Saturday, June 6, 2015

Quills: Inspiring Codes



ЖЖЖ

This month: some of the codes, beliefs and philosophies that inspire our writing.


PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

This is a loaded question—and not one fully answered in a few short paragraphs—but I can share some general thoughts . . .

At the outset, I would say that this topic makes me think of posing the following question to a judge: can you render a decision without letting your ideology play any part?

(Read More on Patricia's blog!)

ЖЖЖ


ROBIN LYTHGOE
Author of As the Crow Flies and two short stories
Robin's Website

In all honesty, I don’t think the limited space of this format is up to the task of dealing with the subject. The best we can do is skim the surface of the tender, personal area that is our beliefs, codes, or faith. Do I have faith?



ЖЖЖ

KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story Sanguis Dei 
and the poetry collection Light and Dark 



The Way of the Warrior
Japan, her people, and her language has fascinated me since grade school The beauty and mystery of such an ancient place takes me to a land I've never seen, but long to visit. From this far off isle comes a philosophy that strikes a chord in my soul and meshes with the beliefs that inspire and underscore every aspect of who I am as a writer. 

I believe we are all made in the image of God and the very notion of Bushido's essence, Life in Every Breath -- as spoken, I admit, by a character in a movie I adore -- expresses the fullness of heaven on earth in individuals. The "Way" is a term used to describe the path of the Warrior, but it is also how some early Christians talked about the path of following Christ. The dual reflection captures my soul. It gives rise to the imagination of lands where people value the stamp of the Creator's very image upon them. Such an understanding demands respect of one another in a way that merely being human does not. The breath of that Creative force animates us and connects us as nothing else can and to me, this notion of life in every breath then becomes the Breath of Life in every person.

We each have a destiny with which we will someday reckon -- that of death and of meeting God face to face. That meeting and how we are predestined to handle it is shaped in some small, mysterious part, I believe, by how we take that Breath within us and transform it. We can mutilate it, and breathe it out as poison upon our brothers and sisters, or we can submit to it and breathe it out from every pore as the perfume of the very Life it came from, that of the Creator.

I have a job given to me by divine mandate: to love those around me as God has loved me and given himself for me so that I may be one and whole with him. Not because the doing of this makes me good or righteous, but because he has given me righteousness by his sacrifice and thereby I reflect his goodness in my actions. In my expression of the gifts he has given me, my desire to write and weave worlds where love is the center of the tale is the ultimate desire to reflect that job of loving one another. There is no manner in which it is not reflected in me when I put words into a story.

May you know that Life in every Breath you take.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Quills: Dreams As Plot Devices



This week, we welcome Gregory S. Close as a guest in our Quills panel discussion of Dreams as Plot Devices. You can read more about his works at Light, Dark and Shadow. Regarding our topic, Mr. Close has this to say:

A dream sequence can create an ethereal mood of otherworldliness, reveal hidden truths, foreshadow victory or doom, or even represent a second, hidden realm that parallels the waking world.  That can all be very cool.  It can also go very wrong, very easily.

(Read more of Mr. Close's article over on Robin's blog!)

ЖЖЖ

ROBIN LYTHGOE
Author of As the Crow Flies and two short stories
Robin's Website

Dreams can be such marvelous, intricate, eye-opening, exhilarating, or terrifying occurrences. They can inspire us to do things, be things—or write things. Do they belong in fiction? Are they useful as plot devices? Well… it depends!

(Read Robin's blog!)

ЖЖЖ

KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story Sanguis Dei 
and the poetry collection Light and Dark 

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub: For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause...
-- Shakespeare, Hamlet

My own personal jar of dreams!
Are dreams as plot devices good or bad? I think I can give a resounding "Yes!" for they are both. Dreams can be an overused rhetorical device in storytelling. A TV show called Dallas became infamous when viewers discovered that character Bobby Ewing dreamed an entire season. The subsequent reaction, while largely negative, still inspired water-cooler talk for decades.

And yet... some of the best stories have dreams that start them, end them or play a significant part in their impact. I remember my astonishment the first time I realized that when Caractacus Potts sings Hushabye Mountain to his children in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the rest of the story might possibly have been a dream the inventor had when he went to sleep that night.


There are countless other examples. We are not in control of our dreams and that can terrify us. Better, as Hamlet thought, to deal with the known terrors of life, even the dreams we cannot bear yet wake from, than the dreams that might come in death. Dreams are a little death and in literature, dreams open up a variety of doors.

All dreams of the soul
End in a beautiful man’s or woman’s body. 
--W.B. Yeats, The Phases of the Moon, 1919.

Dreams can have a point and thus become visions. Visions are thought by some to be God's memories. In a way, as a creator of characters in a tale, dreams are a writer's visions to their creations.

We dream, we nightmare, if I can use that as a verb. We interpret dreams, signs and omens and some of the best stories come from the misunderstandings that result. We wonder if our dreams hold sway in our waking lives and so must our characters, if they are to reflect us and make an impact with others. As with adverbs and alcohol, moderation is the key.

Dream on!

Since he weighs nothing
Even the stoutest dreamer
Can fly without wings. 
--W.H. Auden, from Thanksgiving for a Habitat, 1966.

ЖЖЖ



PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker

Very much in demand, Patricia is away on business this First Friday!


Thanks for reading and we'll see you in our next Quills in June. In the meantime, what's the strangest dream you've had? What do you think of dreams in books, television or movies? I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Quills: Is Violence By or Against Women in Fantasy Authentic?



ЖЖЖ


PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

The world has changed dramatically, even since I was a child, with regard to the place of women in our society and the options open to them. I’ve experienced the changes and benefitted from them. Still, I recognize that these changes occurred largely in the “western” world, that portion historically influenced by a Judeo-Christian ethic. Women in many other places have not been as fortunate as have I. In some cases, they live in what might be called “medieval” times. This is an important issue, as many fantasies are played out in medieval-type worlds. Accordingly, I expect that the manner in which women are treated in those stories might well differ from the world in which I live today. Even so, fantasy stories are set in make-believe worlds. Those worlds can be whatever the authors want them to be . . .

(Read Patricia's blog!)

ЖЖЖ


ROBIN LYTHGOE
Author of As the Crow Flies and two short stories
Robin's Website

Fantasy and sci-fi—No, fiction authors (at least those I know) write to entertain. We write about people. People, both men and women, are often violent, cruel, abusive, and criminally selfish. Our world has a long history of them, from Cain to Bashar-al Assad, from Jezebel to Griselda Blanco. Fictional worlds are rife with them as well…

(Read Robin's blog!)


ЖЖЖ

KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story Sanguis Dei 
and the poetry collection Light and Dark 

My colleagues have made an important distinction that readers used to know without being told. Has that changed? Maybe. In a world where people often have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality, we may need a "DISCLAIMER: No actual humans were harmed in the writing of this novel!" announcement on every book.

Admittedly, readers do, occasionally, get lost in a story so deeply that they believe it with their whole heart. I'll let you in on a little secret: writers like for that to happen. We are eager for it, hungry for it! Our main goal is to make you, the reader, feel.

I could write about Mikkayl Arrayn and Sherakai without a single unfortunate event ever happening to them, but as lovely as that might be for them, you wouldn't want to read it! Does this mean I advocate real world violence against anyone? By no means! Since the Fall from Grace every person is on a collision course with our destiny which is, quite frankly, death before judgement. The struggles to live a life worthy of the calling to redemption are the very heartbeat of the human race, whatever your faith bias. Thus, stories that show the struggle of blood, sweat and tears strike a chord that vibrates to the soul.

Violence against characters in fiction IS authentic, even necessary, as it reflects our world. This does not justify graphic, gory violence that does not reveal character flaws and strengths. It must have purpose or it is superfluous. I like to think that I write with moderation. I write for adults, as well, not children. Children should never, ever be subjected to violence and their reading should be guided by those who ought to know and love them best: their parents. That is another topic! The human imagination is a marvelous thing. A little description goes a long way, thus violence against anyone in fiction need only be hinted at by the talented writer's choice to give a character a haunted look here, a flinch from a touch there.

It is my firm belief that we cannot fully appreciate what we have achieved until we know what obstacles we have overcome.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Quills: Books We Love



This week, we're sharing our favorite stories with you and a little bit about their authors.
Enjoy!

ЖЖЖ


First up, Patricia talks about one of my favorite reads.

PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

While I love to read fantasy, I have not selected a fantasy story to share. Rather, I am going back in time to a great and timeless classic.  Specifically, my choice is Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo.

I’ve heard people over the years say they gave up on Les Miserables, as a difficult read.  I suppose there is something to that.  Yet I consider it the most incredibly beautiful tale ever written—the story, sure—but even more so, the manner in which it is told.  It is like poetry—no ... music.

(Read Patricia's blog!)

ЖЖЖ

Prithee, Robin! Regale us!

ROBIN LYTHGOE
Author of As the Crow Flies and two short stories
Robin's Website

My grandmother used to call me “Robin the Hood” when I was very little. I was understandably confused—and then I learned about the legendary Robin Hood. The nickname became something of a badge of honor, though I have no idea why should would compare me to a thief. I was innocent! Naturally, I read and watched several versions of the tale, but when I read Lady of the Forest, by Jennifer Roberson, I fell in love.

(Read Robin's blog!)


ЖЖЖ

KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story Sanguis Dei 
and the poetry collection Light and Dark 



In 1995 an author team wrote "Relic" a murder mystery/suspense novel about the "New York Museum of Natural History" in which paying customers to the museum wind up brutally murdered in the dark corridors and closed off rooms. Graduate student Margo Green believes the murderer might not be human. The director of the museum wants a gala exhibition to go on as scheduled, but Margo, the police Lieutenant in charge of the case and an FBI agent with a history of investigating similar murders in New Orleans want to get to the truth of the matter. From third world jungles to the mean streets of New York and the labrythine tunnels beneath, "Relic" keeps a reader riveted to it's last startling pages.

In 1997 a host of production companies got together to make the movie version of the novel. They called it "The Relic." I saw the movie and while I thought it reminded me a great deal of "Jaws", it also piqued my curiosity for a genre I'd never been interested in. What does any good book lover do? I read the book. I LOVED the book. It read better than an action movie! One character never seen in the movie, FBI Special Agent A. X. L.  Pendergast became my favorite. His buttery southern accent, near albino good looks and uncanny intelligence were a triple threat not to be ignored. I borrowed every Preston & Child book the library had and devoured them until, like all the other fans, I had to wait for new ones to be published.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are a tremendous writing team in the mystery/suspense genre. They work seamlessly together so that, even though they've both written many books solo, both with their own unique style, I can never tell one from the other in their collaborations. Different as night and day when it comes to public appearances, they nevertheless have in common a deep connection to their readers. They had a website and message boards that Linc had a strong presence on when it wasn't fashionable (or advisable!) for authors to do so. They reached out and as a result have an extremely loyal fan base.

If there is a formula to their work, it is that they grant tiny insights into their characters, hints and glimpses that make readers want to know more and make their protagonists realistic. They draw the reader in into caring and then up the ante by creating worry. They are not above taking their main characters to death's door ... or sometimes beyond. They have no qualms about killing off beloved supporting characters (some of whom have novels of their own!) and their villains are spectacularly smart bad guys. They inspired me to read through the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and allowed me to fall in love with yet another great literary detective, Sherlock Holmes.

The more I read of Holmes, the more I enjoy Pendergast. Even after my disappointment in their newest main character, Gideon Crew, I still trust Doug and Linc to bring me new, intense tales of my favorite FBI agent. I pray they will do so for many years to come.
--
Visit the Preston & Child website for more on Agent Pendergast!

And tell me, what books do YOU love? I want to hear from you about your favorites. Thanks for reading! See you in April.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Questions from the Author, 2

Last week I asked a question. A two part question, in fact and I got some good answers. (You can read them here.) I've very much enjoyed your participation in that part of the question! Thank you again!

The first part went as follows:

If someone powerful told you they wanted an intimate (as in very personal, not sexual) relationship with you, and you knew conflicting things about said someone, but held the general opinion (from what you knew) that they were good, would you be interested in such a relationship?

Now for the second part of the question.

What if it were revealed to you, after say a week of pondering the question (;D) and without room for doubt, that this person who desired an intimate relationship with you, was God. (When I say "God" I do mean the God of the Judeo-Christian theology.) Would you desire that relationship? 

I have more questions, but I'll stop there for now. I am interested in personal, individual answers here, not generalizations. Feel free to answer both questions if this is the first time you've seen them. I'd love to hear from you. Thanks very much!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Quills: February -- The Mini-View



ЖЖЖ

This month, we feature our "mini-view". Interviews with three different authors, each of us asking them the same three questions. Please enjoy!

PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

I would like to introduce you to one of my new and dear Australian author friends, L. J. Clarkson. L.J. is the author of The Silver Strand (Mastermind Academy, #1) and Heaven and House – Rise of the Alpha.  She writes for middle graders and trust me when I say that she has a unique ability to think and speak like one!  She offers some interesting and off-beat characters, and providers readers with some good laughs!

(Read more at Patricia's blog!)

ЖЖЖ

And now, Robin!

ROBIN LYTHGOE
Author of As the Crow Flies and two short stories
Robin's Website

A.E. Marling leaped into the indie writer scene about three years ago with his impressive debut, Brood of Bones. (Not that I’ve talked about that before, but who’s counting?) Behind the book’s gorgeous cover is a story about an enchantress with a sleeping problem and a city full of pregnant women. All of them, from virgin to grandmother. What’s a curious, respectable, responsible woman to do?

(Read more at Robin's blog!)


ЖЖЖ

KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story Sanguis Dei 
and the poetry collection Light and Dark 

I hear tell that sometime in the late 1980s, Deanna Smith, author of the children's book: The Dragon's Rocketship received an old Mac Plus computer from her step-Dad and Mom. Trees all over the world heaved a sigh of relief. Because Deanna writes. About everything. Anywhere. All the time.

Writing, drawing, and reading were her passions for years, stumbling cheerfully genre to genre, discovering the fascination of history and music along the way, and then she belly-flopped into 3D art. Let me tell you, her art work is amazing. I am anxiously awaiting more of that. Let's see what she has to say about writing.

Welcome Deanna! It's great to have you with us. The first of our three questions is: What makes you write?

Stories, stories, stories. They spawn from almost anything, spin around, and drive me nuts until I write them down.

Sounds like quite a challenge! Which brings me to our second question: What was the toughest challenge you faced when writing, and how did you overcome it?

It's always the same thing – ending a story. I hate ending a story. Once it's done, it's over, and there's always a little voice in the back of my mind saying 'you may not have another one to write'. But then I look at the four or five other stories I'm usually working on at the same time, get over it, and get back to work.

I can't imagine you not having another tale to tell, what with all the Bad-guys the world offers up. What's your take on antagonists? Should Bad-guys be pure evil or a misunderstood adversary?

It depends. Sometimes, a truly nasty bad-guy will play off as misunderstood sort. Others, the bad-guy isn't bad – but is wearing apathy, or duty to god and country, or perhaps a charming little 'clinging to the past' number.

My all time ultimate favorite bad-guy is the Wicked Witch of the West as played by Margaret Hamilton. Deliciously evil to the end. Better than that, she starts out in the right of it – that little chit Dorothy stole valuable property off of the corpse of her sister! Sure, she gets unreasonable, and okay, she was enslaving the Winkies and flying monkeys, but seriously. Someone stole the shoes from her dead sisters feet. That's hard to get over.

I have to agree. Thanks so much for joining us, Deanna.

Thanks to Robin and Tricia, too for their great mini-views! We'll see you all in March!

ЖЖЖ

Sandy and her Rockership
More about Deanna Smith:

Deanna lives in San Bernardino. A home health care worker and caretaker for her younger son and husband, with an older son who consults often with mom on matters of snark, she is an avid collector of old books ... A lover of fantasy and humor, mystery, science fiction and fact. Steam punk goth. Singer and song writer. Reasonably sane.

She also still owns and maintains that Mac Plus.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Questions from the Author

I have a question for you--all of you, any of you. It is actually a two part question, but this is part one and I desire answers to part one before I reveal part two. Got it? Great! Here it is:

If someone powerful told you they wanted an intimate (as in very personal, not sexual) relationship with you, and you knew conflicting things about said someone, but held the general opinion (from what you knew) that they were good, would you be interested in such a relationship?

That's it!

Answer away! And thank you ahead of time.