My Favorite Things Blog Tour

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mft-blog-tourThis is my first blog tour, The Favorite Things Blog Tour, which happens to be hosted by my sister. Check out her awesome blog as well as past participants of the tour here.

Also sharing their favorite things today:

Alison Jack

Noelle Granger

The purpose of this tour is to share our favorite characters, scenes, and quotes from our own books. It’s now my turn to share with you my favorite things. Not going to lie, I’m a little nervous–nervous being an understatment. I don’t usually discuss my writing with others, so this will be really good practice for me.

I’m in the pre-publishing stage of my current work in progress, which is a fancy way of saying I’m not done yet. It’s a three-part fantasy series. I hesitate to call it a trilogy because it really consist of the main book, a sequel, and a prequel, not three in order.

Synopsis

The synopsis, like the novel, is still a work in progress, but here goes.

What is the worth of one life? Bronwyn risk his status, his home, his very life to protect a human child–a decision that thrusts him on the border of a clash between humans and elves. To side with his people is to instigate a war they cannot win, but to side against them is to betray his lord and turn on his city.

Favorite Character

This was the hardest question to answer, especially for someone like me who has what I call chronic indecisive disorder. I have a hard enough time choosing what to get from McDonald’s limited menu let alone choosing one of my darlings. I love them all really, especially the elves. If I have to pick one, just one, like a Pokemon or something, I choose Gailodyn. Originally a supernumerary character, whose main function was to give other characters someone to interact with, he quickly became a major supporting character.

To give you a little context, he’s a character from the sequel, not book one, though he might make a cameo appearence in the first book. You’ll have to read both books if you want to get to know him better. He’s pretty much Bronwyn’s right hand man, his main supporter, and his biggest fan–but it doesn’t start off that way.

If I had to describe him using his own words, he considers himself to be very dutiful, trustworthy, principled, and steadfast. He’s really not as collected as all that. He would forget to mention, or fail to realize, that he’s overly stubborn, inconsistant, freewheeling, a little unconstrained, and very single-minded.

Favorite Scene

My favorite scene was also hard to choose because I haven’t written them all yet. The scene I picked, I’d love to share, but I haven’t written it yet, so it’s not ready to read, but I’ll try my best to describe it.

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It’s not ready for reading

To sumarize, Bronwyn and Ashby (human boy he rescues) are travelling through the passages of a cave when they find a tree that has grown in a cavern. Though the tree gets all it needs: sun and rain from the hole in the cave ceiling, the tree is a symbol of loneliness and isolation because it is existing separate from its own kind in an unnatural environment. A tree among rocks: a human among elves. It’s very symbolic. Can’t wait to finish this scene.

Favorite Quote

I don’t have a favorite quote yet. Again, it’s not finished, so for now I chose a very simple quote that I think makes a statement about conformity and my main character.

“Whatever broke inside bronwyn left the outside untouched.”

This shows how face value, Bronwyn is everything his people are supposed to be, but his incongruities exist underneath the surface though they are revealed through his actions. Throughout the book, he struggles whether to conform or go against his people’s beliefs.

There you have it, some of my favorite things. I want to thank my sister for inviting me to participate in her blog tour. Please check out the other writers and their favorite things.

Risque Research

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google-searches-scotlandYou know you’ve done enough research for your novel when your browsing history would make your mother blush, raise the hackles of your spouse, and earn you a knock on the door from the DHS or FBI.

Personally my browsing history makes it look like I’m part of a cult or stashing a body or performing strange sexual rituals.

If you’re an author, you’ve had to research some crazy stuff, I guarantee it. Your search results might include answers to questions such as: What does human flesh taste like? Can you eat condoms? How to kill people with a pencil. These are not my actual searches. I can only imagine a novel that required all three of those questions to be answered . . . could be a good read, not one to take to bed, though.

I write fantasy, which does not mean I get to just make stuff up. Fantasy is an exciting genre, but sometimes you have to research some pretty boring topics like animals that live in mountains, plants that grow in shade, how people kept track of time in the middle ages, and how to start a fire without a match (the latter led me to an interesting video on how to start a fire with doritos).

Now for the more interesting search topics. I’ve researched how to poison arrows, blood rituals, how to ride a horse (I’ve only ridden once), how far Tasmanian devils can smell blood (don’t ask), and how to hunt and skin a deer. I’m a Pescatarian, so the latter is something I will never do, but I guess that knowledge could come in handy . . . never.

From the tedious, to the titillating, I want to hear from you. What is the strangest thing you’ve had to research? Oh, and in case you were wondering . . . the best place to find where to hide a body is on page two of Google.

A Guide to World Building

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photo by deborahtereramischristian.com

photo by deborahtereramischristian.com

You can’t open a fantasy novel without a map, language guide, and historical record. I think Tolkien has a lot to do with this. He set the standard for world building very high. For those who are not familiar, world building is essentially planning the setting for your novel (the when and where). While I enjoyed creating the fantasy world for my series, to be honest, I have two or more races and have not invented any languages, all the important historical events that shaped the world will be mentioned in the book instead of outlined in an appendex, and I have a map I use as a guide when I write that I will probably not include in my book. Does this make me lazy? I don’t think so. I just think readers want a story, not a history lesson. So I’ve chosen to keep it simple.

Creating a world can be exciting and at the same time daunting. I was on Youtube the other day, when I should have been working, and found this wonderful video by Kate Messner where she brillantly summarizes the process. It’s fun to watch and very educational. I think she does a great job breaking it down into simple steps. Please enjoy and if you have some advice on world building or anything you want to share about creating your own worlds, please leave them in comments.

Write the Book You Want to Read

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woman-reading-bookOf all the stresses of being a writer: finding an agent, editing, making time to write, submitting query letters and proposals, the first dilemma is finding something to write about. People always say write what you know. I don’t know about you, but writing is one way for me to escape what I know. I already live, eat, breathe insurance, I don’t want to write about it. Does anyone out there want to read about an insurance agent who works six days a week selling and servicing policies? In case you’re intrigued, it goes a little something like this:

Customer: “I’m here to make a payment.”

Agent: “Will that be with a credit card or check today?”

Customer: “Card.”

Agent: “Here’s your reciept.”

Customer: “Thanks.”

Agent: “See you next month.”

Repeat that about five times a day with the occasional claim call, general question, and about three hours of down time and you have the day and life of the insurance agent. The stuff of a New York Times bestseller … maybe not. Maybe you’d be more interested if I was an insurance agent by day, vampire by night or some kind of insurance mob boss threatening everyone in town to buy insurance policies from my company using scare tactics and threats and sending horse heads to the beds of my competitors.

My inspiration usually doesn’t come from my life. I haven’t written a word that I could credit to four years of college, more than five jobs, and the occasional trip out of state. My inspiration usually strikes right after reading. I’m not a plagarist or anything; it’s not that I want to replicate a story I’ve read, I want to write what I think should have happened. Have you ever read something and wished there were more stories similar to the one you just read (This is why I like fanfic), or have you ever wished the author had gone in the direction you thought the plot was going? My current project is actually inspired by reading fanciton based on one of my favorite books. If you’re like me, you’ve spent hours in the library or bookstore trying to find a book that appeals to you:. Sometimes I just go through a dry spell where I can’t find anything. So I asked myself, what do you like to read. Just write it yourself.

Write what you want to read. You may love young adult fiction or historical fiction. My personal favorite genre is fantasy, not that there is a short supply of fantasy. Quite the opposite. So I should be able to find a book I like, ideally. The problem is I don’t like your run of the mill fantasy: dragons, magic, wizards, items of power, prophesies, and chosen ones. Yes, I realize most of this is in the Lord of the Rings, which I love, but the fantasy genre is over saturated with these elements.

For starters, my favorite characters are elves. Now I know a lot of people say they are tired of elves, which I don’t understand because for one thing they are awesome, and aside from Tolkien and R.A. Salvatore, I really don’t think there are that many books that have elves, or at least not as main characters. But if you would like to prove me wrong, please send me a list and I will gladly read from that list. Main characters in fantasy are often humans, so I have chosen to write a series where the primary charcters are mostly elves. My elves are also more naturalistic and do not possess magic of any kind because magic is another element I think is overdone. Another thing I notice in fantasy is that elves and humans are almost always allies, villains are ugly, and good guys are pretty. This is a really flat and shallow way of deciding who is good and who is not. Also why should someone be all good and all bad? Aren’t we all a combination of good/bad traits? Likewise, we have ugly/beautiful physical characteristics? Good and bad being cut and dry and black and white is for Santa, not literature. I dare anyone to find a character in my novels who is completely evil or good.

One thing I can’t get enough of (and I’m sure you can’t either) are awesome relationship dynamics. Fantasy and Sci-fi have the greatest friendships, romances, and oppositions steeped in hate, respect, honor, betrayal. Characters always seem to be conflicted. Someone who seems to be infatuated by a character may be on the cusp on killing them. Likewise, the villain about to kill his enemy lets him go out of a mutual respect. The greatest relationships in fantasy are by far the friendships. People are willing to go on incredible journies and face amazing peril for one another. Just look at Sam and Frodo in the Lord of the Rings. Their love was evident in the books–and really played up in the movies. Those are the kind of relationships I like to read about and, therefore, write about. If my characters had facebook pages, their relationship status would almost always be “complicated.” Unlikely friendships form, long-lasting friendships end, love is often not obtained.

I hope many of you will agree with me that the fantasy genre needs more strong women. Not another girl defying gender roles. What I want to read about is a world where gender roles don’t exist. How refreshing it would be to read a book where a girl didn’t have to overcome society to be an interesting character. Where a story is not a celebration of men. I get frustrated with the fantasy genre in particular because authors have the abillity to create their own worlds, their own cities, their own rules and yet they typically emulate the societal norms of the midevil era. It is fantasy, you can make up your own rules, and that’s just what I’ve done. I don’t want to have a society where your role is limited on your gender. Women can be soldiers for instance. It makes sense in my world because my humans don’t believe in a God and one of the primary reasons we even have gender issues, even today, is because of the Bible. So eliminate religion, eliminate harsh, overstrict gender roles. I just think it’s refreshing to read a book where gender is not an issue.

When my series is finished I hope they will not only be books I like to read, but books readers will enjoy as well.