My Star Wars story comes out TODAY!


In case you’ve been living under a rock you MAY have missed that the official Star Wars trailer came out yesterday, and in case you have missed me saying it about 500 times since July I WROTE A STAR WARS STORY AND IT CAME OUT TODAY.

Out today – Star Wars Insider #161, featuring the short story “Inbrief” by Janine K. Spendlove, with art by Jose Daniel Cabrera Peña. The story was developed in conjuction with, and approved by, the Lucasfilm Story Group. Today, we have a preview of the art.

Set before the events of Alexander Freed’s upcoming STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT: TWILIGHT COMPANY, The story introduces the secret origin of BRAND, an integral member of Twilight Company who you will meet in the novel.

You can find Star Wars Insider Magazine in stores, or you can subscribe online, via the link below.

(You can also buy a single back issue copy next month if you miss it at book stores this month, here)

SO basically, if you watched the new Star Wars trailer and need a Star Wars fix like NOW, go pick up a copy of the insider and read my story! (then next month pick up a copy of Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed because IT’S AWESOME!)

Now please excuse me while I go watch the Star Wars trailer a hundred more times.

Guest post & book giveaway: SPOILS, by Tammar Stein

I first met Tammar a couple years ago at a DC YA Lit writer’s get together put on by Diana Peterfreund & later I picked up one of Tammar’s books, Spoils, and was immediately sucked in the by the plot. It was so good! So when I found out it was about to be released in paperback, I was like YAY PLEASE COME DO A GUEST POST ON MY BLOG ABOUT IT, and she kindly obliged me. Be sure to stick around to the end as there is a book giveaway!

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1- What inspired you to write Spoils?

On my daily commute, I used to pass the mega millions billboard. Mega Millions starts at 30 million and as people don’t win, it grows from there. I’m not a big gambler, I don’t buy lottery tickets. But somehow, as that number grew, 120 million, 180 million, 220 million, I started to think, Hmmm, maybe I should buy a ticket next time I’m at the gas station. And the silly thing is that as soon as I thought about buying a ticket, the very next thought I had was how I’d spend the money if I won.


There I am, driving with a dreamy look in my eye. I would pay off all loans. I would send my nieces and nephews to college. I would buy out the NPR fundraiser so they don’t keep interrupting their usual programs to ask people for money. I would rent out an entire cruise ship, the ones with 3000 rooms, and I would invite everyone I know, you too, you could totally come, and all my favorite authors, and we would all take a 10 day cruise. How fun would that be? Wouldn’t you love that?


I’m grinning as I’m driving along. But the thing is, I keep thinking about what my life would be like when my bank statement says $10,000,000. So after our really fun vacation, we go back home and then what? I mean, my husband and I quit our jobs, obviously, but all of our friends and family, they’re still working. Is it going to be awkward? Will there start to be some hard feelings? Will people constantly be hitting us up for money? Will we be bored? Are we going to have big fights with our family? The smile slowly faded and dreamy look disappeared..


I did a bit research and it turns out, 80% of millionaire lottery winners are bankrupt within 10 years. And not only are they worse off financially, they are worse in every measurable category. Their physical health has deteriorated, their children are estranged, they usually suffer from depression. Winning the lottery, they say, was the worst thing that happened to them.This is how the idea for SPOILS got started.


SPOILS is about a family in Florida. They are a warm family, not great with money, but holding it together. One day, they win 80 million dollars. Seven years later, there’s nothing left. Their cars have been repossessed, the fancy house is falling apart and in foreclosure. They had given each of their children a million dollars when they won. The youngest was 11 when they won so her million went into a trust fund. It matures when she turns 18, which is a week away when the book opens. Leni is different from the rest of her family. She’s studious, passionate about the environment, and she’s watched how her family has squandered their money and she has big plans for her million. But as her birthday draws closer and she realizes the difficult situation her parents are in, and everyone is watching her. What is she going to do with the money?

  1. What advice do you have to aspiring authors? 

First of all, congratulations! I’m so glad you’re interested in writing. We cannot have too many good books in this world and the only way to get them is to have people like you write them. So, thank you! In my experience the two most important qualities you need to make it as a writer are stubbornness and honesty.

Stubbornness because every part of the writing process can be frustrating as hell. From that blank page, shifty characters and sticky plot lines to the whole publishing aspect which involves lots of rejections and criticism. You just have to accept that this is part of the package, grit your teeth, and keep on going.

Honesty because you can’t lie to yourself about what you’ve got. As hard as you’ve worked on your manuscript, as much as you’re in love with your characters, you have to be honest with yourself about the quality of the writing and the excellence of the story. If it’s not as awesome as you can possibly make it then it means you aren’t finished writing yet. And that’s okay. That’s why you’re stubborn and you won’t give up until it rocks.

Click here for the book giveaway for your copy of Spoils!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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How do you pronounce your name?

Ooo, I’m glad you asked that! It is pronounced Ta-mar. It’s not pronounced ‘Tamer’ (Tamer than what, I wonder when I’m called that.) It’s not pronounced ‘Tamara’ because if it was, my parents would have put an ‘a’ at the end of my name. It’s just Tammar.

On the jacket in your books, it says your dog is bi-lingual. What languages does your dog speak?

She understands English and German. My husband and I adopted her while we were stationed in Germany with the army. She was eleven months old and already trained in German commands. Over time she picked up the English, but when we really want her to listen, we shout in German. It’s very impressive.


Have you always wanted to be a writer?

When I was five I wanted to be a mermaid. By age nine I was slightly more realistic and wanted to be an astronaut–the first woman on Mars. I went through a brief marine biologist phase–ironic given my pathological sea-sickness–before realizing in high school that what I really wanted to do was read for a living. I am addicted to books. I cannot read enough. But I didn’t really see a way to make money reading books, so I decided the next best thing would be to write them.


How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends. Light Years took five years to write. It’s not that I’m such a slow typist. It just took me a while to figure out what makes a good story. What keeps the pace tight, the plot riveting, the characters people that a reader could care about. I revised it about 50 times. Literally, I read and re-wrote each page about 50 separate times. High Dive took almost three years. I wrote an entire draft but it wasn’t very good so I threw it away and started over. Still, High Dive took two years less to write than Light Years which was great. Kindred clocked along at two years, so I’m hoping my speed continues to increase. And if I continue halving my writing time, my seventh book should take about a month and a half to finish. I’ll keep you posted.

My Origins Game Fair schedule June 6&7


ConCarolinas is over (sad) and I had an amazing time – I loved getting to see both old friends and making new ones.

And goodness, it’s already time for Origins!


Due to some Marine Corps obligations I will not be able to attend the first two days or Origins (double sad). :(


That said, here’s what I will be there for:


5:00 PM – Diversity in Speculative Fiction

8:00 PM – Story Hour (with Bryan Young)


11:00 AM – Fan Fiction: Friend or Foe?

12:00 PM – Writing YA and Middle Grade Fiction

Hope to see y’all there!

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As a reminder, my 4th War of the Seasons book is now available!

And in case you still need to get a copy (digital or physical), here’s a list of all the sales channels:



If you’ve read The Heart, mind dropping a review on amazon, goodreads, your blog, or wherever it is you post these sorts of things? Thank you!

Guest post: Eric Bakutis

GlyphbinderCoverForWebsiteI first met Eric Bakutis a couple years ago at a convention. I found him to be pleasant, well spoken, and definitely hungry for people to read his work. My husband and I left with a copy of his first novel, Gylphbinder, and I hope, after reading his best below, you pick up a copy of your own. 

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Using Similes in Speculative Fiction

As an author, I regularly attend critique groups with other writers (like the excellent Baltimore Science Fiction Society Critique Circle, run in downtown Baltimore) and one of the common things I see young writers struggling with is how to effectively use similes in their prose. I hope that by describing how I approach similes in my own writing, I might help other authors do so in their own work.

Speculative fiction is often set in fantastic or unfamiliar worlds, and similes are a great way to quickly explain new concepts to readers and help them visualize your world. They’re also a great way to make otherwise mundane details vivid and memorable (“the heat from the cave was like an open kiln”) vs “the cave was very hot”). However, similes can also hurt your story when you overuse them, or when you use similes that distract your reader. Good similes don’t just compare one thing to another – they compare one thing to another in a way that’s clear to your reader and makes sense within your world.

Often, newer writers get in trouble because they try to be Douglas Adams clever (“the Vogon constructor ships hovered in the air in exactly the way that bricks don’t”) or they’re so anxious to avoid cliches they write similes that seem novel, but actually distract readers (“his brother trembled like an enraged octopus”). Writers may even introduce anachronisms without realizing it (comparing the bang of a magic spell to the sound of a gun firing) and this draws readers out of the world they’ve built.

When discussing when and how to use similes, I’ve had the most success by suggesting writers ask themselves three questions:

1) Do I even need a simile here?

Similes are a great writing tool, but you don’t need to litter your story with them, especially when describing concepts familiar to everyone. We don’t need “He slammed the door like a shutter slamming in the wind” because we all know what slamming a door looks and sounds like. Why waste our reader’s time? By comparison, did your character just feel an alien presence touch their mind? No one knows what that’s like (at least, no one who’s talking!) so a simile is a great way to explain and enhance this detail. The simile “each touch of the alien’s mind was like cold water lapping against her temples” is a great way to both intrigue your reader and explain an otherwise difficult concept.

2) Is my simile familiar to readers and easy to visualize?

UfoThe reason we use similes is to define new concepts for which our readers have no frame of reference, or enhance a mundane detail by comparing it to something evocative. This is why the simile “bobbed like a cork in the sea” is a great way to describe how a flying saucer hovers, but “bounced up and down like a rock on a rubber band” is not. Both similes convey the idea, but the latter requires more work.

As readers, we can easily imagine a cork (wood) bobbing on waves. A rock on a rubber band may pull us out of the book while we struggle to imagine what was just described. How is the rock attached to the rubber band? Why is it bouncing? Now your reader is pondering this while reading your story, which is distracting. Often, young writers are so paranoid about avoiding anything cliche that they drift too far into the realm of novelty, to the point where they might as well use a simile to describe their simile.

3) Does my simile fit within my POV character’s frame of reference?

This is a subtle touch, but it’s one we should always consider as writers. Why is my young, impoverished peasant comparing that red magical glow to light glinting off a ruby? They’ve never even seen a ruby!

Rather than just choosing similes that work for you, personally, choose similes that your POV character would use. Are you writing a sailor? Use similes related to boats, the sea, and fishing. A blacksmith? Use similes related to fire, forges, and metal. A sheltered noble? Use similes related to the feel of silk, the click of heels on marble floors, or the shine of precious jewels.

ColiseumConsidering your POV character’s background when choosing similes is a great way to subtly reinforce who your character is without constantly repeating yourself. Was your current POV character raised as a gladiator in fighting pits? Well of course they’d compare the sound of that stomping Steam Golem to the clamor of a dozen gladiators clapping their swords against their shields. That’s how they’d think about it!

This isn’t to suggest authors should stop and mull over every single simile in their novels – if they do that, they might never finish them! But by internalizing questions like these, I hope you’ll find (as I have) that your writing becomes more effective at conveying unfamiliar concepts and drawing people into your world. You never want to confuse or distract your reader with a simile, or jolt them out of your book with distracting prose. Instead, find similes that make your world easy to understand and visualize.

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ConPicT. Eric Bakutis is an author and game designer living in Maryland. He is happily married and shares his house with a vicious, predatory cat and a sad-faced, cowardly dog. He’s been working as a professional game developer for over six years. The second printing of his first book,Glyphbinder, will be available in March 2015.In his limited spare time, Eric hikes with his lovely wife and crazy dog, plays any video games he can get his hands on, and participates in local events like the Baltimore Science Fiction Society Writer’s Circle (a great group of writers who really know their stuff!) His short fiction has been published in several magazines, and he is constantly writing and tweaking new short stories. His second novel, Demonkin, is coming in late 2015.


My Schedule for ConCarolinas


Hey all! I’m super excited to be at ConCarolinas once again this year & I’ve got my schedule for you below:



2:30 pm – Creating Characters That Work

4:00 pm – Portraying War in Fantasy

7:00 pm – Writing in a Shared World


10:00 am – Sci-Fi Storytime

12:00 pm – Jane Austen in the 20th Century

1:00 pm – Stereotypes

4:00 pm – Do I Need A Writing Group?

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As a reminder, my 4th War of the Seasons book is now available!

And in case you still need to get a copy (digital or physical), here’s a list of all the sales channels:



If you’ve read The Heart, mind dropping a review on amazon, goodreads, your blog, or wherever it is you post these sorts of things? Thank you!

War of the Seasons, book 4: The Heart, available now!


Hey all! I’ve been super re-miss in posting that War of the Seasons, book 4: The Heart is available now!

And I’m super excited! My author copies arrived, and they are soooooo pretty!



And in case you still need to get a copy (digital or physical), here’s a list of all the sales channels:


Happy book birthday & thank you Kelli for the wonderful job of putting this book together. <3



If you’ve read The Heart, mind dropping a review on amazon, goodreads, your blog, or wherever it is you post these sorts of things? Thank you!

New book by Rori Shay: SUSPECTED

Suspected banner

suspected-1-revised 8-24-14-large-2Suspected (The Elected series #2)

By Rori Shay

East Country upheld the laws. Mid destroyed them.

In the year 2185 Earth is rebuilding after a global eco-crisis. Countries maintain complete isolation so there is no warfare over scarce resources. One Elected family is chosen to lead each country for 100 years to ensure stability. Women aren’t allowed to take office and must reproduce at all costs. Technology use of any kind is banned to preserve what’s left of the environment.

And yet, I’m my country’s Elected. I’ve just sanctioned technology use to ready us for war. I’m about to cross the border to spy on our neighbor. And…I’m a girl. Shhhhhh…..

You can find Suspected on Goodreads:

You can buy Suspected here:

– Silence in the Library:


– Barnes & Noble:

– Kobo:

– Smashwords:

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I had the fantastic privilege of reading the first draft of Suspected, and, much like the first book in the series, Elected, it kept me up late into the night reading it. I could not put it down! Rori Shay has created a remarkable and believable dystopian world here and pushes her characters to their absolute limit. I love this series so much that I offered to write a tie in story as a stretch goal for it’s kickstarter as a stretch goal. Alas, we never reached the goal, but perhaps for book 3…

Elected-cover-webFirst book in the series:

Elected (The Elected series #1)

By Rori Shay

It’s the year 2185, and in two weeks, Aloy will turn eighteen and take her father’s place as president of the country. But to do so, she must masquerade as a boy to avoid violating the Eco-Accords, four treaties designed to bring the world back from the brink of environmental extinction. Aloy hopes to govern like her father, but she is inheriting a different country. The long concealed Technology Faction is stepping out of the shadows, and as turmoil grows within her country, cryptic threats also arrive from beyond their borders.

As she struggles to lead, Aloy maintains her cover by marrying a woman, meanwhile battling feelings for the boy who knows her secret—the boy who is somehow connected to her country’s recent upheaval. When assassination attempts add to the turmoil, Aloy doesn’t know whom to trust. She understood leadership required sacrifice. She just didn’t realize the sacrifice might be her life.

You can find Elected on Goodreads:

You can buy Elected here:

-Silence in the Library:

– Amazon:

– Barnes & Noble:

– Kobo:

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RoriRori Shay

Rori Shay is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She lives with her husband, kids, and two proficient hair-shedders: Misch the cat and Gerry the 90-lb black lab. Rori studied public relations and marketing at the University of Maryland and received an MBA from George Washington University. She enjoys travelling, running, reading, pumpkin-picking, and snow-shoeing!

Twitter: @RoriShay
Facebook: RoriShayWrites
Goodreads: Rori Shay

War of the Seasons: book 4, pre-order now!


Over the past few years as my War of the Seasons novels have come out I’ve often been asked, why, if there are 4 seasons, was it only going to be a trilogy? I usually smiled and said something along the lines of “Because Story’s story will be done at the end of the third book.” I’d only ever envisioned a trilogy for her.

WOTS1AltCover4But that doesn’t mean I was done with the War of the Seasons universe – no, not by a long shot.

Along the way I’ve written several short stories about many of the side characters you’ve grown familiar with, Story’s parents, Josh, Queen Eánna, and many others, and I always intended to collect them all together in one volume… The 4th War of the Seasons book.

But don’t worry, it’s not just a bunch of short stories you may have already read, but also lots of new content, primarily an all new novella about our favorite devious faerie prince, Morrigann, in a prequel story that takes place 1500 years before The Human: 

The elf queen motioned from the two Seasons back to the elf by her side. “This is Ealis. She will accompany the Spring Prince on his journey and assist him as needed.”

WOTS2AltCover“What?” Morrigann’s jaw dropped and he tore his gaze from Ealis back to the Summer Queen. “What journey?”

His mother silenced him with a simple look. “A half-blood has been found.”

Turning back to the mage, the Spring Prince found her meeting his gaze steadily, almost with a note of challenge. Her silver eyes, while maintaining the typical elvish aloofness Morrigann had come to expect over the years, narrowed as she glared, actually glared at him.

“Mother, I must object. I am the Lord of the Spring! Bringer of life. If I cannot recover a simple half-blood on my own—”

“This is no simple half-blood.” 

But it doesn’t stop there – there are also several great stories by Maggie Allen, Cleolinda Jones, Bryan Young, Albin Johnson, and one of Aaron Allston’s final stories.

WOTS3AltCoverTable of Contents for War of the Seasons, book 4: The Heart. All stories written by me unless otherwise noted.
1. A Kiss to Build a Dream On (approximately 1500 years before War of the Seasons, book 1: The Human)
2. Girl (approximately 18 years before War of the Seasons, book 1: The Human)
3. Mother, by Albin Johnson (approximately 5 years before War of the Seasons, book 1: The Human)
4. Elements (both during the events of War of the Seasons, book 1: The Human, and several hundred years prior)
5. White Flag (both during the events of War of the Seasons, book 1: The Human, and several decades prior)
6. More Than This, by Cleolinda Jones (during the events of War of the Seasons, book 1: The Human)
7. Why, by Maggie Allen (both during the events of War of the Seasons, book 2: The Half-blood and several decades prior)
8. The World Spins Madly On (during the events of War of the Seasons, book 2: The Half-blood)
9. Fire and Rain (during the events of both War of the Seasons, book 1: The Human War of the Seasons, book 2: The Half-blood)
10. Dust in the Wind, by Bryan Young (during the events of War of the Seasons, book 3: The HunterI)
11. Sunshine Girl, by Aaron Allston & Janine K. Spendlove (several decades after War of the Seasons, book 3: The HunterI)
So there you have it – that’s how War of the Seasons is a 4 book trilogy. Want your own copy of War of the Seasons, book 4: The Heart? You can pre-order it now here
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15301854-256-k562551In other news, my flight school memoirs, Earning My Wings, won an award! You can read it for free here:

My MystiCon schedule


Hey all, popping in to tell you my MystiCon schedule and a couple other things.

MystiCon is coming & they only have 50 badges before they sell out, so eeeeeee if you plan on going don’t wait!

Where I’ll be:

Saturday: 4pm: Raising the Next Generation of Geeks5pm: Signing Table A

6pm: Guilty Pleasures (like your fave terrible movies & whatnot – GET YOUR MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER)

8pm: Author Readings

10pm: Broad Universe rapid fire readings

Sunday: 9am: Look Out! It’s the Headless Horseman!
And yes, I will have all my books with me in case you need to pick up a copy.
See you there!
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And in other news, I’ve got another kickstarter
YA 2015 books
I know you have a lot of questions (such as how I can have a 4th book in a trilogy) and I promise the answers are coming, but until then, you can support the Kickstarter for FREE by taking 30 seconds to sign up for the Thunderclap here. You’ll be able to pre-order the book February 16th. (The link will be live then).

My Farpoint schedule


Hey all, popping in to tell you my Farpoint schedule and a few other things.

Farpoint is this weekend, and I’m SUPER excited! Hope I can see y’all there!

Friday: Farpoint Book Fair, 10:00 PM
Saturday: Autographs (Michael Dougherty, David Alan Mack, Janine K. Spendlove), 1:00 PM
Author Readings (Daniel Patrick Corcoran, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Janine K. Spendlove), 5:00 PM
Sunday: How to Write Military Science Fiction, 3:00 PM
And yes, I will have all my books with me in case you need to pick up a copy, as should several of the book sellers in the dealers room.
See you there!
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And in other news, I’ve got another kickstarter coming up…
YA 2015 books
I know you have a lot of questions (such as how I can have a 4th book in a trilogy) and I promise the answers are coming, but until then, you can support the Kickstarter for FREE by taking 30 seconds to sign up for the Thunderclap here. You’ll be able to pre-order the book February 16th. I’ll post a link then!