Interview with Jessica Rising, author of “Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine”

Posted in Uncategorized on March 3, 2015 by Jessica Rising

Jessica Rising:

An interview with yours truly at Second Wind! :)

Originally posted on Pat Bertram Introduces . . .:

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

I’m not that patient. When I get an idea I usually begin planning and writing right away. For Dr. Fixit, I was falling asleep one night when this question popped into my head: what would a post-apocalyptic landscape be like as a sort of Oz-esque world for kids? After that, my brain wouldn’t let me sleep until I had figured out the main characters and the basic plot. Then I began writing it the next day.

That’s usually how it works with me.. My brain never turns off.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

That’s a loaded question! Like most writers, I don’t think I ever really feel my work is complete. There’s always something to edit or revise or otherwise fix. That’s why I don’t…

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Who is Squire Carroll?

Posted in Fifty shades of gray, Hunger Games, Twilight with tags on February 23, 2015 by Jessica Rising

I’ve written middle grade characters almost exclusivity my whole life. But Squire screamed at me. She called out to me, She told me she needed to be heard.

Squire Ann Carroll.

She is sixteen years old, far too old for my usual characters.

Still, she called to me in my daughter’s voices — Cisily at 18, Emily at 16, Joei at 14 — and I knew I couldn’t ignore her voice. Women characters like Bela Swan, with her insecurity, like Katniss Everdeen with her stone-facade, like Anastasia Steele with her loss of control, all of them spoke to my daughters in a way that Squire couldn’t accept. And so Squire spoke to me. She spoke of strength and hope, of love of a man, and freedom, of individuality and understanding.

Squire Ann Carroll spoke to me as her sisters before her — Lewis Carroll’s Alice, and Lyman Frank Baum’s Ozma — that whimsy and truth aren’t engendered. That the hope of the future belongs to us all. That we must stop pretending we’re different — stop labeling ourselves and others — in order to find equality that will LAST.

Do you agree with Squire? Then read her story below, share this, and dive into her world to see what girlpower truly means, both without a man, and with. Squire loves a strong man, but she understands her own strength as well. Will you you join us? Will you support the light that Squire wants to bring to the Under?

Read her story, and decide…

Chapter 1


The ancient word hangs in my mind as I kneel in the dirt. My fingers, chalky with dust, working slowly. Carefully. I can’t afford another mistake. Already the rocky ground is littered with broken bits of metal, cracked cogs and de-twined springs. Here and there, peppering the mess, shiny bits of white glass reflect the low light from outside.

That, I broke on purpose.

Even in the beginning there were only two of the fragile globes. The most important pieces. But I had to know how they worked, and the glass cover hid the details inside. I’d had to sacrifice one to understand the other.

A pointless sacrifice.

I lift up the uncovered innards to study them again in the faint light. The tiny bits are as mysterious to me now as they were when I’d first killed the Knight, three days before.

The bottom is curved around and around like the hand drills we use in the quarry, only much shorter and fatter. Above, surrounded by a jagged lip of the broken glass that had covered them, two tiny metal wires stand up side-by-side, connected at the bottom by a small cube of clear glass. Another wire runs along the top, connected back to the glass cube by even thinner, springy wires.

I’ve studied it for days, at every angle, but it still makes no sense. Both globes worked perfectly when I saw them focused on me within the hollow eyesockets of the Knight, blinding  me with their bright glow. But they’d gone dead with it. I haven’t been able to make them glow since.

Frustrated, I pull my book out of its secret pocket in my robes. Something hits my knee. I look down to see its sister has followed it. I’ve had both books for as long as I can remember, and known they were dangerous for just about as long. Books are heresy against Bask, and outlawed in the Under. Nobody here can read.

Nobody except me.

I don’t know why I can read. Neither of my parents can. Nobody I know can. I don’t remember learning how either, I just always have. Just like I’ve always had the books.

I pick up the second book. It’s smaller than its sister, thinner, with a brown cover that almost matches my robes. I’ve always wanted to read it but I can’t. The lock on its side keeps its secrets well hidden.

I put it back in my pocket and focus on the other book, the one I can read. A little bigger than my open palm, its title is 8th Grade Physical Science. I’ve read it so many times I can almost recite it word for word, but I still understand so few of those words. I open it to a wrinkled page with a picture of a bulb. My lips move as I whisper the caption under my breath.

“Electricity is a force created by a difference in charges due to gained or lost electrons. Electricity flowing between two points is called an electrical current. In order for these electrons to flow, there must be a difference in charges between the two points. Electricity always flows from a location with a negative charge to a location with a positive charge.”

Words. So many words, so little sense in them.

I stare at both bulbs — broken and whole, and bite back a scream of frustration. It’s right here. RIGHT here. Light for the Under. Freedom for my people. So close, but so impossibly far away.

The small cavern where I kneel vibrates to the long, low toll of a bell.

Curfew. And tomorrow is Atonement. I won’t have another chance at lighting up our darkness for another whole day.

Chapter 2

Mother’s warm, raggy hugs. Father’s beardy, scratchy kisses. Baby Derrik, all squirmy and giggly and snuggly in my arms. Grandfather’s weird quips, spoken at the most random times. Our home, tiny and hot, sitting at the top of the stoneshack heap of Cavern 16.

These are the things I remember as a kid in the Under. These are the things that keep me going even though it could all go horribly wrong.

Even though it probably will.

When I was little, the Under was home. It was peace. Behind the robes of my parents I never saw the horror just below the surface of my daily life.

We woke to the tolling bell each morning. We left our tiny home with everyone else, shimmying down the ladders to our neighbor’s roofs, then down more ladders to more roofs and finally to the pebbled ground below. The low light-lines embedded in the sometimes smooth, sometimes rocky walls illuminated the brown-clad subjects of Neighborhood D in their low, cold glow. My little feet, dusty and bare since birth, ran over the dips, pebbles and broken tiles of the cavern floor as I pushed through the throngs of other families headed into the quarry for another day of work. Father always called me over their heads, but I pretended not to hear him. It was our little game.

Coarse robes, bare legs and feet covered in sweat-drenched dust, gnarled hands clasping sharp pickaxes or the split, wooden handles of rusty shovels. I pushed through and around them all, bent on one goal — to get to our family spot before Father, and prove I was finally big enough to explore the dark cracks in the quarry walls that fascinated me.

But every time, he was there first. I’d break free of the crowd as they dispersed through the enormous, open quarry, and he was waiting for me with a wide grin, holding out my scraps basket.

Then one day the game ended, and with it, my childhood.

Running between the brown-clad legs, I didn’t see the spot of white until it was too late. I ran right into what felt like a rock wall.

The wall turned to look at me. My breath stopped. Underneath the soft white hood, a cold glow where eyes should have been. Thin, bloodless lips pursed below a set of ragged holes that only barely resembled a nose. The body, tall and thin, was covered from shoulders to floor in robes that matched the hood.

A Knight of Bask.

I’d heard of the Knights, of course. Everyone knew of the white-clad specters who policed the Under to keep peace among the subjects. I’d even seen a few from far away, but never this close. Close enough to smell it.

It stunk like rotten holemole meat.

The Knight turned away from me without a word. I breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short-lived. Within the next moment the crowd pushed back violently, knocking me to the ground. Pickaxes clattered to the cracked floor, screams echoed everywhere, and I looked up to see the Knight holding someone in the air by the neck.

I didn’t know her, had never spoken to her before, though I’d seen her at the quarry often. She had been softly wrinkled in the face, with sharp green eyes and graying brown hair always pulled back neatly into a torn scrap of robe. Now, her face was purple and bloated from choking, her eyes bulged out sickeningly, her hair free and frizzy, half-covering her face and damp with sweat. Her legs jerked under her brown robes in an unnatural way I’ll never forget as the Knight moved through the parting people, heading toward a nearby hole in the ground.

An oobli.

They littered the floor here and there, deep, dark holes with bottoms set in wicked spikes. Most of the time the ooblis were empty, but we were always taught to stay safely away from them, and everyone knew what they were for.


The Knight stopped at the oobli, holding the jerking woman over it in one hand.

“Bask has spoken,” it bellowed. “The heretic shall be vanquished.”

Without another word, it dropped the woman and walked away. Just dropped her, like she was nothing. Like she was trash.

I ran, then, as far and as fast as I could. It did no good. I still haven’t escaped her gurgling screams.

I don’t think I ever will.

What is a Writer?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 9, 2015 by Jessica Rising

I am a writer.

I really don’t care if some don’t agree with this assessment. I’ve been a writer so long that if someone told me that I was not a writer, I’d ask what their definition of “writer” is. Then I’d follow up with, “does it have anything to do with fame or financial benefit?”

Sadly for most, the answer to that would be “yes”.

While I’d LOVE to make my living writing just about anything, in the end it isn’t about financial gain. It’s not about fame or fortune or power. It’s about the words. It’s about using metaphor, simile, and myth to speak artistically the truth of the world for our future generations. It’s about creating something interesting out of an otherwise blah topic. It’s about making people laugh, cry, curious, and inspired.

THAT is why I write. And that is why I am a writer.

Words of the Day: -opia Edition

Posted in definitions, learning, Writing with tags , , on January 6, 2015 by Jessica Rising

I forgot what “day” I was on. Initially, I was annoyed with Myself. Then Myself reminded I that I much prefer words to numbers. With that recollection, I decided to begin categorizing these posts appropriately. With this in mind, please enjoy the -opia edition of today’s words! ~JR


  1. an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect. The word was first used in the book Utopia (1516) by Sir Thomas More.
    Pictured: A Cornucopia Utopia


  1. a symbol of plenty consisting of a goat’s horn overflowing with flowers, fruit, and corn.
    • an ornamental container shaped like a goat’s horn.
    • an abundant supply of good things of a specified kind.
      “the festival offers a cornucopia of pleasures”
      Pictured: A cornucopia that causes myopia


  1. a condition in which the visual images come to a focus in front of the retina of the eye resulting especially in defective vision of distant objects
  2. a lack of foresight or discernment :  a narrow view of something


Pictured: An environmentally myopic dystopic


  1. an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.
    Pictured: A dystopian symposium

2015 — the Year of Learning

Posted in Fiction, learning, Writing with tags on January 2, 2015 by Jessica Rising


I have gained a bad habit over the course of the last few years. A habit draped in egotism and jealousy. I stopped reading other writers’ blogs, stopped studying writing manuals, stopped trying to learn and grow in my craft. I DID go to graduate school to study writing and literature, but when you are earning a Master’s degree, most of the work is on you. I taught myself, for the most part, picking and choosing the books I wanted to pay attention to — books mostly written by dead authors who couldn’t make me feel inferior by their current success while I had none.

I was lost in my own jealous ignorance. I was stagnant. I refused to learn any more because what I had learned over the course of twenty years had done nothing to help me become a “real” writer.

I was wrong.

Even at this moment, I am tempted to fall into self-pity. I want to say things like “I suck at writing and always will”, and “every time I see a fellow author’s success, I feel horrible”, and “I don’t even know what to write on my own blog, which makes me less than a writer”. I want to fall into my old habits.

But old habits — while they die hard — must, in the end, still die, if we are to grow.

And I need to grow.

So, I will not only be reading and learning from my fellow writers once again, but I’d like to reblog the posts that I find especially helpful. If you’re a fellow writer, please let me know if you have writing posts I could read and share. Beyond that, I will be looking, myself.

2015: The year of learning. The year of growth.

Words of the Day — Holiday Edition

Posted in definitions, fun, new years with tags , , on December 28, 2014 by Jessica Rising

This strange pocket of time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is upon us. It also makes timely updating of Word of the Day posts a bit difficult, due to time-space thingamajiggyness.

Anyway, so I’m taking this time to give you, not two, but FOUR words/phrases, all holiday-related, in this one MEGAPOST, as my Holiday gift to you.

Merry NewMas!


  1. The first day of November, celebrated by the ancient Celts as a festival marking the beginning of winter. Celebrations include reflecting on, and honoring, passed ancestors.
    Pictured: Something from Samhain that is eerily familiar…



  1. a main branch of a tree.
    “apple boughs laden with blossom”
    synonyms: branch, limb, arm, offshoot
    “snow-laden pine boughs”


Pictured: a BOUGH of holly with which to deck your halls.

Auld Lang Syne

ôld laNG ˈzīn,ˈsīn/

  1. times long past. (Scottish in origin — Gaelic)


Pictured: the literal definition of that weird part of the New Years Song nobody can sing correctly.



  1. spiced ale or mulled wine drunk during celebrations for Twelfth Night and Christmas Eve.


  1. drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.
  2. go from house to house at Christmas singing carols.
    “here we go a-wassailing”


Pictured: Something yummeh that you probably haven’t tried yet. WHY HAVEN’T YOU TRIED WASSAIL YET?

Words of the Day, #7 & #8

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2014 by Jessica Rising


noun: awl; plural noun: awls
a small pointed tool used for piercing holes, especially in leather.


Pictured: owlish eyes made with an awl.


noun: literary
noun: yore
of long ago or former times (used in nostalgic or mock-nostalgic recollection).
“a great empire in days of yore.”


Pictured: an awl from the ancient days of yore

Now, give me awl yore shares!

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