Regine Allison Claire: Author of YA Fiction

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The Flashing Lights of Flash Fiction

Flash fiction.

I read these words and the warning alarms, bells, and whistles start to go off in my head. Probably because writing teensy stories has not been my forté – well, maybe just not my default. Once upon a time, I used to write really short stories … and that was when I was a kid. But when I was about 13, I got it in my head that I wanted to write novels, inspired by one of my favourite authors at the time: Carolyn Keene, responsible for the Nancy Drew mystery series (with warmest thanks to a long list of ghostwriters and publisher, Edward Stratemeyer of Stratemeyer Syndicate). The last time I remember writing something considered flash fiction was when I was 15. Again, for class. Amazingly, these stories were 500 words or less. Except I think that was thanks mostly due to the amount of time we had to craft said stories, which wasn’t very long. It was kind of like pop story-writing: sit down, shut up, and write until told to stop. And I loved it.

But now I find myself knocking on that door again. A new submission call came out this week from my beloved publisher for a few flash fiction anthologies and I’m ready to pounce on them like a strawberry trifle topped with Belgian chocolate. Why? New challenge, that’s why! Well, you know, other than my obsession with writing … but that’s always to be implied.

Yes, I love the challenge. In the last 14 years, I’ve leaned towards writing novels and poetry though I’ve also discovered the joy of novellas. Recently, I’ve been reintroduced to short stories (we’re talking 8,000+ words) and found I haven’t completely lost the ability to write them, either. So, next stop: flash fiction.

In a way, it’s liberating. More than that, it’s a fantastic exercise to keep the writing mind sharp and cleanse the mental palette before launching into longer works (because brace yourselves … there’s a trilogy coming once I get through some smaller projects!)

On further reflection, I think it’s one of the suggestions I’d pass along to aspiring authors and fellow writers: write across the spectrum of length, or at least give it a solid shot. As in 3 times or so before packing it in and deciding what works and what doesn’t. Every length has its own challenges and blessings, with poetry at one end and novel series at the other. Poetry demands brevity and clever word play around imagery, emotions, and other things that draw in the reader. Flash fiction equally demands brevity, though it’s a tad bit more forgiving around the word play but still, you can’t go running off in every direction but pick and choose and cram. Longer short stories and novellas allow for more words, assuming they’re used well, and are great for delving more into characters and landscape. Novels, too, which are perhaps the most forgiving of all – or so I’d say. They still require clear focus and well-pruned language, but there’s a lot to work within the length. Although it’s the length which is one of the most challenging aspects because of the little R word that’s imperative to all storytelling: restraint.

Rest-whaaaaat? I know. It can be a scary word, especially when our characters run off and insist we follow them down the rabbit hole (thanks Lewis Carroll). It’s easy to get carried away when we see “90,000+ words” and the potential it holds. And you know, it’s true for novel series, too. So is the fact that a novel series, while the longest on the spectrum and certainly great fun, is so utterly challenging. It has the added fun of keeping everything straight from one novel to the next which isn’t always easy, as well as making sure it keeps going (but not for the sake of going) while always being fresh and exciting instead of blah and ugh and “Whyyyy?

(And as I’m writing this line and staring at the blog platform, I’m thinking that in our 21st century, all of this is applicable to the art of blog writing. Also a valuable exercise for any author.)


Time to Play in the Pool

So, here I go. This week (also known as “from now to whenever this week apparently ends”) I’m jumping into the flash fiction scene. Of the 5 specific anthologies in the submission call, I’m planning on going for 4: paranormal romance, Hallowe’en/Samhain, Pagan Contemporary, and dark/urban fiction. So far I’ve got ideas for 3 which have been slowly creeping into my head since they were announced.

Thanks to Conjure One‘s “Center of the Sun“, the paranormal romance was the first to pop up. I LOVE that song so, so, so bad; partially because Rhys Fulber is amazing and mostly because Poe (aka Anne Danielewski; aka Jane) is a unique brand of awesomesauce that I’d serve with any meal. I managed to outline the story early this morning between naps so now it’s just a matter of putting the fingers to the keyboard and watching the letters fly. Shape shifter, werewolf, and a human girl. Could be interesting.

The Hallowe’en/Samhain anthology is a bit up in the air right now. My original idea, inspired by the song “A Thousand Years, Pt. 2” by Christina Perri, is bittersweet. To be honest, it’s channeling some of my emotions from losing my mum, who was born on Hallowe’en. Not sure if it’ll stick or not. A bit somber but that’s part of Samhain – not all just fun and games.

Still haven’t figured out the contemporary pagan story yet. Feels like a mental 404 HTTP error (you might recognize this as the “not found” error you get sometimes when trying to access a webpage).

And thanks to catching the first few minutes of the local news last night, I think I’ve got a lead on the dark urban fiction. A terrible story about a boy here in my city: 10 years old, locked up in the master bedroom by his aunt and uncle for an estimated 18 to 24 months (read: 2 years), living on 2 servings of fast food a day in a room with nothing but furniture and access to the bathroom (though there was still bodily waste found in the room). Apparently their kitchen was filthy and they have a 9 year old daughter who went to school, enjoyed freedom, and basically got to be a kid.

It’s one of those moments where I think the Tom Clancy quote can be aptly applied:

The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.

Because, at this point, this real-life story doesn’t make ANY sense. The poor kid. Though there’s hope for him. He apparently had two requests: real food and to go to school, even though he’s never been. Something tells me he’ll pull through this yet.

I have to admit I’m interested to see what happens as police and media question the aunt and uncle and trot them out for their trial. Just what possible reason could they have for locking him up for 2 years, while letting their own daughter run around without the same treatment? There’s always a motive, an impetus, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface.

I don’t know exactly where this little tidbit of inspiration is going to lead, but I’m feeling a pull towards telling a story from this type of darkness, possibly from the POV of a girl in the same situation of the daughter. We’ll see what happens.

But then again, that’s the way of all things, isn’t it?


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Interview with Dianne Lynn Gardner, author of “Dragon Shield”

Dragon Shield at Amazon.


Welcome to an interview with Dianne Lynn Gardner, a fantastic author and artist, as well as one very busy and incredibly awesome lady!

Today’s interview is part of her blog tour for the re-release of her book, Dragon Shield, the second book of her Ian’s Realm Saga.  This re-release comes with a facelift and a new short story among other surprises. And to accompany this interview, Dianne’s provided a great excerpt to get us started on the next part of Ian’s journey.


Will you tell us a bit about Dragon Shield and what inspired you to write it?

Dragon Shield is the second book in the Ian’s Realm Saga. It was actually the first book I drafted, but once the story was written I had so many questions from my beta readers I knew I needed to write a prequel, hence Deception Peak. By the time the first book was written, so much had changed that Dragon Shield was almost entirely revamped aside from the characters, the plot and the theme.

I began the Ian’s Realm Sage to satisfy a need for my grandchildren. I have 9 grandsons and whereas my granddaughters were always reading, the boys were not. I asked them what kind of books they’d like, if they’d like a story about a dragon, and they were excited to be part of the conceptual process. While I painted a 9 ft 3 panel dragon painting, the story evolved.


Can we look forward to seeing more of Abbi and Ian’s father?

Yes. The next story is Rubies and Robbers and concludes the trilogy. Book IV is titled Diary of a Conjurer. That book weaves A Tale of the Four Wizards series into the Realm Saga. Book V is Cassandra’s Castle, and we have a couple of cameo appearances in that one. I’m still working on book VI, Abbott, which in the timeline comes somewhere after Diary but before Cassandra. I plan on doing a book VII but it hasn’t been outlined yet.


In Deception Peak, Ian learned some tough lessons and it’s one of the things I loved most – the “tough love” approach. Should we expect more from this second installment?

Most definitely, even more so in fact. The closer Ian comes to manhood, the tougher it is on him. He has some pretty hefty lessons to learn.


What are your favourite things about Ian? What makes him dear to your heart?

He’s so much like my grandsons. Life isn’t easy even for good people, and we all have flaws in our character. I think growing up, making that transition between child an adult, is the toughest thing people go through. Ian struggles to be a man when he’s still a child. He wants to make the right decisions and yet he stumbles not knowing how. I remember how awkward my coming of age experience was and all the mistakes I made. I feel for him.


Other than Ian, do you have a favourite character in Deception Peak?

Amleth. He was fashioned after someone I know, and I combined his traits with of the honor and just temperament of Native Americans I’ve met.


Are there any lines from Dragon Shield that stick out in your mind – any favourites, perhaps?

Yes. Aren is the one that says it to Ian. The words cut our hero like a knife. His indecisions and lack of backbone revealed him in a less than desirable light in the eyes of the Kaemperns.

 “Integrity isn’t just something you think about doing. Integrity is who you are.”


What is the main message(s) you’d like young readers (and older!) to take from Dragon Shield?

I love the way Shelia Deeth put it in one of her reviews. I’d like to quote if you don’t mind.

“After all, heroes aren’t born, they’re nurtured with wisdom from mistakes, valor from battles, and kindness from pain. Ian learns all these lessons in this book as he steps forward to take his father’s place, and learns there’s a lot more to leading than just saying no to potential followers.”


The re-released editions of Deception Peak and Dragon Shield have short stories about four young wizards. First was Silvio’s story and now, Meneka’s. What inspired you to write these stories?

There’s much more to the Realm than what Ian is seeing in his short time there. There’s legend, and these short stories introduce us to the magic, and conflict that is stirring in the Realm. They are doors to future books as well, and some of them hold little nuggets bout Ian’s story that you wouldn’t see otherwise. I am really glad we’re including them with the novels this time. I’d like everyone to have the chance to read them.


Speaking of inspiration …what inspired you to write YA fiction and what is it that keeps you coming back?

I love teens. I absolutely love them. I feel they are underrated and misunderstood. Like I said, growing up for me had been harder than any other part of life, and more so because of inner conflict. I’m hoping to shine a light in those dark places for young people.


And finally, a really fun question! If you were to write yourself into the story, where would you be and what would you be doing?

I’d be a Kaempern hunting with the guys and living in a yurt, catching the wild steeds from time to time and riding on the beach of Inlet Bay at sunset. 🙂


___ 7on fire

“On Fire” – Painting by Dianne Lynn Gardner in “Dragon Shield”


More about Dragon Shield

“Integrity isn’t something you do, it’s who you are,” Aren tells the confused Ian in  The Dragon Shield. 

Now a young man, Ian returns to the magical Realm to fight against the tyranny that has befallen his friends. But the Realm is a different place, the forest is dying, the Kaemperns have lost the shield that protected them from the dragon, and Ian has a hard time proving his allegiance when trouble follows him through the portal. His struggle to do right buries him in confusion, and he must fight his own will to prove his integrity. The Ian’s Realm Saga is filled with sorcery, wizards, magic, and fantasy adventure, great for young readers and the entire family.


Watch this award-winning trailer on Youtube.

Purchase a copy of Dragon Shield today over at Amazon!




“You’re Kaemperns, aren’t you?”

The man didn’t speak, but Ian recognized the clothing and the men’s complexion as that of the Northern tribe.

He eyed Brad burying his head in the sheepskin. I guess we do look pretty suspicious, if not pathetic.

Ian cleared his throat. “I know we appear to be trespassing, but that’s not really the case. You see I’ve been here before. I know some of your people. If Amleth is still your chief, if he’s still around, please give him a message. Tell him Ian has returned.”

Their eyes grew wide, their faces paled and they exchanged glances.

“You recognize my name, then?”

“We’ve heard the name.”

“Well, that’s good. Amleth has too.”

The men proceeded to unarm him.

“Take that to Amleth,” Ian said, as they took his sheath from his belt. His voice was a bit shakier than he would have liked. “Show him my sword. It’s from a different world. He’ll know it’s mine.”

They took his bow off his shoulder and his quiver from his back.

“There’s not a bow around here that looks like that. Amleth will know where it comes from.” Ian watched with remorse as they gathered his things in their arms. But when they unfastened his armor from around his chest, it was all he could do to hold back his rage.

“This is my Dad’s armor,” he protested.

They said nothing as they unfastened the leather ties and pulled the metal chest guard away. He wanted to lash out at them but held back. If he were going to be accepted, he had to remain calm. This was a test, that’s all. They were testing to see if he was a friend.

Everything will be resolved when I talk to Amleth.

With the weaponry in hand, one of his captors knelt over and picked up the shield that lay by Brad’s bed.

“Hey,” Bran protested and jumped to his feet.

“Brad.” Ian said. His eyes stopped the boy.


Ian shook his head. The man who held the shield asked. “What’s this?” After inspecting the shield, his comrade turned to Ian.

“You’re free to move about in this camp; eat, make a fire and stay warm. But you are under guard, and if you flee, we will find you. A second chance at leniency will be much harder to achieve.”

Ian nodded. “I have no plans of escaping. This is my destination.”

The men stepped out of the yurt with Ian and Brad’s belongings. When their footsteps could no longer be heard, Brad sat up.

“Let’s go,” he said.

Ian frowned at him. “We’re not going anywhere.”

“Are you crazy? We’re prisoners. We have to escape. That’s what prisoners do. You’ve got the remote. Click it and we’ll be gone. They’ll never find us.”

“What are you thinking? This isn’t a game.” Ian said “Is that what you think? That this is some kind of video game or something?”

Brad’s stare was blank.

“I’m here on a mission. Why you’re here is a puzzle I’ve yet to solve. You came here uninvited. You actually have no business being here.”

“It was an accident.”

“Accident? An accident that you were in my house–touching my things?”

Brad just squinted like he didn’t know what Ian was talking about.



More about Dianne, Ian’s Realm and her other works!

The Pacific Northwest is my home. After living in the dry desert of Arizona for over 23 years, I tired of always praying for rain, so I decided to come and get it on my own. Gray skies and deep forests give way to the most glorious summers you could ever imagine. Not to mention the abundance of berries, clams, oysters, salmon, fruits of all kinds, to me the Puget Sound area of Washington is the richest place in the world.

I have seven children, all grown. Sixteen grandchildren that need stories written, and so they are my inspiration.

People always find it fascinating that I lived in a mud house for over 13 years, hauling water from the well in a bucket, cooking on a wood stove, planting blue corn in desert washes, and generally living out of the box. Some of these experiences are tapped into my novels.

My website is You’ll find books, audios, artwork and how our movie production is coming along on that site.


Deception Peak (Book 1 in the Ian’s Realm Saga) is also available at Amazon:

Other books by Dianne:

Altered, published by MKSP, can be purchased from Amazon:




Book Review: Deception Peak (Dianne Lynn Gardner)

Deception Peak by Dianne Lynn Gardner

Deception Peak
by Dianne Lynn Gardner


Are there really such things as Magical Realms? On the other side of your computer screen? For teenager Ian Wilson, his normal life will never be the same.

When a portal magically appears on his computer screen he follows his father through to a deceptively beautiful Realm, where horses run free, the wind sings prophetic melodies, and their computer avatars come to life.Then the two are separated and Ian is abducted by a tribe of dragon worshipers. He must find his courage as he struggles to obtain his freedom.

Will he find his escape?  

Can he find his father and discover the purpose for his magical journey or will his adventure end tragically?

If you enjoy wizards, magic, dragons, an adventure, fantasy and traveling to a different world, you will enjoy Deception Peak! Includes ‘Silvio: A Tale of the Four Wizards’.


My Review

Being a teen is tough – especially when you’re caught up in a world you know nothing about while your dad’s lost somewhere. The challenge of school and every day life will never be the same.

I’ve been excited to read Ian’s story since I first heard about his characters and “Deception Peak” did not disappoint. The story is adventurous and a pleasure to read, painting very real images with both words and beautiful visual art created by the author. I absolutely adore stories that pull you into a character and rumble around in their head with their highs and woes, like the internal struggles and growth Ian experiences. The story has consistent movement with plenty of action the reader gets to experience via Ian.

I enjoyed the contemporary elements and the ties to the real world throughout, making sure it’s never truly astray. Particularly touching is the father-son aspect which draws me in even more because it reminds me of my own family, where my father and brother share an interest in technology and working on projects together. It’s like being home.

The kindness shown by Amleth and others caught my heart, providing a lovely balance to other characters who aren’t as kind. I’m also a sucker for the varying emotions involved in the story, making the characters real like they should be in any great adventure. Sometimes the world is up and sometimes it’s down, but Ian keeps going. He has pluck and courage, yet there is certainly a lot of potential for him to grow! He faces several hefty lessons but his heart is in the right place, all of which is valuable to our youth who are reading and learning about the world and who they can be. I look forward to see how Ian progresses.


Want to read Deception Peak? Purchase it in print from Amazon or get it on Kindle. There’s even an audio version. Or, you can also purchase it in print from Barnes & Noble.


Stay tuned for more about Dianne this week with her exciting re-release of Dragon Shield, the second installment in the Ian’s Realm Saga! On Friday, May 9th, I’ll be posting an interview with the author and more.