Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Follow Me to New Adventures!


After much debate, I am switching blog sites. 

As I get more serious about turning my writing hobby into a career, I'm also looking for ways to streamline my internet visibility. Wordpress offers me a few more options than Blogspot, so (after they bribed me with lots of promises of chocolate and other yumminess), I decided to make the transition.

If you wish (and I really hope you do), would you hop on over to:

and click on the little button at the bottom of the page that says, "Follow Tamara Shoemaker, YA Fantasy Author."

I even wrote my first blog entry on the site, which you'll find on the right-hand side of the page. Looking forward to seeing you over there!

Lots of love!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Girl-Next-Door vs. . . . Burnt Muffins?

My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to add a gladiator. Whaaaaaat? 

It took all my creative powers, plus an excess of caffeine, and a little head-to-desk thumping, but I finally managed something. Here are TWO stories, widely varied, based on the prompt.

Sorry, No Breakfast Today, Kids

The scarred muffins shatter charcoal across the counter as I dump them from the pan. Their blackened tops are cracked; white, mealy breading peers through the fissures.

I’ve spent an hour and a half waging a losing war,
Encumbered by heavy odds that thicken as the batter swirls beneath the whisk.
The range ticks past the required temperature, and all my efforts to forestall it fall short.

Flour, sugar, baking powder, salt,
Roil and stir and swirl and shake—
I throw up a shield to block the flour that explodes in my face,
spearing the blueberries as they tumble from the box,
purpling the counter in splashes of dewy blood,
their stains evidence of the battle that rages in my kitchen.

Like a mystified kitten, I poke at the recipe,
batting fluffs of white flour from my nose,
scrambling after a runaway egg,

Until at last, the sodden mess slumps into the tins,
And I turn away to survey the remains of the battle,
the field of warfare dotted with chocolate-pasted spoons
and icing-crusted toothpicks.

I toss my spatula to the counter, where it clatters across the burned muffins
In a last, ragged, dying gasp.

I apologize for the above. ;) It was . . . fun to come up with, though.

Next attempt, and a whole 'nother animal.
Over the Fence
The yard next door is empty until your family moves in.
The “for sale” sign tumbles, and the picket fence whitens.
Flowers line the porch, and the front windows light at night like laughing eyes. 

The crisp autumn evenings echo with shouts, leathery thumps refracting from the glove on your hand as you pound your fist into it, waiting for your dad to toss the ball.

The heated steam of summer bakes your bronzed legs. An open book nestles below your shaded eyes while the blazing sun roasts above.

In winter, your parka fluffs around your pinked cheeks like the warm fuzz of a kitten’s fur, and your blue eyes snap with cold and fun.

They think they know you, the girl-next-door.
Button-cute, they say.
Daddy’s girl, they say.
Tom-boy, they say.

They don’t have my vantage point from beyond the fence.
They don’t see the losing battle where you’re alone in your field,
Arrayed with useless weapons
And harmless nets,
A dull spear
And a cracked shield.

The cancer spreads like warm blood,
Soaking your cells with poison and dulling the warrior’s glint in your eyes,

So that one day I wake up,
And the yard next door is empty.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The End

What a gorgeous picture that invites so much imagination! I'm judging this week, so my participation in the Flash! Friday contest is completely ineligible, but I couldn't resist at least posting an attempt at a story.

Story element to include: "A Fleeting Moment." Here's my attempt:

The End

You see the way it should have been.

The breath-taking portrait of happily-ever-after
Shatters painfully beneath the black-and-white photograph of what-is-now.

You are my soulmate, you should have said. You are the other half of me.
But the words hang empty, bereft of breath,
Deflated before they are even uttered.

A thousand reasons teeter on the edge of the silence,
Crowding in, pressing my thoughts into a whirl
Of panicked need.

It takes only a moment,
One second of shrinking courage,
One fleeting gasp of meeting-eyes,
And it is over.

All the excuses you could offer her,
She can foil with the other side.
For all your beginnings,
She can weave the ends.
The story is already written.
There is nothing left to do.

You should have had the courage to tell her then.
But you didn't.

You should have begged.
But you didn't.

You should have done anything but what you did.
Instead, you stare at her as she slowly shakes her head.
When she turns from you,
You rotate the other way,

Two backs, facing each other,
Two directions, opposite sides of the same picture.

Just . . .
Mirrored reflections in the rain.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In Which You Discover A SuperHero

My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to include a superhero in a story, using this photo as a prompt.

Here's my heroic attempt:


Mirror, mirror,
What do you see?
Scars and pockets,
When looking at me?
A twisted nose that’s broken twice
Sagging jawline, eyes of ice?
Lips that hide a chipped, black tooth—
One dark loner in a beer-stained booth—
Freckles that dot a sun-burned face,
Flesh and flab and sweat and trace,
Feeble or fat, heavy or thin,
You think you know what lies within.
Your smooth face reflects with glee
Every foible that you see.
All you show is lines of dust,
Black, dark windows covered with rust.
No one sees, not even you,
The superhero that hides from view.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In Which I Rid the World of Willie Wonka

Thanks, Mark King, for my nomination for the Liebster Award! I thought this looked like fun, and I was right.

What the Liebster Award is about: a blog introduction, and a way to get to know each other better.

It consists of 11 Random Facts about Yours Truly,

And 11 Answers to (Crazy Hard) Questions from the Nominator (in this case, Mark King),

And 11 New Questions posed to Three New Individuals (watch out, you're next).

11 Random Facts:

1.) I met royalty once. He looked like Pop-Eye the Sailor Man. I didn't find out that he was the king until I had already shaken his hand and moved on. Somehow, I've always regretted not doing something different, dropping a curtsey or something, even though I was wearing jeans. I mean, he was the king!

2.) I have a burning, intense dislike for licorice. It is a vile, foul invention that deserves incinerating in the blackest of kiln-fires.

3.)The only sport I'm remotely interested in is Quidditch. Though I have been known to watch the Super Bowl because the commercials are hilarious, the Stanley Cup finals because I want my husband to think I rock, and the World Cup, because soccer. Obvs. ;)

4.) I would rather endure the pain of labor and delivery than have a sore throat. Honestly. Yes, I did just type that.

5.) I cannot listen to a Jack-In-The-Box musical toy without jumping when I hear the "POP goes the weasel" even though I KNOW it's coming.

6.) I love to crochet and I love to play the piano, but I find it hard to do both because of stupid arthritis. Let it be known that 35 is too young for arthritis. I'm signing a petition to protest.

7.) I have a permanent indentation on my left wrist because I wore a watch there day and night from the time I was 7 until I was 34.

8.) I wrote my first book on a dare from my husband.

9.) Secretly, on the days when I need to pull out my mommy-as-ninja skills, I pretend I'm Katniss Everdeen. 'Cause she pretty much rocks.

10.) The only "pets" I own are two goldfish named Bubble and Toasty, and with whom I find it hard to emotionally connect in any way. So that, when they die, there will be no tears and a very short funeral that will consist of one flush and a trip to the Great Septic Tank Up Yonder.

11.) My favorite timeless classic song: "Great is Thy Faithfulness." Makes me cry like a baby every single time.

11 Answers to Questions from Mark A. King (aka Valentino): 

1.) You are allowed to invite ten people to dinner. You can choose anyone from any point in time. Who do you choose and why?

Rather than choose all ten from one point in time, I'd love to see the centuries and ideas come together over fried chicken and mashed 'taters. Jane Austen would keep up a running commentary on the social ambivalence of breadcrumbs combined with meat (the two would NEVER mesh). Dickens would go on and on and ON about the morality of the butcher and the chicken both (it was the best of times, it was the worst of times). Rowling would try to turn her fork into the core of Phoenix feather, hair of unicorn and Avada Kedavra the chicken, because she thinks it needs a bit more cooking. Lincoln would look morosely over the meal and stroke his beard, because he looks SO distinguished when he does that. I would try to keep Bronte away from the butcher knife; she keeps sneaking over to the cabinet to grab it. Suzanne Collins shows up late at the door with a bow and a quiver full of arrows, and she keeps eyeing my kids suspiciously. I send them to their rooms. Richard Armitage broods in the corner, but I let him, because he's SUCH an enhancement to my dreary dining room. Emma Thompson engages Austen in conversation, and I am thoroughly impressed with their repartee. C.S. Lewis keeps scribbling about wardrobes on the napkins I've just freshly laundered, and Tolkein sits beside him, muttering some Elvish blessing over the mashed potatoes. Po-Tay-Toes.

I survey the table and the guests, and then remember that I forgot to add a vegetable.

2.) Who is your favorite villain from a fictional book? Explain why.

I'm going to twist the term “villain” just a bit. One of my favorite books to read is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and the reason why is the character of Edward Fairfax Rochester. My husband hates the man, because he is SO horrible—keeping his (*spoiler*) INSANE WIFE in the attic for years while at the same time, romancing his governess. But I love the man, because on the other side of him is such a tortured human soul that only wants love in its truest form, and who of us cannot identify with that? Often, in stories, the villain will be an insidious, evil being with very little to redeem him or her, but in this book, the good, the bad, and the ugly are all rolled into one, and I love how true to life that is. Very few villains are ever born with a black heart. 

3.) Please pick a story from someone you know that you wish you had written. Provide a link (so we can enjoy it). Explain why you've chosen it.

Must it be someone I know? I have lots of author friends, and they've all written excellent stories, but the one story that keeps tugging on the edges of my jealousy, that I WISH I had thought of first is by someone I have never met. How to Train Your Dragon. (

Not only is it an entertaining movie for kids and adults both, but there is such an arc of character development/action and plot/imagination in it. A father-son conflict resolves, a young romance blossoms, an unusual best friend relationship rocks the story, the musical score is phenomenal, and the action at the end is so intense and well-planned. It took a master story-teller to come up with it.


4.) Please pick a character from any story you have written and think about the actor/actress you'd like to play them. Explain your choice.

In the first Young Adult fantasy trilogy I wrote, one of my favorite characters is Professor Manderly Manders. He serves as a humble, somewhat dusty teacher of Elementals (people that can wield the four elements), but he's also a kick-booty hero behind the scenes. When I first started writing the trilogy, I went to for inspiration for the characters. The only person I could see filling the role to perfection was Robert Downey, Jr.

I think Mr. Downey is booked for the present, though. It's not likely he'd consider an offer from me. ;)

5.) Do you prefer print books or ebooks?

Print books. I have a very visceral memory of my mom reading books to my brother and me when we were kids, and the way the page crinkled when she turned it and the smell of the yellowed paper brings back a lot of nostalgia every time I open a book. Kindle will never replace it.

6.) Name a writer that you admire that lacks the recognition they deserve.

Mark A. King. ;) Although I think he's got a brilliant future.

7.) Please state your favorite first line, last line and mind-blowing line from a book.

All in one book? Or from three different books? I have many favorite books and many favorite lines. These are just a sampling.

My favorite first line: (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Oh, the promise of that line. Exquisite.

My favorite last line: (Gone with the Wind) “I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all . . . tomorrow is another day.” What a succinct and complete wrap-up of an incredibly long book. :)

Favorite mind-blowing line: (Jane Eyre) “I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh; - it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal, - as we are!” What a statement – equality (particularly in a society where wealth or lack of it dictated societal standing), and the absolute passion that pours from this line! Shivers!!!

8.) Please rewrite the ending to a film where the ending annoyed you.

One of my favorite escapist movies is an '80's flick called Girls Just Want To Have Fun. It's mindless, it's fun, it's a movie about dance, and there's so much big hair in it. But the ending is so annoying. Main girl, main guy win their dance contest against evil female and her stooge, main girl's best friend gets her dream job for absolutely no reason, main girl's dad overlooks everything and forgives his daughter for her blatant insubordination and gives her a thumbs up, etc. etc.

In reality, of course, the main characters should still win the contest, but a little depth of character from the surrounding cast would have been nice. A reason for the best friend's job besides being in the right place at the right time. A touching talk between father and daughter, maybe. Some lessons learned, perhaps a little less rebellion next time.

But I suppose the movie would be less mindless, and some thinking would be necessary if they changed it. So . . . oh well.

9.) Remove a character and make a film or book better (you're not allowed to pick Jar Jar Binks, far too obvious)

I would remove all the characters from the original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I would also remove the sets, the costumes, the actors, and the story. Then everything would be much better.

10.) How much time do you spend a week on writing, reading and tweeting?

My daily schedule is predictable. In the mornings, I get household tasks done, intermingled with making sure my kids are entertained. Lunch. Then bedtime/quiet time for the munchkins, while I write. That lasts about two hours, but I write fast, so I get a lot done during that time. Late nights also work for me – after the kids are in bed, and I've spent some time with my husband, I'll take my laptop off by myself and write some more. Facebook/Twitter, etc. are interspersed throughout the day in the odd seconds that I get a moment. And I always, without fail, read a chapter of a book before I go to sleep, usually around 12 or 1 in the morning.

11.) We catch up with you this time next year, this time in five years and ten years – tell us what you've been up to.

I'd like to say that the only difference will be a few more gray hairs, children and a husband who have aged the appropriate amount of time, and a few more books on my bookshelf. I've learned, though, that once you get a little comfortable, and you relax a little, life has a way of throwing you a curveball. Or ten.

But whatever curveballs come my way, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to do what I do, to be who I am, and to know who I know. I know the time will be richer the longer I carry on. And that makes me happy.

11 New Questions for my Three Nominations:

  1. What would you say that other people say is your best talent?

  2. What is your favorite genre to read and why?

  3. If you could take the place of any hero/heroine in any book/movie, what would it be, and why?

  4. Who's your favorite? Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Armitage, Colin Firth, Martin Freeman, Gerard Butler? Why? And if you hate all of them, explain yourself (because there is no excuse). ;)

  5. Who's your favorite? Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emma Thompson? Why? And same as above, if you hate all of them, explain yourself. :)

  6. Pretend you're making up a new language. What would be the phrase for: “You steal my heart.” Tell me your process.

  7. Explain why The Princess Bride is one of the greatest movies of all time.

  8. What is your go-to activity when you're bored/unhappy/sad? Why?

  9. Tolkein or Lewis? Why?

  10. Favorite mythical creature? Why?

  11. What was your favorite childhood story? What was so fascinating about it?

    3 New Nominations:
    Margaret Locke
    Rebekah Postupak
    Deb Foy

Friday, December 12, 2014


Something about a single glass of wine. A hundred stories played in my mind. I chose two:

It is the distortion that I do not see.

It wavers, offset, unbalanced, against a backdrop of perfection,
Deep hues blending one into another like the shift of twilight into dusk into night.

Beauty spills from the scene, and peace, the scent of
And tranquility.
Fingers lacing my hand,
A casual brush of my hair behind my ear.

So that when you smile, I don’t even notice the cracks in the smooth granite,
The weeds in the white lilies,
The scorpion that hides in the sand.

When you look at me with the familiar smile-creases,
When you lean in for our mutual touch,
When you raise your glass in toast to me,

I never notice the poison that swills the wine.
It sinks deep, unnoticed, into the purple liquid.

And on top, on the shimmering surface,
The picture tilts.

And try number two:

One glass of wine is a lonely thing.

If you bring another, place it next to mine, we can gaze outward, toward the sunset, a steady nearness warming our skins. Laughter might fill the air, the occasional witticism. 

Perhaps you enjoy golf.
Perhaps I adore opera.
Perhaps a can of Campbell’s tomato soup is next door to heaven, in your opinion.
Perhaps I inform you that it most certainly is not.

Perhaps we sit in our chairs and chart a course through the stars that is woven of dreams and memories and wishes that never came to pass, yet. We plan the future and take it by storm. We are powerful, we are masters, we are kings and queens in our own right.

And then the darkness seeps in and the clouds cover the stars.
I return my gaze to the glass on the railing.

One glass of wine is a lonely thing.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Coming of Age With a Red Umbrella

This week's Flash Fiction prompt was stunningly beautiful, and that red umbrella held so many possibilities. The most difficult part of the assignment was picking which direction I wanted to take the prompt. Below is the pic, and my task was to include something about coming of age. Scroll down to see my measly attempts:

Beautiful, isn't it?

Here's attempt number one:


They are coming, they are coming,
The things that pass us by.
The choices and decisions
That made my parents cry.

Now the cards are mine to deal,
Mine to shape and mold,
And nothing in this great wide sea,
Can cause me now to fold.

I cowered ‘neath the umbrella
Of my parents careful shade,
Terrified lest I should feel
The rain on my parade.

How many times they told me,
“Girl, it’s not a simple task.
Life’s not a platter with a cake,
And all you do is ask.

“It’s working hard and dancing well,
And living day to day,
And when the sun sets at the end,
You must be on your way.

“Be honest, humble, kind and sweet,
Let all your heart shine through.
And when we’re gone, you just may find
You’ll shade others, too.”

It's one of my rare, rhyming, rhythmic attempts at poetry, but I liked how the message played out in it.
Take number two is a bit darker, in which I feature a victim of abuse, and her escape to freedom:


You grasp his hand, turning it palm-up, tracing your fingers over the lines that map the last eighteen years. It hurts, you know?

The bruises those hands have caused, blue fingerprints against soft flesh.
The pain those hands have inflicted, hard yanks behind drawn shades.
The screams those hands have smothered, molded iron against terrified lips.

You don’t say anything; you don’t have to. He would know, in the silence, what you would have said yesterday. 

Yesterday, when you packed your bags.
Yesterday, when you still feared death.
Yesterday, when the state viewed you as a child.

Today, you grasp his hand, the final goodbye, close his staring eyes, and march your way out of his room to the open door. The rain spatters across the steps, a thousand fountains of silver.

You square your shoulders, open your umbrella, and face the ocean of possibilities.