Prompt: In Hiding

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As I descend a crude manmade trail through the ruins of the city, pungent scents of smoke and mildew sting my nose. Graffiti filled walls guide me to the once safe haven to find… 


Hey Pen Friends,

It’s Prompt time again! Finish this prompt in 500 words or less –then send it into the Spinning Pen @ We may select yours to publish on our blog along with our in-house prompt writer, Noah Dingman’s prompt!

Enjoy practicing your craft!


Nova, signing off




Book Review: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow


Title: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow

Author: Mary Weber

Blurb: Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet. Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

For Miguel, Earth’s charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.


This book is a call out to gamers, hunger games fans, alien-lovers, sci-fi fans, inter-galactic politics junkies, trafficking-fighters, dreamers, family, love, and cliff hangers.

First of all, I’m not a gamer–but I do adore all of those other things. That said, the gaming beginning of the book started off a bit rough/slow for me, trying to figure everything out, trying to connect, etc. But Mary Weber is awesome, so I continued. (Check out our interview with her here.)

Here are some of the things I liked:

Once the story got more relational and personal (meaning: more backstory in this case), I was caught up in it. There were spots where her artistic storytelling style made me halt, but overall Weber did a great job creating tension between Sofi and her mom; the adoring sibling relationship between her missing brother, Shilo; the fine line of love and hate raging between the Miguel and Sofi, and the mystery & whodunit questions — aliens? Those in earthly power? Friends? All of the above?

Being the international buff that I am, the intergalactic cultural aspects of the aliens thrilled me (total culture nerd!) Ha! Loved the exchanges, their skills and strengths, and that wonder behind them. As a self-proclaimed ambassador of sorts (I travel frequently) I longed for good relations between the aliens and humans. I even hoped for things between them that sadly didn’t happen. Alas, it could not in this story. But maybe in the sequel????

On voice: Miguel’s and Sofi’s voice were fun to listen to, and I liked them both. To me, they both sounded older than their ages, but hey, its the future and they both had really hard lives that made them grow up and act older. So there.

On pace: The first 25% felt slow/confusing for me, but after that it was downhill and fun.

On themes: I love seeing the heart behind an author. Weber does a great job reaching into bigger issues. She hits on moral character either eroding or transforming, saving or destroying. (Miguel’s character development/backstory was my fav!) She approaches the issue of trafficking, raising questions and demands. She vulnerably goes into family dynamics and how it effects everything– past, present, future. There is redemption, power, exposure, and hope all weaved into some crazy teens who are willing to take a risk.

On the ending: The only way I can describe the cliffhanger at the end was that it felt artsy. But I’m excited to see where the next book goes.

So I have hit one of the books on the SP Summer Reading Challenge List. Check the others out here. Happy reading!!!


author-nova-mcbeeNova, signing off.







Book Review: Carve the Mark

Unknown-2Title: Carve the Mark

Author: Veronica Roth


On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?  Continue reading

Book Review: Rebel Sands

24934065Title: Rebel Sands

Author: Alwyn Hamiltion

Book blurb:

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.  Continue reading

Author Interview: Sarena and Sasha Nanua

Pen Friends ~ We couldn’t be more excited to introduce to you two young twin authors, Sarena and Sasha Nanua, who have been wildly successful in their pursuit of writing, book blogging, publishing, and much more. (See below!)



SP: Hi Sarena and Sasha! Thanks for being with us. Can you start out by telling us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?

Sure! First off—thanks for having us! We’re super excited to be here! To start, we’re Sarena and Sasha Nanua, twin authors, book bloggers, and, of course, voracious readers. We began writing when we were nine years old, when we were super bored on an airplane and thought, Hey, why don’t we write a book? We finished the first book the following year and began writing in lots of journals, but never really finished another book until we were fourteen. We decided to self-publish our book, The Gemstone, when we were fifteen, and the subsequent novels in the series came out when we were sixteen and seventeen. Since then, we’ve written and revised two novels and are very excited to see where they head in the future!  Continue reading

How To Win At Writing After A Conference


The writer’s conference: There’s little more exciting than the thought of surrounding yourself with a hundred or more people who love words and books as much as you do, and getting to spend anywhere from an afternoon to an entire week learning about the business and how to become better at your craft.

For me, anyway, there’s little more exciting than a good conference. What’s never so good is the re-entry afterward. The introverted side of my personality starts kicking back in, my brain is happy but also exhausted from all of the information I’ve squished into it, and I usually just want to sleep for a few days.

From what I’ve heard from many other writers, this isn’t uncommon. And while it’s enticing to curl up in a cave and hide, the time right after a conference is golden, and we should do what we can to use it well. So here are my best tips for re-entry. Continue reading

Tea, Stories and Writing

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I recently gave a short presentation on tea.

That’s pretty much a joke, if you know tea at all. From one plant comes hundreds, if not thousands, of variations of flavors and aromas. Even when you’re just dealing with the pure leaf – no added flavors or other plants or herbs – there are many, MANY ways to create tea.

Which isn’t so different from creating stories. We all start from the same place. You have a protagonist. Whether girl, boy, animal, robot or alien, there has to be a “hero” for there to be a story. But once you have your hero figure, there’s no end to the directions you could take them.  Continue reading