Amazon

NEW Advent Series

My faith is foundational in my life and work, all of my writing and all that I do.

Yes, sometimes, I fall short. Often times, actually. I know God has called me to love Him and to love others like He loves each of us, like Jesus loves us.

I fall way short of that. We all do.

Does this mean I’m a hypocrite?

Never on purpose, but I can see where it would seem so. But I also believe that there aren’t many people who aren’t hypocrites, whether our worldview is based on faith or not.

Does this mean my faith is meaningless?

Far from it!

My faith is my foundation. My foundation is in Christ Jesus, Immanuel.

When life is dark, when I’ve fallen (again), Jesus is my light and my path.

So, here, once a week for Advent, I’ll be taking a moment to share a scripture verse that highlights that foundation.

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” John 1:9

This verse is found in the beginning of the book of John, who is discussing how John the Baptist (not the same John as the one who wrote the gospel) prepares the way for Jesus, and then he begins to discuss who Jesus is – the Word of God made flesh, the true Word that gives light. Jesus is the light of the world, our hope and our salvation.

As I celebrate Advent (advent means “coming”) of Christ, I celebrate with candles, lighting up the darkness. This week’s candle represents hope.

This series will continue every Sunday afternoon in Advent. Between those posts, I’ll have some other short posts about writing books, writing, and phoenixes.


Giving thanks invites reflection, rest, humor, and courage into our lives. 

In the autumn, I fall into a reflective season of writing each year. Even as I participate in National Novel Writing Month, I find myself reflecting on my writing: what I write, how I write, why I write. I rejoice over the writing that has gone well (both in success and in personal meaning) and consider the writing that didn’t go well (either not successful, unfinished, or simply hard to write). 

I give thanks for those who want to read my writing. 

It kind of amazes me that people like both the wildness and the repetition in my writing themes. And, I feel honored and thankful to have been able to write and to speak and to share. 

I find rest in giving thanks because it is an action and thought process that starts in reflection and moves to giving everything away, a letting go of what has been in gratitude for all that has been a part of my life.

Humor comes into the act of thanks giving when I let go enough to laugh a little, to find the ludicrous in those moments that I can’t say are really “horrible” moments, but certainly aren’t great ones. 

For instance, I am thankful for the moment after I fell on the ice last week while visiting Spokane, Washington (the colder, dryer, more inland part of the state). Okay, maybe not the searing pain in my knees, hands, and back moment, but the moment after that, when I realized, with some embarrassment, that I was swearing a blue streak and I had scared a huge guy experiencing homelessness – he came out from behind a car, wrapped in layers of clothes and a sleeping bag and edged away from me as I flailed on the ground trying to get up.

Maybe that doesn’t sound funny, and I do feel badly that I scared him, but honestly, it made me laugh at that moment and still does. Who knew I was so frightening when I allowed my old natural childhood tongue to come flying out of my mouth? Who knew a short, overweight woman flailing on the ground could scare away a tall, big guy standing on his feet in a parking lot?

For those who don’t know, I actively try not to swear much in my regular life, but when you start your life with those words in your mouth and brain, they don’t just go away easily. I didn’t even know which words were swear words until I was in elementary school, and there were a few I didn’t recognize as bad words until I was in my 40s, and after I had used them in a message at church…. Oh, yes, there’s a story there, but best saved for another day.

The pictures below are a combination of photos taken over ten days: the top four are from Spokane, Washington, the bottom left is something I took on the day I came home and is from the boat launch area about a mile from my house, and the bottom right is from The Refuge, a place I went for a church leadership retreat. (It was a busy ten days.)

.Courage is invited into our lives when we give thanks, because when we reflect on our lives, we can choose to let go of all that has come before, and choose to step into the moment right now, and into the next moment, with an understanding that all of the experiences past, present, and future, are but fleeing moments in a lifetime where we can give thanks and have courage, and live as best as we can – giving grace to ourselves and others, giving thanks for life itself. 

Because I love God and have been growing deeper in love with God over my life, I give thanks to God for my life, for my writing, for the awesome family members and friends who encourage me. I give thanks to God for being God, for Jesus as my Savior, and for the Holy Spirit breathing life and peace into my soul.

When I say Happy Thanksgiving, I hope you have a nice holiday, but I also hope you have time to give thanks and invite reflection, humor, and courage into your life.

IWSG November: Do You NaNoWriMo?

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November 2’s optional question – November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton! Many thanks to founder Alex J. Cavanaugh!

You ready?

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!


First, what is it and when did it start?

According to their website:

“National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November.”

If you haven’t done it before, it might sound slightly unhinged.

If you have done it before, you know that it is slightly unhinged.

However, the writers who run NaNoWriMo.org provide motivational messages from well-known authors, some cool gadgetry and graphs on their website to track word counts each day and throughout the month, forums to join in online, meetups in person, and a general way to have fun while taking part in the challenge of getting 50,000 words on the page in 30 days. 

If you’ve ever read Stephen King’s book On Writing, you know he would own the challenge easily with his 3000 words a day word count, so it’s not like this challenge actually rocks the world book of records for writing, but it is a challenge. 

Many authors hate it. Many authors love it. Some have been there and done that. Some go back every year. Some prefer to write on weekends, or write at a slower pace overall. Some prefer to keep their own word count guides or hit different marks – 100 words a day, or 500, and not the 1667 or so necessary to make the 50,000 in one month.

But the question wasn’t, what the heck do I know about NaNoWriMo, it was: Have I participated? And why or why not?

So, finally, my answer:


Because it actually brings me joy when I don’t overstress about it.

I know that may sound like a weird answer. Some authors see the challenge as an ultimate stress-monster, and I have felt that way, a few times. Those were the years I didn’t finish. 

Last year, however, I noticed a writing friend called her project “Potluck” and she wrote on her blog about doing more than one project at once, and writing the word count as she saw fit. 

I wanted to reach across the webspace and hug her, or cheer, or at least raise a frosty glass of butterbeer in her direction. 

While some authors hate project-jumping, I hate working on one project for an entire month. I love project-jumping from week to week, or three-day to three-day increments. I love writing every day, as long as it’s not on the same project day in and day out. 

So, while I am in revision with one project and the proof stage with another project, I’m also drafting three different projects, joyfully, happily, contentedly. So, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year as a NaNo Rebel and I’m anticipating a win. 🙂

Unless something crazy in life happens, because sometimes… life has been crazy. So, given a lack of extra-crazy, I’ll be NaNoWriMo-ing this year. 

What about you? Do You NaNoWriMo?

As I mentioned, I do have a few projects coming to a finish this year, two of which are:

25 Impossible Tales of Survivors, Flawed Heroes, and Annoyed Villains (coming out in 2023). If you’re interested in being an ebook ARC reader, please let me know in the comments. It’s also available for pre-order: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BGT65CMF:

Dark Blade: Forged, the Kindle Vella novel, will reach an endpoint by the end of 2022, with an ebook and a paperback coming in late 2023. Book 2 of the Dark Blade series will begin appearing on KV next year.

If you would like to give this a read in the KV format, you can start with the first three episodes for free: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B094HGN6F8

And yes, Rayatana 3 is in the works, but since it’s actually linked to a different series (yep, that plan was in place all along), I had to make sure everything was lining up properly. I’ll share some news about it in early 2023, but not before then.



Class: Four Sentence Stories and Exercises to Boost Creativity

Dates: November 4th and 5th in Gig Harbor, WA


Gig Harbor December 5-11th

Including the Greater Gig Harbor Book Flood on December 6th, from 4-7pm

Does Rest Have a Place in Fiction Novels?

Fiction novels take characters on a breakneck pace through trial and fire, through trouble and time-crunched plots where every second matters.

Given the fast-paced nature of most YA, adventure, and speculative fiction, one might think rest has no place in those novels, but I believe it does.

Rest plays an important role in fast-paced, adventure-filled fiction.

I love The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien which contains mini adventures rolled into the larger adventure of the quest. In every novel, characters usually go on some kind of journey internally (emotionally/mentally) and sometimes, externally (physical adventures), and in every novel, there are “rest” points where characters have time to reflect on their circumstances before moving onward in their journey.

These rest points are key moments in any fast-paced, adventure-filled fiction. The rest moments in novels give characters time to reflect on the adventures they’ve had, how they have changed, and if they are prepared (or not) for what is coming next.

The Hobbit includes some rest points for the party of adventurers, and oddly, not all of them are nice places. They rest with the elves, with Beorn, and with the Wood-elves who imprison them.

Now, wait, you might be thinking that the prison isn’t a restful place, but yet, it is. They spend time there. The dwarves heal from their spider bites. Bilbo has time to make a plan for their escape and make it happen.

Rest in a fast-paced novel doesn’t have to happen in an idyllic glade or at an elven feast, it could be in prison, or under the foreboding shadows of dark trees. The only key requirement of rest in a novel is that it be a moment during which the characters reflect on events.

Rest gives the characters time to consider their internal struggles and is often when the most important internal story arc takes place.

Bilbo takes a beat in the tunnel before he enters Smaug’s lair in the mountain. This important rest beat helps him discover the courage he needs to move forward, and this courage is based on the adventures he’s already had at that point in the novel. While you can argue that the interior monologue in The Hobbit is pretty sparse, I still think this reflection is embedded in the scene.

Since I went on vacation a few weeks ago and rediscovered how much I need rest so I can reflect on my life and find renewal, I’ve been seeing this need everywhere – in life and in fiction.

If you write breakneck, fast-paced novels, how do you build in reflection and rest for your characters, so they have the strength to go on?

Rest, Renewal, Reading, and a Short Post Series

Sea Lions attempting to teach humans how to rest on a California beach


My husband and I recently went on vacation to Carlsbad, CA (not New Mexico), a middle city between San Diego and LA. We drove there and back, taking time to see some of the coastline in California and Oregon. I shared many photos on IG, but I’ll share a few here, too.

The first photo shows Big Sur with marine fog (there’s a photo later without it.)

The second photo is the Sleeping Tiger mural in Carlsbad, CA.

The beach photo is one I think I took on our 20-mile bike ride on Coronado Island.


Photos: Morro Bay with sea otters, Big Sur highway trail without marine air, beach in Torrey Pines Park, the Oregon Dunes, Heceta Head Lighthouse with marine air in Oregon, and Cannon Beach, Oregon.

This vacation helped me check-in with how I was doing as an author, a teacher, a volunteer, and with all the “things” I do that keep me busy throughout each day and each week at home. I realized, I had started to over-do again.

I decided I need to take this “rest” and extend it into a vacation kind of mindset for everyday living.


Part of the way I rest is through reading, although I didn’t do as much of that on the trip as I had intended.

My husband has been wanting to read more, but he doesn’t like to read paperback or ebooks because he stares at a screen all day for work, so we have been listening to audio book versions of The False Prince and The Runaway King, part of a series by Jennifer A. Nielsen for MG to YA readers. I’ve read those books as library books in the past, so it’s been interesting to hear them as audio books. 

I’ve discovered how rich the author’s language is, and how well she uses each word to create a compelling and fun narrative. I think I race past most of those rich-word moments when I’m reading for storyline and plot.

For this reason, I’ve decided to make one of my reading goals for 2023 to be about reading in audio. This year, I had the goal of reading 25% poetry books and 25% non-fiction and I’m far behind on both, but I have read far more of those genres than I normally do.


Consider this all to be a pre-amble for a combined series of blog, newsletter, and social media posts. I’ve been discussing courage in some places, and I’ll continue to do that, but I’ll also be talking about rest and renewal as necessary parts of life, of gaining courage, and as a part of fiction. 

How is rest a part of storytelling in fiction? Well… stick around for the next several posts and you’ll see. 

Warning: this is a cliff hanger.

IWSG: Favorite Genre, Upcoming Book Release, and a Bit about TikTok

Check out all the IWSG has to offer and join the monthly blog hop at the website.

Link Here!

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh 

and all of the co-hosts: 

Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and 

Sandra Cox!

IWSG: Favorite Genre

October 5 question – What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

Speculative fiction can range from the outright, noticeably hard sci-fi and all-encompassing fantasy worlds to the somewhat subtle supernatural and sci-fi elements like those we see in the Indiana Jones movies.

The genre offers us a wonderfully, flexible landscape with blurry edges in which to ask tough questions about humanity and morality, go play in a field of unicorns and leprechauns, or attempt to do all of those. We can read The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Lord of the Rings, The Stand, and The Last Unicorn, and still be within the huge, welcoming space of speculative fiction.

In speculative fiction, we get to ask questions. What will someone do when faced with completely impossible odds? Calculate them like C-3PO, go full speed like Han Solo, get one with the force like Luke, attempt diplomacy like Leia? Or put shields on full and attempt diplomacy first with fingers ready on defensive weapons’ arrays like in many Star Trek scenarios?

Will the characters fight for survival and freedom or give into despair (Hunger Games), and if they fight, is there a right way and a wrong way, and who determines that? Can the characters beat the insurmountable odds, or is it too late (Divergent and 1984)? What makes us human, and can AI be “human” in the way we mean? (Blade Runner)

Upcoming Release

Recently, I assembled speculative fiction short stories I’ve written mostly over the last six years into a new book: 25 Impossible Tales of Survivors, Flawed Heroes, and Annoyed Villains, A Science Fiction and Fantasy Collection.

No matter how hard circumstances are, there is hope for survival, even if it means making one simple choice in the right direction or standing up in the face of impossible odds. But the question remains: What is the right direction and which way is up?

The find out more, head to the pre-order here.

Caution: This is NOT a YA book and has some heavier content in some stories.

A Bit About TikTok

As some may remember, I started a 100-Day experiment with TikTok in late June. It’s October, and… wait, I haven’t posted on TikTok in six weeks. That’s right, I let it fall by the wayside.

How did that happen?

It started innocently enough. I tried to create simple, short videos with visual book recommendations that were focused on the books. Then, I thought I probably should get on screen with face and audio. I started following authors whose content I liked and getting ideas. At one point, I posted videos every day of the week. And then, I got sick. And then, I realized I was spending far more time creating video content than I was writing, even when the videos were short, and that did it. I stopped. 

Honestly, I think TikTok has some bonuses for authors. I know it helped me prepare to give a talk because I practiced my talking points in a series of videos. I’ll probably do that again or use Instagram Reels in the same way. There are nice authory-readery people on TikTok and not everyone is age 13. It’s okay to be in your 50s or older on TikTok. 

However, one thing I will warn everyone I know about – TikTok has some awful content on there. Until you start following about 50 accounts you like, TikTok will fill your feed with random stuff and some of it is genuinely bad – like, I thought about calling CPS and PETA kind of bad. I really don’t like parenting videos that involve violence against children and TikTok has some content like that. Maybe it’s out there on IG Reels and Youtube as well, but I had never been subjected to it before TikTok.

For this reason, I am considering taking down my TikTok account, even though I did find over a 100 nice people to follow on there, and I am sure there are more cool authors and artists to see on TikTok. And once you start following enough accounts and the algorithm gets what you like, you see less random ick, but still, knowing the ick there… makes it less of a decent place to be.

So, that’s all for now. I might come up with some more marketing-related commentary, but for now, I find my strongest argument against TikTok is some of the content. 

Let’s keep the conversation going:

What’s your favorite genre?

Have any new books or stories coming out?

And, if you use TikTok, what do you think of it?


I have wrestled with the idea of pseudonyms for over a decade. I didn’t originally want one.

I love my name. I love the way it reads. I love the way it sounds. I love it as it is.

However, some readers find it off-putting for various reasons, sometimes because they can’t pronounce it easily.

Think of how you use the ‘ea’ vowel combination in words like read, lean, mean, freak, leak, teak, ease, sea, and you should have it right.

However, it’s still a conundrum on the front of a book cover.

Now, if you’re wondering what I’m doing with most of my existing series, well, I’ll keep my name there.

However, for some new projects, I’ll be going with one of a couple of pseudonyms.



It’s going to be a big of an experiment, but so far, I think it will go well.

For one of them, I’m just adding a page here at my website and my old blog. For the other, well, you’ll have to hunt for it. I’m not going to reveal it at the moment.

Ironically, the one I’m adding here is the one with which I’ll be publishing slightly more dicey material. My Captain Wrath stories have often surprised people who know me in the real world. It’s like I’m too “nice” in my regular life for friends to realize I actually can and do write some slightly grittier material.

So, for now, TA Thorne (yes, it’s obvious, right?), is my pseudonym for my Captain Wrath series, which is going live on Kindle Vella this month.

The page for TA Thorne is HERE.

More information about the pseudonym and the story are on that page.