Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A bit of Inspiration -- Writer's block

Almost every writer has suffered from writer's block and there are no sure cures for the condition. A writer writes. That's the sum total of the problem and may be the solution. I've suffered three times in my career from being unable to write. Maybe the causes were unique to me but they may be reasons other people can relate to.

One - A meeting with an agent who liked my writing. She asked me to bring three ideas when I traveled to NYC for a meeting with her. I wrote three sketches of books I thought she might see the value of. She read them and then told me, "They're good. Just pick one and write the book." That's when it hit me. Those weren't my stories. They were ones I thought someone else would like. The ideas were good but really not my kind of books.

Two - Had an editor like a book and she made detailed suggestions on a book that was essentially written. Her suggestions were great. Now comes the kicker. Making the suggested changes set me off on a different direction and a different story. For several weeks I tried to fit the changes into the book I'd written and mostly sat and stared at the pages. Because of the suggested changes I saw a different book and not the one I'd already written. The suggestions were wonderful but not for the book I'd written. A new book was all I could see.

Three - Having written three novellas that are interconnected, I need a fourth to complete the series. For the past six months I have toyed with this concept and nothing came to mind. I jotted down scenarios that sounded reasonable but I was unable to write more than a paragraph or two. Just the other day something started bubbling in my unconscious. It's not ready yet, but I think I will be able to finish the quartet.

Now for the bit of advice. Writer's block can be caused by writing something that's so not you, having changes suggested that don't fit your story and by being unable to find the proper vehicle for a story. Are there cures? Perhaps but each person must find his or her own. Mine is this Be true to yourself and write what you'd like to read.

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Writing Life - Two contracts

Last week I sent off contracts for a re-release of Moon Bright; Moon Dark renamed Mistress of the Moons and for Healwoman Dark Moon. I think these are two of the best things I've done. Spent yesterday looking at covers. Loved one, but not either of the suggested ones for the second. That's the way life goes but I'm so pleased to have the power to say I like or don't like a cover. Contracting these two books adds more books to my writing. There are four more Healwomen books that are partly written meaning I must get them out and see when I can fit them into my schedule. In one of them I'll be redeeming a villain from Healwoman Dark Moon, since I really fell in love with the character.

Writers -- Falling in love with a character, but I feel I do this to most of mine. My love doesn't really matter but that of the readers does.

Also got a request for a copy of my book from a group I belong to to send it to a person. Rather than a download, they want a paper copy. I guess there's room for both kind of books in this time. Kind of exciting to think.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Writing tip -- Exposition

Jut what is exposition? The purpose is to inform the reader of things they need to know to understand the characters and the story. This is dealing with information and there are a number of ways to get the information to the reader.

A writer can use a big block of information otherwise known as an info dump. Beward putting too much in one chunk or you will end up sounding like a teacher.

A writer can use one character's observation of another to give bits of information. One problem with this approach is mind reading. Statements are made as to one character's view of a situation in ways that the observing character can't know. Such as Mary was sad or Mary seemed sad or I figured Mary was sad. What the writer has to do is show how this conclusion was drawn. Tears glistened in Mary's eyes. The news of her father's death definitely had an effect.

Dialogue is a good way to give information, but beware having two characters discuss something they already know. This can be boring and make the reader toss the book. There is a way around this and that could be by having the information the writer wants to show become a bit of contention between the pair. Arguments are usually nice places to pop in a bit of information.

Another way is to have the character or characters reminiscence about an event in the past. Take care here not to have this become a single person trip into the past. A lengthy one can pull the reader out of the story. A short sentence can remind the reader of something they had read before, or in the case of a series, of another book. For long memories of the past have two people who were there talk about the event.

When giving information, ash yourself these questions. Is the information absolutely necessary for the reader so he understands the characters and the plot? How does the viewpoint character know this information?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Astrology -- Cancer Sun, Ascendant and Moon

The character with a Cancer sun is usually quiet and reserved yet they do like the spotlight. They are versatile, and changeable. They set their own course in life and have no desire to change what they want to do. They have a fertile imagination and dramatic ability. Tears can flow with ease though they hate to show this weakness to others. They love strange experiences and enjoy the occult. They may be psychic and have a retentive memory. They fear ridicule and love kindness. If someone badly hurts them, they will remember and they will erode rather than blast.

With a Rising sign in Cancer, the character will be changeable about life and their occupations, enjoying more than one but usually one at a time. They have a tenacious memory. They are industrious and frugal. Fear of ridicule makes them discreet and conventional. Their emotions are strong. They are receptive to new ideas. They have a knack for adapting to their environment.

Moon in Cancer. The emotional nature. There is a desire to work along the line of least resistance. They are sociable and domestic, sometimes talkative. Their emotions are influenced by the environment. They can be imposed upon and may resent this but never complain. They enjoy travel and home. They are fond of the occult and antiques. They desire to live near water. They may be either consciously or unconsciously psychic/

Interview with Autumn Dawn

Met Autunn on one of the lists I frequent RWA PAN and she agreed to be interviewed.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I write futuristic and paranormal romance, for the most part. Starships, shape shifters, etc.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

I’d say I was born with it. Ever since I could remember, I’ve been daydreaming my way through life, exploring the stories in my head.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

I’m curious about steampunk. Love the costumes. I won’t do erotica.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Twilight series, Ilona Andrews, Patrica Briggs, to name a few. I don’t normally do vampires, but Stephanie Meyers is an exception.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,

I live in Washington with my husband, dog and three kids. I like doing creative projects that involve gardening, painting or sewing.

If you’re counting how long I’ve been writing for pleasure, that would be since grade school. If we’re going for professionally, that would be since my early twenties. I still have my first manuscript floating around in my computer files. That’s one that will never see the light of day. *shiver*

First books are kind of like first boyfriends; very few of them are worth holding onto.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

I like them all, but Jasmine from The Charmer comes to mind for females. Ryven from No Words Alone for the guys. She’s a sweetheart and he invented tough love. What a guy!

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

Of course. How are they created? Well, one time I turned my husband into a balding midget in my book. He wasn’t really a villain, but I was ticked off at him at the time. Beware an angry writer!

I don’t really have a secret villain formula; I just go with what feels right at the time.

8. What are you working on now?

Several somethings. A troll anti-hero in Under the Bridge is in the works, and I’m editing my Dark Lands series for reissue. Hopefully I’ll finish up an elemental project, and I’d like to make a sequel to Iron and Hemlock. Lots cooking, never enough hours in the day.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

Iron & Hemlock is out with Smashwords.com. Originally it was released in the Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance. I’d wanted to do something with gargoyles for a while, and when Trisha Telep invited me to submit something for the book, it was a perfect opportunity.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

Iron and Hemlock
Ebook Price: $1.99 USD. 13220 words. Fiction by Autumn Dawn on July 27, 2010
Life can change in the blink of an eye. It was just an ordinary day when lightning struck and sent Jordan spinning back in time. Trapped in Victorian England, practical Jordan will have to abandon her disbelief in magic. Pursued by a sexy golden griffin and a dark fae who wants her blood, she just might rediscover the thrill of falling in love.

Thanks for hosting me today.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Inspiration or not -- A Question

While reading John Gardner he said something interesting. If writing novels was declared illegal, would you quit? I believe what he was getting at is why do you write. Is it for fame, money, or are you driven by something you can't explain.

I've written about how I decided to quit and for nearly six months I didn't write but that didn't keep the stories from circling in my head. Reading this made me think about so many friends who have written and who stopped. They weren't writing because they loved words and putting them together. One stopped writing because she received a nasty review. Another quit because she received no takers from editors. I returned because my life felt empty because the characters were missing from my head.

For me writing is a compulsion. I need to know the people in my head and see them on paper. Ky husband, the psychiatrist, says I have an obsession he has no intention of curing.

What is your reason for writing? Would you quit if your stories weren't bought? Would you quit if reviewers trashed your books? Would you quit if writing novels was declared illegal?

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Writing Life -- Judging contests

Writing is going well, Part 3 of Confrontations is blocked in though there are some changes to be made. Part one is reaching the tinker phase and I'm working on Part 2.

Now about contests. I seldom enter contests. The EPIC awards are the only one and this year I didn't have one to enter except for an anthology entered by my publisher. This year I can read and judge just for fun. I've judged this contest since the very first one. I judge three other contests. The second is one for young writers -- New Voices and it's a great one and I enjoy giving advice to budding writers. Then there's Hook Line and Sinker, the HVRWA contest. This is fun in another way and giving advice to adults who want to write. The fourth is the RITA contest. I've already signed up for next year.

Here's what I look for when I'm judging full books. Do I like the characters, is the plot solid and would I want to read this book again. Being a re-reader that's important to me. In the Hook, Line and Sinker, to me the most important part of the score comes when I decide if I really want to read more. In whole book contests one is always seeking a new author to try and contests are a good way of doing this.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not exactly on plot- Subjective or Objective

While this isn't really about plot, it's more on what kind of writer are you. First there was plot line vs story line authors. Bow we come to subjective or Objective kind of writers. Neither is right or wrong, they just point to the strengths or weaknesses in a person's writing.

Subjective writers record the feelings behind his characters' thoughts, spoken words and actions.

Objective writers leave all this to the reader's imagination.

While most writers combine both and use them at various times in a story.

For me, I think I tend more to objective writing, though I sometimes dig into the emotions. My fellow critique partners always remind me when they think they need a bit more emotion in a piece.

What kind of writer are you? And remember it doesn't matter if you're writing in first person or third person, the scene can be mainly objective or subjective in tone.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Interview -- Sherry

Hi, Sherry. She's another of my friends on Obscure YA authors, and another fantasy author.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

Hi, Janet! Thanks for interviewing me!

Aside from the very occasional short story, I write YA fantasy. Nearly everything I write is set on Narenta—a planet that may or may not be in our galaxy. The planet has its own three intelligent peoples and, in some ways, a radically different ecology than Earth’s. Narenta’s culture has superficial resemblances to medieval Earth—but magic, both good and evil forms, are very real. Occasionally young people from Earth—chiefly high school kids—are mysteriously taken to Narenta where they find that they have a specific and usually dangerous Outworlder task to perform. Not all are pleased when this is revealed to them.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

Funny thing is when I was a kid, my friends and I used to come up with SF and time travel stories. Reading The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings changed my focus in early college. From then on, fantasy glommed on to me and couldn’t be shaken.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

I’ve played around with mild horror in short stories but writing short really isn’t my thing. I don’t know enough science to make a go of SF, as my one SF story made clear. So fantasy is it.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Madeleine l’Engle, Susan Cooper, Jane Louise Curry, Lloyd Alexander, Diana Wynne Jones, Barbara Hambly, Charles Williams. Many others.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,

Well, I’ve been making up stories since I was a kid, which was a long long time ago. I’m 63 years old now. I began writing the first draft of “Seabird” in 1979, when I was in my early 30’s. Once I started writing drafts of fantasy novels, I couldn’t seem to stop. However, I only found a publisher for the first book two years ago.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Eew, not sure if I want to say this, because all of the other characters are going to get jealous. And I’ll probably disconcert some readers.

Most “Seabird” readers (all two of them) would probably choose Cara Marshall as their favorite. Cara is at the beach for her summer vacation between her 11th and 12th year of high school when she is “world-napped” to Narenta. She’s not pleased. For one thing, she had an arcade date for that evening. My loyal two readers were surprised and disappointed when their favorite character didn’t reappear in the next book, “Earthbow”.

If you have room, here’s the blurb for “Seabird”:
“When Cara Marshall is transported to Narenta, she is proclaimed champion of its people against the sorcerous daemagos. Amid the grateful welcomes, Cara protests that she has been "world-napped," and wants neither her title nor her mission. "They've got the wrong person and they're going to get me killed because they won't admit it." With no knowledge of weapons or magic, can she save the Narentans and find her way home?”

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

Yes, all of my books have villains. Some are obvious and some are a surprise. I create them like I do all of my characters—by writing down their role in the story, adding a few bare facts about them, and then spending a –very- long time getting to know them inside and out. I enjoy developing all characters even more fully than needed for their roles in my stories.

8. What are you working on now?

Funny you should ask that. Dave, my publisher at Gryphonwood Press, asked me the same question in an email earlier today. I haven’t answered him yet because I’m torn between two different directions.

I have an incomplete and relatively short novel where the events take place between “Seabird” (1st published book) and “Earthbow” (2nd published book). On the other hand, I should be working to complete the very long series, tentatively titled “The Gryphon and the Basilisk”. (I frequently call that “the behemoth” or “the book that intends to eat Delaware”.) G&B follows the events that take place during “Earthbow”, which makes it the third in the Narenta series.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

“Earthbow Vol.1” (http://amzn.to/cTsAxM ) was released in late March. Volume 2 should be out in about a month. Together, they tell the story of Cara’s younger brother’s adventure on Narenta. However, other characters share the story with him:
1. Coris is a young fighter who was just made knight and who has come to realize that his lord is a cruel usurper. What to do?
2. Harone reprises his role from “Seabird”. A Narentan friend of Cara’s, he is now an enchanter apprentice. He begins by serving as escort and guide to Xander, Cara’s brother, but discovers that he has a –much- more dangerous role to play.

If you have room, here’s the blurb for “Earthbow”:
“Cenoc, the self-styled Lord of Latimus, learns of hidden treasures that can make him even more powerful. Few dare oppose his will, even as they witness his growing madness. However, a remnant stand in his way: a newly knighted young man who is torn between his mission and an overwhelming desire for revenge; an enchanter-initiate who finds himself facing terrors even greater than the danger of opposing Cenoc; a teen Outworlder from Earth who has been gifted with the Earthbow and told he will learn its purpose- just before his mentor abandons him. Return to the world of Narenta in the first installment Sherry Thompson's Earthbow.”

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

Here’s an extract from “Earthbow”
Note: Coris is climbing the walls of a keep so that he can sneak into Sevris the keep-master’s bedchamber. Coris needs to retrieve a medical remedy called werebane. The herb is needed to heal a stricken servant condemned to death by Cenoc, Lord of Latimus.

The last room was lit only by two guttering candles sitting on a tray next to the low, broad rectangle of the bed. He scrabbled his way up along one edge of the window, until his hips were even with the sill. He started to lever himself through—only to find himself restrained. His belts strained against his waist and hip.

What the Shadow? Panic clenched in his throat, as he envisioned some legendary warding spell.

Ah. The bottom edge of the sill was lined with small upright shafts of wood, bolted together with hammered curls of iron. The sill’s decoration must be stained some dark color that made it nearly invisible. Not daring to loose the grip of either hand, Coris lifted his body and twisted first one way and then the other, until the belts unsnagged themselves.

Lifting himself higher with protesting muscles, he slipped over the sill. First, he took off his sodden sweatband and tried to wring it out. Combing his hair back with his fingers, he replaced the band. He arched his back, and swung his arms about. …

His search proved unexpectedly easy—a small handful of werebane leaves sat half-hidden in a silken cloth by the bedside, close by one of the candles. Coris knotted the top of the cloth together and stuffed it away.

Footsteps coming from beyond the door!

Options flashed before him, mixed with images of his imminent death. He stood across the room from the window, too far away to reach it without a risk of being seen, and that possibility he couldn’t afford. If Cenoc or Sevris saw someone slip from the keep-master’s room, a thorough search of the keep would begin at once. The only alternative was to hide in the room and hope he could sneak out later.
Coris scanned the room. Cushions, a table. The hearth. Tapestries. He settled on a set of woven standing screens. Behind them, he found a littered alcove of cubbyhole-like shelves made for the storage of scrolls. He slid the left screen out a few inches, slipped behind it, and then dragged its inner edge a bit closer to its mate. Coris peeked through the tiny openings afforded by the close-woven vines. He held his breath and waited to see who would enter…

Astrology -- Gemini

We've all heard that Gemini is the sign of the twins and that these people have trouble making up their minds. Not really true. Here are some tips if you want to give your character a Gemini Sun, Rising Sign or Moon.

Gemini sun and this is the inner nature of the character. Geminis are ruled by Mercury, This means communication. Geminis are sympathetic, affectionate. Home and children mean a lot to them. One of the problems they have is being easily influenced by people who are kind to them. Geminis are intuitive and are good investigators. They can act quickly in an emergency. Another problem is that they can be changeable. They are also inquisitive and love diversity.

Rising Sign- the face shown to the world. Ambition often rules. They are curious and given to investigations and experiments. With this sign rising they are capable of two pursuits at the same time, even to having two careers and the drive to succeed in both. They can be idealistic, perceptive and imaginative. A love of pleasure can set them on a tangent. They can be restless and high strung. They are great talkers.

Moon -- The emotional nature. This side of a Gemini shows an agreeable, warm-hearted persom except they are reserved about personal and domestic matters. They gain pleasure from books. With a Gemini Moon, the character would dislike quarreling and warefare. They are also changeable. A real problem can be caused by being drawn into embarrassing or difficult situations.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Theme and the writer -- Inspiration

When I was working toward my degree in English most of my courses were literature courses. Since I had published several books they gave me all the basic writing courses. One of my professors was bit on finding the thrme in the stories I wrote. I did not do well here but at least I did ace the tests. I could tell if a story was a good one or if it wasn't. He gave us several to read that weren't in the book and I was spot on but ask me to find the theme and I blanked. Then I began to worry. Did my stories have themes? The teacher found them but they were not purposely put there by me. What I was doing was showing a character or characters who wanted something and set out to get their desire no matter what the obstacles in their path. Not all of them won their object but because I like happy endings, most of them did.

There's only one story of mine that I was able to discern the theme and this was explored on many levels. But I never realized there was a theme until i started to search for a title. Started as Code Blue but that wasn't really what the story was about though that was the jumping point for the suspense. I finally came up with Obsessions. All of the main characters in the story had some kind of obsession and this obsession effected their lives in different ways.

What I've decided to do is leave the idea of theme and philosophy to those who teach and tell stories about people who want things and try to find a way to win their desires.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Writing Lifw

The past week has been one of forging a new segment of Confrontations and also of revising the two previous sections. I do love ensemble pieces but this one gives me a lot of people to keep track of. There are 9 viewpoint characters and eight other rather major players plus all the casual characters. Great fun.

Also cleaning up two old manuscripts to be sent out again into the world. Typos and language in one and who knows what's in the other. But that someone wants to look at them again is great. Finding old manuscripts is kind of fun and one wonders if there ever will be time to see what can be done with two others I found plus snippets of others.

Also last week realized our house is 90 years old. No wonder there are so many things to do. Last year a new roof. This year windows and doors.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Writing hints - Plot line vs story line

While re-reading Structuring Your Novel bu Meredith and Fitzgerald, plot line and story line were discussed. I found this interesting.

A novel with a plot line focuses on the events and the main character emerges with little change. When there is a story line the emphasis is on character and the main character is different at the end than in the beginning. The character either grows or disintegrates.

So what does this mean? In a novel with plot, the moment of recognition comes near the end. This is when the reader realizes if the character is going to succeed or fail to reach the goal. In a mystery, the protagonist will or will not catch the bad guy. The suspense is maintained until almost the end of the story. The main character remains pretty much the same as they were when they entered the story.

When a story line is used, the point of recognition is when the reader realizes the character will either succeed or fail. This can occur at any time in the book once the major complication is made clear. The main character may or may not recognize this and will continue the struggle toward the goal. Often the author lets the character decide

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Interview Jenna Kay Francis

I think I met Jenna a number of years ago at some conference or other but I've read some of her books and enjoyed them. We've also been friendly competetors in Dream Realm awards.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I write almost exclusively in the fantasy genre. I write about all sorts of mythical and mystical beings, including elves and vampires. I always have magic of some kind in my books. The only time I've really deviated from fantasy is for picture books, and I guess those could be considered fantasy in their own way.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

I think it chose me. I remember having a very vivid imagination as a child. I used to cut out paper dolls from the Sears, Wards and Pennys catalogs. I created multi-dimensional homes for the dolls, furnished them with odds and ends from around the house. I had trolls, too (those little plastic dolls with the big, bright eyes and long, colorful hair) and I used to take them outside and make villages from the dry spots in the grass. I played in the tall grass in the alley behind my grandmother's house, as well, creating hidden forts and pathways filled with magical beings and stories. So, from earliest on, I dwelled in the land of fantasy. I was always drawn to fantastical creatures as well, and magic of all kinds.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

I have tried to write in other genres, but magic always finds the way into the book. I don't think I would ever want to write pure realism. I will probably never, ever pen an Oprah book. I have written from picture books for children all the way to violent erotica. But always, always, there is a happy ending and magic.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I read mostly non-fiction, to be honest. I love National Geographic and Time. But when I do read for pleasure, I read mostly fantasy of some kind. I don't care for horror at all. I can do some mystery, but it needs to be cozy mystery.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,

I started writing when I was 12. At least, that's my most pronounced memory. It was a class assignment. We had to research and write about an animal of some kind. We even had to do the illustrations. I chose a clam. I still have that book, tattered and forlorn as it is. I progressed from there to writing fan fiction from my favorite show - Star Trek. My friend and I used to spend a lot of time writing little snippits of fan fiction and reading it to each other. All during high school, I honed my craft in English classes. Then in college, I majored in English, again submitting my work to fellow classmates. Once out of college, I married and busied myself with children for many years. I toyed with the writing in those days, going to a class every once and a while, joining a crit group. In fact, I started working on the first book in my series while still in college. I worked and reworked and reworked it dozens of times over the years. It wasnt' until I changed the main character to an elf that things really stated to fall into place. I wrote the entire first book in less than a week. Books 2 and 3 were just about as quick, although I didn't start out thinking about writing a trilogy at all. After that, the books continued to come. I have written 26 books in that series alone. I have done more outside of that. So, it's been a long time, years of writing, years of escaping into an alternate reality, one which I've come to know very, very well.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

That's like asking which child is your favorite! LOL I can't pick just one. They all have their endearments. In the Guardians of Glede series, I like Jansson van Tannen for his humor and wit. I like Treyas Beckering Merripen for his sensitivity to issues. I like Kyel Sylvain for his power and intellect. In the Blood Bred series, I like the vampires (Jaeger, Baris and Adan) for their strengths and weaknesses. In the stand alones - Nitesh, The Faery Sickness, Free Spirit - I like my female protags (Diesa, Thalassa, Vala) for their ability to stand firm in times of upheaval and crisis. So, no, I can't pick just one. They are all my favorites.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

Of course, there are villains. They have to be villains to further the plot. I would guess they are created from the evils of society. I have often heard that villains need to have a reaon for their evilness. But sometimes, in reading the paper and the news, I see people who are evil just because they are. They have no endearing qualities at all. They have no reason for their hatred and the horror they spew. They just do it. And they seem to revel in it. I use that. Some of my villains are, indeed, either misunderstood or misguided. But some are just evil with no redeeming qualities at all.

8. What are you working on now? I am working on a fantasy adventure with humor. Lots of humor. I hope. I am also working on the 27th book in the Guardians of Glede series.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

My last release was the 10th book in the Glede series, I believe. It was spawned from the actions of the characters in preceeding books. But I also take current events and weave those into the books. Slavery seems to be a recurring theme, as I strongly disagree with it. And Book 10 - River of Evil - deals with captivity and the wrongness of it.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

First 400 words of River Of Evil. The book starts off innocently, normal daily life. Of course, things never work out as planned.

Elfin Prince Thomlin Merripen smoothed his blue satin tunic and scrutinized the bouquet of yellow flowers he clutched. Satisfied there were no dead leaves, he squared his shoulders, took a deep breath and stepped into the TravelPortal, manipulating the TravelStrands to take him to the Ravenscroft, Bailiwycke, and the seaside cottage of his 'Uncle' Quinlin Thomarius.

He arrived in the Portal vestibule a moment later. Quinlin, a tall well-built elf, looked up from the sea charts strewn across his desk. "Hoi! Happy Birthday, Thoms! My, my," he exclaimed, his green eyes twinkling. "Don't you look nice? But you're about two hours early for the Spring Birthday Festival. It doesn't start until three."

"I know," Thomlin replied. "I wanted to talk with Enid. Where is she?"

"She's down on the beach with Reya, Keelin and the children," Quinlin said.

"Mmmm, what a wonderful smell!" Quinlin's wife, the wizard Drisana, stepped into the study. "Ah! Karsaban Yellow Star Clusters! My favorite." She crossed the room to take another deep breath of the highly fragrant flowers, then glanced at Quinlin. "You used to bring me Star Clusters. It's been awhile since I've seen some."

Quinlin grunted, reseating himself at the desk. "That's because I can't use magic to fetch them. I have to climb for them."

"I climbed for these, too," Thomlin said quickly. "I didn't want to use magic for this bouquet. But I need a yellow ribbon. Do you have one, Aunt Drisana?"

"See?" Drisana said teasingly to her husband. "At least the romance hasn't faded from their relationship." She looked back at Thomlin. "Yes, I have a yellow ribbon. Come along."

Quinlin grimaced, whispering to Thomlin as he passed. "Now, look what you've done."

Thomlin winced. "I didn't mean to –"

"Ah! Forget it! I'll make it up to her later," Quinlin said with a wink and a grin.

Thomlin frowned, puzzled, but followed Drisana to her room. She opened a drawer, revealing an array of different colored ribbons.

"Are these all Reya's?" Thomlin asked in amazement.

"They were. Now, her two girls wear them. Here." Drisana drew out a bright yellow satin ribbon.

Thomlin took it and tied it loosely about the flower stems. "Yellow is Enid's favorite color," he mumbled, looking at his work worriedly. "But do you think this is too much? Maybe I should go with a white ribbon. What do you think?"
"I think yellow is beautiful," Drisana said with a trace of a smile. "It'll look lovely in her hair as well."

Still, Thomlin hesitated, his heart pounding. It had to be perfect. Today it had to be perfect. "What color is she wearing today? Maybe I should match the ribbon."

"She's wearing yellow and white," Drisana told him, amusement dancing in her amber eyes. "Now, quit stalling." She pushed him toward the front door of the large cottage.

"I'm not st--" Thomlin started, then broke off, blushing. He turned to the diminutive woman next to him. "Gods, Aunt Drisana, I'm really nervous."

"Why? You've asked Enid to marry you how many times now?"

"Every month for the last three years," Thomlin replied. "And her answer is always the same. Ask me when you're a man. Well, now I'm eighteen. What if that's not yet a man to her? What if she says no?"

Drisana sighed and kissed his cheek. "Then I'll be here to talk to. Now, go on."

Astrology -- Taurus

The Taurus Sun character - This is the inner self they may or may not show people. These are self-reliant people who are determined, persistent and cautions. They have a low tolerance for physical pain. Of a patient nature, they are willing to wait a long time for their plans to mature. Think of the hero or heroine who has loved someone forever and is plotting on how to get the object of his or her affections. While this person can seem gentle, do not make them angry. They become furious to the point of being headstrong and unyielding. They are also practical. They are lovers of art, music and literature. They can become healers.

Taurus Ascendant -- This is the face shown to the world. They come across as self-reliant, persistent and willing to work hard and long to see a project finished. When provoked they're like the bull when something is flapped in the face. Run, don't walk. This person possesses a magnetic quality that draws people to them and often has a calming effect on others. If they undertake a project they will finish it no matter what stands in their way. When angry they aim for the gut.

Moon in Taurus -- The emotional nature -- Cautious but affable. They are drawn to friendship and marriage. They are ambitions and want to excel. They can be acquisitive of friends and possessions. They are sympathetic and intuitive. The inclination for pleasure and luxury can be taken to the extreme.

A bit of Inspiration

I did a bit on plotting last Friday but while reading On Becoming an Author, John Gardner, I read a sentence that resonated with me. "Plot is not a series of surprises, but a series of recognitions or moments of understanding." Sometimes when writing and struggling to get the words on paper, I know there are moments when I suddenly see what I was meaning to say. That often means going back and removing a scene or a short passage that jumped in when it brought no understanding to what I was meaning to say.

Sometimes the writer knows what they mean but they've managed to obscure the understanding from the reader. Not letting the reader know what's coming and blindsiding them can make them turn away from the story. Try to think of the reader as a partner and let them in on the secrets you hold from the characters. Leave the surprises for the characters to reach a moment of recognition or understanding.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Writing week Dog Days Quitting

We're coming into the dog days of August but I think here most of July fit the picture. Thank heavens for air conditioning.

As far as writing goes I'm progressing on Confrontations and have started to block in the third section while also doing rewrites on the second section. All seems cool there

The big discovery of the week was a decision to look at two books that I've received the rights back from the publisher. I'm thinking about getting them ready for submitting to one of my publishers for re-release. They're both fantasies and the first one at least seems to me to be one of the best books i've ever written. Part of the reason the rights were returned was because the publisher decided to head in another direction. While this is an adult book, it is not erotic. So we will see as I send out feelers.

The last thing on my mind is to share with people the time I gave up on writing. I do not do things by half and working as a nurse plus going to school for my BS took a toll on my creative juices. After having sole the first four books I wrote, I sort of turned to fantasy. While the rejections were rather golden, at that time publishers weren't interested in fantasy. Science fiction was hot. After these rejections and then some interest from an editor expressing an interest in anything else I might send, I read about his death. I had collected probably 500 rejections. I cried a lot and decided I would never write again. What I did then was insane. I bundles up every manuscript in my filing cabinet and put them in the trash. 10 years later I returned to writing and wanted to shoot myself. Then I found tucked away several notebooks with hand written manuscripts. From them I retrieved Murder and Mint Tea, several other stories that I was able to rewrite. The moral of this is do not throw all your old manuscripts away even if you've decided to give up writing. You may mean it at the time but not forever.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Writing Tip - Plot

I once read where there are only three basic plots and I think this is true. Man against Man. Man against Himself and Man against the environment. I also read ages ago that one could use elements other than the one chosen. This is particularly true in sweeping novels.

Man against man comes up frequently in romances, fantasy, mysteries and other works. Two people have the same goal and only one can obtain it. Or two people have opposite goals and only one can win. When there is a villain in the story man against man comes into focus.

Man against himself often us used in psychological dramas. The protagonist has to fight against some deficit in his own character. Gambling, alcoholism and greed come readily to mind. Threads of this can be fed into the man against man scenario adding depth to the plot.

Man against the environment comes up often in disaster stories. Or in the protagonist taking on a social problem. The environment is more than ecology or storms. Part of the man against the environment comes from the protagonist pitting himself against nature, Think of the Perfect Storm. Elements of this can be woven into a story that is mainly man against man or man against himself.

Much is in how the author uses these elements. And there is another element that is vital when deciding how to plot the novel and that is Time. While a novel may follow generations of a family or years as a person, some novels happen in a day, a week or a month. Before beginning the story setting a time deadline on when you'll reach the end of the story can be good. Do the events occur over months, weeks or even days. Knowing the time limit on the characters can add depth to the story.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Interview -Christine Marciniak

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I write YA fiction.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

I think the genre choose me. Either that or I never really grew up. The story ideas I have all seem to lend themselves quite well to that genre, so I suppose it's where I'll stay for awhile.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

Historical fiction is a big favorite of mine, and I could see trying one of those. I don't see myself writing a mystery. I'm not sure I'd be able to plant enough clues throughout to make it all work.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Young adult, of course, since that's my chosen genre. I also read historical and contemporary fiction - I am more partial to humorous stories than to ones full of pathos.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,

Is it cliche to say I don't really remember a time I wasn't writing. I definitely still have stories I started in fourth grade. And from middle school on I almost always had at least one story going. As for some biographical info. I was an English major in college - no real surprise there, and spent 10 years working as an editor for trade travel publications before quitting to be a full-time Mom to my two kids.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

I think my favorite character is Ali from REALITY ALI, a yet to be published story. She's spunky and fun and manages to figure out who she is and who she wants to be, despite the complication of having famous parents and people who think they know all about her.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

There aren't villains in the sense of the sinister man twirling his long mustache and rubbing his hands together while chortling with evil glee (yeah, and I'm not sure how he could twirl his mustache while rubbing his hand together) but there are people who work to make the main character's life difficult. They are created more or less organically as a result of the story. Though maybe I should work on one of those mustache-twirling ones.

8. What are you working on now?

Currently I'm revising a time-travel story called EMILY'S SONG about a high school senior who finds herself back at the start of the Civil War. She suddenly wishes she'd paid a whole lot more attention in history class.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

My latest release (debut novel) is WHEN MIKE KISSED EMMA and it actually started as the subplot of a different story. A friend suggested I pull it out and make it it's own story, which I did. Several complete rewrites later and it was published last August.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

WHEN MIKE KISSED EMMA is a story about when...(wait for it)... Mike kissed Emma. You see, they weren't supposed to be together. Emma had a boyfriend - and she was quite content. And Mike, well, Mike simply wasn't her type. Her boyfriend wrote her poetry. Mike was a loner who rode a motorcycle. But then Mike gets cast opposite her in the school play, and as she gets to know Mike better she begins to doubt her initial assumptions. And then Mike kisses her - and suddenly nothing is certain anymore.

(Opening of book)

I walked right into him. I didn’t even see him standing there until I bounced off his chest. Books went flying. Pencils and pens clattered across the black and white floor tiles. And I would have landed on the floor too, if he hadn’t grabbed my arms and steadied me. I looked up to thank him, and saw the most gorgeous blue eyes. Really blue. I’d never seen anyone with eyes that blue. But then I saw who those eyes belonged to.

Biker Mike.

I took a step back, and disengaged myself from his hands. He wasn’t your typical St. Stephen’s student. He looked more like a public school student with his long hair, untucked shirt and sleeves rolled up to show off his tattoo and the leather jacket he wore whenever he didn’t have to be strictly in uniform. No one I knew had become friends with him since he transferred here this year. He came and went every day, on his beat-up old motorcycle. He could be a drug dealer or in a gang, for all I knew. It wouldn’t do to be getting too close to him.

“You should watch where you’re going,” he said, sounding more amused than annoyed.

“Sorry,” I bent down to pick up my scattered belongings. The love poem that Trevor had passed to me this afternoon was sticking out of my notebook. I shoved it back in before anyone else could see it.

Biker Mike bent down to help me. He gathered my pens and handed them to me.

There was a French Lit book on the floor in front of me – not mine – must belong to him. I handed it over, and he passed me my Trig book.

“Well, thanks,” I said as I stood back up again.

“No problem. I hope you didn’t miss your bus.”

“Oh,” That was sweet. “I wasn’t rushing to get the bus. I’m on my way to auditions.” I tapped a nearby poster. It was one Caitlyn had made with lots of glitter and a picture of nun doing an Uncle Sam imitation: I want you to try out for the Sound of Music.

“You’re the school play type, huh?” He asked. He leaned against a nearby locker and looked at me through narrowed eyes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Astrology - character development - Aries

The Sun sign is a character's inner nature, the Moon the emotional nature and the Ascendant the face shown to the world. Seldom does one character be a pure sign most of the times they have two of three signs in their nature. Bear this in mind when you're creating your characters and layering them. But let's begin

For a character with an Aries Sun think action. I always have a picture of someone sword in hand leading the charge. Aries can be aggressive and direct in expressing themselves. Creative energy abounds but they can invest everything they have into a new project until they lose interest. They need to prove themselves through action and are often impulsive, acting first and then thinking. They may ignore the advice of others. Often they don't finish what they start but they are competitive. Recognition is their need. Their strength is in their refusal to accept defeat.

Now the Aries Moon which expresses emotions. Here the emotions can be volatile, impulsive. They may not consider the consequences of their actions. While their temper might flare, the anger is temporary and easily forgotten.

The Aries Ascendant is the face shown to the world. This character will project intense energy and decisiveness. They will act on their ideas immediately and hate wasting time. They are competitive and have a desire to excel and to prove themselves through action.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A bit of inspiration Story needs

Back to On Becoming a Novelist. This time I'm talking about some things a good story needs and using this book as a jumping off point. The story needs to pull the reader into the world the writer has created. Even when writing contemporary fiction, the world the writer creates isn't the one we're living in. Why? The writer brings his own unique experiences into his writing.

A good story raises questions in a reader's mind but it also answers them. Leaving a reader dangling is one way to lose them. But drowning them in details will also lose them as readers. Too many scenes that say the same thing can become annoying. Each and every scene must add to the story by developing the characters, pushing the story or plot line, thus giving the reader the information they need to answer the questions they might need. As well as too many similar scenes, too many characters can ruin a story. Having too many villains who all seem to be the major one can confuse the reader.

A good story is really a performance, akin to a play, but one we use our mind's eye rather than out sight to envision.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Writing Life - The daily count

I feel as though I've accomplished a lot this week but I don't really count by words. Actually sort of. I'm a draft writer so what I do is write and rewrite my chapters and each time I focus on something different. Each time I do another chapter, it grows longer. This isn't padding but rather seeing what I've left out and putting it in. Writing the rough draft of a book that runs to 60,000 to 80,000 2rds gives me perhaps a quarter of the final book. Entire scenes are written. There's a fight here. Getting the plot line down is what's important to me. Though I do plan my books I do not plan them so completely there's no room to explore a new road. What I've done this past week is finish the third draft of a segment of Confrontations. This book is a bit different from the others in this series since there are four segments that are sort of complete. By sort of I mean each segment ends with a lead into the next area they must confront until the end is reached. My kind of writing does tend to confuse many people, but my feeling is reaching the end end is what counts. How do I know I[ve reached that point. At that time I cannot look at the book without feeling sick. To do more would annoy me.

The second thing I've done this week is join a new yahoo group. I really don't need another one but this is a specific one for those who write YA. And I have a few of them. The Jewels of Earda trilogy and the quartet of The Henge betrayed. The group is fun and supportive and I'll spend some time exploring their woks and probably buying a few of them. I do try to support my friends.