#AprilPrompts Day 4 – Sin

This little word conjures all sorts of images and sayings, and in the literary world it has been extensively explored. From Milton’s Paradise Lost to Shaun Allan’s Sin and everything in between, the concept of sin has taken many forms. Today I’ve put my own little twist on it.

Sin

Day 4 - Sin

Day 4 – Sin

“Every word you speak is a sin,” the old woman hissed venomously. Her eyes blazed with hatred and fervour as she clasped the crucifix around her neck.

What?” Rosanna rocked back in her seat as if struck.

“These demonic instruments you use to extort money from the vulnerable make you sin against God,” the woman continued as if Rosanna hadn’t spoken.

sin1

Rosanna glanced down at the table; a spread of tarot cards lay face up and her crystal ball was glowing softly. She narrowed her eyes as she scrutinised them, before lifting her head to look her tormentor in the eye.

sin2

“Mrs Peabody, the cards don’t lie. Just because I’ve told you something you didn’t want to hear, it doesn’t make me a sinner. God gave me this gift so I could help others.”

“You blasphem!” Mrs Peabody thundered, rising.

“No I don’t! It’s not my fault your husband cheated on you and had children with her. You asked the questions and I warned you the truth would hurt.” Rosanna answered calmly.

Sin!”

You contacted me for a reading!”

Mrs. Peabody threw money on the table and stormed out.

Rosanna shrugged sadly – she didn’t get to tell her he was sorry.

#AprilPrompts Day 2 – Muse

Is it a coincidence that one of my favourite bands is Muse? I’m not sure. I listen to their music quite a bit when I’m writing as it inspires me. But there is another Muse who inspires me more . . .

Muse

Day 2 - Muse

Day 2 – Muse

A Muse is a writer’s best friend. They give us inspiration, ideas and help us on our writing journey.

When I began writing Heart Search: Lost, I didn’t know who my Muse was. However, a clairvoyant friend gave me a reading and since then, I’ve got to know her very well.

Catherine (I’m not sure if she spells it with a C or K though), my Muse, lived in the sixteenth century.  She has an oval face, gentle hazel eyes, pale lips and is quite pretty. Her hair is dark brown and hangs in ringlet-type curls down to her knees. She wears a long, jade green, velvet dress typical of the times and an unusual amulet hangs around her neck.

muse1

She was an herbalist and healer – a dangerous profession to have in those days. She loved to help people and was very generous, often giving medicine away for free to families who couldn’t afford to pay for it.

It’s not clear who in her village accused her of witchcraft, but she was ambushed in the woods one day when she was picking herbs and murdered, driven through by a sword.

Catherine is always with me and I treasure her.

muse2

Dilemma

Dilemma

Have you ever come across a book that’s so badly written you would rather cut your arm off than turn another page? That’s how I felt last night! Let me explain . . .

I was contacted by an American author who asked me to review her book for Amazon UK. She hadn’t received any reviews on my side of the pond and was keen to change this situation. I agreed and she sent me a free copy in return for a review. I added it to my list and began reading it Thursday night in bed.

Astounded by how immature the writing was (and bearing in mind I was really tired), I put it down telling myself it had to get better. WRONG!  I picked it up again last night and after half an hour I couldn’t stand to turn another page. This is what I found:

>          The book had either been self-edited or edited by someone who wasn’t professional and didn’t really know what they were doing. Whoever did edit it should be pinned against a wall and shot!

>          The characters were like cardboard cut-outs and one dimensional. There was no emotion SHOWN whatsoever. The reader is TOLD someone is happy/sad/hurting/angry, but there’s no emotional connection so you can’t empathise with the character. You can’t imagine what they’re feeling because there’s nothing to hook into.

>          There was no description used anywhere. When the characters were in a tropical location I wanted to SEE the golden sand, HEAR the waves lap gently on the shore, SMELL the salty air, ADMIRE the lush scenery with its colourful blooms, WONDER at the indigenous people’s customs. I didn’t want to be TOLD the place was ‘beautiful and peaceful’ I wanted to SEE and IMAGINE it for myself through good use of description.

>          The dialogue was stilted and unrealistic, even robotic in places.

>          The plot moved on, but because the writing was so bad, you couldn’t get a sense of where it was heading.

>          Part of the book is set in Eastern Europe yet the characters don’t have names typical of their Iron Curtain home, they have English/American names. The author obviously hasn’t done any research on the country and very little on their customs.

>          If I didn’t know better, I would say the book had been written by a six or seven-year-old as the style is like, “The cat sat on the mat”, and “He was a coward and his name was Fred”. I think you get the gist!

In the right editor’s hands, this book could possibly have been made into something half decent, but it would have meant scrapping it and starting again.

Anyway, here’s where my dilemma comes in. I’m not one to publicly trash another author’s work – I would hate to have it done to me – yet she’s asked me for a review. I won’t normally review a book unless I like it and am therefore reluctant to post a one-star review with nothing positive to say about it. I could email the author and give her a private critique, explaining why I don’t want to publish a review, but my instincts tells me she won’t take it in the right spirit. I think she’ll (A) blow off my critique because she thinks she’s such a good writer and her crap doesn’t smell (I’m sure you know the sort I mean), or (B) bad-mouth me for daring to criticise her work, or (C) run a hate campaign against me and try to smear my good name, or all of the above.

I’ve worked hard to build my reputation, both as a writer and an editor, and the last thing I want is to have my name tarnished.

So what would you do? All opinions very gratefully received coz I’m really stumped!!

 

BlogFlash With A Difference 1

The next post to appear on the Heart Search Blog Tour was a little something different. The lovely Joy Keeney set me a challenge which was “Take your main
character and your favorite childhood character (book, cartoon…you pick) and
write them into a scene in Heart Search.” She was kind enough to allow me a little leeway with the word count (thank goodness)! Anyway, when I was a kid, my favourite book was Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild and the character I most related to was Pauline Fossil. So, I decided, in my infinite wisdom, to marry up Pauline Fossil with Joshua from Heart Search and here is the result:

Joshua walked at a normal human pace across the park; he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. Although he didn’t feel the cold, he had the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his face; he wanted to be anonymous, to blend in.

The leaves on the trees were a glorious profusion of gold, red, orange and bronze. Autumn had arrived. As he strolled over the fallen leaves, he heard a faint sob from a female ahead of him. He didn’t think much of it at first until a little further on he saw the lone figure of a young girl sitting on a bench, tissues in hand, trying to stifle the sound of her misery.

He inhaled deeply. Her young blood had the sweetest fragrance and venom automatically pooled on his tongue. He’d fed before daybreak so wasn’t thirsty, yet her blood called to him. As he moved closer, there was something in her dejected demeanour which called to the human he used to be, so he went over and sat beside her.

“Why are you crying? What’s wrong?” he asked, his voice gentle and kindly.

She looked up at him, her eyes red and puffy. She seemed to be scrutinizing him as if working out whether she should trust him. After all, she’d always been told never to talk to strangers. Something she saw in Joshua’s eyes made her feel safe. “I’m lost and I’m late,” she sniveled.

He noticed the bag on the seat beside her; it was the sort dancers used. “Well, let’s see what we can do about that, shall we? What’s your name?”

She straightened her back a little, her eyes beginning to dry. “My name is Pauline Fossil,” she announced proudly, “and I’m a dancer and actress. What’s your name?”

“Joshua.”

“Joshua what?” Her eyes still on his face.

“Just Joshua, that’s all. But that’s not important is it? You said you’re lost and late – tell me where you need to go and I’ll help you,” he replied trying to change the subject.

She was much sharper than her gave her credit for. “So don’t you have a surname then? And why is your skin so white?”

“Look, I have somewhere I need to be so do you want my help or not? Where are you supposed to be going?” Joshua sidestepped her question and injected a little impatience in his voice.

“Madame Barnetta’s Theatre School,” Pauline replied automatically. She was a little taken aback by his sudden change in tone.

“Okay. Grab your bag and let’s go. The longer we sit here the later you will be.” Joshua began walking a little faster than normal human speed and even running she couldn’t keep up with him.

“Wait, please, you’re going too fast for me,” she gasped. Joshua turned around and walked back towards her.

“Jump on my back,” he commanded crouching down. She did as she was told, her arms clasped around his neck and her head rested on his shoulder. As he walked quickly, his nostrils were again assailed by the honeyed scent of her young blood. This was getting harder by the minute. He wasn’t one to feed from children, but the smell was too delicious. It took every ounce of his willpower not to bite into the flesh so close to his lips.

Within minutes they had arrived at the old building with the faded sign declaring the name of the school. He crouched again so she could climb off. “Good luck, Pauline Fossil”

“Thank you very much, Joshua,” she replied. She took half a dozen steps towards the school then turned around to say something more, but he had vanished. She shrugged her shoulders and ran up the steps. She had an audition to attend.

I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as I did writing it!

Guest Post from Mia Hoddell

I’ve got a treat for you today! I’m delighted to introduce a very talented author who has two books published and has kindly written a post for us about her writing and influences.

Drumroll please, for the lovely Mia Hoddell . . .

Mia Hoddell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi everyone! Here’s a little about me, my writing and influences.

During high school English lessons my teacher used to make us review a different book we had read every month. However because I was never interested in reading/writing until 2009, I used to make up my own books, which I got away with for a while (probably should have followed the hint then). Up until this point I was more interested in sports and art, and originally wanted to be an artist. Later on though, I discovered some books by Julia Golding which really interested me so from then on I have developed a love of both reading and writing.

I began writing short stories that all included paranormal aspects. My first one was about a WW1 soldiers who died in battle then returned as a lost soul and was forced to walk the battlefield for eternity. I love anything paranormal so my ideas and writing generally includes some aspects of this or fit into the paranormal genre. This may change in the future, but for now the ideas in my head (about nine of them) are all paranormal.

The short story I had written about the WW1 soldier helped me to develop the main theme of The Wanderers Trilogy. Also a song on youtube (SomewhereNowhere – Cinephile) helped generate the images for the first scene in The Sheol. I started writing about the clear image I had in my head of a woman wearing black and standing on the edge of a cliff while the sun set. And from there the story slowly developed. I hadn’t really thought it through up until that point though; all I knew was I wanted a strong female lead and something to do with lost souls.

Once I had finally planned the whole trilogy, I had no trouble finding suitable names for most of my characters. For Kala, I looked up names with the meaning “darkness,” to fit in with the dark paranormal romance theme, and after looking at a few websites, Kala seemed perfect. After that most of the other names seemed to fall in place; all but Nachtmahr’s anyway. I had written the whole book before finding him a name, just using a few dashes instead (something I later regretted when I had to go back and edit it all). I spent three days trying to find a suitable name for him before finally settling on Nachtmahr – meaning nightmare in German. I’m very picky with names and if I have the slightest doubt, I will not use it, even if it does take me days to find a replacement.

I wrote during my summer holidays and would stay up until 4am writing, just losing myself in the story. However, by the time I reached chapter 6, I had run out of holiday and was stuck with a heavy work load so my writing was put on hold for two years. I was finally able to get back to my novel though as I was desperate to finish it and made my writing my priority. I spent 4hours minimum writing everyday and within two weeks I had finished The Sheol.

For me the task of writing the book seemed easier than inventing a title at this point; and there was also the editing. I originally settled on ‘Earthbound’ but it didn’t seem right so I decided to keep it simple and use the main dark supernatural force ‘The Sheol’ (meaning a place where the dead congregate) as the title. After this, three painful months were spent editing before I shot photos for the cover and uploaded my first book to Amazon. From there on the sequels to The Wanderer Trilogy have been created and I have more ideas I am working on, all from different influences; some real life and some from dreams.

Thank you, Mia, for sharing this with us.

For more information about Mia and her books, keep scrolling down!

The Sheol – the first book in The Wanderer Trilogy.

Being a trained killer, Kala can handle most things the world throws at her. However, when she murders her fiancé, Kala’s life is thrown into chaos. Forced to leave everything behind, she runs from city to city, in fear of her psychotic boss who is seeking her death. If that wasn’t enough, she also has to cope with the re-appearance of her dead fiancé who is struggling to keep a hold on his sanity as he strives for revenge.

Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROCvv4FqfCQ

The Flawless – the second book in The Wanderer Trilogy.

A battle is going to arise soon; The Sheol and The Flawless will come together but only one can survive to continue their manipulation of humankind. The Wanderers have to decide whether to summon the courage to fight so they can save themselves from eternal unrest or whether they like being lost, immortal souls. Nachtmahr is upgrading his Sturmmen to create more ruthless and efficient killers due to interference from The Sheol, while Kala is becoming darker; her rage consuming her as she strives to fulfill her own personal mission…Kill Nachtmahr.

LINKS:

Website/blog: http://miahoddell.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mia-Hoddell-Author/421368247889610?ref=hl

Twitter: @MiaHoddell – https://twitter.com/MiaHoddell

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=mia+hoddell

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=mia+hoddell

Also available at Barnes & Nobel and iBooks

Print Books available at Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/mia-hoddell/the-sheol-the-wanderer-trilogy-1/paperback/product-20365466.html

 

 

Launch Update

Hi Everyone,

I hope you enjoyed reading the #BlogFlash2012 posts as much as I did writing them!

Now I have some exciting news – I’m preparing for the launch of Heart Search: Lost (is that a few hurrahs I hear?? Lol) through Myrddin Publishing. I will be running a blog tour with giveaways and I thought, what better way to start kicking things off than by sharing the news with my faithful followers.

I’m looking for people who would be willing to support the blog tour by hosting reviews, interviews and blog posts and as a thank you for your ongoing support, I thought I’d give you the first opportunity to jump on board the tour bus before I advertise it further afield.

I haven’t got the exact dates yet – I’m waiting for one more thing to fall into place – but I’m looking at end September/beginning of October. Sorry this is a bit vague, but I will be having surgery on my spine sometime this month and am waiting for the date, and this will affect when we ‘go live’

The tour will run for two weeks and I want as many people as possible involved. However, I will be limiting the number of reviews of the book and it will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Also, because of the content in the book and the genre, it would help if reviewers are fantasy fans! So we get an even spread of coverage, each person involved will be allocated a date for their post to appear.

If you are interested in hosting on the tour please either leave me a message below or email me at carlie-c2011 AT hotmail DOT co DOT uk and put ‘Blog Tour’ in the subject line, stating which you would prefer to do. I will hold off advertising outside until Friday 7th September, so you’ll need to get back to me by then.

Finally, I wanted the unveiling of the cover to be exclusive to my lovely followers, so drum roll please …………..No, louder than that …………… (that’s better! lol)

Here it is:

I hope to hear from you very soon!

Reading #BlogFlash2012

Hi, today is Day 6 and the prompt for today is Reading. This is one of two subjects I could talk about for hours (writing being the other, of course), but as we’re limited to 100 words, I’ve tried to do something more creative with it. I hope you like it!

 

 

Reading

 

Damn! Another power cut. I’ve enough battery to continue writing on my laptop for an hour, but I really fancy reading.

 

One of my ideas of heaven!

 

I light some candles; positioned around the room they give it a glow, a warm ambience that electric light can’t compete with. I position a large candle by my chair and grab my book.

 

Vividly the scene comes to life by the beautiful descriptions

 

As I delve back into the exciting scene, my mind pictures the images the words create. The beautifully crafted descriptions allow me to wander, to immerse myself in the world on those precious pages, to relate to the characters and I lose myself for a while.

Immersed in the wonderful world created on the pages

 

Free Fiction – The Box

This very short story is another Flash Fiction piece, this one set at my writing group, WriteBulb. The scenario we were given was as follows: ‘Driving down a country lane you come across a box’.  The word limit was 500 for this piece. I decided to have a little fun with this story and I hope you find it amusing.

The Box

The car crawled up the shaded narrow road, the sun finding tiny fissures between the foliage and thin fingers of luminescence scorched small spots on the grass verge. As I progressed, something glinting just ahead caught my eye. I pulled the car onto the verge and alighted. Walking towards the source, I was amazed to see an intricately carved wooden box beside an ancient oak; the sun catching the metal latch and hinges. I felt strangely drawn to it and crouched down, running my fingers lightly over the carvings.

Curiosity drove me on; without hesitation, I flipped the latch and flung open the lid. Inside was a slightly smaller yet identical box. I opened that to find another identical box. It was like having a set of Russian dolls! I opened the third, fourth and fifth, finding what appeared to be a large egg inside. I pulled the decorated egg from the velvet lining, noticing it had a join around the middle and two arrows, one on each half.

Holding the bottom half steady, I twisted the top until the arrows lined up and almost dropped it in shock when the top flipped open and a white mist swirled out and took shape before me. Within thirty seconds a small man stood in front of me, only he wasn’t quite solid. I jumped back in astonishment; the creature chuckled at me in a deeper voice than should have been possible from someone so little.

“H-h-hi,” I spluttered.

“Hello, miss. What do you desire?” said the deep voice.

“Who are y-you?”

“My name is Egbert and I’m going to grant you a wish,” he said.

“Is this a joke?” my already stretched nerves grated.

“Oh no, miss, it’s no yolk,” he started to fall about laughing, “yolk, Eg-bert, get it?”

“Very funny!” I said with a sarcastic tone.

“Eggs-actly!” he called, doubling up, “you’re one amusing chick.”

I paused. Time to play along?

“Okay, old cock. Two can eggs-el at that game,” I giggled. He pursed his lips in displeasure.

“Eggs-iting! I’m not eggs-aggerating – I really want to grant your wish,” he countered.

“You are eggs-ceedingly annoying, do you know that?” I smirked.

He frowned. “That’s a tad eggs-cessive isn’t it?” a hurt tone in his voice.

“It’s so exhausting listening to you. What’s your fascination with eggs anyway?”

“Eggs-hausting? Ha, another good one. Anyway, why wouldn’t I love eggs? I live in one!” he grinned.

I shook my head; he was driving me crazy. “You need an exorcism – I’m sure you’re possessed.”

“Hahaha! Eggs-orcism? You get funnier by the second. I’m an eggs-pert at this and I’m still waiting for an eggs-otic wish from you!” he challenged.

“Can it!” I commanded.

“Sure,” he mumbled. “Do you want some eggs-amples?” now chuckling.

“You’re so exasperating!” I cried.

“Eggs-asperating? Love it! That’s eggs-ellent!” He fell about laughing.

I came to a decision.

“Okay, I’ll make a wish…”

He stared eagerly.

“I wish you’d get back in your damn egg!”

* * *

I really hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. As always, please feel free to comment. Oh, and by the way – Happy Easter!

Author Spotlight: Roger Grubbs (and A Fab Contest)

I have two, yes two, really special treats for you today (so make sure you read all the way to the end!); I’m so pleased to welcome Roger Grubbs, author of over 38 books, to my blog today.

Welcome, Roger. Could you please tell us when you started writing and where you get your inspiration from?

Actually I began my writing career in 1979 as a market analyst.  In order to get my information in the hands of my clients, I was forced to learn the art of writing.  The next step was to market my services.  To be truthful, copywriting helped boost my career.  That is one of the toughest things to write.  There is a limited amount of space and so much to tell in order for it to be successful.  I became interested in writing novels in 2008.  Since then, I have written thirty-eight books, some of which have not yet been released.  I find that editing is the most difficult process to do before releasing a novel.  Writing stories seems to be a breeze for me because I enjoy it.  I feel it shows because my readers like them too.  

What inspires me the most is ‘good’ winning out over ‘evil’.  I have seen a lot of injustices in the world, and because of that I choose to write about characters that are instrumental in bringing about justice.  This motivates me and is expressed throughout my works.  My readers generally love the endings of my stories and are ready to read another one of my books when they finish.  

I’m sure our readers would love to know, of all the books you have written, what is your favourite and why?

I’m sorry but I have trouble picking just one, but I will choose three of my favorites if that is okay with you.  The Twelve SEALs was written to create awareness about the global problem of human trafficking.  I have just finished the 5th book in that series.  A team of former Navy SEALs is bringing about justice for the victims.  Survival is another book that readers love.  The story is centered about two young people of different social circles that really like each other.  But because of peer pressure, they have been unable to have a relationship.  After being stranded on a desolate island, that barrier is broken down.  Still they have a problem with telling each other that they are in love.  I cannot tell you how that turns out; you will just have to read the story.  Be prepared for a surprise ending.  The third book that I consider one of my favorites is A Mountain’s Secret.  There are four major plots going on at the same time in this Adventure Series.  The book ends in dramatic fashion when a storm prevents Dr. Andrew Rogers and his two companions from leaving Mt. Ararat.  There is something strange about this mountain that holds its visitors captive.  It is a test of endurance.

I can understand how difficult it is to pick just one out of 38! I’m curious – have you based any of your characters on yourself?

I would have to admit there is a little bit of me in all of my main characters.  I determined long ago that the best way to live a successful life is to stand for truth, justice, and honor.  My goal is for my characters to be good role models for everyone, especially young people.  It really makes me feel good when they get involved with the characters and want to imitate what they see.  Once they do that, they will follow them in the series if there is one.  Some of my single titles are so strong that readers return to them over and over again.  It is nice to see them enjoying those stories and characters.  

If you were to give one tip to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Always consider the reader.  I consider the most important aspect of my novels to be presenting the story and characters in a way that will be entertaining and interesting.  I refuse to bore my readers.  That is one of the things that kept me from reading more during my younger days.  If our novels are not capable of keeping the reader involved, then do not release it.  Put it aside, and work on another one.  Most importantly, do not become discouraged.  It takes time for a new author to reach the level of notoriety.  Patience is the key.  

That’s great advice there!

Now I happen to know a couple of random things about you, like you go weak at the knees for homemade meatloaf and sweet tea with plain cake and fresh strawberries on the side, is that true?

Well, yes! My favorite meal of all time is something most may consider unusual, but I don’t mind at all because I am a country boy. My knees go weak just thinking of it. It would be a plate filled with meatloaf, fried potatoes, cold slaw, and iron skillet cornbread. To the side would be a bowl of piping hot dried northern beans, seasoned to perfection. Top that off with sweet iced tea, and you have a meal fit for a king. And for dessert, picture this: a big slab of homemade yellow cake with white frosting, piled high with luscious fresh strawberries, crowned with whipped cream. Now that is what I call a meal. Barring any unforeseen complications, I am always served this meal for my birthday, Father’s Day, anniversary, or any other special day my wife feels I deserve such a treat. When my beautiful wife (excellent cook) moved in the front door, the canned chili went out the back. It can’t get any better than that!

Sounds yummy! While we’re on the subject of things you like…what type of books do you like to read?

Not to sound boastful, but I have to be truthful.  All of my works are original.  When I have time to read, I love going back and picking stories from my own library.  Every time I do that, it seems like a new experience for me; and I really enjoy it.

I think that’s pretty cool actually. Now what is your favourite holiday and why?

While most holidays hold something special, Christmas would have to be at the top of the list.  I have even written a book entitled, “The Greatest Gift of All”.  The reason I like this holiday best is because it brings families together and encourages sharing.  It also provides opportunities for us to do something good for someone else.  The best way to do that is anonymously.  You will find that out by reading this novel.  

I must admit, Christmas is my favourite holiday too and for the same reasons as you.

Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your readers?

Readers are my reason for writing novels.  I respect you and want to make sure that you are not disappointed with my novels.  We have a stringent checklist that each one must pass before it is released.  If at any time it does not measure up, my readers will never see it.  They deserve the best and that is what I strive to provide.  I write books in a lot of different genres.  I encourage you to pick out one that is right for you.  If you do that, you won’t be disappointed.  Finally I want to thank my readers that keep coming back for more.  That is the greatest compliment any author could ever receive.  

Roger, thank you so much for visiting today and letting us get to know you a bit better. I wish you every success with SEALS III, Big Trouble in Aruba!

It was my pleasure, Carlie, and I consider it an honor to be featured in this interview. This is a great way for readers to get to know authors on a personal basis. I have found that once a person reads one of my books, they come back for more. It is a matter of more people finding me. The connection between me and my readers is personal, and this opens the door to meet new people. Thanks for your help!

Readers are very pleased with the SEALs Series. It is being used to create awareness concerning human trafficking. There will be two more installments in the near future to add to this series. If you get a chance, check out SEALs III – Big Trouble in Aruba. Most people will be surprised by what is revealed.

 EXTRA SPECIAL CONTEST

Roger and I have come up with an incredible opportunity for you:

To enter this contest you need to come up with a name and description of a hero or villain. You have a limit of 300 words. It has to be a person and not a fantasy or sci-fi creature.

The winning entry will have a choice of one of two of Roger’s latest books for free, personally autographed AND their character will be featured in Roger’s next book.

How awesome is that?

Email your entries to carliecullenWP@yahoo.com by midnight GMT on 7th April 2012. Please include your name, location and email address in your entry. Entries received without contact details will not be considered. The winner will be announced on this blog no later than 21st April 2012.

So go get creative peeps and GOOD LUCK!

BIO: Roger Grubbs is a Market Analyst and proud owner of Market Consultants. Born in Alabama and a graduate of Auburn University, he currently resides in Central Florida where he enjoys running his company and writing.  He is also the proud owner of his very own publishing company.  This is not just any book publisher, but one that puts the emphasis on the readers. 

The motivating factor behind Roger’s writings is to entertain his readers.  His motto is simple.  “I want my readers to be eager to continue the story, long for the ending, and – when the experience is over – be happy they took the time to read my book.”  After all, reading can and should be enjoyable.

Follow Roger on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RogerGrubbs

Limitations can be so liberating…

Today I’ve passed the keyboard to my good friend and amazing author, Connie J Jasperson and she shares with us why it’s so important to set boundaries. Take it away, Connie…

Limitations can be so liberating…

Good fantasy stories frequently involve magic, and you love good fantasy. You have this great idea for a story, and you want to tell it to the world. You sit at the keyboard and start pounding away, and the story just flows from your fingers. You are sailing, the story is flowing, and then suddenly you realize that Bart the Mage seems to have unlimited magic ability.

Well, I am here to tell you, that is no good because now there is no tension, no great ordeal for Bart to overcome. Bart can do anything!

Game over! End of story.

So now, it is at this point that you realize that you must create the ‘rules of magic’. I find it quite boring to read a book in which the author has never tried to imagine their own work beyond limitations of the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien, or Robert Jordan. Those are wonderful, riveting, fascinating worlds, but they have already been done! If all I want to do is expand on their work, that is fine, but I have to accept that at best it will be looked at as ‘fan fiction’ and not a true creation of my own. I rarely read fan fiction, and so I rarely write it!

I am an author, but I have a passion for reading.  I spend many hours each day reading the works of wonderful writers, reading on average 4 to 5 books a week. When each book is done I analyze what it was that I loved about that story, or conversely what I didn’t love.

My favorite authors are evenly divided among the most well known of the mainstream authors and also the not-so-well known indie authors. Along with memorable works of enduring quality, I often read books that don’t really work for me. I always seek out the indies, because with indie authors it is more of a gamble. You have the chance of stumbling across a real gem, although some books are just plain awful, poorly thought out and poorly edited. With those, it is tough to get past the first chapter.

Then there are the so-so books.  These are books that have such potential that I stayed with them despite the fact that they didn’t ring my bells. The reason why some books failed to please me was simple when I thought about it.  I kept waiting for the tension, waiting for the plot to thicken and it just never did. Everything was just too simple, too easy for the hero. Or, the magic just sort of happened and was not at all believable.

A great plot and great characters must be supported by a world that is fully believable.  For a world to be believable there must be limitations. That is also the first rule of magic.

I want each world that I read about to be unique, a new experience. With that in mind when I am writing, I try to tailor the magic to fit each world consistently.

Take Bart. He is a lowly journeyman mage, of average ability and intelligence. For a multitude of reasons he has decided that he must rid the world of Evil Badguy, a very powerful, very naughty wizard. Evil Badguy is very strong, and has great magic – but there are rules and so he is not omnipotent. Just as in real life, the antagonist must have a weakness and our protagonists now have the opportunity to grow and develop to their fullest potential. They will do this in process of finding and exploiting that weakness.

Now let’s say that Bart is a mage with offensive magic – maybe he can cast lightning at an enemy, or perhaps he can set fires with his magic. Can he also use magic to heal people? Can he heal himself? What are the rules governing these abilities and how do these rules affect the progress of the story? When it comes to magic, limitations open up many possibilities for plot development.

Let’s say that Bart can only reliably use one sort of magic. This is good, because now you have need for other several characters with other abilities. They each have a story which will come out and which will contribute to the advancement of the plot. Each character will have limits to their abilities and because of that they will need to interact and work with each other and with Bart whether they like each other or not if they want to win the final battle against Evil Badguy. This gives you ample opportunity to introduce tension into the story. Each time you make parameters and frameworks for your magic you make opportunities for conflict within your fantasy world, and conflict is what drives the plot.

What challenge does Bart have to overcome in order to win the day? Is he unable to fully use his own abilities? If that is so, why is he hampered in that way? How does that inability affect his companions and how do they feel about it? Are they hampered in anyway themselves? What has to happen before Bart can fully realize his abilities? Without rules, there would be no conflict, no reason for Bart to struggle and no story to tell.

Thus it is the limitations that you set on your characters that drive the plot.  In the field of epic fantasy, characters are often given great ability, and how the abilities are used is what makes the story interesting.  J. K. Rowling’s completely evil character, Voldemort has great ability, and great strength of will. He is so powerful that he is believed by all to be unbeatable.  But while he is extremely powerful, he is not omnipotent. These limitations are what allow an 11 year old boy to grow up to be Lord Voldemort’s most feared opponent.  The plots of all seven Harry Potter books revolve around the limitations of what the characters can do. How boring that would have been, if Harry Potter had been omnipotent from the outset and all of his adventures had consisted of him winning the day with little or no effort!

Now, the most important aspect of creating and designing the rules of magic for your world is to be consistent.  Do not make a habit of breaking those rules in the course of the story, because that reduces the believability of your story.  Let’s say that in chapter two Bart is unable to cast lightning while standing in a puddle of water. But wait! In chapter twenty-nine you have him drowning in a raging river and now he manages to fling a lucky lightning bolt at Evil Badguy, knocking him off a cliff.  Readers remember things like that, and it ruins the flow of the story.

It is true that I have read many brilliantly crafted books where the author broke their own rules of the use of magic, but they did it within certain restrictions that made the conflict believable. The way they did that was to set up conditions under which an exception to the rule was possible.  This added to the dimension of the story, and enhanced the flow of the story.

I hope that as writers you will think about the limitations of your worlds when you are creating them.  Those limitations are what shape the tales you are so passionate about telling. Believable boundaries are what make a story that is really just another rehashing of the old Good VS Evil into a memorable and beloved classic tale of valor and battles won at great cost and against great odds. That tale will inspire and enthrall the reader, and I will be eagerly waiting to read that tale!

Wow! Thank you so much, Connie, for taking over my keyboard today and sharing your insights and tips – this article is great for both writers and readers!

As always, I’d love to read your comments on this fab article!

Connie J JaspersonConnie J Jasperson lives and writes in rural Washington State.  She and her husband share five children, nine grandchildren and a love of good food and great music.  Connie has worked as a field-hand for a Christmas tree grower, a dark-room technician, a hotel maid, a bookkeeper and also ‘did time’ in the data entry pools of several large corporations.  She now is semi-retired and is writing and blogging full time. She is the author of the epic fantasy ‘Tower of Bones’ based in the fictional world of Neveyah, and ‘The Last Good Knight’, a medieval fantasy.  Currently in the works is another book based on the adventures of several characters in ‘The Last Good Knight’ and an epic fantasy, ‘Mountains of the Moon’ another tale of Neveyah. She can be found blogging at http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com or http://bestinfantasy.blogspot.com.

 

Check out Connie’s books on Amazon – they are AMAZING!!!

Last Good Knight

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Tower of Bones

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