I have three little ones (ages 6, 4, and 2) that love reading time and going to the library. It was on one of these library trips that I realized there was a problem: my 6 year-old craved epic stories in the sci-fi and fantasy genre, but he couldn’t access those stories.

The books marked for his “level” did not have substantial stories (I’m sorry, Pete the Cat, but he’s stopped caring about your buttons). So, my son was wandering the chapter book aisle. THAT is where his excitement was. THAT is where the stories that engaged his imagination were. But they were a bit too advanced in length and vocabulary for him to read independently (which is his preferred reading mode).

And so, I started asking librarians and teachers and parents. And you know what? There IS a substantial absence of genre fiction for these younger readers. Why is that a problem (and not just for my little guy)?

BECAUSE THESE ARE THE CRACKS KIDS FALL THROUGH. These are the ages and times where kids decide whether reading is fun or a chore. This can be a LIFETIME decision, one that affects their outlook on school and learning forever!

What these kids need is a shorter chapter book (30-ish pages). A book they could read independently or with an adult. The book needs to evoke that sense of wonder and awe, while still being readable and not confusing–and that’s where the art comes in! Full-color illustrations engage readers with the text. Illustrations in a chapter book builds confidence in readers, helps with vocabulary comprehension. Illustrations in chapter books allows a chapter book to look and feel enticing to even younger readers (like my 4 year-old) or even reluctant readers who need to bridge the gap between graphic novels and novels.

And so, the Bite-Size Epics were born. These early-reader chapter books will have all the story and wonder and epic-ness of those big fantasy and sci-fi books, but will be designed for those kids with the hungriest of imaginations.

So, I hit the internet. I interacted with dozens of incredible and talented illustrators. And I gathered a team of professionals and help these kids.

But I need YOUR help.

I will be launching a Kickstarter Campaign on May 1st to fund the production and printing of this book. Spread the word. Mark your calendars. Send me a note or comment of people who might be interested in this book and I can reach out to them personally.

With the illustration needs of this book and printing costs, getting enough pledges for this project will be a lot of work. But, if I can offer even one kid the chance to love reading for a lifetime, I’ll count these hundreds of hours well-spent.

DELILAH’S VALOR and Twist Endings


Last week I launched my first short story, DELILAH’S VALOR. It was a terrifying leap into the public sphere, but your response to it has been far better than I could have hoped. Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed it, please tell a friend or leave a review.

If you haven’t read it yet, check out the sidebar for links to all your favorite ebook dealers and give it a whirl.


I had a family member mention twist endings and the twist ending in DELILAH’S VALOR over the weekend and it got me thinking. Mostly about how I NEVER INTENDED to have a twist ending in this short story. I just had a rough concept of a character, started a scene with as many senses as I could manage and then let the story unfold under my fingers. I was just as surprised at the ending as any of the readers were. This is the first time that the twist ending was quite accidental (and perhaps that’s why it seems better executed?).

Either way, twist endings get a bad rap for their gimmicky nature, but I think the best twist endings are not only the endings that change the whole story, but the endings that make you WANT MORE. For instance, I loved THE SIXTH SENSE, but I’ve only watched it once. The twist was interesting and well done, but it flavored the whole story in a tragic light that made it hard to re-watch. I didn’t want to see the characters reside in that tragic, fatal space any longer.

Now this may be controversial (and I don’t care), but one of my favorite twist endings is in LADY IN THE WATER. It’s an underrated M. Night Shyamalan movie and one of my favorites. But when Cleveland Heep discovers his true role and it’s not the role he wanted–man. It gets me every time. Granted the THE SIXTH SENSE and LADY IN THE WATER are very different movies (stylistically and genre and all that), I want to stay in the space where Cleveland Heep has discovered his true role. The space where Cleveland Heep has accepted his grief and is starting to heal.

Do you have a favorite twist ending? Why do you think it’s your favorite (or what do you think works)?

Writing Rejection and The Moving Target

You Can Control Rejections.

No, you can’t control IF you get rejections. Writing is such a subjective field (a point that I understood to my core as I graduated with a major in English Literature from a university).

But what you can do is control whether those rejections consume you. Whether they resurrect your worry, your self-doubt, your insecurities. Whether a rejection in your inbox steals your writing momentum for days, or even weeks.


Well, by writing anyways. By writing on a new project. ENJOYING the process of writing is crucial here. Become a moving target.

I’ve received the most rejections I ever have in the last six months and they just haven’t bothered much. Those who are close to me have even commented on the way these rejections don’t seem to sink in like they used to. I’ve pondered a lot on why that is and I think it has a lot to do with becoming a moving target. I don’t obsess about any one project or any one opportunity for very long. I’ve realized that there are many different opportunities; an individual rejection isn’t the end of a dream–just a redirection.

Keep writing. Keep submitting. Keep the faith.

Then, no matter how sharply that rejection is written, it cannot pierce you–it cannot pin you down.


Black Canary Short Comic Script


A Canary Cries

Script by Becca Lee Gardner

10 pages
Final Draft: March 31, 2016

Page One

1/ Open with a farmhouse without a single pane of glass in its windows or doors. Instead the empty spaces are covered with sheets stapled to the window frames. A 60’s Chevy truck sits in the gravel driveway. It’s night and the full moon illuminates the scene.
2/ Cut to Dinah Drake Lance lying in a king-sized bed alone. She’s asleep, though the disheveled covers and the distress in her expression indicate it’s not a restful sleep. Beside the bed is a nightstand with an alarm clock and a corded telephone.
3/ Sitting on the floor beside the bed is seven-year-old Laurel Lance. She has her knees drawn up to her chest, her eyes squeezed shut, and her lips tight.
4/ Framed in the window is Aquarius. He is a living star, but this is a diminished version of him, so his brilliance is somewhat blurred. His gaze is clearly on the room’s occupants.

Page Two
1/ Morning light falls from the now empty window. Dinah lifts herself to an elbow and notices Laurel for the first time. Laurel is unmoved from before, her legs held tight to her body, her arms rigid, and her face clenched tight.
3/ Cut to Dinah kneeling and holding Laurel’s face in her hands. Laurel remains unchanged. Her expression is a mix of anguish and concentration.
DINAH : Laurel! What’s wrong? Can you hear me? Laurel!
4/ Cut to Dinah cradling Laurel on her lap. Laurel does not look any more relaxed. Dinah has the phone to pressed to one ear.
DINAH : Officer James Gordon, please. Yes, I can hold.

Page Three
1/ Cut to a cop car beside the truck on the farmhouse’s gravel drive. A very young James Gordon exits the driver’s side. He is thin and solemn in his Gotham P.D. uniform.
2/ James holds open the cruiser’s back door and a cuffed Ted Grand (Wildcat) exits. He is as massive and relaxed as James is thin and solemn. Ted also bears the bruises and swollen jaw of a recent fistfight.
TED : Do all cruisers smell like vomit?
JAMES : Larry never mentioned your charm. Or you at all, actually.
3/ Dinah exits the farmhouse before them. She’s changed from her nightgown into high-waisted Levis and a cut-off T-shirt. Ted’s gaze is on Dinah, concern tightening his features.
TED : I ain’t a friend of Larry’s.
4/ Cut to inside the farmhouse. Laurel is curled up on a sofa, her eyes and mouth are still shut, but she looks a bit more peaceful than before. Ted is kneeling before her, his hands still cuffed. Dinah and James look on from the room’s entryway, giving Ted and Laurel a bit of privacy.
TED (mutters) : You are in the safe room. Unlock the door. The house is clear.
5/ Closer shot on Dinah and James, with Ted and Laurel still in the background.
JAMES : What is he doing?
DINAH : He’s talking her out of her mind fortress.
JAMES : She’s seven and HE’S a criminal.

Page Four
1/ Cut to a view of Ted as James must see him. He is all bulk and muscle, especially compared to the petite girl before him. He has scars that speak to years of fights much rougher than the most recent one.
DINAH : Not everyone in Gotham’s jails are criminals and not everyone on Gotham’s streets are innocents.
JAMES : Larry wouldn’t—
DINAH : He’s dead, Jim. I’m doing my best.
2/ JAMES rubs a hand across his face.
JAMES : I’m sorry, Dinah. Hell, I could have used Larry’s advice this week.
DINAH : I heard about the Waynes.
3/ Cut to Dinah at Laurel’s side. The girl is upright, her bright eyes open, though her face is a bit pale. Ted is sitting rocked back on his heels.
DINAH : Hun, are you okay?
LAUREL : Yeah, Mom.
TED : She hasn’t been that locked up tight, not even when . . .
4/ Dinah pulls Laurel into a tight embrace.
DINAH : Did you have a bad dream?
LAUREL : No, Mom. He was here. He tried to get into my mind.
5/ James steps closer, his face in a deeper frown.
JAMES : Who was here?
LAUREL : The bright man. The one who killed Daddy.

Page Five
1/ Dina has Laurel at arm’s length, her expression serious. Ted is on his feet, pacing the room. James is crouched beside Dinah, his notepad and pencil in his hand.
DINAH : How do you know it was the man who killed Daddy?
LAUREL : He told me.
JAMES : Did he say anything else?
2/ Close up on Laurel’s face. She has a spit-fire personality, defiant and stubborn.
LAUREL : He told me to scream at you. To scream until you were bleeding. I hid from him.
3/ Close up on Dinah as a flash of fear crosses her face. Ted halts his pacing behind her.
TED : Son of a Bitch!
DINAH : That’s good, baby. It’s okay to hide. I’m going to go make you some cocoa, okay?
4/ Cut to kitchen where Dinah is warming cocoa on the stove. James is slumped in a chair at the table. Ted is right behind Dinah, obviously aggravated.
TED : Aquarius is back to KILL you. That’s a big deal!
DINAH : If he’d been at full strength, you’d be looking through the ashes for our bones.
TED : Dinah!
5/ Dinah hands a mug to Ted, there is no remnant of fear in her expression.
DINAH : We’re strong. We have to be.
TED : You’re outmatched, Dinah.
DINAH : Maybe. Maybe not. Give this to Laurel.

Page Six
1/ Ted exits the room with the mug held in his cuffed hands. James straightens in his chair.
JAMES : He’s right.
DINAH : I know.
JAMES : Don’t you have friends with powers or something?
DINAH : None close enough to help.
2/ Dinah crosses her arms. James removes his keys from his belt.
JAMES : I’ll leave him in your custody.
DINAH : I can’t ask that of you, Jim.
JAMES : Just for the night. Just in case.
3/ James stands and Dinah smiles.
JAMES : I’ll be back for him in the morning.
DINAH : Thank you.
JAMES : Jail’s crowded anyway.
4/ Cut to Dinah fishing a pair of handguns out from under the sofa. A bag full of weapons lies open and waiting for the last additions on the floor beside her. Laurel is sitting on the sofa eating pizza and watching cartoons.
5/ Cut to Dinah dropping the bag into the bed the old Chevy truck. Ted’s in the driver’s seat. It’s dusk.
DINAH : That’s all of it.
TED : You sure about this?
DINAH : He’ll try to turn us on each other. Leave the truck down the lane. Be back before the stars come out.

Page Seven
1/ Cut to Dinah and Laurel on the porch. It is full night now. Dinah is standing, tense and waiting. A large figure walks down the driveway toward them.
DINAH : It’s him!
LAUREL : No, it’s not, Mom.
2/ Close up of Ted’s face as he advances on the house, his eyes are the same burning yellow of Aquarius and he has an eager, blood-thirsty twist to his lips.
DINAH (off panel) : Get inside, Laurel. Hide!
LAUREL (off panel) : No, Mom.
3/ Dinah steps off the porch to confront Ted. She’s crouched into a fighting stance. Laurel is still sitting on the porch behind.
DINAH : Fight him, Ted!
TED : He’s not as strong as you or the girl. Some can teach, but not perform.
4/ Ted lunges at Dinah.
5/ Ted and Dinah fight.

Page Eight
1/ Dinah is quick and disciplined, but Ted is much faster than his brute-build would suggest.
2/ Ted lands a devastating blow on Dinah.
LAUREL (off panel) : Mom!
3/ Dinah raises her bloodied head toward Laurel.
DINAH : Run, Laurel!
4/ Dinah tries to dodge the next blow, but Ted anticipates her move.
5/ Dinah is unconscious and bloody.

Page Nine
1/ Ted turns toward Laurel. Laurel is on her feet, her little fists balled. She takes in a deep breath.
TED : Don’t scream, girl.
TED : You’ll hurt your mommy.
2/ Close up on Laurel’s face as tears fall down her cheeks.
3/ She lets out a sonic scream. Ted collapses. Dinah writhes on the ground in agony.
4/ Laurel keeps screaming until a wisp of light leaves Ted’s body.
5/ Cut to Laurel cradling Dinah’s bloodied head, tears falling freely from Laurel and onto her unconscious mother. Morning is just starting to warm the sky.

Page Ten
1/ Cut to full morning. A police cruiser is parked haphazardly in the drive and James is at Dinah’s side, checking her pulse. Laurel is still holding her mother’s head.
JAMES : She’s alive! It’s okay, Laurel. She’ll be okay.
2/ Cut to an ambulance now on the scene, taking a conscious Dinah away. Ted is in the back of James’ cruiser. His ears are bloody and his head held low in shame. James is talking with one of the EMT’s in the background. Laurel walks beside her mother’s stretcher.
DINAH : It’s okay.
LAUREL : No, it’s NOT. I made you bleed. I hurt you.
DINAH : No, Laurel. You fought when you could have run.
3/ Dinah closes her eyes with a peaceful smile.
DINAH : You’re a fighter and fighters don’t hide. Not anymore.

To be a Storyteller

I was sitting in a writer’s conference when I realized it. I do NOT want to be an author.

An author is someone who wrote that ONE book (or two). The ones she can’t stop doting on. An author gets a little nervous when someone asks them what they are working on now or when the next book will come out.

I want to be a storyteller.

You’ve seen a storyteller at a panel or writing conference. Usually they are the keynote, but not always. They’ve been in the business for decades. They can’t recite every title they’ve published; the list is too long. Besides, they are more excited about the current project and the project after that and after that. They have found joy in the act of CREATING story, not in just the ego-lift of having done the thing.

This is the path I’ve chosen. It may not be your path. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Here I will detail my journey to be a storyteller.