Check out my interview on J.A. Beard’s Unnecessary Musings. She asked great questions!
You can find a guest post I did on Sheila Deeth’s blog. I discuss the use of dialect and accents in writing.
I’ve been tagged to contribute to the Next Big Thing Blog Hop by a great writer and friend, Jen J Danna. She is a forensic scientist and author of DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT. Dead is scheduled for release in May 2013 from Five Star Publishing.
Rules for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop:
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
My current work-in-progress is called A CHAIN OF BLOOD AND GOLD.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’m always pouring through environmental news and the dangers of Global Change. It just naturally snaked its way into my writing.
What genre does your book fall under?
Epic Fantasy. Maybe Young Adult since one of the protagonist is a kid.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I could see Gerard Butler as one of the protagonists. I’m not really familiar with any child actors, so there goes that example.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
It’s a little cheesy, but I think it says it all:
Global Change has gone fantasy.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My previous agent had to retire due to health issues, so that was a bummer. I only hope he gets better, though. I don’t self-publish, so the book is being reviewed by several agents now.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Around six months, but I was also taking a writing-intensive Gothic literature seminar. It left me drained like I fell victim to a gothic vampire. Yes, I went there.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It’s funny, I don’t usually compare my books to any published works. I don’t want to say I’m on par or better than anyone, but I’d say it’s similar to the Dragonlance Chronicles.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Global Change. We’ve been killing Mother Earth for decades and, obviously, it’s a mega issue. So, I thought what if it already happened and was occurring again. We ruined the Earth with technology. In what other ways else could we destroy her?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think the environmental issues. It involves the very real (more than you know) events and problems we are facing right now. The BP Oil Spill has devastated the Gulf and its effects will be felt for an unimaginable about of time. We may think we have a handle on the damage we’re doing to the world, and we may think that it’s not too late. A CHAIN OF BLOOD AND GOLD shows what happened after it was too late…
I am now tagging the following fabulous writers:
Vanessa North: She’s a Romance/Erotica author with two books, Two in Winter and Fight or Flight, from Liquid Silver Books. She also has a series coming from Musa Publishing. Check out her website for more info. I just have to note that Two in Witer was the first Romance book I read (it did make me blush…alot) and I enjoyed it!
Ashley Heckman: A great friend and I’ve read some of her work. Good stuff!
Margaret Lesh: Margaret is the Co-creator of StoryRhyme.com, and she writes middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction.
Jalisa Blackman: A teacher and writer of all things speculative. This is the woman to follow. Her blog posts are amazing and she touches on an incredible amount of sensitive, but much-needed thought provoking topics. Definitely check out the “Minority Report” section of her website. It consists of interviews with fantasy authors and their takes on the presence of minorities in the speculative genres.
Holly Kench: Holly writes of fantasy and humor, for all ages. She is hilarious and, apparently, a stuffed olive!
Photo credit: ~Brenda-Starr~
Just got my copy of Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman’s RAGE OF THE DRAGON from Tor to review for my blog. Yay! #excited
The question’s simple, maybe not simple to answer, but most easy open-ended questions aren’t.
Of course, I can only answer for myself, but I know people roll their eyes at any trope, but let’s be honest. They’re tropes, because they work! Eragon by Christopher Paolini is basically one giant trope = farm boy is destined to be hero, family dies, runs away, finds dragon, become best friends with said dragon and defeat A. villain who killed aforementioned family or B. stop great evil from doing evil stuff. Though, Christopher Paolini self-published Eragon (which isn’t really fair to say since his parents owned a small press), it ended up earning him a lot of cheddar and what seems like a train of book deals.
There’s nothing original about Christopher’s writing (and don’t ask me what I think of it), but it sells well because it takes those oh-so-common tropes and changes them. That’s the key, write something old into something new.
However, all good books need their subplots, relationships, emotion conflict, etc. For me, this is what can make or break a fantasy story—the realism. In order to enjoy the genre there is that natural need to suspend disbelief, but without any reality the story faces the ever-ensuing scoff. What is reality? We all know, and yes, people see the world differently, but there are fundamental principles to life.
The emotions of pain, agony, violence, weakness, strength, love, beauty, and happiness are what make us human…or dwarf. People get sick, people are ugly, people are cowardly and some people aren’t. Most people describe their characters as these perfect heroes, and if not then they are just so gorgeous! As though a fat man has never saved the day?
I’m not mentioning movies because number one this is about books and number two, that wouldn’t even be fair.
Plain and simple, I don’t like heroes. They’re pointless and boring, not to mention they don’t exist. I’m talking about the classic hero out to save the day! Why should we ever fear anything if there’s some humble, rock hard abed man out there who fears nothing and can defeat anyone by sheer force of will? Once I realize I’m reading a book like this I just put it down for good.
This isn’t to say the protagonist needs to be ugly or even not gorgeous, but it shouldn’t be an attribute referenced more than a few times at most. This isn’t 19th century England where only the beautiful are good.
A hero is someone who does something heroic, not some superhero who has superpowers, so he can do super things.
I like my heroes dark, gritty, confused, weak, and strong. Just like I need a villain who’s not some demented monster who eats people because he has nothing else to do. Those villains have their place, but I need a real monster. Someone who you’re not sure about. Is he evil? He murdered that person, but why? In a world filled with werewolves, vampires, and sugar cookie monsters is it fair to assume murder equals evil? If that’s the case you might as well lock up every hero from here to Timbuktu.
No. A real villain is Lord Loren Soth. Oh, we know he’s evil—killed both his wives and a whole laundry list of nefarious deeds. Yet this undead knight still remains true to the code of honor he swore to in life. He was tricked into his damnation, and due to his pride he can’t and won’t accept that. In the end, this MAJOR villain redeems himself in his death/undeath. THAT’s a great villain!
In case you’re wondering, you should check out The War of the Souls trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. To say that was the pinnacle of my time in the Dragonlance world is an understatement. I’ve loved Lord Soth since I was eight, if not younger, and to finally see what I knew was coming…21 years later…was awesome!
Being Human is almost on, so blog end.
Grimurl had to rest. Hehalted, heaving clouds of breath into the cool night air. Laying a hand against a towering oak, he could feel Nature’s lifeblood coursing through its woody veins. He glanced around him, and decided he had taken the right direction—this forest was thick with trees that had been born centuries ago.
Villagers shoutingfor Grimurl’s blood echoed through the woods, reverberating off each leaf onevery tree. Their violent calls terrified the young satyr. There would be no escapethis time, thought Grimurl and in a single bound, his goat legs propelled himonto the treetops. He climbed several feet higher, finding a long sturdy branch, he crawled to where it met the tree’s crown. Still shivering, half from fear and half from the chill in the breeze, Grimurl huddled himself close to the tree so the wood warmed him. It was delightful, Nature wrapped her leaves around him and for a moment he forgot he was being hunted.
Grimurl cursed under his breath when he spied the pinpoints of torchlight bobbing amongthe trees. He remembered. But it was an accident. Grimurl had not meant to frighten the woman. Hejust wanted to ask her about the roses in her garden. Perhaps his legs had frightened her, he thought, studying the hairy appendages. No, that couldn’t be it—maybe the sound of his hoofs on her floor? No—they sound just like a horse’s…his horns! “That’s it,” he whispered excitedly to himself. Grimurl felt the small curved bones atop his head.
Maybe he could reasonwith the villagers, yes that is a great idea, Grimurl thought. He would properly introduce himself, let the woman feel his horns to prove they’re harmless. If that didn’t work he would showthe woman the field where the perfect flowers grow, and even give her hisfinest flute. Of course, that had to work! Grimurl began the awkward climbdown the oak. If only he was not afraid of heights he would jump, he thought. “You old fool, why’d you jump up here?” he asked himself with giggle and a bleat.
Grimurl turned around as he made his way down through the branches. He wanted to be able to talk to the villagers when they found him. Suddenly, the sensation of fire struck his chest and his heart seized. Clutching the arrow in his chest, Grimurl cried out inpain and fell from the tree.
End of Part 1
Today I had a conversation with my mother, whose an avid reader, about what makes a good book. Everyone’s different—my personal favorite genres are Fantasy (of course!), Philosophy, and Science…astronomy…astrology…space nerd stuff.
My mother prefers World War II novels, but reads a variety of genres. During this conversation I was explaining the premise of my second book, and in order to do so had to explain a little about the Romani/Romany culture (“Gypsies” is a slur, which developed from the false belief the people originated in Egypt…they came from India). She said something that may seem fairly basic, but struck me in a deep way.
She said, “Good books need developed characters, and more than that they need a developed culture.”
“A developed culture”…is what stuck in my head. Think about it…we develop our characters, or try to, in such a way that a random person could say, “i like/hate this character, but I know this character.” Knowing a character is more important than whether we like or dislike him/her. When we are able to chuckle, knowing “Joe” is going to open the door clearly marked “Zombie inside, BEWARE”…the writer’s done a good job. I should note I have a friend I know so well that I could predict what he would do in most situations…and he would open that door and run in with a smile. I know him.
I suppose the same goes for movies…knowing a character on an emotional or intellectually level makes us enjoy the movie that much more.
Back to the “developed culture” (I ramble, I know!)…we create worlds, whether in a movie or a book. The world we create may be exactly the world as it is today, but we make it our own by having control over it, weaving intense situations from meaningless moments, beginning wars over a hot dog, or showing back door politics, etc. A good book needs a developed culture…something that sets it apart from everything else. Harry Potter is a great example, though I hate the story, but it is so vividly real. It has its own distinct feel of existence.
A developed culture is providing the world in your story with a voice of its own.
Anyway, in the process of writing my first book, THE FREEDMAN AND THE PHARAOH’S STAFF, which is currently being shopped in NY might I add I must have bought 20 books about the Civil War and that time period (which is when the book takes place!). Books about the styles of clothes, hair cuts/facial hair, swears, food, slang and all that. Though it’s a speculative fiction/fantasy I always need things to be realistic. Voodoo is involved, so I have books about that written by actual practitioners, and even had numerous conversations with some friends from Haiti. They were the most helpful.
Now, I’m nearly done with my second book. It’s a medieval fantasy (my favorite) and I have a dozen books about castles, siege warfare/machines/defensives, clothing, armor, weapons and those sort of things. You don’t even want to know how many books I have on magic…”real” magic like Aleister Crowley and in the case of evil magic, I a copy of “The Black Arts”. Another great book. I often wonder what my cleaning lady thinks when she sees that book…she must think I’m a nut job Lol.
When creating a fantasy world I suppose it makes sense to detach from reality, but I think this is something agents and publishers disagree with. In no way am I an expert in this area, but I have noticed from my days of querying before finding my agent, a lot of agents and publishers stated that fact. I remember one publisher/agent? I forget which, said they wanted realistic fantasy…not talking dogs!
Even the greats like Margaret Weiss keep realism in their writing. People get sick, people die…if I remember correctly, Flint Fireforge died from a heart attack/heart disease as he was chasing after someone. Sad, but realistic…people do die of heart attacks. As did Caramon Majere, now that I think of it.
Keeping faith to even the most basic facts about castles, medieval life, and weaponry can add pounds of world making. Little things…dwarven proverbs…a stereotype against elfs (I don’t condone racism, but it happens)…and celebrations/holidays all make for wonderful world building.
A couple agents and some beta readers for my first book have commented, “it’s like its own world.” THAT makes me happy, because in its own way it is. Reconstruction Louisiana, a place where voodoo is at its heart…common knowledge that is so uncommon to us…like the spreading of brick dust across doorway or in a circle around yourself keeps those with ill will towards you from crossing over the line. A true belief and practice, but few people outside the culture probably know or believe it.
Anyway, I’ve probably rambled enough.
So farewell, and keep on writing, and make sure your pen has ink!
Question: What research do you do for your writing, if any at all?