Thursday, June 28, 2012

Follow Friday Post!

Here's my #FF Post!

Q: Birthday Wishes -- Blow out the candles and imagine what character could pop out of your cake...who is it and what book are they from?

Hmm...tough one. How about Lan from the Wheel of Time, fully decked out! Although, if we're including TV characters I'd have to go with Dean from Supernatural! :D Happy Friday Everyone!

Just Sayin.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Guest Blogger: Karen Cole

Everyone please give a warm welcome to Karen Cole who is my guest blogger today.

Why should you hire a ghostwriter or editor for your work? 

Because it gives you someone professional that you can count on. Here at GWI, we offer you expert, affordable ghost writing, editing, and promotions or marketing for your book, manuscript, script or screenplay. We work on your memoir or memoirs, and all types of fiction and nonfiction projects. 

Email us today at for a great deal on your writing project!

Thanks for visiting Karen! Everyone take a moment to check out her website  by clicking on the link above! Thanks! Happy Wednesday! :D

Teaser Tuesdays -- A Dance With Dragons

Teaser Tuesday is weekly meme hosted by Mizb at Should be Reading
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share the title & author.

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin: 

"When Daenerys returned to her pyramid, sore of limb and sick of heart, she found Missandei reading some old scroll whilst Irri and Jhiqui argued about Rakharo. "You are too skinny for him," Jhiqui was saying. "You are almost a boy. Rakharo does not bed boys. This is known." Irri bristled back. "It is known that you are almost a cow. Rakharo does not bed with cows."

"Reek could bear no more. "Please, m'lord, m'lady, there's been some mistake." He fell to his knees, trembling like a leaf in a winter storm, tears streaming down his ravaged cheeks. "I'm not him, I'm not the turncloak, he died at Winterfell. My name is Reek." He had to remember his name. "It rhymes with freak."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Whaw-hoo! Landmark for me!

I now have fifty followers on this blog! Booh-yaw, baby! I know that for some--okay most--of my followers, some of whom have hundreds or even thousands of followers, that's small potatoes, but I've only been blogging seriously for a few months and it's a freakin' milestone for me!

Thanks so much to all my followers. Thank you for reading, following, commenting, and supporting. Thank you so much for you TIME! It is greatly appreciated!

(Motions sending out happy thoughts to all her followers.) Have a great week! :D

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Follow Friday!

Q: If you could "unread" a book, which one would it be? Is it because you want to start over and experience it again for the first time? Or because it was THAT bad?

I don't think reading is ever a bad thing. Even if you swear you'd never read a particular book or author again, at least you've gained that knowledge and learned something, even if it isn't particularly pleasant. Granted, not the funnest thing ever, but it's life, right? As a writer, I definitely learn a lot from what other authors do wrong. It's much more stimulating to learn from what they do write and try to incorporate their genius into my own writing, but again, you can't win 'em all!

Answer: Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time

So my answer would be to un-read something in order to experience it again for the first time. My answer here has to be Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Series. I began it my sophomore year of high school, or actually just before. I discovered book 1, The Eye of the World, with two weeks until my Sophomore year started. I read books 1 and 2 (about 1500 pages all together) in two weeks and read the rest of the published series (only up to about book 8 or 9 at that point, if I remember right) throughout the year. That series has done more to influence me as a writer and a story-crafter than most other literature combined. I wish I remembered my first impressions. 

Of course, they were probably really intellectual, like, "OMG this is totally awesome! So's that! And that...!" You know, something like that. :D Happy Friday everyone! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Peruvian Rugs--Part 2

So on Monday I gave you an image and told you to see what you could come up with. I got some interesting--and somewhat hilarious--answers back. (See comments of previous post!) Thanks to all those who participated! I appreciate the insight! 

So what about me? Well, being a Peruvian rug, I immediately set the story in an ancient, Middle-Eastern era. Maybe Egypt or the Seljuk Turks? (Think Aladdin!) I tend to like dark fantasy, so I thought perhaps the rug was an object of sorcery. Perhaps it was hidden away for safe keeping because it was tied to someone's life. When the finder shook it out and it turned to dust, so did the person it was tied to, but the finder, of course, has no idea. Why would he/she?

Next we have to tie the finder of the rug--okay, this person needs a name. Let's make them a he and him Bob. (Total Seljuk Turk name, right? :D ) So we have to tie Bob into the evil-spell/rug story line. If he snuffs out someone's life but never finds out, what's the point? So, perhaps the spell rebounds on him somehow. Perhaps the evil (insert label for bad guy) who cast the spell can now find and do the same thing to him. Maybe it's like a chain-letter, but it's a chain-rug of death!!!

Over the top? Yeah, maybe a little, but still fun! 

Next we'd have to figure out why the bad guy (or girl. ooh!) wants to do this in the first place and how our hero Bob can save himself. But still...

Random image from random blog + a little writer's imagination = complete idea for adventure story. It could be the 1002nd Arabian Night (Knight?) Story! Anyway, hope everyone enjoyed the exercise. Have a great day and may your dreams (both waking and sleeping) be filled with epic fantasy! :D

Monday, June 18, 2012

Peruvian Rugs--Creative Exercise

So I'm going to do another creative exercise. Sorry to have these so close together, but it was a crazy weekend and I'm scrambling to catch up on Monday morning! (Three sibling's birthdays plus Father's Day and I had to cook most of the food. Just sayin.')

So while reading John Sealander's blog, I got a really interesting image. He talked about cleaning out a storage space and finding an old Peruvian rug that was folded up at the top of a shelf. When we shook it out, it literally fell to dust. It was so old that it literally disintegrated in his hands. He mused that perhaps it wasn't the highest quality rug after all, and obviously not worth storing, but I thought the image of a rug turning to dust was an interest one.

In a fantasy world of some kind, why would that happen? Sorcery or magic of some kind? Is it a magic carpet? Some kind of spell on it? Does it hold a sinister or magical secret? Try and get your creative juices flowing and see what you come up with. I'll do the same and post again in a day or two! :D

What does this image make you think of?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rebellion Against a Collective "Freedom"

Star Trek Collective: Borg
My final semester in college, I took an English class that studied Literary Science Fiction. We read from an anthology so that we could cover many authors and types of stories. A particularly fantastic story we read by Asimov was called Liar! I really should blog about sometime. (Hmm, how shall I do it!) Ninety percent of what I read, I didn't like. Most literary scifi has a very specific agenda and if you aren't on board with that agenda (we're talking nuances here, people!) then it kind of rubs you the wrong way. I'm not at all sorry I took the class, though. Those one-in-four stories that I liked, I actually LOVED and the entire semester was worth it for getting to experience them.

While in that class, we read a story about collective minds. I honestly don't remember what the story was called or even what it was about, but it got me thinking about collectivism and specifically about how agency would affect a member of a collective. I became obsessed with the idea of breaking away; of that specific instant when the decision is made.

At the time, I was developing a story. I had roughly half of it, but I felt like I was missing as much as I had. I needed another thread--another plot line to make the story rich and fat. When I started thinking about this idea of an individual making the decision to break away from the collective, I had it!  Everything clicked into place so fast that it took my breath away...and I started writing.

Below is a short excerpt from my debut novel, forthcoming fall 2012 (release date TBA). Tell me what you think. Does this interest you at all? What direction would you go with a character like this?

It was an Instant.  A single, inappreciable moment in time.  He didn’t understand its significance as it came and went, but he would reflect upon it with near constancy for the rest of his life.
The Others had been with him for so long that he no longer knew what it was like to be without them.  In that moment, he pulled away.  He walled his mind off from theirs and became Alone. 
It was like putting his feet on the side of a swimming pool and using his own weight and momentum to push off, muscling through the water as hard as he could, trying to get as much distance as possible.  In his case, the water was cement that was drying too quickly.  The pushing was excruciating and the more distance he got, the more it hurt.
After what seemed a thousand years, the pain became numbness…then the loneliness set in.  To be so Alone in the darkness; to hear nothing, except one’s own thoughts…
The terror that crashed in to fill his chest was consuming.
He curled his body into a fetal position, wrapping his long arms around his head, and screamed silently.  He screamed in his heart and in his soul and in his mind…but his voice made no utterance.
He crawled through the grass.  He couldn’t raise his belly from the ground, so had to use his arms to drag himself along.
Strangely, despite the loneliness and horror of his choice, he never reconsidered.  He was a revolutionary unto himself, and there was no going back.  Not now, not ever.  He’d known that in the Instant he made the choice, but that seemed so long ago now.  He’d had the others with him only minutes before, but it seemed a lifetime had passed.
The farther he got from the encampment, the more physical strength he found.  Soon he was able to get up onto his knees and crawl.  He didn’t know if anyone who found him would act unfavorably, but he didn’t know that they wouldn’t, either.  He had to get away. 
He could feel them, pushing at the edges of his consciousness, trying to get back in.  His body was very weak but his mind was not.  He kept them out.  He just didn’t know if they would be able to follow their sense of his mind to where he was physically.  The farther he got, the longer he was Alone, the harder they pushed, slamming themselves against the barrier he’d put up around his mind, trying to get in.  He succeeded in keeping them out.  It was the first time in his life he’d known success against then; but then, it was the first time he’d wanted to.
When he finally crossed the Boundary, all sense of them left.  He could no longer feel them trying to get in.  He knew they could no longer feel him.  He collapsed, gasping for air.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Elana Johnson's Blogfest: Never Surrender

In honor of Elana Johnson's newest book, Surrender, the second installment of Possession, she's hosting a blog fest in which each blogger need only post about a time when they didn't surrender.

The experience I had was actually very recent. My debut novel will be out this fall and I have just gone into the cover art phase of the process.  Prior to that, of course, was editing. One thing my editor really wanted me to change was my title. I decided to call the book Persistence of Vision. This is a physics term.  It means something that you continue to see, even when it's gone.  It's like when you look at the sun, then close your eyes and you can see a purple sun against the insides of your eyelids.  What you see is an after-image. The phenomenon of seeing it is called Persistence of Vision.

I used this term because in my story, Maggie Harper loses a year of her memories in a mysterious accident. Yet, there are things from that year that keep coming back to her, specific memories of a particular man. It's not possible for her to remember these things--they aren't in her head anymore--yet somehow she still does.  Thus begins the romance, adventure, mystique and all-around awesomeness of Maggie's journey.

This is the first book in a futuristic, dystopian fantasy series, and I'd wanted to name each installment after a similar scientific phenomenon that the characters encounter. These are fun to mess around with because my books aren't 'hard' science fiction. They focus much more on the characters and their emotional experiences than on technology or socioeconomic agendas. These phenomena, then, can work on many levels in the story: one for the phenomenon itself; another for the way the characters experience/apply it emotionally; and yet another one for the way it figures in the plot. It's perfect!

My editors didn't like the title. They said that when they mentioned the title to people who had no background information about the book (story, genre, etc.), most people thought it was a non-fiction Christian living book.

Well, no offense to my editors, but I don't think this was a fair test. The people they 'experimented' on with the title were those they worked with. (a.k.a. people who work for a company that publishes mostly Christian-themed books). They are bound to have certain prejudices. Besides, there's the cover to consider, and I don't think many people will walk into the fiction section of the bookstore, pick up a novel from the scifi/fantasy section and go, "Hmm. I wonder if this is a nonfiction Christian living book..."

Anyway, long story short, I fought for my title and got to keep it. As the book won't be out for a few more months, I have yet to experience any validation, but I'm glad I fought for my title. I will be able to do the series the way I want to, now, and I think the titles will make the story richer and more satisfying.

That's right: Never Surrender! :D

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Little Princesses and Dark Horses--Part 2

So last week I offered you an image and asked you what it made you think of. It was just an exercise to get the creative juices flowing, and I got some interesting responses. I didn't get a ton of them, so thanks to everyone who participated.

I loved this image when I first read it. It totally sparked my imagination! I thought it could be the great beginning to a story:

The night was moonless, rendering it so dark outside the city walls that the little princess couldn't see her hand in front of her face.  She tucked her golden ringlets deep into the cowl of her father's black cloak, anyway. She couldn't risk being seen.  

The knight she rode behind, Sir Bywain, was loyal to her lady mother. The little princess had known him from the cradle. His black destrier was so tall that she could have walked under it's belly without bending her knees. Sir Bywain called him Ogier.  The princess's tiny ivory shoes were nearly two feet short of the stirrups, but she wasn't afraid of falling off. She'd ridden with Sir Bywain many times, and Ogier didn't frighten her.

What lay before her did, though. She re-affirmed her grip around Sir Bywain's waist and huddled close to his chain mail-covered back. The night was not cold, but she shivered anyway. Any other time, Bywain might have sensed her unease and patted her knee reassuringly.  But not tonight.

Tonight was different...

Or something along those lines. From there, the story could take off in a million directions.  Where is the princess sneaking off to in the middle of the night? Is a secret marriage being arranged? Is she pulling a Princess Leia and carrying spy plans somewhere? Are her parents in danger? Do they know where she is? What is the knight's role in all this?

I love doing exercises like this because, even if it doesn't pan out into a story that I actually write, it gets my creative juices flowing.  I can often even apply what I've come up with to a story I'm currently writing, especially if I've gotten blocked, so it works out well.

What do you think of my beginning about Princesses and Dark Horses?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Challenging the Plot Chart: Denouement

So most plot charts or story graphs--whatever you want to call them! there's hundreds of names--look something like this:

I find that often when I write, I have more story after the climax than the chart shows, and often more than many people prefer.  It is commonly accepted that there should be very little story left after the climax, and I'm not saying I disagree.  This is a great tactic, as when the climax is over, the reader doesn't want to be bogged down by a ton more words.  Especially because they know it's no longer building to anything.

Still, I've been told by more than one industry professional--publisher, editor, agent, etc--that I have more story after the climax than is generally accepted.  I don't know why this is.  I think I suffer from an over-abundance of closure.

I also notice that I do this more with stand-alone novels than with installments of a series.  It's easier to do less denouement with installments because the whole point is to do something exciting and then leave the reader hanging, wanting more.

With my stand alones, though, I tend to want to hash out what just happened; to weigh in on what the characters thought of it.  I don't do it excessively, mind you, but I do do it.

So what does everyone think?  Would this bother you as a reader?  As a writer?  Is it a weakness of mine? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Dead Marshes and World War I

Did you know...?

That J.R.R. Tolkien's inspiration for the locale of the Dead Marshes Same and Frodo pass through is routed in history, both his personal history and the world's?

Tolkien lived through both world wars, though by the second one me was an old man. During the first, however, he was young and served in the army for his country.

 If you know anything about WWI, you know how messy it was.  The military strategy hadn't caught up to the technology, with the result that hundreds--perhaps thousands--of young men were needlessly killed. For years, warfare had consisted of digging trenches for cover, and running out of them for attacks.  The problem was, WWI was the first major war that made use of things like machine guns and mustard gas. Given these weapons, the trench strategy was ludicrous! There was no advantage to it whatsoever and men on both sides were cut down without a prayer of life or victory.  Many harsh lessons were learned during this war.  It's one that even today fascinates and inspires because of the epic tragedy it engendered.

On the psychological side, things were even sadder.  While war always does a number on soldiers, this one was particularly nasty for them.  Not because it was any gorier than later wars, but because the soldiers were not prepared psychologically for what they would experience.  I don't think anyone ever can be, but in our case today, we know what's out there.  We have movies, the internet, the news, video games, books, etc that prepare us--at least somewhat--for what we might be facing should we choose to go to war.  That was not so with these boys.  Most of them were very honorable and went to war because they were loyal and nationalistic and wanted to fight for their country.  It wasn't so much that those attitudes changed, but that they were utterly ignorant of what it would be like on the war front.

Enter a young J.R.R.  Though it's hard to say what he felt about his experiences in WWI, what we know is that he made it out and lived a long, respectful life.  Though he didn't know it in his lifetime, he wrote what would become one of the most famous, inspirational fantasy epics ever penned.

Within that epic are clues to how his wartime experiences affected him.  The imagery he uses to describe the Dead Marshes in Book 2, The Two Towers is reminiscent of the horrors of the trenches.  In the chapter entitled, "The Passage of the Marshes," Gollum explains why they can see dead bodies in the water.  When you read the following excerpt, think of Tolkien's memories of WWI and the trenches.  The 'pools' are symbolic of the trenches themselves; the marshes of the filthy, muddy conditions the soldiers endured.  See what other parallels you can draw between Tolkien's words and WWI.

" 'They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under teh dark water.  I saw them: grim faces and evil, noble faces and sad.  Many faces proud and fair, and wees in their silver hair.  But all foul, all rotting, all dead...'

'Yes, yes,' said Gollum. 'All dead, all rotton. Elves and Men and Orcs. The Dead Marshes. There was a great battle long ago...Tall men with long swords, and terrible Elves and Orcses shrieking. They fought on the plain for days and months at the Black Gates. But the Marshes have grown since then, swallowing up the graves; always creeping, creeping...You cannot reach them, you cannot touch them...Only shapes to see, perhaps, not to touch.  No Precious!  All dead.' "

What do you think?