#BlogHop – Current Works In Progress

Welcome to the final edition of the #BlogHop for #Writers hosted by Ruth L. Snyder!  Many thanks to Ruth for hosting, to Cate Russell-Cole for sharing the existence of the BlogHop, and to everyone of you who have come to read and comment.  I appreciate your time and words, and I hope that you’ve enjoyed these entries.

Talking about works in progress is always a little intimidating for me.  I say “works” because I tend to flit between projects.  My ability to focus has deteriorated over the years so, to keep things fresh, I end up having several stories going at once.  When I get tired of one, I set it aside for a while and work on something else.  So right now, I have three WIPs to share:
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#BlogHop – Favorite Genre

This is the fourth installment of the #BlogHop for #Writers hosted by Ruth Snyder!  This week’s topic is “My Favorite Genre.”

I posted about my favorite genre way back in 2011, and honestly, not much has changed.  Fantasy remains my favorite, hands down.  I do read science fiction, nonfiction, some YA and realistic fiction, but fantasy is my realm. I’m not especially picky about which subset of fantasy it is either.  Urban, swords-and-sorcery, traditional epic, dark, paranormal romance, remade fairy tales, or any combination of the above…I enjoy them all.

The first book I remember reading was D’Aulair’s Book of Greek Myths when I was four.  I also remember my Dad reading books of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, most of which are rather dark fare for children.  But with fairy tales, no matter how gruesome things get, the hero (or heroine) always beats the odds.  Evil-doers are punished and the good are rewarded.  There is a direct relationship between ones actions and the consequences that appeals to my sense of justice, and tends to carry over into the rest of fantasy.

Modern fantasy has gotten much darker, perhaps even too dark at times.  But the stories and authors that I love the most never lost that sense of fair play and wonder that captivated me as a child.  Mercedes Lackey, C.S. Friedman, Barbara Hambly, Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Elizabeth Haydon, and R.A. Salvatore all explore different aspects and takes on traditional fantasy mores that help enrich the genre.  Some find fantasy too repetitive or stifling (I’ve certainly found a lot of teen paranormal romances to be that way), but I enjoy the comfort of what is familiar and delight in seeing how authors will take that familiarity and stand it on its head.  For example, you can find dragons in many different fantasy novels.  But being a dragon is about the only thing that they have in common:

In The Halfblood Chronicles by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton, dragons are a fully sentient race capable of shapeshifting and molding rock, but have emotions, desires, and speech very similar to their human counterparts.  They think, feel, love, and hate much like we do.

In The Winterlands Quartet by Barbara Hambly, dragons are deeply alien beings, tied to the music of their names, unique in coloring with thought processes very unlike our own.  Their love of gold is not from the perceived monetary value, but from the music inherent in its essence that soothes them.

In The Symphony of Ages series by Elizabeth Haydon, dragons are one of the Firstborn Races, born of the Earth, immortal and elemental.  There are relatively few of them and they usually remain hiding deep within the earth.  One did change into the form of a human and gave birth to half-human, half-dragon children before returning to her own form and her own lair.  They are not as human as Lackey’s dragons but not as alien as Hambly’s.

The dragons of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels aren’t actually natural creatures at all, but genetically engineered from an indigenous species known as fire-lizards to help combat the deadly parasitic Thread that falls from a nearby planet every few decades.  They are more intelligent than horses or dogs, but are dependent on the psychic link with their riders.  The origin of the dragons and the lack of magic makes Pern more part of science fiction than fantasy…but it still has dragons and shows another way that the traditionally magical beasts can be used.

Just with these few examples, you can see the wonderful ideas that can spring out of what appears to be an old stereotype on the surface.  And I think that’s part of why I love fantasy so much and have continued favoring it for over two decades:  it offers a fresh new way of looking at the familiar and finding the wonder within.

#BlogHop – Advice for New Writers

Week 4 of the #Blog Hop for #Writers hosted by Ruth Snyder!  This week, the topic is “Advice I’d Give a Newbie Writer.”

It feels a little weird for me to be giving advice.  After all, I’m not a best-selling novelist.  (Yet.)  I haven’t actually published anything.  (Yet.)  In fact, aside from a handful of dubious short stories and some amateur poetry, I haven’t even finished anything.  (Yet.)  That is why I refer to myself as an “author-in-progress.”

I could direct you to hundreds of books written by people far more articulate, interesting, and qualified than I am for advice on writing.  (I’m including a list of my favorite ones at the end of this entry for the curious and masochistic.)  I could parrot the many tried and true sayings that have percolated my brain over the years, like “Have a routine,” or “Write every day,” or “The first draft always sucks; don’t let that discourage you,” or “Everyone has their own way of writing.”  All of which are valid pieces of advice.  There are plenty of bit-sized tidbits floating around on the internet in the form of brightly colored, friendly-looking helpful quotes in fancy fonts, often accompanied by pictures of a pen, paper, books, or tea.  Like this one, for instance:

via Pinterest

So I don’t feel like I’ve put in the hours or had the success that would make me qualified to give out advice.  But there is one thing that I’ve learned that I’d like to share:

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#BlogHop – Character Sketch

Week 3 of Ruth Snyder’s hosted #Blog Hop features a character sketch of our heroes!  (Many thanks again to Ruth for hosting and Cate from CommuniCATE for sharing!)  I decided to introduce folks to a character from one of my less-developed stories DragonFriend, a fantasy aimed at younger readers:

Hagan is the son of a blacksmith in an unremarkable village by a river leading to the sea.  He towers over the other folk of the village with that gawky adolescent awkwardness that turns into thick muscle and a wide belly with age.  His wide, friendly face is framed with thick black hair and a pair of green eyes gaze in quite wonder and amusement at the outside world.  He loves to laugh, a deep, jolly sound that shakes him from his toes.  Hagan’s size and muscle often fools people into thinking him slow or stupid, but he is neither.  Whether with a sword or with words, Hagan is both quick and careful, sensitive to the world around him.  Unfortunately, Hagan sometimes fancies himself to be more clever than he is or misjudges his own strength, which can get him into trouble.

His life is simple and quiet as he labors in his father’s forge, listening with rapture to the tales that various travelers bring in from the outside world.  Whenever he earns extra money, Hagan spends it on books, acquiring a small personal library.  He uses these books to teach himself reading and writing, and finds he has a talent with languages.  But his dreams of adventure seem out of reach…until he sees his first dragon.

The world is full of dragons:  big ones, little ones, earthy, airy, mystical, wise, powerful, and everything in between.  Until his eighteenth year, Hagan had only heard stories of the beasts.  But when a young Swamp Dragon washes up in the riverbank in a storm, cold, shivering and terrified, Hagan’s life changes forever.  His boundless compassion and curiosity does not allow him to leave the little dragon unaided, and this choice leads him out of his village to wizards, the keepers of knowledge and magic.

Unlike many other would-be practitioners, Hagan is not particularly interested in magic or power.  What he wants is to learn, specifically draconic dialects.  Communication, he believes, is the key to understanding, and Hagan wants to become, in his words, “a mystical biologist” to study and understand dragons.  It is a journey that will require all of Hagan’s courage, wits, strength, and good-humor…not to mention plenty of food!

#BlogHop – 7 Writing Tools I Use

I’m afraid I missed the first post of the #BlogHop for #Writers (“Writing Goals for 2014”), but I wanted to try out the rest of the series, since I like the topics being presented!  Many thanks to Cate Russell-Cole of CommuniCATE who posted about the Blog Hop!  I hope you’ll find these tools useful.

 

1.  First thing’s first…

UNPLUG.  Seriously.  The biggest thing keeping me (and probably a lot of other people) from writing regularly is the well of distraction that is the internet.  When I want to get down to some serious writing (which should be all the time), I need to unplug the Ethernet cable, turn off my phone (or put it on silent and hide it in the depths of my purse), and bar the door.  Need to look something up, a fact or a foreign phrase?  Leave a note in the prose and look it up later.  Don’t interrupt the flow because I guarantee that you’ll find yourself scrolling through Facebook statuses for an hour and suddenly realize you still haven’t looked up how to say, “What big horns you have!” in Elvish.

 

2. Dana, My Darling

Typing is, by far, the fastest and easiest way for me to record my thoughts.  However, some days, especially in the summer, I don’t want to spend my day cooped up inside staring at a monitor.  Or I just might not feel like sitting at my desk.  Maybe I want to curl up on the sofa with my cats or sprawl across the floor, or write at the kitchen table with easy access to the fridge.  But I can’t afford a laptop, they have overheating issues, and, worst of all, the pontificate of procrastination:  internet access.  But handwriting scenes and then transcribing them later is both slow and time consuming.  The solution?  Buying a Dana AlphaSmart:

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