Book Release: GEMS OF STRENGTH Anthology

Gems of Strength, the first book in the Gems of Sisterhood anthology series, has now been published! WOOHOO! Today is release day, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m going to sit down and binge read the rest of the stories in the book – there are 18 in total, all about women overcoming difficult, and sometimes traumatic obstacles.

My short story is called “Focal Point”, and it revolves around a woman who is slashed in the face on a city street, a crime on the rise in New York. The aftermath of such a vicious and traumatic attack is extremely difficult to deal with, and I did research on real victims of this crime so I could paint an accurate picture of their struggle.

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I hope you enjoy the whole anthology, and watch out for Gems of Thanksgiving in November 2016!

Where to buy:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Gems-Strength-Sisterhood…/…/B01CDJ784G
Smashwords: http://geni.us/2nus
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=pw6fCwAAQBAJ
Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about?id=pw6fCwAAQBAJ&hl=en
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gems-of-strength…/1123461723
ITunes: http://geni.us/1AyZ

TBT Writer – Handwriting Then and Now

It’s time for Amie Winters’ monthly Throwback Thursday for writers! If you’ve got a writing throwback, post it with this hashtag so we can all read your story. Here’s mine.

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When I was flipping through a notebook I’ve had since around 7th or 8th grade, I noticed the enormous difference between my handwriting then and now. Look at it then:

 

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That first line typo though!

It always took effort for me to handwrite even halfway decently, and this was the result of trying hard: g’s that don’t look like j’s, actual m’s (now they all look like n’s), and no script intermingled. I remember when I was in elementary school, I would stretch all my letters really far out because I didn’t know how else to make them look neat. They were always too close together or too sloppy (and this was when I was really putting effort in), or I tried to make some letters original to me, and teachers didn’t seem to like that. I can still hear what they would say: “The o in Normie isn’t closed. That’s not an o.” “The u in the first line looks too much like an o.” “Everything is too close together, you need actual space between words, especially in the first paragraph.” I always felt like I couldn’t get it right. In retrospect, I have to say that teachers shouldn’t have been so constantly and consistently harsh about it – it just made me feel very negatively about printing. My script was no good either, so apparently handwriting was just a bad idea for me, according to them. Ridiculous!

In high school, I mostly stopped caring, and now – well, let’s just say I write at a fast pace, but a few people have told me I write like a doctor. This page is from a few years ago, before I completely and utterly let go and stopped caring altogether what it looked like – that finally happened last year. (It was actually holding me back from writing fast enough, constantly trying to make letters and words more readable – they’re only for my eyes anyway!)

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(Side note – I love Beauty and the Beast. This was an experiment.)

Nowadays, some letters look like other letters, some don’t look like letters at all, and my letters and words rarely come out the same way twice. I wonder how a handwriting expert would analyze my handwriting…

Here’s a 7th or 8th grade selfie before selfies were cool (so hipster).

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Thanks for joining me on this month’s #tbtwriter adventure, and be sure to check the hashtag on Twitter for more posts!

My Writing Free on Goodreads!

There are some short stories and poems that (A) I don’t plan on submitting to contests, (B) have already won a contest, or (C) have already been published and the rights remained with me. I’ve been trying to think of a way to share them with you easily in one place and not need you to sign up for anything new. Finally I’ve discovered that Goodreads lets me post my writing – anything I want! I’ve already posted my poem “Words Can Form”, winner of the Steven Barza Collegiate Prize from the Poetry Society of Virginia in 2007. I also posted a short story called “Wisdom’s Creation” that I hope you’ll enjoy, especially if you love libraries.

Find my fiction creations here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/list/584058. I’ll post more shorties and poems, and maybe even a section from Locke and Keye closer to publication. Maybe haikus, or even Symbolic Experimentalism pieces!

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Simplification

Be gentle, Monday. It’s all a bit sudden.

Creative simplicity

Have you ever read a line in a book or a poem that blew your mind with its simplicity? Sometimes a writer can break a concept down so far that you’re wowed and amazed that it never occurred to you to phrase or express it that way. I find this to be a rare quality in fiction – usually just one or two sentences through a whole book, and only 1 out of 25 books – but when it happens, it stops me in my tracks. If I’m listening to an audiobook, I rewind to hear it again. Sometimes I stop the track just to think about it. If it’s a physical book, you can bet I’ll lose some serious reading time in admiring that brilliance.

I feel similarly impressed when a writer can take a story down to its bare essentials and come out with something distilled to the point of perfection. I like to pause and think about why the piece would normally be longer and what would be fleshed out and detailed. When an author can take all of that out of a piece and end up with something more powerful than the usual elongated version, it took some serious creative thought. It sounds like the opposite – the more creativity something takes, the bigger it should be. Well, that can happen, but think about how creative you have to be to whittle and whittle and whittle until you’re down to only the most hard-hitting words for a complex and expansive piece of – what? 100 words? 20 words? Now that’s my kind of creativity.

Go Indie Now: The Latest Indie Trends

Indie is where you discover brave new adventures in creativity. My friend Joe Compton, author of Amongst the Killing and super fantastic supporter of all things indie, has started a website called Go Indie Now. It’s the place to be for live interviews, events, and more, all revolving around the latest in indie culture. Authors, musicians, movie producers, and loads of other indie artists are and will be featured constantly and consistently to give you your indie fix.

I was lucky enough to be featured on Go Indie Now’s very first podcast and YouTube video series! My chat with Joe was so much fun, you’ll feel like you’re sitting right there with us. Visit his video and comment so we can all discuss: https://youtu.be/taoN8PaU6Qg?t=48m53s. That link takes you right to my chat with Joe, but watch the whole video for more interviews, all so completely different: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taoN8PaU6Qg&feature=youtu.be. Don’t feel like watching a video? You can listen to the podcast of our chat: http://goindienow.podbean.com/e/goindienow-episode-1-interview-with-christie-stratos/.

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The next HUGE event is the weekend of April 8-10, when Go Indie Now will be having 72 hours of live coverage for the Brain to Books Cyber Convention. That’s 3 full days of interviews, chats, music, first-look book trailers, and all sorts of cutting edge things. Everyone will be talking about it, so be sure to stop by Go Indie Now’s site! I’ll be moderating a discussion between some amazing women in the publishing industry, and I’ll probably participate in more than one live event. Watch my blog for dates and times.

In the meantime, be sure to congratulate Joe on his wonderful support of all things indie!

Connect with Go Indie Now:

YouTube

Podbean

Twitter

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Clearing Your Mind

Hello Monday. You’re unexpected.

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Sometimes when I’m overly stressed, I can’t concentrate on creativity easily. It’s not a flowing process, so I need to cleanse my brain’s palette. There are two ways that I do this:

  • I make lists of everything I need to do. One of the things I constantly stress about is forgetting what needs to be done, and that can even keep me from sleeping well. Luckily there’s a simple solution: always having to-do lists. That’s easy enough!
  • When I get overwhelmed and have a hard time clearing my mind, I write haikus. I typically look up pictures of nature or the beautiful landscapes in Morrowind and write haikus about them, which is especially gratifying since haikus were originally intended to revolve around nature. Somehow this has a calming effect on me and clears my mind enough that I can let creativity take over.

A couple of weeks ago I asked what others do to relax themselves when they’re overly stressed, and I’m going to do a video about that soon. I got some great suggestions, so hopefully they’ll help you too! In the meantime:

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Creativity is Subtraction

Mondays are very sneaky, aren’t they? Just as you get used to living in the weekend, BAM, Monday wakes you up at 6 a.m.

YES. One way I personally interpret this – and I feel there are many ways to read it – is that editing is also creativity. In order for me to write and not edit as I go, I’ll include cliches and wrong words in the first draft of a novel or short story or even poem. I’m trying to get my ideas down, and in novels, twists and turns and psychology. Those are the most important things in the first draft. When I edit, I accentuate my writing style. I delete all unnecessary words and cliches. When I add something, it’s necessary, and when I change something, it’s to make it original. I adjust the character’s voice to sound like them in particular. I consider editing part of the art of writing.

Another way I interpret this is the very reason I love flash fiction, and the shorter the better. I recently wrote two 16 word pieces. I started with something 21 words long and whittled it down to 16 words with careful consideration of tense, anything that slowed it down, every word counting for more than it’s worth, and meaning behind the meaning. I came out with something much stronger than the 21 word version.

My opinion is that creativity is many things, and nothing can be left out. Creativity is subtraction (careful wording), addition (fleshing out characters), multiplication (creating series), and division (anthologies). It’s the only kind of math I care to do.

TBT Writer – My First Book?

Last month, YA fantasy author Amie Irene Winters shared her Throwback Thursday of her very young writer self. This week, I’m joining her! If you’ve got a writing throwback, post it with this hashtag so we can all read your story.

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In eighth grade, I had a class in which we got to write our own short story, type it up, print it, paste it inside a blank book, and voila – a book was born. I thought this was the coolest thing in the world, and I really hope teachers still do this or something similar. It gave me a sense of accomplishment in my early writing days.

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Just look at that cover design. Cutting edge! You’ll also notice that I went by C.L. Stratos because R.L. Stine was a huge influence in my young reading life.

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The publishing company is “Sotarts Inc.”. That’s my last name backwards. Clever, clever.

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I have to say that formatting was much easier in the “print, cut, and paste” method…

It’s fun to go through this book and think of how exciting it was and how hard I worked on it. It’s a total of eight pages long, but at the time, it seemed like something huge. Like a novel.

Then I came across my bio at the back and noticed this line:

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Wow. I’ve always written, ever since forever, and I loved it, but I didn’t remember that I’d thought of writing fiction as a career as early as eighth grade. I remember wishing I could do that in my junior year of high school specifically, when I had two novels written and really wanted to submit the second one to an agent. I couldn’t edit it well enough and didn’t understand what was missing or why I had so much trouble. What was wrong with the writing style? Something was off. But never mind about that. I’m going to do a separate post on my plans to honor the book I once thought could make me a published writer.

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And this is what I was like. Not quite a serious-looking writer at that point! But certainly fun. 🙂

Big thanks to Amie Winters for her wonderful idea to invent #tbtwriter! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed writing this post!

New Short Story in a Dark Anthology

This year has been a very productive writing year for me, and to finish it out, you The December Awethology - Dark Volumecan read my short story “Piece and Quiet” for FREE in The December Awethology – Dark Volume. It’s a wonderful holiday anthology filled with short dark writings by plenty of fantastic authors, including Rocky Rochford, William Frank Lloyd, Rebecca McCray, Paul White, and many more. What kind of darkness are we talking about? Every kind! That’s what’s so great about this anthology: the only themes that connect these pieces are “dark” and “holiday”. Download your Kindle copy for free and enjoy.

If you’re looking for lighter stories, there’s also a light volume of The December Awethology that is just as packed but with diverse light holiday stories. It features excellent authors like Kelly Hall, Chrissy Moon, Chess Desalls, Sharon Lipman, and loads of others. And most importantly, it’s also free!

My advice? Download both versions and alternate between the dark and light volumes. You’re bound to discover new favorite authors you hadn’t heard of before!

THIS IS HALLOWEEN!

As Danny Elfman wrote in a song from The Nightmare Before Christmas, “Life’s no fun without a good scare!” So what are you doing this Halloween? Here are some great events to attend online today and a couple of horror anthologies to keep your day and night fun.

Facebook Parties

1. Halloween Haunt Event – public Facebook event

7:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time October 30
Spooks, ghosts, goblins, witches, monsters and more. It’s Halloween and we’re doing some haunting! Featuring 9 author takeovers, games, and giveaways!
Come join us here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1651083775169612/

2. Fright Night with the #Awethors – public Facebook event

4:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time October 31
The official launches of the latest works by Rocky Rochford, Michael J Elliott and Patrick Elliott. Featuring 9 author takeovers, games, giveaways, video readings and a Mega Halloween Giveaway. Join us Awethors on the sacriest night of the year!
Come join us here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1491634637818224/

3. The Elemental by Lisa Release Party – public Facebook event

4:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time October 31
This Samhuinn aka Halloween Booktrope Publishing will release The Elemental. If you could save the world by giving your life, would you? Featuring 8 author takeovers!
Come join us here: https://www.facebook.com/events/886167311421123/

Horror Anthologies

  1. Portraits of Dread by Michael J. Elliottavailable on Amazon
    Portraits of Dread (72dpi 900x600)
    In this collection of twelve stories, Michael J. Elliott examines dread in all its many forms,
    In “Mother Called Today” a woman becomes increasingly fearful of her demanding mother’s incessant phone calls. She has a horrible secret about her mother, something she is too scared to share with anyone.
    In “The Little Man on Top of the Wardrobe” four-year-old James has always been very good about going to bed, but recently he’s been too scared to go to sleep. There is a little man living on top of his wardrobe and it wants his soul. Of course that’s just his overactive childhood imagination… Isn’t it?
    In “A Glutton for Punishment” we visit a future that isn’t too hard to imagine. It’s a world where the overweight are social pariahs, where the government controls their eating and shopping and failure to lose weight after three attempts results in the obese being sent to a detention camp. Lynda Whittaker has just been sent to one such camp and she’s about to learn a horrifying government secret that shows they still have one final use for the overweight.
    Portraits Of Dread contains these chillers and more.

2. A Dark Assortment by Mikey Campling – available on Amazon

Don’t be afraid. They’re just stories, aren’t they?
Sometimes that noise you can hear upstairs is just the old floorboards creaking as they settle down for the night. Sometimes.
But there’s no need to worry because, that face you saw at the window was just a reflection.
There’s no one else here. You’re alone. But that’s OK because you’re safe in your bed. And all those things you fear deep down in the dark reaches of your soul… well, they only happen in stories, don’t they?
A Dark Assortment is a collection of seventeen stories; a chocolate box of handmade treats. But beware – beneath each richly decorated shell, there’s a seed of delicious darkness.
These stories with a twist are perfect for fans of Edgar Allan Poe, and if you enjoy books like Ray Bradbury’s “Illustrated Man” and Roald Dahl’s “Skin” then we’ll get along just fine.
Oh – before I go, I’ll wish you all Sweet Dreams.