2020 – Fire and Ink

Fire Award Finalist

I’ve learned to celebrate the small victories in life, which seem even more pronounced in the midst of a global pandemic. Today, I’m exceptionally appreciative to the staff and judges of the 2020 Fire Award Speculative Fiction Novel Competition for progressing my fantasy manuscript “Sook” to the final round. The idea of the main character, BRIKKA ARDENSOOK, came to me several years ago. She has several quirky character traits shared by my two (real life) teenage daughters. Sook has been a fun character to explore.

I’ve often heard authors lament about their “writing journey”. The highs and lows. Thrills and tears. I get it now and I’m thankful for my village of people who have kept me writing: The Circle Girls, a group of fellow authors who encourage, pray, and keep me real. Kelly and Deb my editor and beta reader respectively who are my faithful friends and literary cheerleaders.

I’m loving this journey and thankful for the experience, growth, and God’s grace.

The Fire Award Winners for Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Other Speculative will be announced in September.


To slay or ride your dragon? That is the question.

I believe in dragons.

dragon-sara c anderson

There, I’ve said it. Think of me what you will, I don’t care because I’ve seen plenty of dragons slayed over the years. Those that weren’t destroyed, I learned to ride.

How do we tell the difference between the tolerable dragons and the evil ones?

First, you need a trusted manual to rely on so you can properly identify and classify the dragons in your life. Dragons disguise themselves in various ways: Sickness, financial debt, unemployment, abandonment, self-doubt, betrayal, and my personal favorite—failure. That’s the short list. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks with your own fire-breathing-enemy that has left you broken and gasping for air.

I mentioned that failure was one of my personal dragons. That’s a beast that loves to knock me down and sit on me. All two tons of suffocating bulk  planted flat on my chest ready to spew fire in my face if I dare get up again. If a particular dragon in my life won’t go away…I’ve realized that’s the time to saddle up and ride! Some dragons, like my failure-beast, have a purpose. Here’s how I’m learning to tame him: Find a wise teacher, pray, and read. My preferred dragon-handbook of choice is the Bible. Yep, the Holy Bible, it’s been tested for authenticity and accuracy  more than any dragon slaying book ever written.

The Old Testament tells us a few things about dragons. They can be…

  • Poisonous (Deuteronomy 32:33)
  • Powerful (Isaiah 27:1)

Many dragons are actually easy to identify. They destroy lives and leave a wake of poverty, disease, and death. It’s the alluring ones that are more insidious. Pretty, shiny things that are meant to distract while they destroy. We all have them.

God has assured me that He will not permit me to be attacked with any trials or temptations that are too overwhelming for me to handle (1 Corinthians 10 12-13). So, how do I slay the dragons in my life that obviously cannot be tamed? I don’t. It’s not my job. But there is a dragon-slaying-sword-of-light and a mighty God who can wield it. I love how the Bible creates such powerful imagery. Ezekiel 21: 9-10  says,

…‘A sword, a sword sharpened

And also polished!

‘Sharpened to make a slaughter,

Polished to flash like lightning!’

Yes! That’s what I need. A sword that flashes like a bolt of lightning. Evil dragons don’t stand a chance. Man, I wish I had a lightning sword. I don’t. But, God does and He promises to fight the dragons for me.

God will take care of the slaying. I’m just along for the ride. I’m good with that.

Talking about our dragons can be tough. I get it. You don’t have to share in detail, but I’d love to know I’m not alone here. Please, leave a comment and let me know if you’re a dragon rider too. Thanks for reading.

(No @#%! Language Please) Summer Clean Reads for Tweens and Teens

adult architecture blonde casual
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Summer time for teens = eventual boredom. It’s a fact. Look it up.

Summer time for me = READ MORE BOOKS!

I don’t age-discriminate when I read. Most of the books my children (now ages 14 and 17) have read over the years, I’ve read too. Thankfully they share my love for fiction. Years ago, while they blasted through the Harry Potter series, I was right there with them…actually I was leading the charge!

As a parent, one of my biggest pet-peeves is the use of profanity in books that are marketed to teens. What’s the point in that? A good story doesn’t need curse words peppered throughout the plot. And, in my opinion, a good writer should go the extra mile to help the reader feel an emotion through descriptive writing rather than throwing in a four-letter-word to make a character seem angry or scared. Or better yet, make up some brand-new words to evoke emotion. Using profanity is a cheap and lazy way to tell a story.

When I find entertaining clean-reads I like to share them. I appreciate authors who write amazing and family-friendly stories. For this summer, I’ve put together a book list for both boys and girls called Summer Clean Reads. Every few weeks I’ll email your family a new list broken down into two different categories for boys and girls ages 12-17.

I’ve read all the books on the list—they are mom approved!

Fill out the information below and click the Submit button to receive my Summer Clean Reads lists. Starting June 1 – August 31 you will receive a new list every few weeks.

Happy reading!

You are What You Read (Yesterday, I was a lightning-wielding-warrior.)

adult blur books close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You know that comforting and familiar feeling you have when you’re with “your people”? They get you. You get them.

When I step into a room full of writers, I can feel it—the air sizzles with energy.  Extraordinary minds ready to burst with new ideas and untold stories. Writers are burdened in a good way. They have an overwhelming need to absorb (read – we like to call this research) and share new ideas (write).

However, there have been several encounters with my fellow-word-nerds that have left me puzzled. Conversations that have gone something like this:

“What do you write?”

I say, “Speculative fiction.”

“Really? Is that like science fiction?”

“Not necessarily. I actually prefer fantasy and contemporary fiction, but they all fall under the same speculative-genre umbrella.”

“Oh. I’m a non-fiction writer. I don’t read fiction.”

What! “You never read fiction?”

“Not really.”


At this point in the conversation confusion descends upon me like a thick fog. My brain can’t comprehend someone who doesn’t explore new worlds through fiction. Ever.

Don’t get me wrong, I read non-fiction all the time, but it’s usually for historical research, some type of self-help or fitness book, or  devotionals.

I can’t for the life of me figure out how someone can live day-in and day-out and not exercise their imaginations by getting lost in a great story.

I think it’s okay to have a little childish fun. Leave this world for a few hours and explore new ones. C.S. Lewis  (Author of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) said, “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

That day should be today.

Here is a book I’ve recently read by Lindsay A. Franklin called The Story Peddler. It is an uplifting and fantastically fun read! Take a break from the busyness of life and get  lost for a while in a fantasy land.


*** I’d love to hear from you. Please, share your favorite books. What were you yesterday?

Went shopping and bought a… Bloggling?

Everyone: “Sara, you need a blog.”

Me: “Why? They’re so needy. I don’t have time for a blog in my life.”

Everyone: “You’ll never get where you want to go without one. And, you’ll never find your way to the Plat—”

Me: “Don’t say that word! I hate that word.” My arms break out into hives. I scratch at the raised pink welts and say, “Perfect. Now I’m itching.”

Everyone: “What’s wrong? Don’t you want to go to the Platf—”

Me: “Stop! Don’t say it. Okay, I’ll get a blog.” The incessant itch spreads to my neck.  “Where do I even go to get a blog?”

Everyone: “Blog-Smart is the best place for beginners. They even have spring sales for the newly hatched blogglings.

Me: Sigh. “Fine.”


My eyelids squint against incandescent light that bounces off the white floor tiles. I crane my neck to view the signs in order to find the right aisle. I read to myself, “Starter-blog-kits, blog food, blog-map to the Platfo—”

“Welcome, to Blog-Smart. How can I help you today?”

I don’t want to be rude, so I force a smile. “Hi, I want to look at your blogs.”

“Wonderful! Do you want to adopt a mature blog or are you interested in a bloggling?” She reaches into the deep front pocket of her apple-green apron and hands me a coupon. “We have a sale on bloggling kits this month.”

“I’m not sure. I hadn’t thought about adopting. What’s the difference?”

“It’s easier if I show you. Let’s start in aisle seven.” She sets a brisk pace past several kiosks stacked with high-quality-organic-blog-treats.

I follow and the moment we turn down aisle seven I jerk to a stop. The shelves are lined with cages of various sizes. The smallest would fit in the palm of my hand. The largest could comfortably hold a large cat. Regardless of cage size, the inhabitants share similar characteristics. Dull eyes glare at me from withered and malnourished bodies.

I shuffle back a few steps.

“Don’t be afraid. These were once thriving blogs. Circumstances out of their control brought them to this state.” She pokes her finger between the bars of silver cage and rubs the flesh colored creature under what I imagine used to be a chin. Now, the poor thing looks like a miniature version of Jabba the Hutt.

“I, um—I don’t think these blogs are for me.”

“No? Okay, let’s go to aisle eleven.”

With averted eyes, I follow behind my guide and force myself to focus on her scuffed shoes.

Compared to the previous aisle, this one is a circus. Tiny blogglings, each the size of a thumbnail, flip, flop, and spring about in their cages.

“We received this batch this morning. They’re excited to get started on their blogging journey.”

I bend down and watch a yellow fury bloggling climb to the top of its cage and do a back flip.

Its neighbor runs in circles then every so often flops down and kicks tiny feet in the air.

“Why are they so hyper?”

She shrugs. “Most American blogs start out this way. They settle down after a few months.” She busies her self for a moment and re-arranges a few cages. “Are you interested in an imported blog? We have a few in stock.”

I shrug.

On tip-toes she reaches to the top shelf and lowers a small pink cage. “Here, this one arrived last week.”

I steady the cage on my open palms and observe a petite bloggling who sits cross-legged. Curious sea-green eyes peer at me. She blinks and long lashes threaten to tangle.

I read the name on the plaque: Agata Blog (Greek for pure blog). “Agata. I like that.”

“We call her Aggie Blog. She’s a curious little thing. But, calm too.”

“I like calm.”

Aggie and I study each other.

“Any idea what kind of blog she’ll grow into?”

My Blog-Smart guide answers, “No, that’s up to you and little Aggie.”

I slide my finger between the bars.

Aggie blinks but doesn’t move.

I trace the single curl of silver hair that spouts out of the top her head and cascades over her shoulder.

She leans her head into my touch and closes her eyelids.

“Okay, I’ll take her.”

“Excellent. I have a few forms for you fill out. We’ll need to register Agata Blog and then you’ll be all set. Don’t forget. She’ll need to be fed at least 5,000 words for the first few months. New blogglings have a high metabolism. Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging.” Her smile seems genuine enough. She studies me a few more seconds. “I assume, like many blog owners, you want little Aggie to help you reach Platfo­—”

I scratch my neck. “Yes, of course, but not right away. For now, we’ll just get to know one another.” I take Aggie out of her cage. She is so light-footed I don’t feel a thing when she dances up my arm and rests in the crook of my neck and shoulder. “Okay, Aggie. Let’s see what you and I can do.”


To be continued…


For all you bloggers out there, what tips can you share about the care and feeding of your blog?