Moving Forward Monday – No excerpts but an analysis of character development. More on Ravensrealm

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Today has been a bit of a chilled, laid back kind of day for me so far. Rather than walk to Panera Bread on 15th Street (my favorite hangout on my days off – outlets to plug my laptop in and great food!), I took the bus. Tis a bit chilly and windy here, and I was actually not feeling the rush to be anywhere in particular any time soon. After the busy-ness of the weekend, taking a bit of time to just . . . let the mind wander some was pleasant indeed.

So right now, on Ravensrealm, I’ve struggled a bit with Alethea Light’s backstory. And Jordan Taylor’s. Granted, I don’t know how much of the backstory is going to appear in Ravensrealm, but these two main characters were a bit harder for me to get a grasp on compared to Fen Willows and the twins, Daniel and Wolfgang. And I’m trying to avoid some of the same tricks for Ravensrealm as I employed in Portal to Gaming. (By the way, I am starting Alethea’s story from the beginning rather than start it in the middle of her adventure . . . the twins and Fen will appear some but mroe as a timeline of how things are happening for her . . . should only take a few chapters to do this, right?)

Anyway, as I was waiting for the bus, I focused on Alethea and Jordan, to come up with their backstories and infuse some personality and life into them. I’m honestly not one of those people who plans characters in advance or gives them any kind of structure in the planning process. I do write down ideas as they come to me (a form of outlining but not much more than that), but I do prefer to write freeform, as it were, and get to know my characters, my setttings, and my conflicts as they come to me. Thank goodness for cell phones! I was able to “jot” my notes down this way!

And Alethea and Jordan have proven to be a bit more difficult than Fen and the twins, but that’s okay. There are a lot of great things in store for the characters in the Arc of Fantasy series, and there are plans for an expanded universe as well, including a special edition filled with more (called the Expansion Pack Edition – hey, it’s inspired by video games. Some games get expansion packs. Arc of Fantasy will, too!)

I will also be doing what I can to work on New Atlantis (Book Four) and The Intergalactic Chase (Book Five) as well since the stories for Arc of Fantasy, while connected, are also focused upon different groups. Somewhere in there, I want to publish a short story following Daniel and Wolfgang, set after their adventures to King Lopt’s fire-headed wyvern. Book Six (yet to be titled, at this point) will wait writing status as everything will be converging or will have converged by the end of Book Five.

Fun times certainly are in store!

And, on that note, since talk is talk and not always action, until the next time, my friends! The writing of the stories doesn’t work without the writer putting pen to paper!

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Fiction Friday – a snippet from Frost Giants

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Yeah, this is what I want to do on Fridays – post snippets. Many will be in the rough draft stages, but that’s okay. I like it when I can see the evolution of a person’s writing skills, and it always becomes obvious with each new story a person writes.

Without any further ado, Frost Giants! From chapter . . . I don’t know the number yet. ^_^ But, to me, it’s an intense scene and heartbreaking, one in which everyone involved is right but also know there is no other choice for what’s about to happen next.

Enjoy!!

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Odin stared at the assembly of Gods, Valkyrie, warriors, and humans gathered before him. Grim and determined faces gazed right back at him. The only ones missing for this council were Heimdall ever present at the edge of the Bifrost, Loki who had finally fallen asleep next to his son Sleipnir, Thor who watched over the trickster to be sure none of the stable servants disturbed the God of Mischief, and Bragi, who had left Asgård for the first Midgård. The watchman had informed the King of Asgård both of his son’s departure and what Loki had learned of Arvid’s hideout. The bits of information disturbed him. He relayed everything said to him to those awaiting his command.

Continue reading

Throwback Thursday – Homeless and The Sons of Thor

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Really, I have nothing for the throwback Thursday portions, and real life has been somewhat hectic and . . . crushing since last week.

So, to flash back . . .

One year ago today, I had finally achieved a dream I’d had since October 2002: moving to Philadelphia. I arrived in the city around this time by plane. It was my first flight ever . . . and my first time truly discovering what it was like to be on the streets amongst the down and out. I didn’t sleep in cardboard boxes. The Outreach people tended to round up those sleeping in alleys and on park benches to take to emergency shelters, but it was my first time dealing with the actual discrimination of society as a whole against those who were down and out on their luck.

I don’t regret moving to Philadelphia. A part of me will always walk the streets, wander in Love Park and hang out on the Ben Franklin Parkway. A part of me will always live on there and will never forget the kindness I found amongst many of the people there. I won’t forget the greed and negativity I saw there, either, nor the foolishness of others, but I was there. I lived, I enjoyed, and I survived.

While living in Philadelphia (seeking work and a place to live), I worked as much as I could on The Sons of Thor. Not always an easy task – emergency shelters are not designed for the mental and physical well-being of those staying within their walls – but I certainly tried. I managed to get a bit of it done and more so when I returned to Michigan and got a job at Burger King.

In truth, Arc of Fantasy wasn’t even going to be Arc of Fantasy but a slightly disconnected series originally consisting of the novella of Portal to Gaming, a couple of short stories featuring the twins thriving in their new surroundings while Fen languished and a novel to round out the whole tale. I never intended for certain Nordic and Greek influences to take over and completely change the dynamic. I hadn’t even intended to write Ravensrealm with Alethea Light and her best friend, Jordan Taylor. Daniel and Wolfgang certainly didn’t care about Fen as much as they did before the Nordic and Greek influences took over. Portal to Gaming also was originally slated to be an open-ended short story for the Writers of the Future contest.  The changes that came, well, obviously took the story into a different direction and created the Arc of Fantasy series. If not for the Greek and Nordic influences, I’d still be struggling with a completely different series.

The titles, Portal to Gaming and Arc of Fantasy, are courtesy of my younger sister as well as the artwork for the ebooks.

Next week, I’ll have some pictures up from my time in Washington and Pennsylvania.

Until the next time!

Writing Tip Wednesday – The Pains of Picking a Setting

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I apologize for the delay in writing. Friday hit, and a few things happened to get in my way of doing the things I need and want to do. However, I am back and with this week’s writing tip.

Last Monday, while I sat in Panera Bread on 15th Street, just off of Utica here in Tulsa, I was struck by an idea for yet another story. This happened to be inspired by reading a summary for an Avengers fanfiction piece. The idea is for an urban fantasy story set in a “modern” time period and guarantees that, no matter where the story is set, the idea will work out brilliantly.

So, here I am again, at the Panera on 15th, just off Utica, writing about the pains for picking a setting for urban fantasy. Why? Because on Monday, I posed the question in a vague way at my writer’s forum and got a list of places that could be used for an urban fantasy but not on the merits of choosing said locations. I even got the advice to create my own setting using what I know about growing up in a small town and making it unique, which, sadly, was more frustrating for me than encouraging.

For some, this may bring up the question of why care about the setting? Just write the story anyway and worry about the setting later! This all well and good advice if the setting has no bearing on the conflict. I can see how such advice can work for generic, run-of-the-mill romance novels, but only to an extent. Choosing a setting adds to the complexity and dynamics of a story as well as creates and enhances current conflicts and themes. The Lord of the Rings might have been a different story entirely if Tolkien had not created Moria or the Pass of Cadharas in the Misty Mountains!

As such, when it comes to choosing a setting, there are a few things to consider:

Point One: What is the genre of the story?

Let’s run with romance for a moment. Now, for the most part, as long as the author generates an interesting plot with interesting characters, the setting is of no great importance. The focus is that of the relationship, is it not? However, the setting can add for a different flair, a different flavor, and add to the conflict. Here’s how.

if the romance is set in a major city, such as New York City, the author can add an elevated sense of mystery and drama to his/her romance novel as the hero/heroine tries to find and save his/her lover from some deranged stalker. New York City is a very large place, after all, so there are plenty of places a kidnapper/stalker can take his/her victirm. The city setting itself adds to the nuances of conflict.

Now, let’s scale back a bit. Say our romance writer has decided to write about a budding relationship in a small town somewhere in the South where family feuds were known to be bloody and violent. Small towns are known for being quaint and cozy and holding no secrets. Supposedly.

The same attributes can be applied to writing an urban fantasy. The idea an author has for the plot is also very crucial to the type of setting as major cities and small towns present their own challenges. Some ideas are specific to certain settings, i.e. what could work in a small town might not work in a major city and vice versa.

Remember, with each main genre, there is a multitude of sub-genres. Fantasy has urban fantasy, Romance has historical, for example. Know the genre, and you can pick the setting from there.

Point Two: Who are the characters?

Characters also play a role in choosing a setting. For us fantasy types, our characters need to be able to survive the settings we place them in. The way cannot be easy nor completely impassable. Our characters need to have enough intelligence and wisdom to be able to navigate over mountains, oceans, and rivers, and through forests and across deserts. An educated princess may not have all the knowledge she needs in order to find food for survival if she’s had to flee her home.

Point Three: What is your plot?

Not all plots are created equal. Snow in the desert just won’t work, not unless there’s something bigger at play, like a natural catastrophe about to happen or someone opening a portal to a world that they shouldn’t have. Just because we the writers want to write it doesn’t mean it can work just because we want it to work. Keeping it plausible and realistic is the best way to keep a reader engaged.

So while I shelve the idea from last Monday in favor of current works, I leave everyone with this tidbit for writing. Ponder your setting. Ponder its relevance to your plot and your characters, and you can have a spectacular story in the making!

Until the next time!

A reminder – no idea is too far out there

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So, as I try to accomplish some writing goals today, a friend of mine posted in one of the many groups on facebook a reminder that no idea is too far out there when it comes to publishing. Thank you, Amazon, for helping to create some really weird niches!

Seriously, there is a niche of erotica out there called Dinosaur Erotica. It’s been a while since I’ve seen any advertisements for it, but it’s out there. It’s proof that people out there have fetishes and the weirder the better.

However, for myself, I’ll stick with science-fiction and fantasy and the Norse and the not-so-usual archetypes for main characters.

Throwback Thursday – Wait? Throwback? Never Throw Anything Back

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Wow . . . It’s Thursday already, my days off are almost up so I’ll be back to work in the morning. (My best days are on the weekends.) Time sure does fly when you’re playing around on the internet!

As of today, I’ve joined another site in which I can post original material. Someone from the site sent me a PM via fictionpress to tell me about it, wondering if I’d be interested. At first, I thought it was one of those, “Hey, we’re looking for authors for our magazine”/”It’s a writing contest” type messages, something I’m actually shying away from  at this moment. I almost refused but then looked a little closer at the PM. Not a contest nor a magazine but a site much like fictionpress.com so that I can definitely dig.

Also, I’m in shock over the news of Alan Rickman passing away so close to David Bowie. Rickman was definitely an iconic man, and he will be missed.

Writing Tip Wednesday – What Do You Plan to Write?

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So you want to write a story, eh? Great! Congratulations! Welcome to the wonderful world of the insane!

I say that in jest, though, seriously, there does seem to be an underlying current for writers to be at least someone insane. After all, some of the wonderful things that have been written in the course of human history? What are they if not small bouts of insanity being released? And I can list numerous titles in the fiction category that do just that! Alice in Wonderland, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Lord of the Rings . . . Harry Potter and let’s not forget the dark imaginings of horror and crime/mystery writers. Yes, some of what they touch on is based on real life, on the human psyche’, but man, those are some dark and twisted places!

If you happen to be reading this out of the hundreds and hundreds of blogs on writing out there, I can only imagine that you’ve been asking yourself the same question I’ve posed in the subject line. What do you plan to write? Better yet, what has been calling out to you, begging to put into written word? Do you have a burning fantasy of romance roiling around within you? Are you on a quest to find some lost item? Or are you trying to make sense of a tragic death that has left more questions than answers, even in light of an investigation? It doesn’t necessarily need to be shared with the rest of the world, just to be expressed somehow, and it’s burning away within you to do just that.

So what do you plan to write? What do you plan on expressing for yourself and, maybe, for all of the world to see? Is it just one story? Or are you a cauldron of ideas, bubbling away? How do you even pick which idea needs the most focus?

“I don’t know!” you might cry out. “How did you do it?”

Well, as I’ve mentioned in a few other of my blog posts, I’ve been writing off and on since I was nine, steadily since the beginning of 2000. I’ve even name-dropped J.R.R. Tolkien as my biggest inspiration for wanting to write fantasy. I started writing fanfiction as a means to spend time with some of my favorite characters, and I learned a lot from it. One of my original characters came out of a (now lost) Lord of the Rings fanfiction piece. Because it’s the one that calls to me the most, I am a science-fiction and fantasy author with a penchant for myths, legends, and fairy tales. (Yes, this is important to know as every genre has subcategories to fill niches.) So starting the writing process is something that’s just always been with me, something I’ve always done and enjoyed, and I’ve heard many writers say as much as well.

That isn’t to say you must start young to be a writer. Simply that you must take the ideas from the grey matter and put them into words and run with the idea that’s first and foremost in your mind. Don’t worry about everything sounding perfect the first time around – you’re new, and it’s going to take writing multiple drafts of the same manuscript to get the story in your head the shiny masterpiece it’s meant to be. And putting words to paper can be easy or difficult. It helps to have people in your real and internet lives that are encouraging and are great sounding boards.

Also, ask yourself these questions:

What appeals to me? (Do you like romance? Westerns? Dramas? Crime/mystery? Historical fiction? Spiritual? Horror?)
What type of a story do I want to tell? (Are you a social commentator or a social justice warrior? Are you wondering what life on Mars will be like? The moon? Want to ride with Jesse James?)

And remember the following:

The “market” is something the publishing industry uses as a gatekeeper. It’s something that’s justified but also extremely flexible. And for beginning writers, something to not be worried about at this point. You’re starting out. Don’t kill the muse and the inspiration by worrying about what will sell and what won’t. The “market” changes based on what writers want to read (thus they write what they want to read) and finding a readership this way. I’ve had at least one romance writer tell me there’s a market for geek romance, and if there’s a market for that, I’m sure there are others out there, just waiting to be tapped.

In the meantime, though, do the following. Just write. Worry about whether or not you’re going to publish later. Find your voice and your style first and enjoy the ride. I’m not the first author to say as much nor will I be the last.

Oh, and don’t ever give up.

You’ll thank yourself later for it.