The civilization that created Kizo is likely long dead, but there is life on this world, strange as it may seem to us. Here, Kizo comes across another traveler on this desert road, a rock tortoise.
Forsaken Stars Sci-Fi Horror Fantasy Comic & Blog by Rob Lopez Rated Web 14 Due to Adult Themes, Partial Nudity and Scenes of Intense Violence
I love each and every one of the pieces that are a part of the REBIRTH Blogfest and I can’t wait to bring them together for the digital collection! However, for fun, there was a competitive aspect to the proceedings. Over the last week, I assembled the thoughts and reviews of Fresno Scifi and Fantasy Writer members’ and blogfest participants to choose the “Best” Piece and “Fan Favorite” Piece and I employed a sophisticated online random number generator to select the “Lucky” award.
REBIRTH Blogfest “Best” Piece – Wishmaker by Danielle E. Shipley
REBIRTH Blogfest “Fan Favorite” Piece – Water Drops by Nichole L. McGhie
REBIRTH Blogfest “Lucky” Piece – Waking Up Again/Untitled by fazbear/Mikki
Thank you to all the FSFW judges, including Ed Smith of Conservative Prepper, Jim Geiser, Doug Bloomer of cinemacircus.net, and Alisha Lopez. Thank you to our blogfest sponsors Kyle Aisteach of aisteach.com, Christopher Wood of fsfw.net and Nichole McGhie of Simply McGhie and the participants Danielle E. Shipley of Ever on Word, Tirzah Duncan of the inkcaster, Collin Shaw at horrorshorts, Nichole McGie at Random Outbursts of an Excited Writer, Jim D. Geiser and fazbear at reddit.
Congratulations to all the winners and I will be in touch with your prizes! ALL Blogfest participants will receive one of my digital works from my amazon author page. Thank you all for writing and please keep up the great work!
Who do we think we are? Besides the usual, I asked the writers what scares them most or who or what has influenced them most. These are our answers [editor’s note: as of this moment, not all writers and sponsors have had the chance to respond to the questions posed, so some entries are briefer than others. So check back for updates!]…
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Nichole writes: I am a wife and mother of four beautiful and energetic kids. I am a writer and a small business owner. [simplymcghie.etsy.com] I am a great advocate of literacy programs. As a young student, I struggled with school because I didn’t know how to read. It took a very loving reading specialist to open up my world and I have been an avid reader and writer ever since. Since that time I have gone on to be a reading tutor myself as well as graduate with a BA in English from Fresno State.
The story I am most proud of is probably To Kiss a Storm (Elina). It’s still a work in progress. I’m most proud of this story because it’s the first novel that I’ve written and it gave me a great confidence boost when it comes to my writing. As a mom of four kids and having to go through “pregnancy brain,” as well as the ever present “mommy brain,” to be able to finish something of that magnitude, was a huge thing for me. When I finished it, it was the first time I thought to myself, “yes, I can do this.”
There isn’t a lot that scares me. I’ve faced so many different things in my life and have somehow conquered them. However, the secret fear that I do have is being considered insignificant. This is probably one of the things that inspires my writing the most. I want everyone to know that they truly matter in this world. A lot of my stories are about people realizing that they are worth something and that they are capable of truly amazing things. It’s my belief that if more people realize their own individual worth, they can be the hands that lift others, helping to make this world a better place.
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New Earth is an excerpt of the sequel for The Decisions, a story that will be included in a short story collection he is currently working on. Jim is a fellow member of the Fresno Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers and is one of the authors of the FSFW Anthology I Dreamed A Crooked Dream. Other published works include the Return of Satan and Cloud Sculptures.
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Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing, publishing, and all that authorial jazz, she’s probably blogging about it at EverOnWord.wordpress.com.
Her debut novel, INSPIRED, is the story of orphaned fictional characters looking for a new author home and she looks forward to sharing further adventures in that world of layer upon layer of imagination for years to come! Danielle also invites you to check out her new project, from the world of her reader-acclaimed fairytale mash-up retelling novellas The Wilderhark Tales, it’s “The Wilderhark Talettes”, one of many series available on Channillo.com. The next Talette releases on Monday, May 25th. Consider a subscription!
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Collin writes: I’ve only recently started to write seriously but I’ve been inventing stories and characters my entire life. Right now I’m only going for short story’s to find my own style of writing, but later there might be a book or two in the works. I love writing horror because I love thinking of new ways on how to scare or unnerve the reader. With the Rebirth blog fest I wanted to try my hand at a small sci-fi horror story.
The story I’m most proud of right now is Smoke. I’ve heard about erotic horror and wanted to give it a go too. Out came this story about a detective that is having the night of his life. I had a lot of fun writing it and, even though it’s far from perfect, it’s definitely my favorite work to date.
The greatest influence on my writing is definitely the world around me. It’s always something small that people have gotten to know for a while. I like to look at that and turn it into something creepy or scary. For Rebirth it was blogging, for Smoke it was sex and for The Confession a stranger. That’s always my seed and from there I go out and try to make a story out of it. At this point it’s largely experimenting until I’ve found my writing style. Of course my girlfriend and my family are very supportive of my hobby and I’m very happy to have them.
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On the REBIRTH entry by reddit user fazbear: I go by the nickname Mikki and I really enjoy science fiction stories, and I was inspired by the game Halo and [the film] The Fountain to write this short story. It did just start out as a random short story, I might expand on it and write more.
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Rob Lopez recently married Alisha Vargas. He is the creator of Forsaken Stars and Spiral Legion. Recent works include The Dark Lady: A Forsaken Stars Tale and Prelude to Spiral Legion. He is a member of the Fresno Scifi and Fantasy Writers. His influences include Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Stan Lee, Chris Claremont and artists Arthur Rackham, Arthur Adams, John Romita Sr. and Jr., and Neal Adams. What terrifies him most? That he won’t be able to get all the stories out of his head and onto the page before he forgets them. In more general terms, not finishing the things he has started.
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Established at their first meeting April, 19th 2008, Fresno Sci-Fi & Fantasy Writers is a group for local writers that meet face-to-face and discuss their work. They published their first anthology, I Dreamed A Crooked Dream, November 11, 2010.
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Kyle Aisteach lives with his husband in Fresno, Calif. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California with a degree in Classics and Theatre and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno. He has at various times worked as an actor, a stage manager, a journalist, a video producer, a short-order chef, a marketer, a grocery store cashier, a science outreach professional, and a newspaper carrier. Some of these jobs he would go back to more readily than others. He currently teaches college writing part-time.
Kyle has three cats, a dog, and a tank full of tropical fish. Allergies — to animal hair and changing tank water, respectively — prevent him from having more pets.
In his spare time, Kyle enjoys bicycling, weightlifting, rock climbing, scuba diving, and harassing people with different political views.
I am pleased to present guest blogger Jim D. Geiser’s REBIRTH Blogfest entry, New Earth, an excerpt of the sequel for The Decisions, a story that will be included in a short story collection he is currently working on. Jim is a fellow member of the Fresno Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers and is one of the authors of the FSFW Anthology I Dreamed A Crooked Dream. I have had the pleasure of illustrating a couple of the covers of Jim’s stories the Return of Satan and Cloud Sculptures.
A sequel to “The Decisions”
Jim D. Geiser
It had been four months since the two ships moved into orbit around this alien world. Though each ship carried five thousand men and women, after traveling more than two-hundred forty Earth years to get here, only thirty people had been awakened from suspended animation. Their task was to determine if this world could sustain mankind, or if they had to seek out a new world to call home.
As they analyzed all the reams of data that their many probes sent back, they compared the data the probes collected with a report entitled “The comfort zone.” This report gave the ideal range, the highs and lows to maximize their chances for survival. This report did not dictate their staying or leaving this or any world. It was designed only to give them data to use in making their decisions. Every reading the probes tested for was in this report. The minimum and maximum readings they were given were guidelines for them to consider. They projected what was needed to give them the best chance to survive.
The twelve members of the Malone group worked tirelessly, day after day, unlike the others. Everyone knew that their families had died long ago, but not that the Earth had been destroyed by a meteor traveling at three-quarters the speed of light. The Malone people knew of the coming disaster and had time to come to terms with it before they were put into suspended animation. But the others . . . they now grieved for the home world they could never return to.
The crew members were eating while listening to music from home. They had pushed two tables together so that they could eat as one family. There were no formal leaders here except for Captain Jason Sparks and Captain Elaine Masters, but when it came to analyzing the data that streamed in constantly, it was clear to all that the Malone people were in charge by proxy.
After the two captains took their places at the head and foot of the table, Captain Masters asked without hesitation, “So what’s the latest on this planet, can we call it our new home?”
Connie changed her last name to Malone in honor of her mentor, Elliott Malone. At nearly one hundred years old, he had worked tirelessly to assure everyone that they had as much as they needed to survive. He was solely responsible for the most critical decisions, while encouraging and motivating those that worked with him to do the same. Connie looked around the table and saw that all eyes were on her. She gathered her thoughts and began. “It’s looking very good so far. The planet itself is about twenty-seven percent larger than earth. Its two moons are like ours . . . lifeless. The temperature ranges appear to be very close to Earth’s. The air is breathable, with an oxygen content about ten percent richer than we are accustomed to, and the gravity is about three percent stronger than on Earth. The oceans are salt water, and cover about sixty-two percent of the planet’s surface with ice covering both polar regions. The seas contain an abundance of sea life, ranging from the microscopic to sea creatures about the size of a large shark. We’ve also seen massive clouds of flying creatures. They were seen at a great distance, so we have no idea of their size or quantity. We’ll need to start catching some of this world’s creatures and harvest some of their plant life to see if any of it can be eaten.”
“What about the land? Have there been any signs that our probes are contaminating this world?” Captain Sparks asked.
“None to date. We need to recover some of the probes and check for damage. The outside of the probes were scorched on entry. I don’t think there would be any contamination unless the probe was damaged on impact, and probably not then. I believe that the real risk of contamination will come when we go to the surface and expose ourselves to that environment. If there is going to be a risk, either to this world or us, then that will be our first sign.”
“What have you discovered on the land?” Elaine asked.
“There are freshwater lakes and rivers of all sizes. There are many rolling hills, but few high mountains. There are forests and plains aplenty. We have seen herds of animals, but can’t really tell what they look like or if they’re consumable. It will be interesting to see if there are any similar to those on Earth.”
“Intelligent life?” she pressed.
“We’ve seen no signs. There are no visible villages, artificial heat sources, or indications of intelligence greater than we grant to animals. We talked yesterday and Carolyn suggested that the intelligent life may have thrived underwater, that they never crawled out of the sea. I’m not going to rule that out.”
Lastly, Captain Sparks asked, “When do you think we can risk our first venture to the surface?”
“Our vet has advanced our two German shepherds to about a year and a half old and has planted the intelligence chips in their heads. They are responding perfectly. I recommend we wear hazmat suits on our first trip to the surface. Only King and Queen will be fully exposed to the potential dangers on the surface.”
“When do you recommend we go?” Jason inquired.
“Tomorrow at sunrise. The commander of our security force has said the four soldiers we’ve awakened so far have volunteered to go with us. They’re not here now because the captain is briefing them on what they can and cannot do on this exploratory trip.”
“That sounds great,” Captain Masters added, “But please remind me to tell him not to separate them from the rest of the crew. We’re all one family here.”
The room grew quiet as everyone returned to their meal. Meanwhile, Connie pulled out a tablet and began making notes as to the equipment they would bring with them. Her hand began to tremble with excitement.
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At first light, the landing crew exited the shuttle craft onto a hilltop overlooking a grassy valley with a stream flowing on the far side. A herd of animals that appeared to be a cross between a hog and a bison grazed quietly near the stream’s edge. On the hillside across the valley, a forest of short trees with huge leaves rose up and over the adjacent hill.
The dogs had been the first to exit as they raced around the hilltop in search of hidden dangers. The guards exited next, two armed with powerful pulse rifles, and the other two were equipped with compound bows and arrows. All four men were equipped with handguns.
As Connie stepped out on to the deep grass, she scanned the area and saw both dogs were hesitant to approach some large red and yellow bushes with elaborate white flowers. When King, the more assertive of the two dogs, slowly approached, five featherless, winged, lizard-like creatures of about seven inches in length took flight. King and Queen gave chase.
“No . . . come!” Connie shouted and both obeyed.
A rumble down in the valley caused everyone to move closer to the hill’s edge to see what was happening. They watched in silence as the animals moved further up the valley, away from the sound of Connie’s voice, away from the unfamiliar noise.
Where the path the animals took caused them to move too close to the trees, two large catlike animals with razor sharp claws and teeth quickly dispensed with what appeared to be one of the elderly beasts.
The rest of the day, and the next two weeks, more people were wakened from their sleep, as well as search dogs, and chimpanzees to test the food and water before they would allow their people to use them. More teams were sent to different parts of this world. A greater assortment of animals and birds were identified and named, as well as fish and other sea creatures.
At the end of the two week test period, everyone agreed that this world appeared suitable for mankind, and the next phase began. Wells were dug, fields planted, and sanitation systems put in place. Finally, defenses against the catlike creatures and any still unknown, were put in place as well.
Now six months into the test period, Captains Sparks and Masters declared that until the situations changed, this world would be named New Earth, and that the human race had found a new world to call home.
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For full details on the REBIRTH Blogfest, click the badge below!
I am hoping to add some artwork to this piece over the course of this week. In any case, here is my entry for the REBIRTH Project Blogfest.
by Rob Lopez
Val had no idea how long he had been laying in the crater. The ground beneath him was warm and he cleared his lungs of the smoke. Small fires surrounded him and as he looked down at his own body, he saw the remains of an astronaut’s space suit. Did I fall from orbit? He thought as he struggled to remember who he was beyond his name, how he ended up here, and why he was still alive.
He raised his right arm and brought his hand up to his face. The tattered remains of a glove hung from it. He flexed his fingers and there was pain and a slight glow pulsating from beneath the flesh of the palm of his hand. What? Pain lanced through his arm, neck, chest, solar plexus and head. It was like fire and ice and his sight went red, orange and black before it cleared up again. He pulled himself out of the body-shaped indentation at the center of the crater and tried to get to his feet, but the pain and a spike of vertigo dropped him back to the ground into a fetal position.
Distantly, there was the sound of a zing and explosion. Then another. And another.
Shhhzzzz, boom! Shhhhzzzzboom!
The smoke was clearing. The sky was blue, with a few scattered white, puffy clouds and a half dozen contrail streaks.
Then an airliner tumbled across the sky.
Oh, God, what is happening? Val thought. Then something inside him, perhaps his training, told him to move. Move, dammit, get clear of this crater and get yourself some help! You probably have internal injuries. You could be dying, man!
He stumbled up towards the rim of the crater, shedding what was left of his space suit along the way. He reached up and pulled his skullcap off, and tested the built in radio—nothing.
He ditched it, stood at the rim of the crater and looked out at his surroundings. The outskirts of a city, San Jose, maybe, sprawled before him, and much of it was on fire. Sirens, car horns and alarms blared. Meteors fell from the sky and struck the ground with so much force, the earth shook beneath his feet.
The burning pain radiate from within him again, bringing him to his knees. Tears ran down his cheeks. He wiped them away, and noticed that they stained the back of his hand with a kind of phosphorescent glow. Before he could form a hypothesis, he heard a skittering beside him, he turned, half coming to his feet.
A critter that resembled a Giant Japanese Spider Crab, about twelve feet from claw to claw, standing at a height of about five feet, clad in an exoskeleton of charcoal and red, chittered at Val and brandished its forward sword-like claws at him.
It sparked a memory of a little blond, blue-eyed girl, Kassie, sitting in a high chair with a Red Lobster bib around her neck, chewing on a noodle of fettucini alfredo and holding a lobster claw and giggling. I have a daughter?
The spider crab leaped at him, and he instinctively leapt out of the way, launching himself much farther into the air than he expected to fly. It was as if gravity had lost its hold on him! He hit the ground rolling. The burning pain concentrated in his legs. His toenails seemed to be lit from beneath. What? Is? HAPPENING TO ME? He thought, as the spider crab turned and bridged the thirty foot distance to pursue him. He scrambled back and his hand caught hold of a rock and he through it at the critter. The rock exploded against the surface of its shell, but it fell back, stunned.
Val turned and ran. His chest started to burn, but he wanted to put some real distance between himself and that thing, so he fought through it. I don’t remember being this fast.
He came upon a highway, and was surprised to see almost no cars on it. And the few that were scattered across it were crashed along the cement divider or sitting idle, the drivers unconscious or missing. A lone truck weaved in and out of the dead obstacles. Val tried to stop it, but it almost ran him down.
A black boy in a Forty-Niners jersey and shorts walked along the divider, carrying a backpack and a gun. He was coming towards Val, towards the city. Before Val could call out to him, a spider crab leaped out of a car and onto the divider between them. The boy screamed, raised the gun and shot at it. The bullet lanced it, but barely phased it and it rose up to strike the boy down with its sword arms.
No! Val screamed, but it didn’t come out of his mouth. He bounded towards the creature and in two great leaps he was on its back. His fingers found hold along the rim of the head of the thing and he pulled back with all his strength. The shell snapped off, and he and the spider crab went sprawling backwards. It pinned him and he grappled with it, its pincer like jaws about to come down on his neck, when he heard the gun go off again. The creature went limp and Val tossed it aside. The boy had fired the gun nearly point blank at its exposed brain, or what might have passed for it—and this time the bullet had found its mark.
He rose over the boy and nodded a thank you.
“Just returning the favor, dude,” the boy said. He couldn’t have been older than ten. “Are you a superhero?” The boy asked.
He was about to answer, when the reflective hull of a gas tank truck caught his eye. He walked over to it and saw that his skin had taken on a red-orange hue, his extremities were glowing, and his buzzcut had grown into a long, ghostly mane. Thankfully, his briefs were still intact.
But he had no mouth or nose. Some kind of membrane had grown over them.
Kid, I don’t know what I am.
“Can you help my dad? We were getting out of the city to go hide out with my uncle in the mountains, last night when the crabsteroids started falling. But then he just went to sleep. I tried to keep the car from crashing, but we went off the road a few miles back. I think everyone on the road went to sleep. Except me.”
Val went over to one of the idle cars, reached in to check the pulse of the driver. Alive. Asleep. Weird.
Everything’s weird. This is the world. This is me. So many questions. I still could be dying, He thought. But I might be able to do some good along the way.
Val walked over to the kid and pantomimed his name.
“Val? No, no, no, that’s not a superhero name.” The kid said, brows furrowing. He pulled out a couple of comics from his backpack, flipped through them and put a finger to his lip. “But Valiant is. I’m gonna call you Valiant.”
Whatever, kid. What’s your name? Val thought, bemusedly, though looking over his shoulder for signs of more critters.
“My name is Milo, but if this is an adventure, I’ll need a sidekick name.”
You’re not my sidekick.
Milo pulled his gun, a glock, from his holster, slung over his shoulder, “Kid Glock—“
No guns for you. Val said, and snapped it out of Milo’s hand.
“Hey, I saved your life with that gun.”
Val stared him down and held his hand out for the holster. Milo hesitated, then took it off and handed it to him. Val slung it over his own shoulder and looked over the city. We need answers.
“My mom works at the University. She wouldn’t come with us. So that’s where I was headed.”
Good enough for me, Milo. Lead the way.
Val looked to the sky and recalled falling.
I fell for a long time.
“Do you think you can fly? That could sure save us some time.”
Val shrugged his shoulders. He reached down and picked up Milo. Hold on tight, kid, if I can fly, I’m not sure if I can land. So far, all I know is that I’m great at crashing.
“Uh, you sure about this?” Milo asked.
And then Valiant launched into the sky.
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For full details on the REBIRTH Blogfest, click the badge below!
You can find the original rules and links here, but I will repost the essentials of the original post here as well for the sake of clarity.
The Blogfest runs from Tuesday, May 12 to Saturday, May 23, 2015! You don’t have to be from the Central Valley, California, though it would be nice if English is your first or second language. It was my intent to shine a light on our local talent, but multiple circumstances have made our writers group extremely difficult to maintain our groupiness, so the blogfest is open to anyone who is interested. Click here to sign up!
The theme/writing prompt is REBIRTH. So whether you are a science-fiction, fantasy or horror writer, the possibilities are endless. Word limits are a minimum of 500 and maximum of 1500 words, so you may want to limit your piece to one or two characters and your main character’s moment of change/epiphany/awakening/resurrection.
We do have a few prizes worked out:
And there may be more to come!*
Stephen King equates the short story with “a kiss in the dark from a stranger.” Kurt Vonnegut said to “start your story as close to the end as possible.” Edgar Allan Poe is quoted, “A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” So get reading and writing!
“For seasoned bloggers blog hops/link ups are most likely second nature but for others who may be new to blogging blog hops may be uncharted territory leaving them with many questions. If you are unfamiliar with blog hops, they are basically a great way to meet other bloggers and gain followers.”
1) What is a blog hop? A blog hop, also called a link up, is basically a widget, called a linky, that allows bloggers to add their blog to a list. The list can be on multiple sites or may just be on the site of the blogger hosting the hop.
2) What is the purpose of a blog hop? Blog hops allow you to visit other blogs, follow blogs you like, and gain followers. This one will concentrate on Central Valley writers and past, present and future members of the Fresno Scifi and Fantasy Writers.
3) How do I participate in the REBIRTH Project Blogfest?
a. Come up with a story or vignette based on the writing prompt “rebirth” — what comes to mind when you think of the word rebirth? Is it an awakening? An enlightenment? A physical death and rebirth? Metaphorical? — the word limits are a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 1,500 words. The piece can be science-fiction, fantasy, horror or speculative fiction.
b. It is preferable if you have your own blog, but if you do not, you can submit your piece to myself at forsakenstars.com (forsakenstars AT gmail DOT com). We may set up a thread at fsfw.net to also host writers that don’t yet have their own blog, but still working out the details on that. In any case, email me or comment below that you would like to participate and I will create and update the link list as it grows. Deadline to join the list has been extended to the end of the blogfest: May 23, 2015! Though the sooner you join and write your piece, the sooner you have time to edit, revise and polish it! And the sooner people get to read and comment on it!
c. The REBIRTH Project blogfest will have a competitive component with awards and prizes. We will have a small panel of judges to decide on the “best” piece based on character, plot and theme, a “fan favorite” piece based on comments from the participants and public alike, and a “door prize” piece awarded at random to one of the participants and one of the [non-participant] public commenters.
d. It is our intention to collect the pieces into an FSFW anthology and make it available for purchase with the proceeds going to a central valley literacy program, so keep in mind that by participating this blogfest you are publishing your piece firstly on your blog and possibly secondly in our anthology for charity. So if you would like submit your piece elsewhere, know that most publishers have rules and limits regarding previously published works.
e. The actual blogfest will go live Tuesday, May 12, 2015 and run through Saturday, May 23, 2015. At the kickoff, you will post your hopefully final, polished piece on your blog, as well as the link list of all the other blogs participating. Then you will hop through each blog, read the other pieces and leave comments about what you think about the pieces. Be respectful! If you come across a blog you enjoy, feel free to follow it!
4) Why should I leave a comment? Leaving a comment allows the blogger to know that you are now following them. However, there are a few rules of etiquette:
5) How long is a blog hop? Blog hops typically last one day although some may last an entire weekend and specialty blog hops may last a week or more. Again, the REBIRTH Project Blogfest will last two weeks, going live Tuesday, May 12, 2015 and run through Saturday, May 23, 2015.
6) How many blogs should I visit? As many as you would like. Visiting blogs through blog hops takes time so you may not get to everyone on the list, so just do your best. The more you visit, the more likely they are to visit your blog.
7) How do I find the REBIRTH Project blogs? The list will be maintained here, below, so check back often! There will also be a blogfest badge you can post on your site below your story/piece/entry or in a sidebar at your blog/website.
Forsaken Stars is Stephen Fry proof thanks to caching by WP Super Cache