Normalcy Doesn’t Work

Hey Guys!

It’s been a while since I’ve had publication news to share, but I’m back to say my short story Kaleidoscope was published in Shift the Zine! I couldn’t have been happier to receive their email saying they accepted my work.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to come from this piece when I wrote it. It was done in one sitting, but as I reread it, I felt like it wasn’t quite right. This story was originally double in length and jumped around a lot. Before I chopped at it in the editing process, it was definitely a realistic fiction/contemporary piece.

I’ve written contemporary pieces before and I love reading them, but something about this story begged for a new genre. There was a little inkling in my brain that slowly turned into: “hey, why don’t you make Jared’s painting come to life?”

I promise you’ll understand that question once you read my story.

pexels-photo-94736Once I decided to go through with the plan, the story read easier. I cut most of the original draft and settled on an odder, more emotionally charged piece. For the main character Jared, who I’ve written before, but never in a story I submitted, he’s an artistic guy. He heals through what he creates. He takes his emotions and shoves them onto a canvas. My desire to alter the story came from the needed exploration of what Jared’s art can do for him especially after suffering from heartbreak.

This story couldn’t have been possible without the help of one of my dear friends Kristie, who created the character of Ash and through her, I have been inspired to create so many things.

If you’d like to give Kaleidoscope a read, click here, and be sure to share your thoughts with me (if you’d like), in the comments.

Xx

Megan

Author Sitdown with Jessika Fleck

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessika Fleck, author of The Castaways due out April 3rd, 2017 from Entangled Teen.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of The Castaways:

The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.

Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.

Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.

Q1: Congratulations on being a debut author. It’s a great accomplishment. How does it feel?

Thank you, Megan! I’m so thrilled to be here at Written Infinities! So, how does it feel to be a debut author…? Surreal, overwhelming, exciting, chaotic, dreamy, and a lot of OMG how did I get here?! Basically, it’s a whole slew of emotions all rolled into one, but I’m mostly grateful and just trying to take it all in.

Q2: What inspired The Castaways?

The Castaways came to me in two parts. The first was about me becoming more and more aware of kids being bullied in schools, especially after a good friend’s daughter endured some serious cruelty at the hands of a group of girls and right under the noses of teachers and administrators and other students. It was heartbreaking and not right.
As I had this sort of bullying narrative playing over TheCastawaysFINAL COVERin my mind, that Halloween, we took our kids to a pumpkin patch. Of course we explored the gigantic corn maze. Now, I’ve always found corn mazes creepy-beautiful. There’s something undeniably majestic and sinister about being trapped in a field of dried out cornstalks surrounded by nothing. As I followed my daughter through the maze, encountering dead ends and turning sharp corners it hit me: what a perfect place to run away AND what if when you ran away, you ended up somewhere else? With that, an early conception of The Castaways was born.

I definitely don’t take it lightly that bullying plays a deep role in this book. I very much thought of my own daughters reading this story as I wrote it, and how they might receive it’s messages, from the more subtle just be to the more blatant finding your strength.  My hope is that kids who read Olive’s story, despite where they might fall on the bully-bullied-observer spectrum, will be inspired to stand up for what’s right and speak up for those with smaller voices.

Q3: Who’s your favorite character in the book and why?

I adore Bug. She’s that secondary character who deserves a whole, entire book for herself. I love her back story and that she’s so wise beyond her years and strong (mentally and physically) as all get out, but still a goofy, sassy kid. She’s basically my hero. I also have some serious hair envy.

Q4: What kind of reactions do you want to see from readers in regards to The Castaways?

In a perfect world, I would love readers to leave the story feeling empowered and entertained and satisfied and with a spark in their hearts to do something good for themselves and for someone else. But at the end of the day, if readers complete The Castaways content that their time reading my words was well spent and if even one person is inspired to do something kind for another, I’ll be happy.

Q5: You’re marooned on a deserted island – what are three things you would want to have on your person?

Coffee, flint (for fire to boil water for said coffee), and the complete Harry Potter collection (What? That totally counts as one thing!).

Q6: Are there any traits that you share with your main character, Olive?

I can definitely relate to the motto Just be. It’s sort of her version of You do you. I’m all for celebrating individuality and following your passions in life and respecting the inner beauty in all of us. Also, like Olive, I’m not a fan of being the center of attention… ::side-eyes calendar as my book launch event nears:: Olive and I share a love for cats. And lasagna.  Also, I’d choose the cool, spritzy Oregon coast over the heat and flatness of Texas all day long (I grew up in Texas).

Q7: What are some things (movies, books, songs etc.) that inspire you to write?

Definitely music. I’m a total sucker for lyrics. I create a playlist unique to each novel I write as well as a Pinterest board. For The Castaways I focused on a mix of music that reminded me of the beach and a sort of surfer vibe with Family of the Year, Jack Johnson, and Vance Joy, along with a folksy feel for Olive’s Texas side from artists like Noah Gundersen and Mumford and Sons, and then to youthful sounds from Alessia Cara to Ed Sheeran to Birdy. I also love finding images and quotes that apply to the story and characters. Here’s the Pin board for The Castaways: https://www.pinterest.com/jessikafleck/the-castaways/ And here’s the Spotify playlist:
https://open.spotify.com/user/1212358948/playlist/4JlRrfkbnWBwoKdoT02eI6

 Q8: Do you have plans for future books?

Yes! Amazing publishing shenanigans are afoot. My YA fantasy, THE OFFERING, is being published by Swoon Reads/Macmillan fall 2018. You can find more on that here: https://swoonreads.com/m/the-offering/ I also recently signed with literary agent Victoria Marini and we have several plans in the works. All in all, it’s a ridiculously exciting time and my writing career is in some very capable hands.

Q9: Summarize The Castaways in three words.

Oh man, this is like asking an artist to paint a picture in three strokes, lol! But, here goes… Self, Strength, and Family. ::wipes sweat from brow::

Author Bio:

Author Pic3_FleckJessika Fleck is an author, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Her YA debut, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled TEEN), releases 4/3/17. Her next YA novel, THE OFFERING (Swoon Reads/Macmillan) is due out in the fall, 2018. Jessika is represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

To keep in touch with Jessika and to learn more about her debut book, see below:
Twitter: @jessikafleck
Instagram: @jessikafleckwriter

Once again, a big thank you to Jessika for joining me today. To see more book related posts on my end, keep an eye on the blog.

Xx

Megan

Queries, Pitches and YouTube – Oh My !

Hello Everyone,

This post is sudden, but one I’ve been waiting to write for a little over two months now. With a new year comes new projects, particularly in the writing department. For those of you who don’t know, my brother (Ismael) and his wife (Justine) are writers. You can find them here and here.  These are the two people I bounce most of my ideas off of as well as scream at when my characters give me feelings.

I realize how weird that last sentence sounds if you’re not a writer. Getting involved with books and fandoms makes you do a lot of odd things in order to hold tight/express inspiration. I’ll save that for another post.inkwell2_5

What I want to tell you all is that my brother, his wife, and I have created The Inkwell Council.

-insert the oooooooh gif from Toy Story here-

The purpose of this website is to provide free critiques for a description of your entire project and the first three chapters of your manuscript. When it comes to querying, we know the first three chapters can make or break the decision as to whether a publisher/agent will request more of your story. We know how stressful and hard this process can be. Lastly, we also know that getting critiques for your story can be expensive. The idea for this service sprouted as we asked ourselves: what can we do to help out the writing community  with NaNoWriMo underway and a various amount of pitching events happening on Twitter? This, my writing friends, is the answer.

We will be reading each submission with the following in mind:

1) What might get you accepted or rejected by an agent/publisher and how you might increase your chances.

2) How to strengthen your prose and tighten your story, without losing your voice and what makes your tale unique.

3) The pace and feeling of your story – is it a page turner? Does it drag? Are our hearts already racing? Did we get your jokes?

Each of us involved with Inkwell will be assigned to one of the following questions. To find out more about Inkwell, whether for curiosity, to learn more about us, or to submit your manuscript (which we really hope you do), check out our website. Note that we will be picking one manuscript out of the bunch per month to critique, but this may change as Inkwell progresses. The best way to stay in the know is to visit The Inkwell Council.

Phew, one announcement done, one to go. Another project that has been kept secret is the same folks who made The Inkwell Council are also making a YouTube Channel! I will say that I have wanted to make a YouTube channel for a while, but never felt like I would be able to maintain it. Then one day, my sister in law mentioned that she was thinking of doing it because of her son and here we are.

I present to you Geektastic!

There are no videos as of yet, but they will be themed around all things nerdy and geeky as my family has both of those traits running in their veins. We will be doing reviews of books, movies, toys, and anything else we deem fit. The best part about this channel is it will be family friendly, so there will be no need to slam your laptop shut if a child comes running in. Also, you will be meeting my nephew who is adorable and full of all the energy in the world.

I will be covering the book section of the channel because I read books at the speed of light and my shelf is becoming overrun with them. Might as well put my love for books to use and hopefully entertain some readers in the process. I hope you stay tuned and check out the videos as they come.

Okay, I think that is everything I had to announce in this post. Not saying anything for so long has kept me bubbling with excitement and hope that they will turn out well. With no more secrets, (as far as I know), I’ll see you all in my next post.

Xx

Megan

 

What You Can’t Always See – Flooded Anthology

Hello Fellow Bloggers,
vg-headshot-squareI have an important issue and person that will be featured on the blog today. Her name is Victoria Griffin and she is the creator of Flooded Anthology. The project is centered on raising awareness about brain injuries and the effects they have on one’s life. This all came about after Victoria suffered a concussion that left her unable to speak, walk, or comprehend the passage of time. She wanted to be able to use the anthology to describe the complexity of brain injuries as well as create an expansive and truthful representation. The anthology itself will be a compilation of fiction and creative nonfiction (roughly 80,000 words) for writing can sometimes do what mere facts cannot: make a person feel what it is like to have a concussion.

For this anthology to happen however, it needs the help of anyone and everyone. Whether you share the information around social media, donate to its kickstarter page or both, this project requires the support of an audience larger than just Victoria herself.

For more information, I have included an interview with Victoria below. The interview begins with a word association game, then branching out to more in depth responses about the project.

First words that come to mind when you think of Flooded?
Helpless, Afraid, Desperate
First words that came to mind when you thought of this project? 
Community, Strength, Understanding
First words that come to mind when you think of your concussion?
Dark, Stolen, Wrong
First words that come to mind when you think of writing?
Connection, Expression, Honesty
First words that come to mind when you think about your life now?
Unexpected, Fluid, Beautiful


What inspired the anthology?

In January of this year, I took a hit to the head during softball practice. I immediately felt drunk, but the next morning I had difficulty speaking and walking. My trainer assured me the symptoms would be gone within two weeks, after which the doctor assured me they would be gone within three. After four months, two ER visits, a drug overdose (caused by a neurologist who was supposed to help me), and a desperate struggle to graduate without being able to read or perform basic, everyday functions, I finally recovered.

On the surface, the concussion cost me my senior season of softball and four months of my life. But in reality, it left scars so deep, they are difficult to describe—which is what prompted me to write about the experience. When I realized there was no publication solely dedicated to brain injuries, I began to truly consider how concussion awareness is approached—with facts and statistics—and how inadequate that is.

 

What was it like to be concussed?

A brain injury is difficult to describe. I feel like I could write a thousand pages and never capture the experience. I can tell you that my mom said I sounded like a four-year-old, and my dad said my eyes were always dull and lifeless. I don’t remember the first two weeks at all, and after that I would “lose” gradually decreasing sections of time—a few days at first, then a day, then hours, and eventually minutes. When I finally gained enough strength to walk around the apartment, I would get stuck on the stairs and have to call for help. A sound as small as footsteps would send me into sensory overload attacks—which I came to call flooding—during which I would involuntarily curl into a ball and be unable to move, speak, or breathe.

Have you ever been near to drowning? Each time an attack happened, I felt like I was drowning. Getting air was more difficult than pressing through the heaviest backsquat I’ve ever attempted. And each attack lasted hours.

Still, all I’ve really described is the physical. Can I explain to you what it feels like to lose your mental capabilities? To lose your language? To not be able to understand words spoken to you? To feel paranoia so strong you can’t look anyone in the eye? To lose your emotions, so that all you feel are the artificial sadness and fear induced by the injury and medication?

What could someone who has never experienced a brain injury gain from reading Flooded?

The anthologflooded-logoy is not simply for survivors. While it will certainly be an outlet for them to express their personal realities, they are actually the group of people who (as readers) need the anthology the least.

When I realized I was concussed, my first reaction was to try to hide it because I knew I would be benched. What if I had read an anthology like Flooded? What if I had known what could happen to me? I was lucky. I walked away from my brain injury with no permanent damage, and my poor decision early on did not negatively affect the outcome. But it could have. And for many, it does. Reading an anthology like Flooded may help others to make better decisions in such a situation.

If you have not experienced a brain injury, you might in the future. Or a family member or close friend might, and they will not be able to tell you what they’re going through, not until it’s over. What if you had the opportunity to gain insight into their struggles? I know my friends and family would have leapt at the thought of learning anything about what was happening inside my body and mind.

Concussions don’t just happen to athletes. They happen after a fall or a car accident. They are a part of life that needs to be addressed in literature. At the very least, gaining empathy for another’s pain and struggles makes you a better, more understanding person. Who doesn’t need that in their life?

How did your concussion change your life?

The concussion completely altered the course of my life, directly and indirectly. Because of it, I wound up discovering a new passion—freelance editing. But the most significant result of the injury is its impact on my perspective and my worldview. I now have a much deeper understanding of the sorts of challenges some people face every single day—those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and learning disorders.

I also have an incredibly deep-rooted appreciation for the people in my life. We all know that extreme situations bring out the best and the worst in people. I saw people behave in ways I never would have expected. I saw true cruelty, to a degree I didn’t believe people to be capable of, not from strangers but from people who had been in my life for years.

But I also saw extreme compassion and sacrifice. I saw a few friends and family members put their lives on hold to make sure I made it through. From driving across the country to staying with me when I was afraid of what might happen during the night, I can never repay those amazing people, but I will spend the rest of my life trying. And now, I consider of every person in my life, would they be the one to make sure I kept breathing when an attack hit? Or would they be the one to step over me and leave me alone?

Becoming A Part Of Flooded

If writers want to be a part of Flooded, they can submit pieces via Submittable starting November 15th and ending February 28th. After the Kickstarter event is over, details about submissions will be available at victoriagriffin.net. Anyone can submit; you do not need to have suffered a brain injury or know someone who suffered a brain injury. The anthology is dedicated to awareness, education, and welcoming writers of all ages, skill level, races, genders, and backgrounds.

For the anthology to happen, Victoria is using Kickstarter which is an all-or-nothing crowdfunding platform. If there is even a dollar short of the goal, the money raised is not received. For that reason, Victoria has set both a bare minimum and target budget to fund the anthology. The budget will cover cover art, design, interior layout, Submittable fees, editing and proofreading, promotion, and contributor payment and copies.

Rewards for Supporting Flooded

all-rewards

How can you help?

Spreading the word is key. Share a link to the Kickstarter page on social media. Tell your friends and family. Help us to turn this project into a movement. And of course, you can visit the Kickstarter page yourself, and pledge to support the project. 

Conclusion

So with that I encourage everyone to please help out this amazing expression of creativity and awareness. It was why I personally signed up to join the blog hop – to support Victoria and this anthology. Let us make Flooded a reality.

Xx

Megan

 

A Little Sprinkle of Horror

“What is one thing Megan cannot do?”

If you ask my family and friends, they will reply with, “Watch horror movies.” With Halloween creeping around the corner, I know many readers will gasp in disbelief at this, but I must admit the truth. I can watch movies with gore in it, depressing and dark features, but present me with jump-scares or the supernatural and I am calling it quits. My adult self has not bit the bullet and faced my fear because it would probably end with me hiding in my room for weeks on end.

The irony of this all is my short story that has been released today by Fantastia Divinity Magazine is in fact a horror story.

DUN! DUN! DUN!

There are no ghosts or demons, but I did write this with an eerie feel in mind. The story was inspired by one of my best friends while we were doing a little exploring at a field near our homes. The entire area was and still is being built up and remade for guests: a circus for families, gardens that can be rented out for anyone wanting to take up a hobby, even an ice skating rink. The construction workers have not made their way through the entire field just yet so there are still buildings that require serious redoing, including abandoned air hangers.

Seeing them up close was creepy. Having my best friend and I spout ideas about a story taking place in them was even creepier. However, that night I came home and the story wrote itself. There was a brief intermission I took on the piece to work out some last minute details as well as write other things, but last year it was finished, edited, and shipped out.

It was odd for me, who dabbles in endless Fantasy and Sci-Fiction, to take on a different genre. I never expected it to happen, but I will not protest my muse when it wishes to get something done. I think a large appeal behind writing the story was having the ability to take a place from my life and tweak it with my imagination. I didn’t have to make up a setting. It was already available for me to play with. The rest of the details filled themselves in.

If you’re interested in checking out the story, which is called Unreturned, it can be found here. A kindle version will be uploaded within a few days which I’ll be sure to place here too. For a spookier experience, I’ve attached a picture of the actual air hangar. Happy reading.

20160821_171008.jpg

Xx

Megan

Home Sweet Home

I wrote this story about two years ago. It started off as nothing more than a drabble, something that needed editing and more character cultivation. I rewrote it about four times: adding details, taking them away, trying to make the story longer. I was determined to make the story publishable. After about ten attempts, Superhero in the Dark finally found its home.

*Cue me screaming with glee here*

This was one of the short stories I fought for, in the sense, that I wanted it out there for others to read. I was heavily attached to the characters involved and how they helped each other in their own way. Neither realized how important they were to the other. People can leave an imprint in one’s life without realizing it. For better or worse depends on the scenario. In the case of my story, it was for the better. images

Superhero in the Dark was a way of exploring the issue above as well as many others: friendship, death, abusive households. Sometimes the smallest encounters can keep people going. Sometimes, we don’t realize the little things we do are what tie people to the world around them.

I relate to that idea in many ways. When life got tough it was good friends and simple pleasures that kept me from falling apart in the same way they keep my main protagonist from falling apart. Not everything has to rely on romance or the shoulders of a lone individual. Maybe having this message out there was why I pushed hard for this story. Maybe my passions as a writer was motivation.

Nonetheless, I am thrilled to say that you can read my newest short story in the fourth issue of Firefly Magazine which can be found here. I hope you like it as much as I liked writing it and feel free to leave comments below. Note in advance that this story deals with some heavy issues and reader discretion is advised.

Xx

Megan

Exciting News!!

Cover_1600

As I’ve mentioned several times in my posts, I work for a publishing company by the name of Fantasy Works Publishing. In just five days, we will have our first official book release. The book is called The Mark of the Shadow Grove and is written by Ross Smeltzer. It’s a book I’m super excited about and has been in the works for quite some time. If you love Fantasy, you’ll want to check this out. The synopsis and an excerpt of the book can be found below.

 

Synopsis:

Daughters of the gathering dusk and students of blackest spellcraft, the women of the Schermerhorn clan are enigmas made flesh. Seers for time immemorial, they are keepers of primeval knowledge.

They are wise in the ways of the Old Religion.

And they are destroyers of men.

Do the women of the Schermerhorn clan drive the men they encounter to their destruction? Or are their actions governed by specters on the periphery of human consciousness?

The Schermerhorn women will soon learn what dwells in the oldest books and what lurks in the flickering shadows beyond the candlelight.

Excerpt:

I saw her close to the fire. I approached her. Instinct—animal’s blood—controlled my fatigued limbs and I felt no fear, though the flames blazed high and the hilltop was forlorn; the night was black as deep water . . . She turned and approached me. “There are no masters here. Only you and me,” she said.

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If you’d like to purchase this book, it will be available on the following platforms:

Fantasy Works Publishing

Amazon

Smashwords

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If you’d like to find out more about Ross here is his bio and some social media links:

Author Bio: Raised in Chatham, New York, a small town in the Berkshires that looks like the setting for a Washington Irving story, Ross grew up surrounded by overgrown woodlands and tumbled-down, derelict farmhouses. He grew up with an awareness that the past was omnipresent, a slyly pervasive power and a subtle influence on the present.

Ross now lives in Dallas, Texas with his patient and endlessly supportive wife, a hopelessly brainless terrier, and an alarmingly unhinged cat. Ross works as a social studies teacher but writes fiction whenever he gets a chance. Sadly, he seems capable only of crafting stories of the weirdest kind. His imagination—apparently corrupted in adolescence by Hawthorne, Bierce, Machen, Lovecraft, and assorted other misanthropes, weirdos, and purveyors of high strangeness—can only manufacture demented little yarns.

Ross’s fiction has appeared repeatedly in Bewildering Stories magazine, Quantum Fairy Tales, and Enchanted Conversation, an online fairy tale magazine.

Website: http://fantasyworkspublishing.com/ross-smeltzer.html

Twitter: @RossTellsTales