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Showing posts from May, 2014

Here Come the Bunnies!

Greetings, fellow writers and readers!  I am joining an event this month, hosted over at Anne-girl's blog .  I have never done a plot bunny challenge before and am curious to try it.      At first, I thought that focusing on plot bunnies might be a distraction from my current projects, but then I realized what an amazing exercise this is.  Coming up with new ideas is not hard, but this event requires that you write back-cover blurbs and the 1st scene of the story.  Making those two things interesting enough to grab the attention of the reader is not something I have put a lot of time into yet.  So this will be an awesome opportunity to practice.      The requirements for this event are as follows: 1. Put her button on my blog (done! -- see the cute bunny picture above?) 2. Leave the link to my blog in Anne-girl's comments (so she can list me on her blog as one of the joinees) 2. Begin 8 plot bunnies in June      2a. Must post back cover blurb on my blog      2b. Must po…

BB Villain: The First Rat

The piping of the tree frogs was the only sound to be heard.  It was dark -- very dark; the tiny sliver of moon was not enough to guide Newel's steps.  The servants were asleep, and the castle was a quiet as a tomb.  Newel walked with cat-like steps into the still, night air, seeking a refuge from his trouble dreams.
     His path wound through the gardens, his feet tracing the familiar pattern of stones beneath his feet.  Then on he crept, to the arbor and the vineyard beyond.
     Hark!  What was that sound?  Newel froze, his ears straining to catch any noise.  But all was silent over the piping frogs.  Newel drew in a long breath and let it out slowly before resuming his journey.
     But what was that?  The sound again!  Newel spun, his eyes searching the darkness.  The hair on the back of his neck stood up, and, in his mind, he heard a voice whisper, "First your you."  Newel's blood ran cold at the thought.
     "Who's there!" New…

BB Villain: Lost Without You

"If your Grace would be so good as to come with me," a nervous voice intruded on Newel's private thoughts.  Newel looked up into the face of one of the palace servants.  The servant looked as pale as a winter moon, and his eyes were as frightened as if he had seen an invading army of untold numbers.
      "This is a strange business, thought Newel.  "On the first night of my dukedom."  He fingered the crest of his new office.  His brother made him "Duke of Northumber" that very morning.  Newel had laughed up his sleeve during the ceremony.  He did not know how his mother intended to put him on Alton's throne, but he knew that very soon the new "duke of Northumber" would be known as King Newel instead.
      Newel rose to his feet and followed his summons.  "Slow down, you side-winding crab!" Newel growled, irritated with the speed of servant's steps.  Something had obviously upset the servant's usual demeano…

Dungeon Update

With all the work I have been doing for BB background (and not just the villain posts you see here), Dungeon lapsed into silence.  At least, it did until this week.  Suddenly, the story is reviving itself in my head, and the editing needs that swirled loosely through my brain are becoming concrete corrections (at least, some of them are).  I am rather excited to pick it up again and see where the editing takes me.
     Today, I took a scene that I have tried to fix multiple times and simply deleted it.  I discovered it is not necessary to the story.  So why wrestle with it?  Dump it and move on!
     Of course, "dumping" for me involves saving it somewhere else in a pile of discarded scenes.  I haven't quite brought myself to letting it all the way go.  It is out of my book and that is what counts.  And, if I need it again -- for this book or another -- it can be recycled and reused.
     I also made a list of things that I specifically remembered needed fixing: The…

BB Villain: Coronation

Newel rubbed his sweaty palms against each other.  He could feel the beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead.  Several servants waited on him, adorning him with robes and jewels.  Newel grasped the edge of a robe, crushing it in his fist.  He could hardly have been more nervous if it were his own coronation that he was attending.
     It had been a nightmare of a week for Newel.  His father, King Reymound, had died.  Preparations for Prince Alton's coronation were immediately begun, placing Newel in constant turmoil for the next seven days.
     He knew his mother had always dreamed of him as king -- she expected it of him.  Now that his father was dead, was this his chance?  Should he storm the throne now?  He should.  He shouldn't.  He must.  He can't.  Every day the suspense grew worse.  Now that the coronation day was here, Newel couldn't think anymore.
      He had hardly spoken to his mother since his father's death.  She had the appearance of deep m…

BB Villain: Attack the Weak

It is a strange twisted lie that makes a weak person attack someone weaker than himself.  Newel fell into this trap.  Feeling insecure, he wanted to be conqueror like his father and brother but was too cowardly to challenge someone equal to himself.  He turned to attacking those who could not defend themselves.  Soon after the embarrassing public appearance, Newel trapped some insects and took a cruel delight in removing wings and legs and watching the insects' struggles.  In some twisted way, this made him feel stronger.  But it fed his fear, as well, making him sneakier and more cowardly.
     The story below takes place when Alton was nearly a man and Newel was around 12 years old.  As I have said before, all his life, Alton fell naturally into the things expected of him, and, the older he grew, the stronger he became.  He had a talent for leading men and an ability to make swift decisions.  He never understoon his little brother’s shyness.  At 12 years of age, the younger …

World-Traveler Observations

I recently got a new journal.  It is a special journal and I want it to be filled with important stuff.

     Do you ever have that feeling that you want to write something beautiful and vital to history?  That you want to be on the front lines of something, recording it for posterity?  Something like Thomas Jefferson's diary?  Or Abigail Adams' letters?
     This new journal that I got is the sort that you fill with calligraphy and draw descriptive sketches in the margins.  If I were an explorer with Lewis and Clark, I might fill it with descriptions of the changing scenery and sketches of the plants and animals indigenous to an area.  If I were a young man apprenticing to a country doctor in the untamed prairie parishes, I might write about cases and draw pictures of the herbs and medicines that were used.  If I were traveling to other countries, I might make observations (both written and sketched) of the new customs, cultures, fashions, architecture, and other things o…

Beautiful People to Return Soon

So, once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a couple young bloggers who wrote questions for characters.  They called the assignment "Beautiful People."  Aspiring authors loved these questions as it gave them another way to get to know their own characters. 
     Then came "The Time of Silence" in which the two young bloggers were too busy to feed questions to the authors. 
     But now the whispered rumor is passed from lip to lip and from blog to blog.  Beautiful people returns in June!  The news signals a time of rejoicing in the land, and aspiring authors eagerly await their first assignment.
     The website and the blog on the above picture will take you to the two current hosts of Beautiful People.  They are looking for submissions so if you have any questions you think that characters should answer please email them or leave a comment at one of the addresses. 
     And check back in June for answers to Beautiful People!

BB Villan: The Forgotten Prince

Newel peered through the crack in the lattice at the gathered crowd of people.They waited eagerly for the expected royal appearance.Newel dreaded it.
“I hate public appearances,” Newel grumbled, loud enough for his mother to hear.“I hate having everyone staring at me.”
Mara repositioned her crown on her head.Then she crossed the room to Newel’s side, her silken gown rustling, and grasped her son’s shoulders, turning him to face her.
“What have you to fear from them, my son?” she scoffed.Her eyes searched his face, reading there the reluctance in his eyes.She turned to the window, gesturing through the lattice at the populace.“What are they?” she queried, her tone reeking of haughty boredom.“Peasants, mostly.Nobodies.Bugs…insects, my son, in comparison to your greatness.You have the blood of kings.Bah!Let them stare if they will.They cannot hurt you.”
Newel clinched his jaw and nodded.Mara stood in front of him, fussing with his shirt and vest.She fairly oozed confidence.“You are to be kin…

The Composer: Writing for Multiple Instruments

It struck me today that writing a story with multiple characters is like writing a concert piece for multiple instruments.      
     The song itself is like the plot.  It has its own feel and purpose and sound.  It has its own beginning, middle, and end.  The average listener can listen to the song as a whole (without focusing on individual characters) and thoroughly enjoy it.
     Even though the song seems to be its own entity, it's sound is almost entirely influenced by the instruments.  You could take the same song and get an entirely different sound depending on which instruments you chose to play it.  Imagine Moonlight Sonata being played by a cello...or by a banjo...or by a xylophone.  Obviously the three would sound different.  So it is that your characters influence your plot.  Their reactions are unique to themselves.
     Your characters each have their own story to tell -- just as each instrument in the concert has its own piece to play.  As the composer, you m…

BB Villain: Confession Letters

Mara closed the door, listening to the lock click into place, and leaned her head against the doorframe.  Her head ached from the swirl of the party, and memories of home swarmed her vision, making it impossible to enjoy the attentions of Lerata's nobility.
     Pushing away from the doorframe, the young  queen paced restlessly around the room.  Peace, however, was not to be found and, at last, she dropped to her desk and took up her pen.
     "My darling Newel," she began, her pen scratching across her paper and leaving an elegant train of ink in its wake.  "I try to be strong, but tonight is one of those nights when I feel that I do not belong.  I was not born to be queen, and tonight I cannot repress the feeling of shame that whispers 'Imposter' in my ear.  I have done everything in my power to keep you from ever suspecting.  I never want you to feel as if greatness is not your right by birth, as I sometimes do.  You, at least, will carry your head h…

Choosing a Title for Your Book

Lately I have heard much about the importance of your book cover.  Is your cover professional and appealing?  Would someone pick it up?  But the same care should go into your title.
     Titling is not yet one of my strong points.  Perhaps you noticed that I have a project with a title of "Dungeon" and another one that is simply called "BB" at the moment.  Obviously, my titles will need revision before publication.
     I recently read a post by Jenny the Penslayer called The Title at the End of the Reader's Patience.  Some of her tastes vary from mine, but, by the end of her post, I was laughing so hard I nearly cried.
     After reading her post, here are 6 guidelines:
1. Pay attention to the cadence.  How does the title sound?  How do the words roll off your tongue?
2. Your title should have a balance of enough information without telling the whole story.
3. Some words (like "shadow") have been overused in titles.  It is a rare title that man…

BB Villain: A Little Boy

Alton was a bold, straight-forward little boy.  For him, the world was "black and white," so to speak, with no "gray areas."  Decision-making and action both came easily to him.  It was not so with Newel.
     Newel was a timid child.  He fretted over things that his brother would have scoffed at.  He fretted over the fact that he fretted over things that his brother would have scoffed at. 
      Newel liked to sit by himself and think.  Alton's play involved action.  The servants would see him standing on a wall making a speech to an imaginary legion of soldiers preparing for battle.  They would see him swinging a stick at a pretend foe.  By the time Newel was a little boy, Alton had traded his imaginary play for practice with various weapons and enjoyed it even more.  But Newel would curl up in a corner, out of the way, and pretend that he did all of the exploits that his older brother performed (only better).
      Newel's mother was his refuge f…

BB Villain: Gossip After His Birth

A week later, two of the women who were assisting at the birth of the new prince were talking with one of their fellow servants.

"It's not natural, that's what," Hilde announced with a furtive glance over her shoulder. "I knew there would be something odd from the moment he was taken away from his first baptism. No royal baby has ever missed his first baptism."

"I hear some of the village folk don't wash their babies at birth. They believe as strongly against it as we do for it," offered a compassionate woman named Mauna.

"That's just it," Hilde affirmed, jumping on Mauna's words as though they held the secrets of the kingdom. "Where does the daughter of a lord pick up such outlandish behavior? It ain't fitting for a prince, that's what."

"You might very well ask that question, Hilde," interjected the third woman with a knowing look. She lowered her voice to the tone of a conspirator. "Do we …

How to "Follow" My Blog

If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this blog, you will see my "followers." There is a blue button that says "Join this site." If you click it, it will walk you through the steps to follow my blog. Once you become a follower, you will be listed under "Members" with your profile picture (a generic silouette in my case).

BB Villain: The World He Was Born Into

I made a post earlier this month about the fact that my villain was trying to take over my story and make it all about him.  So I will be writing about him on this blog so that you, at least, will know some of his story. 
Today's post describes the world of his birth.

     The queen of Lerata died, leaving behind her husband, King Reymound, and a son, Prince Alton.  Mourning the loss of his beloved wife, Reymound was not inclined to remarry.  But a king cannot consult his own needs without also considering the needs of an entire country.  His counselmen urged him to secure a queen for Lerata.
     One of the lords of Lerata presented his daughter, Mara, a young woman who had been introduced to the royal courts only a few months before.  The lord soon convinced the king that Mara was the most suitable candidate, and the king married her.
     King Reymound was a good man as well as a great king.  His heart still grieved for his first wife, but he tried to be good to the beautiful …

Flexible but not Compressible

This post also was written for Rachel Heffington's Chatterbox event.  Enjoy!

     "Do you think you will be alright?" Mae asked with a worried look.
     "I'll be fine," Rachel assured her.  She snapped her suitcase closed with a confident air and dragged it off the bed, leaving a smooth track across the colorful quilt.
     "But Ms. Gertrude is so difficult.  I can't imagine going to live with her," Mae breathed.  "She frightens most people.  She even frightens me, and I have known her for five years."
     "She doesn't scare me," Rachel boasted, dropping her suitcase on the floor with a bang.  She lifted her handbag and shawl from the back of a wicker chair and draped them over her arm.
     "I don't see how you are going to do it, Rachel," Mae persisted.  She picked up Rachel's suitcase and followed her from the bedroom and down the carpeted stairs of the boarding house.  "She clashes horribly …

Grimm's Flood

Rachel Heffington at The Inkpen Authoress is hosting her monthly Chatterbox event.  This month's Chatterbox topic is water.  For it, I created a scene where Grimm's room in the Rottly Mansion gets flooded during a storm.  It is not a scene in the book (although I may or may not include it).  Instead I took the characters from my book and imagined how they would react in this situation.  The idea of flooding may or may not have been inspired by a recent event in my own life. ;-/   Here it goes: Lightning flashed across the sky, and thunder boomed its warning.Rain pelted against the dilapidated mansion as if determined to finalize its demise.Grimm stalked through the halls to his assigned bedroom and opened the door, hoping for a temporary retreat from his deplorable situation.
For a moment Grimm paused at the door, his hand lingering on the knob.The scene before him bombarded his senses with signs of the disaster.The sound of rushing water, shooting into his room at an alarming r…

The Villain Takes Over

How did my villain become who he is?  I felt like I needed to know.  I followed his story back to the beginning, which was, I found, a few years before his birth.
    Pretty soon, I became fascinated with him.  He has qualities that I absolutely love about him, and many of his flaws I can relate to.  It is just that both his qualities and his flaws have been twisted to a point of creating evil.  As I have said in an earlier post, time and again he has been given opportunities to turn to good things, and he instead chose the wrong.  By the time the story of BB starts, he is a very bad man with little to like about him.
     With my fingers flying across my keyboard, I traced the story of how his mother became queen.  I followed my villain as a little boy, watching scenes from his life.  This was all very interesting and the flashbacks began to be incorporated into my current tale.
     And suddenly I villain was taking over my story.  There was too much of him and to…

Time-Traveller Letters

Have you ever written a time-traveller letter to yourself?  I started this when I was 11 years old.  It was a school assignment.

Write a letter to yourself and seal it to open in 5 years.      I thought it was a silly idea.  And I was sure that I would remember every word through the five years.  However, it had to be done.
     Five years later, I opened the sealed envelope with no memory of what I had written, and the contents made me laugh.  At 11 years of age, I had my life plotted out before me with startling clarity -- from jobs and accomplishments to the year I would meet my future husband and the order of children I would have.  To my 16-year-old mind, it was incredibly childish and unrealistic.
     Now I see there was some truth in that early prediction, although the timing was off.  And I have continued to write letters to myself every year to be opened 5 years later, usually on my birthday.  Sometimes the letter is only a page long.  Sometimes it resembles a small boo…