External Conflicts and Goals

Book cover for The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, #amwriting, #amediting, book review, how to write, how to editExternal conflicts deal with conflict outside of your protagonist. That’s the villain, the earth quake, the monster. Your character may grapple internally with how to handle the conflict, but the object of conflict itself is not happening in your character’s head.

External goals are the obvious goals that drive the story forward from the inciting incident on. Ralph’s medal, destroying the one ring, ect. It’s a tangible item or other person that’s easy to identify, and while it drives the plot, it’s ultimately secondary to the intangible changes made within the protagonist along the way.

That tangible object and conflict is going to vary genre by genre. In an action story, it’s going to be the villain and the thing central to the villain’s plan. In a love story, it’s going to be the character of desire, in a crime story, it’s going to be the criminal, often with the object being sought a victim whose time hasn’t yet run out.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll get into the external conflicts from several different genres that are outlined in Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid, along with some examples of my own.

Mythology Monday: Deities Associated with Asclepius

Asclepius, mythology monday, greek mythology retelling, young adult

Short and sweet Mythology Monday today because I had a few too many more notes on Asclepius to include in last week’s post.

Asclepius had a wife and a handful of daughters who were all associated with healing, and there’s a bit of repetition and overlap among them, so bear with me.

Epione was Asclepius’s wife. She was also the goddess of the soothing of pain, and by most accounts, mother to the goddesses listed below.

Hygeia (Salus) was the goddess of good health, the reason why good health is called hygiene, and an all together different goddess than her sister Aegle (Aigle) who was the goddess of the radiant glow of good health and shared her name with a variety of other goddesses.

Akeso was the goddess of curing illness. She’s different from her sister, Panacea (Panakeia) the goddess of universal remedy (or as gamers might know her, the cure-all), because she stands more for the process of getting better rather than the cure itself. Iaso was also a goddess of recovery, but not cure-alls and not the process of getting cured.

Paeon (Paion) The physician of the Olympian gods. He was sometimes considered a unique god, other times he was considered an epitaph of Apollo or Asclepius.

P.S Persephone is on sale from May 20th-May 26th for 99 cents! Please spread the word.

Venus Rising Cover Reveal!


Venus Rising has a cover, too! I love it :D. And check out my blurb.

The final battle . . .

Aphrodite is in big trouble this time. She’s stranded on the island of the DAMNED–without powers and without her beloved Ares. Worse, she knows it’s only a matter of time before the demigods figure out she’s a goddess. If that happens, she’ll wish she were dead.

Help arrives in the form of an unlikely ally. But Medea has her own demands, and if Aphrodite wants to survive–not to mention find Hades and the weapons cache–she has to meet them.

But all their plans take a back seat when they find themselves in even more pressing danger. When Medea moved the island, she rendered it unstable. Now it’s breaking apart and sinking. In the chaos, the demigods have risen up, blaming the gods for their misfortune. Nobody is safe from the demigods . . . especially a Pantheon sympathizer like Aphrodite. And they’ve come up with a deadly test to uncover any imposters.

Aphrodite knows she can’t do this alone. It will take the whole Pantheon to get her out of this mess. Unfortunately, they’ll have to find her first . . .


You can preorder Venus Rising today! In celebration of my new cover and upcoming release, Persephone will be on sale starting tomorrow, May 20th-May 26th for 99 cents! Please spread the word. If you want to get caught up, now is the time.

Snakes and Stones Cover Reveal!


Snakes & Stones is a collection of short stories inspired by the tale of Medusa; the woman turned gorgon in Greek Mythology. Medusa’s tale is one of abuse and oppression, however these tales take a different twist on her story.

All parties involved with this anthology have volunteered their time and works in order to make this collection happen. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to loveisrespect.org in order to assist in helping teens and young adults in abusive and/or oppressive relationships.

A myth that has withstood the sands of time tells of a beautiful woman turned hideous beast.

Some say she was punished because of the lust of a man. Others believe it was her own beauty  
that brought on the curse.

However, there are some who believe her curse was actually a gift.
Hear the story of Medusa as told by six popular young adult authors:

When I Fell by Christina Benjamin
Medusa by Kaitlin Bevis
The Case of the Missing Soul by Susan Burdorf
Lies of the Beholder by Erin Hayes
Medusa’s Curse by Suzanna Lynn
Favor of the Gods by Ali Winters

Brought to you in one anthology…
Snakes & Stones

All proceeds from the sale of this anthology will go to
Be sure to check out my blog tomorrow for the Venus Rising cover reveal.
 Currently only $0.99 on preorder! Price will rise to $2.99 after release day.

Mythology Monday: Asclepius


I shook my head. “Put Zachary in charge of Reaping. You can trust him. If we can find two, maybe three other souls we can trust on the surface, I think they can handle it.”

“Zachary?” Hades gave me a quizzical look.

“Asclepius’ new persona,” Cassandra explained.

“What makes you think you can trust him?” Charon gave me a surprised look.

“He helped me when the Reapers were attacking me. And he never had to be charmed. He swore fealty on his own. Who’s Asclepius?”

“He swore fealty? To you?” Hades’ eyebrows shot up. “Well . . . okay then. You’ll still have to try to charm him, but if you say he’s trustworthy . . . ”

“Who is he?” I asked again.

“He’s the first Reaper.” Hades was talking fast, indicating we needed to move on from this conversation. “He was a god of healing, and he tried to stop death. That violated the rules of nature We put into place. Rather than changing the nature of the dead, it changed him.”

The way he said “We” emphasized the capital letter, and I understood he was talking about my mother, Zeus, and the rest of the original six. When they created the world, they’d all agreed on its natural laws. Earth and all its inhabitants formed a complex system involving all their powers. To protect their creation, they’d even given up the ability to lie. Words had power; the wrong words could unintentionally change the nature of something. I’d never considered the ramifications of a god intentionally trying to change the rules.

I felt sick. Poor Zachary. He’d tried to stop death and become its first agent.


Asclepius (to cut open) was the mortal son of Apollo and a princess named Koronis. Unfortunately, his mother died during childbirth (for was murdered for being unfaithful to Apollo, myths vary), so his father had to cut him from her body (hence the name). His mother was placed among the stars (The Crow constellation).

The demigod was then placed into Chiron’s care and taught medicine. Chiron taught him all he knew, but Asclepius also learned medicine from snakes whispering in his ears. Snakes are sacred to medicine to ancient Greeks, so the demigod grew so skilled that he figured out how to stop death and restore the sick back to life. Unfortunately, Zeus was very against the idea of immortal man, so citing fear of overpopulation, he killed Asclepius’s with a lightning bolt. Other myths claim he was killed for bringing back a specific person (Hippolytus).

The gods honored the fallen demigod with the constellation Ophiochus (the serpent holder), and performed apotheosis to turn him into a god so he could continue to be their doctor.

In most vases and paintings, Asclepius looks like an old, bearded man holding the staff with a snake around it that you’ll see in so many hospitals. (He was kind of a big deal in medical circles).

Asclepius participated in the Calydonian Boar Hunt at some point. He also married  Epione, the goddess of soothing pain, and had five daughters (Hygieia, the goddess of health;  Panacea, the goddess of universal remedy;  Aceso, the goddess of recuperation; Iaso, the goddess of healing, and Aglaea, the goddess of beauty) and three sons (Machaon, Podaleirios and Telesphoros). He may have also had a son named Aratus, with a woman named Aristodama. More on them in a minute

In my universe, he wasn’t turned into a god, because let’s face it, that’s uncharacteristically kind of the gods. He was turned into the first reaper. Now instead of healing people, he releases souls. You’ve met him in the Persephone trilogy as the reaper, Zachary.


Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!



Moms deserve more than a day. Remember to call your mom this weekend and do something special. If you are a mom, take it easy and make wonderful memories (after you call your mom and do something special).

For those of you missing your mother this mothers day, do something happy that makes you think of her.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Convention Tips and Tricks

WHOLanta 2017 Banner, Dr. Who, Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Camille Coduri, Jamie Mathieson, Atlanta, Convention, Timegate

I had such a blast at WHOlanta! I’ve done a panel at Jordancon before, but this was my first time going to a convention with guest status. I had a table to sell my books (which I shared with the lovely James Palmer), I was on a lot of panels, and I got to meet Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, and Camille Coduri from Dr. Who. I was a little nervous about speaking on so many panels, but fortunately authors Lee Martindale and Jana Oliver took me under their wing and talked me through all the tips and tricks of going to cons. I’m sure I still made missteps, but far fewer than I would have without their guidance. I’ve even picked up a few tricks of my own to pass along.


  1. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, shut up. There were several panels I was on where I only represented a portion of the equation. Almost every panel I was on spent some time in unfamiliar territory (self-publishing, animation theory in Disney movies, sexism in Classic-Who, bits of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I didn’t remember). It’s really tempting to feel like you have to address every point or worse, force the panel back to your pet topic. Don’t. The moderator will eventually steer you back into familiar waters that may not be familiar for the rest of the panel, and you’ll get a turn to talk.
  2. On that topic, don’t attempt to force the panel back to your pet topic.
  3. Be brief. There are three to four other panelists. Speak in sentences, not paragraphs.
  4. I worried I’d freeze, but thus far all the panels I’ve been on or witnessed are super conversational. It’s not like you’re giving a lecture on a topic. It’s a back and forth with the audience, so, for me anyway, stage fright doesn’t really get much of a grip.
  5. Don’t call on audience members. That is the moderator’s job (sorry Darin).
  6. Heather Lewis gave me this tip, bring a pen and at least three copies of your book in case anyone wants to come up and buy your book after the panel. She said she’d been in more than one panel where the author wasn’t prepared to make a sale right there. There weren’t really opportunities like that at WHOlanta (we generally had to skedaddle for the next group of panelists, so there wasn’t much lingering in the room), but I’ve seen other conventions where the panelists hang out in the room for a few minutes chatting with people who come up to them.
  7. Lee Martindale suggested that when you’re in doubt, look at the moderator. They’ll subtlety let you know if you’ve been talking too long, or if time is almost out, and if you get deer in headlight’s on them, they’ll help you recover/draw attention to another panelists if you need them to.
  8.  I felt a lot better with a pen in hand and a piece of paper to write on. I’m not sure why. There wasn’t exactly time to take notes (though I learned a lot of fascinating things, and got tons of book/movie recommendations), but just the act of holding a pen was helpful to me for some reason.
  9. Most of the rooms have water cups and ice, but bringing a drink with caffeine was very helpful for the long streaks of back to back panels.
  10. Self-promote with caution. There were some panels I was on where it was absolutely appropriate to have my book on a pretty little stand and my cards on hand. Mostly the writing panels, because the act of writing my books came up. There were others (20 years of Buffy, for instance) where it really wasn’t. I still held up a copy of Persephone when I introduced myself, but then I laid it flat on the table and didn’t reference it again.

Selling Books:

  1. This may vary with different cons, but I sold no books on Friday, a decent number Saturday, and a ton Sunday. I figure Friday everyone is still setting up, so people are hesitant to spend until they see what else is around. Also, if they’re like me, they’re budgeting food and trying to get an idea of what everything costs before they commit.
  2. A surprising number of people bought my books in sets of three or five. I still sold more copies of Persephone and Aphrodite, as trilogy starters, but only by two each. Fortunately, I had exactly enough copies of the middle books, and I mean exactly. I sold my last copies on my way out the door Sunday, so I’m in that super fortunate place of knowing I couldn’t have possibly sold more, and I didn’t sell fewer than I could have because I ran out.
  3. Bring a friend to watch to table. I have no idea how many sales I missed (if any) when I was in panels. But I also know I gained sales by being on panels. Most of the people who bought my books heard me talk about them on the writing track.
  4. If you can’t leave a person, leave a detailed sign. I had a sign that said I was on panels and would return, but I wasn’t being detailed enough until a fan asked if I’d mind including what time I’d be back so she’d know when to circle back around. If I had a do-over, I’d print some nice signs with the times I planned to be at my table each given day of the Con and what panels I’d be on during the gaps.
  5. Leave yourself a bit of time to go see the things and people you want to see. Friday’s the best day to check everything out in terms of stuff to buy, Saturday had the most people to see. There also tend to be booths for upcoming conventions, so get to know those people.
  6. Bring food. The con had a suite with food and snacks, but that’s more time away from the table, and the con suite hours may not match up with your off-time.
  7. Strike up conversations. It’s not all about selling books. I had so many people passing by in amazing costumes, or dropping by the talk shop writing, mythology, or Dr. Who. If attempt to pressure these happy, excited people into making a purchase, you’re a bad person, and you should feel bad.
  8. Bring lots of pens and change. Specifically what you’d need to break a $20, because that’s the most common bill you’re going to see.
  9. Bookmarks do better than business cards because there’s room to sign them.
  10. Local conventions tend to see a lot of the same people as attendees and volunteers. (Example: the person in charge of the writing track also runs Dragon Con’s). So be nice, friendly, and professional and make a good impression, even if you’re in a panel with three people in the room. (Hint: You should be doing this anyway).  I can’t tell you how many cons I’ve been invited to speak at this weekend. And not always from the volunteers or track runners.

How about you? Any tips or tricks I might have missed?




Mythology Monday: Epic Moms


In honor of Mother’s day next week, I’m dedicating this week to the amazing mom’s in Greek mythology. Ancient cultures may not have had the most respect for women in general, but they respected the role of motherhood. Here’s the top three mommy myths in Greek mythology. By the way, I’m leaving both Hera and Gaia off this list because in my opinion they sucked as mothers.


I’ve already went into Demeter’s myth at length several Mythology Mondays ago, but I can’t leave her out of this list.

She was by all accounts, an awesome mom. She took great care of Persephone, protected her, and kept her out of the drama of Olympus, no small feat.

When her daughter went missing, she scoured the earth to find her and didn’t rest until her daughter was returned to her arms.

It’s a pretty epic myth, all things considered and in my opinion the most powerful myth about motherhood in Greek mythology.



Rhea was married to a kind of awful guy. And yes, it took him eating a couple of her kids to realize the true depths of his depravity, but eventually that mothering instinct took over and rather than allow Cronus to kill Zeus, she, at great risk to herself, snuck him away and tricked her husband. Later, she gives Zeus the tools he needs to save her other children. This decision cost her a kingdom, a husband, every bit of status she had ever gained. She wasn’t killed with the rest of the Titans but she faded into obscurity.

"For two days and two nights the boat was and hither and thither" by Walter Crane - The story of Greece : told to boys and girls (191-?) by Macgregor, Mary. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:For_two_days_and_two_nights_the_boat_was_and_hither_and_thither.jpg#/media/File:For_two_days_and_two_nights_the_boat_was_and_hither_and_thither.jpg

“For two days and two nights the boat was and hither and thither” by Walter Crane – The story of Greece : told to boys and girls (191-?) by Macgregor, Mary. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:For_two_days_and_two_nights_the_boat_was_and_hither_and_thither.jpg#/media/File:For_two_days_and_two_nights_the_boat_was_and_hither_and_thither.jpg


Danae was a princess whose child was fated to kill her father. Her dad locked her up so no man could reach her, but that didn’t stop Zeus. As punishment for getting knocked up, her father locked her and her baby in a coffin and threw them out to sea so Poseidon would get the blame for killing them, not him. Poseidon didn’t cooperate so mom and son, Perseus, made it to shore, where a king fell in love with her. She wasn’t interested in marriage (no doubt emotionally scarred from her horrible treatment with her father), but the king raised Perseus and agreed not to pursue her for awhile anyway. When Perseus grew up, the king lost patience and tried to marry Danae, but Perseus used Medusa’s head to turn him to stone.

That tells me a few things about Danae. The main one being she’s an awesome mother. Perseus loved her enough to go to great risk and kill a father figure for the love of his mom. That means rather than shutting down or blaming Perseus for all the trouble he brought her, she kept mothering on like a good human being. Given her insane childhood, that’s kind of awesome, so props to Danae.

So there you have it. My top three favorite Mom myths in Greek mythology. What’s your favorite Greek mother?