Wednesday, March 31, 2021

In the Spotlight: Deniz Bevan ~ Author of "One to Another"

The IWSG Anthology blog will be featuring posts from each of the contributing authors in Dark Matter: Artificial over the next few weeks. We’ve asked them to share a little about how they came up with their stories and preview what’s to come!

Deniz Bevan on her short story, “One to Another.”

Mine all started with a line from Neil Gaiman, which was to be the start of a fable: "Long ago, in the days when there were still fish in the oceans and cars on the roads, there lived a woman who was not afraid of governments…"

I kept thinking of the line and, oddly enough, I set the story in Montreal after I'd moved away from there. Sometimes when you look back, it's easier to see a place more objectively. I remembered the ice storm of 1998, and that's what led me to imagine The Snow, and to wonder how people might start rebuilding a community from the beginning—by making rules or telling stories?

The 1998 ice storm in Montreal.

And that's where the title came from: "One to Another" is a song on Tellin' Stories by The Charlatans.

I love writing short stories because they always seem to come all at once. A few hours of non-stop writing, and there it is! It's been a couple of years now since I had a fresh idea for one and, though I've done NaNoWriMo every year and written other pieces (especially during writers' houseparties!), I miss writing short pieces! I'm always eager for new prompts.


What would you do if a storm destroyed the world and you had to rebuild from scratch? Would you be a leader—or oppose those who try to forge ahead? How might the survivors begin—by making rules or telling stories?


Maja was walking on Sherbrooke Street when the storm started, carrying her sleeping baby against her in a linen sling. She raised her hand to cover his head, and a snowflake fell across her knuckles.

It turned orange, sizzled, and burned. She yelped and raised her knuckles to her mouth to suckle-soothe the pain. Yet a heat came off them, and she lowered her hand to her side. She didn’t want to burn her lips, too.

Another snowflake, dainty as crocheted lace, came floating down in front of her face.

It rested on the sidewalk, turned orange, and burned a hole in the paving. Not just on the surface, as it had with her hand; this time the flake bored down until a tidy pothole opened up in the sidewalk.

The snowfall grew thicker. Maja ran for the nearest shelter, wrapping both arms around her baby to keep from jostling him. She wedged her heels into the dirt right up against the trunk of an oak and looked up to ensure that the branches and leaves covered every part of her. As she shushed her baby back to sleep, in her peripheral vision she could see others running, flitting from one side of the street to the other under the pelting snow.

The oak seemed to shudder under the weight of the flakes as they piled up. Every few minutes a branch shivered and the snow, instead of dropping off in a clump, floated off like pollen, then settled elsewhere on the street. In a quarter of an hour, the sidewalk closest to her had become a freshly churned embankment. The road was eaten away.

A young man ran under her tree, arms over his face, and she tightened her hands around the curve of her baby’s body. The man hadn’t seen her, but must have registered her motion, for he skidded to a stop, gave her a wide-eyed glance, then scurried to the other side of the trunk.

Maja hoped her husband had found a tree as protective as hers.

Deniz Bevan has lived and worked in Turkey, and her non-fiction work, including travel articles, book reviews and personal essays, has most recently appeared in the trilingual (English, French, and Turkish) newspaper Bizim Anadolu. Her short story 'Where There's Life' was shortlisted for the Surrey (Canada) International Writers' Conference Storyteller's Award in 2013. Her contemporary romance, Summer Fire is out now with Carina Press. And there’s a playlist for that story, and many others, on her YouTube channel! And her Story Inspirations board on Pinterest features images of all her characters.

A firm believer in burning the candle at both ends, she is generally writing a new novel while editing another, and blogging about her reading and research adventures -- and sharing travel photos – weekly on her blog, The Girdle of Melian. Other days, she tries to stay off the web altogether, as she delves into the history, mystery, and romance of her characters’ lives.

Coming on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 . . . 

Next up will be Charles Kowalski, who shares his backstory for "Resident Alien."

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

In the Spotlight: Tara Tyler ~ Author of "Sentient"

The IWSG Anthology blog will be featuring posts from each of the contributing authors in Dark Matter: Artificial over the next few weeks. We’ve asked them to share a little about how they came up with their stories and preview what’s to come!

Tara Tyler on her short story, “Sentient.”

I love writing sci-fi and fantasy--the possibilities of alternate realities are endless. So when I heard the topic for the IWSG contest, I dove right in! First I researched Dark Matter--it's very elusive and mysterious. I thought I could shape it into anything I wanted, and I even gave it a consciousness: SENTIENT. Then thinking about all the turmoil in the world, with everyone isolated and divided, my story fell right into place. I've jokingly thought several times that this would be the perfect time for an alien invasion! Extraterrestrial life would probably view us as petty and selfish and weak on the surface. But if they took a deeper look, they would see we have many redeeming qualities.

So I made Dark Matter a floating presence--the fabric of the universe that keeps everything in balance. Representative scouts choose opposite human specimens, and Fate plays a part too, creating fun twists and turns--you know how opposites attract! So how will earth measure up? Are we worthy of existence? Or are we throwing the universe off balance? 


Sentient Dark Matter representatives Grav and Absi are sent to study a developing species: humans. They will collect evidence to determine whether earthlings pose a threat to the balance of the Universe or not. But when the Dark Matter scouts inhabit the lower life forms, they discover these pitiful creatures are more powerful than they seem. Their very existence could incite galactic chaos or instill harmony. Dark Matter has a big decision to make.


“Grav, tell me again: if humans are so destructive, why aren’t we eliminating this planet?”

To provide a balanced report, Absi was chosen to accompany me on this trek down to Earth’s surface. I can attest opposites do not attract. My profound patience and peaceful demeanor will be challenged on this mission.

“If we destroy Earth, the universe would be sent reeling out of balance for centuries. We are looking for ways to preserve Earth and the stability of this galaxy without direct interference. Though humans can be volatile toward each other, they tend to balance each other out. They also like to explore but are oftentimes too inquisitive for their own good. As they venture into our domain of space and the cosmos, we must confirm their intentions. Purely routine, like every other evolving galaxy we observe.”

“What about Kristol? We destroyed them.”

“They destroyed themselves along with their warring sister planet Elko. Thus, the balance remained unchanged.”


Tara Tyler 
has had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After moving all over the US, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her husband and one boy left in the nest. She has two novel series, Pop Travel (sci-fi detective thrillers) and Beast World (fantasy adventures), plus her UnPrincess novella series where the maidens save themselves. She's a commended blogger, contributed to several anthologies, and to fit in all these projects, she economizes her time, aka the Lazy Housewife--someday she might write a book on that... Make every day an adventure!

Coming on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 . . . 

Next up will be Deniz Bevan, who shares her backstory for "One to Another."

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

In the Spotlight: Steph Wolmarans ~ Author of "The Utten Mission"

The IWSG Anthology blog will be featuring posts from each of the contributing authors in Dark Matter: Artificial over the next few weeks. We’ve asked them to share a little about how they came up with their stories and preview what’s to come!

Steph Wolmarans on her short story, “The Utten Mission.”

My story, "The Utten Mission," started as an exercise, but the original idea is quite a bit older. My writing really began in the form of journals about gardening, healthy choices, and herbology. I followed these up with a blog then got overwhelmed by life, the universe, and everything. After my son was born, I found I had a lot of sleepless nights and a disturbing case of depression. Reading speculative fiction helped a lot. And so did journaling about my thoughts. This was the start of my writing journal. I recorded ideas and dreams with the hope to one day conjure enough brainpower to make something magical happen. Being the questionable parent I am, I decided one year to keep my son in daycare a few days even though I was on summer vacation (teacher perk). I took one of my story seeds and wrote a whole novel! It was over 100K words and I was so proud of myself. Of course, it was rejected, because it was really not that good. But four years later, I picked up the idea, changed from first person to third person, renamed the characters and the planets, and let the new story take shape.

I wrote more than 250 pages last year then realized the idea was still not working. So, I stopped. Who were these people I was writing about? Why did they believe what they believed? Why did they not get along with one another?

I decided I needed to write about their ancestors so I could learn more about them. Around this time, I learned about the IWSG Anthology and its perfect theme! I looked into methods for writing short stories and decided to take advantage of the activity to better understand my characters. Even if it was not chosen, I would benefit from the creative process. I went through a few versions. Some were completely epistolary and one was first person narrative. In the end, I found a good combination and shared it with an online beta reading group for teachers. They provided some awesome feedback. More editing, deleting, rearranging, revising, then—STOP! Hitting that submit button was so scary, but I am over the moon with the results!

I am also happy to announce the first draft of the latest version of my novel (let’s call it version 3.4) was completed last week thanks to wonderful online communities like IWSG and a really awesome writing coach who refused to let me give up. I have a very long road ahead to finish revising and editing, but I have high hopes!

"Do or do not. There is no try." -Yoda


Namiu is part of a crew returning to their homeworld after generations aboard a scientific mission transport. Unfortunately, he and his people failed to receive a warm welcome because they were all born with a genetic mutation altering their appearance and their minds. Now he has requested a hearing to plead for citizenship and to warn the others what is coming.


A voice from the council interrupted. “So, we have confirmation that he is the grandchild of these former citizens?” Namiu wondered how much of the debate he tuned out. “Yes.” The councilman who asked the question looked closely at Namiu, studying his unique features—narrow face, eyes with pupils widening from tiny slits to large glowing orbs when the lights dimmed, and ears that angled up. Namiu stiffened but tried to remain composed; happy his distance made it impossible to feel the xenophobic hatred behind the man’s eyes.

“How is this possible then? Is this a condition? Is it curable?” another man asked. He also studied Namiu. The representative sighed and sent a quick note to Namiu saying, “He is too ignorant to understand the impact of his words,” and saying aloud, “Why don’t we skip ahead to the medical reports from the mission log? I'll display those next.” The screen scrolled past several documents and stopped.

Steph Wolmarans is an educator, mother, wife, gardener, beekeeper, and speculative fiction author. Steph has been creating galaxies since she visited Arrakis as a child. Now she envisions worlds, discovers new beings, and spends a lot of time exploring planet Earth with her husband and two small children.

Don't forget, print copies of Dark Matter: Artificial are available for preorder on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and from the publisher, Dancing Lemur Press! eBooks are also available. Release date is May 4, 2021. Two months left to go!

Coming on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 . . . 

Next up will be Tara Tyler, who shares her backstory for “Sentient.