Monthly Archives: March 2013

Too Quiet to Write?

After a promising start on my new WiP, I haven’t written a thing in two weeks. After seven years, I no longer live in a house with three cancer survivors.

My mother-in-law Evie, came to live with us after a very bad traffic accident- the hospital where she lived was simply killing her, and my lovely wife (breast cancer, 2003) brought her back here so that she could recover under a watchful eye and some medical competence. Evie did recover, and was a fixture in our lives since then. She attended Genna’s concerts, came out to the mall, the local zoo. Evie’s preferences in television mattered- she loved tennis and game shows, but put up with my daughter’s addiction to nearly any kind of reality competition. I carried the bags, and while they nattered on about which judge was being SO unfair, I could tap out a few paragraphs about Justin, or Solemn or Feldspar.

Evie had skin cancer long before I knew her- smoked for twenty years, stopped for twenty more- and had a bout of colon cancer and lung cancer while she was with us. She also just plain got older. We brought a wheelchair in the back of the car, for times when there would be a lot of walking, and then gradually just whenever there was walking. It was a continuum to me- seems like I was pushing my daughter around age six or seven one day (recovering from leukemia, 2000), then pushing Evie the next. Wherever we went there were backpacks to heft, extra water, Genna’s flute, books to read. You’re a father, a husband, this is what you do. Kept me in shape, frankly- I get sore the day after playing Wii Golf.

But the cancer got ahead of Evie and the doctors put her on hospice care in our home. Her body became gradually incapable- wheelchair every step outside, walker every step inside. I added an oxygen tank to the load on my back (a small one, no pity). But Evie still talked brightly and happily, about tennis, about game shows, about her granddaughter’s career. The noisy bubble of human conversation didn’t abate, it grew. The house became more busy than ever- nurses, aides, therapists all trooped in for visits and checkups. I’d answer the door, point to the stairs, warn about the friendly cats, and sneak back to tap out another paragraph. It was fine, the noise.

The noise has always been fine with me. Five sisters and maybe thirty animals when I was a kid: someone drops by, we call up another, and the next thing you know it’s fourteen for dinner. Boisterous public school as a student, thirteen years teaching, summer camp showing boys how to die onstage en masse– what happened around my home these past few months seemed perfectly natural. Joyous, contentious human clamor is the white noise of my life.

Evie declined towards death last month, and finally stopped speaking. More visitors- nurses came out several times a day, Dorie’s sister arrived to assist with the final hours. I sat with Evie some of the time, listened to the TV we hoped she could still hear. And at the very end, Dorie sent me out of the house, with Genna, to get her away from the scene. I drove my daughter to competitions- Superior ratings in voice and flute. a first place the day Evie died, tears and a medal. Dorie’s brother came out to add to the mix and attend the funeral- her sister had to move into a hotel, how absurd. The pace never dimmed, for another week.

The final interment. The sister returned home. We visited the aquarium as the brother loves turtles: I realized why I was feeling so odd, just walking with my hands in my pockets. Nothing to carry, nothing to push, nothing to do. The next day, I put my brother-in-law on the bus and came back inside my house, with only my lovely wife and my miracle daughter for company.

Genna said it first- “It’s so quiet here now”.

Too quiet to write.

It’s not guilt, I think Evie lived as long as we could manage for her, and I sit here in awe of my lovely wife’s care and effort before that unthinkable gate. I would want her to be my daughter if I were in Evie’s place. But of course, I’d rather not be there: Woody Allen’s call on death is my favorite. How about I stand in my backyard, one day after my last tale of the Lands of Hope publishes (in paper, of course) and I get hit by an asteroid. From behind. A platinum-stuffed asteroid, that stays in the yard and makes my family rich through my efforts. For once. That would be fine.

But I haven’t written because, like Genna and Dorie and frankly even the cats, I’m still adjusting. Just the three of us now. I live in a house with two cancer survivors. And I’ll start writing again soon. As spring comes, and hopefully things get a little noisier.

New Release: DRAGONS’ FLIGHT

It’s here: DRAGONS’ FLIGHT

In this second volume of the Sorcha’s Children series, shifter siblings Brandubh and Morag take flight. Brandubh travels to King Leofric’s court to discover if his destiny lies in the human realm, but his visit is marred by the news that dragons have destroyed a human village. King Leofric charges the dragon-shifter with seeking out and subduing the renegades, but the stakes increase when Brandubh meets a fascinating female dragon … who considers humans vermin to be exterminated.

Meanwhile, Morag shows no interest in life among the humans, preferring to live life on the wing. But can she convince the male dragon of her choice that she is the bond mate he has been waiting for? Only time will tell if these dragons will succeed in mating flights.

DemonDaze-Final-2x3

This is the book I never thought I’d get to write. I was contracted for it with my former publisher, but Sorcha’s Heart and Dragons’ Choice sold so poorly for that press that we decided not to pursue the last two books *sigh* Who would’ve guessed that the series would take off when I Indie published on Amazon? Here’s hoping Dragons’ Flight sells as well as–or better than!–Dragons’ Choice!

Limited Time Offer: I have a 20% off coupon going at Smashwords – now until April 1st!
Coupon Code: FG45K

The Compendium: The Safe Way to Build a World?

Epic and heroic fantasy, as cool as they are, do not consist of much that’s new. If you innovate at all in what you write about, you’re either trashed or hailed as an innovator. And then maybe trashed after you turn the other way. People expect heroes with swords, monsters with fire, life with magic, and adventures that save something. I’m cool with all that because in the Land of Hope that’s what I see.

But as Debbie wrote about world-building, there’s a constant struggle to “do” that correctly in the tales themselves. If I can take credit for trying anything a bit differently it was in this: I thought “hey, why not pretend I’m famous already and someone’s written up the Compendium of the Lands“. So I’ve been posting pages here as they appear relevant to the various tales, and as I limp through my draft of the upcoming “Perilous Embraces” I’ve taken the chance to reinforce the book with some more pages.

In this latest batch coming out now you can find information on various subjects:

  • A short piece on the Elven race, especially the concept of their Moments which plays a big part in my WiP
  • An enormous section on the Astrology of the Lands including the heavenly bodies and their influence over events. You will see some of this in Perilous Embraces and a lot more in Judgement’s Tale my infamous unpublished  monsterpiece.
  • A section on the Tarot cards and their relation to divination (sort of the common man’s astrology)
  • A quick look at the Argens feudal structure (who’s boss of what), which plays into the Shards of Light series but will really become important in a sequel to The Plane of Dreams, called The Test of Fire
  • A Brief History of the Lands (which you might have thought I’d have recorded first given my education!)
  • And even a treatise on what the bad guys might be like (for after all, the Lands of Despair no man living has seen- or so the legends say)

I hope you enjoy the material. And I do see that people “hit” the pages fairly frequently which is interesting and prompts me to ask you some questions.

If you’ve looked at the Compendium before, did you like what you saw? Did it give you what you were asking for?

Are there subjects you wanted to see more about but didn’t? It’s been thirty years of study, but my observations have been pretty focused on the current day and subjects relevant to the heroes of the tales. If you need me to look at something else, I’m listening!

Do you think it would be useful for me to publish this thing? As I’m adding pages I keep trying to organize them better, but if I e-pubbed it I could inter-link the daylights out of it- so every reference to Argens leads to the description of him in the hero-lists, etc. On the other hand, I could link every such mention in my current books to the Compendium HERE- but I thought that would be too distracting. What’s your opinion?

As for the rest of you who have every right not to touch the silly thing, let me just remind you once again that I don’t write, I chronicle. These pages are just in case you want to try and argue the Lands of Hope are not real.

How to write a press release and why

A press release isn’t hard to write and doesn’t take much time. Also, only a few will ever see the light in a newspaper. Why do I bother writing them in the first place, and how do I go about it?

I think writing press releases is as valid today as it was before the Internet. Sure, there are less printed papers out there, and most of them will not pick up your release, but press release directories are searched by many journalists and even by bloggers. Who knows who might pick up your newsworthy note? And every time id does get picked up, your words will be visible to many, many readers. It’s worth a try, and since it doesn’t cost anything but a little time, I say it’s well worth the effort.

Writing a press release isn’t difficult if you follow the format. In the fist line, set the timeframe for release (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / FOR RELEASE BEFORE XXXXX / FOR RELEASE AFTER XXXX). Follow it with an enticing headline. The next few paragraphs contain the information about the release’s writer (Contact: Full name, Company Name, Address, Phone, Email, and URL).

The first real paragraph starts with a place name (City, Town or Location Where Story is Relevant) to help the journalist decide if this story is relevant for him. It is followed in the same paragraph with a very short summary that draws the reader in to learn more. Make sure the summary connects to the headline.

The second paragraph answers the questions “Who, What, Where, Why, When”. Keep it short and get to the point. Next, you can fill the body with more information. Make sure it’s relevant to the topic as defined by the headline, succinct, not boring, and current. Add quote from a customer or somebody who can verify your expert status.

In the second to last paragraph include a quotation from yourself and state who you are. Your quotes allow you to insert your opinion and provide more depth to your story. Finish your press release with a final paragraph detailing where to get more information on your website. Last but not least, send it in. There are press release sites where you have to pay for distribution, but there are some free ones too (like these).

That’s all there is. I hope this helps a bit.

A Writing Challenge For You

Remember when you were in school during language arts class?  Or that writing class you took as an adult?  Your teacher gave a writing prompt to the class and everyone wrote a story using the same prompt. (In younger grades, they were called story ideas.)

When the stories were read aloud, even though they started from the same prompt, every story was drastically different.  If, for one moment, you might wonder why, only think about it.  Every person has different experiences, different environments, different thoughts.  Many of us have different values, dreams, and hopes.  Our writing comes from our inter-most being.  What we think and feel and what we believe comes through into our writing.

Writing prompts can sometimes be just the idea starter a person needs to jog the process of story telling.  It can be a welcome challenge to take the idea and turn it into your own personal story.

So, thinking in this vein, I have an assignment for you, should you choose to accept it.  Use the following prompt and write your own story.   Change anything you like to make the story your own.  (I’d love to hear from you and read what you come up with.)

It was time.  He opened the door into the blackness outside and melted away into the shadows.  Silently.  Swiftly.  Knowing he must not be noticed.  Must not be found.  Standing alone under the trees he waited, not moving a muscle.  Waiting.  Another shadow detached itself from the surrounding darkness.  Moved. Came closer.

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