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Porcelain Keys

You Read It Here First


Over the course of the last year and a half, I have read more books than I had read in my previous years combined, and among those stories, I have my favorites. Sarah Beard’s debut novel, Porcelain Keys, is one of them.

Sarah put a lot of her own heart into her words, and though it took her five years to get the story to where she wanted it to be, the perseverance seems worth it. I was captured from the first sentence and the rhythm swept me up to the last page. Visit Sarah at

Interviewer: Joanna Celeste


Q: Porcelain Keys centers around Aria, a gifted pianist. As a music aficionado, was the process of writing fiction much like that of composing?

A: Since music is mostly a hobby for me, I generally don’t put too much thought into my piano compositions—I just sort of…

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Hunter’s Moon

I also enjoyed Lisa’s “Across the Veil” short story.

You Read It Here First


When Were-shifter Aren discovers his mate, Sasha, is the Jaguar shifter who got his father killed, and threatened the lives of his twin and alpha, loyalties are called into play. Unfortunately, his heart and his head won’t agree on the matter, and the instinct to protect his mate is too strong. As Sasha unwittingly calls upon him to help her save her sister from a nefarious organization, Aren is forced into close quarters with her, and instinct gives way to something even stronger—love. Too bad Sasha doesn’t have the same inclination to mate for life, and she’s forsworn men. But then again, her heart and head may not get a say in the matter in the end, as the relationship between them deepens amidst a life-or-death struggle against a crazed, juiced-up Green Beret Were-shifter who can shift in broad daylight with vengeance on his mind.

As the second book in…

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I had a conversation with MaryAnn Kempher who has also traveled widely, and writes with the full support of her family.

It is great to meet such a wide variety of writers, from all over the world, right from home.

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You Read It Here First


I was introduced to Hollye Dexter through her work on Dancing at the Shame Prom (my review: I gathered the courage to start sharing my writings, and pursuing my own kind of healing, from that collection, and as a fellow editor I could appreciate how much Hollye and her co-editor, Amy Ferris, put into bringing us Dancing at the Shame Prom.

When I met with her (via email), I was not surprised to discover that she has a huge heart, and a passion for empowering others and standing up for those who can’t always stand up for themselves. Some people have a way of expressing experiences so that others feel they are not alone, and they can get a new perspective, a chance to catch their breath, on something that previously felt suffocating and inescapable. It is an honor to converse with her, and to introduce her to…

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You Read It Here First


A Conversation with C.S. Lakin

C.S. Lakin is a prolific author, blogger and advocate for writers, with her website Live Write Thrive ( which is aptly named), writing workshops and critiquing/editing services. As an author of fairy tales for adults, she combines Christian scripture with myth and fairy tale to evoke fascinating worlds.

It is a treat to experience her work, fiction or nonfiction, because of the heart behind her words. It was a pleasure to chat with her about her Gates of Heaven series, her upcoming workshop and how-to book –  Shoot Your Novel – and to get a broader perspective on writing and engaging with others in this digital, fast-paced age.

Interviewer: Joanna Celeste


Q: As an author of fairy tales for adults, you manage to employ recurring themes and rich textures without upsetting the balance between too much or too little description and the…

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I met Patricia Fry over a decade ago, when I was green and just dipping my toe in the waters of Becoming a Real Writer. I had self-published my collection of poetry and stories (at Kinkos), I had been a Teen Reporter for our local paper and paid (I think $10 a column?) and I had half a dozen novels rampaging my brain, but I didn’t think I was a writer yet.

Ms. Fry gave me a new perspective on what that meant, and she offered some guidance on how I could promote myself better.

Last year, I took to heart her book Talk Up Your Book: How to Sell Your Book through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences, and More, and, combined with other books I studied such as Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve (edited by Christina Hamlett), I took on a whole new level of self-promotion and, moreover, taking charge of my literary life.

Now I’m phasing into a new range of my life (more on that soon) and it was a particular joy to interview Patricia as she also enters new fictional territory as a writer, with her book “Catnapped”.

Check out her interview on You Read It Here First.

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Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone and having this incredibly deep conversation where time melts away and you end up discussing things you never thought you would?

Neil Gaiman’s latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, was a little bit like that for me–I became immersed in the story, and it felt like I was having a conversation with this world of imagination, where things that I had not realized were dormant woke up, and demanded to be expressed.

Of all the books I’ve read, I’ve never had to stop to write a poem, but with “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” audiobook, I hit pause three times and the poems fell out. I’m posting them below in their first draft form (see preface with the adjustments I made).

Possibly unnecessary fine print: I don’t want to color anyone’s view of Mr. Gaiman’s story itself, as poetry comes from weird places and sometimes has an oblique connection to the inspiration. So I disclaim any relationship between the poetry and the plot of the story.

I’ll post my official review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane later, but as I’m going to meet Mr. Gaiman on his last US book tour, I thought I would share my experiences and — for what they’re worth — my poetry.

This is the kind of poetry I’ve been writing a lot of – it feels like I have various people inside me that have things that need to be said, and if I don’t let them have their moment, they throw hissy fits that come out in other ways in my life. I would usually not share some of it – like “Things We Fear” – because I don’t want to let that darkness out, but I’m learning from Mr. Gaiman how to celebrate the spectrum that is life, and to let it come out in my writing and share it anyway.

Preface: I don’t remember the order these were written. As they are first draft, they’re all untitled but I’m putting pilot-titles for now. My first drafts also don’t usually contain any punctuation or verse breaks, because I hear the rhythm in my head and don’t need them, but I added some punctuation here because it’s expected. I’m still trying to work out the right balance of punctuation since I sort of expect everyone to instill their own rhythm to the words and the imposition of mine feels somewhat intrusive.

Butterfly Wings

Catch the butterfly
Before it goes away.
Put it in a jar
If its beauty will be contained.

But vividness changes—
When we try to hold it still
Its dynamic nature
Won’t permit motionlessness.

Life is vivid—
Changing all the time.
We try to hold our breath;
Catch the butterfly by its wing.
But life won’t be contained
And it flies away.

Things We Fear

The fear of knowing
That it’s coming
Is not quite as terrible
As the fear of knowing
It is already here—
Always waiting.

That the moment I let go of my hold
My guard
I will be assailed
By people long gone
By truths I’ve discovered already
To be false
But are made real again
When that cruel knowledge—
The certainty that I’ve already lost—
Attacks me once again.

As I’ve gotten older
It’s a little bit better;
I see it coming—
Feel the veil between
Reality now
Reality then
And nothing but empty promises
Can comfort me.
And only sometimes can the assurances
Remind me it’s over.

But as I’m older
I also despair
That it’s never over.
Time doesn’t heal so much
As creates a promise of distance.

And we have opportunities
For other truths
Stronger realities
To stand between
The hopelessness of a child
Trapped, terrified, alone—
And an adult, bigger
Less bound by the whims of others.

Now I can trust the sense
Of entrapment, loneliness and fear
That fades but never leaves
Will at least seem gone by morning.

Gossamer and granite

Bittersweet magic
Moments, realities
Dreams, almosts—
Better thans and could-have-beens,
Just likes, one days,
When I Grow Up—
All the things that paint our days
And taint our pasts
And lead us to now.

All there to explore
And discover through new eyes.

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