A. R. Silverberry Wins Three Royal Palm Literary Awards!

2020 FWA Royal Palm Literary Award

2020 Royal Palm Literary Award

Silverberry Wins Three Royal Palm Literary Awards!

THRILLING NEWS! My unpublished novel Shadow House won the Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Award gold medal in both the Young Adult/New Adult and Science Fiction categories. Plus [drum roll], it was First Runner Up for Unpublished Book of the Year! To celebrate, I’m doing a giveaway with books and other prizes. I’ll be updating this post shortly with entry details and a Rafflecopter.

For more information about the Florida Writers Association and the Royal Palm Literary Awards, see an excerpt from RPLA chair Chris Coward’s press release below. Congratulations to all the winners!

FWA Press Release Excerpt

The award was announced at FWA’s recent remote four-day annual conference. This annual competition, which received 549 submissions, was RPLA’s nineteenth.

“This is the most competitive RPLA we’ve ever had,” said Chris Coward, RPLA chairperson. “The RPLA administrative team, judges, and entrants did an amazing job.”

In all, the competition covered 28 adult genres and 5 Youth genres, with published and unpublished entries considered separately. There were four grand awards, as well.

  • Published Book of the Year: The Orphan of Pitigliano, Historical Fiction, by Marina Brown
  • Unpublished Book of the Year: Boomerang, Mainstream or Literary, by Susan Dobson
  • Best Children’s Book: Gabriel Goes Up, Children’s Picture Book, by Amy Nicolai
  • The Candice Coghill Memorial Award for the best youth entry: “Blue and Black,” Unpublished Poetry, ages 12 to 15, by Jacqueline Cook

“A win at any level can help any writer market their manuscript or published book, and the detailed feedback from the judges is invaluable for all entrants,” Ms. Coward said.

“It’s an honor to be recognized in such a prestigious completion and among such a talented group of writers,” Silverberry said.

The Florida Writers Association, 1,800 members strong and growing, is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization that supports the state’s established and emerging writers. Membership is open to the public.

The Royal Palm Literary Awards competition is a service of the Florida Writers Association established to recognize excellence in its members’ published and unpublished works while providing objective and constructive written assessments for all entrants.

For additional information, visit the FWA website: floridawriters.net, where you’ll also find more about RPLA and the complete list of 2020 winners. Or, contact www.arsilverberry.com for details about A. R. Silverberry or for interviews.




World Building: Capturing a Compelling Setting

World Building

Capturing a Compelling Setting

World building, creating a vibrant fantasy setting, is our next installment in my posts on writing. Fantasy author Heidi L Burke stops by to share her insights on this must-know topic of the genre. Heidi is a prolific and imaginative writer. Let’s see how she approached world building for her new release, Ashen. I’m going to do something a little unorthodox here and start with a synopsis of Ashen so we have an idea of the story. Then Heidi will jump in to describe how she built the world of the novel.

Ashen Synopsis:

Stealer of warmth, bringer of death.

What if Cinderella had a secret that kept her locked away?

Unable to make her own body heat, foundling Lizbete survives in the tavern kitchen, drawing warmth from the fires, the sun—and sometimes, other living beings. Her days are spent cooking alongside the tavern owner and avoiding the suspicious gazes of the villagers in her small northern town. While she quietly longs for the handsome Brynar, she knows she has no chance with the mayor’s son, even if he invites her to the First Frost festival.

When sudden earthquakes strike Brumehome, blame falls upon Lizbete, and not even her friendship with Brynar can protect her. She finds shelter in the dangerous caverns of nearby Ash Mountain. There she discovers mysterious people with her same ability to draw heat—and a fiery doom in the mountain that slowly awakens with every quake.

Now the festival Lizbete thought to avoid is her only chance to warn the villagers. Yet even with Brynar at her side, can the strange girl dubbed the Ash Lizard hope to save the town that fears her?

A rugged YA Cinderella retelling set in a fantasy world with light steampunk elements.

ASHEN, by H L Burke

ASHEN, by H L Burke

World Building for Fiction Writers

by H L Burke

Generally speaking, when I am writing a story, I pick a culture or location to use as a jumping off point then put my own spin on it. I like the setting to spring organically out of what the plot needs. For instance, Spice Bringer featured a rare and valuable spice with healing properties which made India, with its history in the spice trade, an obvious source of inspiration. For Heart of the Curiosity, a story based around theaters and performances, I knew that I wanted a lively, vibrant city with a thriving art and theater scene, which led to the vaguely Parisian setting. Both of those books are set in made up worlds, but the names, food, and general “feel” for them are taken from those inspirations.

When I was selecting a setting for what was to become Ashen, I had two things I wanted:

  1. It needed to be someplace cold, and …
  2. It needed to have volcanoes.

Iceland felt like an obvious pick.

Brumehome is a small fishing village in a sheltered bay in the remote reaches of a kingdom that really doesn’t come up in the story at all. There’s mention of a distant king, but the town itself is run by an appointed mayor, a position that has stayed within a single family due to tradition. The feeling of an isolated but tightly knit community where everyone depends on everyone else is essential to my main character’s feeling of not belonging. While she doesn’t fit in with the townsfolk, she literally has nowhere else to go as every place she could flee to is several days’ journey across an inhospitable landscape, impossible for a girl who cannot create her own warmth.

The town lives under the shadow of an active volcano. Steam constantly rises from the various tunnels around the mountain. The townsfolk have harnessed this geothermal energy to heat their homes and run basic machinery, giving the culture a slight steampunk feel, but they are simple folk who still do most things the old fashioned way.

Lizbete, my main character, is the adopted daughter of the woman who runs the town’s only tavern. I had fun researching Icelandic food for this as Lizbete spends a lot of her time in the kitchen (where it is always warm). I also enjoyed throwing in some other Icelandic traditions (do yourself a favor and look up the Icelandic Christmas cat).

To me world building and setting should always serve the story and characters first. They should grow together as the story grows and adjust to support each other. I hope you get a chance to see how this dance works when you read Ashen.

H L Burke, author of ASHEN

H L Burke, author of ASHEN

Heidi L Burke Biography:

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic. Her obsessions include dragons and tales about inner beauty and character overcoming extreme circumstances. Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Media Links:

Website: https://www.hlburkeauthor.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hlburkewriter
Email Newsletter: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/f6o2i8
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/hlburkewriter/
Instagram: @burkesdragons

Purchase Ashen:


Ashen and Met By Midnight Blog Tour - Uncommon Universes Press

Ashen and Met By Midnight Blog Tour – Uncommon Universes Press

Ashen and Met by Midnight Blog Tour

Heidi is on tour with fellow fantasy author Janeen Ippolito, celebrating the release of Ashen and Met by Midnight.

Ashen Review Excerpt 1

I am a huge H.L. Burke fan and this addition lives up what I have come to expect from her work. Snarky heroes, original world building, lots of hope and of course, happy endings. -C.O. Bonham, early review

Ashen Review Excerpt 2

Although this Cinderella retelling twists them into something quite different, it retains most of the traditional elements of the story; the girl given a nick-name due to being covered in ashes, the cruel guardian, the “ball” attended in disguise, shoes of glass and the giant lava-dwelling fire octopus.

OK, so that last one isn’t usually part of the story but it really ought to be. The story flows easily from the first page effortlessly drawing you in and keeping you enthralled right through to the end. -LJ

Met By Midnight Review Excerpt 1

I was blown away by the originality in Met By Midnight.  This story was so good, it stirred up all the feels, all righteous anger. This has many things that Cinderella does, a girl who wants to change her lot in life, a royal ball, even a lost slipper. But do not go in thinking this is a sweet fairy-tale. This is DEFIANCE. -C.O. Bonham

Met By Midnight Review Excerpt 2

The characters brought this story to life for me in such wonderful ways. Met By Midnight is so special and a favorite read for me this year. -Kara Grant

Thanks so much for stopping by, Heidi. Ashen looks like a terrific read. Readers, writers, stay tuned for more posts on the art and craft of writing, right here.

A. R. Silverberry




Writing a Series with Kandi J Wyatt

Dragon's Winter, by Kandi J Wyatt

Dragon’s Winter, by Kandi J Wyatt

Writing a series seemed like a great next installment of my posts on writing. So when I heard that fantasy author Kandi J Wyatt was doing a blog tour for her new release, Dragon’s Winter, I jumped at the chance to have her do a guest post. As you’ll see, Kandi is a prolific writer of multiple series and has many ideas on how to develop these kinds of stories. And be sure to check out Dragon’s Winter below.


Writing a Series


Kandi J Wyatt


Writing a novel is hard, writing a series exponentially so. Yet, whether it’s because I’m a glutton for punishment or what, I’ve written multiple series. The Dragon Courage series now has seven books, Myth Coast Adventures has three and a half (a short story that goes with it), and Tilted Planet: The Monarchs (not yet published) has at least seven in the works.

How do you write a series? Well, let’s go back to a January day in 2010. I sat on my bed trying to write an epilogue for Dragon’s Future. My daughter chatted on the phone outside my door.

“Guess what! My mom’s writing a novel!” Pause. “Mom, Jasmine wants to know if it’s going to be a series.”

I glared at the screen. “Not if I can’t finish this one first!”

Needless to say, the story did get finished, and I went on to make it a series. It even was published, which at the time my daughter talked with Jasmine, wasn’t in the scope of my plans. To say the least, when the second book, Dragon’s Heir, was published, I dedicated it to Jasmine, claiming it was her fault.


So how do you go about writing a series? That really depends on the writer and the series. For the Dragon Courage series, I explored different characters throughout the series. It’s all set in the realm of Dragon Courage, but there’s not really any one character who’s the main one. In Tilted Planet: Monarchs, the first six books tell one complete story from three points of view. The final book will explore the first king of the realm. Although there are multiple ways of writing series, there are some helpful things you can do if a series is in your future.


First, you’ll want to pull out a sheet of paper, a document, or a spreadsheet. This will become your friend. Whichever method you choose, start keeping track of characters, plot points, places, and anything else you may need. Doing this will save you from searching through your written work trying to decide if that character had blond hair and blue eyes or was green-eyed and auburn. Trust me. Go grab your tracking sheet.

Another helpful idea is a spreadsheet for the series. Each column represents one of the books. Each row is a theme or plot element in a book. Trace across the sheet what is happening in each book. Yes, even a discovery writer can benefit from this. I used a basic version when writing the Tilted Planet: Monarchs series.

Leave yourself room to work. With the Dragon Courage series, I expanded the world with the first five books, exploring new areas of the world. With Tilted Planet, I’m planning on having multiple series within the larger world. This means besides the Monarchs, I’ll have multiple other areas of the history of the world to traverse.

Realize that every story has a multitude of possibilities. Even my trilogy—Myth Coast Adventures—has the prospect of exploding into more books because the third novel takes place in another world with many different mythical creatures. A whole new series could develop from that world of Shinwano. With Tilted Planet, it’s a planet with vast history—from before the cataclysm that knocked it from its normal axis, to the dystopia after the catastrophe, to the steampunk era as they’re regaining technology. I’ll be investigating all those story-lines.

Following characters can create series as well. The Dragon Courage series began with Ruskya and Duskya. By the end of Dragon’s Future, I knew I wanted to write Ardyn’s story, but that didn’t come until book 5! Between the first and fifth book, I told Braidyn, Kyn, Carryn and Duskya’s stories before finally coming to Ardyn’s. As you write, ask yourself who are the characters I want to know more about? Then discover their story and write it.


Whether you’re writing a series or a novel, there’s one advice that’s the same—write. Yep, no matter how much, little or large, write a bit every day. If you write 500 words a day for six days a week, you’ll write a 50,000 word novel in just over four months. That means you can have a trilogy in a year! See where this is going? Be consistent and guard your writing time. Dive into the world and explore. Who knows you may have the next Redwall or Percy Jackson hidden away in your head.

Dragon’s Winter Synopsis:

Mere’s continuing her apprenticeship in San Valencia, but when a strange illness affects everyone in the dragon colony including dragons, she’s forced to help a pregnant girl find safety.


Rescuing slaves is all in a day’s work for Jareem, until a new slaver in town takes exception to Jareem’s interference. Now, sick and with a wounded dragon, Jareem must free the slave and find Mere and the pregnant girl before the slaver.


The clock is ticking. The baby’s due any day, and the slaver’s persistent. Mere and Jareem must reach beyond who they believe themselves to be in order to bring the former slaves home in one piece.


Cover Designer: Savannah Jezowski of Dragonpen Designs



99cent pre-order: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HVWMTRR

Other books in the series:




Dragon Courage series

Dragon’s Future: https://www.books2read.com/u/bzpDq9

Dragon’s Heir: https://www.books2read.com/u/47YQE3

Dragon’s Revenge: https://www.books2read.com/u/b5qvGb

Dragon’s Cure: https://www.books2read.com/u/47kxJa

Dragon’s Posterity: https://www.books2read.com/u/4DA8og

Dragon’s Heritage: https://www.books2read.com/u/3neVN6




Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt, had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that’s her own five or the hundreds of students she’s been lucky to teach. When Kandi’s not spinning words to create stories, she’s using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.


Where to find Kandi J Wyatt:


Website: http://kandijwyatt.com/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/kandijwyatt/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/kandijwyatt/

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kandijwyatt

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13817774.Kandi_J_Wyatt

Bookbub: https://bookbub.com/profile/kandi-j-wyatt

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kandi-J-Wyatt/e/B00ZTC4T10/

Dragon's Winter, by Kandi J Wyatt

Dragon’s Winter, by Kandi J Wyatt

Kandi J Wyatt

Kandi J Wyatt


Writing Manuals and Reference Books for Writers

Writing Manuals and Reference Books for Writers


Writings manuals and reference books have been essential to my growth as a writer. So for part two of a series on writing, publishing, and book marketing, I thought I would share some of the books that have had the most influence on me, including the ones I still refer to often while working on a novel or short story. Let’s start with the writing manuals.


Writing Manuals


A Writer’s Gide to Fiction, by Elizabeth Lyon. My first six years as a writer, I was a pure pantser, using my intuition and artistic sense to guide plot and pacing, drawing heavily on unconscious processes. I wrote some creative stories that way. Problem was, when I submitted my first novel to agents, the feedback I got back was that theme, character, and plot did not all fit together harmoniously. They were right. To learn more how to fix that, I took a class from editor extraordinaire, Elizabeth Lyon. It changed the way I write, and her concepts are found in the above book. If you’re new to the craft, read it. You won’t be disappointed.


A Story is a Promise, by Bill Johnson. In both her book and her class, Elizabeth Lyon drew lessons from this book by Bill Johnson. It’s a real eye opener and gets to the core of how to unify plot, character, and theme. Whether you’re a planner or a pantser, you can still conceptualize your story through the story-is-a-promise lens. I have found it critical to helping me hone down to the essentials of my stories so that I don’t go astray. Alternatively, if I do go astray—because something new, surprising, or compelling appears before my eyes as I write—I can always revise the premise that unifies the story. It becomes a back and forth process with a satisfying result.


Characters Make You Story, by Maren Elwood. This is a classic writing manual, first published in 1942, and was also the first book on writing that I read. I devoured it. While the samples and writing style are dated, the concepts are eternal. She presents all the essential ways of showing a character’s character and how to set up conflicting motives to drive forward a plot. The only downside is that the tenets she presents about writing children’s fiction are out of step with the times.


Write Away, by Elizabeth George. My wife had the good fortune of taking a writing class from Elizabeth George, just as her career was taking off in the 80’s. She’s a master mystery writer with a profound understanding of human psychology and motives, and writes with a literary flair. Anyway, this book outlines her approach to writing fiction. I learned a lot of powerful ideas about setting, voice, and dialogue. I come back to it often. Really, she’s the one that inspired me to write.


The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition, by Christopher Volger. This is an essential guide for applying the Heroes Journey and archetypes to your plot and characters.


The First 50 Pages, by Jeff Gerke. Not sure if you’re hooking readers and building sympathy for your main character? This book spells out ways to accomplish your goal. I really like that he offers alternative approaches and empowers you to decide what works best for you as a writer or for the particular story you’re crafting. He also offers editing and consulting services to authors. If you looking for that, check out his website.


Writer’s Digest. Okay, it’s not a reference book, but you can find lots of great articles on any question you have about writing, marketing, searching for an agent, publishing, etc. I’ve got old editions of the magazine I’ve kept because of great articles, like ways to craft minor and walk-on characters. And what I don’t have, I can find on their website. They also have great services for authors, like query critique, synopsis critique, and manuscript evaluation. Check it out!


Reference Books


Grammatically Correct: The Essential Gide to Spelling, Style, Usage, Grammar, and Punctuation, by Anne Stilman. Confession: I suck at grammar. But over the last twenty years I’ve been bound and determined to master it. This book is filled with clear definitions and examples.


The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition. The bible, and an obvious companion to the book above. Probably has more than you’ll ever need, but when you’re stuck, you can find the answers. It’s now in the 17th edition, but this one still serves. I let my editor keep up on the shifting terrain of style.


Daily Life in Medieval Times, by Frances and Joseph Gies. My fantasy stories are often set in worlds similar in social, economic, political, and technological ways to medieval Europe. This volume has been a big help, from food, to agriculture, to the organization of village life. You name it—you’ll find it.


Bricriu’s Feast, by Morgan Smith. An essential reference for fantasy writers creating worlds set in a medieval-like period. This quote from the back cover tells it all: “A thorough look at what the Irish of the early medieval period would have eaten,” including information on ingredients, cooking methods, farming, herbs, and beverages.


Edible Wild Plants, Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate, by John Kallas, PhD. Herbs and other edible wild plants often pop up in my stories, perhaps because I write about characters that need to survive under harsh conditions. This book has been invaluable.


Roget’s Thesaurus. Most writers feel these have limited value when you’re crafting a sentence. In general, I agree. But sometimes I discover words that might not occur to me otherwise. I’ve got an ancient edition I inherited from my mom. Which leads me to …


Use the Right Word, A Modern Guide to Synonyms, by S. I. Hayakawa. I avoided this for years because it was published by Reader’s Digest. Big mistake. Inside, you’ll find a cogent discussion of the subtle difference in meaning between related words. I don’t reach for it too often, but when I do, it’s really helped me write with precision.




From the moment writers pick up a pen, they embark on a journey of growth and development. The books above have helped to shape that process for me. I hope you find them useful!

Editing: What to Expect

Editing: What to Expect


Editing—some writers love it; some hate it. But you can’t be a serious writer without submitting your work to an expert pair of eyes. Probably several pairs. So, as the first part of series on writing, publishing, and book marketing, I thought I would bring in Emerald Barnes, an experienced editor, to give us the low down on this necessary, but often misunderstood, process.


Welcome Emerald! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became an editor.


I started out my journey as an Indie author after receiving my B.A. in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing. I knew in high school that I wanted to be an author, but it wasn’t until about six years after I graduated did I realize that I wanted to be an editor as well.


Actually, I started out as a proofreader. I’d always been good at picking out and correcting people’s grammar mistakes, which was why I was a beta reader. But it hit me one day that I wanted to expand that into a business.


With the help of a friend, I started my proofreading business. As I began to proofread, I would notice more plot holes than simple grammar mistakes that needed to be fixed, so I’d take note of those for my clients, until eventually, I decided to expand my business into editing as well.


Why do you think editing is an important step before publication, and what do you think an editor can do for writers?


Editing is so important to the publishing process, and authors should never skip editing. Self-edits are helpful, but as the author, you’re simply too close to the book to be objective. An editor can help you see your mistakes and correct them—and with more than just grammar. We see holes in the plot and subplots, character flaws, sections of your book that have no purpose inside your book at all. An editor takes your brilliant idea and helps you develop it further. We help you polish your books.


As an editor, our main objective is to help the author bring an idea into the best possible version of their work as we possibly can. I know that, personally, I only want to see my clients succeed with their books. My goal is to help them publish a book that is entertaining and keep readers coming back for more from this author. If your writing isn’t up to par, readers know that, and it can lead to bad reviews. My objective is to keep my client from receiving bad reviews, especially on the editing/proofreading aspect of publication.


As an editor, I also feel like authors need to have a connection and trust in the editor, and we can provide that. I’ve become good friends with most of my clients, and you need that as an author, someone you can come to when you need advice or help.


What’s the difference between copyediting and content/developmental editing?


Copyediting usually comes after the content/developmental editing. Copyediting is making sure that the author’s work makes sense and that facts are actual. Copyeditors also help with grammar and spelling, but a proofreader is also someone who handles the grammar and spelling (after copyediting).


Content/developmental editing is the main form of edits. It’s when the editor first gets it right after you’ve written it. We see the worst of your writing to make it the best.


It’s where the editor reads through it and tells you what needs to be changed, added, or removed. It’s the point of the revisions where we tell you what works and what doesn’t. It’s probably the hardest part of editing because it’s not always what you want to hear about your own book, but it’s the process of content editing that helps your book become the best it can be.


What are the signs that a writer can benefit from a developmental edit?


If your book has significant plot holes or character flaws, you need a developmental edit. In fact, even if you don’t think your book has it, you still need one. It’s better to be safe than sorry.


If your characters do things that don’t make sense or if you see a mistake in your plot that would most likely need correcting, you need a developmental edit.


If you have any questions about your plot or story, you need a developmental edit.


If you’ve published your book but are getting reviews that say you would have benefited from a good edit, or maybe they say that you have a good story premise but would have done better to have someone read over it, then you need a developmental edit.


What should writers look for when selecting an editor?


When selecting an editor, look for someone who offers references and a sample edit. It’s important to know if you can trust that editor, and if the editor has references that can be trusted.


Sample edits also provide an idea of how the editor works, what s/he finds in a small section of your book can speak volumes, especially if you know something needs to be fixed in the sample.


Also, see if you can find them on social media, see what kind of person they are. It’s important to know who you’re working with, especially if you’ve never “met” them before.


What should writers steer away from when looking for an editor?


Personally, if you’re looking for an editor, you need to find someone who will be open and honest with you, someone who isn’t afraid to tell you what needs to be changed. If the editor cannot provide you with honest, in-depth feedback, they probably aren’t a good fit for you.


Always search for someone who goes in-depth. A simple “I like your book; there isn’t anything wrong,” isn’t what you need.


You need someone who has experience as well. Look for a list of books and/or references. I know some people are new to editing, but they need to be upfront with that as well. If a list of books and references isn’t provided, then ask for it.


Also, steer away from editors who don’t work with your genre. You need someone who has experience with your genre.


Do you recommend a proofreader after the editor is done?


Absolutely! An editor’s job is to correct your plot, characters, etc. And through all of that change and revision, mistakes are expected to be made, which means that you need someone who can catch new grammar mistakes. And, it doesn’t hurt to have as many eyes on a book as possible so nothing escapes notice before publication.


What’s your own approach to editing?


My own approach to editing is very similar to what I’ve discussed through the interview. I will read my clients’ books and get a baseline feel for the book and make comments as I read through it. I’ll take note of mistakes that need to be changed, any confusing parts, parts I don’t feel are necessary, and any character flaws I see along the way. Then, I’ll have my client correct those and return it to me for a second read through. I’ll read the book again, correct their revisions and see if any changes that need to be made escaped our eyes during the first round or see if the remaining parts of the story need to be corrected to mesh with the new revisions. Generally, I only do two read-throughs of a book, but I have done three before if the author and I felt it was necessary.

About Emerald Barnes:

Emerald Barnes resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it. She’s an auntie, a youth leader, a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person. God is number One in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor.

​She’s also addicted to TV and binge-watching shows, and she has an obsession with superheroes, Star Trek, LoTR, and baking/cooking competitions. When she’s not working, she’s binge-watching TV shows or trying (and failing) to be witty on social media.

Website: www.emeraldbarnes.us

Facebook: www.facebook.com/emeraldbarnes

Twitter: www.twitter.com/emeraldbarnes

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/emeraldbarnes

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/emerald_barnes

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/emeraldbarnes

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Barnes/e/B004PL38QS

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/emerald-barnes

Emerald Barnes, Author and Editor

Emerald Barnes, Author and Editor

Annie Douglass Lima Guest Post


About the Story:

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences. One is that slavery is legal there. Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).  

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil. It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), an unsharpened weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge. Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades. You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

More About the Story

Set in a world alarmingly like our own, The Collar and the Cavvarach is the story of fourteen-year-old Bensin, a slave, whose status is made obvious to everyone by the steel collar locked around his neck. A martial artist who competes to win money for his owner, Bensin fights in tournaments with a cavvarach. But his greatest battle is the struggle to protect his little sister from the horrors of legalized slavery in a world where slaves have few rights. Desperate to keep her safe, Bensin struggles to find a means – legal or otherwise – to arrange for her freedom.

(For a fun introduction to the story’s setting and its culture, including an explanation of how cavvara shil works, click here.) 

Sound Like a Book you Might Enjoy? 

Click the play button below to listen to the first 15 minutes of the story as narrated by Joseph Baltz.

Click here to go to the audiobook on Audible.
Click here to go to the audiobook on Amazon.
(Either way, try listening to the free sample to see what you think!)

Like to Read Along While You Listen? 

The Collar and the Cavvarach ebook is available for FREE from July 14-18. Grab your copy now!


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About the Author


Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, Bible verse coloring and activity books, and a fantasy-themed cookbook. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.

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Cerberus, Tales of Magic and Malice

Cerberus, Tales of Magic and Malice, by A. R. Silverberry


I’m thrilled to announce the upcoming release of my short story collection, Cerberus, Tales of Magic and Malice. To celebrate, I’m giving away prizes! And the book, available for pre-order, will be on sale for $0.99 from now until a short time after it’s released. To enter the contest, just use the handy Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post, where you’ll also find the pre-order link. But first, about the book!


From Master Storyteller A. R. Silverberry

Nine Timeless Tales of Enchantment

Does Magic Exist? Discover the strange and curious events that unfold when …

  • A belligerent bailiff has his fortune told
  • A little girl searches for one last spell
  • A reclusive actress receives a mysterious knock on her door
  • An orphan fights to survive in the shadow of a menacing terror

Don’t stop there … a wizard, a friendless boy, a devil cat, and Shakespeare’s fairy queen lie within. From the boundless imagination of A. R. Silverberry, these irresistible tales conjure up a wondrous brew of MAGIC AND MALICE.

FEATURING SEVEN ALL-NEW STORIES: Cerberus, Tangles, The Willow Sister, Titania, Blaze, and The Mask

Pre-order from Amazon

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Creativity: Supercharge Your Writing, Part III

I made a startling discovery. Back in 2016 I had been about to send a manuscript off to my editor and was beginning to research potential agents to send it to. At the time, there were passages and little problem areas that I knew needed to be fixed, but try as I might, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Then tragedy struck and my cat was diagnosed with cancer. A C-scan and several thousand dollars later, the money earmarked for the edit was gone. The novel sat in my computer file gathering metaphorical dust for two years. About two months ago a little voice said, Look, it’s just sitting there. You might as well query it. Long story short, I pulled the manuscript out and began to go through it. To my surprise, those pesky sentences and problem areas were resolved fairly easily. Perhaps I’ve grown as a writer from 2016. I’m sure I have. But I think something else happened. There’s a process in creativity called incubation. It’s when projects or ideas lay fallow. Given time, solutions will come.

I have the tendency to get wedded to my words, the flow and sound of them. If anything changes in the rhythm of the sentences, it sends me into a panic. But with the passage of time, I was not so attached to what I had written, making it easier to kill my darlings and go for clarity.

Conclusion: writing can be improved by resting your work and coming back to it with fresh eyes. It doesn’t have to sit years. But give it a few weeks or months, whatever it takes to read it as a reader, not as the author. Your brainchild deserves the extra time and attention!

For more ideas on supercharging your writing, see Creativity: Supercharge Your Writing Part I and Creativity: Supercharge Your Writing Part II.

WYNDANO'S CLOAK, by A. R. Silverberry

WYNDANO’S CLOAK, by A. R. Silverberry

The Stream, by A. R. Silverberry

THE STREAM, by A. R. Silverberry

Unblock Writer’s Block

Unblock Writer’s Block

By A. R. Silverberry

I wrote this several years ago, and it remains one of my favorite posts. Time to re-publish it!

What is writer’s block, and what can you do about it? First off, the term writer’s block is too vague. It specifies symptoms but nothing about the cause. It’s like saying you’re suffering from soar throat, cough, and fever. But what’s the cause? A cold? Flu? Strep?

Same thing with writer’s block. All we can say is that the words are not flowing from brain to page. But why? Until you can answer that question, you won’t know how to get things flowing again.

Here’s a short list of some possible causes:

  • Procrastination
  • Fear of failure
  • A harsh critical inner critic
  • A lack of ideas
  • A lack of time and space
  • The story isn’t ripe
  • A combination of two or more of the above

Let’s look at each separately and see what the solutions might look like.

A Lack of Time and Space.

Suit up and show up! Commit to a regular writing schedule. Write in a regular place, which then becomes a trigger for your words to flow. This can be anywhere. I wrote my novel, Wyndano’s Cloak, while commuting on a train! If the goal of writing a quota of words stifles you (it does me), choose an amount of time you’ll write. When your time is up, no matter where you are, make a note of what you want to do next and stop. You’ll be itching to get back to it!


I don’t believe there’s a lazy gene. Ditto lazy people. There is only ineffective behavior. Personality is hard to change. Behavior isn’t. When people procrastinate, they often anticipate something will be hard or unpleasant. (Think about doing your taxes!) The problem is that we’re often poor predictors. When we’re procrastinating, we’re usually predicting the avoided task will be less fun than something else, or will be more difficult. Two things you can do to counter this:

  • Grandmother’s Rule: Eat your dinner before your desert. In other words, write first, no matter how it comes out, and then do the thing you would have done while procrastinating The second, preferred activity reinforces the first!
  • Test your assumptions; fill out an Anti-Procrastination Sheet. Space doesn’t allow me to describe it here, but you can find it in David Burns’ famous book, Feeling Good.

Ideas not Flowing.

Try speed writing, without consideration for what comes out. Try stream-of-consciousness writing, without consideration for punctuation. Here’s a favorite of mine: write in a different document, someplace away from what you’re working on, someplace that doesn’t matter. I do this in a journal, or in a document I call Sketchpad. My father—a screenwriter and playwright—did it on a paper bag or the margin of a used piece of paper. Once he came home with a poem on a napkin.

Another reason why ideas might not be flowing is there’s a lack of sufficient stimulation. Stock the idea pond. Go on what Julia Cameron calls an artist’s date (see her book, The Artist’s Way). You’ll be surprised how quickly your mind starts making connections between your story and what you’re seeing.

Ideas might not be flowing because you need something concrete as a starting point. I always have photos of my main characters and most of my settings to spur my imagination.

Stimulate your creativity. Challenge yourself to come up with twenty ideas, without judging them. Try merging these ideas, or vary them. Add something smaller. Add something bigger (think of chocolate chunks instead of chips in cookies or ice cream!). Close your eyes, open the dictionary at random, run your finger down the page, and stop. Brain storm how the word you’re on might relate to your story. I did this at a School Visit to a middle school class, with amazing results. It’s like being dropped in an unfamiliar part of town. You always find your way home! (Method and analogy courtesy of creativity pioneer, Edward De Bono.)

The story isn’t ripe.

Ideas might not be flowing because the story isn’t ripe. The characters may not be sufficiently developed. The theme may be unclear, or there are too many of them. The plot may be mired somewhere in the great unknown of the middle. Try developing these areas. If that fails, let it incubate. Work on another section, or set the whole thing aside and write something else. Some stories take years to ripen. Larry McMurtry took a vacation from Lonesome Dove to write Desert Rose!

Inner Critic.

The inner critic is one of the wettest blankets we can throw on our creativity. The critic is all left brain, and when you’re trying to be creative you need to be more in your right brain, drawing on your imagination and the pictures in your mind. Try talking back to the critic, but not harshly. An easy going, “Hi! I see you, I hear you, but I’m going to focus on this right now. I’ll get back to you later when I’m revising,” helps! As does mindfulness: “Those thoughts are just fish, swimming by in an aquarium, and no more significant. They’ll pass.” Humor helps: “Oh, pipe down you wascally wabbit!” said in the most Elmer Fuddish voice you can.

Fear of Failure.

Depending on the severity, fear of failure may be one of the more difficulty problems to tackle. Try writing down your fears. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen, and if that thing happened, why would it be so bad? Ask yourself how likely that outcome is? Ask yourself what is the evidence for your fears, and what evidence you can think of to the contrary. Try replacing your fear thoughts with more realistic thoughts. How much do you believe the new thoughts? If you believe them, you should feel less fearful. If not, talk to a trusted friend or relative, and get some perspective. If all else fails, consider working with a therapist to help move you forward. It worked for Rachmaninofff. After seeing a hypnotist to overcome writer’s block, he penned his famous Second Piano Concerto, one of his greatest works!


You may notice other causes for writer’s block. Follow the steps above. Identify the root of the problem. Devise a solution. For most people though, simply sitting and starting will do the trick. Just write. Do it daily. The story is inside of you. Get out of its way and let it flow!

WYNDANO'S CLOAK, by A. R. Silverberry

WYNDANO’S CLOAK, by A. R. Silverberry

The Stream, by A. R. Silverberry

THE STREAM, by A. R. Silverberry