Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fiddling With Covers

...or a Cover Reveal of sorts...

This is a pair of stories set in 1830's Paris.  I had previously published the first one under a pen name (Anne Shaughnessy) because while they are historic fiction and include a mystery, like my Egyptian stories, they are in a different setting.



After thinking things through, (and reading some blog posts on the subject) I decided to own the first book and publish the second under my name.  Today is the first day that Book 1 in its new form is available on Kindle.  I am waiting to approve the printed proof, but unless I discover something shocking, the print version will be available by week's end.

I just finished a Goodreads giveaway with the book listed under my Nom De Plume.  It shouldn't be hard to consolidate the two accounts (Goodreads requires a separate Author's Page for each published name). 

They are showing up a little dark on this page. The book on the left is royal blue (the background is blue velvet). The right side one is wine-colored, but not so dark. I may re-upload the images.

...And I just got my first honest to goodness 'borrow' on Book #1.  Not too shabby...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Following the Follow Fest...


I was delighted to participate in the Follow Fest,  but I was called away and won't be able to click links and add and comment and do all the other things I have been looking forward to doing until Sunday.

I can't wait to read, visit, go back to the earlier days, follow on Twitter, and do all the other things I've been looking forward to.

Melissa Maygrove, bless her, has left the linky lists up and I will be playing in among them.

Thank you to everyone who visited me and commented.  I'm in awe (and intrigued - what variety and talent!) by what I've seen.  I'll be gladly reciprocating! 

(And thank you, Melissa, for this wonderful idea!  May your fountain of inspiration never run dry!

                                        Diana

Friday, September 27, 2013

Follow Fest Blog - Day 5



I've joined the Follow Fest, a blog hop that was set up (thank you!) by Melissa Maygrove, whose blog is well worth lingering over.

This is a sort of 'meet and greet' for bloggers who want to meet other bloggers, or who would love to invite others to drop by and enjoy their blogs.

We're all writers, and we are asked to provide information about ourselves in our posts.  ...And here is mine:


I am:  Diana Wilder A, HF,F,TH,M

My blog is at:

Name: 
Diana Wilder

Fiction or nonfiction? 
Fiction (I enjoy telling stories)

What genres do you write? 
I write historical fiction, usually involving a mystery, often with a love story.

Are you published? 
I have six books published:  A series of four books set in Egypt (several mysteries there), an adventure and romance set in the American Civil War, and a mystery set in 1830's Paris. This last was published under a different name.  I am bringing it out under my own name.

Do you do anything in addition to writing?
I do my own cover art.  I participate in beta reads.  I am also an excellent cheerleader

Where can people connect with you?


My blog is here: 
http://dianawilder.blogspot.com

You can go to my website: 
www.dianawilderauthor.com

You'll find sample chapters, blurbs, outlines, my thoughts on various subjects, and a lot of pictures.   

(    @diana_wilder     )

Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/dianawilderspage
(you can find my personal page by typing in my name - Diana Wilder)

You can email me at:  This email address   (I love to answer)

Author pages:

Amazon 
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00564VO50

Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/544887.Diana_Wilder
 


Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

I participate each year in the ABNA contest (and the discussion boards).  I am happy to post cover reveals and information on releases.  While I can't do horror or some paranormal (too active an imagination) I'm delighted to participate in cover reveals or interviewsor information on releases.  I ansl will participate in beta reads, depending on the genre. I'll need beta readers shortly, since I have one story coming out soon.  Allowing for my issues with some genres (my quirk, not the genres!) I'm happy to beta-read or provide feedback.
 
I have the recipe for the very best chocolate cake on the planet.  Some day I will post it.  Email me with a request and I'll send it to you!

 

 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Graphics (a sort of Perils of Pauline... er, Diana)

We all know how important graphics are, whatever you may be doing.  The right graphics (the design for a box of saltine crackers, a book cover) may persuade you that This is the item to toss into your cart (or onto your online shopping list).

I have seen some pretty terrible book covers that provide the outside skin, if you like, for the inner substance.  Even if you know the book, the wrong cover can give you a bad taste.  This happens a great deal in historical fiction.  Somehow, a book about the Wars of the Roses (50+ years before Henry VIII) is not well-served by a painting depicting a contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I. 

For that matter, there's a famous painting depicting Queen Cleopatra of Egypt calmly watching as her people conduct poison experiments on convicted criminals.  The colorful, well-executed painting can be cropped any number of ways (and, indeed, has been), but I, who am familiar with the painting, am inclined to give the book a miss.  Besides, if you're talking about Pharaonic Egypt at its height, a depiction of one of the Ptolemies (a dynasty started by a Macedonian lieutenant of Alexander the Great, some 1,000 years after Egypt's height) is not persuasive.

But I digress.


I took out an ad on a blog site for October.  It was intended to highlight a part of my work.  I write stories set in Egypt, the American Civil War and 1830's Paris, but the Egyptian work was my concern at the moment.  The banner had to be short and wide.  And it had to get attention.

What to do? 
I came up with this, sort of:

Uh...No.
It had all my writing.  And it was rather like a diet of graham crackers.
I tried again:


Second try...
This wasn't exactly bad, but it wasn't particularly good, either.  Besides, two of those covers pertain to books that are in the works, rather than published.

Hm.  What I wanted to highlight was a series - a cycle, if you will - with a connection to the grand old city of Memphis.  It is called The Memphis Cycle, and I have four stories published and another moving along at a rapid pace toward a 2014 publication date.  They are standalone stories, but concern the same family over 150 years.

So, what's near Memphis?  Well, the pyramids, for one.  I looked for public domain photos of pyramids:
 This one was impressive, but it has a problem.  It is too 'small' an image.  Blow it up much beyond this size and it gets fuzzy.  I liked the color, but wasn't sure that a plum-colored sky was what I wanted.

I looked further.  Lots of people are generous enough to take photos of the Pyramids.  I found the perfect shot (from a composition standpoint) after a little more hunting.  The cluster of pyramids was wonderful, and the morning light was better still. 
                                                                               

It seemed to lack something.  Perhaps the sky was too pale?  Hm. What could I do?  It certainly needed a helping of 'oomph'.  Make that a double helping.  I wanted something to express color and still have the mysterious connotation that those huge tombs have...



I found the perfect photo after a lot of searching among the public domain photos:





This is, to me, one of the loveliest photos I've ever seen.  I work in graphics (sort of.  I'm an amateur) and while this may well have been manipulated (though I've seen sunsets like these in the south Pacific) it is just perfect.

So...  How to incorporate it into the image I wanted?




I did some concentrated thinking and had the idea of combining the silhouetted line of pyramids with this splendid sky.  It came out like this:



I wasn't crazy about what looked like muddy green sky to the left.  Besides, it wasn't wide enough, and I would want text and book covers, as well.  So I fiddled with it and came up with a final banner ad:
This pleased me.  It is not fuzzy (blogger can play havoc with images) and I like the colors.  the sentiment is pretty good, too (I think...  You may not agree).



So I tweaked it one last time for use as a header in my website:
 
 
 
It was fun, I'll admit.  But it was a LOT of hard work.  Worth it?  Well, I like it.  I hope others do, as well.

Friday, September 20, 2013

An Interview with Thomas A Knight, Author (well worth celebrating)

Thomas A Knight
While I usually participate in the Celebration blog hop started by VikLit, I am putting in a bit of a twist this week.  We celebrate many things - meals, the coming weekend, a vacation.  Today I am going to celebrate someone who, in addition to being an excellent writer, is generous almost to a fault, and has helped many, many people reach for a dream.

Thomas A. Knight is preparing to publish the third book in his Time Weaver Chronicles, a heroic fantasy trilogy that begins with a bang with The Time Weaver, proceeds through Legacy, and leaves you wanting to read the final volume, Reprisal, which will be coming out early next year.



A reluctant hero must come to terms with a new world, new powers, and a family history buried deep in the folds of time.
     Learning to accept and control his powers is the hardest thing Seth has ever had to do, but the longer he spends in Galadir, the more he grows to love this new world and the female warrior accompanying him. When a much more ancient and dangerous wizard awakens and threatens to destroy Galadir, Seth is the key to defeating him. Now he must save a world he never knew existed with magic he never knew he could wield, if only he could learn to control it in time.

The Time Weaver

 Once upon a time...

...a warrior of light defeated an insane wizard, but behind every heroic story lies a truth never told.

     A man washes ashore on the island of Arda after a terrible storm, remembering nothing but his name: Krycin. The blue wizard Gladius finds him, takes him in, and is determined to help Krycin regain what he's lost.
     The Fates have other plans. Krycin's presence on Galadir is disrupting the fabric of the universe. The solution? Eliminate him, by any means necessary.
     When Gladius sides with the council, his efforts to destroy Krycin spark a war that threatens all life on Galadir.

                Legacy

Coming 2014:


 
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A couple years ago I first participated in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest sponsored by Amazon.  This contest is open to authors who own their works, published or not (meaning that the work is owned by the author, free and clear).  The entries (one per person) must be fiction, no graphics, and novel length.  The books fall into different categories:  Young Adult, Mystery, Romance...  The process of elimination begins with submitting a short 'pitch' that must 'grab' the reviewers and make them say "This is a book I want to read!"  Since your entry is one out of 10,000, and 8,000 of those entries will be eliminated based on that 'pitch', the odds are very low that you will make it. 
 
Every year Thomas presides over a group that coaches contestants, gives feedback and suggestions on the pitches, encourages, and builds up confidence.  There is no reward given him, except for the knowledge that he has been truly helpful. 
 
In the course of all this, I had a chance to read his work, and I found it enjoyable.  The stories are well worth reading, and Mr. Knight is well worth listening to:

* * * * * * * * * *
Give us a brief summary of your book and its place in your trilogy. (Note: ‘It’s the last one’ is not an acceptable answer.)
Reprisal is the third and final installment in The Time Weaver Chroncles and marks a huge milestone for me as an author. It's a finale, so all loose ends must be tied up, for better or for worse. I can't promise a happy ending, but it will be an ending, and it will be fabulous.
Can you share a passage that you really like, and tell us why? (Note: if you want to clarify the passage, where it is, what it is that made you happy – good writing, caught the mood, made you proud, no spelling errors – just kidding – put it in)
This excerpt is from Chapter 1. I was looking for something to set the tone of the book, and I tend to write a lot of action scenes. I wanted to excite the reader, get their blood pumping, and give them a little something that fans have been asking for. This is what happens next, a direct continuation of the action at the end of The Time Weaver. Without further ado, here is the excerpt:
The bridge drew closer by the second, but Malia held back enough to ensure that every one of her remaining soldiers made it before her. When the last one had begun to cross, she slowed, stepped onto the bridge and turned to face the army that had begun its advance again. Walking backward, she watched Morganath make several more passes over the silent army. It didn't matter how many he torched, the remaining wretches continued, some of them burning as they walked. Malia was half-way across when the first of them stepped onto it with her.
A voice behind her startled her. “What are you planning?” Ceridan asked. “You're not going to take them on by yourself.”
“I will slay each and every one if I have to,” Malia said, her voice tainted with anger. “They have taken everything from us, and I intend to make them pay.”
Ceridan's hand grasped her shoulder. “Easy, general. It's Grian we want, not those poor wretches. Stick with the plan. We will get help from Caldoor and regain our kingdom.”
The undead approached fast, but Malia turned away from them anyway to face Ceridan. “Do not speak that name in my presence. He is the defiler, the usurper, a vile maggot in the corpse of a once great kingdom.” Ceridan backed up from her tirade, trying to direct her attention to the undead approaching behind her, but she ignored him. “He has taken our homes, our people, and our kingdom, and all we can do is run. We keep running or die and become one of them.” A tear ran down her left cheek as she lost control of her emotions. “I just want them to go away,” she said, and turned back to face the approaching creatures. Drawing all the magical energy she could muster, she ran through the first of the undead with her sword and screamed a single word. “Incendras.”
A massive column of fire burst from her hands and the sword, spreading out and flowing down the length of the bridge. Any undead in its path were vaporized, and still it continued as the sword took over and lapped up the energy. She felt its greed as she fed it, but didn't stop. The bridge caught fire, the ancient iron wood fueling the flames, and still she continued, ignoring the frantic voice behind her. The sword felt good in her hand, and rage fueled the spell as it extended beyond the bridge and into the horde gathering on the other side. When she could take it no more, she ended the spell, raised the sword into the air with the blade pointing down, and drove it into the bridge up to the hilt.
The wood exploded, starting at the sword and spreading out before her, tearing the bridge apart. Flaming chunks flew into the air and fell into the canyon as the eastern half of the bridge crumbled. Supports split and fell, the railings gave out, and the entire structure sank as only the western half remained. The only thing holding it up was stone and chains in the ground on the other side. Malia gripped the sword and used it to keep herself from falling into the canyon, but Ceridan wasn't so lucky. He slid down the surface of the bridge and fell off the end, catching one hand on a stray piece of wood. It was all that kept him from falling into the canyon below.

You have done a tremendous amount of worldbuilding with this series. Will you have any further stories set in this universe?
Oh yes. I'm already planning a new trilogy based on a favorite character of mine. He made an appearance in Legacy, but it was just a cameo. My next book, The Spell Breaker, will be all about Taraxle. His life started as an assassin, but he turns into a magic absorbing force to be reckoned with. I hope my fans will stick around to read his story.
So let’s talk about you:
What got you started writing?
I started writing The Time Weaver in November of 2010 when I took part in National Novel Writing Month. Before that, I spent almost twenty years creating plots and characters for role playing games. I knew nothing about creative writing, spelling or grammar when I began, but I've spent countless hours learning from my mistakes. I'm entirely self-taught, and still participate in NaNoWriMo every year.
How did this idea come to you? Did it just pop into your head, or did it come on slowly as details began to be set?
Inspiration comes from many places. I'm inspired by the people I meet, the books I read, the places I go, and the games I play. But in the end, what really got me writing was an intersection near where I work, and a question: What would happen if time stopped?
What is your process? Plotter? Pantser? Hybrid? (note: feel free to preach. ;)
Pantser, all the way. I come up with an ending, and a beginning, and then let my hands and my subconscious mind figure out a way to get me there. Sometimes things don't go the way I expect, and I have to adjust my ending, but that's okay, so long as the story keeps moving forward. I've found myself talking to my wife about the story I'm working on as though it were real events taking place. She's even asked me: “You have no idea what's going to happen, do you?” Truth is, I don't.
Do you have any favorite tools, techniques or gimmics that keep you focused?
Not really. I'm a burst writer, so I'll put down like thirty to forty thousand words in a very short time, and then let it rest for a while and do other stuff. Staying focused isn't too hard when you work like that. As a software developer in a busy office, I'm used to distractions, so its easy for me to switch modes from one task to another. When I sit down with the intention of writing, I write.
Quickly now: you’re in the middle of a crowded place with lots of bustling people. You suddenly get a (mental) thunderbolt that illuminates a problem you had been having with your story. All is revealed, or the way out of the dilemma occurs to you or an insight comes to you. How do you preserve it?
I have a notoriously bad memory, so the answer may surprise you. I rely on my memory. Over the years, I've adopted a technique to help me remember things like this. I have compartments in my mind, like filing cabinets, where I store various thoughts and ideas. When I have an epiphany like this, I store it away in it's appropriate cabinet or drawer, and pull it back up later. I have lots of ideas, all the time, and I rely on this system to keep myself organized. The important stuff sticks, and the less important stuff fades away and stops distracting me.
Who are your helpers? (Does your family go glassy-eyed and turn the talk away? Do your friends ask you for the next installment? Do you keep it all to yourself and only hand it out when you’re ready for it to be looked at?)
My wife, first and foremost. She is my best editor, and my last line of defense. She reads everything I write, gives me honest feedback, and makes it better. We work together on my final drafts, and when we're done, there is very little wrong with my books. I also rely on a hired editor for the first run through, and a small group of beta readers who I trust to give me honest feedback.
You wake up one morning, open the door, step outside – and realize that you are in Galadir. The door, which you closed behind you, vanishes and you can’t go back. What do you do? Who would you be? What challenges would you face? Would you be pleased, or would you hide under a rock?
That depends on where on Galadir I end up. If I land in one of the more civilized regions of Galadir, I would look for the nearest magic academy and sign myself up. The deserts of Astara are brutal and unforgiving, which would probably be a death sentence if I wasn't near a town or village. If it was the Eastern Badlands? Run. Run and hide.
What is next?
Another book of course, and the beginning of another trilogy. The Spell Breaker Chronicles is all I can think about right now. It's burning in my head, and needs to come out. I tried writing it a while back, but it wasn't time. Now it's time. This November, I plan on putting down the first fifty thousand words.
Where do your names come from? (Some people like to know. Since I pull my fantasy names out of thin air, for the most part, I'm a little curious, too...)
I'm not ashamed to say that I use a name generator for the vast majority of my names. It's a program called Ebon, which allows me to use a different dictionary of name roots for each region of my world. That way, I can generate semi-random names that all sound similar in style for a region. Some of my names come from existing characters from campaigns I've run, or are borrowed from friend's characters. Krycin for instance was a name created by my best friend, and was used as a nod to him. A few other names were taken from real people (with their permission, of course). Those people know who they are. Still, a few of my names, like Seth and Malia came out of thin air. They just sounded right. I think in these cases, it wasn't me who named the character, but the character who told me their name.
I know you have a crowdfunding site to help defray some of the costs - with some truly nifty goods on offer.  I am placing the link HERE - check it out!

Say something to those reading this. Anything you want, on any subject.
Balance. Life is all about balance. Don't obsess, don't work too hard, don't play too much, and never forget the people who make you who you are.
I can't think of any way to top that sentiment, Thomas, so I will close this interview with a suggestion to the readers that they look into your work, starting with your website:
 

 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Little Visual Refreshment...

I'm back from Maine with two photos to refresh everyone:

What is lovelier than a schooner on a sparkling sea in late afternoon?

And then, along the seaside walk, this view:

Seaside Rock Sculptures

 Note the rock sculpture in the middle left of this photo.  They appeared all along this stretch.  I found myself wondering how they were anchored - a re-bar down through the center, maybe?   Who knows?














I have scads more to go through.  It will take a while, though, since I put my camera's shutter on 'automatic' while photographing the surf against the rocks.  I suspect I'll be doing a lot of deleting...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Celebrations, September 13, 2013

This is a simple blog hop started by Viklit.  Every Friday we stop and take note of the things we sometimes overlook, which make our lives so enjoyable.

Today I am celebrating the first honest to goodness vacation I have taken since before my father died in August of last year.  The past year has been filled with a number of things and involved a great deal of travel and worry and fatigue.  

Today, however, I am celebrating the end of the week and the beginning of the weekend, at which time I will insert myself into my (rental) car, check the level of gasoline in the tank, grin at my sister, who is coming with me (it was her idea, actually, and head up north to the pretty harbor of Boothbay, Maine.

Boothbay Harbor at Sunset














This is the sun-filled piece of heaven with which I fell in love back in 1999.

Over the next three days we will be driving around, visiting yarn shops, I'll be taking photos, and we may even go on a whale watch cruise.  Whether we see a whale or not, we will certainly be seeing the sea, the rocky coast, feel the breeze in our faces.

And who knows?  We may very well see a whale!


How about yourselves?  Come join this blog hop and share the little things that make you celebrate!  Or just hop about and see what everyone's celebrating - and thank VikLit for starting it!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Humorous Poetry


I have posted poetry from time to time.   Today, I am posting three of my favorite humorous poems.  We can all use a chuckle, I’m sure.  Especially remembering twelve years ago today.

I recite this one regularly, sometimes even in company.  Some of us may remember memorizing poetry for school. The nuns in the school I attended in 8th grade – I was 13 years old – had us memorize poems.  This was not one of them, but thanks to our reading I can identify eight poems whose fragments appear in Robert’s recital. 

They don’t teach elocution any more, but you must imagine someone speaking these lines with extravagant, stylized gestures to show anger, courage, grief, hope, yearning…

.

"An Overworked Elocutionist."


Elocution guide
Once there was a little boy whose name was Robert Reese,
And every Friday afternoon he had to speak a piece.
So many poems thus he learned, that soon he had a store
Of recitations in his head and still kept learning more.

And so this is what happened! He was called upon one week,
And totally forgot the piece he was about to speak.
His brain he cudgeled, not a word remained within his head
And so he spoke at random, and this is what he said!

My beautiful, my beautiful, who standeth proudly by…
It was the schooner Hesperus and the breaking waves dashed high?
Why is this forum crowded? What means this stir in Rome?
Under the spreading chestnut tree, there is no place like home.

When freedom from her mountain heights cried "Twinkle little star!
Shoot if you must this old gray head, King Henry of Navarre!
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue-chasmed crag at Drachenfels –
My name is Norwald – On the Grampian hills Ring out Wild Bells!"

If you’re waking call me early.  To be or not to be?
The curfew shall not ring tonight! O woodman spare that tree!
Charge Chester, Charge!  On Stanley, On! And let who will be clever.
The boy stood on the burning deck, but I go on forever!

His elocution was superb, his voice and gestures fine;
His schoolmates all applauded as he finished the last line.
"I see it doesn't matter," Robert thought, "what words I say,
So long as I declaim with oratorical display." 

-          by Carolyn Wells 

This gem is said to have been written during pioneer days, perhaps because it referred to preserved (dried) fruit.  Until the advent of refrigeration, many things were preserved in such a way, and that method was not limited to those crossing the Great American Plains in covered wagons.  In any event, it’s a favorite of mine. 

Dried Apple Pies
 
I loathe, abhor, detest, despise

Abominate dried apple pies!
I like good food, I like good meat –
Or anything that’s fit to eat! –
But of all poor grub beneath the skies,
The poorest is Dried Apple Pies! 

The farmer takes his gnarliest fruit –
T’is wormy, bitter and hard to boot –
He leaves the hulls to make us cough
And don’t take half the peeling off.
Then on a dirty string t’is strung
And in a garret window hung,
Where it serves as roost for flies
Until it’s made up into pies. 

So tread on my corns or tell me lies –
But don’t pass me dried apple pies!

-          Unknown

 

…and then we have Hotspur’s comment (addressed to Owen Glendower in Shakespeare’s Henry IV) on the subject of poetry.  In this speech he is responding to Glendower’s remark that he had set many an English ballad to harp music, a talent that no one had accused Hotspur of having. 

Hotspur replies:
 

Marry,
And I am glad of it with all my heart:
I had rather be a kitten and cry mew
Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers;
I had rather hear a brazen canstick turn'd,
Or a dry wheel grate on the axle-tree;
And that would set my teeth nothing on edge,
Nothing so much as mincing poetry:
'Tis like the forced gait of a shuffling nag.

 

 
I hope some of you have enjoyed a chuckle.  I'm going back to jotting notes in notebooks...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Celebrating the Small Things, September 5, 3012



Another Friday morning, kicking back and thinking of the note-worthy (but small) things that we can celebrate.

Cooler weather means that I can break out my fluffy blue bathrobe.  There is much to celebrate in this:

This means the weather is cooler.  Since my idea of a bad time is hot weather, the celebratory nature of this deduction (writing like a Jane Austen heroine) should be obvious.

My cats now can lie on the fluffy thing, knead it, purr over it, and squabble over who gets to lie right smack in the center of the thing.  This makes me laugh, which is always good.

I jotted some chapters, having snuck (sneaked?  the past tense of 'to sneak' is not, I know, 'to snack'...) time from a rather boring passage at work.  Light shed on the flow of the story, an engaging exchange between two brothers...

And I have, finally, found a rather nice Chinese restaurant near my place of employment.  Eight minutes away by car.  I love Chinese food, my family spent several generations in China and Japan (my grandfather is buried in Yokohama, and my great-grandparents spent half WWII interned in a Japanese concentration camp.  We have my grandfather's journal.  But I digress).  The problem is that I moved to an area of the United States, to the capital of a New England state that is notable for its lack of decent restaurants.  All they seem to understand are hot dogs, faux Italian and MSG.

But this place is charming.  They know me by name after three visits.  Their food, though Cantonese (I prefer Northern Chinese) is delicious.  Some Cantonese is sweet, and this is so, but the ingredients are very good, the food is well prepared, the people are delightful, and I am happy.  Hm.  Maybe some garlic shrimp at lunch?  It will have the added benefit of keeping the vampires away...

What are YOU celebrating today?  Join us! 

(And don't forget to visit the others on this Blog Hop to  see what they're celebrating!)





Thursday, September 5, 2013

And the World Ends HOW? Blogfest (A Flock of Ill Omens Part 1)

Nothing lasts forever.  We are not static, we change, adjust, evolve, and blow away...  I read an essay, once, on the subject of immortality.  What if we were immortal just as we are?  What if nothing changed from the way it is now?  It was presented as a horror, and immortality - as we are at this moment - as dreadful beyond imagining.

Perhaps they're right.

Things seem sweeter in retrospect, and when the moment comes that this blue and white sphere is no longer suspended in the sky, the sky will be the less for it.

How will it happen?  I don't know, though I could have some fun jotting my impressions of people clinging to a sphere whirled away by solar winds, or huddled and shivering as the earth grows cold because the sun is dead, or watching as the blinding sun draws closer and closer, ready to suck the earth into  its heat...

But I don't think there will be people alive to see it.  Humanity's time on earth has been very short, and if you triple its length it is still negligible.  We will have moved on, I do believe...

But that's just me.

...And there  may just be another apocalypse in the offing:


Deadliest virus in a century, or a social experiment gone awry?

Every year they warned about the flu and more often than not, it amounted to nothing.

Sidney Knight, a young freelance reporter had certainly never written on it. But a trip to Lincoln City, Oregon cut short by a beach full of dead seagulls and a panicked warning from her brother the scientist catch her attention.

This batch is different. Deadlier. And the vaccine doesn't seem to be helping. It almost looks like it's making it worse...

A Flock of Ill Omens: Part I is the first episode of A Shot in the Light, an Apocalypse Conspiracy Tale about what happens when people play God for fun and profit.

 There will be approximately ten episodes, each the equivalent of about 100 pages. Good Reads has a sneak peak posted. You can find the purchase link and more information about the book here. And if you want it FOR FREE, I will be offering it free on the release dates of at least the next two in the serial: September 19 and October 10.

Hart Johnson writes books from her bathtub and can be found at Confessions of a Watery Tart, though be warned. She is likely to lead you into shenanigans

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

IWSG - September, 2013 (second anniversary!)


This was started two years ago by Alex J. Cavanaugh, who runs a tight ship and thinks of good things.  I benefited from it for over a year after I discovered it, and then I jumped in.  Thank you, Alex... 
 


Months do fly past quickly, don't they?  I remember thinking "June is coming, and the hot weather will be starting..." and now it's September and this is my second post in this blog hop.  There's always so much to read and nod at, to say 'Hm...  I know where he's coming from..."

It's so enjoyable, you (or, at least, I) learn a lot just reading what everyone has to say, and stacking it up against your own conclusions, to see if they still stand. 

A wonderful exercise, valuable both for the insights you have reading others' work and for the insights you have writing about your own issues...


And yes, I admit it: I'm hedging.  Beating around the bush, delaying the inevitable...

It's funny: I have had this niggling thought for a long time, but I have never mentioned it to anyone, in all the years I've been writing, until two days ago when I confided this reservation to my best friend.  I'm not sure what I thought she'd say, but her pause and then, 'Well, I could see why that would trouble you,' somehow made things easier.  In fact.

Ah, heck.  I AM hedging.  I'll spit it out:

BRING IT ON...

I am afraid that if I show other writers what exactly it is that I produce, if I admit my genre, my way of getting into writing in the first place, my process and my aims with writing now, they will know that I am not a 'real' writer. (Well, I said it.  Let's see if I post it...)

Looking at things dispassionately, I see that what has me buffaloed (or hesitant /shy /nervous /feeling inadequate) is a list of 'nots'.

I did not:
  •  Major in Fine Arts.  They didn't have the program for writing at my Alma mater. I wouldn't have majored in it anyhow.  I majored in Ancient and Medieval History.  (Only 'real' writers have a degree in creative writing.  I actually heard someone say that.)
  • Ever attend a writer's conference (too expensive for me, but 'real' writers attend them all the time, don't they?  I plan to, does that count?)
  • Feel a tremendous, irresistible call to be a writer (I just wrote.  It felt right.  It was me)
Procedures I do not follow:
  • Have a mission.  (I am not seeking to trumpet about a cause, to make people search their inner hearts, to 'Send a Message' or expose something urgent.  I write because I tell stories.  Some of the other stuff trickles in, but the storytelling is my primary aim.  It's what I do.)
  • Start out with a formed plot and a plan of attack.  (I see a picture in my mind.  Most recently, a random act of incredible violence, seen through the eyes of the perpetrator.  I see him turning, seeing a man before him, carrying a big, composite bow, drop to one knee, draw an arrow from a quiver, nock the arrow, draw the bow...Who is the perp?  Who is the archer?  Why is it happening?  And why is the setting what it appears to be in my mental pictures?  I have ideas, and each one, written down and considered within the framework of the story's perceived setting, reveals the plot.)
  • Have a science. (I do what 'feels' right.  If it doesn't stack up against my inner 'feeling' it is wrong and it is adjusted or discarded.  I can explain the 'feel' now in terms that jive with 'science'.  But it was there before the 'science' was ever expounded.)
  • Share my writing for beta-reads or critiques.  (There is a reason for this, which I will address in the next section.  It is truly amusing.  I am, actually, working on this, but the next section will explain why I am very slow at it.  I do hire editors.  Now that I have some money.)
Next Section (the 'Do Nots')

So... (I think) I can just imagine sending something off for a beta-read and having the person cringe, sigh, skim it and send back a two page somethingorother and voice, later, the comment that people are more willing to purchase and read something that is not unpronounceable and confusing. (With that cycle, I actually tailor the names...)

Just yesterday I was talking with my mother, who was astonished that my Civil War story was selling one tenth as well as those in my Egyptian cycle.  "It just doesn't make any sense!" (Thank you, Mom.  I still love you.)


None of this interferes with me writing the stories and publishing them and having them edited (not quite in that order) and, perhaps, showing them to understanding friends and, certainly, putting them on my website, advertising and promoting them.  And checking the sales.

...But if I show them to 'real' writers, they will look at me funny and I will know that I am not a 'real' writer.

I did write this humorously, but like a 300 pound gorilla (or, using a child's story I'm working on, a Twenty Cubit Crocodile) the Insecurity is right there, right in front of me, and finally admitted.  Just today, responding to a call by a blogger (and a very nice guy) for excerpts he can 'boil down' , I sent this email:

There is a problem, though.  I don't write anything cool like horror, YA, dystopia, apocalyptic, paranormal romance or heroic fantasy, but seem to put out historical fiction.  Sometimes with a mystery in it.  
This is not bad - except that people tend to go glassy-eyed when they learn that one of mine, a series, is set in Egypt.  Just sayin'.  If that sort of thing makes you gag, then I withdraw the query.
  
 They say once you're aware of a problem, it's 2/3 of the way solved.  I hope so.