New story!

May. 5th, 2017 10:28 pm
mary_j_59: (Default)
I had a story accepted for publication by Sick Lit Magazine. It came out today! Here is the link:

https://sicklitmagazine.com/2017/05/05/sorrow-by-mary-johnson/
mary_j_59: (mug)
I know; it’s been a long time, but I’m finally back, and with a new, very green recipe just in time for St. Patrick’s day! This will serve four aunties for a breakfast dish, or eight reluctant small boys. It’s quick and very simple if you can find frozen broccoli rabe.

Read more... )
mary_j_59: (mug)
Here is another short short story inspired by one of Angela Goff's visual dares. The picture I was responding to follows the story. Comments welcome!

Visual Dare; Encroach:
Everyone else had their eyes covered, and some were carrying slices of onion. Nadia refused. She had no intention of hiding. One of the boys next to her actually had an old-style gas mask that might have belonged to some English or German great-grandfather, and he made to hand it to her.

“Take it! You’ll need it if they start spraying tear gas.”

“Not if. When,” a granny walking behind her muttered. Nadia shook her head at both of them.

“I’m not afraid! Thank you, but no.”

The boy shrugged and dropped back behind her. As Nadia strode on, the granny reached up and patted her shoulder. “Brave girl! Is it your first time?”

“Yes.” Nadia felt her breath catch in her throat, for she saw the soldiers in front of her, by the wall. Her soldiers. Her people. Would they really fire tear gas, and worse? Would they shoot at peaceful protestors? Well, and if they did? She’d come here for a reason, and that reason was peace. She wouldn’t let soldiers stop her.

She lifted her chin, tossed her long, blonde hair over her shoulders, and strode forward.

tumblr_nmrz11ttuc1qaa9yuo1_1280.jpg
mary_j_59: (mug)


This is one of Angela Goff's VisDares, and I gave it as a writing prompt to the writing club. Here's what I came up with.

Isn't it strange? Those were the letters I pulled from the scrabble bag. Exactly those. I took eight, instead of seven, and then I just stared. It was like the angel Gabriel speaking to me. I froze.

"What's the matter, Grandpa?" Mercy said.

Joe said, "You've got an extra letter."

"So I do. So I do." I took the "t" from "wait" and put it back in the bag. Then I set the other letters face down on my rack. "Just a moment, children. I'll be right back."Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Niki)
Some thoughts on the write-a-thon:

The Clarion West write-a-thon took place this summer, and I signed up, thanks to the awesome Lara Campbell McGehee, whose blog you can find here: http://lcmcgehee.com/

It was a good experience - for one thing, it's fun to know that you're writing along with some of your favorite authors! For me, it's also helpful to commit, in public, to writing every day. I managed to do that during the six-week session, and I made some forward progress on novel 3 and a new short story, as well as writing two blog posts - one of which I'll be posting here shortly. My other goals were to clean up my query and synopsis for HONOR, and I did that with some excellent help from my lovely beta readers. So - here's my question:

Is it legit to post a synopsis to your blog? Is this something people would be interested in seeing? Or is this a professional tool that should be kept private? Thoughts?

If it seems okay to post such a thing (I'll check in a few more places), and if people would be interested in reading it, I'll be glad to post it here, as well as on my author page.
mary_j_59: (Honor)
[Poll #1960395]I promise, I'll stop playing with polls now! And I really do appreciate everyone's feedback - especially those of you who haven't read the book. Thanks very much to all of you.
mary_j_59: (Drive of Dragons)
Okay - I grant you, there are very few people in the world who have actually read my books! But this isn't about content. It's just about titles, and what you think is evocative or interesting. So here are a  couple of polls.

My first book for which I'm seeking an agent and/or publisher is literary YA SF. The working title is HONOR. It's a pretty good title, I think; it gets at what motivates the MC and drives his actions. But it's also just a little generic, perhaps. So-
[Poll #1959242]
mary_j_59: (girl)
Here are six more from my current WIP:

"It was Stas and his gang. They're bullies and cowards! You can't let bullies win." "No, you can't. Here's a thought, young Mikhel. Maybe they win if they make you hit back?"
mary_j_59: (Default)
Here's another stab at it. Is it better, do you think? Any questions, or anything you would change?

At nearly fourteen, Verity is old enough to know that being a princess isn’t all honey and roses and beautiful horses. Princesses and princes must protect their people, too. When fire-breathing dragons invaded the kingdom of Patria generations earlier, only the princess was able to defeat them. But no one knows exactly how, for she never came back.<lj-cut>

Now huge, fire-breathing lizards have invaded once more, and Verity knows what she must do. She must confront the dragons. After she escapes from the palace and finds her way to the mountains, she meets a little dragonling who tells her the dragons are starving. A powerful, greedy dragon called Blackstone is hoarding all their food. Verity hopes most sincerely that Blackstone doesn’t enjoy munching on maidens of royal blood, but she’s got to face him even if he would rather eat her. If she can’t persuade Blackstone to change his ways, the other dragons, the people of Patria, and the neighboring kingdom of Halland will all suffer. It’s up to her to rescue everyone from the wicked Blackstone. But, as far as she knows, her only weapons are her sharp mind, her sense of duty, and a pair of embroidery scissors. And – that other princess never came back.

A Drive of Dragons is middle-grade fiction, complete at 35,000 words. Verity and Frank, the young prince of Halland, are the viewpoint characters. I’m a writer and librarian who has loved stories about dragons since I was eight. This story should appeal to readers who like classic dragon tales such as The Reluctant Dragon and Farmer Giles of Ham; it’s something of a tribute to those books. But I hope readers of Cressida Cowell’s wonderful series will enjoy A Drive of Dragons, too. I look forward to hearing from you.

mary_j_59: (Default)
Hi, everyone! I'm still querying HONOR, but while I'm waiting I decided to get going with A Drive of Dragons, as well. Here's my first crack at the query letter. Thoughts and criticism are welcome!

Being a prince or a princess isn’t all honey and roses and tournaments and beautiful horses. It isn’t all courtesy and lessons and marriages, either. Frank and Verity know this. When fire-breathing dragons invade their kingdoms, the teens know it’s up to them to solve the problem and save their people. But, when they ride out to negotiate with the mythical beasts, they discover that the dragons have a problem, too. It may be up to Frank and Verity to save the dragons in order to save Halland and Patria.

A Drive of Dragons is middle-grade fiction, complete at 35,000 words. I’m a writer and librarian who has loved stories about dragons since I was eight. This story should appeal to readers who like classic dragon tales such as The Reluctant Dragon and Farmer Giles of Ham; it’s something of a tribute to those books. But I hope readers of Cressida Cowell’s wonderful series will enjoy A Drive of Dragons, too. I look forward to hearing from you. (etc.)

mary_j_59: (books)
Hello - it's been quite awhile since I posted, and I'm finding that I suddenly have a lot I want to say, but little time to get it organized. So, for now, I'm just posting six sentences (or seven, depending on how you count) from my new WIP, Una and the Beggar Boy. Here they are:

“Uncle? Why won’t you tell me your name?”
“I will be glad to tell you, when you ask for it.”
“But I did ask!”
“Did you?” Una glanced away and twiddled with a bit of her hair. “What did you ask?”
mary_j_59: (Default)
Six more from A Drive of Dragons

Mr. Appletree cleared his throat.

“Beg pardon, your majesty.”

“Whatever for?”

“I made you carry wood. You’re our princess, and I made you carry wood!” On impulse, Verity walked over to him and kissed his leathery cheek, and then kissed his wife’s.
mary_j_59: (Default)
I participated in Jessa Russo's Flash Factory Friday, here. This is my entry - anyone else who wants to, please feel free to take part! You can post entries through the end of the day.

The fountain had grown enormous, but Joanna wasn’t daunted. She was thirsty. She leapt to the rim and drank, the water cool in her throat. Then she listened. Someone was calling her – someone she knew. His voice sounded buzzy, like static on a phone line. Ordinarily the harsh tone would have annoyed her, but just now she found it strangely attractive. “Sam?” she said aloud, and darted toward the voice,Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Default)
Here are a few more from my WIP, A Drive of Dragons. We're getting near the end!

She imagined Silver giving people rides. She would go first, to show everyone that it was safe. She pictured the palace roofs below her feet as Silver soared above them. Everyone would be waving and pointing, and she would have a view of the entire courtyard and the farms and fields beyond. Birds would fly under their feet. Smiling, Verity felt herself tilting a bit as if Silver were starting to turn. The next moment, she was asleep.
mary_j_59: (kiril sword)
Hi, everyone! Here is the revised first chapter of HONOR, which I'm posting at my lovely beta readers' urging. Thanks, Deirdrej and Anne_Arthur! I do think it's much better than it was before the rewrites.

Read more... )
mary_j_59: (cover)
My sister and I are having a bit of a debate. She hates the word "holocam", which sounds, to her, too much like something from Star Trek I rather like it. At least it makes clear that it's a camera, and from the future. But what do you think? Should I change this word? If so, to what?
[Poll #1836699]
mary_j_59: (library)
I have, as some of you know, two WIPs going at once. HONOR is (I truly think) nearing completion, after several rewrites. I need to do a little more trimming and revising of the latter third, and this is where these come from.

As they left the sickbay, a tall man scowled and muttered something, and Kiril shoved Kennet behind him and reached for the knife at his belt - but it was gone. “Kiril?” Kennet whispered.

“It’s all right,” Kiril answered, and tried to make himself believe it, so that Kennet would, as well. But he could feel himself shaking. How could he protect his brother and cousin, weaponless and surrounded by enemies? Then Donahue stepped forward.


I'd love to know what those (few) who know the story think of that! I think it helps, as far as it goes. And - okay. Just a touch more from the dragons:

I must say, it’s rather hard to read. Look,” and lady Ash held the book out to Verity. “Can you make it out at all?”

Verity peered at the open page in front of her and then laughed. “Her writing was awfully scraggly, wasn’t it? Worse than father’s. I think it says something about combing sulfur?”
mary_j_59: (Default)
This may be the last time I do this, as I'm approaching the end of this rather short WIP! Here are a few more from A Drive of Dragons

“If I didn’t have to struggle to get into the saddle, I would ride out more. I’m fine once I’m up. You see, Lady Ash helped me invent a saddle - “
The king seemed ready to go on at length. Silver looked interested, Lady Ash slightly embarrassed, and Frank worried. As Verity watched, he shuffled his feet and said, “Father? I beg your pardon, Father.”

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