Sunday Blog Share: True North

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True North

by Nathalie of arwenaragornstar

Where have you been? I waited so long

I am startled out of the usual post-coital daze by your words — it takes me a few seconds to find my way out of the maze consisting of half-formed thoughts and bright fireworks.

What is this? A throwaway comment prompted by satisfied lust?

Not at all your style, but this gal’s got to make sure, she’s still learning to trust — no longer the hermit in a hut, but…

I bend over your face, my hair falls around your head—it ripples as fields filled with rows of corn ahead of the approaching storm…

(Continue Reading: True North)

250 Words per Hour

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Not long ago, my muse gave me an ultimatum (here) – Write or Else!

So I’ve been writing, keeping up my end of the bargain and then some, writing 6-10 hours a day, 5 days a week. I start at 5 a.m. and write until about 3. Then 3-4 hours of blogging. It’s been a challenge especially when the holidays started revving up.

For me, writing that many hours means letting other things slide like getting dressed, showering, brushing teeth, eating, cooking, laundry, holiday shopping, dishes, and vacuuming. Coffee is about all that gets accomplished with religious fervency.

This morning, a couple of people stopped by unexpectedly to have me sign some paperwork (our area is getting high-speed internet in 2017!). We stood outside in the sleet because I just couldn’t bear to usher them into my disaster area. When I went back inside, I walked by a mirror and noticed that my clothes were on backwards and inside out. Seams showing and the tag of my shirt flapping at my throat like a teeny white necktie. Ha ha. Yeesh.

But I also finished the first draft of the fourth book in my next series. I write about 250 words per hour. A first draft takes me about 400 hours. Subsequent drafts, maybe another 400 for a total of 800 hours per book. Four books? That’s about 3,200 hours.

Now really? Tell me. What writer has time to worry about whether her clothes are on front forward and right-side out? What do you let slide?

Cracked Ice #writephoto

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Flight of Faith

When I was a child, I could fly
you and I hopped in dirt-road afternoons
faithful
and the dust-wind flung us over seas of wheat
scuffed shoes skimming the feathered awns
we whipped around the corners of the barn
in a home-sewn world of farm-hewn hands
our secret futures soared

In the veins of my hands
the blue brooks of time stream by
Somewhere on the way, I unlearned how to fly
and trod worn paths through autumn’s lea
snapped night’s brittle ice
shards of fractured faith
glinting in my wake

Today’s morning purls in plumrose
cast on a withering season’s stark debris
spangled with winter’s gilded rime
a new path of violet ice wends to the horizon
fragile, fissured, a wish yet unbroken
my secret future soars
faithful
and I wonder if I might fly
one last time

 

This attempt at poetry was in response to Sue Vincent’s weekly photo prompt. Check out other submissions on The Daily Echo and maybe try the next one! Thank you, Sue.❤

Sunday Blog Share: Love Letters #26

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Love Letters #26

 by Lenora of Ocean Bream

The place was flooded with oranges. It was orange and red, the sand a deep rusty hue. Orange trees lining the pavements wherever you go. Giant cacti and prickly pear plants replacing the ivy on house walls. Markets everywhere, carts piled high with citrus oranges and greens. Vendors handing out orange juice, orange peels by the thousands, piled up by the gutter, along with fish spines and bits of brightly coloured material. Alleyways filled with empty, shuttered shops and tall buildings springing up everywhere by the month.

Oranges and fish. Markets and spices. Haughty prideful patriotism. This was Casablanca.

I did not see the Casablanca that tourists see. I was…

(Continue Reading: Love Letters #26)

Creating Rich Characters – Prompts

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While my days are spent grinding out my WIP, I thought I’d share an old post about writing character bios, specifically about using prompts to expedite the process.

The prompt-list below looks more complicated than it is (a result of explanations and examples). For some prompts, a word or two is sufficient, while others require some contemplation. Unsurprisingly, I force my main characters to endure the entire process; incidental players get a pass with a mere smattering of details, and everyone else falls somewhere in between.

Ultimately, I believe that this pre-work pays off, not only in rich characters. To me, the process of writing flows with greater ease. My characters are immensely cooperative in telling their own stories when they know who they are.

The External Character

woman-1801830_640Physical Description: Appearance goes without saying, but add at least one remarkable feature: glass eye, cleft chin, crooked teeth, chewed nails, scars, moles, beady eyes, or rumbling voice. Remember, even beautiful people are imperfect.

Gestures, Mannerisms:  A distinguishing physical habit not only defines a character but makes him memorable. A character may habitually pick his teeth, clear his throat, rub his jaw, trace an old scar, purse his lips, fidget with a button, wink, spit, raise one eyebrow, stroke a beard, belch…

Quirk: A distinctive behavior that goes beyond a gesture: Won’t eat anything green, corrects improper speech, loves bad puns, doesn’t like to be touched, is afraid of heights, always misses the bus. There are numerous lists of quirks on the web.

Attribute, Trait: People have a blend of traits. Pick one or two for your character that stand out. Maybe she’s stubborn, lucky, picky, impatient, naïve, or flippant. Lists of attributes are also readily available on the web.

Skills, Abilities, and Interests: No real person is great at everything, and neither is your well-rounded character. Does your character have an education or special training? In what skills does he excel? Where is he lacking? What does your character do for a living? What does he do during down time?

Mix it Up: People are multi-dimensional. Villains can have redeemable qualities. They may rescue animals, love old movies, grow roses, or play chess in the park. Likewise, heroes have their flaws. They drink too much, have hot tempers, always run late, get easily flustered, or are slobs.

Don’t Overdo It: Creating a one-eyed, belly-scratching, kind-hearted, hypochondriac swordsmen with a penchant for chocolate is fun, but most characters will require much more subtlety.

The Internal Character

woman-1596954_960_720Backstory: Each character has a formative life that shaped him. What was the character’s childhood like? How strong were/are his family ties? Where are his parents and/or siblings? What significant event of the past shaped who the character is today? What was the character doing before the first page opened?

Secrets: A secret impacts a character’s attitudes and behaviors. It adds interest to the story because it can create tension or mystery in interpersonal dynamics. What is the character’s secret that no one else knows?

Goals: What does your character desperately desire? A protagonist’s overarching goal will often drive the story, and conflicting goals between characters may be a major source of tension. Consider that the main characters will have goals related not only to the main plot but to subplots.

Obstacles: What is the main obstacle that stands in the way of the character reaching her goal. This may be a nemesis, a personal flaw, or a condition of the culture or world. Remember that villains aren’t the only ones that can stand in a character’s way. Obstacles can be large and small and there are usually lots of them in the protagonist’s path.

Active Pursuit of Goals: At some point in the story, the character moves into an active role in overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. What triggers the change for the character? How does the character take or attempt to take active control?

posing-1022162_640The Big Fear: This is the one that terrifies – betrayal, loss of control, inability to protect loved ones, failure, death, aloneness, disgrace, insignificance, poverty, aging. It may drive the character’s goal or be an obstacle he must overcome. Fears have a basis in experience – where did this fear come from?

The Mask: A character’s mask is directly related to his fear. The mask describes how a character compensates for the Big Fear, or hides it from the world. For example, a character fearful of betrayal, may act overly independent or refuse to get close to others. Often the mask comes undone during the course of a story and the character is forced to face and perhaps overcome her fear.

Cross-Character Relationships: Another way to add interest and tension is by creating similarities between conflicting characters, and differences between companionable characters. What might the protagonist and villain have in common? Perhaps they both love horses, appreciate fine wines, or fear water. Along the same lines, how might the protagonist and his cohorts clash? One curses constantly and the other finds it offensive; one might play an instrument poorly while his companions cover their ears.

There you have it – my prompts. I hope this is helpful. Let me know if there’s something I missed!

 

**Images from Pixabay**

The Old Fish with One Wish – a children’s story

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This is a bedtime story told by one of my Dragon Soul characters, Morgen, to a small boy named Aidan. You must read it in a dramatic voice (lol) and please feel free to share with little ones.

The Old Fish with One Wish

There once was an old fisherman who lived in old cottage with his old wife, and in the sand outside his front door, he flipped over his old cockleboat. Now, across the cove, lived a young fisherman with his young wife. They owned a grand house with a fine fishing boat moored in the deep water. Every day the old fisherman would row to sea and fish, and complain about the unfairness of life and how he wanted a pretty wife and a grand house and a fine boat.

Then one day the old fisherman caught an old wrinkly fish that he dropped in his leaky bucket. He thought nothing of the ancient fish until the fish raised its slippery head out of the salty water and offered the old fisherman one wish if the man agreed to toss him back to the waves. It was a magic fish, you see, of which there are very few left in all the green seas. Well, that proved a difficult decision, because he wanted three things and the fish would only grant one wish. He wanted a pretty young wife; he wanted a grand house on the bay, and thirdly, a well-rigged fishing boat. The old fish told him to think long about it; the fish wasn’t in any hurry.

Well, the old fisherman thought about it all day. He didn’t want a young wife who wouldn’t want an old fisherman; he didn’t want a grand house if he was too idle to patch the roof, and he didn’t have any use for a hold full of salty fish. So it happened as the sun set, the time came to finish his thinking and make a choice. The old fisherman peered into his leaky bucket at the old wrinkly fish, and said, “See’s as if me life is just fine as it is. You can have me one wish, you old fish!” Then he tossed the fish back in the sea and rowed home.

When he got home, he flipped over his old boat and realized he had just the right boat for an old man to flip. When he opened the door to his old cottage, he saw a warm fire and supper on the hearth, and he thought he owned the coziest home an old man could own. And when his old wife laughed at his tale of the wrinkly fish with one wish, he laughed because he loved the sweetest old wife an old man could love. And he knew then that the fish had granted him each and every wish.”

– Eye of Blind, Dragon Soul Quartet

Sunday Blog Share: Sally’s Cafe & Bookstore

A special blog share this Sunday. If you’re a blogger or writer, Sally Cronin is a woman to know – a talented author, tireless blogger, and generous supporter of indie authors. Her blog is Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life.

Sally is running several Christmas Promotions for us this year. Here’s a brief description (with more info at the bottom of this post):

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore has over 100 authors along with buying links, covers, and website or blog link. Note: if you have a new book that hasn’t been promoted in the last year, let her know so that she can do a full promotional post.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Christmas Update  starts in late November. Sally will be featuring a number of authors at a time with one of their books and the latest review sourced from Amazon.

Smorgasbord Christmas Reading is a straightforward promotion of your book, open to all authors.

Bloggers Around the Christmas Tree is an opportunity for bloggers to showcase their talents and bring new readers to their blogs. Send Sally your links to posts about any aspect of this huge celebration around the world.

I had the great privilege of showing up on Sally’s Cafe & Bookstore Christmas Update.

On to Sally’s Post:

My thanks to those of you in the bookstore who have let me know your updates and news. I will feature your updates as they come in and also work my way through the bookstore finding new reviews and sharing them.  Contact me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com if your book in the store has a great new review we can showcase.

The first update is from D.Wallace Peach who has brand new covers for her Dragon Soul Quartet having moved to self-publishing.

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You can buy the complete series at a special price of £7.28 but here is Book 1 in the series.

About Myths of the Mirror

In the distant mountains of the Mirror, exiled skyriders fly dragons in the old Way, merged in flesh, blood, and bone. Twenty years past, they fought for the freedom of the valley’s dragons … and lost.

Imprisoned in the stone lair, the captive dragons beat their webbed wings and thrash serpentine tails. They tear their flesh and batter their bodies against the black bars of their cells, iron grating against iron. The once peaceful creatures howl…

(Continue reading: Sally’s Cafe & Bookstore Christmas Update) But before you go…

Be sure to click on Sally’s menu item: Christmas 2016 Smorgasbord Promotions Blogs, Books, Gifts, Short Stories for a full description of her promotions and what she needs from you to include your books or stories.

And

The Sorcerer’s Garden is FREE today.

Happy Holidays!