World-building: From Imagination to Reality – Guest Post by, Diana Peach…

For those fans and writers of speculative fiction – here’s another dive into worldbuilding! I had the great pleasure of guest posting on The Story Reading Ape’s blog earlier this month. If you missed the post and are all broken up about it (ha ha) here’s Part II. 😀

(Some of you are so lovely to leave comments at both sites. Please, no need, unless not doing so gives you hives; your time is way too precious. I do check both and reply at both. Hugs.)

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

World-building is an important part of any writer’s preparation, and the speculative genres offer some wildly fun opportunities. There are no boundaries. The imagination is unleashed. The setting of the story can be as “fantastic” as the writer desires.

But fantastic also has to be relatable and plausible.

Relatability is a must when it comes to the main character(s). If a reader can’t relate on some emotional level to the protagonist, a book is going to struggle. Why do I mention this with world-building? Because in speculative fiction some or all of the characters may not be human.

There are no limits to alien design from physical features to intelligence to social and cultural norms, and writers can stretch those limits to create some unusual encounters and conflicts. Aliens that completely baffle us are fine, but rarely are they protagonist(s). The main character(s) needs to possess some “human” emotional content…

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A BOOK LOVER’S TAG

images from pixabay

I’ve returned after a 10-day, 30k-word break. So much catching up to do, but rested and ready.

Now… who doesn’t Love Books?

Annika Perry tagged all her followers with the Book Lover’s Tag, and well… I couldn’t resist. I tag you all too, but if you aren’t inclined to take me up on it, please leave your favorite best-ever book in the comments and a quick reason why you love, love, love it. I’ll put them all in a long list in a future post.

On to the questions:

1.Do you have a specific place for reading?

Nope. I’ll read anywhere, and I’m never without a book. Long plane rides or layovers, waiting for an oil change, stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, sitting in a canoe and fishing, all are great places to read. Most of my reading, though, happens in bed before zonking out. I prop my eyes open with toothpicks to get to the end of the chapter and pay the price in the morning.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Um… neither. I’m a dog-earer. I love my books to pieces, literally. They’re like a favorite stuffed animal from childhood that’s dragged everywhere by an arm, dropped in lakes, and taken on camping trips. Now, if I’m borrowing a book, it’s a random piece of paper. I’m not organized enough to use bookmarks, though I think they’re pretty.

3. Do you eat or drink whilst reading?

Yes. There are hot sauce, grease, and coffee stains in my books. I know! Terrible! Disgraceful! I open the pages and crumbs fall out.

4. Music or TV whilst reading.

Usually neither, though I can tune both out if I need to. With a really good book, the house could be on fire and I wouldn’t notice.

5. One book at a time or several?

I’m definitely monogamous. One love at a time or I might get confused, and that always ends poorly. Plus, it’s way too much drama. 🙂

6. Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

Sort of the same as number 1, but I’ll answer “home” since I’m a hermit.

7. Read out loud or silently?

I often read poetry aloud because I like the taste and sound of the words. Recently, I read parts of a book in my Yankee version of an Irish accent. The “voice” of the narrator/character was so wonderful, I couldn’t resist. I’ll review that book soon. That said, 99% of my reading is silent.

8. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I read every single word. Skip pages? Goodness no. I might miss something important.

9. Break the spine or keep it like new.

If the spine breaks, it breaks. I wouldn’t do it on purpose. My book love isn’t intentionally abusive!

10. Do you write in books?

Of course! The better the book, the more I write in it. I underline and highlight phrases, sentences, and passages that I think are masterful. You know how they say that reading makes one a better writer? It’s true. Some books are like master-classes and I’m enthralled, wanting to capture the genius. It’s the one of the things I don’t like about ebooks, I can’t mark them all up.

11. What books are you reading now? 

I’m reading The Red Queen’s War series by Mark Lawrence, an amazing fantasy author who also penned The Broken Empire Series. His books definitely are pen and highlighter worthy. I like reading amazing authors while I’m writing. They inspire me.

 

 

12. What is your childhood favorite book?

As a little girl, it would have to be E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. It was the first book to make me cry, and that emotional release felt so good, I immediately read it again so I could cry again.  I think it contributed to my decision 35 years later to become a grief counselor.

My favorite book(s) as a young teenager was Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which kicked off a fanatical love of reading. I think it contributed to my decision 35 years later to become a fantasy writer. Aren’t books amazing?

13. What is your all-time favorite book?

Anam Cara by John O’Donohue. His writing speaks to my heart and soul. I’d be a stalker if he was still alive.

That’s it! You’re all tagged and remember to leave your answer to Question 13 in the comments with your reason why.

 

Help: Flash Fiction #Flash4Storms

pixabay image

The hurricanes season delivered destruction across Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the rest of the Carribean. But that’s only a piece of the suffering that rips through the world and not the latest or the last. Sarah Brentyn is donating $1 for every flash fiction story around the theme of Help, up to $50.  Entries need to be in by October 14 if you want to join in. Just include a link to her site Lemon Shark so you get counted. I’ll match her donation, so let’s max her challenge out!

Help

Audrey climbed the steep, narrow stairs to the third floor and switched on the light. She kept a tidy attic, dusted, everything in labeled boxes from shoe-box rectangles to the one that had delivered her new washer. Many were stuffed to the brim, and some she filled gradually. She had empties too, waiting for the next wedding or birth, the next death, the next act of brutal terrorism, another war or earthquake, or a hurricane like the ones that spun across the ocean and left thousands in need of help.

There was so much despair that for a long time she felt guilty if she smiled, horrible for a burst of laughter. To appreciate an autumn day or lunch with a friend seemed selfish and careless as if all that suffering meant nothing to her, just another day of rain down life’s gutter. So, she compartmentalized, pared fragile layers from her heart and filled her boxes with fragments of a mangled world. And each day, she spent a few hours after work lifting lids and letting the emotions sweep her into fits of hilarity or weeping. Her boxes spared her from drowning in helplessness and kept her happiness safe. In a world gone mad, they kept her sane.

Sunday Blog Share: Beyond the facade

A lovely poem by Kim about kindness and compassion and our ability to make a difference.

Beyond the facade

by Kimberly Laettner – Peace, Love and Patchouli

 

You must have been a beautiful baby

the song plays quietly in the background of my mind

I hum along and wonder,

well, aren’t they all when you think about it?

When it comes down to a heart beating

and the miracle of cells dividing

multiplying

creating something so unique,

and why is it only

babies that can be beautiful

for when we see the dirty unkempt homeless man

or the woman with the missing limb,

what changes in the mind to see…

(Continue Reading: Beyond the facade)

13 STEPS TO EVIL Writing Competition Winners

Yesterday, Sacha Black announced the winner of her
13 STEPS TO EVIL Writing Competition.

The assignment was to write a short piece (exactly 208 words) with a “seriously kick-ass villain.” Fortunately, I’d just read Sacha’s book: 13 Steps to Evil, which is full of awesome tips about creating dastardly bad guys.  Now, I swear I’m a nice person, but this challenge was irresistible, and I’m honored that my story placed first in evilness. Congratulations to Charise de Becker and Judy E. Martin for their winning submissions. Pop over to read their evil writing at 13 Steps to Evil #Writespiration Writing Competition Winners.

***

Pixabay image

Barus

The woman studied him in silence. Barus sensed her eyes on his face, begging for a glance, on his hands as he cleaned the delicate needles and polished his blades. He possessed exquisite hands, long-fingered, soft and nimble. Hands for caressing the cheeks of children and lovers.

His preparations complete, he faced his charge. “Are you comfortable?”

Her brow furrowed, and he sighed, for how could she answer such a question? “An unfair inquiry. My apologies. Are you in pain? Thirsty?”

She shook her head, the gag preventing all but a muffled reply.

“You must understand the empire’s need for a flaying, a warning to all who flirt with rebellion. Your ordeal will save hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives.” He took a stool beside her chair, brushed a bright tear from her eye, and stroked her iron-bound arm. “I shall be quick.”

Her fingers curled into a fist. He withdrew his touch, the time for compassion ended. The life of his young son depended on unbearable pain, and he, the emperor’s latest executioner, would comply.

He unbound her gag, and she spat in his face, cursed his spirit to the shadowlands. He smiled at her prophetic appeal. Needles first, then knives. The entire city would hear her scream.

The Light and Dark of Sarah Brentyn: Guest Post

Sarah Brentyn swears she’s an introvert on the verge of becoming a recluse, and yet she’s one of the stars of the blogosphere – hilarious, clever and outgoing, commenting, visiting, guest posting, writing, and managing two blogs (in addition to a real life). Her posts are full of the humor and sarcasm of a natural wit, and yet, her book of flash fiction, Hinting at Shadows, is a foray into the darker, deeper emotions and struggles of the human journey. Sarah is a conundrum. Who is this woman? I invited her here to answer that question and tell us about these sides of her writerly self.

Sarah Brentyn: Living in the Light, Writing in the Dark

I’ve been asked how it is (or why it is) that I write a light-hearted, pseudo-humorous blog then turn around and pen some seriously dark fiction. I’m here to answer that question.

I am Dr. Jekyll.

Okay, I’m not. Or I could be. You don’t know.

Buckle your seat belts. We’re in for a bumpy ride. I’ve no idea where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing about me. I’m a conversational writer. People often say I write in a stream of consciousness narrative. That’s fair. I do. It’s why I like pantsing. (In the writing sense, that is. I’d never pull your trousers down to humiliate you. No, I would not.)

My blog? I freewrite. Jot down whatever comes to mind. My life, writing, the world around me…  Since I simply sit down and write, it’s unfiltered me. Sarcastic and silly and, sometimes, accidently serious. (With tons of alliteration, apparently.) There are ridiculous posts where my inner child is peeking out and there are thought-provoking posts where my philosophical nature is showing. It’s a mish-mash. Or “eclectic”, if you want to be nice. It doesn’t fit into any specific category. I’m okay with that because, if you think on it, people don’t fit neatly into specific categories, either.

My fiction? I dig deep. Find those roots and rip them out to have a good look. Examine what lies beneath. Get inside people’s heads. Dissect the sticky center. (Okay, that’s gross. It’s more studying inner workings than wielding scalpels.) There are a lot of psychological struggles, tricky emotions, and shadowy memories in there. I’m obsessed with the anatomy of human behavior. And I enjoy exploring it in flashes.

What’s so remarkable about flash fiction is that you can hint at the stuffing inside the teddy bear or you can show readers the rip in the seam. Cotton fiber or bean pellets? What’s inside the story?

I want to make readers wonder what the hell just happened then decide for themselves three hours later because they can’t stop thinking about it. When readers engage, I’ve won. Huge. Like that impossible water gun game at the carnival that’s completely rigged and no one ever really wins. Like that. I got the biggest prize they have and now can’t go on any rides because I’m hauling around a unicorn the size of a VW Bus. But that’s okay. I have cotton candy.

With fiction, I create things I wouldn’t want to experience. Though I do anyway. Vicariously. I’m very close to my characters. They’re like family. (The ones I don’t dread visiting during holidays.) Their stories affect me but I’m not stuck in their reality.

I think it’s safe to say that I live in the light and write in the dark.

My (Diana’s) review of Hinting at Shadows:

A string of story pearls

I just finished Hinting at Shadows and had to rave a little about this book of short fiction. When Brentyn says short, she means short. Most of the stories are about 100 words, what I refer to as flash fiction. I enjoy flash fiction, but wasn’t sure about reading a whole book of it. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.

Every story is a pearl. The writing is exquisite and full of pathos with a focus on the poignancy of the human condition. Hinting at Shadows is the perfect title as each story is a tiny hint at a larger human story, one that is characterized by shadows – sometimes secrets, but more often complex feelings of loneliness, regret, longing, disappointment, and hope.

It would be possible to whip through this book in a couple hours, but I think it’s meant to be savored, just as one might read poetry. So that’s what I did. It’s perfect for someone who enjoys filling their free moments with words or someone who just loves beautiful writing.

Author Bio:

Sarah Brentyn is an introvert who believes anything can be made better with soy sauce and wasabi. She loves words and has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She talks to trees and apologizes to inanimate objects when she bumps into them. When she’s not writing, you can find her strolling through cemeteries or searching for fairies. She hopes to build a vacation home in Narnia someday. In the meantime, she lives with her family and a rainbow-colored, wooden cat who is secretly a Guardian.

Book Link: myBook.to/HintingAtShadows

Sarah’s Hang-outs: 
Amazon: Author Page
Blogs: Lemon Shark    and   Lemon Shark Reef
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