I’ve said it before, but I pull a tarot card on Sundays as a part of my planning for the week. Just one card to interpret.
For Christmas, my lovely son-in-law had a very special gift he’d been eager to give me. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, he’d say, “I saw it, and I just knew it was perfect for you!” When we opened our Christmas presents, he watched to see me unwrap it. As soon as I did, I wore the biggest smile because he’d totally nailed it. He’d found this box of Next Generation tarot cards, which combine my love of woo-woo with my nerdy love for Star Trek.
So, I’m not sure how useful they’ll be in the future (I think they’ll likely sit in my curio cabinet with me Star Wars figures), but I shuffled them this morning and pulled just one card, and…
I couldn’t believe it! Out of 78 cards—Worf! Swear-to-God, hand-on-my-heart, WORF! I could’ve pulled the three bars of latinum (Star Trek currency), and it’s just a picture of three gold bars, and I don’t know what I would’ve “read” from looking at the card—but I got Worf!
So, as always, I concentrate on the card itself—what the picture tells me. Worf is naturally the card of Strength. Worf is a warrior, through and through, with a strict code of honor that he adheres to. When he loves, whether friend, family, or lover, he goes all in and he’ll always have your back. When he engages in a conflict, he’s not going in with diplomacy in mind, he’s going to kick ass. So, for me, this week, I’m going in to kick ass!
I checked the accompanying book to see what it had to say, and basically, I will overcome all kinds of obstacles with my indomitable will. Check
Which is exactly what I hope for. I began last week roaring in on my New Year’s ambitions. However, by Wednesday, I was sick with a virus—hacking cough, headaches, runny nose. Not COVID! I did a home test, and then the doctor did one on Friday. Now, I’ve got a mountain of pills to take to kick the infection. I’m hoping today is the last day I’m dragging ass, and that I’m going to “Worf it” this week!
Do you love it when something cool like that happens? Some lucky draw of the card or something just falls into place like it’s supposed to?
Middle school. Are there two words in the English language that can bring out cringing more than those two? Well, maybe, “gym class”—especially gym class while in middle school. Seriously, how did I have the guts to wear shorts in middle school? There hasn’t been another time in my life when I felt more judged, more criticized, and more uneasy about myself than those middle school years.
It didn’t help that I was one of the tallest girls in my class and one of the girls who much preferred watching soap operas, reading, and daydreaming while writing little story ideas down in my notebooks. Being a creative kid has come a long way in the last few years, but let me tell you in my small town it was seen as weird. Playing sports was normal, writing and telling people you wanted to be an author when you grew up sounded weird, and I was constantly told it would be impossible. And I felt pushed to conform. To be more like the other kids. Even the music I liked was different. I was still listening to George Michael long after he had stopped putting new music out for a while. So, while the others were listening to what was new and cool, I was listening to my pop star boyfriend and writing down story ideas.
However, my preteen angst has a happy ending as those story ideas ended up into a series about a girl dating her favorite pop star and all the anxious moments that go along with it (The Cecily Taylor Series). But even more importantly is that the angsty, cringey, middle school moments that brought me to my knees also gave me story ideas. I took the characters I created in the sixth grade (Landry) and her cooler friends (Devon, Peyton, Ashanti, and India) and merged them with the real-life mean girl issues and growing pains I dealt with back then to create my first book, True Colors, which became the first book in the Landry’s True Colors Series.
All the embarrassing and difficult moments of middle school with doubting yourself, bullying, mean girls, understanding what frenemies are and how to deal with it, and crushes just all came together to create books that I hope will help readers know they are not alone in going through the same things. I also get a lot of messages from parents, aunts, and grandparents saying the topics bring up healthy discussions that get the readers to speak up about those difficult topics. I know I stayed quiet and retreated into books to help me deal with things.
Funny enough, my dad was a middle school assistant principal who I now realize was sharing his stories with me to help me through things without making it obvious. I should have known the way he brought up school dances and his own vivid memories of having shyness attacks at his own school dances.
I’m currently updating and relaunching the Landry’s True Colors Series and I can’t wait for the next group of readers to discover it. I have reading guides for each chapter and am looking forward to helping more readers feel less alone out there. To date, the Landry’s True Colors Series has won three Readers Favorite awards for best preteen books and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Landry in Like is also a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient.
I hope you enjoy reading about Landry as she navigates through middle school. I’m including a photo of me back then with Sun In which gave my normally dark brown hair a lovely burnt umber look. Enjoy!
Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. Her work includes YA contemporary, middle grade fiction, and adult and young adult rom-coms. She received her BA in English and master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Michigan-Flint.
Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today,The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on Living Dayton.
Last year wasn’t my most prolific writing year—that’s for sure. However, I did have several releases. Some were re-edited, re-released titles (the Dark Realm stories), but most were new series books, including two Brotherhood Protectors books! Today, I just wanted to provide the list and release dates of the titles in case you missed one. If you’re interested in one of the stories, click on the covers to check them out!
01/07/22 – AFTER DARK, Dark Realm series, short story
01/25/22 – ELI, Montana Bounty Hunters: Dead Horse, MT series
02/15/22 – HUNK OF BURNING LOVE, Cowboys on the Edge, short story
03/22/22 – NO TENDER MERCY, Texas Vampires series
04/26/22 – DARK SEDUCTION, Dark Realm series
06/21/22 – VICTORIA’S SIX, Brotherhood Protectors: Colorado series
07/26/22 – GABRIEL, Montana Bounty Hunters: Dead Horse, MT series
08/12/22 – WHAT A WOLF WANTS, Dark Realm series, short story,
10/11/22 – GUARDING HANNAH, Brotherhood Protectors: Team Wolf series
2022 Short Stories
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell whether you’ve read any of these stories or which titles might interest you now! Easy, right?
I have lots of bad habits. I’m sure you do, too. The one that causes me the most stress is the one where I think I have to conquer one mountain at a time. By that, I mean if I have a huge edit job, I have to work through it to the exclusion of writing. Which causes me to go down to the wire when it comes to finishing a book. I wrote Guarding Hannah in a ridiculously short time. Yeah, I’m really happy with the story. In fact, I think it’s one of the best I’ve ever written, but that isn’t the point. I need to destress, not run on adrenaline.
That’s my big goal this year. Destress the work. Get little bites done in an orderly fashion as I march toward completion. I know how to do this. I was a program manager in a past life. I used to work on multiple story projects at one time using some advanced planning techniques, but I’m not going for that now. I don’t want to write MORE. I want to write in such a way that I have time to devote to something that gives me greater joy—like painting.
Yes, doodling things like these makes me happy.
I want more time to sit with paint and paper. I want more time to take some classes and learn how to do it well. I feel like I did when I started writing—I want to know everything, try everything, right now! Not that I’m looking to make it another gig for money. I just want to explore an artistic path for passion’s sake.
But to get there, I have to rope in my chaotic work habits. I’ve begun this year anew. So far, so good. I’m making progress on my new story, Mica, and I’m working on a set of edits I’ll finish this week. In the meantime, I’ve been painting in the evenings and organizing my studio space (does that ever end?). I’ll get there…in incremental steps rather than putting all my energy into fits of activity. That’s so exhausting, isn’t it?
So, I’d love to give away one of these postcards. Winner’s choice. Tell me what bad habit you’d like to tackle this year.
When I first get an idea for a story, it usually starts with a single scene. For example, when I came up with the idea for The Fourth State of Matter, I had a scene in my head of a spaceship crashing while two characters are having sex in the control chair, seemingly unconcerned by the chaos happening around them. At this point, the characters didn’t have names or descriptions. I didn’t even know if they were human or alien. In my mind, they were just “male 1” and “male 2”. So, I started by freewriting this scene, giving it as much life as I could without any background information or details. The characters managed to land on a populated asteroid before I had to stop. Then, I stepped back and carefully read over what I had written.
Sometimes, this is where a story’s life ends. If I decide there isn’t enough potential, or if reading over what I’ve written doesn’t spark any more creativity, then I’ll set it aside and move on to a new idea. With The Fourth State of Matter, however, reading over that initial freewriting scene gave me a lot of ideas for how to flesh-out the world and the characters. A whole novel slowly unfolded in my mind just from this opening scene, so I started outlining the story from scratch.
My first step for planning out a full novel is to draw the characters. I’ve found that I can’t write about a character until I’m able to draw them. Not only does this give me an image to work with, but it can have a profound impact on the story itself.
With The Fourth State of Matter, my original plan for the trio was for them to only be a duo. I wanted to write a story about a human character that gets into a relationship with two aliens. However, this changed when I was trying to draw the aliens. Brog’s design came easily, and I could immediately see a backstory for the character on the page. I had an idea to create alien characters that were partially inspired by fantasy creatures. This would give them a sense of mystery and make them seem “larger than life”. Brog is my version of a reimagined mermaid, only instead of a delicate fish-girl, he’s a powerful shark-man.
Then I created a second alien that was a counterpoint to Brog. So, I drew Xavis, whose design is partially inspired by a phoenix. I liked the contrast between an aquatic species and a winged, bird-like species. Yet, it didn’t quite look right. Something felt off. So, I set Xavis aside and tried something new. This time I used a dragon as inspiration and came up with Desmodian. This also provided a good contrast alongside Brog, with a sort of “land and sea” vibe, yet it still didn’t look right.
It was only when I had all three characters on the page, trying to decide which to use, that I realized they looked best altogether. So, the duo became a trio, and the story was altered to fit this change.
Of course, characters are defined by more than just the way they look. It’s also about their personalities. Since the trio already hand a “land, sea, and air” theme going on, I took the symbolism a step further and based their personalities on the first three states of matter. Desmodian is the solid foundation that the group is built on. Silently stubborn and unmovable, he doesn’t react much with the world around him. He puts himself where he wants to be, both literally and metaphorically, and stays there no matter what. Brog embodies a liquid state in the sense that he is more adaptable than Desmodian but still maintains his own boundaries. He’s very reactive to even small disturbances, like a ripple effect, and while he is capable of standing still, he can also become an unstoppable tidal wave when he gets emotional. Lastly, Xavis’s personality resembles a gaseous state because he is the most wild and untamed. He sometimes seems to “have his head in the clouds” like he isn’t entirely grounded. This allows him to be the most creative and versatile member of the trio, but also makes him reliant on the others to keep him on track.
Once I established the characteristics of the trio, and their connection to the first three states of matter, it was a natural conclusion to base Pet on plasma, the fourth state of matter. This is what gave rise to the overall message and theme of the story. Pet’s journey into discovering himself as a person is the primary focus of the story, so I don’t want to spoil anything by explaining too much about how Pet’s character is inspired by plasma. Just know that it is a step-be-step journey that he’s still undergoing. After two books, he’s already come a long way in his personal discovery, but there’s still a much longer journey ahead of him.
Yes, it’s a holiday! Obscure, for sure—but not to us Sci-Fi nerds!
My love of science fiction began with Lost in Space and Star Trek. Of course. My parents had just bought our first color TV when Star Trek began, and we watched the change from black and white to color with Lost in Space.
When COVID started I began bingeing the Star Trek series. I made it a mission to get through all the classic series after the original because I’ve seen every episode of that series multiple times.
So far, I’ve made it through Star Trek: Next Generation (Picard), Deep Space Nine (Sisko), and Voyager (Janeway). I’m currently watching Enterprise (Archer). I have to admit, Enterprise is daunting and hard to get into—mostly because I haven’t found that one character I love so much. Or that one enemy I find so compelling (Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians).
For Next Generation, that character was the handsome Worf. YES. I do find him wonderfully sexy and funny. And the good news was, he carried over into Deep Space Nine!
Deep Space Nine also had the wonderfully awful Quark. I found his pursuit of wealth and his Ferengi “Rules of Acquisition” a hoot. I wasn’t sure I’d love Deep Space because the show wasn’t about exploration. It was set on a space station at the mouth of a wormhole, but the cast had plenty of adventures.
Voyager‘s premise was the most fun, I think. A space ship stranded in a part of the galaxy far from home. They spent seven seasons trying to get home. Janeway, the captain, annoyed me for the first couple of seasons—until the episode when she went Rambo to save her crew. Awesome episode. But the characters I loved the most were The Doctor and Seven of Nine.
The doctor was a hologram who started out without much personality but who grew to be the most human of anyone on board. He was funny and sad. His love for Seven of Nine was shown through all the ways he tried to help her become more human. And oh, all the ways he explored his artistic soul… Just a wonderful character arc.
Then there was Seven of Nine, a former Borg drone. She was the sexiest character since Worf while still being a bit robot-stiff. Her arc was remarkable, too.
So, that’s my homage to my favorite Sci-Fi world. Let’s not talk about the movies. I ADORE Chris Pine as Kirk and wish like hell they’d hurry up and make more of them before he ages out! But the movies are only a couple of hours of entertainment, while I can wallow for weeks in a series.
So, there is a contest in here somewhere. I’ve rambled enough. For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me what Sci-Fi series or movies made you lifelong fans. Are you more of a Star Wars fan or a Trekkie? Do you have favorite Sci-Fi movies?