She invited local authors that tag-teamed each other off in order to keep the viewers cozily entertained with games, prizes, and real-time question and answer sessions.
Before the event, authors were asked to answer questions that I found really important for readers and writers.
Here are the questions I was asked to respond to:
1. Synopsis of your writing career and style including your most current and/or favorite project:
Since I was a kid, I loved making up stories, worlds, and the characters that populated them. From talking cheetahs preaching social justice reform to poachers over the roar of a camp fire, former slaves with supernatural powers that raise the dead to destroy an unjust and racist system, to the birth of twin sons that will turn a theocracy on its head, unique ideas come easy to me, but finding the time to write them is a constant battle. Being a mother, a full-time teacher, (yes, even during the summers) and a wife I have to organize my day to make time for my life as a writer. And when I don’t write, I’m not happy. I write so that I don’t kill . . . my emotions. 😏 When I was a much younger writer, I struggled with submitting my stories for many reasons. A primary one is I didn’t think my work was good enough. I also didn’t think I had a shot when majority of the work being published in the science fiction and fantasy community was by white authors.
Walter Dean Myers says it best: “Books transmit values”. Myers goes on to express, “That books explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?” Let’s take this train of thought a little further. What is the message when some authors are not represented in the publishing industry? What is the message when stories with nonwhite main characters (and side characters) are written by exclusively white authors. When I noticed that more and more people of color were being published (I will not use the word trend — this is here to stay) I not only took notice, but swallowed my fear, and joined in. Currently, while I’m in between writing two novels — one YA urban fantasy that takes place in the same universe as the Gabriel Lennox series and one adult high fantasy — I draft, revise, edit, and submit short stories, prose, and poems to markets in order to build my writing credentials. I also read and critique other authors’ works. I mentor young writers. My dream is to be traditionally published. So, I’m polishing my work and looking for agents and publishers to send my manuscripts to.
**During my blog hiatus, I won 2nd place in a poetry contest and sold one flash fiction piece. I also won a partial-grant. More on that later. I also had emergency surgery. 😦
2. Can you define Co-op publishing and share with us three lessons learned from your experience with that publishing method?
Co-op publishing is also known as cooperative publishing.
Traditional publishing is often viewed as an “I’ve made it” badge of honor for aspiring writers while self-publishing needlessly and unfairly bears a red stain of shame. Co-op publishing is supposed to be a happy median and can work as a middle way between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Basically, when you’re a traditionally published author, your publisher pays you a royalty and you will get a small percentage of royalty statements for each book sold thereafter. Self-publishing is a different animal that I haven’t been able to tame quite yet. I’m in the processing of preparing my vampire novel “Forbidden” for CreateSpace as a paperback. It’s been available as an ebook for at least a year. And like a creature from the world of Pokémon, self-publishing is still evolving and is often “super effective” for some. For some. Not for all. ::raises hand sheepishly::
The author is the publisher, book manager, marketer — the whole effing enchilada! And that can cost lots of money! In general, the Co-op experience is when authors pay to have their book published and they work with a second-party publisher that guides the dear writer through the entire publishing process. My experience with Booktrope was a little different. I didn’t have to pay to be published. However, there were marketing packages I couldn’t afford and didn’t know they weren’t included in the gig. So, I marketed my book by blogging, tweeting, Facebook posts, etc. Surprisingly, I made more sales to practical strangers when I attended face-to-face book signing events than I did in Virtual Land via social media. Though I won’t go into further juicy details, I will say this: If you choose this route, God forbid your Co-op publisher goes out of business! The experience is like a Charles Dickens’ novel nightmare where you’re now an orphaned author, abandoned and shivering in the biting cold and crying, “Pardon me, sir, may I have a crust a bread?” So, I’m going to keep on Dune Methane (doin’ my thang — I love Hieroglyphics — dee dee dah dah dee dee dane) and excel where I can. 🙂
3. What makes the vampire in your story different from other popular vampire characters?
The vampires in my stories possess some traits with the traditional vampires of legend. However, though they are humans tempted with immortality, supernatural powers, they’re actually pawns in a dark, sinister web of deception, power, and blood lust set in a glittering world that starts in 19th century England. If vampires are real, then they’d be apex predators in the proverbial food chain. But when confronted with the harsh reality that there is something more powerful that feeds off of them their worldview shatters. They must pick up the jagged pieces in order to rebuild and save their world. If they can.
4. One piece of advice for aspiring writers and/or a cool fact for your reading audience:
I’ll indulge in a two for one special. First, to all of you inspiring writers: I implore you to “never give up. Never surrender!” Science fiction movie watchers, you might recall that battle cry from the satirical movie Galaxy Quest. And yet, I won’t stop there. Why? Because there will be times when you do indeed give up and when you want to surrender. But don’t let this be a “forever” end game option. Even though there will be times when you will fail (oh, yes, and you will) you only truly fail if you stop writing. And then you’re no longer a writer, but a thinker. And thoughts alone don’t write books.
Now, all of that aside . . . what are you waiting for? Go and get yourself a copy of E. Rose Sabin’s The Twisted Towers! I’ve already read it and am so glad that I have my own copy.
Here’s my take on the novel:
Sabin delivers a breath of fresh air to the fantasy genre with a twisted plot that mirrors the winding setting her compelling characters trek through. A heart-pounding ride from beginning to end.
I love reading all kinds of genres. Whether it be poems, song lyrics, autobiographies, recipes, etc. I’m not a picky reader. In this post, I’ll discuss something few talk about.
The War of the Genres!
Publish America and the Hasty Generalization That Pissed Off the Science Fiction and Fantasy Community
Almost twenty years ago, a company called PublishAmerica asserted SF/F authors, “have no clue about what it is to write real-life stories, and how to find them a home,” are “not ashamed to be seen as literary parasites and plagiarists,” and believe that their preferred genres liberate them from such concepts as “believable storylines” or “believable every-day characters.”
Needless to say, this feud started by PublishAmerica’s needless criticisms of the science fiction and fantasy world didn’t end well for the company. Don’t they know this rule: when reputation is on the line NEVER, EVER go against a group of people that plays god for a living by weaving words into worlds.
A group of renowned authors got together and created a sting operation to show the world that PublishAmerica was indeed (at worst) a scam and (at best) a vanity press swindling naive writers out of their money while pretending to be a traditional publisher. They created an unpublishable and unreadable book called, “Atlanta Nights”. PublishAmerica being who PublishAmerica was or is (hey, is this company even around anymore?) published the book. You can read more about all of those juicy bits here.
On a personal note, I had almost fallen for the PublishAmerica scam. At that time, I may have been a teenager, but I sensed a disturbance in the force and stayed away. 🙂
I find it interesting that the way the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre has flowed in so many amazing directions that the hate would go away. Unfortunately, someone had posted this question on Quora: “What are the fatal flaws in writing fantasy?”
The responder, (whose name I won’t post) has his own opinions that for the most part I don’t agree with, but this gem . . . oh boy, this gem I found to be so untrue:
Fantasy for many writers is just a decoration. They don’t really need anything “fantastic” in their story, but they like it. It’s easier to write fantasy because it doesn’t really take that much research and you can explain a lot of things by how “this world is made”.
First of all, in order for fantasy writing to work, there needs to be the spirit of realism that not only breathes life into the author’s fantastically amazing world (setting), but also connects the reader so that the reader can then make connections. Second, fantasy does indeed take a heck of a lot of research. For instance, let’s say that your main character is a farm girl, and you, the darling author, know nothing about this profession. Well, you better start researching on agriculture. How are crops irrigated? What crops does your main character grow? You know, simple stuff like that to infuse realism into the story. Now, let’s say that your main character farm girl needs to travel for miles to reach the next plot point — how long will it take? How many hours are even in a day of this fantastical and fictitious world? Is she using a horse? Traveling by boat? How many miles? What, we don’t use miles in this world? Well, what are they even EQUIVALENT to?Oh Lord — bring forth the calculator!
Here are some basic questions most fantasy writers know to ask themselves when planning their worlds:
Do you know the general layout of your world? Do you have some sort of loose map of it in your head? Where do different places lie in relation to others?
How does the location of different landmarks and countries influence their trade?
How does the climate and terrain differ in different regions of your world?
What are the weather patterns like? Are certain locations more vulnerable to certain elements of nature?
What plants grow in which areas? Do any of them have any special properties?
What wildlife is common in which areas?
Are your names based upon certain cultures?
Do they translate to something?
Does the name fit the world and cultures you’ve built into it, or will it your reader find it jarring?
How are troops obtained? Through conscription or voluntary enlistment?
Who are the country’s allies? Why are they allied with them? Are the allies happy with the arrangement?
Is the country at war, or close to it? Why? With who?
What are the key military fighting techniques?
Are there any noteworthy weapons or transports?
What branch of the military excels? Do they have a particularly strong army, navy, etc.?
What about previous wars, alliances, and treaties? What prompted them? How did they influence interacting cultures, countries, and warfare?
Is there any sort of public education, or is schooling reserved for the wealthy?
How about books? Do “peasants” and the middle-class have access to them, or are they solely in libraries– at schools and in wealthy estates?
Is it common to know how to read?
What are the basic tasks and facts people learn as children? Does it differ between genders? How about between social classes?
Are studies valued, or looked down upon culturally (generally speaking)?
Is the government a monarchy? A democracy? A republic?
Who are some past noteworthy rulers or government officials? Who do the citizens remember now? And why are they remembered?
Is there an essential governing document (like the U.S.’s Constitution)?
Is it largely a patriarchal or matriarchal society? Or does it attempt equality?
What’s the currency?
How is incarceration determined? Is there any sort of court system?
What about capital punishment? Are people regularly executed– and what are the capital crimes? How about the method of execution?
What are the most important laws of the land? What laws are particularly unique to your world?
Related to the above topic of government, does religion have a place in the government or is there a separation between the two entities?
Are religious practices mandated by the state? Do those who don’t comply– or those who have a different belief system– face persecution?
What do people believe in this religion? What myths surround it?
Is the religion monotheistic? Polytheistic?
Are there holy texts? Scriptures?
What practices or services do worshippers attend? What’s entailed in them?
Who are the religious officials?
Are there particular holy days to note?
What denotes status in this world?
How does courting work?
What traditions are there surrounding life milestones (birthdays, weddings, births, deaths…)?
Are there particular superstitions?
What are the fashions like? The trends? What influences (modesty, climate, status) does it have?
What’s the architecture like?
What’s the food and drink like?
Are there any special festivals that people attend?
What are the typical gathering places for inhabitants of the world when they have spare time?
And that’s just scratching the surface! Click on this link (information provided by SFWA — Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) to see how deeper one can go when they’re seriously planning their fantasy world. The above questions were provided by Jennifer Elision.
Here’s a diagram of what we readers experience as we (automatically — this skill sometimes has to be taught to young readers) interact with the text:
Most importantly, these three connections keep readers engaged from the beginning to the ending of a good book.
The Tortoise and the Hare
When you were little, you may have heard this fable and learned that the moral to the story is “slow and steady wins the race”, but I’m going to have to go with what Jacob Davenport deduced instead:
Success depends on using your talents, not just having them.
And when it comes to being slow, I mean reeeeeaaaaallllllyyyyy slow, three incredibly talented and fantastic authors come to mind and they’re making their fans lose their minds:
My husband introduced me to Jim Butcher and Patrick Rothfuss. My oldest brother introduced me to George R.R. Martin. These three amigos are talented authors and I hope to meet them someday at conventions. Not to bask in their glory, but to soak up their great literary wizardry through osmosis.
But I digress. Apologies.
The simplest conclusion one could come to is that authors like Butcher, Rothfuss, and Martin aren’t doing their jobs because books are taking too long to “come out”. But again, like I said, it’s the simplest conclusion that doesn’t take much thought or consideration for the fact that these authors are also people with lives other than their books. Lives that include families, hobbies, and other personal attributes that may get in the way of their writing. In one interview, Rothfuss mentioned that he hadn’t finished the third book in the KingKiller Chronicles because he had to deconstruct it first. He also expressed that he wanted it to be just right. You know, he cares about impressing his fans.
Jim Butcher has endured a lot lately: divorce, death of his beloved dog, and I’m sure a lot more that the public doesn’t need to know about.
Nevertheless, some George R.R. Martin fans be like: “Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, return to your Cave of Ordeals and complete the final book and kill off another beloved character so that we may cry!”
George be like:
Binders Full of Research
I’m reading 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox. The first day, I was able to crank out 1,964 words. I noticed that if I had all of my plans more detailed I could have written more. But every once in a while, I had to flip back to my notes, maps, character goals, fears, and so forth . . . or sometimes, I was quite naughty and chose to just keep writing even though I knew I’d have to go back and fix those wobbly bits during revision time.
Fantasy writers have so much to keep track of! In an interview, George R.R. Martin explained that he’s unable to write while he’s traveling to conventions and attending other meetings. He feels most comfortable at his home where he can easily access his notes.
I get it! Oh, do I get it and I empathize with both the readers that want the next book in the series, but I also understand how writers feel about the book being “just so”. After all, we are creating worlds from scratch. Now, I don’t personally know about other fantasy writers (besides those who have based their works off of medieval Europe), but I often base my worlds off of historical and current events that I find interesting. I even look to the geography and customs of real-life cultures and languages for inspiration. Not only am I learning more about the world I live in, but I’m able to create great plot twists and character sketches based off of historical places and people. Now, just because I may think that fantasy writers have it harder than a strictly mainstream fiction writer doesn’t mean that I have to demonize said mainstream fiction writers in order to lift up or edify the trials and tribulations of the fantasy genre. Unfortunately, writers of different genres sometimes treat one another poorly (even writers that belong in the same genre group — read about the sad puppies and rabid puppies to get an idea of what has happened and is still happening in the Science Fiction and Fantasy community).
“My Genre Brings All the Readers to the Checkout”
In Kelise’s Hip Hop R&B song, Milkshake she sings in a taunting and sensuous voice, “my milk shake brings all the boys to the yard and they’re like, ‘it’s better than yours’. Damn right, it’s better than yours. I can teach you, but I have to charge.” If the word milkshake is metaphorical for sex appeal, then when it comes to writers and their “literary appeal” it’s all about how well we craft words (and often worlds) in order to keep our readers spellbound page by page. There are so many different flavors of books! When I teach genre writing, I often compare the different genres to actual tastes. It’s like Baskin Robbins with all of those glorious 31 flavors. In other words, horror doesn’t have the same flavor to me as a space opera. Don’t ask me why, but horror stories have a medium-rare cheeseburger-ish quality to me while space operas make me think of popcorn and grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh, and a side of pickles. Can’t forget the pickles.
Even when you’ve read a mystery novel, one book differs from another. Obviously because they’re written by two different people.
For example, The Julius House, by Charlaine Harris in comparison to Kwei Quartey’s Wife of the Gods are worlds apart — not necessarily because one is a Caucasian-American woman and the other is an African man (he was born in Ghana) will be exceptionally different. Most importantly due to the settings. Quartey’s crime novel takes place in Ghana while Harris’ cozy mystery takes place in Georgia. Sometimes the settings of any good book (regardless of genre) becomes a character all on its own.
Now, back to the main debate. Critics of genre fiction, more specifically Science Fiction and Fantasy, believe that literary fiction is better because readers get a sense of “accomplishment” and “fulfillment” when they finish reading a book by authors like Haruki Murakami or Zadie Smith. While on the other hand, Science Fiction and Fantasy books are solely meant for escapism and entertainment.
Yes, Science Fiction and Fantasy stories can also be a commentary on society and a way of seeing the world and understanding it. Not escaping.
A fantastic example of an author writing stories that transcended this Tolkien idea of fantasy as a “glorious escape” is two-time Hugo Award Winner, N.K. Jemisin Her novel, The Fifth Season left me crying — not only because I wanted to read more — but because the book was so emotionally gripping! Before the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy even begins, Jemisin dedicates the book like this:
“For all those that have to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question.”
As I’ve said before it’s unnecessary to denigrate one group in order to protect and uplift another. We don’t need to demonize one to uplift the other. Whether you like Genre fiction or Literary fiction there’s plenty of room for both. 🙂 Or even better . . . a hybrid of the two.
Disclaimer: The following analysis of characters and their names are solely my opinion and conclusions I’ve drawn from being a wordsmith, character creator, and a lover of names.
Juliet, from the play, Romeo and Juliet, speaks this famous line. She argues that it doesn’t matter that the young man Romeo whom she loves is a Montague, her family’s archenemy.
But Juliet is wrong. Names are important. Especially when it comes to creating names for characters. And on a more mundane note, who the heck would lovingly pen the name, Toilet, on their newborn baby’s birth certificate. Or Virus? Cesspool? Booger?
I read a lot of fantasy and I love when I can tell that an author put a lot of thought into creating their characters’ names. When my oldest brother read the names I had brainstormed for a book we’re working on together, I smiled until my face ached (okay, fine I’m using hyperbole) because I was pleased that he was pleased with my inventions. Creating names is a lot of fun!
Popular Character Names in Book Series
In Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, the wizard Harry Dresden’s full name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Not only is Harry’s name fun to say, but his first name is a nod to Harry Houdini, a Hungarian-American illusionist and stunt performer, famous for his sensational escape acts. Dresden’s also named in honor of David Copperfield, an American illusionist and magician who was born in 1956. I’m not sure about the background information on “blackstone” though. I do know that it comes from the Blackstone Group, which is a financial firm founded by two dudes in the 1980s who used the German and Greek parts of their names to create a cryptogram: “Schwarz” is German for “black” and “Peter” or “Petra” in Greek means “stone” or “rock”. Thus, “blackstone”.
Another popular character in urban fantasy, is the one and only Anita Blake. I adored this series and still mourn for the style it was written in over a decade ago. I miss Anita solving crimes, raising the dead, and putting them back to rest. Her full name consists of four syllables. Her first name sounds softer and more romantic to me. Also, Anita certainly had a softer side in the beginning of the series (i.e., her stuffed animal penguin collection). Her name is derived from Sanskrit and means full of grace, mercy, favor, variety, a leader, without guile. In the series, it’s implied that her name is from the Spanish language because her deceased mother is Mexican. Her last name, Blake, is a mystery and where it is derived from is uncertain. According to Mr. Wikipedia it could come from “blac”, a nickname for someone who had dark hair or skin, or from “blaac”, a nickname for someone with pale hair or skin. Another theory is that it is a corruption of “Ap Lake”, meaning “Son of Lake”. I think this uncertainty and duality of dark and pale suits the character of Anita Blake just fine since she has gone from being a character symbolizing justice and daring not to dabble with the dark creatures of her world — vampires, for example — to not only protecting them, but doing the horizontal mambo with them every day, all day.
Popular Character Names in TV Series
Olivia Pope’s name is interesting. Her surname evokes images of holiness, righteousness, and power. However, one could argue that the title or word “pope” also conjures images of the exact opposite due to corruption and hypocrisy in the Catholic Church. Likewise, the character, Olivia Pope, in the television series Scandal, is a woman of contradictions.
As a crisis manager, her job is to solve problems for her clients who add to the existing drama in her personal life. Her first name comes from Latin and means “olive branch”. Olive branches are a symbol of peace or victory, which fits Olivia perfectly. The fictitious character of Olivia Pope is partially based on real-life crisis manager, Judy Smith. I watched the first two episodes of Scandal and couldn’t continue. There are no dragons and too much mundane drama that I avoid in the daily news. I found it tragic that Olivia, a beautiful, talented, and intelligent woman couldn’t have her happy ending. Granted, it’s her own choices that often keep her from it. Or maybe Shonda Rimes, the show’s creator, wanted to portray a realistic woman who forfeited the search for an impossible “happily ever after” and instead settled for or could be satisfied with “happy enough”? I have no idea. I like Happy Endings. That’s why I often play RPGs and live vicariously through my CGI characters. 😛
Anyway, I predicted that Ms. Pope’s slippery slope into tragedy would continue to worsen and if I became a fan my heart would most likely break. I’m all about keeping my heart intact. 🙂
Another character with a cool name is Nikita from the series (first a movie), La Femme Nikita, which is French for The Woman Nikita. Nikita. Nikita, Nikita. That’s it. No last name. And that’s all that’s needed.
Why? This name is loaded with goodies! Nikita is an assassin that is paired with great assets — beauty, intelligence, and the ability to kill with ease and efficiency. Her name isn’t even originally French or female. It originated as a masculine Greek name and subsequently a Russian name exclusively for males. The name has been recently adopted as a French name for girls.
Popular Character Names in Movies
Keyser Söze isn’t the name of a breakfast bagel. And no, I’m not referring to one of Moe’s (Welcome to Moe’s), (Tex-Mex eatery — delicious!) salsa. Keyser Söze is the name of the main antagonistic and driving force in The Usual Suspects, one of my favorite movies. I won’t spoil the movie’s epic and mind-blowing twist ending for those of you who haven’t yet seen this cinematic masterpiece. Traditionally, Keyser is a last name and it’s a development of the early Germanic name “Kaiser”, which was derived from the Roman imperial title “Caesar”. In the criminal underworld, Keyser’s great skill, ruthlessness, and reputation are of epic and mythical proportions. For example, handicapped con artist Robert “Verbal” Kint describes Keyser as “a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. ‘Rat on your pop and Keyser Söze will get you.’ But no one ever really believes.” Poor dears. They should believe.
Keyser may be a man of violence and enjoys spreading fear, but like some mega-villains he’s a man of his word. I looked up the meaning of the word “soze” in Turkish and was prompted to look it up in Kurdish. It means “promise“. Keyser Soze is most likely a pseudonym and a small piece of the puzzling, deceptive, and criminal world the “usual suspects” dwell in.
Speaking of the criminal world, how could I not mention John Wick? Before John Wick, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 beckoned action, thriller, and suspense lovers, I didn’t think any movie could bank on the explosions, the mystery, the gunfights, and the gloriously twisted plot that the writers of The Usual Suspects had created. During a heated and no less humorous conversation between a father and son (both elite members to the Russian maffia), important information about John Wick is revealed:
Viggo Tarasov: It’s not what you did, son, that angers me so. It’s who you did it to.
Viggo Tarasov: John is a man of focus, commitment, sheer will… something you know very little about. I once saw him kill three men in a bar… with a pencil, with a fucking pencil. Then suddenly one day he asked to leave. It’s over a woman, of course. So I made a deal with him. I gave him an impossible task. A job no one could have pulled off. The bodies he buried that day laid the foundation of what we are now. And then my son, a few days after his wife died, you steal his car and kill his fucking dog.
The name John is Hebrew and translates to “Jehovah has been gracious; has shown favor”. And the fact that John Wick is unstoppable and for the most part untouchable seems nothing short of a miracle. Reeves, who plays John Wick also compared Wick’s story to “[…] a kind of Old Testament revenge story” adding that, “When someone takes the things he cherishes, violence erupts and John can’t temper it.” Though the character’s last name, Wick, is a name Kolstad (the movie’s writer) had used as a reference to his grandfather, the founder of Wick Building Systems, as a fellow writer just because something is simply cool isn’t reason enough to do it. So, I did a little digging. The word wick is Old English and related to both Dutch and German languages. The best definition of the word “wick” that I discovered is:
The second definition is symbolic in regard to how John Wick operates in the criminal underground of assassins. Without his wife’s love, he’s like a wick or woven fiber waiting for fire to light it. In other words, there are two parts to John: his need to settle down and find happiness and the wanton desire to kill and blow things up. And the second definition, which is slang for annoying a person is poetic justice. In the first movie, John just wanted to permanently silence whoever messed with him by stealing his car and killing his dog. Cautionary advice: give him what he wants and he’ll return to his quiet self. Word to the wise: don’t bother John Wick and he’s as sweet as a lamb. 🙂
One of My Own Character Creations
From my vampire series starring the titular main character, Gabriel Lennox, I wanted to make a name that possessed sex appeal, mystery, and a firmness to it.
The name Gabriel is Hebrew and means “God is my strength”. The last name Lennox originates from Gaelic and means “lives near the place abounding with elm trees”. Gabriel Lennox is a strong, sophisticated name and it’s also the surname of one of my favorite singers, Annie Lennox.
Fellow writers, how do you choose character names? What techniques do you use?
Adoring readers, what character names do you love or hate . . . and why?
I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet with me @moniquedesir
Writing high fantasy is not for the hobbyist. It takes perseverance, cleverness, and lots of dedicated time.
I’m currently completing the second phase of world building for a high fantasy series that’s been haunting my waking and dreaming hours for quite some time. About three years actually. Adara Trosclair, for whom this blog is named after will make her appearance in the second book. I see main character in this first book clearly. She’s not like Adara, who is charismatic, sweet, and girly. Lethe, on the other hand, is bitter, snarky, resentful, and will most likely be an unlikable character. But that in no way means that readers will be unable to relate to her. Anyone who has lived on this earth may have acted like this guy:
in some way, shape, or form. Even for a day. 🙂
But then again, maybe Lethe is more like this:
And the entire idea behind this book — once a tiny seed — is now a mighty oak tree. Lol. Well, in my mind currently. For the past several days I’ve been working on my fantasy world’s distinct parts:
I also want my high fantasy idea to be fresh and to question and maybe even provide answers to current issues in the real world. Issues like racism, sexism, and bigotry.
At first, I totally agreed with this quote from Tolkien. Fantasy is a great way to escape! However, escaping and being distracted is so easy and it’s not worth it. Yes, we all need a little break every now and then (that’s why I play video games and do Zumba Fitness), buuuuuuut, ignoring important issues in the world isn’t a solution to the world’s worldly ills (yes, yes, yes, I know I used the word world three times in that one sentence).
I’m considering whether or not the book would fit the Young Adult age group and if so, what kind of pitfalls must I avoid? For instance, is it okay for the two main characters to engage in sex? How violent and bloody should the sword and sorcery scenes be? And what about expletives? My husband and I are fans of Dragon Age and the rating for this RPG is “M” for mature audiences due to sex (your main character can ROMANCE other characters), violence (lots of blood — I mean LOTS), and other suggestive themes. And as I continue plotting away, do I consider my book having a dark tone like Dragon Age? HECK YA!
I wouldn’t mind kids similar in age to my oldest son who will be seventeen soon reading this book. But younger than that? Wow. Just wow. Makes me feel uncomfortable.
As a child, I loved fairy tales and I also want to incorporate them into my high fantasy books. My favorites are the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Little Match Girl, and Rumpelstiltskin.
Regarding Tolkien’s quote, I agree more with the spotlighted quote of the day. I don’t need to escape. I want to understand.
Writing the first chapter is something I struggle with because I want those first sentences, that first paragraph, that first page to be absolutely fabulous. So, sometimes I’m afraid to write anything at first. I don’t have a lot of time on my hands lately. My three sons, my husband, and my full-time job as a reading teacher keeps me extremely busy!
Since I want that first chapter to draw readers in and never let them go until they’ve completed reading the book, place it down, satisfied or at best, hungry for the next book.
I dare not say that I want the first chapter to be perfect because such a place doesn’t exist.
The first chapter is extremely important. Especially when it comes to high fantasy. High fantasy (or epic fantasy) is a subgenre of fantasy defined by its setting in a fictional universe or by the epic stature of its characters, themes, and plot. Whatever that means, right? Thanks Mr. Wikipedia.
Basically, high fantasy, is one of the hardest fiction subgenres to write. I mean, think about it! You’re creating your own world! The continents, the oceans, the seas, the cities, the roads, the people, their cultures, who they trade with, who they fight with, who they may or may not worship. Everything. Single. Blasted. Thing!
It’s overwhelmingly . . . FRACKING-FUNTASTIC!
And the first chapter has the potential to introduce so many things:
the main characters
what’s at stake
When I originally wrote Prelude to Morning, I didn’t know that it would be a trilogy. I had some ideas that it could possibly be a series. Well, that was only if it didn’t remain a stand-alone novel. After my oldest brother, Serge Desir, fellow author and video game bad-ass and author E. Rose Sabin gave me some brutal and honest feedback on the book’s weaknesses, I realized I had a lot of work to do to make the book as wonderful as it should be. And for a time, an agent was interested. Until, the world-building fell apart. 😦
So, I searched for help and re-rendered the map (thanks E. Paige Burks) :
Next, I created a timeline, which I’ll share in a future post.
The timeline helped me to layout the history of the world of Reath (rhymes with death — an anagram for Earth). The timeline included:
The prehistoric era
All of these events shaped the world as it is now for the main characters.
So much depth. So much culture. So many languages. So many places. So overwhelming like our world, Earth. And how does one condense so much beauty into a single book.
Which put me at an impasse or is it a fork in the road?
One path would lead me to writing a book that would be heavy enough to murder someone with:
And a third path appeared to me. . . I’d have to break the story into more than one book.
And Then there were Three . . .
Bloodcraft Trilogy — (why the term bloodcraft ?–which I’m proud of coining — more on that in a future post).
However, I loved the idea of music being interwoven into this world and used different types of movement names in each of the three books that echoed and underscored the story’s themes.
A rhapsody in music is a one-movement work that is episodic yet integrated, free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasted moods, colour and tonality. An air of spontaneous inspiration and a sense of improvisation make it freer in form than a set of variations.
Book 2: Prelude to Morning
Preludes are characterized by being short and sweet (relatively), with a melodic and/or rhythmic motif that is featured throughout the piece. This motif will recur throughout the piece, sometimes differing slightly as the music progresses. A prelude may be played on its own, or as a preface to another piece, usually more complex.
Book 3: Nocturne of Twilight
Nocturnes are generally lyrical and tranquil pieces. The nocturne is known for being expressive above all else. It follows no specific form, but evolves as the music progresses.
To Prologue or Not To Prologue
In the first several drafts of Prelude to Morning, I originally included a prologue in the beginning. After researching prologues and learning that they’re only necessary if the opening is out of time sequence with the remainder of the story. So, I decided to rename the prologue as chapter one.
However, in my paranormal urban fantasy, Forbidden, Book One of Gabriel Lennox Series, a prologue was necessary because it fit that description and helped to create a creepy ending, which I wrote as a near mirror image epilogue. Thus, coming full circle.
How do you go about setting the stage for your high fantasy novel?