Archive for the ‘Fiction on Foccacia’ Category


U is for ‘Unearthly’ (Book Review)

   Posted by: Faith


by Cynthia Hand

YA Paranormal

Release Date: January 2011

Synopsis (

In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

My Thoughts:

As with most YA books I read these days, I try to start each book with lower expectations than I actually have. Why? Because many of them are hyped to such a degree that to start reading with high expectations in mind is bound to result in disappointment.

I’d heard that Unearthly was “Halo the way it should have been written”, but since I hadn’t read Halo, I didn’t go in with any real basis of comparison. Mind you, I read Angelfire first, but the two books are so vastly different that I don’t feel a comparison between those two is fair.

So I had to judge the book on its own merits.

And I wasn’t disappointed!

unearthlypb The story started a little slow for my tastes, and I wasn’t sure whether I could get into the story. The heroine seemed a little bit too perfect, and I had a bit of trouble buying the premise—mostly because the author chose not to reveal key details until later in the story. I think if I’d had more explanation about the world-building up front, I might have enjoyed the first half more, but this ‘late-reveal’ method of story crafting seems to be popular these days. Unfortunately, it just bugs the heck out of me.

That said, the story picked up eventually, and managed to be a decent read, despite the clichéd “supernatural teenager at high school” premise. The way the angel-bloods recognized each other, and the abilities they had, were quite creative. Aside from the cheesy bits. :)


Beyond that, I was most impressed with how respectful the author was when writing about spiritual matters. She didn’t take the angels and turn them into something over-the-top anti-God (as some of these more recent books seem to do), but rather crafted a lovely explanation of the difference between angels on earth, angels in heaven, and their roles in relation to God’s purposes.

My favorite part of the entire book was the explanation of something called ‘glory’—which I’ll leave up to you to discover.

Overall, I have to admit that I didn’t particularly like the ending. I know the author was setting up for a sequel, but it felt like a bit of a cop-out, seeing as how the events of the ending were alluded to throughout the book… but I’m hoping that will get resolved in book two.

Verdict? Worth the read!


cynthiahandAbout the Author

Cynthia Hand divides her time between Southern California, where she lives with her husband and son, and southeast Idaho near the Teton mountains. She teaches creative writing at Pepperdine University.


K is for Kindergarten

   Posted by: Faith



In my efforts to catch up on the A to Z Challenge, here’s a little story post. I wrote this for a storypraxis prompt a few weeks ago, and it was chosen to appear in the bi-weekly storypraxis magazine. While I don’t particularly love it (not false modesty, just being honest!), maybe it’ll give you a smile today!



When Roger’s tenth-grade English teacher handed his essay back covered in red marks, Roger wasn’t all that concerned. It happened a lot. Probably because he wrote all his papers the night before they were due, loading himself up on Red Bull and Twizzlers and writing until he either fell asleep at the keyboard or the sun came up.

But when he turned to the final page where the grade should have been, no  bright red numbers popped off the page. Instead, one scrawled sentence stared back in thick, blood-red ink:



Roger glanced at his English teacher, who had her back turned while continuing to hand out papers to the other students. He shrugged, picked up his book bag, and walked out of the classroom. Down the stairs, out the front door, across this street and that, until he reached the entry to Saint Michael’s Elementary.

He strolled through the halls, peeking in the little windows on each door, until reaching a classroom that appeared to be full of exceedingly tiny children. He knocked, opened the door, and found himself facing a very startled young lady – and about thirty staring, miniature humans.

“Hello, I’m Roger,” he said, stepping into the classroom, “And my English teacher recommended I go back to Kindergarten. So here I am.”

The young woman stood, shaking her head. “I… I’m afraid that’s not possible. I’m going to have to ask you to leave, or I’ll call the office, and–”

Something tugged at Roger’s leg.

“Why did your teacher tell you to come to Kindergarten?” shrieked a curly-haired child, yanking on Roger’s pants. “Did you fail?

“Please, sir–” said the teacher.

“My writing is terrible,” he told the child.

“I can write real good! Teacher said!” the child said, continuing to express himself in a loud, exuberant voice. “Right teacher?”

The teacher opened her mouth, closed it again, and sighed before responding. “Yes, dear. You can.”

“You’re probably better at it than me,” Roger said, handing his paper to the child. “See all that red ink? That’s what I got wrong.”

“Can’t your English teacher help you?” the young woman asked, “Rather than sending you here to disturb my class?”

Roger shrugged. “You can call her if you want.” He dug his phone out of his back pocket, found the school’s phone listing, and handed the phone to her. “She really hates me.”

“It’s okay, Ms. Clare likes everyone!” said the tiny child. “She wants everyone to always do their best.”

A tiny hint of a smile formed at the corner of the young teacher’s mouth. “Well, that istrue.”

“Can he stay, Ms. Clare? His teacher said so, and you always say that teachers know best…”

Roger snorted, earning a sharp glance from Ms. Clare. She snatched Roger’s paper from her student, flipped to the back page, and read the comments. Her stern expression wavered, shifted, and melted into concern, before settling into something else entirely. She closed the paper and handed it back to Roger.

“Just for today, Roger. If anyone asks, we’ll say you’re a work-assignment student, all right? I’ll call your teacher at the end of the day and let her know you came. There are a few things I’d like to say to her, in fact.”

A cheer rose from the human attached to Roger’s leg, and Roger extended a hand to Ms. Clare. “Thank you.”

Ms. Clare nodded, and pointed to the carpet where the rest of the children sat, waiting. “Have a seat. I believe you have some learning to do.”


Ahh, kindergarten… those were the days. :)


Firebird’s Embrace

   Posted by: Faith

So I realize that I didn’t actually post the link to my second published short story, which came out in June. Oops! But it’s never too late to be excited about your own work, and since I just got my print copy yesterday, what better time than now?

My second short story is entitled Firebird’s Embrace, and was published in the ‘Midsummer’s Ever’ issue of Emerald Tales, a publication of Scribblers and Ink Spillers, LLC.

If you’re interested, you can either purchase a print copy of the magazine, or you can read the whole magazine for free online! Oooh, exciting! It’s an effort by the editor to gain a bit of publicity for the company, so if you like a story in there and feel like you want to donate a dollar or two to help keep the publication going, you can. If not, read away and enjoy the stories!

Also, if you didn’t have a chance to read my story from last December’s issue of Emerald Tales, the ‘Winter Solstice – Special Edition: Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Horror’ issue is also up to read for free.

Free stories, yay! Well, I got paid for them :) but they’re free for you to read! Huzzah!


Submission Update

   Posted by: Faith

Happiness! The short story I worked on like mad a few weeks back, Firebird’s Embrace, has been accepted by Emerald Tales for their June issue, themed ‘Midsummer’s Eve’.

I believe it releases on June 15th; you can purchase the print edition from the website, or read it for free online (a change from previous editions).

It seems to me that I work much better on a strict deadline (big surprise)… and I had felt quite unsure about this one, so it’s a happy surprise!

Anyone else have some good news to share? Or bad news… sometimes it’s cathartic to share that too. :)

For the first time ever… my name is in print, instead of disappearing behind a cloud of SEO or ghostwritten articles. Yay! Exciting! I hope it happens more often!

Emerald Tales: Winter Solstice Special Issue

Emerald Tales: Winter Solstice Special Issue

My story was picked up by the small press publisher Emerald Tales, and is available in their Winter Solstice Special Issue (scroll down to Volume One, Special Three) — which you can purchase on this page!

The story is historical fiction, though since it’s set in ancient times it got slotted into the fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal/horror issue… which I certainly don’t mind! The tagline chosen for my story is: “A priestess does what she must to save her lover”… suspense! drama! conflict! ancient Babylon! You want to read it, right? :)

But you might also be wondering… don’t I write novels? What happened to that? Well, it’s a simple explanation.

Just this past summer, I decided to try my hand at short stories, as I thought it might be a good idea to try and build at least a few credits to my name before sending out larger pieces to agents/publishers… I want to prove myself in the small markets before going for the whole gamut with a novel, as it were.

I’m not saying it’s the best route for everyone, but I felt it was something I needed to do (and need to continue to do) to not only build my resume, but also my confidence. And, it’s a great way to stretch those writing skills, because when it comes to short stories, every word must count.

So, for those of you who go ahead and clicky-click to purchase the issue of Emerald Tales, thank you so much for your support! And for those of you who aren’t able to and prefer to offer encouragement in other ways, thank you for your support and encouragement too! It’s a great feeling to see your name in print, no matter how small the press, and I wish it wholeheartedly for the rest of you as well!!!

Now… time to start racking up the rejections in 2010! We have a brand new year ahead of us, people, let’s get subbing!


Almost, Almost…

   Posted by: Faith Tags: , ,

…to 70,000 words on WIP #1. So close… and yet, so far to go even after I hit that target. All things considered, it’s not too bad – 70,000 words is still 70,000 words to work with, and with another 20k tacked onto that, I’ll have a full-fledged first draft to rip to shreds. It’ll be great. I already know several areas that are targeted for complete and entire rewrites, but I know that if I go back to them right now, I’ll spend too much time trying to polish and not enough time actually finishing the darn novel.

Finishing is step #1. Tearing into it like a ravenous squirrel is step #2.

That said, I’ve had a few “oh crap, only 500 words” days in a row, but at least it’s something.

Still not entirely sure what the final scene will be, or how I’ll wrap it up neatly, but that’s not really a concern for draft one. Or so I keep telling myself. Then again, I also keep telling myself I don’t need any more coffee, but has that ever stopped me?


Maybe Next Time

   Posted by: Faith Tags: ,

Results are in for the Fall 24-Hour Short Story Challenge! I didn’t win (I didn’t expect to), but I read the winning entries and now have a better idea of how to craft my story for next time.

The biggest bonus for me was reading over the list of common themes throughout the submissions… only to find that I didn’t fall into any of the categories, which means that I was original in my idea, or at least to some degree. I think my fatal flaw was straying a bit from the topic, which I can see after reading the winning stories.

Another challenge is being run in January 2009, and seeing as how the entry fee is only $5… I think I’ll have another go. :)

Today I was walking through the aisles upon aisles (upon aisles…) of Halloween costumes and supplies at our local Value Village, and found myself faced with a significant amount of “fairy” outfits. Among these were costumes for an ‘evil fairy’, a ‘demon fairy’, a ‘copper fairy’ (what the…?), a ‘goth fairy’…

Now, don’t get me wrong – at a basic level, I’m impressed that the majority of adult fairy costumes actually attempt to correctly represent original faerie nature, before the dumbing down that began in Victorian England and cemented itself in Disney lore.

How is this relevant to writing in ANY way? Well, I’m so glad you asked.

You see, this year’s NaNoWriMo topic falls into the realm of the fay in Ireland. Yes, I’m writing a fairy story… but with real faeries. I’ve noticed a number of authors taking this direction lately, and it’s heartening. However, I want to write my own.  And so, we come to the point of convergence with Value Village costumes.

One of the threads on the NaNo forums is called ‘Let’s all dress up like our MCs on Nov.1st!!!’, to which I posted something along the lines of “fat chance, my MC is a 9-year-old boy”. However, the faerie queen will play a significant part within the story, something which just so happened to occur to me as I walked the aforementioned aisles…

No, I didn’t end up purchasing a costume. Yes, I did carry one around the store with me for about 40 minutes as I looked at other things, only putting it down at the last minute when I began to feel slightly doubtful that I would actually use it more than once.

But who I am kidding. A dress with wings? That’s got year-round written all over it.

I may go back tomorrow.


It’s Contest Season!

   Posted by: Faith Tags: ,

…but then again, when isn’t it? To be honest, I have no idea. Until this past weekend, I hadn’t entered a writing contest since… well, since grade 2. I won, mind you, but that was then (“this is now, this is Stouffer’s, ooh ooh”).

Old Maritime commercials aside, this weekend I entered the Writer’s Weekly Fall 2008 24-Hour Short Story Contest – sort of on a whim, sort of as a challenge to myself. I wanted to force myself to produce something creative under pressure, since I tend to have problems getting anything done without some kind of pre-arranged structure.

Now that it’s all said and done, it was a pretty good experience and I’m glad I tried it. The results (ie. who won) won’t be in until the end of the month, but this time around, it wasn’t really about winning. Next time, perhaps. This time I just wanted to see if I could do it. I managed to write the story fairly quickly once the topic was released, but I ended up spending hours and hours editing the thing, trying to cut it down to the 850 word limit. I started with 1200 words, and thought “that’s not bad, I can edit that down”… naturally, I didn’t realize how difficult it can be to remove 400 words of a very short story, since in short stories, every word needs to be crucial to begin with. I think I got 3 hours of sleep that night.

The next contest with Writer’s Weekly runs January 23rd.

In terms of the next contest that I’ll be entering for sure (hah) is probably one of the Writer’s Digest competitions. They run a number of variously themed contests throughout the year, and the genre fiction short story deadline is coming up fast. I’ll keep you posted on my progress…