Friday, August 26, 2011

Ansirk - The World of Diar - Part 2



Ansirk, the capital of the Brethen kingdom, sprawls for several miles. Located west of Keeper's Dale, this is the hub of human sophistication and debauchery alike. The balance of order and corruption are held in check by the numerous factions inside the city. The Mynler District for instance, known for its exotic jewels and banking, wields influence through financial prowess. While in contrast, the Shadowling faction, an all female guild of deadly assassins and thieves, beguiles for power in the political arena. In these respects and others, each district is onto itself a different community. The dynamic ebb and flow of unrest between the diverse cultures keeps any one faction from gaining ultimate power over the others.


The city welcomes visitors from all walks of life and allows them to openly trade goods and services in the districts of their choosing. Farmers from Eshendown Gardens for example, barter vegetables for coin or magical rain generation trinkets crafted by the water mages of the Wisentrop District. Then after a long day of selling their wares the farmers can treat themselves to brews at the Drunken Eagle; just a short walk down Main Street in the Market District.

The Drunken Eagle is a gaudy inn with a quirky ambiance. Themed and adorned with the Brethen Kingdom's colors of blue and gold, the inn is also lavished with eagle depicted murals and tapestries lined throughout. The inn boasts several floors to paying customers in need of a comfortable bed; each room designated by the name of history's most beloved kings. The establishment is most noted for their honey spiced mead and scantily clad and accessible barmaids.


There are plenty of other stores and activities within the Market District to keep oneself occupied, but those with ample coin will pass through the ornate mason columns located at the back of the district. Here they will find themselves in the upscale part of the city called the Mynler District. Run by Jawg Mynler and his family, this luxurious section of the capitol opens its doors to those of elite status and purses teeming with gold.

Jawg Mynler's fortune is fed from the jewel laden mines far to the east of Ansirk and deep in the Jade Mountains. The Mynler family has wealth beyond comparison, spending most of their days planning and catering galas for even the most obscure holidays. It is rumored that if Jawg had any desire for such lofty ideals of political power, he could have bought the throne several times over. Yet his infatuation with monetary expansion and social events keeps him adequately occupied.


From the dilapidated wood buildings of the Shadowling District to the cobbled streets of the Mynler District, the city of Ansirk is surrounded by a formidable defensive wall. This massive stone structure houses thousands of soldiers within its gatehouses and battlements. The feeling behind the walls, with their impressive armaments, is considered by most to be that of comfort and security; and rightly so. The walls have stood strong for a thousand years and withstood countless wars. The latest completion of massive siege equipment mounted on the high ramparts only adds to their effectiveness of keeping the denizens safe.


Modern architecture and contemporary styling make the city of Ansirk a breathtaking site. When King Connald Blake took the throne in the Brethen Keep, he had but one single peeve; the city was to drab and unkempt. By his decree the streets were made swept regularly, gardens were planted throughout the city, and his family crest was added to large banners that now fly high on the walls. Furthermore, new monuments were erected to showcase the city's grand history of survival through the bleakest of times. It is a time of peace for the Brethen people and the King has no qualms with that. He embraces the heartiness of his people knowing them fully capable of conquest, but he cherishes their capacity for productivity as well and chooses to let his lands flourish without bloodshed.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Whew.. Blogger Days of Summer

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer, I wanted to drop in and give an update of this blog site.  After a little bit of research I realized that the 'pages' concept is not going to work as I originally intended it to.  For whatever reason Blogger only allows ten pages for us to use.  This of course does not bode well for my segmented story lines; 4 parts Fardea, 4 parts Scouting, 2 parts Diar, etc.

I've done a couple things to offset this and help folks find things in the future.  First I've implemented 'labels,' a feature that creates an index for my blog postings.  Also, I'll be consolidating the stories I've already listed.  You can already see the Scouting story line in its entirety in one single page.

At any rate, I hope all of that makes sense.  If so, great! Have a great weekend.  If not then have comfort knowing that I'm doing what I can with my limited knowledge of Blogger to keep the site functional.  Suggestions are of course encouraged.



   

Friday, August 12, 2011

Protect The Risen: Scouting the Enemy - Part 4

Had a bit of time tonight so I whipped up an additional installment of the scouting story. It introduces another of my favorite characters...

Scouting the Enemy


Nevel forego the pleasantries of a formal campsite as he lay hidden in the canopy overlooking the Haverdack army.  His horse safely tethered a mile back waiting his return.  He would have rode in closer but this leg of the scouting mission required a stealthier approach.

The ranger had evaluated the small woodcutting men assessing their potential as adversaries.  He concluded that their heightened agility and incredible speed could prove formidable.  If the tiny men were formally trained in warfare the Brethens would have their hands full.  Even without training, there were so many; Nevel did not want to think of the carnage that lay in the future.

All things being equal though, the creatures stood little chance of breaching the sturdy stone walls of the Brethen Keep.  Throughout history, several armies had tried to overtake the Brethen lands.  With every attempt, the men of the Brethen Keep stood stoic, building their walls taller and wider.  Each success taught them more robust models on how to defend themselves with greater efficiency.

In recent years, a genius architect had helped them design war machines for their battlements.  They were intricate mechanisms of counter weights and slings set upon the highest points of the Brethen Keep and capable of hurling salvos of rock down upon an advancing army.  Designs Nevel had thought were novel, but now looking down on the army below he realized could change the tide of the Brethens' future.  The ranger had been present the day the inventor, Red Eye, had presented his prototype to the king.

"The Brethen Keep has relied too heavily on the mages of the Wisentrop district.  They are formidable men, no question of that my liege, but men non the less.  We cannot assume to have their magic at our beck and call, loyalties as it is said can always change.  Should the time come, it would be nice to have an unwavering alternative to those who reside in the mage towers of Ansirk."  

The wily inventor pulled in a deep breath and then continued his presentation. "It is time to roll out a new era of defense.  We can always be resort back to the Order of Magi should my creations fail, my lord.  I plead however you trust in my abilities, these mongonels will not falter." 

Red Eye pointed to his odd contraptions spread across a dozen wagons.  "I know it does not look like much now but consider the schematics I showed you last year.  When we lock the forward load bearing legs in place on the keep walls and stretch the..."

The king's hand came up in a stopping motion, "Red you need not go into the details of it with me again.  I did not understand you the first time you told me of this design.  I had not realized how large it would be.  Can the walls handle it?"

The odd man shook his head yes, then slightly in a no fashion.  "My lord, a small retrofit of slate will need to be added to each of the mongonel locations on the ramparts.  My calculations suggest that the given sectional weight distribution, based upon the span and height of our current wall is inadequate.  I did however cross reference the known specifications of our current wall's construction versus that of Eshendown stone..." 

"Enough Red," The king waved his hand once more and then stood idle.  His majesty's face suggested a look of being lost in an internal dialogue.  His eyes shifted from side to side, and he nodded an ascent to a question none in the audience heard.  Most were accustomed to this anecdotal feature of their king and paid it no attention.   

King Blake turned to his constituents.  "Do any lords hold reservations of Constable Red Eye's proposed wall installation?"

Lord Wallace Manti spoke up, "My lord I concur with the constable.  The rock from my quarries is an excellent choice of material.  I would be honored to supply it for our beloved Brethen Keep."

"Lord Foxe?" the king asked, turning to his oldest friend.

As always, accompanying the sage man on either side was Sir Macimar and Nevel.  Marith Foxe shook his head.  "We have needed war machines of this caliber for a long time, my lord.  If Red says he has come up with a working prototype then we should test it.  I would be curious if he can achieve the projectile range he has boasted."

Nevel continued to watch the expansive army crawl through the valley.  To his dismay as coincidence would have it, rolling into view were similar implements of war to that of Red Eye's creations.  The Haverdack army had use of siege equipment.  This did not bode well for the keep, it would soon be time to test those new creations under most dire of times.


--

Also as requested, I added a bit to the previous Fardea story.  No not the romance part, but the tray part.  I think it adds a bit more fun to the segment.

Fardea - Part 4 - Turning the Tides

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fardea updates

Part four is now available of Fardea's escapade.  I've also gone back and added a small bit into part two if you want to check that out.  It wasn't that I needed to, but I thought it added something to her storyline which may be useful to know later in her development (hint, hint.) 

Fardea-Part-2- Darcellis Fate

Fardea-Part-4-Turning the Tides

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Protect The Risen: Scouting the Enemy - Part 3

Here is an overdue part 3 of the scouting story. Been out of town on business, making it difficult to find the time to get this out. Hope you all enjoy...

Scouting the Enemy


Lord Marith Foxe and Sir Macimar approached the army with care, although not cautious enough it would seem.  A band of small men, their arms thrusting long spears had rushed up on them.  Marith cursed himself, "Of course they have scouts, why have I let us ride into such a trap?"

The small formed men shouted out in their foreign tongues, neither of the riders recognized it, however both understood its intent.  They were to become prisoners of this grand army, a force measuring twenty thousand by Lord Foxe's estimation.  Worse yet, the foreign invaders might just kill them.  Macimar slid one of his blades from its ornate scabbard and kicked in his spurred heels.

"Maybe you wished to test their strength my lord."

Marith scoffed at the idea that he had intentionally let this event happen on purpose.  The logic of his loyal knight had merit.  What better way to understand an opposing army than to face them in such small and contained numbers.

Marith was not as cavalier as his protégé and took a moment to secure his helm and lower his visor.  He then put Corceneble into a lope and unseated the long battle axe from its resting spot on his horse’s side.  He raised the light weight and perfectly balanced weapon high above his head.  "For my Brethens!" he chanted. 

"Your Brethen!" Sir Macimar replied, his long tresses whipped in the wind as he rode hard into the tiny men's position.  His sword swooped in low and nearly clipped the head of the nearest.  The knight's aim was precise and yet he missed the mark somehow; the scrawny adversary skirting the attack with uncanny ease.

Unwavering Macimar continued his assault, his powerful horse parting the ambushers and opening up a second target.  Down came his sword once more, a sweeping arc meant to cleave and yet this attempt was thwarted as well, as the cat-like reflexes of his opponent evaded.

"What are they," he exclaimed to his companion.  There was no immediate answer as his mentor had not yet joined him in the fight.  Unsurprising, his mentor lingered at the edge of the battle assessing the situation.  Macimar hoped in this particular situation that the patience of his lord paid out and that he would figure out a method to kill these quick little men.

Lord Marith Foxe watched Macimar fail in his initial approach, and in fact knew the name of these creatures now that he had seen them closer up.  They were called Leesermen, originating from a realm far to the east; an unsophisticated bunch of natives.  It was odd seeing them group up in such large numbers and to also be warmongering.  The Leesermen had always been known for their small, tribal like, religious sects.  This really made no sense to Lord Foxe.

Macimar reigned in his horse on the far side of the fray and wheeled it about.  He was no slouch when it came to speed and if any human could stand toe to toe to these lythe creatures it would be him.  Of all of Marith's students, Macimar had surpassed all with his ability to wield the small blades.

The long haired knight dropped out of his saddle and drew out a second sword, an identical forge of the previous with an eagle emblemed hilt.  He twirled each in synchronous circles, a signature movement of this fierce warrior.  By now Lord Foxe had his long shafted axe swinging as well, but he too could not seem to strike a successful hit.  The Leesermen were just too quick.  He tried a midlevel jab, evade, an overhead chop, evade, a twirling crisscross shoulder to gut slice, evade.

Deep into his struggle of finding a method to strike his opponent, Marith lost track of several Leesermen that had slid around to his backside.  Their spear tips nudging his polished armor and reminding him of his surroundings once again.  It became the pivotal moment for the fight, as Marith Foxe realized what he needed to do to.

He shouted across to Macimar, "I have an idea."

"I figured and hoped you might, my lord."

"You and I must fight as one."

Marith Foxe allowed the spears to continue to strike him, the strength of the little men too weak to puncture the strong Brethen craftsmanship of the sturdy platemail.  Sir Macimar caught on quick that those focused on the easy target of his lord had left themselves vulnerable to attack.  A flurry of steel quickly fell two of the Leesermen engaged in prodding Lord Foxe. 

The two warriors took turns playing the role of distracter and aggressor.  The Leesermen wore no armor and stood no chance at winning by the hands of these two heavily plated and seasoned soldiers.  Their nimbleness, initially a strong defense did not make much of a difference in the end.  Several minutes later, all of them were piled together dead.  Some died from the short swords held in opposing hands by Macimar and the others cleaved in half by the mighty axe of Lord Foxe.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Protect The Risen: Scouting the Enemy - Part 2

Hope all are enjoying their week, here is part 2 of the scouts.

Scouting the Enemy


The ranger hunched down in his thin saddle and allowed himself to move in rhythm with his horse. Soon the tall grass lapped at Nevel's feet as he outpaced his companions.  A final wave towards his friends and he diverted his course off into the thicker brush on the hillside.

The Haverdack army had settled itself in the flat valley of two spruce and deciduous covered hills.  To maintain cover Nevel would need to stick to the rocky untamed hillsides.  His horse was use to its rider and knew what was demanded of it, its muscles honed to handle the rougher terrain than those of its counterparts.  The duo made incredible time given the obstacles in their path.

From time to time Nevel could glimpse out through small breaks in the foliage and see the massive military force gathered below.  It was an incredible sight; he had never seen such a display of power.  He shook his head in disbelief, "My lord, help us find the strength to defend ourselves."

He continued to move swiftly through the trees and scrub brush, his horse doing most of the decision making on the best course to take.  Ahead he heard the distinctive sound of wood chopping.  Not a single sound but a clamorous beating of hundreds of ax-heads colliding against the trees.  It was a fortunate supply of noise that further dampened his stealthy approach.  He slowed, hopped off his horse and placed the reigns over a low hung branch.

Nevel darted off now in his true comfort zone: alone.  He had been a woodsmen tracker since childhood, a decision not entirely his own.  His father had also been a tracker using his skills to provide food and income.  Before Nevel learned to walk his father had placed him in a sling and carried him out into the woods for the daily hunt.  Nevel had never known a life outside that of the woods; it was therefore where the boy, and now a man felt most at ease.

As the years past, Nevel soon surpassed his father's abilities.  He could look at a single track and tell what breed and size an animal it was.  More fascinating was the fact that the young boy could tell what time of day it passed the area, and even what reason.  It was the angle of the print's impression along with its depth that helped him in this endeavor.  In later years his skills were honed to include the more devious creatures of the woods; those that had mental faculties to hide their tracks from the average woodsman.  Nevel had ascended to the ranks of a ranger by this time where neither man nor creature was able to elude him.

Ahead he could hear the mumbles of voices that made no effort to hide their idle chatter.  The wood cutters were enthralled by their work and unaware of any persons who would challenge their large numbers.  Nevel was such a man however, and tip toed closer trying to discern the nature of the men ahead.

"Nimba gucho esfe welti," came the voice of the nearest to Nevel.

"Awna gucho, Nimba ni qetswa.  Dute betres a Ostin," was the reply.

What Nevel had first assumed to be mumbled speech turned out to be a foreign tongue.  All he seemed to make out was the proper names of someone named Nimba and posibly Ostin.  Neither name was familiar to him nor did it offer any information on the men's origins.  Chancing a quick look, the veteran woodsman peered around the trunk of a large spruce.  His eyes blinked as he tried to understand the lanky forms he saw.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Scouting the Enemy

The next little story line I will put out there references characters that will get introduced in book two of the series.

Scouting the Enemy


Marith pulled the cinch tight, allowed Corceneble to exhale and then yanked on the leather strap one last time before tying it to his saddle.  His majestic roan bobbed her head low knowing the next step of this daily ritual.  Every morning Lord Marith Foxe prepared his horse for the day's journey; the addition of the steed's reigns was now the final step.

"What a glorious morn my lord," the energetic soul named Nevel mentioned.

"Aye, a fine day indeed Nevel," his lord responded.

A third voice chimed in, "Not a fine day my lord, but a grand day.  For this is the last day of the journey.  I for one cannot wait to be back among my family.  I miss my girls so much."

"Alas you forget the couple weeks for the trek home Sir Macimar," Lord Foxe reminded his friend and loyal knight.

"If I had a wife like yours Macimar I could not wait either," Nevel added.

Macimar leered at Nevel, but directed his response to Lord Foxe.  "Well yes there is that, but I will be glad to finally have a look at this army Lord Haverdack has supposedly assembled out here."

"Nothing our fellow Brethens cannot defeat, Haverdack has tried to attack us before.  I venture to guess this whole matter has been overrated," Nevel said haughtily.

"Our king cannot leave such matters to guessing Nevel.  This is why he tasks us with this important duty," the noble voice of Lord Foxe stated.  He then added, "Enough of this, let us ride and get our answers.  Then we can discuss the voyage home."

"And eat some of that apple pork stew your wife loves to make Macimar.  I would kill for a warm meal again."

Sir Macimar shook his head, "Always thinking with your belly Nevel."

"Hmph, when it comes to your wife I generally think with parts below my belly too,"  Nevel joshed.

Lord Foxe threw himself up into his saddle with ease and gripped the reigns.  He then squeezed gently on Corceneble's flanks putting the mighty horse into a slow gait.  With a tip of his head and a squint of his eyes Marith let known his next statement was on a more serious note, "Nevel, my friend, take care.  Sir Macimar and I will see you in a couple of days.  Be careful."

Nevel nodded knowing his role in this part of the mission.  He was a ranger; many would say the best in the realm.  He would travel into a wide arc around the approaching army; scouting out their trailing lines.  Lord Foxe and Sir Macimar would approach Lord Drehas Haverdack's army from the front, investigating the main force.  Where they would determine the size and strength of the force, Nevel's job was to determine supply lines that no doubt would exist for an army of any measurable size.

Nevel had known Lord Foxe for many years and knew his lord was a calculating man with a good handle on strategic warfare.  His leader would know that it would take a considerable force to breach the Brethen Keep's walls, but to underestimate anyone who attempted a campaign of this magnitude would be foolish.  A warrior of his veteran years, Lord Foxe knew war all too well, he would not take this matter lightly.  More important to the lord, as a honorable subject of the Brethen realm, he could let himself fail the king.

Nevel recalled one of Lord Foxe's famous quotes, "One of the easiest ways to defeat a military power is to sever their ability to obtain food."  This is why Nevel's ranger skills were needed.  He would sneak around and get the details associated with the support structure of the army.  


Monday, July 11, 2011

Fardea - Part 3


Sorry for the delay in posting this. It was a mixture of internet outages/storms, home projects (tree removals, driveway repairs, etc), and vacations that limited my blogging time. So anyways, here is another quick installment with Fardea. Hope you like it.


Check sidebar for details --->






Almost forgot to add the picture of why my internet was out.


Monday, June 20, 2011

New Direction For Blog

After quite a bit of research into the matter I have decided to make some changes here on my blog.  To throw out some credits, I took some advice from both Rachelle Gardner and the folks at Author Tech Tips.  I've been following Rachelle at her blog for some time now and just love all the great advice she doles out.  So if you are not following this wonderful literary agent, I suggest that you start, you won't regret it.  Then Author Tech Tips is a site I have just recently been turned onto and again there is a tremendous amount of information there.

The main issue with my current blog is a similar error many authors make.  Many of us omit the very reason we should be using the social media in the first place; to introduce or hype up our work in progress.  The pitfall is that the author designs the website to be more about them and their life, which of course will not attract followers to well.  Instead, it is suggested to make the blog or website more dynamic consisting of content honed more on the work rather than the author.  Sure give the site some of "you," but also include info about your work.  If you can, it would even be smart to have new content that will actually drive folks to come back.  For example, create a side or back story to your novels and then present it in your blog in issues sent out weekly or some other time interval.  

So with this in mind, I'll first roll an introduction to the world of Diar.  This will let readers know a little bit more about the setting for the novels.  I will also develop a small plot line for one of the more fun characters, Fardea Panthrex, and make it available to readers. So stay tuned.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Small Update

Power is out at the house, and I'll post a pic of the why it is out when I get a chance.  Let us just say I had a small bit of storm damage.  At any rate, so that I stay connected to the internet I'll make a quick entry to the blog with a little bit of an update for the Chances Are novel.  Currently I am in the rewrite of chapter seven, but the first six are now complete. The chapter titles in sequential order are: Untouchable Dreams, Replacing the Fallen, A Touch of Luck, Fleeing Echos, Dreams and Prophesies, Eshendown Gardens, Troubles Aloft, Hell's Holler...  More to come of course.  Hope you all have a nice day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A team

What was it Hannibal use to say on the A Team?  "I love it when a plan comes together."  Well I kid you not I've been contemplating a certain direction for my book for nearly a year now and it is just now finally coming together for me.  I have been struggling with splitting up my original manuscript into a series and quite frankly hadn't completely figured out how until now.  The intertwining of all three, heck maybe even five books has projected itself out before my mind's eye.  Thank goodness, because I was going insane with all of it jumbled up in there.



So here is the deal I believe the first draft, what I had originally thought was a complete novel was in fact the backbone of an epic fantasy series.  I had written the novel before I understood how to write a novel, if that makes any sense.  So much of the book is great conceptually, but it spanned over to much content without enough depth.  Again I hope that makes sense, if not check out my brainstorming formula post.



Okay so that isn't fair for many of you, since it comes off a bit gibberish.  So imagine instead you want to craft the perfect wedding cake.  Each tier would need to be baked separately, stacked, and decorated.  Then you would place that center piece on it as the final touch, right?  Well making a book can be like that as well, only in my case I flubbed it the first time.  I took one cake and doused it with icing, poured on a whole can of sprinkles (ummm, sprinkles), then pressed , no maybe shoved the center piece deep into the pile of goo.



So now I am sorting through it all.  I've baked a few more cake layers which will tier the story better hefting that climatic final book high into the air.

So my question for the day is, how have you set yourself up for sequels or do you bother?  Do you have it all planned out ahead of time and make book one and two interlaced, foreshadowed with items that will easily breadcrumb the readers on into book three?




In other words are you planning on making three distinct wonderfully made cakes? 



Or one magnificent multi-tiered epic piece of literature? 



 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our children

The darn editing process can be rough, don't you agree?  We writers create such great proses, at least in our minds, that it becomes difficult if not not impossible for us to let them go.  The attachment is akin to when children run off to college and the parents just don't want to let them leave the nest.  Alas, we must let them go in order to bring our manuscripts to fruition.  Our documents must be culled of paragraphs or even full pages, in some cases, that just do not fit the overall scheme of the book's plot. 

It is hard though, I admit this trouble has found its way to me as well.  I will create a whole backdrop and later have to refine or discard it due to newer ideas that pop into my head.  Ideas that truly do fit better, and drive the story to the climax I have envisioned.  This is not to say that my original idea was bad, but that it no longer adheres well to the flow or line I have developed for the story.

So what do we do with those old discarded pages?  We cut and paste the best of the phrases; we cherish and savor them.  The combination of words that we had sewn together will get adopted as we do our best to squeeze them into the new passages and ideas.  It becomes an adaptation of the orginal concept.  If you had a great fight scene in a bar, but the bar no longer fits as a proper locale, then you keep the fight sequence and place it into another scene like maybe a warehouse.  I know I'm not alone in this concept.  Afterall it is not plagiarism to copy and reuse one's own work; nor is it wrong to covet our 'children' to never get thrown away.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dreams

Dreams are a tricky subject for some as are internal dialogues.  How do you bring them into the fold of the manuscript and do they even add to it?  Does it distract the reader to be trucking along reading in the present and then have to shift into some alternate past life the character wants to reflect upon?  Lots of questions and as always it is in the writers best interest to make sure that they first know their character well enough to take such a journey, but also that the writer understand the current standard on how to make that transition.  The most important thing I believe must be to establish a smooth movement from one state to the other, otherwise the reader will be left jarred or worse outright confused.

So first do you or do you not introduce the dream or internal aside?  The first question you should ask is of course does this do anything to help drive the story forward?  Also, will the reader eventually get a pay off for reading the information?  I once read an entire series of books, seven I believe, where I was able to literally skip every passage that was italicized.  It became obvious that each of them added nothing to the story and were there merely to add word count, or extra background to character development.  So be careful on this because it is easy to slide into this pitfall, writers love to give back-story to their characters, but at some point this diatribe must help drive the story.  Meaning it has to be a reason for the character to want to grow, to develop, to escape his past and be better, etc.

So now you have accepted that you are going to put the dream, the internal dialogue, or the passage of 'five years earlier' into the book; now what?  A consistent method must be formed that will signal the reader that you are about to enter such a new time or altered state of mind.  Some writers straight out type out the time of the event they are about to describe, others indent.  For dreams I tend to indent or italicize, but this is currently my preference a publisher I suspect will have a hand at the final look of this.  Other methods include physical separation of the stories via page breaks, asterisks or dashes.  There can also be unique ways of showing past thoughts by your character uncovering notes, letters, or media from the long lost reletives or lovers then clipping the excerpts from these finds into your story.  In any event, make sure the reader knows where they are headed and why.

Show not Tell

I'm not sure it would classify as a debate or not but have you ever heard an agent, or maybe read somewhere that your writing should show the reader the world you are creating and not just tell them about it.  I find there is a lot of truth in this precept.  For instance, how would you describe the moment when the iconic baddies such as Jason and Freddy Krueger (in movies), or maybe Voldemort and Matron Baenre (in books) enter the scene.  When such important characters such as these make their appearances I think it is of utmost importance that they leave a reader with a lasting memory, heck even chills would be nice.

This would be an easy example though, what about the other parts of the book.  Do you think it is important to describe the scenery in such a way that "shows" rather than "tells".  Take for instance a simple romantic stroll on the beach between your two love birds.  How many pages would you dedicate to describing the ocean, the sky, the sand?  Would you have a small aside that tells about the origin of a tiny dark shell that protrudes out of the surf or would that just distract from the moment?  I guess the amount of detail should be kept in balance so long as there is enough to help put the reader in the scene with the characters.  Help the reader smell the salty air and feel the squish of the damp sand beneath their toes.

Some writers use a good bit of dialogue to achieve much of the meat in their manuscript.  A lot can be said about this particular style and of course their are a lot of readers that enjoy a good exchange of verbal cues to tell them what is going on in the book's world.  She pointed down, "Sam look at that shell over there, why do you think it is so dark compared to the others?"  Kaylie asked.  Sam dipped down and scooped up the broken conch and examined it.  He brushed the loose sand off the surface and looked up searching for a good explanation.  She loved his extravagant tales and off the wall whit.   "A long time ago this shell was the home a little mollusk named Onivia.  She was no stranger to adventure..."  And so Sam would give his dialogue.

I guess the moral of this little blog is take a look at your writing, a hard look.  Read it to yourself, heck have others read it to you.  Then close your eyes and picture the scene, can you do it?  Were there to many gaps in the sentences that keep you from picturing it well.  Don't be afraid to rewrite and expand on some of your descriptions and dialogues to achieve this.  Your reader should never have to reach to far to get 'there.'  Where there is that place you are trying to take them to whether it be the next state over or some distant fantasical world.  Yes of course they need to have some use of their own imagination to help along the journey, but don't push it to far.  In other words don't just 'tell' it to them so they think they are reading an encyclopedia entry on the locale, "show' them the place through great use of your words.       

Monday, June 6, 2011

No One's Perfect

So here's the deal you aren't the best writer out there.  I know it stinks to hear it but you aren't and neither am I.  Okay now that we have that settled lets dive into why it is important to know and accept this fact.  I would expect that many other writers and I feel the need to be recognized at some point for my life.  I will not stay in the shadows forever and plunk away on this keyboard hoping no one will ever notice what I'm writing.  I write for purpose not obscurity.

Having said that, I know deep down I battle with the notion that what if and hopefully when my manuscript is read it turns out to be the best thing ever written.  It is a struggle all people feel at some point in their lives have as they fight the forces of making a mark in history.  So back to where we began, I am not the best and neither are you.  Again why is that important, to keep rubbing in. 

If in your mind you feel like you are the best, then you would then not be open to new ideas or ways of doing things.  Why would you be, you are the best and nothing anyone can show or tell you can possibly help you.  You are immaculate with your strokes of genius.  You are impeccable with your awe inspiring words.

Truth be told though, even if you were at the top of your game someone out there is not going to like your work.  So take it from another imperfect writer, there is room for improvement.  There is so much room that you should keep your mind open every day for new opportunites to expand in what you know.  Never stop asking questions of that which is going on around you.  Take it all in with fresh perspectives and discover new ways of expressing it into words, don't be afraid to experiment with our wonderful language.       

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Seeing Manuscripts

It was eighth grade and the teacher needed to move me to the back of the room for some reason.  If memory serves she needed to split up some disorderly students.  Who would have thought such a mundane act as that would have such a huge impact on my life.

I sat there for many days watching curiously as the teacher would scribble on the blackboard not quite understanding why she expected me to be able to see what she was writing.  The fat and crumbly yellow chalk she used seemed to run together. I found myself having trouble keeping up with the class as I did my best to hear rather than see what was being taught.  Turns out I was blind as a bat, not as bad a some folks I've met in my lifetime, but bad never the less.  Let us just say you would not want a feller like that behind the steering wheel or operating some sort of heavy machinery.

The question of course comes up, how could no one have ever noticed?  Why did it take till eighth grade to discover this out.  Only thing I can come up with is that the topic never came up.  I had probably just grown up that way and learned to adapt, not knowing that seeing better was an option.

Thankfully my mom caught on to my difficulties and whisked me off to an eye doctor.  A couple hours later I was seeing the world literally through a new set of eyes.  My whole life experience exploded before me as those thick rimmed glasses were slid on.  Everything was crisp and sharp edged; who knew that trees had leaves and were not just green blobs in the distance.  In modern times folks would equate the revelation as going from analog/RCA cabled TV to High Definition LED Blue Ray/ HDMI cabled TV.  It was that dramatic of a change, trust me on that.

So why on earth do I ramble on about all this and how does it tie into this blog.  For me there is a time in every writers career, heck for some lucky individuals it probably happens more than once, that an epiphany moment occurs.  It is when the plot lines explode off the pages and the drab text becomes more than just a bunch of words.  It is when the characters grow beyond the words and touch a writer's heart.  The manuscript is forever changed leaving behind dull one sided meanings and exchanges them for deep cranial experiences the writer can not wait to share with their readers in the hopes that they "get" the hidden meanings and references.  So I wish to all my fellow writers that your manuscripts find their crisp, sharp edges and that their readers can easily say 'that book had substance, I felt it.'  Or as I discovered and was happy to admit when I was young wore those glasses for the first time, "That tree has leaves and it isn't just a green blob."      

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hug A Cat Day

For those who don't know it is supposedly National Hug Your Cat Day.  In some cases I realize this is probably a dangerous proposition, but hopefully for those of you with lazy fat cats you'll get yourselves a nice big hug.  For those who get mauled, I leave you these fun pics to at least get some joy out of the day.  Have a good one...







Wednesday, May 18, 2011

depth aka chicken post

Okay so yesterday was a bit of an odd post for most I would suspect.  It was meant to be a lighthearted and not taken with the utmost seriousness.  With that said I still want to make the point that I believe it matters to the readers that their writers did their research or took the time to make the story right.  When I read it is in short spurts (probably because the writing gets in the way.)  I know for many others they sit and read for hours, which sure I love to do as well, but seldom get the time to do so.  In either case, but more importantly to those like me who only read little chunks of a book at a time I think it is important that each block of words hold value.  The page should have depth and meaning to it so that the reader can feel engrossed in whatever moment is depicted in it.  I know personally I would not want to read blah blah blah and then bam a nice cliff hanger at the end to keep me on the edge of my seat.  No for me I would rather read substance, substance, substance, and then holy crap I think I'm going to pee my pants.  So have I and other writers hit that achievement every time probably not; but what a goal right?

As one of my old forums use to say "this post is useless without pics," but since this is a writing blog I think it more fit to give a writing example.  So without further adieu, the chicken crossing the road example of what I'm talking about.  I'll give ya two versions and hopefully you'll be able to pick which version is the better of them.

Why did the Chicken cross the road: Version 1

Sam the chicken thought it would be a good idea to cross the road.  In order to reach the other side he would have to traverse the pavement that stretched two car widths.  Having not previously been on that side this would be a great adventure for him.  He left behind his parents, some friends, and his girlfriend named Butterball.  On that far side were lots of food for dinner so Sam could not wait to get started.  After several moments he looked back having accomplished the deed.  He had been lucky that no cars needed to pass during that time frame.  He was now on the other side and his new life awaited him.

Version 2:

Sam's eye stared down the highway, his neck tilting slightly as he anticipated the cross.  There was so much to consider about this life changing decision.  If he crossed now, Sam would be leaving behind his parents, his friends, an the love of his life Butterball.  He had known her since they were peeps, and his heart ached as he thought of losing her.  The other side with its insect and worm lush fields and the low hanging branches for roosting held so many promises for his future.  Over there he could make a name for himself.  Yes he wish Butterball had the courage to join him, but there would be other hens.  He swallowed hard, and stretched out his neck fully checking one last time that the way was clear.  Then with his head held high he strutted across the two lane road.

Okay those were written on the fly so please be easy on me.  I hope that they still illustrate what I am trying to get at.  The first blurb is cold and quite frankly leaves as fast as it comes in.  The second though, at least for me, has a bit more oomph to it.  I feel his dilemma and then his pride at the end.  So even over such a few short words big and dramatic differences can be found.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WIP to EPIC a story of ABC and XYZ plus f ?

Talk about a work in progress (WIP).  I would have never imagined that in the midst of writing one novel I'd fall upon so many ideas.  The bonus part is that not all of the ideas that are flowing out are slated for this particular novel but for future installments.  There is so much 'machinery' to think about and keep track of while writing.  I would guess most folks just figure that a writer must develop the scenes, the characters, and a workable plot.  But ah... there is so much more to it, trust me.

I'm currently juggling the intricacies of how each character will grow over time across several plot lines.  On top of that I need to take into account how this first storyline will influence a separate but tangential tale.  Then both of these stories will combine or more like intertwine as each will need the other to complete the climatic ending of a third story.  Okay I realize this is somewhat confusing, so I'll attempt an example that is unrelated to my current piece.  Hope you like algebra.

book1
a---> A  where character one is little a and through book grows into big A.
x--->X our nemesis also develops and grows stronger in the book so by the end he is big X
So book1 the finale is A battling X where A defeats X and becomes Ax ....

book2
b--->B now little b is character two and he develops in book two and grows to be big B
Ax is still around and helps b become big B so you have B+Ax as a team.
y-->Y is our new book 2 villian and the duo defeat this new villian thus becoming (B+Ax)*Y==>(B+Ax)y

Book3
So you start with By and Axy and they are stronger than ever having survived through two installment already.
This time they will be battling z who turns into Giant Z by the end and they of course win the day as always.
So the final equation is then (By+Axy)*Z ==> (By+Axy)z where our heroes defeated Z and made him little z.

But hey this is the final installment so the boss should be huge and heck if we are crafty enough maybe they have been developing over the course of the three books, right?  So taking that into account then in book 1 we could have a little z thrown in, who by then end of book 1 is big Z.  Then by book 2 big Z has become Giant ZZ.  Finally by book three he's beyond imagination growing to a humongous ZZZ that must be whittled down by our characters who have just now mustered up enough strength and wisdom to overcome the bad baddie beast of ZZZ.  (getting tired for some reason, but lets continue anyways.)

book 1 = a + x + z ==> Ax +Z
book 2 = Ax + b+ y + Zz ==> Axy +By +ZZ
book 3 = Axy +by +ZZz ==> Axyz + Byz

Phew, are you still with me? (Yes, that weird ass crap up there is really how my brain thinks.) Well then what happens after the big 3 part story ends?.. A new beginning starts of course and with it a bunch of new characters.  This time however the setting is changed from what occurred in those first few books and we have so much history to help us create the follow up books.  Let's just say for the sake of this discussion that the author kept the 4th book and maybe more in mind when tackling the development of numbers one through three, wouldn't you think that four would be pretty stellar.   At the very least it would probably fit and flow better.

I think this is why I now understand why so many fantasy novels end up as epic fantasies.  The worlds created by these writers are truly 'green' ever changing and growing as the stories develop over time.  In my case, and probably with many other writers, the 'green' state is alive even before the first printed copy of the novel hits the shelves.  I cross my fingers that all this hard work up front will pay off in the end and that the world I have designed is intricate and wonderful, a place that readers will enjoy visiting from time to time as new installments are released.      

Oh, just for fun... keeping the string theory algebra fun alive a putting book four into the equation then you'd have to add in the elements that might foreshadow the characters or events that could take place in this book in the first three books.  We'll call this foreshadowing the variable f.


book 1 = a + x + z +f ==> Ax +Z +f
book 2 = Ax + b+ y + Zz +f ==> Axy +By +ZZ +f
book 3 = Axy +by +ZZz +f ==> Axyz + Byz + f

book 4 = f + c + u ==> Cu  ... as in Cu L8ter

:)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Summer?


I know it isn't summer yet, but the weather here in Georgia can be deceptive and lead a fella to think that it is.  We keep hitting in the 90s and I can't help but wonder where our spring went.  How does a guy miss something as obvious as a whole season, or did I?  I kid of course I believe it is still the midwest coming out in me.  Where I'm from we truly have four distinct seasons.  At any rate, I don't want you to get me wrong and think I'm complaining.  I love the warmer days more so than the colder ones, but come on Georgia give me at least a few more days in the milder clime.  I did want to share with you all a couple of pictures.  One was this beautiful sky that snuck up on us the other evening.  

The picture doesn't do it complete justice, the colors were so much more vivid in person.  


Also below are some pictures to prove I am not the only one who wished the sun would ebb a bit.
All of the horses huddled up in the barn by the fan.




This is our youngest, her name is Pretty Girl, I suspect you can imagine why.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Direction

A reminder to all the folks out there who are writing.  Does your story have direction?  As in a flow path that takes the reader from the initial backdrop all the way to the finale.  Does the story actually drive them to this goalline you have set up?  If not, I implore you to start thinking about it.

Whether you are the plotter type or free form type of writer you should examine each point/chapter and determine whether it moves the characters forward.  In other words, does it help the character grow as a person?  Does it get them to start seeing the underlying theme/s present in the book?  Are they slowly but suredly overcoming conflicts and weeknesses?

This can be done through a variety of ways of course.  General narration although mundane in nature is sufficient in allowing the reader to get a sense that our hero/protagonist is having developments.  Remember we want our heroes to have life, to be realistic (most of the time), and we want them to most importantly not be stagnant.

Don't forget though that dialogue is a very powerful method for pushing this idea of forward driving as well.  You can let any variety of characters whether they are friends, enemies, strangers, inside or outside of the inner circle of the main character to help "teach" them morals and life lessons.  The use of diatribe will reveal the faults of your characters and inevidably help them through it.

I could continue on, but you all get the point and I don't want to get into a lecture on the subject.  I forget who said it first but its sound advice, remember each element of your story should have a purpose and it should pretty much, in some form or another, help drive the story to the pinnacle.

Hope everyone had a happy mother's day... see ya soon.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Misfit Posts

I went back and was looking through my posts via the edit button on the dashboard and realize that I have a ton of drafts.  Some of them no doubt were rewritten and/or consumed into actual postings.  However a few I recognize as simply unused.  It is as though I have shipped them off to be on the isle of misfit toys.


I am truly sorry drafts you will someday see the light of posting.  I will not forget you forever.


---  From the drafting table ---


Drama


The idea of introducing "drama" into a situation is counterintuitive.  I am definitely not one to create it nor take part in it.  So putting drama in a book is quite simply a difficult task for me.  Where do you begin and to what degree does one add it?  
 
Drama can be the push and pull phenomenon or sexual tension between male and female characters.  It is the angst that develops between the relationships that draws readers in.  Often times it portrayed as constant squabbling/bickering.  Other times it is simple flattering of one and the denial of the others flirtations; again it is the push and pull effect.  It will always be obvious to the reader that they are quite attracted to one another, but station in society or sense of duty keeps them apart.

There could also be the conflicts/drama due to differing personalities, ideologies  or opinions.  Taking the form of people just setting out with opposing goals, one character might need to reach the goal to prove themselves where the other just does it for the glory.  In this case the drama comes in as one character is cautious or meticulous in their approach and the other is reckless.  They both desire the same thing but have vary opposing ways of getting it done. 

Here is another example of spicing up a manuscript with drama.  Why not dash in differing levels of fear versus the strength of heroism.  Some writers give inherent attributes of each and as a result the coward hunching down in the corner ready to give over his fellow companions can play a major role in drama.  The hero is betrayed but somehow still manages to save the day like we all want him to do. 

I don't know there are so many more elements to story telling and I think I am slowly developing a nice repertoire for it.  It takes time to develop a good story if you are not just inherently gifted in the art.  I realize this and to the best of my ability I am trying to add in as much flavor into what I write as I can for you all.



---


So anyways folks, there is one of the misfit posts that almost never saw the light of the blog world.  Enjoy the fifteen minutes my lil one, you are special too... 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Therdra and a darker side

Again another fun contest has popped up over at Confessions From Suite 500.  I thought today it might be fun to  give them a taste of Mistress Therdra.  Hope you enjoy as well.

Todays challenge was the following.  100 words or less using the following words (Personal, Demons, Sin, Hellbent, Original) and the phrase (A devil's own.)

Therdra's yellow eyes glowed brightly as the magical lifeforce called the 'bredth' was removed from her latest victim.  She spoke to him and a devil's own tongue could not have stole his courage with greater adeptness.  Her raspy voice forced into his mind leaving little room for original thought.

"I have but one personal request from your sin laden mouth.  Tell me where the one they call the 'Risen' is hiding."  Mistress Therdra was hellbent on finding her nemesis and destroying her.  Only then could Therdra's demons destroy the Brethen people.

The man gasped his final words, "I don't know!"  


Entry two:  ( for fun I will also post a rather gloomy/dark one)

A devil's own tongue could not have stole my sin filled mind with better guile.  The demons within me tugged at my desires for her and diminish my resolve.  It left me with little room for original thought and I dare not seek it.  A slave to her magnificence and inspired by her kindness, I would trudge a through a thousand lifetimes to be with her once more.  It was a hellbent scheme, I realize now, but as the blade found its home my own personal needs ebbed into a void of blackness.

Friday, April 29, 2011

How Long

What is your retention time for book ideas before you just have to put it down on paper or type it up?  Does it have to be immediate or can you let it stew up their in your mind for a while and develop a bit.  I'll be honest I have a tendency to forget things; my memory is a bit faulty.  So on a general rule of thumb I need to write down pretty much everything the moment I think of it whether it be a single word, phrase, or an entire page.  I believe I've discussed this concept before so I won't linger on it again, but I did want to share a couple of pictures to illustrate it and let you know how much goes into creating a manuscript.





Yes, I do use napkins, backs of crossword puzzles, information tags from work, post its, fliers from horse shows I'm attending, etc.  basically anything I can get my hands on at that moment.  I never want to lose that creative spark/moment.

Monday, April 25, 2011

More inserts and blogging

What, two blogs a day is a no no... who says... lol

Okay so I've written a good bit in the manuscript.  In fact just laid out the works for a dramatic scene of interrogation.  Ever thought about what it would happen if you were put into a situation where your spouse's life is at the mercy of you giving information that you don't have.  What would you do? Possibly make something up, would you freeze in fear, or would you continually plead for mercy explaining you didn't have the information they requested.  Me I'd lie my ass off no doubt.  Whatever it took to save my gal, lol.  That is of course me, and of course easy enough to say when not thrust into the hands of a madman whose sense of reality is well, how should I put it... skewed.  This is the sense of what shall become I believe the new chapter 4 in the rewrite.  So now we have Horrors of the Quarry (chap 1), Fleeing Echoes (Chap 2), Dreams and Prophesies (chap 3), and now let me squeeze in Eshendown (chap 4) right before Settlements and Graveyards (chap 5).  As always, everything is subject to change and knowing me probably will before it is all said and done.  Never the less, I figured it might be fun to at least see where I am tracking with this project.

More on the Journey - Rewrites

So I will have to admit the rewrite is dramatically more difficult to write than the original manuscript.  This time around I am considering the audience, the market, the the science or writing.  There is so much more research involved on this end of the project, much more than I had anticipated.

Originally I just spewed out a bunch of what I would consider artful dialog and scenery.  There was a plot path and it flowed alright, but most certainly had holes in it.  For the rewrite I'm sitting back and looking at the work with the eyes of a reader.  What would they want to know about the characters or how would they like the book to flow.  I have thus added more push and pull between the protagonist and  antagonist giving the storyline more suspense.  It will hopefully give the reader a sense of urgency to read more to determine what the characters are going to do to one another and why the detest each other so much.

I have also new elements of the main characters struggle or conflict.  I believe this was lacking in the original, the reader will now not be left confused about this topic.  Quite simply he can not lose another woman in his life, the struggle with himself not reaching his mother's defense is quite crippling to his ego.  It is a battle which if he can win, will allow him to become the land's greatest protector.  Therefore now he is set on the task with the heroine of the book, will he and can he save her or will he fall short like he had once before?

Secondly, I have thought long and hard about the market the book will be read by.  I had originally set the stage for an adult book.  My current thinking has leaned me towards the young adult market.  I am testing the novel out in that genre editing the text as needed to attain this goal.  For instance, the first manuscript had the hero lose his wife.  This time around I have let him miss the opportunity to save his mother, brought his age down fifteen years, etc.  Logically speaking this should open up the market for the book allowing both older and younger readers some room to show interest.  Also it will leave me some flexibility in case I want to keep the characters around a while for future installments, for which I must admit I have some great ideas for.

Then there is the science of writing.  I have learned so much about what editors and publishers want in a book, I would be foolish not to incorporate this into the creation of the manuscript.  Quite specifically here lately I have discussed the opening lines of a book.  See this post for my explanation on this.  Also I have done a lot of research on the actual art of story telling and adding those elements into the book.  The conflicts, the overlining themes, foreshadowing, revelations, etc.

I look forward to sharing more with you all in the future... stay tuned.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Advice

Let me first point out some darn cool things I have got going on this evening all of which are associated with my new droid phone.  Did I mention I love this little thing.  I feel like a a coma patient who has just awoke from a long slumber with reguard to all this new technology.  The smart phones are simply incredible devices.  I seriously had no idea just how far they had come in the last 5 years.

So for example I'm using my droid phone (via pdanet application) to give my netbook internet access.  That inself is quite cool.  I can imagine being out in the boonies at one of my wife's horseshows and still able to use all my social networking and internet games.

There are so many other apps that are of interest on this tiny machine that i dare not get into it, but it should be noted that it has been a slight distraction from the writing.  However, tonight I definitely made some headway with the book.  I took some terrific advice from the gals over at Confessions From Suite 500 and did a rewrite of my first page. 

The advice was simple, probably why I could handle it, heh.  Seriously though it plainly said that the first page and heck even the first couple of sentences should establish voice, character, setting, plot, conflict, and tone.  Piece of cake right?  LOL Well not for us all I can assure you of that.  Never the less, I took it to heart.  I understood and respect that these folks are doing this stuff for a living so their advice is definitely worthy of acknowledgement and in my manuscript's case...implementation!

Did I achieve it?  I'm curious to see as well.  I've submitted it to my close network of readers to determine.  Important point is this, never be so close minded in this art form known as writing as to not take some much needed advice from time to time.  Plug yourself in to blog sites that are as much fun to read as they are informational after all knowledge is power and hopefully it is the goo that helps make us better writers.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Journey

Have you ever heard the saying that goes something like, "it’s not the destination but the journey that is important."  What a true statement I am ultimately discovering during this writing process.  There is so much joy in finding out what is going to come of the characters I have created.  Why even more of us don't sit back and try this art-form is quite baffling to me.  

Keep in mind that for a reader the story unfolds over a short period of time.  They pick the book up and within hours, days, maybe months depending on their reading speed, the story brings to fruition the labors of the writer.  However, the author has mulled around the plot and character development for months or more likely years.  So to them the discovery of the twists and turns or the sorrows and elations of the people in their book is savored.  

So the journey the author has of creating these plot points and characters is like molding different puzzle pieces.  When the pieces of the puzzle finally start fitting together magical things start to happen.  It is quite satisfying knowing something exists by the sweat of their brow.  Heh, come to think of it, I suspect it must be like having a kid.  So now I know why many say that writing a manuscript is like giving birth.  I suppose it does parallel that sort of curve of emotion roller-coastering.
    
For example, would you want to give up those moments of pregnancy such as the first kick, or those sonograms, or the figuring out of his/her name?  Of course not, and the writer will never forget their creation of the first confrontation of the protagonist and antagonist.  They will not forget the epiphany that brought to life their main plot line or title to the manuscript. 

I will be curious to discover the similarities of this analogy after the writing process is complete and the child/novel is birthed.  Will I, the writer, just have an offspring that brings joy and laughter to my life or will it just sit around and stink up the place?