Monthly Archives: October 2015

A rose by any other name….

I have two new best friends, Thesarus.com and a Facebook page called “The Writer’s Circle.” The Facebook page posts lists upon lists of synonyms for just about every working word a writer uses constantly. I now have over 200 different ways to walk, talk, look, ask and move. Thesarus.com helps me with all my other overused words. I even stumbled upon an Erotic Thesarus. Not as helpful, but an interesting read. These have been extremely helpful tools in my writing. They are also giving me and my coworkers countless laughs and giggles as we expand our vocabularies and command of the English language.

I carry a binder and a flash drive with me to work. If I’m not busy, I’ll plug in the flash drive and work on edits of my book. The binder originally held my notes … character descriptions, bios, translations, etc. Now it’s overflowing with print outs of word lists of how to describe character appearance, sounds, motions and body parts.

I find myself spending more time perusing the lists than making actual changes. But then I read what I’ve revised and I like the changes. I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere with my revisions. Progress, slow but steady. I’m almost done with a ‘corrections pass.’ I’m hoping one more pass after that will be to put the finishing touches to the book as a whole. Then the book will sit for a couple of three weeks, publisher’s orders. For me, that’s not easy. But I know she’s right. I’ve got a list of other things to do while letting my book simmer/stew. I’m finding out there is quite a bit to being an author besides sitting in a chair and writing a story. I was aware of this as a general thought. I am learning the details that it entails now.

I have already experienced highs and lows, doubts and fears. I know I’m not near through running the gamut of emotions. But I’m still excited. And that will carry me through.

~ Madison

rose-violet-treatment-580x400

Without naming names

I have a question…

How long do you wait for a sequel? Book sequel I mean. I read this book…a solid two years ago, it was obviously part one of some number, be it two, three, four, a hundred…it was the first. It was kind of sci-fi, futuristic…not my normal fare, but it got me hooked and I read the whole of it to learn that I’d have to wait for the rest of the story. Yes, I know some books do this. I’ve been sort of waiting. I mean, I haven’t stopped reading because of it, but I have checked back more than once in the last couple years to see if the next part had come out…Nope.

What is normal? What is appropriate? Do we contact the author? Do we just keep checking? Do we give up hope entirely? I’m a writer…I get it that we get busy and life happens. I’m also a reader and I want to know for both halves of me what is right or not in this case.

I personally feel horrendous if it’s more than a year between books. I know that a year is not going to get me on anybody’s radar quickly, but I don’t write full time, so I can do what I can do. I try to keep it to a year or less between books. I feel even worse to miss a deadline, and believe you me…I’ve missed a lot this past year to year and a half. (I’ve also rebounded from chucking my hands in the air and saying “fuck it” in the recent 8 months too, so I at least have left the pity party station behind.)

All that aside, back to the beginning…how long do we wait, and what do we do? I want the story. I ran across the first part again recently and it reminded me once again to look for the next that I do not see. I think if it were me, I would have announced the delay or given the high sign that the white flag was flying. I have seen neither on this front, so I’m stumped. What say you?

Abyrne

Big Doors, Little Hinges

hingedoor-300x225

Have you ever taken a look at your doors?

Let’s say for instance, the front door to your house. This large mass of wood is held in place by three small pins that are no longer than 5 inches. It’s like that in writing as well.

I’ve said before on my own blog that the devil is in the details. It’s the details that can make or break the piece. If you’re making a birthday cake and on the top write out “my condolences”, it changes the meaning of the cake. If it’s an over the hill party, that might be funny. If it’s a woman hitting a milestone like 30, 40, or 50 – don’t even think about it.

That small detail makes a huge difference. In writing, keeping your facts consistent can make or break the reader’s ability to suspend their disbelief. You have to have anchors that hold the suspension bridge over the chasm of reality. In writing fantasy, the suspension of disbelief allows the reader to engage in the story.

For my next book,Valkyrie’s Curse, I am tying Norse mythology, archaeology, and a serial killer into a modern setting. I have to get the details right, which requires research. A lot of research. I’ve dusted off my books on mythology, my college books on archaeology, and the internet to get the details correct so that my readers won’t stumble on incorrect terms. It would not do well to throw out the names of Thor and Loki if I didn’t have the other facts straightened out. It’s a balancing act for certain.

For instance,  in my blurb for part 2:

Helena and Gabriella have recently discovered that they are Valkyries, and discovering their powers associated with that. Their new friend Aella, a three thousand year old Viking, is in possession of a  a map to Atlantis. When their new found “spidey/Valkyrie senses” go off, they are off on another hair raising adventure to Atlantis! Can they save the world before Jormungandrr, the Giant Serpent is unleashed on the Earth?

I originally wrote Yggdrasil – the tree of life, instead of Jormungandrr, the giant serpent.  It makes a difference.  Just a small hinge that swings a different door entirely.

There are key details that bind it all together just like those key pins in the hinges that support the door. I hope that my keys unlock the doors for my readers to see into my world, where mythological beings and humans  coexist in a fantastical tale.

I need to go oil my hinges.

Until next time ~Ellie.

Too many faces, too few pages

Kingdoms Fall is book 3 in the Vengelys series – Not News.

Kingdoms Fall is supposed to be out this year yet – Not News.

Kingdoms Fall is a massive undertaking for me – wait, what?

That last bit might have some folks scratching their heads wondering ‘Why?’

It is the third installment in a world that has been built with characters that are already established, what could possibly be so challenging? Insert Aedan’s BIG lesson… there are so many characters now in this series that the pool can only be half full or the water runs all about when everyone gets in to bathe. The tub is over-crowded.

From a storytelling perspective this is and is not a good problem. For example, I’d rather tell a story through character interactions and dialogue than through monologue. More characters talking, less monologue, yay! Dialogue can get messy however, and lengthy, to have to keep up with the body movements and mannerisms that go with dialogue; because dialogue without them is cumbersome to a reader to follow and keep up with who is speaking. THAT lesson I learned in Watchtower from reader feedback. (That has since been remedied). Conversely, it is problematic from the perspective of being able to appropriately and adequately tell each characters side of, or story. Something has to give or you end up with an endless tome of work…which some people will relish and others will not pick up at all.

So you see…too many characters can be a major complication. In this case, it is a problem because while the stories are intertwined between the characters, each one or pair have vastly different stories. As a pantster writer, I failed to comprehend just how many stories I had set up, and now being faced with plotting, the over-arc and multiple sub-plots are a colossal undertaking to keep track of and incorporate. I’m in the way deep end without floaties here folks.

When I sit back and think on these things, I cannot help but be concerned that I have set this series up for some harsh ridicule if these pieces aren’t all collected and somehow correlated to the main series plot…which I might add, I have been roughly pantsing all along. I’ve had multiple notions of where this story could go and have vapidly fantasized over them more than once. Now, because of working with a plotter to get the pieces to reconcile, I have to make a decision AND (I am told) see it through. UGH! This goes against so many fibers of my being!

I like the idea that a bit of dialogue or a wicked twist of story can redirect the ending. I love the surprise of finding myself nearing the end of the tale and seeing that I am nowhere near where I anticipated I’d be.  It was actually just such a thing that took Oracle to Watchtower and the Vengelys cast adrift on the sky. Warrior’s Watchtower, at original concept, never went there. Having to nail down where Kingdoms Fall will end before it is half done, is honestly giving me terrets.

I have faith that all will be accomplished, and hopefully without a ‘Jurassic Park’ movement to take out half of the characters in a bloody dinosaur attack…Hopefully.  At this point, I’m trying to have faith and will out that it will work out as it should. Leaps of faith are not my suit. I’m more a step on the fuel and power through type. Unfortunately for me, it is that fight now, check the damage later mentality that has me in this spot to begin with.

Back to work.

-Aedan

Write It Yourself

I think there is a common question that most authors are asked. “Where did you get your inspiration for your book/s from?”  There isn’t one right answer, as inspiration can spring at any time, any place, by anyone, and anything. The trick, of course, is taking that spark of inspiration and turning into something that closely resembles a book.

There are a lot of us who day dream. (Who knew all those teachers in grade school would eat their words about my daydreaming…lol) Daydreaming allows us, well me at least, to see the scene before we write it. We can stare off into space for hours. Anyway, I digress…..

Where did the inspiration for Beyond the Veil of Whispered Dreams spring from? There’s a Toni Morrison quote that I absolutely love, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Is there a particular story I’ve been waiting and waiting to be written? There WAS. I got tired of waiting (patience isn’t one of my virtues), and wrote it myself. 😉

booktoni-morrison1

~Jolanthe~

Scatter-gories

The writing process is a love-hate relationship for me. I love, love, love the writing when I’m in the zone, but I hate, hate, hate the wringing my guts out to stay ass in the chair and get to the zone. I have read Stephen King’s On Writing and agree whole-heartedly with pretty much every page. I DID put my desk in the corner and occluded the view so I could focus. Yeahhhh, the brain still wanders and the heart still needs coaxing to face the blank page.

Further, my mind seems to think that it is a game. I’d almost think there is a contest of wills going on, but it’s the same will, mine. I can fight for words. I can word-game for words. I can even back into words when I’m not looking…but those words having meaning or point to the tale I’m telling is questionable at best some days. However, as soon as I sit down to do something else, or say… SLEEP, the words and the arcs spew up and keep me staring at the ceiling. (Hence, the tablet by the bed).

So, I ask my fellow writers…HOW do you coax the defiant heart into writing when YOU say it’s time, not when the mind decides to weep words? What do you do to ‘train’ yourself to abide your writing time? I know the rote answers…I want the out of the box ones. 🙂 I think we all do.

I have been a plotting whirlwind, which in many ways I love because I know that it makes the writing part a snap, or should. I flubbed it a bit though and got really excited about a certain arc and started writing before the plotting was done…OHMYLORDS, don’t do this. Let me be your lesson…just don’t. I cannot enumerate how hard it is to get back into plotter mode and do what I KNOW must be done first after being excited and actually started on the writing. I think this is part of my problem right now, I’m out of sequence.

This is my dilemma. I need discipline. I know how to do this. I know why to do it, and in the proper order…but I wanna do the fun part when I want to do the fun part. And with that statement, I have completely contradicted myself from my opening premise haven’t I? This post was originally titled “Defiant Heart” because that’s what I was feeling when I started…funny how sitting and typing it out has changed the perspective. It isn’t that my heart isn’t in it. It isn’t that my brain isn’t engaged…it is that I have allowed the loosey-goosey to prevail and treat my writing as my escape instead of as the career path I want and will achieve.

That’s really the road for the rubber I’m burning isn’t it? This thing…this writing thing, publishing thing, working to help others achieve this dream thing…this is a business. This is the job I want. I have treated it like it was going to jump up and do it for me because I wanted it. It’s not.

We started all well, fine, and good…with a business model and a plan. We started small, with the three of us here at Eclectic Bard, and it was great. I was running the business side and my partners were holding the writing side. A Triskelion in balance. This year, I decided to come out from behind the scenes and write too. I did not make a clear plan. I did not consider the myriad ramifications of doing it or what it meant to the business side. The imbalance is shrieking to be remedied. I think that is one piece of the challenge I’m having.

We also signed FOUR other authors to the house THIS year…two have debuted this 2015 Fall season, one will debut 2016 Spring, and the fourth is an Indie who decided to join us that I have the great privilege of working with to edit and polish stories she’s already written to re-release them bright and shiny under Eclectic Bard…the future’s so bright here, I am in awe of the road we are on.

I am also intimidated and apprehensive. I know we can do this. I have sworn it to myself every night for weeks now when I look at the long list of things undone at the end of the day that have rolled onto the list for the next day instead of being crossed off. I am thrilled for the journey, but terrified of the road block that I haven’t navigated yet. I haven’t even hit it yet and I’m partially defeated by worry that I won’t know the way.

I look at my writing and wonder what made me think I could. I think too long about the reasons I started and the reasons to stop now and focus instead on the editing, publishing and marketing side of the equation…and then I remember some things that my mom was fond of saying:

“A dream untried can only be a regret.”

“Start and Success don’t begin with the same letter by accident.”

“Quitters never win, and winners never quit.”

Guess I need to find some balance.  -Sav

 

Acceptance

I am not easily surprised. So when many of my friends all managed to surprise me it was a big deal to me. When I first decided I was going to write a book I didn’t anyone other than my husband, not even our best and closest friends. I was afraid of what others would tell me.

My husband was very supportive and didn’t tell anyone either because that is what I wanted. He never asked why he just went with it. I couldn’t shake the fear of my friends telling me I was crazy and there was no way that I could write a book, get it published or be successful at it.

When it came time to publish I had no other choice but to tell others. I felt bad as I was getting the question ‘why didn’t you tell me?’ all the time. I became very good at avoiding the question and changing the subject.

After the initial shock everything calmed down. Nobody made a huge deal out of me writing or even said any of the things that my very over active imagination had them saying on a regular basis. They all congratulated me and life moved on.

Now that it has been over a year since I self-published my first book it is just the way that things go now. I sometimes get asked if I am working on anything new, but not with scorn, always just a friend interested in how I am doing with my writing.

My fear of what my friends would say was completely unfounded. They all just accepted this as something that I wanted to do and were supportive of me. They share in my joys and help pull me back up from my disappointments. They help promote and some of the push my books at every chance they can.

In a writer’s brain the conversations with those around us happen so much more than anyone else knows. By the time I talk to someone about something I have already had the conversation with them a dozen times with a dozen outcomes in my head. Sometimes you have to just let go and have the actual conversation because people will surprise you.

My head may always be chaos that only I would ever understand but that doesn’t take away from the insecurities and fears. I am finally starting to understand that I have to just jump in and see what really happens.

~Miranda

logo 01

When is enough, enough?

My granddaughter asked me the other day, “When are you going to be finished with your book?” She wasn’t satisfied with the answer, “I really don’t know.” She didn’t understand, and I have no idea how to explain to an 8 year old what I’m facing as far as finishing my first book.

I’m still in revisions. I’m reasonably sure I’ll be here for a while. I seem to have a fondness for the words ‘and’ and ‘as’. I use them a lot. I have been through my entire book three times deleting these words, making stronger sentences. I’m still finding the worrisome little creatures. They plague me. They haunt me.

In the process of this seemingly endless search, I am also trying to add ‘depth’ to my writing. While this is new to me, it’s not as hard as eliminating my creature words. I’m hoping for that last read through when I am finally satisfied enough to say, “Here beta reader, tell me what you think.” I know that all writers get to that point, but do they actually GET there, or do they just get tired of going over the same pages again and again?

I’m sure I’m overthinking. I’m definitely procrastinating. I’ve never put off anything before. I’m one of those do-it-and-get-it-done personas. Maybe the past couple of weeks is catching up to me. I probably need to step away for a day or two, but I’m not sure I can afford the time. I have so much work to do on this book before I can send it in for that (?) final edit.

I spend hours on the phone talking to a fellow author. She knows my doubts and fears. She is always there to listen and to encourage me. She is my personal cheerleader and critic. I admire her and her talent. She makes it look easy. I know it’s not. I know her doubts and fears too. I am not alone. We are in this together. She knows I’m going to do this to the best of my ability. Her faith in me keeps me afloat. I hate to disappoint my friends.

******************

The beauty of a blog that is started days in advance of the due date is that you can save it, adding on as a thought comes to you. In my case, it was a good night’s sleep. I’m rested, refreshed, ready to tackle … maybe not the world, but definitely my book. I’m looking forward to the weekend and making progress on my story. It’s amazing how much your attitude can change in that short span of time. Yesterday, I was second guessing myself and wondering what I had gotten myself into. Today, I’ve got this.

Never give up on your dreams,

~Madison

There’s still a parade

It’s started…the autumn rains which herald the coming damp and cold that become snow and ice.  It’s okay. Let it rain. Hereabouts, we need it.

There’s still a parade. As I really don’t have a large wealth of contribution this day, I wanted to shout out to three of my Eclectic Bard Books colleagues this week.

To Jolanthe Aleksander who is featured in Cherry Adair’s New Author Friday today…check her out!

To Savannah Verte who found out she got Honorable Mention for Debut Author for the BTS awards for 2015.

And last, but certainly not least, to Miranda Shanklin who found out that she is a finalist for the Best Cover in the BTS awards for 2015. The winner will be announced at TNEE in Atlanta in April.

Amid the rain drops are bright spots of news. Hope everyone finds a piece for themselves today. ‘Til next week, read something good.  -Abyrne

The Wading Pool

Beach; Caribbean; Commercial Photography; Ed Gregory;  Holiday; Ocean; Photography; Public Domain; Stock Images; Stock Photo; Stock Photography; Stock Photos; Stokpic; Water; blue; emotion;  sea;vacation;

Beach; Caribbean;  Ed Gregory;   Stokpic; Water; sea;vacation;

I can write. I think I do a fairly good job of putting a story together. My characters are fully fleshed out not cardboard cutouts.

I think I’m very good at descriptive writing,  setting the stage and drawing the reader into the scene.

What I have not been good at is finishing. I can finish the story, that’s not the problem. Getting my story out of revisions to final publication and then printed format is a different matter.

Savannah Verte offered me the golden ring – the goal line that I’ve never been able to cross. It wasn’t easy there were deadlines– a lot of deadlines. I had to put myself on a real honest-to-goodness schedule. There was an endpoint and dates. I work from an outline so it was real easy to take each numbered point divisible by the days remaining subtracting the time allowed for editing to know when I had to reach the end.  If I were a pantser then I can see where that might have been more daunting.

I’ve heard many people say that the writing is the easy part. I’ve never thought that before now, but I’m beginning to understand that statement. It’s a whole new ballgame for me. It’s like, I’ve always played football – American football – then suddenly I have to switch to futball – or rather soccer, – what the rest of the world views as football.

I understand the rules of the game. I understand the position of the players. I understand how you keep score. However, I  had assigned myself as the water girl, watching the other players on the field. Bringing them a soothing cup of water and relief for their hard work while I longed to be on that field.

Now I really don’t want to play football, I’m certain you understand it’s an allegory. For me, the game is the world of publishing. I’ve always questioned myself, delved into the self-doubt, given into the self-criticism and  allocated myself as not good enough to play. Eclectic Bard Books has given me the chance to get off the  players bench and onto the field.

The thrill is real.

I’m not afraid of public speaking,  I’ve done it loads of times. So why was it so intimidating to me, and so daunting to  get to the “Published author” status?  I dunno.  I’ll  have to think on it for a while.

It’s not the Friday night lights, but I did get to see my name in lights.

Local Author Signing - my name in lights.  Can you believe it?

Local Author Signing – my name in lights. Can you believe it?

It’s going to be a wonderful ride!

As I go forward from here, excited about the future potential, thrilled at my debut appearance, and encouraged to push forward I have to think about the next race.  Once you’ve crossed the finish line,  then you know you can do it.  It’s not that I quit,  because I am against quitting in a big way.

I did the same thing oh so many years ago when I would avoid the piano recitals.  I knew I could play the pieces,  but to have people – especially my mother – sit and listen to how well I mastered the techniques, I deemed that I couldn’t.

Just this last week, we had a funeral  for a man that dedicated himself to raise his children better than he had been raised,  because his father was never around.  He would tell his son “Don’t ever say I can’t.”

Any time his son said ‘I can’t’, he would make him run a lap. At just 19 years old this son stood before funeral attenders,sharing that at the hospital he had cried out to God proclaiming that he couldn’t go on without his dad. He heard his dad’s voice inside his head saying: Go run the lap.

My point is this: we often set limits on ourselves and proclaim “I can’t” for various reasons. Do I really need to understand the psychology of why?  Or is it enough to realize that I decided that limit and I can change it? Either way,  Savannah was there for me to say: Go run a lap!

It’s a new day, a new dawn, and a new chance. I’m wading into the shallow end dipping in my toes, a little nervous to dive into the deep. I know there are sharks in the water. But, . . .

I’m not going to live my life afraid!

It’s always good to assess the situation before you jump. Eventually though, I’m going to go there, cross that line where the shallow drops off into the deep, when you can no longer feel the bottom and it’s sink or swim.

Did I mention I love to swim?

Come on in, the water’s fine.

Until next time ~ Ellie.