Guest Post – Marlena Smith – The Power of Love #newbook

I am delighted to welcome a long-time friend to Fiction Favorites. She writes under the pen name Marlena Smith. She is here today to tell us all …

Guest Post – Marlena Smith – The Power of Love #newbook
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Free PDF: Raven’s Hold

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From 2015-2018, I spent October posting my attempts at a horror series.  It took a lot out of me and my doubts where extreme, so I didn’t bother publishing.  Instead, I made it a blog only thing.  My mind goes back to it from time to time and I wanted to give it a small revival.  Yet, it would be insane to have a post with a link to each of the 30-31 parts.  So, I’m going to try to connect a PDF of each book to the next four Tuesday posts.  Let’s see if it works.

Raven’s Hold

This is the one that started it all.  A young man named Ian has been invited to be a patient at the Raven’s Hold asylum.  Once there, he meets a few of the residents and makes a new friend who claims to be a prisoner.  Though, very little is stranger than the excitable Dawn Addison and her invisible unicorn.  As Ian’s stay gets longer, the sense that there is more to Raven’s Hold than reality can explain grows.

Raven’s Hold PDF

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Monster Month: Wendigo


We’re going to be touching on some monsters throughout the month.  I was trying for obscure ones, but the first one is probably known by others.  If you’ve been a fan of Wolverine comics or ‘Supernatural’, you’ve heard of:


These creatures are from Native American folklore, specifically the Algonquin-speaking people such as the Cree and Ojibwe.  This means there are some variations on what the Wendigo looks like and acts, but there are the following commonalities:

  • Evil supernatural being
  • Cannibalistic
  • Connected to winter and the cold
  • Connected to famine and starvation

I think the last one is why Wendigo are cannibals and many imagine them to be gaunt.  A lack of food could drive someone to eat another person.  These beings are almost skeletal and corpse-like, which is similar to how a person would look if they starved to death.  A few descriptions give them bloody lips like they are dehydrated.  Some of the tribes had it that a Wendigo would grow in proportion to the person it ate, which meant it would remain hungry.  This is why they are still gaunt even if they are eating people at a terrifying rate.  It’s this aspect that also makes them a symbol of gluttony.

I’ve found 3 origins for the Wendigo:

  1. Just a malevolent wind spirit that comes out during the winter.  Not sure if this is genuine lore or modern fiction.
  2. A human turns into a Wendigo if they are driven to the point of cannibalism.  Since it is from the northern regions of America, it stems from the threat of being trapped in the snow.  People may give in to the urge to eat those who have already died if they have been left without food for so long.  Key point there is that they don’t eat the living, but the dead to transform.
  3. A human who demonstrates extreme gluttony and greed will turn into a Wendigo.  In this scenario, it is a tale to promote cooperation and sharing.  Cannibalism comes after the change.

Wendigo tend to be giants, but European influence has created a version that is human-sized and bestial like a werewolf.  The original lore had them as giants with glowing eyes, long tongues, sharp teeth, and sharp claws.  Those are the only things were common while the rest of their description changed by culture.  Powers were varied too with some having weather control and perfect stealth.  The point of a Wendigo was to be scary and prevent people from committing cannibalism and general gluttony.  So, they may have been built to fit whatever local fears and threats people had, which explains the variety.

Finally, there is something called Wendigo Psychosis, which is up for debate and currently considered a culture-specific disorder.  The reason for the debate is that some people think this was created by anthropologists misunderstanding things, but there are others who think the syndrome is real.  Basically, a person develops a craving for human flesh and fears becoming a cannibal.  Some think this is when a person is possessed by a Wendigo spirit.  This isn’t as common as it was prior to the 20th century, which is another reason there are debates on if it’s real or not.

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Haunted Halloween Holiday

Let’s all welcome Robbie and Michael Cheadle to the blog today. I’ve known Robbie for a while now, but she hasn’t been a guest here for a long time. …

Haunted Halloween Holiday
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Hello, SE’ers! It’s Jan here to talk about an infuriating book marketing pitfall. I will share some tips to help make sure you don’t fall for useless…

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Saola: The Asian Unicorn

They look like an antelope, but they’re more closely related to cows.  Well, I say look, but these critically endangered animals are incredibly rare.  Scientists have only documented wild Saola 4 times and none are in captivity.  This means we don’t know much about them including their population.  Could be a few hundred or a few dozen, but we really have no idea.

They’re found in the Vietnam/Laos region and were discovered in 1992.  They’re actually the first large mammal to be found in 50 years.  Although, they didn’t find a live one.  It was a strange skull in a hunter’s home.  This skull had two parallel horns that grew about 20 inches and ended in points.  It has been discovered that males and females both have these.  They have glands around their muzzle for marking territory too.

That’s really it for the interesting stuff.  Most information was gathered from the few Saola that were captured, but they died anywhere from weeks to months.  I couldn’t find any information on why or how they were captured.  All other information is from photographs with the most recent one being from 2013 when a Saola went by a motion sensor camera.  Makes this animal a major mystery.

Not a mystery enough for hunting and illegal fur trade to happen.  Those are the biggest threats to the Saola.  Keep in mind that they live in a small region of Vietnam and Laos, so they can’t be a big population to begin with.  Specifically, they are only found in the Annamite Range.  Habitat loss is another problem.  It doesn’t help that scientists and conservationists can’t find them alive in the wild.  Seems the hunters have better luck because they set traps for other animals like wild boar and muntjac.

For a little more information click HERE

Let’s see if we can get any pictures and videos.

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Google Image Search (Not sure if captured and released or poached.)

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Goal Post: Welcome to October

Survived another week, but that’s really the only victory I’m willing to claim.

This week was two days off and then three days of work.  Yet, I could have sworn last weekend was a month ago.  So much has happened and much of it revolves around unexpected chaos.  At least I get to rest a bit today because of the weather.  Not that I have much planned beyond video games with my son.

Well, I’m going to be entertaining my niece too.  She’s been over since Thursday, which reminds everyone what it’s like to have a toddler running about.  A little ball of giggling energy who might not nap.  She’s with us until tomorrow too.  Having her here meant not much writing because my son and I spent time with her.  This meant later bedtime for my son, which equals less writing/blogging time for me.  Well spent since kids grow up and won’t be toddlers forever.  To be fair, I didn’t have any writing really planned this week thanks to the days off.

The only writing I did manage to pull off was nearly finishing the November posts.  I thought I could get them all last night, but I did laundry instead.  Maybe I’ll write up the last three tonight.  Gives me less to worry about next week and I can hunker down to write the last two chapters of Darwin & the Avenging Elf.  I only had last Sunday to write what was left of the previous chapter and I limped through that due to having a beer on Saturday.  Even one throws my system out of whack.  Next weekend is a 3-day, so I should be able to put this novel to bed.  Maybe I’ll tackle the outline for Darwin & the Hellfire Elves.  Still iffy on those two titles coming right after each other.  Maybe Darwin & the Demon Game instead of ‘Hellfire Elves’?

Oh, work was crazy busy even though it was only three days.  Had to adjust to a bunch of changes while handling the stuff at home.  There’s not much else to talk about on this one since I made it through.

I will mention that my stress and anxiety messed up my sleeping.  Not that I couldn’t sleep, but my dreams were vivid and weird.  That doesn’t typically happen.  I ended up waking up feeling like my body was being stretched or had locked up a few times.  Don’t remember the dreams beyond them involving stuff like being chased, being alone, being lost, and vague tension.  This resulted in me getting 6-7 hours of sleep, but feeling like I got 3-4.  Hopefully, I can remedy that this weekend.

Keep thinking that there was something else I wanted to talk about.  Rosh Hashanah was earlier this week, but my son and I simply relaxed.  Reading and studying in the morning and video games in the afternoon.  We’ll probably do something similar today since it’s hard to watch a movie with the little one about. Maybe we’ll watch one tomorrow if we feel like it.  Unless there’s a movie out that we want to see or a local event we want to attend, we don’t do much.  It’s raining a lot today too, so a good time to stay indoors.

This week is going to be a little different.  Yom Kippur is Wednesday, which means I won’t be eating until sundown.  It’ll be a day of video games until we have to go to where we’re breaking the fast.  Work will be flanking that day.  Nothing special beyond the start of October posts.  Delved into a lot of monsters and I’m using Tuesdays to post PDFs of the ‘Raven Series’ I made a few years back.  At least, I think they worked, but I can’t be sure into the posts go live.  Guess it’s just a normal week with a single day of not eating slapped in the middle.

I have no idea what I should watch on television.  Finished two anime and now I don’t really have a sense of what I want next.  None of the popular stuff is catching my attention and I tend to want fantasy/action adventure in some form.  I have this ‘Locke & Key’ series on my Netflix list, which might work.  Part of me wants to watch ‘White Collar’ again since it’s been years.  It might be something short until I get a big swath of time like next weekend, which is a 3-day weekend.  I’ll have Darwin & the Avenging Elf done during that period even if I can’t touch it beforehand.  Guess we’ll just have to see what happens and roll with the punches.

Goals of the week:

  • Relax a bit.
  • Fast for Yom Kippur
  • Help son with homework
  • Finish November blog posts
  • Start to finish Darwin & the Avenging Elf
  • Look over outline of Darwin & the Hellfire Elves/Demon Game/Chaoswind Quest . . . I really don’t know which sounds best.
  • Maybe pizza
  • Order the last two parts for my son’s costume if I can find them: orange feather boa and skeleton shirt.
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The Frustration of Inconsistent Deathblows

Krillin from Dragon Ball

Long ago, I started watching Dragon Ball Z.  Early on, one of my favorite movies was Krillin’s Destructo Disc.  It’s a large disc of energy that can cut through anything.  At least, that’s how it was presented.  This thing was a nasty one-hit kill maneuver that I couldn’t wait to see used to win a fight . . . I’m still waiting.  The damn thing has been dodged or had no effect on a powerful enemy.  Best he did was cut off Frieza’s tail if I remember that correctly.  Highly disappointing.

Anime is full of moves that are hyped up to be deathblows and never do.  Heck, this is basically a running gag in ‘Inuyasha’ where ever big move that would kill the main villain failed.  I’ve read stories that do this as well with the intention of playing a ‘gotcha’ with the audience.  I can kind of get behind this idea for comedies or if there’s some lesson about not depending on a single thing.  Yet, it gets old and makes one suspicious of any stories where learning a deathblow is part of the story.

It makes sense since these are moves that would end the adventure if they ever hit the main villain.  Still, you would think they’d get used on supporting villains at least to show what they’re fully capable of.  That’s not the case all the time.  You see it used against an inanimate object like a mountain then it never works on an enemy.  I wonder if these are created with the intention of it being used, but the author changes their mind at the final moment.  It’s kept in the story because it’s cool, but then it doesn’t really have an impact on the story.

This leads to another issue, which is that the character who possesses the deathblow loses importance.  If it’s the main protagonist, they can pull out of it by using another move or finding a different way to reach their goal.  Supporting characters, like Krillin, end up getting defined by this big move that never works.  They won’t lose all their popularity, but it becomes a stain on what they bring to the story.  Having it work even once at an essential moment would go a long way even if it turns out the move is useless against really strong threats.  Otherwise, readers might wonder why not only the deathblow exists, but the character as well.

Personally, I think every move, weapon, and item needs to be used in some fashion.  It’s not easy and you may have a few designed to fail.  For those that won’t work, I try not to hype them up that much.  Once I see that they’re going to flop in an actual battle, I try to give them some kind of use outside of action or making it clear that they are more of a gamble.  People are better with a failed deathblow if it’s not a sure thing even if it manages to hit.  Not the smoothest method since you still have a character walking around with a useless move, but it can be easier to swallow when it fizzles out.

So, what do you think of this rather obscure subject?

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Should you edit your published book?

Greetings, Storytellers. Diana here to talk about whether we should edit our published books, and if so, when. This post also applies to those …

Should you edit your published book?
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Poetry Day: Catching Snowflakes

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(Only point I want to make is that I made sure my son was okay and warm before I wrote this poem.)

The child can barely walk

Toddler legs still growing

Unable to find footing

But strong enough to move

Following the falling crystals

With an open mouth

Tongue stretching for a taste

Of crisp and chilly snow

At times he stops his chase

Bending down for easy prey

Letting excitement push him down

To the point of no return

Little face embraced by snow

A shock of bitter pain

Rushing to the warmth of home

Still chewing on his mouthful of snow

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