Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Story Spotlight #2: Jennifer Lane's Behind the Catcher's Mask

Hey, writers and readers! I'm Jennifer Lane, author of the second short story in the next Insecure Writers Support Group anthology, Masquerade: Oddly Suited.

Sports have been a big part of my life. I started year-round competitive swimming at age eight and went on to swim and play volleyball in college.

These experiences drew me write in the genre of sports romance, including novels about swimming and volleyball:


When I learned about the theme for the anthology: young adult romance featuring a masquerade/mask theme, an image implanted in my mind:


*Smoldering blue eyes staring from behind his baseball catcher's mask.*

This vision guided my story, Behind the Catcher's Mask:

Who can help her through a meltdown on the pitcher's mound?

Fast-pitch softball is Andie Wilson’s life. She’s a fierce pitcher hoping to score a college scholarship, and she hates the annoying distraction of cocky baseball players crashing her high-school charity game. But she doesn’t anticipate the impact of one baseball player: Colt Turner. As Colt stares at her through his catcher’s mask, his steadfast gaze may be just what she needs to guide her through a crisis. And Colt may need Andie, too—to cope with the secret hiding behind his mask.



Excerpt from Behind the Catcher's Mask:


Colt signals for a fastball, and I deliver a screamer. He doesn’t even pause before he returns the ball to me. Didn’t he think that was a good one? I throw a devious screwball, then execute a wicked wrist snap for my dropball. When he signals for a riseball, I pause.

“Wait a minute—how do you know riseballs? They don’t have those in baseball, right?”

He slides his mask up to rest on the top of his head as he rises. “My sister’s a softball pitcher, too. Eighth grade. I made her throw to me to get ready for today.”

Well, that’s kind of cool. I’m touched he cares enough about this co-ed charity game to do that.

“You’re a lot better than her, though.” His eyes glimmer in the sunlight, and he shakes his catcher’s mitt like his hand stings from the force of my pitches. “Ow. Not sure they should call it softball.”

My laugh relaxes me, and he smiles as he covers his face with the mask again. I’ll show you a riseball, Mr. Turner. I whip my arm around as I catapult forward, and the ball skates up just as it passes over the plate. Unhittable for sure.

~ * ~


Psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane invites you to her world of romance, sports, and suspense! By day she’s a therapist, and by night she’s a writer—she can’t decide which is more fun. Jen lives in Ohio and parlays her college swimming and volleyball experience into earnest characters striving for more in love and life.



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Story Spotlight #1: L.G. Keltner's Oddly Suited

Each of the authors featured in Masquerade: Oddly Suited will be posting over the next several weeks. They'll talk a little about writing and the stories they penned for the anthology. The first story up is "Oddly Suited" by L.G. Keltner.

*     *     *

Writing is the process through which we find the story we’re trying to tell. It can be a mystifying experience at times. We don’t always know where we’re going when we start, but that’s part of the adventure. The journey of writing a story begins, of course, with that first spark of inspiration.

With the IWSG Anthology Contest, we’re given a theme. Masquerade. That’s the initial spark of inspiration. Of course, that theme can take a writer in many possible directions. The ideas that spring forth may be heavily influenced by daily life. This was the case for me.

The image that first sprang to my mind was a mask. Yet, instead of the Venetian mask many might think of, I saw an alien mask from a Halloween costume. This likely happened because I started writing around the time I was helping my children select costumes for trick-or-treating.

From there, I had to decide if that image could be worked into a satisfactory story. I needed to tell a story of young love, after all. Could I do that with this concept? I concluded that I could, but I felt a light-hearted and silly tone would work best. Having written fun, quirky stories in the past, I was thrilled about using this tone to tell my story.

We make so many choices to bring our stories to life that it can be difficult to pinpoint them all. It’s the same with my story “Oddly Suited.” Suffice it to say, once I had the costume idea and the tone nailed down, the story came together rather quickly.

This quick little line I came up with sums up the idea behind my story nicely: The silliest situations may be oddly suited for romance.

Blurb:

Ramona enjoys making entertaining videos with her friends and posting them online. She also co-writes the scripts with her crush Adam. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep her feelings hidden, but when Adam’s antics inspire a zany Valentine’s Day video, her task becomes nearly impossible.

Not only does she have to write a fun, romance-themed script with him, she must also play his love interest on camera.

Can she play her role while also masking her true feelings?

Excerpt:

The following day, Adam and I sat on the soft burgundy sectional that dominated one corner of his basement. A bag of half-eaten chips resided on the coffee table next to Adam's laptop. Writing sessions required the proper fuel. I reached into my backpack and produced a couple of chocolate bars to add to the bounty.
“Oh, you brought me chocolates!” Adam declared, putting his hand over his heart in dramatic fashion. “So romantic!”
My cheeks burned red, and I silently cursed my pale skin. I promptly turned my attention to the notebook that lay open in front of me. “Actually, I brought them for myself. I might have shared with you if didn't decide to be such a jerk about it.”
Adam stuck out his lower lip. “That was rude. How am I supposed to write an epic, sweeping romance when you're doing everything you can to break my heart?” he said, his face the picture of dejection.
I shook my head, doing my best to suppress a giggle. “Is that what we're writing? Here I was thinking we were trying to come up with some cheesy, moderately amusing drivel. Now I'm feeling the pressure.”
He shrugged. “As artists, we should always try to make great art. People may say it's drivel, but one man's trash is another man's masterpiece. Everyone has an opinion. Mine is simply more correct than everyone else's.”
“I'm glad we got that cleared up,” I said dryly.
“Happy to help,” Adam replied with a smug grin.
“We should get to work so we have something to film, though,” I said. “It can't count as either art or drivel if we never finish it.”


Bio:



L.G. Keltner has been attempting to write novels since she was six. None of those early attempts were any good, but her passion for writing remained strong. She graduated from Drake University in 2008, and she lives in Iowa with her husband and children. L.G. writes mostly science fiction, though she also enjoys writing humorous young adult stories.









Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Cover Reveal! Variations on a Theme

The Newest IWSG Anthology COVER IS HERE!

Find love at the ball…

Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual Traveler or a virtual date to the ball?

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…

And here is the first post from the Headliner Author... L.G. Keltner.

Variations on a Theme
by L.G. Keltner

I was intrigued when I saw the announcement for the 2018 IWSG Anthology Contest a few months ago. The genre was young adult romance, and I have some experience writing young adult stories with romantic elements in them. These can be incredibly fun stories to write. Tapping into the awkwardness and excitement of the teenage years yields limitless opportunities for storytelling gold. The theme, however, stuck out in my mind more than anything else.

Masquerade. What do most of us think of when we hear the word masquerade? The first image that came to my mind was a masquerade ball where people wearing Venetian masks twirl about on a dance floor in fancy frocks and suits. Story possibilities abound with that image alone, but of course, that was one of many potential interpretations of the theme.

I spent some time thinking of the word’s meaning. A masquerade is a false show or pretense. That definition can apply to so many aspects of life. In the world of a young adult protagonist, it might mean donning a fake persona in a school play or video. It can refer to the way they present themselves to the world online. It may also mean keeping a deep dark secret hidden from the world, including the people that are closest to them. What teenager doesn’t have secrets, after all? The settings and scenarios that may arise from this theme are endless.

With all the possible interpretations of the theme, it should come as no surprise that Masquerade: Oddly Suited is comprised of stories that vary greatly in setting and tone from one another. It’s an honor to be part of a collection that offers so much variety to readers. Perhaps that’s the greatest thing about the IWSG’s Anthology Contests. They give writers an opportunity to flex their creative muscles with themes that encourage a diverse range of responses, and the resulting anthologies will entertain readers for years to come.

My fellow authors and I are eager to share this anthology with all of you. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed being a part of it.



L.G. Keltner has been attempting to write novels since she was six.  None of those early attempts were any good, but her passion for writing remained strong.  She graduated from Drake University in 2008, and she lives in Iowa with her husband and children. L.G. writes mostly science fiction, though she also enjoys writing humorous young adult stories.


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MASQERADE: ODDLY SUITED
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Release date – April 30, 2019
Young Adult Fiction: Romance - General/Paranormal/ContemporaryPrint ISBN 9781939844644
EBook ISBN 9781939844651