Getting back into the saddle


As a lot of you know I have been blocked lately. Having trouble writing is nothing new. Everything author goes through times like that. I have gone from writing pages and pages a day down to years between. This time it was not so much life and kids blocking me but a lack of drive for a lot of things. Yesterday I sat down and I am happy to say Loralil has finally started talking to me again.

As my oldest character there are so many tales that she has to tell but she gets a wee bit stubborn from time to time about the details of these tales. Well yesterday I managed to get almost up to 11K words in her newest tale.

This picks up just months after the end of Revenge and as I have said before it is not as action heavy (so far) as it was before. I am at the moment trying to decide if I will stop this story when she reaches the Grey elven city or if I will just keep going. I have two parts. A Fragile Peace is the story and the first part is Found…the second is Broken and it takes place fifteen years later. So most likely this will be two stories, either novella length or novel, we will see.

Now one of the things that is helping is I finally did a rough map of Loralil’s world. Okay really just of the Kingdom that she is currently in. Based very roughly on my old home state I have three mountain ranges, Three rivers, a massive forest, A inland sea, a fen, a swamp and various town and cities. I haven’t detailed things like the grasslands and plains between the other places. The fun part is after the research I did on how fast you normally travel via horseback or with a pony cart I can estimate how long travel will take from place to place.

This is important folks. Even when you write fantasy like I do, you need to do your research. Writing stories set in the horse and buggy times travel will take so much longer than you realize. Never mind fun things like what type of horse could carry a Minotaur! (Yes in my fantasy world Minotaurs and intelligent farmers who rider horseback…on those huge draft horses that are practically extinct in our modern world.

Also one of the things I will be working on today is a cover for an erotic fantasy that I will be releasing. Now this is not light on the erotic side. There is a lot of steamy sex before I even introduce the true fantasy elements in this tale. I do plan on doing a bunch of these, not a tale type for the general reader of my work. I have written a lot of erotica that is either sweet or very wild. I have a very small following for those tales and I will be putting them out as I get them edited to completion. If you are looking for something hot and steamy with a touch of fantasy elements, then this will be for you. The title is “It was a Dark and Stormy night”” Yes a cliche but it works in the story.

Another thing I am looking at doing is some free complete stories over on either my website or on Wattpad. I have not seen a lot of attention over there, so I am hoping to get some attention for my work.

Back to diversity research


This morning I spotted an interesting video on facebook about the changing face of male beauty around the world. Yes I said male. We all want to have a good looking, sexy male in our book to bring in the readers. But back to the video. In this they went through countries around the world and showed what was the current trend in the various countries. Every one of them was buff, mostly hairless on their chests/bellies and had thick hair, mostly dark and yes most of them are lighter of skin tone. Though there was more diversity than you would expect. The ones from India, South Korea and Nigeria were interesting to me.

Now for the research part. You see after watching the video, getting tired of all the comments that I see online and on tv, I wanted to see just what is the biggest racial group and this is what I found. It isn’t white (we knew that). it isn’t black (no matter what they say), it isn’t Latino (really folk it isn’t), the largest racial group in the world with 18% of the over 7Billion people on this plaent, is Han Chinese! The old rumor of the Chinese taking over the world from when I was growing up is close to true if you look at the numbers. The next largest group is those of Indian (from India that is) descent. So the two biggest groups are of the Asian world.

Now I have written characters who were of Japanese descent, native American descent, a few of African descent and a lot of course of Irish/Scottish (my own personal racial group). We do write what we know of course. I write characters that I want to read.

My question for reader this week is what do you want to read? When it comes to a hero does he need to be tall, dark and handsome? Have a square jaw, 12 pack of abs and more muscles than brains? Or can we do real men? Ones who might be short or thin or fat, pale or darker ?

The links for the research I did are these

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_world

http://www.queerty.com/heres-how-the-male-standard-of-beauty-changes-around-the-world-20150319?utm_source=bb82&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=malebeauty&ts_pid=2&ts_pid=2   This is the video

Getting stuck


Every writer goes through times when we get stuck. Some call it writer’s block and stop writing. Others move on to something different. We are all different and all have ways to cope.

Generally I move back and forth between things when I get stuck. If one character won’t tell me where the story is supposed to go I move onto another. Problem is that for the past month I seem to be stuck period.

I am hoping that things will loosen up again. I have some story things moving around in my head. A set of two different new characters and stories that might go somewhere but just not sure where.

Now this tiny bit is part of a post end of the world tale. Most of the stuff I have been watching seems to take place right after the world crashes. This is obviously from much later.

***

It’s been ten years since everything collapsed. The old world ended pretty messily.
There were monsters of mankind’s making, both living and dead. Things were pretty bad for a long time, but nothing can last forever.

While the big cities had turned into wastelands or war zones, there were still places out in the world that were barely touched by the madness that had descended. Places that had been hidden so well that they looked like a part of the natural world around them.

***

Now this one I actually have six pages of but here is the first two paragraphs of a new urban fantasy tale with an elder protagonist.

***

They say that the talent for magic appears at puberty. That the strongest practitioners would show signs from birth that they will be great and powerful. They tell you that if you have not shown ability by the time you graduate high school that you might as well just become an accountant.

I showed no sign of that gift. At puberty I was too busy helping to care for my younger siblings to even take the tests. When I graduated high school it was decided that I should marry and pass on my genes to another generation. So I started having babies, one every two years till I had six children to care for, all girls. A regular stay at home wife and mother and expected to stay that way.

***

Just two little bits from my most current WIPs.  Now hopefully I can get them to move on.

Diversity in writing and research


Okay something has been bothering me a bit lately. There is a huge hue and cry about diversity in writing lately. That we as writers are not doing our job by writing diverse characters in our books. That we need to write less white characters and more of everything else.

Now as a writer who put characters in my books of all kinds this had me thinking for a bit if I was doing enough. Guess what? I am.

I decided to pull up the most recent census data for both the US and Canada. Why both? Well I am an American living in Canada so it made sense right? When it comes to my home country the figures surprised me a bit. The break down of races in the US is a lot less than people try to tell you. I have put more diversity in my books than there really are in the US.

Well you see in the US 77% of the population is that dreaded color, white (yeah like me) so it is 23% that breaks down the rest of the wonderful colors of people who live in the states. The black, the brown, the yellow and the red…or more accurately those of Asian decent, African descent, Latino or Hispanic descent and of course those of Native descent.

In Canada, my adopted country, the break down is even most white. In fact if you look at the breakdown the next largest group is those of Native decent. Interesting because Canada seems more racially diverse when you look at the shows and news.

In most cases when you are reading a book the character’s clothing is described but not always their face. You have no idea if the character is a beautiful caramel skinned goddess or so pale that they glow in the dark (my skin tone!)

If we go on to describe our characters in our books, it is because we want you to see the character as we see them. From the rich mahogany of her skin to the deep sapphire of his eyes we want you to see our character.

Now for other diversities. Yes, most characters I write are straight. It is what I know and of course we write what we know. Writing LGBT characters takes research to get right. I want them to be right, not a caricature of what I think they are. I will work toward good ones I hope.

But what about those who are not as physically able? Now in my work I have a lot of action, so I haven’t yet written a handicapped character but that will be coming. As a writer who is slowly growing older I am finding my joints are stopping me from doing things I want to do. This will help me write but like everything, I will need more research so as to not insult those who are less physically able than I am.

And finally there are two types of diversity that we don’t see enough of. That of strong characters who are neither sexy/thin or under the age of 35. I admit I have fallen into the trap of writing a lot of characters that are around 25-40 and are all in the sexy/buff build.  We write them because we want our books to sell but since I mostly don’t write romances why should I do this? I mean what is wrong with a strong big bodied woman who happens to be a grandmother?

I think there is an audience out there that would be glad to read about that woman. So why not write her? It couldn’t do worse than any other of my books right?

Try doing this readers and writers, put in a character that is not common to your work and really write them. Don’t just make them the background, make them your main character. Don’t make them a teenager in an adults body. Write a nicely rounded adult character with all the wisdom that they earned by making it to adulthood and even grandparenthood.

Who Is – Lisa Williamson?


Originally posted on Ch'kara SilverWolf:

Today I bring you my friend Lisa Williamson.  A talented author with several different genres, all terrific.  She is also a fantastic cover artist.

Lisa Williamson

Lisa Williamson is a writer of odd cross genre fictional stories. With dozens of short stories, novellas and novels her fantastic worlds span the genres of fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction, erotica and horror.

Her first publication was in the beginning of the Ebook movement with a short story and poetry collection from the 1990s. Writing in themes of self discovery, she mixes myths and legends from various cultures with a mystical bent. No matter that genre there will be a touch of romance, a sprinkle of nontraditional religions and a dash of enlightenment. He stories strive to let the reader open their mind to the wonder of the world around and within us.

Born and raised in Nashua, New Hampshire, she is currently living…

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Another week and just how much action does a book need?


Well I am finally getting moving on with Fragile Peace. The past week had me thinking how much action does a novel need?

Depending on the type of novel there is a large amount of leeway when it comes to action. I have had a few reviewers tell me that I had too much and others saying I did not have enough. So the balance is important.

In the case of action, genre plays a huge part. What would seem too much for a romance would be too little in military novel. A space tale needs things that a comedy would not. And that is all well and good but what is too much for a fantasy novel and what is too little?

I generally try to put in three action sequences in a novel. Yes I have put in more but i try not to do less. These sequences are what help the novel move along with a solid pace and style. In fantasy we have the luxury of doing both weapons action and magic action. Depending on the type of fantasy you are doing the weapons action can be very different.

Research is the key to getting things right. Writing scenes with a single character fighting lets you focus on style. Does your hero/heroine fight with a sword? A pair of daggers? A staff? Or something other?

I have written mostly sword or staff wielding characters. This comes from some personal experience but mostly from doing my due dilligence and researching. Things like anime, movies, tv shows help in ways you can use. Watching them will let you know how the bodies should move but one thing you need to do is research the weapons you plan on using. Knowing how much a sword ways or what side the edge of a blade has.  It makes fora more believable tale if you make sure that your character is using their weapon correctly. Having a five foot tall thing woman wielding a six foot battle axe might seem like something interesting but it it just is not at all realistic.

Now you might say realistic? This is fantasy, we don’t need no realistic! Well you do. If you want to have more than a handful of people reading your tales, you need to keep things close to realistic.

So if you can’t watch real sword fights there are a lot of resources out there. One of the best in my opinion is the SCA or the society for creative anachronism. This group is a bunch of people recreating and acting out things like sword fights and tournaments. While they are not in most cases using live steel they are doing actual sword fights. By watching them or even participating, you will get an idea how to move and how to write your action.

If you can’t find one of these groups then try going to a local dojo. If you ask them most will allow you to watch the classes. Some might even let ask questions. the more advanced classes will be using weapons like staves or the staff if you don’t know the word.

So make sure your action is believable and make sure you don’t over due it. While a lot of battles can be interesting to a same group, too many will leave you with no place to take your characters. Balance out your action and your development and you will have a very good tale.

Who Is – Will Macmillan Jones?


Originally posted on Ch'kara SilverWolf:

Today I bring you my friend and fellow author Will Macmillan Jones, he has a wide range of writings and I highly recommend you check them out.

Will Macmillan Jones

A fifty something lover of blues, rock and jazz, I have recently fulfilled a lifetime ambition by extending my bookcases until they fill an entire wall of my home office.

When not writing short stories, I am busy with my major comic fantasy series, The Banned Underground, released by Safkhet Publishing. Starting with The Amulet of Kings and The Mystic Accountants, then running on to The Vampire Mechanic, Bass Instinct and The SatNav of Doom, the books are written as stand alone works and can be read in any order. Described by a reviewer for Awesome Indies as ‘like one long Monty Python skit’ they contain beer, pizza and an enviable joke count.

Also on the way is a paranormal series starting…

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How about we look at writing Irish?


Okay I know but today is St Patrick’s Day and all things Irish are getting their due. While we have things like Black History month and Hispanic Heritage month, those of us of Irish descent have only a day and it is a day for drunken revelry? Please!

As my readers know I am of Scot-Irish descent. Basically that means that in my family history a man from Scotland married a woman from Ireland. Yup, that is what we know. But because of that I have always been interested in Irish (and Scottish) folklore and characters.

Now it is most obvious in my book, The Traveler, which I am putting on discount starting today for the next month. I have Enya, a girl with a wee bit of a brogue and a Pooka. Pookas for those of you who don’t know are a type of fae. In specific they are a shapeshifting horse fae that has many different legends attached to them. The most common is their power to attract riders, use their magic to stick said rider to their back so that they could drown them.

Now I did not have my Pooka do that of course. The Traveler is a fantasy romance novel that I consider light and sweet. It is no where near as dark as my Loralil books but it does have the traditionally needed battle scenes and prophecy.

Now if you decide to write Irish characters you can’t just throw a bit of a brogue into the speech pattern of your characters. You need to remember that this very rich culture has many different creatures that have been used in fantasy and are greatly misinterpreted even today. Do your research.

One of the places I have on the computer for a go to is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_mythology

Of course you can just go to your search engine and type in Irish mythology or Irish myths and Legends. Now like everything on the web make sure you hit up more than one resource. You want as complete an idea as you can get.

One thing that might be fun is to look up the irish tartans. Yes I said Irish ones. A little known fact is that the Scottish are not the only people who had clan plaids. Now this is a bit harder to research but it will give your character a bit more of distinction. Even if you are writing an urban fantasy and only have your character wearing a tie or a scarf you will be adding a touch to make your story richer.

Back to work…or damn I got interrupted


As a mom and writer finding the peace and quite I need to get on a roll can be hard. Generally I am actually looking forward to Monday’s simply because my family goes off to their weekly things. The hubby is at work and the daughter goes to school, leaving me with peace and quiet till the renter gets up. Well since she is off visiting her boyfriend this week I expected to have a full six hours with no one to interrupt the flow.

I was doing all fine and good, getting about 1200 words typed up when I got the call from the school to go get the kid. And bam…there went my muse. She is still pounding on my head (yeah that is why I get headaches right?) but the flow has been interrupted.

Trying to get Loralil on her way toward the hidden GreyElf city of Tal’sin is hard enough. I am trying to decide where to toss in some action since right now I am dealing mostly with the fallout of the death of her uncle.

Now why is this important? Well as Loralil is the main character of my classic fantasy tale I need action. I need to keep moving things along, so to speak. Now if I was still doing tabletop gaming with her I would roll dice and throw in some random monsters, but should I do that? One thing you don’t want in a book is to hear the dice rolls.

But what I really need to do is to make up an actual map of Loralil’s world. Unlike urban fantasy, classic fantasy needs to have a map to help you estimate how long it will take for your characters to go from place to place. In a world that is run on magic and horsepower the average distance you could be expected to travel would be about 30 miles a day depending on the road conditions and terrain. So again a map would be a good thing. To work out the topography and little things like would there be inns and villages or are you moving through swamp, forest, hills. These things are important if you want a tale that doesn’t seem shallow.

So while i have 4300 words right now I can’t go too much further forward without a decent map. While i have had Loralil travel in the two books so far, she is going in a different direction and this is not a quest trip so far. Right now she is traveling with the mage and healer who have been caring for her since her uncle’s death. So a slow pace most likely with no really change of pace. No galloping for the fun of it as I have the healer driving a small cart which is another thing to research to see how they travel.

Once I get the map and research figured out I can move forward to the city of Tal’sin. It is a mountain city, much like Mer’Beryl was. Very different from the high elf city of course. Where the High elves are more like you would expect a Tolkien elf to be, the grey elves are artisians and healers. They build cities that blend into their environment and live deep into the mountains in pocket valleys.

Here is hoping I can find what I need and get this novel going. I have other parts ready…once i get this transition done.