Short Posts

Hey there. I participated in the 2018 Women's March. I had a great time. Although, I'll leave writing books about it to someone else. However, there was a glaring silence that I seemed to hear from the media on just how many people marched. So, I decided to make a Google sheet and see how many people I could count by looking at various news sites. It's surprisingly hard. Many newspapers for local areas don't even mention the march. Often, there aren't specific numbers. But I have persisted and have a decent list. I will mention, I'm not the only one with this idea., which has been counting marches for the last year. Now I could have stopped looking, but I'm not that kind of gal. 

Anyway, if you wander onto this site, and don't see your 2018 march on this list, well, ping me over on contacts with a number.

1 Story Ticket: After Dinner

posted Jun 23, 2019, 12:02 PM by crystal carroll

I've written another children's short story collection based off story tickets.
For many years now, I've been giving my friends' children story ticket to turn in for a story where they define who the characters are and what those characters might be. I get a lot of princesses and fairies, some robots, the occasional wacky turn as they try to see what I'll tell them. 

The kids get to keep the cards, but I take pictures of the drawings on the back to give me an idea of what I told them.

This collection features original art, which this time around I experimented with hand drawing and coloring with colored pencils.

A really fun project and I can't wait to see the kids faces when they get a hard copy of the stories they've already been told. 

1 Story Ticket: Campfire Stories

posted Jan 6, 2018, 11:34 AM by crystal carroll

A new year and a new book. A children's book.

It grew quite naturally out of stories that I've been telling my friends kids while camping (or okay, sometimes when we get together). The title comes from how this storytelling works. It's important to set a limit on the number of stories or I'll end up telling story after story (err... this may have happened one trip). Each child gets one or two story tickets (don't tell them they are index cards). When they turn in their ticket, they get to choose who is in their story (name and what). I then tell them a story based on what characters they picked. Unicorns. Goddesses. Robots. etc.

I write the characters names on their ticket (this is the only way for me to remember the cast) and draw some quick images as I tell the story to show what's going on.

About halfway through the summer last year, I started taking pictures of the tickets once the story was done with the idea of writing up a few of them in the winter. After finishing Clay of Many Colors, and a brief holiday writing exchange, I wrote these stories and worked on the illustrations to fit the stories based on my ability to draw squares and circles in layers (Ah, computer drawing is a wonderful thing). Admittedly, they're a bit longer and more complex that what comes out in the moment. 

The first story: Sparkles!!! (which my editor tried to correct because multi exclamations isn't grammatical) is a mashup of a number of stories I told the first summer. I think I told 12 stories all with characters named Blue Sparkles or Red Sparkles or Rainbow Sparkles. There were a lot of sparkles.

The adventure of Princess Werdystyle was also a story from the first (unticketed year). I just love that a kid came up with that name and a dragon named Crimson Sparkles. Naturally, she had to be a Viking princess in search of the World Serpent. Have I mentioned that nothing much dangerous happens in these stories. There's a lot of tea and coco and cookies. Adventures are going some place. In this particular case, the drawings involve a certain amount of tracing, because there's no way I could draw the feathered serpent or the world serpent without a Meso American carving and a photo of the world respectively to work off of. I was also glad to see some images of mermaids wearing clothes while wandering the net, which gave me an idea of the image of the merfolk playing a game.

The story about the tree who dreamed of being a cloud was an idea (and line) that occurred to me when looking at a cherry tree in cherry season, and I saved to tell the kids when the moment came.  I wasn't expecting a child to ask for Plant Girl and Tree Girl, but when you're handed a perfect opening, you take it.

The Topsy Turvy story is really one of many stories I've told where I have characters body swap or transform. Generally when I get a cast of 10+ characters from a kid. It's a simple way to create tension without worrying them about anyone being in danger. BTW this is based on knowing my audience. This particular story includes a place for a kid to draw themselves and their own name into the story. This is because the girl asking for this story included herself and her mom's names in her story, and I let her pick what happened when the kid and the mom switched places.

The robot story has been changed from the original characters. One little boy asks for characters thoroughly in copyright. The story about the non-gendered robots (they're robots - they are not boys, they are not girls, they're bots), I drew based on images on the net of Afro-futurism & Samurai, because I am really looking forward to Black Panther. 

The low flying star is actually something I thought of outside of the children's story time, but it seemed like a natural to include.

Check them out and read aloud to a little one. 

Now onto the next writing project (and a little reading).
There will be an Amazon Kindle version, but they're still working on converting the images.

Clay of Many Colors

posted Nov 9, 2017, 6:39 AM by crystal carroll   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 9:42 AM ]

Not to bury the lead, but I've written another book, Clay of Many Colors. I've been hard at work crafting stories for many months. 

This one certainly has been my most political as stories were written in reaction to current events as a way to work through the roots of the various -isms and toxicity that we're currently subjected to. Although, in terms of content, not all that different from what I normally write.

"Clay of Many Colors" includes various stories interweaving various Religious traditions with mundane moments. A demi goddess in search of reliable birth control. A gender fluid princess-knight with angel armor. A Dreamer goddess trying to find her place between two worlds. A priestess following Enheduanna, the first named writer, into exile. A woman involved in the strike of the 20,000. A Suffragette working at Hull House. Okay, look there's over sixty stories. It just kept going. Inspired by my immediate feeling after the 2016 election wanting to wrap my arms around the world and try to keep it safe.

I can't do that physically, but I can write it.

Here it is, Clay of Many Colors – over sixty stories like bottles of hope that I'm sending out into the Universe.

A New Book - Lit Gloss: A Rose by Any Other Name

posted Dec 18, 2015, 3:00 PM by crystal carroll

I'll take a break from my regularly scheduled winter writing, to say, I've self-published another book through Amazon.

In any case...

Lit Gloss: A Rose by Any Other Name
Lit Gloss: A Rose by Any Other Name

The Bard of Avon. England's National Poet. William Shakespeare. He occupies a very central position in English Literature. Well, he has a canon, and students are forced to read him. Ben Jonson referred to Shakespeare as, "Soul of the age, the applause, delight, the wonder of our stage." Every production of a Shakespeare play is a variation on which aspects of the story that the director and the various artists involved want to accentuate.

Hopefully, people watching the plays have a similar level of engagement and walk away thinking about what those variations meant. They might wonder just why was Beatrice so opposed to marriage. One bad love affair seems like not enough reason. They might image that Shylock leaves Venice after the end of Merchant of Venice. They could try to decide if faking Juliet’s death was really the best plan? Actually, strike that one. It clearly was a bad plan. While not at Hamlet or Macbeth levels, things could have gone better. Instead they might like to think that Marguerite of Anjou and Joan of Arc hung out off stage in Henry VI Part I. It's fun to imagine what all the characters were doing off stage. Even the villains have reasons for being the way they are. They are, after all, the heroes of their own stories.

This collection of short stories explores exactly those sorts of ideas (pursued by bears) in the margins of the plays. When Shakespeare started writing (sorry Baconites), he was called an "upstart crow" by Robert Greene, because he wasn't a university educated playwright. While Shakespeare himself asked, "What's in a name?" and wrote plays based on existing stories. That's means examining Shakespeare shouldn't be a rarefied act of Bardolatry, but something joyous. It's what the Bard of Avon would want.

Lit Gloss: A Rose by Any Other Name is available through Amazon in either hard copy form or Kindle.

I realize this isn't really a triumph of self promotion. Not having really talked it up while writing/designing the cover (which I am ridiculously pleased with). But, shrugs, there it is.

The next one will be a collection of (surprise) mythology, which I'll work on once I finish yuletide for the year. Perhaps I'll do a better job talking that up. Consider this your warning! Bad ass goddesses who have no Fs to give will be coming your way in 2016.

Myth and Shakespeare

posted Sep 20, 2015, 10:38 AM by crystal carroll

I'm currently working on a couple of writing projects that oh, sellable, isn't the word that comes to mind when describing them. But really that's the beauty of self-publishing. I'm writing to write.

I'm assembling some of my non-The City Mythology stories and fleshing out some additional ones. Mainly this is a project in editing. Since each of these stories was written individually, and I'm working on turning them into a cohesive collection. Then writing some pieces that connect the themes.

While I was looking through my short stories, I realized that I've written a lot of Literature stories. Jane Eye and Rochester's wedding night. A modern retelling of Northanger Abbey. A lot of Shakespeare. After looking over the material, I've decided to put out a collection of short stories based on Shakespeare plays. Let's face it, with the exception of two stories, William (sorry Baconites) was retelling older stories anyway. The stories will either flesh out various analyses of the plays (such as Ophelia was pregnant in "Hamlet") or put the focus on women in the plays (such as while Oberon thinks of Titania's changeling as a king's son, Titania won't give him up because he's the son of a friend who died in childbirth, which never comes up again in the play). I have about 90% of the material I'll need. Although, then shall come the editing.

I figured in between writing stories, I should post to say something. So, I have.

Long Time No Post

posted Jan 28, 2015, 6:22 AM by crystal carroll

So, I haven't posted in over a year. You'd think I wasn't busy writing, but rather the reverse. 

Anyway, I do have news, 

I'll be attending <a href="">AOD</a> (San Francisco's Anime, Video Game, and Cartoon Convention!) as a panelist for these panels on Saturday 1/31:

Nuts and Bolts – Making Yourself Understood/What Else is a Writing Ability Good For? - 11:00am

Description: We're analyzing world building, character creation (and development), plot and point of view. How can we use the English language for its intended purpose as communication, effectively and efficiently with proper grammar structure, spelling? Also, does writing fan fiction prepare you for anything else? What does the ability to write also prepare you for?

Why We Write - 1pm

Description: Why do we write fan fiction? What is the appeal, why it is fun? Does it provide a sandbox for aspiring writers to improve their craft? Or does it just fulfill a need to perform? Does the desire for “more” justify co-opting someone else’s work to make it your own? How does writing fan fiction feature into your development as a writer in your own right?

Fan Fiction Iron Chef – 4pm

Description: You're given a scenario, a location and at least two characters (you can pull additional characters if needed, up to five) and the theme is given to you at the start of the working hour as the secret ingredient! You then have one hour to produce a work of 1,000

words minimum in one hour. ALLEZ ÉCRIR!

Sexual Tropes in Fan Fiction (18+) – 9pm

Description: If the internet is for Porn, what are you doing writing fan fiction? Oh, wait. Oh, wait a moment there indeed – what IS going on there? What does sex in fan fiction have to do with feminism, gender identity/expression, rape culture, AIDS, pedophilia, gamergate, harassment and the like? Slash, Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics, Ships (those that do and do not go bump in the night), no the anatomy DOES NOT do that, and more.

It's at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. San Francisco Airport. Come hear me talking about writing, fiction, etc.

Corner of First and Myth

posted Nov 13, 2013, 9:18 PM by crystal carroll   [ updated Nov 13, 2013, 9:19 PM ]

Hmmm... so I haven't posted since July. Well, okay then. I've been busily working on the next book. The Corner of First and Myth is a collection of 14 short stories set in the City where mythology mashes up with the mundane.

Here's what it's all about.

A Day at the Mall

Description: The dead rise. This makes it difficult to run a shop at the mall.

Source: Crosses characters from the "Epic of Gilgamesh" with a woman working in a shop at a mall.

Why?: This is the era of silly (or not) zombie stories and I wanted to start with a normal woman opening the closet and finding not a talking cup, but a toothless zombie.



Description: Hades waits for the return of spring.

Source: From the Greek Eleusinian mysteries. The kidnapping of Kore/Persephone, the Greek goddess of the spring, by Hades, Greek god of the underworld. The story is from Hades point of view.

Why?: I was reading Dante's Inferno (Canto 7) and for some reason Hades kidnapping Persephone sprang full blown into my head pretty much as you see it.

In Whose Savage Heart

Description: The goddess of nature searches for her missing daughter. A woman mourns her dead son. A mediation on winter and springtime.

Source: From the Greek Eleusinian mysteries. The kidnapping of Kore/Persephone, the Greek goddess of the spring, by Hades, Greek god of the underworld. The story is from Demeter's point of view. Includes triggers for non-consensual sex.

Why?: Having written "Waiting", I wanted to work my way through different perspectives on the same events. Here I wanted to balance Demeter's divinely immense desperation at the kidnapping of her child with the quieter story of a "normal" person mourning her missing son.

Into the Looking Glass

Description: The other side of the mirror, spring in the land of the dead.

Source: From the Greek Eleusinian mysteries. The kidnapping of Kore/Persephone, the Greek goddess of the spring, by Hades, Greek god of the underworld. The story is from Kore/Persephone's point of view.

Why?: A woman's journey to experience tends to be, "She had adventures and then she got married. Happily ever after. The end." I wanted to play into that trope of becoming an adult, while using the later Adonis story to look at the "ever after". Which is why so many of the stories in this collection are, in their way, variations of the Persephone story.

Queer as the Fork When the Knife Ran Away with the Spoon

Description: Beauty grew up in a box. He divided himself. How could he know who he was, unless he undid the wrapping?

Source: A retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" if Beauty were a black, gay, magic man with a velvet fetish and knack for roses.   The Beast really doesn't know what to make of the Beauty who showed up.

Why?: I knew I wanted to do a gender reversed Beauty and the Beast, but I didn't really want to write the monstrous feminine. From there, this story sprang to life full blown, because Beauty needed to exist.

A Little Goddess

Description: Like when Isis went to live in the marsh and begged for food for her baby, Serqa went to live on the roof of the Gorgos Sisters Hellenic Gymnasium for girls. Like Isis, she had a curse to lift and steps to take through the world that was full of magic if you’d stop to tell the tale.

Source: A very modified retelling of Francis Burnett's A Little Princess in an Egyptian/Greek magical realism setting. Mythology referenced is the story of Medusa and the very complicated Egyptian mythological family dynamics.

Why?: I've always loved a A Little Princess and I wanted to play with the redemption of a monster, who if you're familiar with the myth of Medusa, really got the short end of the stick. Although, that describes quite a few myths.

The Tyrolean CEOs Virgin Secretary

Description: From secretary - to kept man!

Hunt Zmenn had worked as Snow White's personal secretary at the Tyrolean Mining Corporation for three years. For three years, he'd kept the secret of his love since, after all, Snow White was a wealthy CEO and he was just a secretary raised in an orphanage after his parents were eaten by wolves.

When Ms. White's fiancé, Mr. Charming, left her for another woman, they ended up making love in the office!

Soon, he and Snow had more than just a working relationship. Where once Snow was happy to have Hunt safely behind his desk, now Snow wanted him across hers - passionate and willing.

Could Hunt surrender to Snow's erotic program and not lose himself to a whirl of desire? Could he find a way to pencil in love to Snow's agenda?

Source: A parody of Harlequin Present's romances with the roles reversed and the characters (but only the plot in the loosest sense of the word) from the story of Snow White, but with a lot more sex and axe carving as well as guest appearance by Little Red Riding Hood. Also references the Lamia, who is a snake/woman monster from Greek mythology.

Why?: There needs to be more Harlequin role reversal parody in the world.


Description: On a dark desert highway, travelers stop for the night at a lonely stop.

Source: A riff off of the trope of travelers getting into horror/hijinks at a mysterious hotel in the middle of nowhere. The mythology mixes the Mayan Hero Twins, who are Mayan trickster gods, with the Lamia, a Greek mythological monster. I've given the Lamia some of the characteristics of Circe from the Odyssey. The poetry starting each Circe section is from "The Lamia" by Keats.

Why?: I listened to Los Lobos singing their cover of "Hotel California" one too many times.

Under the Skin

Description: Marie could have managed horrible dreams. The soldiers who returned from the trenches missing arms and echoes in their eyes had horrible dreams. Everyone had nightmares. She dreamed of Papa tangled in the barbed wire, split in half by a winter hail of bullets as he drowned in mud, but that was normal. The Comtesse Melusine de l'Eau could have told her that they came from under the skin.

Source: A very loose version of the "Robber Bridegroom" crossed with Melusine (dragon lady/fairy ancestor of the Plantagenets) from French folklore.

Why?: Having written the Lamia as an old female monster being defeated, I wanted a triumph.

Last Nickel in the Nation Sack

Description: Sometimes there ain't nothing for a walking man to do, but play the sweet Delta Blues.

Source: The Greek myth of Orpheus retold as Southern gothic with various Vodou loa. The title refers both to a song by Robert Johnson and a vodou practice in which a woman keeps a "nation sack" with coins and various articles on her person to keep her man faithful.

Why?: With so many stories drawing on Greek mythology, I wanted to give a Greek myth a new context, while still playing on a story that featured a variation of the Hades and Persephone figures.

Moaning of Dust Around Which Branches Leaf

Description: Adonis never grows in the winter when he lives with his underworld Mother, Persephone. In the springtime of the year, his bones stretch and crack as he grows six months at once. The house of his above world Mother, Aphrodite, is a wild place. He is wild there.

Source: Gives the myth of Adonis the Flowers in the Attic treatment. It also borrows somewhat liberally from Dante's Inferno and the Sumerian myth of Inanna's descent into the underworld. The title is a reference to lines form the poem Khalida by the poet Ali Ahmed Said (Adonis).

Why?: Because I've always found the idea of Aphrodite raising Adonis from infancy and then becoming his lover as inherently creepy.

Lent Wings by the Storm

Description: Her first thought is no one will believe her. Her second is that someone must pay.

Source: Crosses the Sumerian myths of Inanna's descent to the underworld, which is about Inanna's journey into the underworld, Inanna and Shukaletuda, the story of Inanna's rape and her ensuing smackdown of everything, and some references to Inanna and the Mes, the story of how she got her mojo. The title comes from a poem by Enheduanna, who was both the first author in recorded history, and an Akkadian high priestess of Inanna.

Why?: I couldn't riff multiple times on the myth of Inanna without actually writing an Inanna story.

Chrysalis A Love Story

Description: Psyche dreams stained glass butterfly wings to fly her high above the City. Eros already has his wings.

Source: Retelling of the Greek/Roman myth of Eros and Psyche. It also borrows somewhat liberally from the Sumerian myth of Inanna's descent into the underworld.

Why?: One of the oldest stories in this collection. I was reading an article about Monarch butterflies in an inflight magazine and it came full blown to life. I wrote it on the backs of receipts in my wallet and my flight itinerary.

Fingers that Shine like Justice

Description: She is the whirlwind, which is fortunate, because it’s a sale day.

Source: African mythology

Why?: Since we began at the mall, I wanted to end there as well. Wrapping up with a goddess who rules marketplaces and war.


Days 6 & 7 of Writing

posted Jul 29, 2013, 10:00 PM by crystal carroll

Making a brief slap dash of question answers to make the form of a post.

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol' pen and paper?

Good ol' nothing. I'm all about the typing. Terrible handwriting and fingers that type way-faring faster than I could ever write mean I've been typing stories since my old Compaq luggable.

I'm a morning writer. Mainly this is a bi-product of having a job at which I freely (as in they pay me) all my brain cells. By the end of the day there's not much left for writing. That and I wake up auto-wrimo at 5am every morning.

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

I don't generally listen to music as I write. Unless the story is inspired by a particular piece and then I listen to it on infinite repeat. A few years ago, I wrote a four part Superman piece on the four aspects of the character: Public-Alien, Public-Human, Private-Alien and Private-Human. Each piece was written while auto repeat listening to a specific Americana song: Rhapsody in Blue (Metropolis), Take Five (Still Metropolis), Journey of the Sorcerer (fortress of un-solitude) and An Outdoor Overture (Smallville).

Pondering the passage of time

posted May 23, 2013, 9:35 PM by crystal carroll

Halfway through the year and six months since my last post. I am, it would seem, very bad about about self promotion.

It's just that I've been busy writing. Okay, and studying Agile project management. 

Well on my way to writing the next book. A collection of short stories set in the same setting as "Blood Maiden"

To fill some space, here's some 30 days of (non consecutive - no really) writing.

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!
I wrote a Barsoom story for a third grade class project. I remember as I stood in front of the class to read it that I decided that it wasn't really interesting enough. 

So, I adlibbed the rest of the story.

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?

If by character that shows up in a story, the youngest would be Hope, who in "Gordian" is three months old. If by youngest main character, excellent question. I don't tend to write children main characters. 

Oldest, ah, one of my oldest stories. I'd call it a Mary Sue of a story (given her awful angst, but she's thousands of years old. I parodied her a later story. Let's just say she was my drop in any era character.

Looking Back at 2012

posted Jan 2, 2013, 6:13 AM by crystal carroll

It would seem to be traditional to do some sort of year in review. 

Since this is the first year for this site, this is itself a milestone that the site exists.

It was one of my most productive years ever as a writer.  

I'm very pleased with getting "The Fifth Sun" and "Blood Maiden" out there. Both giveaways went quite well with a predictable mix of people liking and disliking my writing style, which can be idiosyncratic.  I’m pleased with both reactions. Obviously, I’d love for everyone to like what I write. But having some reviews that can help people, who will like my style of writing is a good thing.

Now I just need to finish the last few stories to get the set of short stories out there. And keep going.

I've wrote more in this one year, even not having done NaNoWriMo than I have in previous years. 

As in about 185k over the year. Most of that fiction that is fannish in nature. But some pieces that I’m very pleased with and have gotten the best reaction that I’ve ever gotten.

The difference from NaNo being, I actually think all those words are pretty good. Versus several NaNos that are masses of words that I really would like to go back to and finish up, but are all over the place. The more I look back on the lessons that this year gave me, the more I think NaNo isn't for me. I don’t need the structure. I need to be kept from tangents. Not from forced into them by a need to make a word quota.

This year everything I've written, I'm happy to have written. That I feel as if the universe said, go write that. From "Forty-One" which was very stream of consciousness about turning forty-one (as you may guess) to "A Study in Azure", which was perhaps the most ambitious project (The Fifth Sun aside) that I've ever attempted.  Yet every few weeks, I get comment on “A Study in Azure” that makes me very pleased with that effort.

Now then Yuletide. The project that pretty much defines the x-mas season for me these days. 

I wrote 18 stories this year, as last year. Again, all fic within my comfort zone. But it's always interesting to see what the universe will bring.

Now onto the new year.

1-10 of 17