Over this weekend the indie writers community suffered a sad loss. James Anderson, a writer of newspaper thrillers and childrens tales passed away.. A long time newspaper man, he had developed an interesting world in his writing. Stories that dealt with the headlines but set in Canada. Most thrillers I have read have been set either in the US or the UK, so these were very interesting reads for a person new come to Canada.
When I first dipped my toes into the world of self publishing James was there with an encouraging word and even a review of one of my first published short stories. He had a sense of humor and a gentle heart that mentored me and many other writers through those tough and scary days of starting a writing career.
I first found him over on the Amazon discussion group The Wordsmyth. A great group of fantasy and science fiction readers and writers who take in every type of writer or reader. We all would talk about many things. James was usually right there with us talking about writing, about his grandkids and about life. He will be greatly missed.
Yesterday I wrote a poem, which I shared on my facebook page but I thought I would put it up here for those of you who don’t follow me on facebook.
A Master storyteller
So much to so many
Learned you passed
Suddenly you were gone
And you left a hole behind
In the hearts of all you touched
You taught us courage
Taught us how to use words
Kindly shepparded the new
Till we found our feet
Now we sit stunned
So close you were
Yet now so far
You will be missed
I know my poetry doesn’t really follow rules but it is heartfelt and I hope gives comfort to those who read it. We will miss you James. May your words continue to inspire new readers and new writers.
Now I will probably work on more than one thing at a time, like always but I decided it was time to work on the second book of the Chaos Wars series. This is my attempt at end of the world horror. Didn’t do too well but then none of my books do that well right? But for those of you who like what I write, THANK YOU! I plan on continuing to write, even if I only have a handful of readers. Here is the first chapter (most of it) of this book.
Sitting on a bench in the middle of a deserted park, her long hair floating on the gusting winds, Jessica sighed. Once this place had brought her pleasant memories. Days walking through the trees, hand in hand with her lover or sitting out on the grass, a child by her side. Now she saw simply the ghosts that flitted about, lost in the darkness.
She looked down at her watch and stood. It was an hour past the time for the Meet. Something was wrong, she could feel it in her bones. It was not like either of them to be late, never mind be this late. She closed her eyes and sent her senses outward.
Blocking out the world about her, she searched for the two she was intimately connected to. Her range, not as strong as theirs, but more accurate, limited her search to a few blocks; she could just feel something at the edge of her awareness, like a flash of rage. That had to be him and she opened her eyes. The darker than night eyes narrowed as she heard furtive movement coming toward her, something thinking she was an easy snack.
The feel of the being sneaking toward her was that of one of the new breed of predators. She knew if she turned and looked, she would see what should be just a young man, a junkie or some type of small time hood, but her senses were tuned higher than that. There was no way the creature had any idea just what it was attacking, it was just looking for easy prey. A woman with white hair had to be old, or so it thought, and in this world old meant easy prey.
Standing relaxed under her long coat, her hair snapping out in the wind that was building before the false dawn, Jessica waited. When the creature reached out hands that ended in long claws, she spun bringing her foot up and around. Her hands moved up from her waist and stabbed toward the eyes as her foot slammed with more force than it looked possible for her to deliver into its side. The creature crumpled with a moan and she flicked white stuff off the long, silver painted nails that extended past the cut fingers of her gloves.
She stood over the moaning creature and debated. She should kill it, but it was against her basic nature. She had done things in the past to survive, but she never attacked once the foe was down. She turned on her heel and strode away, the tails of her faded black leather trench coat flapping in the wind. “Let the dawn take it,” she said to the ghosts about her. It was far from likely that the night dweller would make it back to its lair before the sun rose. The loss of its eyes would hamper it and the liquid she had painted on her nails would insure those eyes did not regenerate. She might not be a stone cold killer, but she was not stupid either.
At the other side of the park things were a bit more active. This side led out toward the last of the colleges whose doors were still open. And like students from all time, the students at this college did dumb things. They held parties just near the gate of the haunted park. They would dare each other to spend the night at the gates or even in the park.
The few who took up that offer were never the same and the one or two who entered the park never returned. The college administrators had come to think of it as a weeding out of those who had not the ability to survive in the harsh new world that had dawned with the new millennium.
It was not the end of the world like the religious thought, the planet going down in fire and brimstone. Nor was it the crash of technology, as the companies had feared when the Y2K bug was discovered. It was both simpler and more horrifying.
One night, years before, a gate had been opened. Unintentionally the door had been opened letting into the calm, normal world of the first days of the 21st century creatures from the collective unconscious. Ghosts, goblins, werewolves and vampires; every dark being out of nightmare had sprung up out of a single man’s pain and loss.
The first wave of creatures overwhelmed the simple men and women of the world. Those who could not believe died quickly, food for the hungry new owners of the cities. Humanity’s overcrowded cities became tombs almost over night. The more advanced the society and its toys, the faster it all collapsed. It was hard to fight something that did not show in all the fancy high tech devises. They did not believe in science and science did not believe in them. It took the old ways to kill them. Hands and knives and poisons were the tools that stopped the darkness from taking over the pockets of humanity left in the one time most powerful nation on the planet.
The latest group of college kids who decided to party at the gates of the city were a bit rougher than the kids of the previous century, but they were easily identified as college kids. The jackets most wore would have been team jackets for some football team in the ’90s, but now they were a mark that this group could be left out during the night.
They had their bottles of cheap liquor and a roaring fire. Most of the kids lounged about, in relative relaxed poses. Drinking and grappling with the opposite sex as college kids have for centuries, they still had one or two who were on guard, watching for anything that could be construed as danger.
It was with a gleam of white teeth that the tenor of the party changed. One student looked up, freezing as a large figure loomed in the darkness. The strangled sounding gasp brought up the heads of the partying kids and then all hell broke loose.
Blades whipped free of sleeves and coats and others took up protective stances over their less ready friends. It was too little and too late for the two guards. The first came crashing into the firelight, his throat torn out. There was but one short scream to pierce the night air before the killing really began.
As of Saturday I released the third of the Saga of Loralil Greyfox books. I seem to be slowing down in my publishing. While I do have a bunch of other finished titles, the lack of interest in my work has me rethinking things. Putting up everything is a lot of work.
Now it could be the weather making me tired. The end of summer is brutal on a lot of us. While many seem to love the heat and humidity, love having an excuse to go lie on a beach and soak up sun, that is very far from me. I only go out in the morning, early, if I can help it. Or it could be that sales have fallen more than flat. I had all of one sale last month. That is the worse month since I started publishing. But I decided that you know what? No matter how slow my sales are, I have a ton of stories to tell. I will continue to put them out. If they sell, they sell. If they don’t, they don’t.
I had a young woman on Twitter decide to tell me that the reason my work doesn’t sell is the covers. Now I know that that particular comment is only partially true. I have covers that run the gambit from awful to amazing. If it was just the cover things like Escape, Fall Into Nightmares and To Save Face or Family, should have sold hand over fist. The covers on those three novels are professional quality, the stories are really good (If I say so myself!) and the price is not too high. But when you look at the biggest seller, Ice, you see a cover that is one of my photographs. Never let another author tell you that you need to use their tricks to strike it big. In this case her genre is a hot one, so selling is almost a no brainer. I say almost because no genre is an easy sell in today’s market.
But back to my release! While this is not the best cover out of my collection of them, it works in the series. The colors are different, yes, but the fonts are the same and the image is close. I think what is more important than a cover, is the blurb. Now that I could use help with! Blurbs are what draw me in as a reader. Yes, a cover can draw my eye, but I have passed by many great covers because the blurb was CRAP. When I get my daily emails of new titles, I don’t even look at the covers, I look at the title, does it interest me? If yes, then I read the blurb. If it is a good one, I get the book. Covers for me as a reader are candy. They can be good, they can be bad but they don’t decide me. Not that I don’t try to put up great covers.
Okay I have babbled about this long enough. What you want is the link for A Fragile Peace right? After all it is the next great story in the series.
The other e-retailers are still being processed but it will be up all over soon.
Lately there is a huge debate about white and black, about male and female and about who has culture and who doesn’t. As a writer of fantasy and science fiction I couldn’t honestly care less about the distinctions that are so popular between peoples. No that is not so true. It is the important for so many and can be dealt with in many ways but the culture I am referring to is more culture in small letters, versus CULTURE.
Each and every one of us has things that we spend our time on. Be it an overwhelming need to see a sports team reach the top or to follow a band or a tv show, we all have it. In today’s world we find lots of way to come together and out of those ways we develop cultures.
As a writer of fantasy I have been a part of the fantasy culture for a while. I read all kinds, I listen to music based on fantasy, watch tv shows and movies that are fantasy based (okay I also do SF), I write fantasy, I draw and sculpt dragons and I talk to all those who do the same.
When we learn to set words to the page was are all told to write what we know. and as writers we need to realize that by telling a story we need to include a lot more than man versus man or man versus world. We need to put in things that make them tick.
Recently I have been taking a little break from working while I try and figure out a cover for my next book and I have picked up reading books from my favorite authors. Now Charles de Lint is one of the authors who tells stories that made me want to tell my own. When it comes to culture, he has tons of it in every book he writes.
In Medicine Road he mixed Bluegrass musicians with native spirit creatures. We get to see walking and talking mysths, magic and music. Without most of us realizing it deLint uses his words to teach us about beliefs from the deep southwest and the backwoods of the mountains. He writes with an understanding of how mucic binds people together, how beautiful the so called badlands are and how important it is for us to understand that meddling with peoples hearts and minds, no matter how well intentioned, will effect others.
I have done my due diligence in my novels by researching things. I have written characters who have more than a taste of other cultures. From Asian to African to Native, I try to give honest tellings of the cultures that I use. I put in music and magic and art if I can.
Writing about how people react to things is the hardest part because we want our characters to act and react like we expect but we need to include what we can for background. Making our characters real comes from adding things like are they a part of fandom or even something as simple as a book club.
In the Mystery of Grace, deLint has a character who is latina at her base but she is so much more. She is a mechanic, a woman who has a real love of old classic cars, something she learned from her grandfather. She rebuilds classic cars into something beautiful. she puts her heart and soul into them. We see that she is a part of the tattoo subculture. Thankfully she is not portrayed as some nut but as a woman who has a reason for her tats and is looking for balance after the death of her beloved grandfather.
de Lint commonly deals with matters of the spirit and matters of the soul. In this book he deals with the the world that comes after death and how it is different for each culture and sub culture. Did you as a writer realize that a persons cultural beliefs effect how they see the after life? I am not talking so much the religion they have but those things that are important to them? In The Mystery of Grace our heroine has those things that were important to her in her afterlife. I won’t go into the story but it is definitely something to think about when you write.
While our racial heritage can form our beliefs, it doesn’t totally make us who we are. And our characters need to have more to them than a two dimensional cutout of what we, as author, believe a person who be. We need to research, add in those things the would be passionate about and more.
Any of you who have been following me know that I am an author. As a self pub I have to do a lot of things to bring my work to the public. The joy of actually writing leveled by the research, editing, proof reading, making covers, teasers, trailers and then marketing.
Well as I am in the final read through of A Fragile Peace, I am working on the cover. This is of course the third book of a series. What that means is that I need to find ways to connect the covers so my readers will know this is the same series. You can’t just put the series name on the cover. You need to have a theme, use the same fonts and possible variations on the image of the other covers.
With this series the first two books have a dagger on the cover. Something that makes sense to the series. Now this is a bit lighter than the first two books so I have used a lighter color than the last cover but well. It just doesn’t seem right to me. I am trying to figure out how to put in some textures and well trying to figure out how to make the different blade seem better.
Here is the first steps of the cover. As you can see it needs a LOT of tweeks.
I will have to see what can be done to make this better. I want to try to get the novel out next week.
Yes i have been behind. Not putting out work like I should. So this week I will put up some of my drabbles for your reading pleasure.
Green Magic morning
by Lisa Williamson
The glow in the sky matches that underneath the water at my feet. Rich in greens and golds the lady Earth has pulled back her skirts to show the magic below and above us. Only one this day and this place can a simple man see what she hides inside. Long have I searched for the meaning of life, of the wonders that make life worth living but today she showed me. A simple thing really, that we are all part of the life that surrounds and makes us. Bodies, minds and spirits are bound with the world around us.
The Painted Sky
By Lisa Williamson
The sun sets painting the sky in umber and lavender as I sit on the rocks and watch the birds. My coracle rests at waters edge and I wonder just why I came here. I should be home watching the day dance into night but instead I sit here and wonder why the sky is the color it is. When did the blue of the morning sky become the way it is now? When did the world change from day to night? Did it slip past my wandering mind on kitten feet? Or did I simply lose track of time?
Listen to the Flowers
by Lisa Williamson
Shhhh, listen to the song of the flowers. The wind lifts it to your ears if you stop your chatter. See the colors of life, hear the soft laughter and find yourself. Remember what it was like to be a child, finding wonder in to smallest things. Before time aged you and took away your joy.
Listen my parent, listen my child, remember the days when things as small as a flower brought a smile to your face, laughter to your heart. So please be quiet, please stop talking, just this once, listen to the flowers, listen to the wind.
Path through the Dark Forest
The path twists its way through the dark trees. To each side you hear the rustling and slithering of beasts unseen. Stay on the path, young one. For it is only on the path that you will make it out of this place. Keep walking slow and steady; do not be tempted to leave the path toward the light if you want to see the day again. Keep your eyes ahead and your step firm. Ignore what you hear, no matter who calls you. Nothing in this place is what it seems and I beg you to keep going. Reach safety, young questor and you will be the first to do so.
A prison of my own
By Lisa Williamson
Eight by eight, that is all the space I have. I have a bed, a shelf and a window, with no room to pace. I lie staring out that window at the rain as it slides down the window. The room is small, yet I feel safer here. This prison of my own making, filled with things that only I find comforting. Others wonder why I stay in this place, how I can live in a room so small, but they don’t wee what I see out the window of my room. It is not a prison but a haven.
There..a bunch of fun and different drabbles.
Wow this has moved forward quickly hasn’t it? Once I finish I will probably roll back around and see what I can do.
flying across the sky,
bring my love to me,
from across the sea.
Is the sea there,
or just a sea of snow?
I don’t care which,
if you can fly him to me.
Tiger Kitten ©2006
Once a little kitten
now a strong tiger you are
lashing out when annoyed
so very often lately
Once a happy playful kitten
open as the sky
now the master of sarcasm
with claws you rarely hide
Angry at times for reason
others for none at all
relax lady tiger
you will always have your home
Defensive of your family
yet fighting them all the time
try a little peace my kitten
everything is all right
Do you understand
understand how I feel
understand what you do
understand my reality
Am I a game
or an ego boost
Am I just a tool
Does my pain
mean more than discomfort
Is my love
more than a laugh
I have been noticing that hits on my blogs are way down. Is this because I am not putting up new and exciting content? Well maybe. Could it be the weather? It is after all and nobody wants to be inside reading of course. Who know.s? So in an attempt to get some eyeballs how about I put up something as an excerpt?
Those few of you who actually look at my blogs know I have been working on the next novel in the Saga of Loralil Greyfox series. I am currently waiting for my second highly wonderful beta reader to send me back her recommendations for edits. Now I could make up a cover right now but the hubby is pondering where we should go with this the next book. Probably something brighter than the last cover for sure.
So should I give an excerpt? How many excerpts is too many from the same book? Should I skip ahead in her life and show you places that she will be going? Hey yeah that could be interesting. After all I have a number of tales that will be told in this. So here you go.
Now this is from something I am tentatively calling The Birth of a Hero. Set years after the current books that I am working on. I started the bits of this I have when I lived with a different name. This has been languishing in WIP status for a decade but it will be done someday soon!
She sat among the branches of the tree watching the road below. She was diminutive in height, slender with an air of menace that belayed her fragile appearance. Her moon-pale skin and long silver hair glistened brightly among the leaves. Deep violet eyes scanned the road, intent on any movement. She had come to this place two years ago and found a group of people fighting off creatures that were far more than their match. She went in and helped those still able to fight. They destroyed the raiders and she came to be accepted in the village.
Relaxing for a moment, she rested her back against the trunk of the tree. Her eyes still scanned the road, but her mind went back over what she had learned soon after she had stopped here. The village belonged to a Lord Edwin who was out in the so-called holy wars. She could not understand why he would leave to fight holy wars when his own home was overrun by unholy dead things conjured up by the nearby magician. How Loralil Silverhair wished that she could leave these people and take on the magician. “Well,” she thought, “someone has to watch this road and it might as well be me.”
Her large eyes were hooded as she thought back to the day she had strolled into this area. She had been on foot, having lost her horse to one of the large forest cats days before. She had been foot sore and hungry by the time she had wandered into the human village. It had been either her personal gods watching over her or a bit of wanderer’s luck, but she had come through the surrounded forest untouched. The village hadn’t been as lucky. She walked into the village, almost expecting the looks she received. Isolated villages tended to be leery of strangers, and strangers of a different race were less welcome., but here she was surprised. She had expected to be accosted at least before she had made it to the building with the sign of a tavern. She was left entirely alone, even though she could feel the eyes of the people on her back. When she entered the tavern was when she saw why. It had been set up as a type of temporary hospital. Even two years later, the elf woman shuddered. The building was full, pallets covering most of the floor. She had grabbed the arm of one of the woman who was tending the wounded and asked what had happened.
All of the men of the village were either dead or badly injured. The village had been attacked three days before by a force of creatures of the night, as the woman called them. The simple villagers, hunters and farmers all, had no idea how to deal with creatures that could not be felled by a simple staff or arrow. They had panicked when faced with the walking corpses of those they had buried the season before. When she asked what their priest had been doing, the woman pointed toward one of the covered pallets. The priest had been one of the first to be killed.
Though by no means an expert, the young elf woman had some experience on how to deal with the undead. She organized the remaining healthy people of the village together and they managed to beat back and destroy most of the troop of undead who had struck the village.
Now the men were almost back to fighting strength with the wounded ones healed and the boys growing up to fill in the empty spots left by their fathers. She had spent the past two years, much longer than she had expected, living with the villagers. She had taught them how to fight, how to work together and what she knew of healing herbs and stitching wounds. Though saying she lived with them was not quite the truth. She didn’t live inside the village with the humans. They had at first accepted her out of need, but as their confidence grew they had taken her closer to their hearts than she was comfortable with. She had moved out of the tavern and the village entire. “Soon,” she thought. “I can leave them to themselves.”
Yes it needs work…a LOT of work but then this is a total rough draft. Heck I spotted three issues with a simple glance at the open paragraph. So don’t expect to see the rest of this soon but as you can see I have gotten a lot better over the past decade of writing!
As many of you know I am busy working on my novel. Over the years I have found that I commonly work by writing and editing at the same time. I have been known to go over my work from ten to thirty times. While a lot of more successful writers will tell you that you can’t do that. Thing is that might be true for the kids coming out of the education system now but I was in school in the old days.
Now i am not saying I can do it all, I know I can’t. But what I am saying is that while there are things I still need to learn. While my characters, dialog, pacing and world building are good, I need a bit of help getting the punctuation right. Now this is where the help comes in. Finding a set of eyes that can catch what you miss.
Thankfully I have found some. I won’t say who because well…like many writers…I’m greedy! Yes my beta readers are great people who are kindly helping me put out better work. I thank them in what ways I can.
In my newest work I have received back the first of the edits. I was surprised as how many little things I missed. See even when you use spell check, grammar check, programs to make sure you don’t over use words and read through and through you will miss things. You will spell words correctly, only they will be the wrong word. You will be missing words that would make things flow better and of course more readable.
So I am very glad that my beta readers are old school like I am. They find things I miss like commas and hyphens. Growing up back in new england I found that reading my work out loud won’t get those commas in the right places. See we are fast talkers. Things that seem to bother those from slower places. The beta readers who have so generously taught me things that I didn’t know three years ago…or more reminded me of things I learned and forgot.
So if you are short of funds the smartest thing to do is to look at your friends from writer groups but realize that you need to give as well as you receive. Read your friends work and give them constructive criticism. If you are like me looking for punctuation help then you can help them find plot holes, pacing issues and character things. I can always tell if a character is coming across two dimensional.
So folks why am I babbling like this? See So many talk about getting an editor, they never comment about which type. You need to find people who will yes help you with line editing. If you are not strong with spelling and grammar you will need that. If you write slow and overly worded prose, then you need someone to help you with pacing. If your dialog drags or is stilted, well then you just might want a friend who writes believable dialog.
So make friends, write, write a lot and listen when they tell you that your pacing is slow, that your dialog is crappy and that your story has a hole in it.