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



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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!)

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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!)


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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!

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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.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Quills: Snark Hunt!



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A Scavenger Hunt is fine for parties and kids in college. What we have here is a Scavenger Hunt involving books, and therefore, I deem it a Snark Hunt! Since I am often easily charmed with smiles and soap, let us search for these ten things on our bookish Snark Hunt: 
  • the letter “J”
  • a fantasy classic
  • a dragon on the cover
  • oldest book on your shelf
  • a shield on the cover
  • an animal in it
  • a cover with only words
  • a cover with gold lettering
  • a book written by an author with a common last name
  • a red colored book 
Patricia is up first. 

PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

The old year is behind us (and I cannot say I am sorry about that) and 2015 begins. What better way to move forward than to join my fellow Quills in a treasure hunt.  Our search will take us through our book shelves.  So, here goes!

A book with the letter “J” - This one is fairly easy—Jekyll and Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Oh yes, I know, the full name is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but most refer to it by its shortened name. This is a great read, showing . . .

(Read Patricia's blog!)

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And now, Robin!

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

Rummaging through my bookshelves (both physical and digital) makes me feel like a dragon admiring its treasure. I have silver and gold, precious jewels, priceless collections of beautiful words at my very fingertips! The hardest part of this task? Getting sidetracked. I want to read this! no, this one! And that one, too! Oh, it’s been a long time since I’ve read <fill in the blank, there are lots of options>! I got so sidetracked, in fact, that it took me three attempts to collect the actual goodies.

(Read Robin's blog!)


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

My turn to meet the ten requirements for our Snark Hunt. Naturally, I endeavored to find ONE book with all ten. When that didn't work, I settled on six that did the trick!  First up... 

Tarzan Lord of the Jungle by Edgar Rice Burroughs has a "J", only words on it's red cover and many animals in it. Mostly great apes. Four in one! I chose this first because my mother adored the Tarzan books and it was her excitement over them and this one especially that intrigued me, beginning my journey along this fabulous road.

While Tarzan looks like it might be the oldest book in my collection, it was published in 1928. Whereas, a book that meets the "red cover", "gold lettering" and the "animal in it" requirement may also be THE oldest book on my shelf. Tied at four! The only date inside this book is 1862, but that is the Penning of the Preface date. According to most internet sources, the date of publication of this Thompson and Thomas edition of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is 1895. Though, no one seems quite sure...


My copy of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain is a contender for the gold lettering and it is as close as I could come to a "shield" on the cover. I may be squeaking by with that one.

Uncertain if Twain's book counted as a fantasy classic with all the science going on in the Yankee's tale, I chose The Hobbit as my classic. Prompted again by Twain and Camelot, I chose The Once and Future King by T.H. White for my "book written by an author with a common name." We've cousins who are Whites and friends who are Whites. For "common" I'd say it fits.


As for "a dragon on the cover" (and I have many), this edition of Anne McCaffery's Moreta: Dragon Lady of Pern is my choice. Gorgeous art by Michael Whelan.

I hope this Snark Hunt through our shelves has left you beamish! For me, it has been utterly frabjous. See you in February!. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Quills: Gifts



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


(Read Robin's blog!)


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


The holidays have always been a time of illness for me. When I was a kid, I got sick every Christmas. Sometimes, as early as Thanksgiving. This year, I got sick after Thanksgiving for several days. I survived. Barely. But I did survive and I won Nanowrimo. Yay!!

This month's Quills topic is a Treasure Hunt. A topic related to our stories. Gifts make up a large part of the relationship between Mikkayl Arrayn and his bondmate Sherakai. In the spirit of gift-giving, I read a blog article by Kristen Lamb: Test Your Holiday Style—Tiffany Crystal or Pre-Paid Bail Money?

I didn't take the quiz, though I read it through. It's all in good fun and amusing, mostly. Some a bit sad, really.

Sherakai gave Mikkayl a gorgeous journal, because Mikkayl, like me, writes--though he writes mostly poetry. The tooling is remarkable and the dedication, heartfelt. Gifts like these, that have meaning to the person they are given and meaning to the giver, are amazing. But this post is not just about the stories and Kai's gifts to Mik or his to Kai. I felt something deeper here and needed to share it.

For my part, I can't afford Christmas anymore. If I can get one gift for each member of my immediate family that means something to them, I'm able to sigh with relief. That's FIVE gifts. That's pretty much it unless I can bake some cookies for the stockings.

Construction paper cards or Cyber art I make myself doesn't count, right?

I don't send cards when e cards or a message on Facebook will do. And even with those, I can't afford the postage. (I'm not kidding, the best ones are subscription only and that's pricey!) I stopped trying to convince my kids that Santa was real when my son became a Buddhist. I swear, I SAW him when I was a kid--Santa, not my son the Buddhist--In the sky, in his sleigh. Everyone says I was dreaming! I used to tell them how he made the fireplace bigger and about the time travel machine he had and the amazing tech at the north pole... and then The SANTA CLAUSe came out and I realized I should have written down everything I told them because THAT was MY story! ARGH

The one I'm really angry about (I'm not bitter!) is the Polar Express. I wrote a very similar story called "The Santa Train" in 1993 and then my husband thought it would be a good idea to do a "span disk" save. The one disk that was destroyed by magnetic field? The source disk. So screwed. All I have left is an inaccessible file on a reformatted AOL floppy with "The Santa Train" scrawled across the label.

The best thing about being financially challenged at Christmas? The gift of my family. Family has always been the focus around here. My parents, my in-laws--it's what we know. I listen and enjoy and think. It is very, very good. I meditate on what I believe about the adult Jesus and why he came as the "Baby Jesus" and grew up (like Bambi, a part of the story which everyone seems to forget), to become Prince--of Peace, King of Kings.

It helps me. Gifts and lights are nice, and the gifts between Mik and Kai are given out of an overwhelming response to the love and sacrifice shown between these two men. The gifts we give at Christmas are sometimes thrilling, sometimes surprising; but they, too, are a response to the Gift we are all given: the redemption of God's own sacrifice; the freedom to really understand what love is because a Child was born unto us, a Son to seek and to save those who are lost.

Be known to Him. Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo - The World Needs Your Novel!




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

NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is upon us! If it's possible that you've never heard of it, the NaNoWriMo website says this:

"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30."

Sound crazy? You bet! But it's wonderful, too. Why? Glad you asked!

William Wallace - 1814 Statue
commissioned by David Stuart Erskine,
 11th Earl of Buchan
FREEDOM!

The freedom of "nano" is writing without limits. Writing without rules so that you can get that story out and 'on paper'. It is the joy of ebook authors everywhere. But no matter what the means, paper and pen, computer, tablet, iPhone, ancient typewriter, or crayons, NaNoWriMo gives the writer every possible excuse to blatantly and without shame ignore the inner editor--that right-brain critic that says we cannot possibly show anyone improper grammar--and simply tell the story.

In NaNoWriMo *telling* isn't bad! Nothing is bad! Everything is word count, get it out, spew it forth so that it can be seen for what it is: a piece of absurdity wrapped in imagination and sparkling with the gems of joy. What a relief! Because storytelling IS joy and editing gets in the way of that first honeymoon blush of the guts and glory of a tale.

I've found that telling actually leads to writing more complex and intriguing action/showing scenes later, when you ARE editing. You know, after the excess of the holidays ... down the road ... in January or June.

But November, ah, sweet November, is FREEDOM month, baby.

A recent commercial for a well known credit card features Tina Fey, writing in her laundry room and breathing in dryer sheet fumes for inspiration. "A lawyer that's a monkey!" she shouts. That is exactly what NaNoWriMo is about: exploring the wild ideas that come to you when you're sucking in dryer sheet fumes, or in a crowded restaurant. Whether soaking in a hot bath or sipping tea on the veranda, if you imagine it, NaNoWriMo is for exploring it.

If you've never done it before, DO it. It's exciting, demanding, nerve-racking and absolutely a hoot and a half. I have written so many fun and unbelievable things during NaNoWriMo. I am open to the possibilites of what really works (and what doesn't!) in a solid story.

If you're a veteran of NaNoWriMo, then check out Robin's tips for using programs like Scrivener to improve both word count and productivity during Nano so that when you've found that perfect scene, it will work without a lot of editing later. Organization brings progress.

I will being writing this November, with absolute abandon. I've done it every November (turkey comas not withstanding) since 2006--the only year I didn't "win." That still bugs me, by the way. BUT, I hope to attempt it every November for the rest of my life. Not because every year of nano means I publish a novel when I've finished those 50 thousand (50 THOUSAND!) words; but because I learn and grow. And there are always some amazing goodies when it's done.

Discover the novel inside you!

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PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

I admit I’ve never participated in the event known as NaNoWriMo. I can’t even pronounce it, and I have to check other sources for how to spell it every time I need to use the word, or acronym, or whatever it is. Suffice it to say, I don’t know much about it. Still, from what I’ve heard, it sounds like an amazing venture.

The closest I’ve ever come to a NaNoWriMo effort was during a summer week when the rest of my family went camping. Blissfully alone (and, I confess, not lonely), I set out to write the opening of my new story . . .

(Read more!)

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

You may also have noticed that it is November, and November means NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). While Patricia is off flitting about the countryside, Kristie and I are knee-deep into the crazy, wonderful writing frenzy that is NaNoWriMo.

Do you know what that means? Hundreds of thousands of people around the world leap headlong into the challenge of writing a novel (50,000 words long!) in thirty days. (Though if I wrote through Thanksgiving Day, I would probably be stuffed and roasted!)

(Read more!)


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See you in December!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Inspiration!

Happy October!


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To begin our Quills topic, INSPIRATION, we have a guest author!

Josh Interview!
JOSHUA GRASSO
Author of  The Count of the Living Death and The Astrologer's Portrait
Josh's Website

Joshua Grasso: “Finding Inspiration”

My ideas always come from the same source: usually a work of art, but sometimes, a stray moment or character from an old book. As a professor, I spend even more time than most people in books, and my teaching and research requires me to delve into all kinds of documents: epic poems, Renaissance art, odd biographies ... As a teacher/scholar I’m looking for context for a paper or to explain something in class; as a writer, however, my eyes are alert for some small, teasing detail that suggests a larger narrative.  I always believe the best material is just waiting for you to stumble over ... (read more!)


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PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

Patricia is taking this month off. We'll see her in November!


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

Inspiration comes at me from every direction! Music, other books, news, dreams, conversation, pictures, quotes, you name it! Any of those things can easily set me to wondering how one of my characters might react or how the setting or culture or plot could be changed by employing the “what if” factor. They can spark ideas for new characters and settings, or generate an idea to help me fix problems. In fact… (read more!)


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

My story ideas come largely from life. As a young poet of five, I heard my kindergarten teacher say, "Write about what you love and what you know." Write What You Know has become a motto for me. I delve into the people I know, the place where I live, the situations and dramas around me to provide the fodder for my lyrical and literary creations. It is very simple, really. I'm a woman, an artist, a mother, a wife--all these things are in large part instinctual for me. The visceral manner in which I respond to everything I come in contact with inspires me. Emotion and reaction is key. If something moves me, then I am confident it will move others.

Music sets the mood of many a scene I've written. Battle, romance, melancholy all live in the music of Hans Zimmer, John Williams James Horner, The Piano Guys and many others. I find popular Christian music fuels my imagination about a relationship that stands the test of time and all the forces of Hell that might rise against it.

If I come across something I want to write about yet don't know about, I do research. That means note-taking. I'm keep files on my stories. I put pictures, notes--elaborate and simple--about the things I've discovered and how they might apply. With computers, the note-taking has become more complete, more organized than ever before. Programs like Scrivener provide a virtual buffet of options to gather and connect the threads of a tale. Whether by phone, tablet or in the time honored fashion of pen and paper, I write down what I see. I visit the library, watch television for programs about warfare, marvels of history or figures throughout our past who represent similarities to characters and situations about which I'm writing.

Art inspires characters and places. I love museums not only for the art but for the armor, the sense of history, the reality spread before me. But I can be inspired by friends at the grower's market or the grocery store or the bowling alley. I'm excited by life and living it. There's so much going on! I'm always open, always willing to learn. The world and all that's ever happened in it is my inspiration oyster.

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Thanks folks for these contributions into how he finds inspiration! Join us again in November for our next installment AND NaNoWriMo!