Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Last week's blog was skipped because I've been so immersed in my latest project. Planet Of The Eggs - Cracked Open.
I'll be sharing a cover here very shortly, but until then, let me tell you a bit about the project.
I've teamed up with writer and illustrator Charlene Brash-Sorensen and we've come up with a pretty exciting new comic series that will launch soon.
Out of the mists of time on a world so very far away and so very different from our own a band of orphan eggs have been brought together by the Prophecy of the six. Encouraged by their guide and teacher Eight Hooter, Twilight, Nightfist, Smudge, Skink, Cyrus and Sala are awakened to a world at first beyond their comprehension, then rally to the cause.
In a world of mystics and magic, danger and betrayal the six orphan eggs embrace their destiny.
The series will launch shortly! Watch for it! And visit our Planet of the Eggs Facebook fan page to see what's coming next and give us a like. Keep watching, it's getting exciting!
And check out our Planet of the Eggs shop at Skreened
Monday, July 13, 2015
THE RULES FOR WRITING A NOVEL
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”― W. Somerset Maugham
It’s funny and it’s true. Of course I could get nit-picky and start talking about language and all the rules needed to write properly. I could go on about the mythology behind stories, story arcs, beats and how to construct one the ‘right way.”
But I won’t.
There must be some rules somewhere, but where? And you know what, why should we care?
After all, storytelling is as old as the human race. Look, of course we need some language rules in order to put our stories down on paper – or on the computer – and be understood. No argument, but really, the other rules are just what some people came up with to try to outline what it takes to write a story.
I’ve been asked many times for help by newer writers. How do you write your books? Where do you get your ideas? How do you write all those words? How do you cut what you’ve written when it’s so dear to you? What’s the structure of the novel as you understand it?
Wellllll, I’m pretty much a set-of-the-pants writer though I admit to having done some teaching. In person and online. In fact I have a romance writing course at UDEMY right now called Romancing Your Novel and in that class I provide hints and tips and direction along with encouragement, but no rules. Same for when I teach in person.
The truth of the matter is, there may be rules, but Somerset Maugham got it right, nobody knows what they are. Not really. Some act as great experts, but believe me, whatever rules there are are regularly broken as a new style, a new voice is heard from.
If you’re a reader you know it well. You try a new writer, find a new voice and you’re in love all over again.
If you’re a writer you know it just as well – and for the same reasons – in addition to many more. A new style emerges. A new crossing of genres appears. You like reading it. You love writing it. Your writing evolves as time passes and times change. Life is change. That’s what it’s all about.
So, those rules, wherever they are, can stay there. My reading and writing tastes will change. That’s okay. And I’ll come across some of those rules along the way, probably take a bit of time to understand them, then promptly break them.
That’s just the way it is.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Need ideas for a story? Just like to learn weird stuff? Like to read fascinating facts? This is your place - the Amazing Fact generator. Our site for the week. Go ahead, you know you want to - go over and see what facts you can dig up.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
This week I'm posting a sample of my romance novel Cloud Dancer. It's laced through with history in the southwest US in a time before the 'wild west'; a time when the Native Americans were beset by the arrival of the Spaniards. It was a time of culture clashes and war and it was great fun researching and writing this novel, one of my favorites to date.
Cloud Dancer has gotten some nice reviews and 5 star ratings on Amazon.
Enjoy the sample!
Cloud Dancer has gotten some nice reviews and 5 star ratings on Amazon.
Enjoy the sample!
November 30, 1598
Beneath the vast expanse of the shimmering blue sky, Juan de Zalvidar and his thirty soldiers rode hunched against the biting cold of the New Mexican winter. The wind, relentless, blew out of the east. The rhythmic scrape and thud of the horses' hooves was a familiar sound of comfort to the men as were the soft jingling of bridles and the clank of armor. There were no clouds this day, but already in days past the men had seen white patches along the river, and the smell of snow was upon the air.
As he rode at the head of the column, Juan de Zalvidar's stature and carriage easily marked him as the leader. At twenty-eight, his air of authority floated about him like a cloak; there would be none who would dispute it. He and his brother, Vicente, had already done much to explore and begin to tame this wild land. They were backed by the power of their uncle, Governor Onate.
Juan's thoughts strayed as he rode. His tanned face creased in a smile as he remembered the tales his younger brother, Vicente, had told of his own attempts to capture the buffalo herds in cottonwood corrals built near a river. Vicente had returned after fifty-four days of travel to and from the buffalo plains with none of the beasts. When Juan had taken his leave of his brother, setting out with his thirty soldiers to reinforce their uncle in the west, Vicente had still been good- naturedly swearing that he would not give up so easily; he would try again to capture the buffalo.
Putting aside the thoughts of his brother, Juan turned to the young soldier at his side. "We will reach the pueblo of Acoma soon. There we will get corn for our horses and meat for us. The people of these pueblos raise turkeys in great numbers. We may even have a feast!"
His companion chuckled against the chattering of his teeth. "I relish food in my belly," he admitted, "but I relish even more the thought of being warm once again! I will barter for blankets and firewood as well! There is so damned little of it in this godforsaken country. I want a large, roaring fire. How these people can manage with such tiny fires to warm their homes I don't know!"
"They are used to this miserable cold," Juan de Zalvidar pointed out, bowing his head against the chilly breeze that had suddenly sprung up out of the north at cross-purposes with the wind from the east. "They were born here. They were not softened and spoiled by the gentler climes to the south," he said with wry amusement at his own discomfort as well as that of his men.
He could afford to laugh, for soon they would know full bellies and warmth again. The Pueblo peoples were tame Indians, who would provide all that was needed. The king of Spain had ordered his armies not to steal from the simple natives, but to trade instead, so Zalvidar's party had brought along plenty of items, hatchets being of particular appeal, to negotiate with the Indians.
But the Pueblos had recently begun to balk at trade. At first they had been open and friendly with the Spanish, but now they seemed reluctant to give up their corn, deerskins or blankets. Still, Juan was not worried. Should it become necessary he had a great enough force with him to take what was needed from the Indians. After all, the king of Spain was not riding at the head of a column of cold, hungry soldiers.
These Pueblo Indians were easy to manipulate or coerce. Onate's colony had arrived too late in the year to build or plant in preparation for winter, so the colonists had traded for and taken what they needed from the Indians. Already they had dispossessed almost the whole pueblo of San Juan to obtain shelter from the bitter cold of the New Mexican winter. A few of the Indians of San Juan had stayed, making themselves useful in carrying wood and water for the colonists in exchange for being allowed to remain in their homes.
Juan knew that his uncle had stopped at Acoma on a past exploratory trip; the Kere of Acoma had been no more difficult than the other Pueblo Indians. And while Juan had no intention of bullying the natives unnecessarily, he and his men would have what they required to continue their trip to meet Governor Onate at Zuni.
"There!" The soldier beside Juan jabbed his finger in the direction of a great rock in the distance, thrusting into the sky. "There is Acoma! Soon we will be there."
Juan laughed. "Distances are deceiving here, my friend. We will camp tonight at the foot of Acoma. Tomorrow we will climb to the heights and obtain our supplies."
A wave of curiosity, excitement and apprehension swept through the Pueblo of Acoma when the report came that Spanish soldiers could be seen at the foot of the mesa. For months they had talked, planning what they would do if the Spanish arrived again demanding the food and blankets that the people of Acoma could ill spare with the long winter still ahead.
Standing with many of the Kere, Cloud Dancer peered down from the heights at the strangers. "They have come again," she said to her sister, Woman of the West Wind, who stood by her side. "I had hoped they would not."
Her sister nodded slowly in agreement. "I think we all hoped they would not come again." She touched Cloud Dancer on the arm. "Come, we must move away from here. Chief Zutucapan and the men will handle the Spanish, and they have said we should not stay outside."
Cloud Dancer nodded her agreement, but found she felt more than a little reluctance to be tucked away in a kiva or hidden inside one of the mud houses. Why must they always do what the men decided? She sighed and quashed the rebellious thought, returning with her sister to their home.
Both daughters approached their mother in respectful sience as they entered, for she was working the clay. Woman of the Willows smiled her greeting, her hands moving swiftly, dexterously about their chore, smoothing and shaping the clay into a vessel of great fineness and beauty. It was the Kere custom to work the clay in silence with respect for the spirit that it contained.
When Woman of the Willows finished, setting the pot aside to dry, Cloud Dancer informed her quickly, "The Spanish have returned."
Woman of the Willows's eyes darkened and her mouth set in a tight, grim line. Her eyes went to the small doorway open to the outside, searching. "Your father will be with the others. We must remain here."
"But what are they going to do?" Cloud Dancer demanded, forgetting her woman's place in her agitation.
Woman of the Willows smiled indulgently at her younger daughter. Cloud Dancer always had been the impatient one, always questioning, never satisfied with the way things were. "Your father has said it was decided we would give no more supplies to the Spanish. We will trade with a few old blankets and skins if they so desire, but they will have no cornmeal, pumpkin, pine nuts or other important stores. If we trade those, our people will go hungry when the deep snow comes. If the Spanish demand what we cannot willingly give, our men will attack."
Cloud Dancer's face glowed. Her older sister's paled.
"Good!" Cloud Dancer exclaimed. "The Spanish must be taught they cannot take whatever they wish from us."
"It is very dangerous," Woman of the West Wind murmured.
"It is very dangerous," her mother agreed.
**And if you'd like a bit more of a sample, head on over to Amazon and read a larger sample for free.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Very helpful for readers and writers alike - One Look Dictionary Go ahead, go check it out.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Movie of the Summer
Okay, it’s summer, and what’s the movie we’re all watching? I’d dare to guess, JurassicWorld. There are rabid fans and there are the detractors.
But even with a few plot holes we can drive a truck through (such as, as pointed out by my comic writing niece, Corinna Bechko, kids piloting the rolling bubbles unsupervised and the fact that said bubbles would be rolling through dino poo) let’s face it, most of us love it.
And somebody(s) wrote it. Apparently there’s a dispute over writing credits for Jurassic World and the WGA arbitration panel ruled credit is to be shared by two writing teams. First the credit was given to director Colin Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly (and of course the original Michael Crichton gets a ‘based on the novel by’ credit). But then there was the dispute as Rick Jaffa and Amada Silver, a husband-and-wife team who’d written an earlier draft of the script were deemed to share credit with a ‘screenplay by’ credit. The dispute isn’t over though as Trevorrow and Connolly are appealing on the basis they wrote an entirely new screenplay that wasn’t based on the original draft by Jaffa and Silver.
I have no intention on weighing in on who’s right, but there you are, the writer’s life.
Be that as it may, why do we love it so much (despite the ‘holes’ and glitches)? I doubt that question can be thoroughly answered, but come on, we love dinos. And on top of that the truth is we want to see said dinos chasing people (and occasionally eating them). Don’t we all have someone we’d love to put in a dino’s path? Don’t we all love excitement and danger in 3D when we can immerse ourselves and not actually be there, but feel like we are?
Works for well-written books as well. Readers love to be drawn into the story, to become part of it. There are books like the Special Edition Junior Novelization of Jurassic World
and a Jurassic World book claiming it brings dinosaurs to life and I guess it sorta does using an app that lets the user move the dinos and make them bigger, etc.
It’s all escapism and fun. It’s why we have always loved story-telling in all of its many forms from earliest times. It’s what writers and creators do; write scripts and books and create worlds (whether common or very uncommon) for us all to get lost in.
Hey, there's even a Jurassic World Monopoly (how does that work?) And if you're really into it, toys galore.
So if you’re a writer, get busy creating those worlds. If you’re a reader and movie-goer, enjoy!