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A promise made (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Carla Bicomong


Flames danced, alive and desperate. Already consuming the very thing that gave it form. The light frame bucked in my fingers, desperate to take off. I forced it into submission. Waiting my turn. Watching the offerings of the ones who came before.

Tears and deep breaths, utterings and murmured promises.

I gave mine up with no ceremony. Mine was not a gift. Not a prayer. Not a life.

Mine was full of hate. I did make a promise though. Vengeance would come.


The next day I left. All of my savings given for purchase off world. The hunt was on.



This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word Count: 100


© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.


Review: Blackbird Road by James L. Weaver

Review: Blackbird Road by James L. Weaver (Jack Caldwell book 3)

About the Book

With his wedding day fast approaching and his PI boss heading out of town, ex-mob enforcer Jake Caldwell decides to take one more job before a much needed vacation. But in a matter of days, his client is assassinated and her six-year-old son kidnapped.

With just a few clues, Jake calls on old friends to help track down the person responsible. Only this time his fiancée Maggie, desperate for Jake to leave his violent history behind, can’t guarantee she’ll be there when, or if, he comes home.

But Jake can’t turn his back on those who need him. It’s in his blood.

A perilous plot of lies and secrets unfolds, and Jake encounters criminals more brutal than ever. And when a threat to thousands of innocent lives is uncovered, Jake once again dives back into his past, requesting favors from some unexpected and unsavory contacts.

Jake needs to stay one step ahead of the bad guys if he’s to have any future at all.

The third book in the award-winning JAKE CALDWELL series is an intense, complex, and frantic race against time. Weaver has done it again in this raw and riveting read set in the Ozarks.


My Thoughts

You know how they say book 3 in a series may not be the star… Well if somebody ever said it, it is wrong about Blackbird Road. A brilliant book 3 in a series that just keeps getting better and better. An adult thriller that noir action/organised crime buffs will love.

Jake Caldwell is back. So is Bear and a number of terrific supporting characters.

Blackbird Road is a gripping thriller full of action, mystery, death, and an investigation that follows two feuding Russian mob killers that is a mix of Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne and an earthier, grittier James Bond and the final showdown is unexpected and brilliantly executed. Brutal action and violent mob deaths seem to follow Jake Caldwell… and it seems as though he cannot stay away. Though his wedding is coming up, finding the killer of the woman he promised to protect and rescuing her missing son take all of his focus.

There is an emotional depth to Jake Caldwell that is missing from the classic Bond books. Caldwell is driven by memories of his violent father and the need to protect the helpless and domestically abused. He is also trying to atone for his past violence… which adds an emotional twist to a character who is not black or white but fairly grey.

I love Jake and Bear working together… such a great team with the history that allows for rude insults as they go after the bad guys together. I just want to see more of these two in action.

I think this is one of my current favorite series to read.

Blackbird Road is available for pre-order and you need to get onto these if you haven’t read book one and two. (Because when the movies come out – and Producers YOU HAVE to get onto this – they will be the sort of blockbusters every action lover will enjoy.)


My review of Book One can be read here

My review of Book two can be read here

Day in, day out (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette Prior


It was the story of one man’s life. Staring at the coffee table, I wanted to hurl. The stench alone burrowed into my nose… into my brain. I feared I’d never get it out.

“Demon scum.”

My partner’s voice drew my gaze to the door. He stood shaking his head. “Hey, some respect for the dead, huh?” I admonished.

He sneered. “You should see the summoning circle. Creep deserved what he got.”


I turned. Paramedic held a sealed baggie. A clue? Had we caught a break at last? I hated this job, but some days… it was worth it.


This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word Count: 100


© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Booking Rates and Details

Australian Bookings Only

Unfortunately, I currently work full time and in order to be available for Speaking Engagements

I need to take time off work.


Which means I have to charge for speaking engagements.

And as much as I would love to – I cannot currently visit international locations.

(However, I can do Skype Engagements and workshops – please contact me for further details)

Please contact me via my email for a quote.

Australian Booking Details
64 302 544 184
Minimum Booking                      AUD
Introduction Session – About the Author
Journey: The Butterfly Stone (Includes Q&A session)
1 x 20-30 Mins  (Quote)
Add on – workshops (Large or small groups)
Workshop – Components of a Story*. (Can be tailored to short or longer pieces as required) 1 x 90 Mins (Quote)
Workshop – Components of a Story*. (Can be tailored to short or longer pieces as required) 1 x 45 Mins (Quote)
Workshop – Components of a Story*. (Can be tailored to short or longer pieces as required) 1 x 30 Mins (Quote)
Not currently registered for GST
Topics can include:
* Characterisation
* Show Don’t Tell
* Genre
* Tension/Pace (Action vs non-action, slow vs fast,sentence structure)
* Stakes (Emotional Drivers – or make me care)
* Introduction/Conclusion
Content of workshops can be altered depending on class requirements – contact Laurie Bell to discuss
Skype sessions can be organised – Please email for further details:
Please note: Rates exclude Travel Costs

Review: Daughters of Forgotten Light by Sean Grigsby

About the Book – Adult Sci Fi

A floating prison is home to Earth’s unwanted people, where they are forgotten… but not yet dead, in this wild science fiction adventure

Deep space penal colony Oubliette, population: scum. Lena “Horror” Horowitz leads the Daughters of Forgotten Light, one of three vicious gangs fighting for survival on Oubliette. Their fragile truce is shaken when a new shipment arrives from Earth carrying a fresh batch of prisoners and supplies to squabble over. But the delivery includes two new surprises: a drone, and a baby. Earth Senator Linda Dolfuse wants evidence of the bloodthirsty gangs to justify the government finally eradicating the wasters dumped on Oubliette. There’s only one problem: the baby in the drone’s video may be hers.

My thoughts


This is a mad, bad, dangerous dystopian adult scif fi that is, at times, hard to handle. What I mean by that is that as you read it, you wonder… can this happen and the frightful answer is YES. Full of violence and anger, this is a book about the darkness that sits in us all, and what is created when government gives people an “easy” way to limit population growth and get rid of criminals at the same time. By sending them (problems) away – out of sight, out of mind. And it’s all completely legal.

The women – girls – the unwilling, and sometimes innocent Forgotten Ones are sent to another planet on a one way trip to hell. Because it is hell. A hell where you fight to survive and to survive is to become Death itself. Limited, unpalatable food, no rules and no authority turns girls into monsters. And yet… they are still capable of love and are even able to form unbreakable bonds by joining, of all things, motorcycle gangs.

I had a strong taste of Mad Max- Fury Road (with a twist of Water World.) A multi POV story full of strong, remarkable, dangerous women.

This is a dark, bitter hit of reality that exposes the what if… What if we were thrown away, discarded like trash and forgotten? What would we do to survive?

A brilliantly written book by Sean Grigsby with an end you won’t see coming.  A gripping tale with deadly, dangerous, powerful female characters who are impossible to forget. Pre-order it now.

Be Brave (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio


Bethze crept closer, wrapping her hand around a blade of grass. Shaking her shoulders, she drew her wings in tight against her back. Couldn’t see or hear the monster. She crawled between the long waving fronds wanting to see the porch. That’s what the big people call it. A Porch. Funny name.

She wriggled enough to peer toward the mirror-like glass door.

“Woof woof woof!”

“Eeep!” Bethze fell back onto her butt. “Monster!”

The sniffing grew. A wet black nose appeared. “Yip!” The head disappeared. She followed it and grinned at the long tongue and wagging tail. “Awww, cute monster.”



This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word count: 100


© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.



Home is your castle (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook


“A’right… it ain’t much to look at, but it’s me home and ya can jist keep ya opinions to yaself!”

“Come on Gramps.”

“I jist sayin!”

“All right, all right. Grab your trolley. Let’s keep moving.”

Joel eyed his patch next to the yellow rose. With a sigh he turned back to the old gnome. It was impossible to keep an eye on him all the way down here. “You can’t let the humans see you moving.”

“Ah, theys don’t see nuthin.”

A shadow moved. “Shhhhh,” Joel snapped, freezing in place.

“The garden gnome twitched, love.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, dear.”




This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word Count: 100


© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.


The best part about a novel, a movie or a TV show is characterisation. The best shows/books have characters I desperately want to know more about. They have characters who act in a consistent manner. Ones that you, as the reader/watcher, know before they act what they are likely to do. Which is why a plot can then surprise us… because something happens to that forces them to act out of the ordinary to restore the status quo.

The more you know about a character the more realistic they appear on screen or in a book.

A good way to do this is to use a Character Questionnaire – I have been given, seen and used many examples of checklists or interviews or briefs about getting to know your characters. There are plenty to find on the internet. 🙂

All are great, and all help you clarify what you know about your character.

Use whatever helps you to understand your characters better.

I have been using a mix of questions. It helps me to work out WHY my character might think a certain way and therefore act a certain way.

Not only about their appearance (Which obviously you need to figure out and keep consistent – because its no good have a character who’s height changes from scene to scene…)

But also…

  • What do they do when they are bored?
  • What do they prefer to watch on TV/ see at the movies/ read in a book?
  • Who are their friends (and how do they treat each other)?
  • Who are their family (and how do they treat each other)?
  • How do they react to extreme emotion (like excitement, anger, temptation, anxiety, fear)?
  • What are three most memorable moments from their childhood (and why?)
  • If they find money on the street… how do they react?
  • If they lose their job… how do they react?

Yeah, none of these answers may come up in the movie or book. But the writer knows the answers. They help to make a character feel REAL.

So create more questions…

I find, it really helps to get inside the character’s brain and learn how they tick. How do they make decisions? Why do they do what they do when they do it?



Using the above questions/ or questions of your own… Interview a character from a story (or movie) you already know.


Using the above questions/ or questions of your own… Interview a character from a book/play/script you are writing right now. You can imagine you are a late night talk show host, or day time talk show host if it helps 🙂



Plotting – better known as Writing an Outline.

Ugh! Okay, so this one is really up to the individual writer. Everyone plots differently and I am no exception.

So I’ll just go through what works for me.



BOOM… yes, an idea hits you out of the blue and you just know it’s going to make a great story. Unicorns in a school setting… Oh! I would read it, who wouldn’t want to read it? It’s genius (example only).

So… what happens next.

Write it down…

There is nothing worse than getting that great idea in the middle of the night, or in the shower, or walking to your car and then by the time you decide to get it down… poof! Its gone. Use your phone, or the back of a napkin/receipt, notebook, whatever. But get it down.


So… You’ve got a great idea… Unicorns at school… but what now?


This is different for everyone. But I flesh it out using a ONE PAGE outline… Who/Where/When and What happens. Simple, short, one line notes.

1. Who is the story about. (Betsy the Unicorn, is a foal starting preschool. )

2. What is their life like. (An only child, she is the star in her unicorn family’s world. The Princess so to speak.) What does she want? (She wants to be the most special one ever.)

3. What happens to disrupt their life.  What stops her from getting what she wants? (Betsy finds out she is not special. There are twelve unicorn foals in her class – and each one can do something she can’t.)

4. And then… (Betsy also finds out she is getting a little sister/brother.)

5. And… (Betsy’s mean Auntie is coming to stay.)

6. So then… (Betsy runs away.) Remember something keeps stopping her from getting what she wants…

7. But… (Betsy makes some new friends – Jeremy the Pidgin and Mary the mouse – and discovers that just because you are like everyone else, you are still special. Betsy is reminded that she is now going to be the older sibling, and will need to protect her little sister/brother.)

8. So then… (Betsy returns home with new found strength to find everyone was very worried and that she is still loved.)

9. In the end… (Betsy announces she loves school, that EVERYONE is special and that she can’t wait to be a Big Sister.)


So, that’s a very basic outline. (This will change so I’m not super protective of it being perfect.)

Then I group everything up. The first three plot points will all happen very quickly (space of one chapter).

The rest will make up the body of the story. Each point needs more of a breakdown, adding action, tension, emotional moments… I might use Post It notes or a notebook. You could also do a little interview with each character or write a “life brief” to flesh out more details about each one of your characters.


Then I Write…

After a few chapters, I come back to my outline… am I on track or do I need a new direction…

So far Betsy might have witnessed her parents fighting, experienced a bully at school, made a friend who betrays her… so, will the new sibling idea still work? Yes but the nasty Aunt wont fit anymore… So I re-plot and take her out… and then keep writing.

After a few more chapters, re-plot again if needed.

And so on…


But of course, that just works for me. You might have the perfect plot fully formed, with chapter headings and detailed notes on what happens at every point. You might only have the Idea and not much else. It doesn’t matter. Whatever works for you… Work it.



Using the above outline… Write out a simple plot on one page.

Then do another one, and another.

Now you have three stories plotted… Wow… Go you little writer thing you!


I can’t wait to read them 🙂

Review: Butterfly Blood by Rebecca Carpenter

About the Book


“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized. 

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood. 

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies. 

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment? 

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

My Thoughts

Bethany’s recovery is only just beginning with her move to her Aunt’s home in Florida. This time we also journey with Jeremiah, who is undergoing his own transformation. Still, their love for each other keeps them fighting – against all the odds.

Medicine and the medical profession are not Bethany’s friends… But it may be the only way she can stay alive.

Another fabulous story from Rebecca Carpenter. The twists and turns in this sequel took me by surprise and kept me guessing until the end. The dual POV kept me hooked, and I wanted – no – needed to keep reading. Just when Bethany thinks her life is changing for the better, her body betrays her again. And not just her body this time, the people around her too.

But her butterflies are watching.

Jeremiah is going through his own version of hell. His body and his mind are fighting for control, and its a battle he may not win.

And those pesky butterflies keep watching him…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book two, and raced through reading it. Rebecca has built a fascinating world and engaging protagonists. New secondary characters had me guessing as to their motivations. I’m looking forward to the next installment.


You can read my review on book one here

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