Tag Archives: storytelling

The Charlatan (Fantasy Flash Fiction)

“Excuse me, kind sirs. Could I have a moment of your time?” A plump gnome woman approached a table with three half orcs clad in leather armor. Cradled in her arms were three cork-topped bottles filled with burnt orange liquid. The opal ring on her finger winked at the weary adventurers. “I’m selling home brewed health potions.”

The group exchanged looks, grunting and crossing their arms. “100 gold for the whole lot.”

A sigh in surrender as she glanced over her shoulder. “Well, I didn’t want to say anything but… See that fellow over there?” Stationed at the lonely table near the tavern door was a figure wearing a dark cloak and a crow like mask. He appeared entranced by the lute playing bard across the room.

The trio of warriors leaned closer, now intrigued. Her tragic tale of woe began. “Would you believe it, a bolt of lightening set his house on fire. Left his face severely burned and hideous scarred.” After setting all three vials on the table, she dabbed the corner of her eye with a handkerchief. “100 gold per bottle would greatly help him get back on his feet.” Her offer was coated with a honey sweet voice.

Coins clattered onto the table.

Hooking her arm in the crook of his elbow, the two strolled into a secluded alleyway, embracing the shadows. “Severely burned and hideously scarred,” He mocked while he counted the coins in the pouch. “You really laid it on thick this time, Poet. Those poor fools.” His cape enveloped her, eyes faintly glowing silver behind glass windows. Autumn leaves skittered across cobblestone streets.

For a brief moment, the opal ring shimmered. Her entire body transformed. A sly grin spread across burgundy lips as she snickered like a conniving witch. Lavender painted her skin. On both sides of her head, ram horns curled. No longer a mere gnome, but a roughish Tiefling.

“The world is built on poor fools.” Poet kissed the beak of his mask, her devilish tail swishing like a pendulum. “Come along, Endymion. We need to make a new batch of Poppy flower tea.” With her masked companion trailing behind, the charlatan disappeared into the night.

“On to the next town.”

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Since our DnD is suspended until further notice, I decided to write this short story inspired by the game and our characters. And it’s based one of my prompts of the week. Stay safe and stay healthy out there, everyone.

Lady Jabberwocky

Pen Name VS. Real Name: The Great Writer Debate

Hello writer bees!

So, lately, I’ve noticed a heated debate within the writing community. When you finally publish a story, should you use your real name or a pen name? For aspiring authors, it’s a tough question. Have no fear, I’m here to help!

Today, I’m taking a look at the pros and cons of both sides of the argument, to help you decide what name will be printed on your book cover.

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Pros of a Pen Name

  • The power on anonymity: Some people find freedom in using a new moniker. And If you are sharing a personal life story, you can keep it private. Your boss and your church friends won’t have any idea.
  • Choose a more ‘writerly’ name: Create a memorable, eye catching name that suits the genre you are writing in. Pen names give you a chance to give yourself the name you’ve always wanted.
  • Dip your toe in multiple genres. Be fluid and experiment in various genres with multiple personas. And if you fail to sell enough books, simply reinvent yourself.

Cons of a Pen Name

  • Difficult Marketing: It’s harder to spread the word on your book under a nom de plume. Keeping your true identity a secret may hurt your book promoting process.
  • Struggle with building an author-reader connection. And it takes some time for the name to gain recognition.
  • Establishing a brand new persona. With a pen name, you may have to balance a double life. That might mean managing multiple social media accounts and writer websites etc.

Authors That Used Pen Names

  • J.K. Rowling (Joanne Rowling)
  • Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • Lewis Carrol (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
  • Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel)
  • Stan Lee ( Stanley Martin Lieber)

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Pros of Using Your Real Name

  • Pride: That’s your name on the cover of the book. Sweet success belongs to you. Some writers dream about seeing their name in a bookstore. It’s a major accomplishment.
  • Easier to promote your work with your real name. Friends, family members, neighbors etc. will know it’s you. And you can do more local promos as well.
  • One name, one identity. No need to manage multiple social media accounts or author websites. Also, forget the hassle or confusion of a fake moniker. Readers and business associates know how to address you.

Cons of Using Your Real Name

  • Your name may sound similar to another famous name. That might cause confusion to readers.
  • You may have a forgettable or fairly common name. (Shout out to the John Smiths of the world.)
  • You are writing within a genre where books written by the opposite gender sell better. Unfortunately, sexism against authors is real.

Would you use a pen name or your real name when you publish a book? And what’s your take on nom de plumes? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Prompt of the Week: Invent a Plant

“On the first day of Spring, a newly bloomed plant is discovered, never seen before in nature…..”

Invent a plant.


Little Shop of Horrors fans, I’m looking at you.

Write your response in the comments below. Best entry gets a shout out next week!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky


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To the Teacher Made Me a Writer

In the spirit of International Women’s day, I’ve decided to take a sentimental stroll down memory lane today. Let me tell you the story of the teacher who made me a writer and changed my life.

So Back in High School….

Let me give you an mental image of the kind of kid I was in school. An average B student. Definitely not one of the cool girls. I was awkward and lanky and a total mess. And I had no idea what I would do with the rest of my life.

In Freshman year, I wrote my first fictional story and discovered I actually liked writing. English was my favorite subject. Here was the problem. In my personal life, there was no one to encourage me to pursue my talent, nor acknowledgement that I even had a talent.

Until I Met this Teacher

For now, let’s call her Miss J. She was my English teacher in both my Freshman year and my Senior year. And she saw the potential in me that I didn’t even know existed.

Miss J was a kind and lovely person. She introduced me to literature that initially inspired me to write. Works like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘Of Mice and Men’ And Greek Mythology. The first story I ever wrote was probably in her class.

Speaking of Mythology, towards the end of Freshman year, my high school wanted to remove Greek Mythology from the curriculum and planned on throw away a bunch of books away. The horror. Before they were tossed in the garbage, she gave me one of those books. Torn and tattered, it will always remain on my bookshelf.

Struggles with Self Esteem

This one time, we were assigned to write a scene inspired by Hamlet, the play we were reading at the time. I was so excited that I worked extra hard on this two page script. Even researched authentic Shakespearean language. After I handed it in, my teacher was genuinely impressed and asked if she could read it to the whole class. I told her ‘no’.

And even today, I still regret that decision. See, my confidence was under the floorboards at the time. I was incredibly self conscious, and felt like I was rubbing my great story in everyone’s face, and then everyone would hate me. “No, no, it isn’t that great. Surely, my work isn’t the best in the class.”

Man, some days, I wish I had a time machine and could tell my younger self to not be afraid of showing my talent. That being awesome at something won’t belittle others. And honestly, I still struggle a little with that low self esteem logic today.

One of her many sweet notes.

Words of Encouragement

In my Senior year, Miss J asked us to write journal entries, which she would read. I was still nervous about others reading my writing. To break from that fear, I decided to just be funny. My journal was filled with my (embarrassing) humorous observations, kind of like what you see on the blog today. And she loved them.

So, I kept writing. She said I had a natural talent as a writer and that I had a quirky voice. Thank goodness for that quirkiness. I was amazed and humbled and happy. My silly scribbles made someone laugh. Nothing was more fulfilling. Miss J wrote me these encouraging notes, pushing me to pursue a career as a writer. I still have those notes. The most touching note from her is scrawled in my yearbook, hoping that the next time she hears my name, it’s because I’d have won the Pulitzer prize. (Insert tears here.)

Her note in my yearbook, from 2011.

To a wonderful teacher, I’d like to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know where I’d be right now if it wasn’t for your encouragement. You inspired me to pursue creative writing and made me the writer I am today. And you also inspired me to start this blog, where my quirkiness has room to roam and where I can encourage other writers to write their story.


[This is a repost, but an important post, nonetheless.]

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Stop the Presses (Short Story)

You know, if the school wanted to foster a love of writing and journalism among the students, they’d have given us a nicer room for the school newspaper.

The musty smell of that room still lingers on my coat. A dark, dreary janitor closet of a room with murky windows. File cabinets, cramped desks and windows that were stuck shut. Oh and a coffee machine that only produced mud flavored water. What a inspiring, creative place it was.

Only three of us students ran the school newspaper. That week, two were out sick with mono that they contracted from each other. And our supervising teacher had a meeting with their divorce lawyer.

I, Bianca Pellegrini, had to singlehanded write, edit, proofread, publish the entire ‘Sullivan Spectrum’ newspaper before the impending deadline. And I refused to miss a deadline. Thank goodness nothing interesting ever happened around here.

There was a knock on the door. No one ever knocked on that door.

By Thursday, the mountain of stress and my foul mood reached it’s peak. You really shouldn’t meet the love of your life in such a state.

With frizzled curls tied into a messy bun and raccoon bags under my eyes, I stalked over to open said door. And there he was. Picture handsome and humbleness wrapped in a theater kid package. Tobias Bernard.

“Can I help you?”

An earnest smile greeted me. How dare he. “Hey, I’m Toby B-“

“Oh I know who you are.” A proper journalist needed to know who’s who. “Your sister made the front page last week.” How could I forget that cover story? A picture of a “artistically defaced” statue and his sister Kimber with paint on her hands. Literally caught red handed.

An amused smirk played on his lips as he scratched the back of his head.”Yeah, that’s my sister. Don’t hold it against me.”

“Actually, that old statue needs a pop of color.” We shared an awkward laugh. “Did you need something?”

Without an invitation, he waltzed himself in the room. “Bianca, right?” I nodded as his hand rifled inside his backpack. “You wrote the review for the school musical.” From his backpack, he pulled out a rolled up, crumpled newspaper. “I need you to change it.”

Crossing my arms, my brows knitted together. Excuse me?

A bit hesitant and bashful, Toby continued. “See, my friend was the lead. And there were some… Critical things written and she’s been crying about it for days.” He offered me the newspaper, to see for myself, but I didn’t bite.

“It’s called being honest.”

“You called her mediocre.”

“I called her singing mediocre.” I corrected. Trust me, mediocre was an understatement. “Besides, I can’t reprint my review. I’d lose credibility.” Definitely couldn’t lose my credibility. I slumped back in my seat behind my desk. “Sorry about your friend, but there’s nothing I can do.”

After a brief stalemate, he conceded. With a deep sigh, his shoulders shrugged. “Well, It was worth a shot.” His fingers idly lingered on my mug of coffee, peering inside with a grimace.

Snatching the mug from his grasp and turning back to the computer, I began working on the next article. A half baked piece about the prom’s unoriginal theme, under the sea. Drown me already. I thought he would leave, but he didn’t. His eyes glanced around the empty room. “Wait, are you working on the paper by yourself?”

“Yep.” I grumbled before sipping my coffee, which no longer tasted like sludge but like a fancy, overpriced espresso. Little did I know, that was the first sign of his “magical talent”.

Toby leaned against the desk, tossing me a skeptical yet intrigued look. “But you’re only a freshman.”

Okay, make that one big gulp of coffee. “Bottom of the totem pole. I know. Gotta work my way up.”

As it turned out, we kept talking until free period was over. All thoughts of stress and deadlines lifted off my shoulders. The conversation was oddly comfortable. Toby had brought me a welcomed break, I’d say. Talk about stop the presses. I told him about my plans for my own column next year. He asked what I’d write about.

“Paranormal investigation.” Unusual subject matter, I understand. Ever since I was a kid, I chased the things that go bump in the night. Stories of witches and ghosts and aliens caught my interest.

His once relaxed demeanor grew tense. He shifted away from me, rubbing his arm. Trying to play it smooth, a magic he had yet to learn. “That’s pretty cool.”

The bell rang and we parted ways.

“We should hang out sometime.”

“Yeah, maybe we should.”

As he walked away, he sent me a wink. Corny fool. But that corny fool eventually became my boyfriend. Who was the fool now?

“Lemme know if you find any witches, Bianca Pellegrini.”

3 Tips on Writing the Love Interest

Happy Valentine’s Day, Writer Bees and Bugs!

Love is in the air, even in fiction. No matter the genre, a love interest can add complexity and conflict to any story. If your MC is feeling the love, then check out these helpful tips on creating a character’s sweetheart.

Experiment with Chemistry

Love at first sight doesn’t make for an interesting story. Maybe attraction at first sight, sure. For the most part, feelings must develop gradually, not instantly. No matter what stage in the relationship, take the time to build up and explore that chemistry. A great lover could become an even greater foil for another character.

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Also, keep in mind the kind of relationships your characters would pursue. What’s their sexual preference? Are they interested in one night stands and flings? Or are they looking for a serious relationship? OR are they even looking for love in the first place? These factors will dictate how their romantic relationship lives and breathes over the course of the story.

Flaws, Glorious Flaws

Look, how many hot billionaires with six packs are there in the world? Seriously? Don’t create a character that is the ideal partner. Give them flaws. Real flaws. Consider physical and/or personality quirks. Are they short and stubborn? Are they pessimistic with a crooked nose? Be creative but be careful making a completely unlikeable character. Find that balance.

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A romantic interest shouldn’t just be a cookie cutter person. They must be able to stand on their own, as a complete character. Their entire world cannot revolve around another person. Whether the love interest is a main character or a side character, at the end of the day, readers want complex, relatable characters.

The Big Bad Conflict

No romance is perfect. Every couple has their struggles. With an internal or external battle, conflict is needed so things aren’t so lovey-dovey. Maybe one is afraid of commitment? Or are outside forces (society, race, war etc.) are straining their bond? Give the couple obstacles that they can (or cannot) overcome together.

Try tying the their conflict to the overall plot line, that way, the relationship won’t seem forced or out of place. Set the stakes high to ensure the problem is meaningful enough to the characters. Like a problem bigger than leaving the toilet seat up.

Bottom line, love isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, and that’s a good thing. Embrace those imperfections and write a real romance.


How do you guys write love interests? Any tips? Talk to me in the comments. And Happy Valentine’s day everybody!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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