Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rachel from Dungeon

     I have been looking for pictures for some of my characters.  Today I was looking for Rachel pictures.  I didn't exactly find a current picture for her, but here is a picture of Rachel about 10 years before the story starts.

The Little Knitter
by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
via Pinterest

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Send In Your Questions

As you will see below, several of my characters from Dungeon have agreed to be questioned.  Feel free to email questions to me or post them in the comments below.

The Princess:
When I asked her, she was standing by the window, tossing crumbs to her birds.  She was quiet for a moment as she pondered my request.  Then she spoke.  "It's my duty, isn't it?" she said, softly.  "To be there for them when they need me, to let them know me as I now wish to know them.  I will be glad to answer the questions of your friends."

The Villain:
He was not happy to see me coming.  From the distance, I could see shards of anger and resentment flickering across his face. 
When I reached him, his face was calm and he bowed with the courtesy of a nobleman, but I know him too well to fall for his polite pretenses.  I stated my request, looking straight into those cold, calculating eyes and watching him weigh his response before he spoke. 
"It's not in my job description," came his pointed answer.
"When has that ever stopped you," I fired back.  Job description, indeed!
His mouth filled with a hundred things he wanted to say but he restrained himself.  He was a master of his own, and I suddenly realized I was unlikely to get an answer to my sharp words. 
"Is not an audience to your liking?" I tried again, more gently.  As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey...
His self-restraint was now fully in control.  Try as I did to read his face, I could not discern his thoughts.
"Send me the questions," he said.  "I will look over them."

Jacob:
I met with Jacob on the steps of the castle, as he was leaving, and asked him if he would answer questions for my readers.
"Isn't that rather a child's play?" he asked.  His face was both incredulous and amused.
"It is not childish to want answers," I replied.  "You yourself wanted answers, did you not?"
"Yes, but that was because..." he began.
"Shhh," I said quickly, putting a hand out as if to stop him.  "Don't give away any spoilers!"
A servant approached with a white horse, and Jacob swung himself into the saddle.
"Any other restrictions I should know about?" he queried.
I shook my head.  "No, you can answer as you see fit, as long as you don't reveal too much of the story," I told him.
"When do you need the answers?" he asked, shifting his weight as his white horse danced underneath him, eager to go.
"They will be asking the questions for the next 7 days, and I will post your answers some time in the following seven days," I responded.
"Sounds entertaining," he said, lightly, before promising, "I will answer your friends' questions as you request."  Then he urged his horse into a canter and rode away.


Molly:
"Me, miss?" Molly gasped, looking up from her scrubbing.  She was kneeling on the stone floor, and sudsy water dripped from the rag in her hand.
"Yes," I answered.  "I want people to be able to ask you questions on my blog."
"What kind of questions, miss?" Molly wanted to know.  She looked a little bewildered.
"Questions about you, of course," I responded.  "Who you are, what you are like, and so forth."
"But I'm only a maid, miss.  No one has ever wanted to know about me before," Molly said.
"You play an important role in my story," I told her.
She looked at me with her mouth open.  "I do, miss?" she exclaimed.
I laughed.
"Will you answer some questions?  Please?" I pleaded with my best winning smile.
Molly blushed.  "Yes, miss...if you want me to," she agreed.  "As long as they won't be too hard."

Gorgus:
I am sorry to say Gorgus will not be answering any questions.  The threat he gave me when I went to ask him is not worth repeating.  He is obviously in a bad mood.
And he probably wouldn't be able to read any questions, were they sent to him.
So it is just as well.

Rachel:
Rachel was sitting under a tree at the top of a hill overlooking the village when I found her.  She turned out to be the easiest person to ask about the questions.
"How much things have changed," she said, dreamily.  "I can hardly believe people will be asking me questions.  And don't worry -- I won't be offended if they don't.  But I do have a story to tell, haven't I?  Not the main story, but my own redemption."
She looked at me and smiled.  "I would love to answer questions, if any of them come for me."


So there you have it!  You can ask anything you want of any of my willing characters.  Post one question or multiple questions.  But please ask something!
Leave your questions in the comments section or email me directly, and we will compile a list.   Next week, I will post their answers.  I look forward to hearing your questions and learning more about my characters through them!

P.S. You can also learn more about Dungeon by clicking the label by that name.  That will bring up all my posts on the subject.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Excerpt from BB



     Deep in the hills of the eastern border of Lerata nestled the tiny village of Dorf. It was a self-contained little village, accustomed to having its own way in everything. It’s remoteness shielded it from the influence of kings, whether good or bad, and so Dorf felt very much like its own tiny world.
     At least, that is the way it seemed to Ronald Leen. He was one of the two waresmen that ever visited Dorf.  As he walked down the quaint main street, leading his pack mule, he felt that the rest of Lerata could not be farther away.

     “Woe, Elroy,” Ronald called to his mule. The mule stopped patiently in front of the town’s main store. Ronald looped the lead rope over the hitching post and strode into the store, his bowed legs stamping out each step like a marching band.
     “You look mighty fresh for a man that’s come from out-of-town,” commented Tatum, owner of the general store, peering over the counter at the newcomer.

     Ronald grinned. “Why, yes. Yes, I do. I set up camp last night only a couple miles away,” he said.

     “Two miles? Why not come into the village last night then?”asked another man. He stood in the corner, leaning heavily against a barrel.
     Ronald grinned and rubbed his hands together. “I like to look fresh when I come in to sell my wares,” he explained.

     The man in the corner, whose name was Barnes, laughed derisively. “We don’t need any outside goods,”he scoffed.
     “No, no, you don’t,” Ronald agreed. He had been coming to Dorf for nearly thirty years and he knew how to talk. “No, I have to admit that Dorf has the best of everything I’ve seen.”

     Barnes and Tatum nodded.
     “In fact, you have such fine things that you could trade for anything you wanted,” Ronald commented, off-handedly, with an admiring look around the store.

     Barnes stood up straight and tucked his thumbs in his pockets as he looked admiringly around the store, too.
     “Maybe some salt or fine cloth or a bit of ribbon,” Ronald suggested. “I’ve even brought some new items for you to look over.”

     Tatum laughed and clapped Ronald Leen on the back. “You are a smooth talker, Ronald,” he said. “Bring your load in and let me see what you brought.”
     Ronald grinned again and did as the storekeeper said.

     As he laid out his wares on the counter, Ronald asked, “How are things in Dorf?”
     “Same as usual. We are doing fine as long as that crazy inventor doesn’t kill us with one of his inventions,” Barnes said with a grin and a shake of his head.

     “Grayson? Still at it, is he?” Ronald queried.
     “He has a notion that he will one day invent something that will have him named among the 'Greats.' But if he wants to go down in the history books, he needs to invent something that works,” said Tatum. He opened a drawer of ribbons and began sorting through the colors.

     “It’s a fool notion that he’s got stuck in his head. Who wants to go down in the outsiders’ history books?” Barnes said with a snort. “That’s what made the crazy traitor disappear for 8 years – chasing some fool dream. As if Dorf wasn’t good enough for him!”
     “Does he still live at the outskirts of the village with his little girl or has he moved to the Rottly Place,” Ronald queried.

     “The Rottly Place?” Tatum said, startled. He swung his head to stare at Ronald. “Why the Rottly Place? No one has lived there for over a century. It’s abandoned.”
     “That’s what I thought, too,” Ronald said with a shrug. “But I saw a bit of smoke there when I passed it yesterday. I figured Grayson was the only one crazy enough to be living there.”

     “Must be a tramp,” Tatum mused.
     “Brave tramp,” Barnes said, idly winding a piece of ribbon around his finger. “Most folks think the place is haunted.”

     “Keep your grubby paws off my ribbon unless you’re buying it,” Tatum growled, snatching the stray ribbon back into the drawer.
     The front door swung open, and a little old woman in a gray dress and bonnet came in, carrying a basket over her arm. She crossed the room to Barnes, pulling a handful of dusky-green leaves from her basket.

     “Mr. Barnes, here are the herbs for your wife,” she said. “They must be boiled and made into a poultice. Have your wife use it three times a day.” She hesitated and looked timidly at Tatum. “If Mr. Tatum would be so good as to write the directions...”
     “No need, Mother Walt,” Barnes said. “I’m not much for reading or writing neither. I’ll remember them.”

     Mother Walt beamed a smile then and handed a bunch of herbs to Mr. Barnes. Then she nodded benevolently at the other two men. “Have a good day now,” she said before she limped to the doorway and out into the street.
     The men turned to watch her go.

     “For all her knowledge of herbs, she still suffers from those achy joints before a rain,” Tatum remarked. “Seems a pity.”
      “Uh-oh, here comes the crazy inventor’s daughter,” Barnes muttered.

     Ronald shifted his eyes and beheld the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. From her rich wavy brown hair to her hazel-green eyes to her tiny feet, she was breathtaking.
     She pushed open the door of the general store and addressed the shopkeeper, “Salt and a bit of boot-black, if you please, Mr. Tatum.”

     The girl then retreated to the back of the store to run her hands lovingly over the small collection of books. Ronald raised his eyebrows and let out a low whistle. “She’s grown up a bit since her papa returned to Dorf with his wee lass, hasn’t she,” he said in a low tone to his companions.
     “Nice girl…a little strange in her ideas…but exactly what you would expect from a daughter of Grayson’s. You can tell she wasn’t born here,” Tatum remarked, in the same low tone intended for his companions’ears only.

     “Strange girl,” Barnes agreed. “Talks to her cat.”
     The girl in the back of the store felt, if she did not hear, the comments thrown around her. They were not new to her. Somehow she had known all her life that she both belonged and didn’t. Dorf was her life and she never expected to live elsewhere, but she knew the village would always give her a sideways glance. They would always say, “there is the crazy inventor’s daughter” and “here is that girl who wasn’t born here.” There was rarely any animosity in the glances, only a curiosity that never let her actually belong.  She was used to it.

     After a moment, she came to the counter to collect her order. Mr. Tatum packaged everything carefully.
     “Will you buy a book today?” he asked. Every week, she looked longingly at the books and every week she left without them. He was growing rather tired of it. It made him feel like a miser. “You know, the book on the end is half-price now,” he added casually.

     Her eyes lit up with hope. Ronald whistled lowly again at the sight of them.
     “I will talk to Papa,” she said with a smile. She gathered her purchases and stopped by the books one more time before she headed out the door.

     “You made her day,” Ronald commented, turning to watch her go.
     Tatum shook his head. “I feel sorry for her,” he said. “My wife hates her, you know, and I feel badly about it.”

     “Why does your wife hate the inventor’s daughter?” Ronald wanted to know as he watched her disappear down the street.
     Tatum ducked his head to count ribbons again. “You’ll see in a minute,” he said, enigmatically.

     The front door swung open again and in walked two young men. The contrast of these two men captured Ronald's curiosity.  They made an unlikely pair.
     The first was a tall, broad-shouldered young man with thick, wavy black hair and stunning blue eyes. He strode into the general store with a bold, confident step and a commanding air.  His face was tanned with the color of an outdoorsman, and Ronald felt that the young man quickly analyzed each man in the store with a practiced eye in spite of his youth.

     The second was a short, dumpy-looking character with big elbows and crooked teeth. His pale, sallow face had a perpetually stupid look to it, and his thin, stringy blonde hair stuck out at odd angles. Every step showed what an awkward, clumsy fellow he was as he trotted along behind his predecessor.
     The tall young man glanced around the store. “Seen Belle?” he asked.

     Barnes pointed down the street. “I think she is heading home to her papa,” he said. “She just left.”
     The tall young man gave him a grin and then dove out the door. The pale youth paused, looked at Barnes and Ronald, and pointed over his shoulder in the direction of Belle’s home. “We’re going to catch up with her,” he announced. Then he hurried toward the door, tripping over a set of garden tools on his way out.

     When the door closed behind him, Barnes turned to Ronald with a proud grin. “That was Curt Hanson,” he said, as though the name itself should mean something.
     “And Willie,” Tatum added, almost as an afterthought.

     “Curt is the best hunter in town,” Barnes said.
     “Curt Hanson has been blessed with an amazing athletic talent,” Tatum explained further. “He can outshoot, outrun, and outfight any man in the village. Quite a hero. He’s also undeniably the handsomest man in town, and he has half the girls swooning over him.” Tatum took several bolts of fabric from Ronald’s wares and tucked them onto a shelf behind his counter. “My wife hates him because she is convinced that he would be pursuing our Emma if it weren’t for Belle.”

     “Emma is a pretty girl, too,” Barnes added, loyally.
     “And Emma was born here,” Tatum pointed out. “But most of the village forgets that. Nearly everyone expect Curt to marry the inventor’s daughter by next spring.”

     “Odd companion that he had,” Ronald remarked. “You wouldn’t expect such a strapping young man to tolerate a bumbling idiot as a shadow.”
     “Oh, Willie--,” Tatum said, in a tone that was halfway between reproach and fondness.  “–Willie adores his hero – probably wishes he could do everything Curt does. And Curt takes him everywhere.”

     “What a contrast between them,” Ronald continued.
     “Willie makes Curt look even better, doesn’t he,” snickered Barnes.

     Ronald nodded with a grin. Then he turned back to Tatum. “Well, I would give you all the latest gossip from the palace, but you wouldn’t care,” he said, rolling a piece of homemade Dorf lace around in his hand and calculating its value.
     Barnes stood up straight and shoved his thumbs into his pockets again. “Why would we want to hear about them?” he scoffed.

     “The king leaves us alone and we leave him alone,” Tatum expounded. “That’s the way it’s always been.”
     “And the way it always will be,” finished Barnes, emphatically.

     Ronald grinned again. That was one thing about Dorf –nothing ever changed.

 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Anne-girl's Blog: Must Heroes Be Heroic?


     Hello!  I was reading Anne-girl's blog last week, and she posted a series of questions for her followers to answer.  I answered them on my own but decided not to post any of my answers except my answer to Question #10.

Question #10. And lastly what do you think are three most important elements to being a hero?

     To my delight and surprise, my answer to question #10 sparked its own post as Anne-girl responded to it. 
     Essentially, she and I had two different definitions of the word "hero". 
     I considered a hero to be someone who did something heroic, someone who saved the day.  The boy who defeats the evil tyrant and the boy who overcomes his own fear of heights to save a trapped victim are both heroes.  The man of integrity and good morals who stands up for the oppressed and the worthless gang member who repents and makes the ultimate sacrifice for someone are both heroes.  The nice old man who walked out the door, planted a little garden by himself, and walked back inside is not a hero (unless there is more to the story).  So I looked at the question and thought, "What makes the difference between people saying 'he/she is a hero' or not?"
     Anne-girl was using the word "hero" to mean "hero of the story" (essentially, protagonist).
     So, the cool thing was that she was planning to write a post on whether the "hero of the story" actually had to be "heroic".  My comment with my answer to question 10 was the perfect springboard for such a post, and you can read it at Must Heroes Be Heroic?  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Book Cover is On Its Way!

     I am having a custom book cover made for Dungeon by Anne-girl.  It will be a "for fun" cover as she will just be borrowing pictures from the internet (i.e. I won't actually have my book printed with this cover).  I am so excited.  Stay tuned for results!
     Let the artist begin her work!

"Katie Painting"
By Jeremy Lipking
Oil on linen, 16 X 12
via Pinterest

P.S. You can see the announcement for the three book cover recipients here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bits of BB


Here are some little bits from my current project:
via Pinterest
Ronald grinned and rubbed his hands together. “I like to look fresh when I come in to sell my wares,” he explained.
***
There was rarely any animosity in the glances, only a curiosity that never let her actually belong -- no matter how many years she lived here.
***
A man’s form, shrouded in cape and mask, peered from a window. He waved Grimm away from the ivy. “Leave it,” he ordered, adding dully, “It will help the place appear uninhabited.”
***
Grimm fought his way through the weeds to his master’s side. The man sat still in the coach, looking distantly at nothing in particular. It gave Grimm a queer feeling to be so near a man who was so far away. He didn’t like it at all.
***
“You’ll soon get used to it, miss,” a cheery voice greeted her. She looked up to see a manservant emerging from one of the rooms. “And it is not nearly so bad as it looks at first. You’ll see,” he said, encouragingly.
***
“Another blunder like that and you will be swinging by your neck before the month is out,” Grimm said warningly before hastening after his master.
***
Her papa was already absorbed in making an adjustment to his drawing. At Belle’s question, he looked at her rather blankly, as though she were asking him to recall some small incident from 50 years ago. “Oh, yes,” he finally answered. “I did that this morning."

Friday, February 21, 2014

Out of the Ordinary

I love getting snowed in.  I love power outages.  I love things that are out of the ordinary.  It breaks up our dependence on technology and forces us to slow down.  It puts people closer together.  Perfect strangers help each other dig their cars out of snowbanks; they part, wishing each other the best of safe travels.  Family sit around in the dark with candles, telling stories or playing acoustic instruments.  For a moment, time stands still and you have to think about everything that you do on a daily basis.  Ordinary is even better when interrupted occasionally.  I like it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Finding Your Purpose

Purpose

      We all have purposes -- things we believe in and things we want to change.  We all have things that we want to tell the world.  But maybe you haven't thought about it before.  Maybe you don't know what your purpose is.  If so, how do you find it?

Developed Like a Character
     Purpose is developed much like a character is.  I develop my characters by studying them.  I ask them questions.  I put them in scenarios.  I watch how they act in their scenes in the book.  This is how I make them into real people, and I can then carry those "real people" through the rest of the book.
     You can do that same thing with yourself.  Ask yourself questions.  What matters to you?  What do you want to say?  What do you believe in?  What is wrong with the world (or a community or a person)?  What would you change?  Look at how you write; learn from what have you already written.  Look at your life.  What moves you to action?  These are ways to find purposes for your stories.

No Stealing...
     It's not fair to steal someone else's purpose.  For example, let's say we read a book about a slave fighting for his freedom, and we are moved to hate slavery.  This book's purpose now matters to us so we write about slavery.  But if we have only copied another's purpose, then our book will not have the same success because ours is second-hand.
...Go Get Your Own!
     But is there slavery today?  Have you seen it?  Have you seen the same spirit of slavery...even if it was not as overt as it was in another time or place?  Now you have something to write.  You have first-hand experience with the some of the evils of slavery; and though you may place your characters in any place or time-period, you are writing based on something you have seen and something that matters to you.

A Worthy Cause
     Finding purpose makes you do more than just write.  It makes you stop and examine yourself.  It makes you think about why you write.  It's hard if you haven't done it before.  Sometimes it's hard anyway.  But it is so worth it.

The Humble Servant
     Some of you already have a purpose.  Your purpose is to glorify God in everything you do.  Like a servant or a scribe, you do not write for your own purposes but you write under the direction of One who is greater and wiser than any earthly author.  When you look for a purpose for your project, all you need do is say, "Lord, what would you have me write."  In that case, you let Him be the mastermind.

     Either way, I encourage you to take some time to seek your purpose for your stories.  And don't give up!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: Ransomed


     Other blogs have frequently done book reviews, and I have not.  But I think I may make an exception for authors like Elizabeth Ender, Rachel Heffington, and Katy Pistole.
     I recently ordered Elizabeth Ender's book "Ransomed."  There were a few things that interested me when I saw it online.  For one thing the little teaser description caught my eye:
BOTH OF THEM HAVE PROMISED TO PROTECT ME. MY LORD IS NOT HERE. THE STRANGER IS. ONE SAID I WOULD DIE IF I LEFT; THE OTHER SAYS I CANNOT LIVE UNLESS I GO...AND TO GO WITH ONE MEANS TO FORSAKE THE OTHER.
DO I STAY OR DO I GO?

THIS IS MY CHOICE.
     This dilema was rather fascinating to me, and from the description I could not immediately discern which was the correct way to go.  Was the "good guy" the one who told her to stay or who told her to go?  The fact that I could not tell put me very much in the same position as the main character, and the fact that E. Ender had done that with six-sentence description intrigued me.  I wanted to know more.
     So I ordered the book.
     And it arrived.
     And it was awesome.
     I was overcome when I first read it.  The second time I read it was aloud, and I almost cried at one point.  It is a short story but it packs a powerful punch.  I learned some things about myself as I read it.  It was pretty cool.
     Also the illustrations were awesome.
     I recommend it.

[***Spoiler Alert***This next part talks about our world but there are some parallels in the story***Do not read until you have read Ransomed unless you accept the risk of spoilers***]

     I know that I have a couple of unsaved friends who would not have liked it at all.  They would have felt that the part about betrayal to be overdone.  "She didn't know," they would have argued.  "She was misled.  Surely no one could blame her for that."  They would have kicked against the demand for perfection -- everyone rebels a little bit, they would say -- it is silly to expect a person to have no shortcomings.
     It's funny which things we humans kick against.  Our universe is set to be governed by a set of rules.  They are good rules.  No one denies that a world without lying, stealing, murdering is a good world.  It is not like we have rule that everyone must point their fingers at the sky at 5pm every day or a rule that no one is allowed to eat any vegetables.  Ours are good rules that we have been given.  And, like it or not, these are the rules that are set for us.
     We willingly accept rules in fantasy stories.  People in one story can fly -- oh, okay.  No one, in this other story, can touch the great stone table or they will die -- oh, okay.  A character, in a third story, is set to guard a jewel with his life: neither con-artist nor natural disaster nor wars against him may ever cause him to lose the jewel...or his life will follow -- oh, okay.  But, my, oh my, do we kick against the good rules of our own world!
      Long ago, there were laws set in motion for us.  These laws cannot be changed.  These are the deep code, unalterable.  "They are good laws," you say, "but we can't keep them.  It's not possible.  For generations, we have proved it."  This is true.  I don't deny it.  What, then, is to be done?  Who knows the deep code so well that He can make a way for us to live?  Is it possible?
     There is One.  He found a way to take our punishment and yet live.  He found the loophole, but it required the greatest sacrifice on His part.  Yet, He did it...for us.  He was the only One who could have...and He did.
     So say what you like about the poor misled girl in the story.  Regardless of how she came to do it, she violated the unviolatable law...but someone who knew the law better than anyone else, even better than the enemy who bent it to his purposes, took her place. 
     And I suppose you will have to read the story to find out what happened. I'm not giving any more spoilers.

You can find out more about this book at:


 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Scribblers' Conference Giveaway

Hi, everybody!
     As I announced earlier, Anne-girl is hosting the 2014 Scribblers' Conference on her blog.  Part of that is a giveaway.  If you are interested, check out this blog post:
     Anne-girl, as part of her giveaway, challenged us to blog about our first book that we wrote.  I think the first book I decided to write was about an amazing black horse with such wondrous speed that he made all real horses look like hobbyhorses.  This amazing horse loved me and me alone, but he and I went on to win astounding fame and glory.  Etc, etc, etc.
     There were a few problems with this book, the largest of which was probably that I had no real horse experience.  But I was 7 years old, and I am proud of myself for trying.  Up until that point, I loved reading and hated writing.  I think I hated writing because my pencil could not keep up with my brain, and I found it frustrating.  But when I was seven, I was beginning to change my mind and learn how to regulate the speed of thought and hand.  And thus began my writing career, such as it was.
     My second book was a bit better.  I wrote down an analogy that my daddy had told me on the value of standardized weights and measures.  Basically, I had made a comment in the kitchen that I thought standardized cup-measures and things were a waste of time.  I could figure out for myself, by trial and error, how much flour to put in my cake.  Being a homeschooling dad, it was the perfect time for a lesson, and he told me this story about 3 kings.  I think I was seven or eight years old when I wrote that one, too.
     How about you?  I would love to hear about your first story!

P.S. Check out this post written by Trix on Anne-girl's blog.  I thought it was well-done.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Purpose: The Backbone of a Story

via Pinterest
     Purpose is the backbone of the story, and it deserves as much attention from the author as the characters or the plot.  Without a good purpose, a book lacks the strength that it could have had, and the author's efforts have been (no offense and, yes, pun intended) pointless.
     I once read a quote from a famous author on the value of purpose in writing.  He said something to the effect that any strong purpose, whether it be a good one or not, is necessary for what we call "greatness" in a manuscript.  That, I feel, is not the proper approach -- as I place high value on works of a good purpose and scorn books of bad purpose -- however, I do agree with him that a strong purpose makes a difference in the story.
     Sometimes a book's purpose is obvious; other times it is very subtle.  Each can be worked for the message that the author wants to get across.  Oftentimes the best method is to have some place, tucked inside the story, where the author communicates clearly the purpose hinted at in the plot.  It need not be hammered into the minds of the readers; it can be gently included in such a way that the reader must be attentive to ascertain the purpose.
     If we carry the analogy of a backbone, you can see that purpose gives the structure to the story.  It helps the story to achieve more.  Even metaphorically speaking, a person or a story with "no backbone" is considered "wimpy."  No one needs to see the backbone in order to know that it is there for it influences everything.  And for me, as a reader, a good strong purpose is often the difference between "that was a nice story" and "wow, that was breathtakingly awesome."
     Look at the classics -- did they have purposes?  Of course, they did.  Every literature class, whether you like it or not, makes you search for the great author's "purpose."  Why is that?
     Purpose is a vital part of your story -- one that is frequently ignored by beginners -- and taking the time to ascertain your own purpose will make a difference in your writing.  Try it!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Something I Love

We interrupt our regular programming with a random post not related to writing...

I LOVE SNOW!!!



 
By the way, I have decided that shoveling and such tasks are just a grownup's way to play in the snow.  :)  I had so much fun this week.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Rachel Heffington's Debut

Dear Friends,
     Today is the day.  I have been hinting at it for some time, but today is the day that Rachel Heffington releases her book Fly Away Home to the public.  She is an author I have been following for some time now (on her blog), and I am very excited to see her published.  Hurray for Rachel!
      You can read her own announcement at the link below.  She is also hosting a giveaway - try it out!
  http://inkpenauthoress.blogspot.com/2014/02/todays-day-fly-away-home-debut.html 
     Congratulations, Rachel!
Sincerely,
me

Social Circles

In my last three projects, I have made circles of my characters.  At the beginning of the book, there are individual circles of interaction.  Then somebody steps out of their circle and begins to weave them all together.
For example, in Dungeon, I had a three major circles.  There was the circle of the upper floors of the castle.  This included the royal family and those that served them closely.  There was a circle of the servants at the bottom.  This includes Molly and the large, red-faced cook and others.  And there was a dungeon circle of guards and inmates.  The princess ends up being my thread that weaves through all three social circles.
In BB (my newest project), there is the village circle, the abandoned mansion circle, and the royal court circle.  We have yet to see how they will weave together...
How do you organize your characters?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

10,000 Hours

I had a rather inspiring conversation with a friend yesterday.  She said that she once heard that one must spend 10,000 hours to become good at something.

10, 000 hours

I ran some calculations.  If I worked 8 hours a day (no weekends or holidays or any other breaks) on my craft, then I could become good in about 3 and 1/2 years.

Three and a half years


Or let us suppose that I only worked 8 hours a day for 5 days a week for 50 weeks out of the year.  Then I could be good in 5 years.

Five years

Perhaps I do not write that much.  Perhaps I write 2 hours a day for 4 days a week for 50 weeks out of the year.  In that case, I could be good in 25 years.

Twenty-five years

Yikes.  How is this inspiring?  Believe it or not, I think it is.  I like to have goals in mind.  I like to know that if I keep working, I will eventually become good.  And the older you get (and the more you realize how many years your schooling requires), the shorter these times seem.  So these time frames, instead of jumping out to me with how terribly long they are, they rather jump out at me with a "hang in there...you just haven't been doing this long enough yet...you WILL get good at this."  And, in my opinion, that is encouraging.

Whew!

And maybe we are closer than we think.  Perhaps some of our thinking time, our research time, or our I-am-watching-a-movie time counts for some of this.  Maybe we are closer to becoming good -- really good -- than anyone imagined.  Now, THAT is encouraging.

Hang in there!  
You are closer than you think!

It's time to become good at what we do -- really good.

Daniel 6:3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.

Daniel 1:19-20 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king.  And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February Chatterbox - Criticism


     The princess felt a twinge of excitement that temporarily erased her discomfort.  Here was an inmate of the rumored dungeon.  Here was one of the things she came to see.  Emboldened by her purpose, the princess tried another question. "Why are you here? What have you done?"

     The young man did not move or make any response.

    The heavy footsteps and the light were even closer now.

     The princess could not believe that this prisoner was not even speaking at her request.  “Answer me, young man,” she ordered.

     “What for?” came an old man’s voice out of the dimness. 

      The princess spun to look for this new voice.  Her eyes could barely distinguish more cells across the hall.  One of them held an old man with long, white hair.

     The old man shrugged under her stare.  “What else can you do to him?” he asked pointedly, waving his hand at the despair around him.

      The princess felt that all the wind had been knocked out of her.  Slowly, she backed away.  Thoughts were swarming through her head – too fast to process.  She reached for the wall behind her and instead tripped over something on the ground.  It was a thick stick with several long cords fastened at one end.  At the end of each cord was a hooked metal spike.  It felt wet and sticky.

      “No…NO!  Nooooooo!” the princess cried.  She scrambled to her feet, staggering into the darkness of the hall that would lead her up and out of this pit.

      “Who’s there!” echoed an angry voice.  The heavy footsteps that had been echoing in deeper halls, pounded into the room, casting light from his torch on the quiet prisoners.  But the princess was already gone. 

     At the top of the dungeon stairs, she heaved the heavy wood and iron door closed and continued her flight upward.  As she passed by the kitchen, she thought she heard a servant shriek, but she did not slow down.  She did not stop until she had reached the safety of her own bedroom.  There she sank to the floor by her bed, trembling. 

     Her hands had red smears across them.  The princess stared at them in horror.  It was blood -- blood from a whip – the blood of her people.

     Her whole world had been yanked upside-down.  The dungeon was not an adventure.  It was a nightmare.  It was not a fantastic story-book destination.   It was a trap.

     The young man had looked at her with hope at first, when he first heard her shuffling footsteps.  But when he could see her, he no longer expected her to help him.

     And he would not answer her.  The princess had never anyone refuse an order before.  It was incomprehensible.  She was the princess – hers was the right to command.

     What had the old man said?  What for?”  Why did people obey her?  Was it only out of fear?  What made one person able to command another person’s life?

     What else had the old man said?  What else can you do to him?”  Did they really blame her for all of their troubles?  Did they think that SHE was the reason they were imprisoned?  How could they think that a mere, sweet princess had done those things to them?  How could they blame her for the dungeon – she who had never known it existed?

      Slowly, ideas were beginning to form in the princess’ head.  Slowly, it was beginning to make sense.  If she claimed the right to command, she also claimed responsibility.  And if she proved herself an irresponsible leader, then why would her people give her the right to command?  This WAS her fault - all of it.

     The princess felt very, very sick.

 



A Bit of Backstory

I wrote a scene to go along with my new project.  It's a bit of backstory that I needed to establish.  I don't know how to include it in the book -- maybe a flashback? or a prologue?  But I am sure I will figure that out as I go.  In the meantime, enjoy this clip:

via Pinterest

     Her parents nodded with eager smiles and discrete winks at one another when he offered to walk her to her suite. He knew she saw their looks as well, but she did not hesitate to accept his offer. She never did.
     Outside, it was almost as bright as day. Moonlight danced across the rippling waves and gave a bluish glow to the beach. The warm sand poured over his sandals as he trudged along by her side.
     "I love your summer retreat," she said, fondly, breaking the silence. "It's such a welcome relief from the pressures of court."
     "Some pressures follow us, even here," he countered. He didn't mind really. He had been born to reign someday, and the pressures of royal life were normal to him.
     She blushed. "Like my parents," she murmured. "You know, they want us to marry."
     "I figured as much," he responded. Her parents had been so hopeful when they were invited to the royal ocean retreat. In their minds, wedding bells were already pealing and their daughter would soon be a princess.
     "I'm never going to marry," she said. "I have too much to do. One of these days I am going to convince my parents that I am going to be a doctor."
     "Maybe you can do both," he suggested.
     She laughed. "In Lerata? Not a chance," she reminded him, lightly.
     "Go be a doctor then," he said, fondly. "But if you ever change your mind..."
     Her eyes danced with fun and suppressed laughter. "Are you proposing?" she queried. He could hear the laughter in her voice, trying to bubble to the surface.
     "You are the best option in the royal court," he said, matter-of-factly. In truth, she had been his friend, almost from infancy, and was more of a sister than a love interest. But he could not deny that he loved her and wanted her to be happy. If he had to pick a bride, she was a logical choice.
     Her laughter, no longer willing to be repressed, rang out merrily at his statement. "That's no reason to marry," she informed him. Her eyes twinkled. "You make it sound like we are the only two people stranded on a deserted island. 'I don't see anyone better. I might as well marry you.' What a notion!" Her face grew serious then; he was surprised at how serious. "I am not the right one for you, Edward," she said. "You will see. You just haven't met her yet."
     They had reached her suite. Her individual set of rooms was on the end of the row, overlooking the beach. He held out his hand to her, helping her up the bank and onto her front porch.
     "Goodnight, Cassie," he said. "Sleep well."
     "Goodnight, Edward," she said. "See you in the morning."
     He grinned. His yacht was arriving in the morning, and he had every intention of sailing with Cassie at dawn.
     She waved to him and went inside. He, feeling boyish, cleared her front steps with one leap, and trotted casually back up the beach toward his own suites. Sand flicked with each step, and a disturbed crab scuttled out of his path. He slowed to a walk and then stopped, gazing over the moonlit ocean, hoping to see his yacht sailing into the inlet. But the horizon was clear. No matter -- it was not due to arrive until just before dawn.
     Suddenly, as he stood there, a sense came over him that something was amiss. Smoke. He smelled smoke. And a crackling sound filled the air. He half turned to glance behind him, and the scene filled him with horror. Cassie's apartments were ablaze.
     "Cassie," he gasped, his voice barely more than a whisper. In the next instant, fear lent wings to his feet -- fear for his best friend. He raced over the sand, quickly closing the distance between himself and her suite. "Cassie!" he shouted.
     The entire suite was on fire. He had never known it could spread so quickly. Already flames enveloped every entrance and poured from every window.
     With barely a hesitation, he rammed his way through the front door, feeling as though his skin were melting in the fervent heat. "Cassie!" he called, choking on the smoke. "CASSIE!!!"

Monday, February 10, 2014

Connections

Hi, this is just a quick post to remind you that Rachel Heffington, the inkpenauthoress, will be releasing her book to the public on Valentine's Day...
            http://inkpenauthoress.blogspot.com/
...and that Anne-girl is hosting a scribbler's conference at her blog the following week.
            http://scribblingskeyboard.blogspot.com/2014/01/rather-late-but-still.html

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Another Idea

     On February 4th, I was suddenly gifted with an idea for another story.  Now this is nothing new.  I never seem to be at a loss of story ideas, as you probably know.  I am going to play with this one for a little while and see if it has the potential to go anywhere.
     I am planning and writing simultaneously.  Someone was using the computer when I wanted to start writing so I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote an outline of plot and characters.  Those lists are incomplete.  So even though I am writing now, I occasionally take breaks and work more on character development on the side.
     Multiple characters have been introduced into the story so far.  But there are four that I am rather intrigued by. 
     One is a beautiful girl who lives with her papa.  I need to know more about her.  What is she like?  What are her strengths?
     One is a boy named Curt Hanson.  He is an athletically gifted young man and undisputably the handsomest boy in his village.  He is currently seeking the hand of the above-mentioned beautiful girl.  I need to know a little more about his strengths and weaknesses, too.
     One is the childhood friend and almost constant companion of Curt Hanson.  It's a boy named Willie.  Willie is Curt's opposite in many respects.  He is neither handsome, nor clever, nor talented.  He adores Curt in his own simple way.  Curt is his hero, the one whom he wishes he could be like, and the one whom he tries desperately to please.
     The village folk do not understand why Curt tolerates such an awkward simpleton.  They are rather impressed with his patience.  But, in truth, patience is not the reason Curt keeps Willie around.  Curt's largest flaw is his own ego, and the constant comparison with Willie is immensely flattering.
       The fourth character that I am eager to learn about is one that I have not seen yet.  But there is smoke from an abandoned chimney, and I suspect a fascinating story behind that.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fuller Characters and Less Redundancy

Chillon Castle dungeon via Pinterest

These are two of the things I want to improve for my second draft of Dungeon: characters and wordiness.
     My characters are full in my own head, but I am not sure they made it fully onto paper.  Hatach, especially, needs a little more attention.  I hadn't given him much attention early in the book because my princess doesn't give him much attention, but I may need to let the readers know more about him.
     I also tend to explain things too much, I think.  Part of it is the fact that I am frequently interrupted when I write.  Part of it is my own desire to be very clear.  But, somehow there is a way to be very clear without treating your readers like simpletons.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dungeon pictures


Ancient Castle Door, Switzerland photo via patricia
via Pinterest
     Here is a picture I found on Pinterest.  It is possibly one of the king's rooms on the highest floor of the castle.  It could also, I suppose, be one of the suites in the Halls of the Honorable Guests.


Castles.I want to go see this place one day.Please check out my website thanks. www.photopix.co.nz
via Pinterest
     I found this castle on Pinterest.  I liked it because you could see that there were many floors in this castle (consistent with my story) and also a few towers.  I also like the fact that it looks bright and elegant -- you wouldn't, at first glance, think of a deep, dark dungeon under its walls.



castle doorsvia Pinterest
Castle Door - Chateau de Nemours 12th Cen France - 1238HCvia Pinterest
Castle doorvia Pinterest
Hearst Castle - Doorvia Pinterest
Castle doorvia Pinterest
Malahide Castle, Dublin by cpqsvia Pinterest
This Antique Castle Door Is Over 290 Years Old, Butron Castle 13th Century | Spainvia Pinterest

These were all pictures that might have been things that the princess saw on her search through the castle, before she found the Dungeon.  There are different styles, I know, and she probably didn't see all of these in her castle, but you get the idea.



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Q & Q: Chapter Four


                                             Chapter Four

     The next day, Linda went to sit in the closet with Quillbur.  He was sleeping inside his shoebox.  So Linda lay down on the floor next to him.  Somehow she hoped that, by being close to him, she could help him get better.

     Suddenly, the front door slammed open and Walter ran into the room without even knocking.

     “Linda!” he shouted.  “It’s okay!  Quillbur doesn’t have phinaly pharpis!!!”

     Linda sat up quickly.  “He doesn’t?” she asked, surprised and excited.

      Walter flopped down on his knees next to Linda and held up the quill he had taken.  “No, he doesn’t,” Walter affirmed.  His face was glowing.

      “What does he have?” Linda wanted to know.  A tiny bit of worry crept back into her mind.  Maybe he had something worse.

      “Baby hedgehogs shed their quills between 8 and 12 weeks of age,” Walter told her.  “It’s like losing your baby teeth.  Hedgehogs lose their baby quills and get grownup ones.”

      “How do you know it’s not phinaly pharpis?” Linda asked.

     “If Quillbur had phinaly pharpis, his quills would have been softer – not prickly, see?” Walter held up his quill again.

     Linda breathed a big sigh of relief.  She was so glad Quillbur was going to be okay.

     Walter crossed his legs into Indian style and sat on the floor with his back against the wall.  “All we have to do is provide supportative care,” Walter said.

     Linda puckered her eyebrows in a puzzled frown.  “Su-por-ta-tive?” she asked.

      Walter nodded.  “We have to take good care of him and keep him healthy.  We have to make sure he gets the right food and water and stuff,” he explained.  Walter looked pointedly at Linda and crossed his arms.  “What are you feeding him?” he asked.

     Linda pressed her finger against her chin as she thought.  Then she answered, “Roaches and beetle and earthworms and bits of meat.”

      Walter nodded wisely.  “That’s good,” he said.  “They also like caterpillars.  Sometimes they eat millipedes and earwigs.”

     “Ewwww,” exclaimed Linda.

      Walter nodded again.  “Sometimes they even eat slugs and snails…” he added.

       “EWWWW!  GROSS!” Linda exclaimed again, even louder.

      “…but they don’t really like them,” Walter finished.  “And sometimes they can get very sick from them.”

     Linda shuddered.  She hated slugs.  They were so slimy.

     Walter grinned.  Then he went on, “You can sometimes give a crushed unsalted peanut to a hedgehog.”

     Linda relaxed again.  Peanuts were not gross.  She felt much better now.

     “But,” Walter said, with a fierce frown.  “Do NOT give any bread or milk to Quillbur.  It’s not good for him.”

      Linda shrugged.  “Mama won’t let me anyway,” she said.  She leaned over to the door of the shoebox and said, “I’m so glad you’re okay Quillbur.  We’ll take very good care of you.  Good, sup-por-ta-tive care!”

      Quillbur opened one eye, peering over his snuggly blanket.  He was too sleepy to get up, but Linda almost thought she saw him wink at her.

     So, very slowly, Linda winked back.  She was so happy he was going to be okay.