Hey all, long time since I've written. As of now, I am waiting on the contract to be signed for my fourth novel, the Civil War historical fiction "Enemy in the Ranks". I am stoked. But on to other things.
I came across some scripture in the book of Ester in the Bible. In it, Ester fussed about the situation she was in, even though it was a very blessed and noble position (she was married to the King of Persia with all the perks!) How many times have you complained about where you were, your job, sports group, living location, church, but failed to realize your placement? No? Okay, let's put this into a writing perspective. Have you bickered about your writing status, success, or the genre's you address?
I did. I enjoy and am good at writing fantasy. Yet several months ago I had to change gears and put fantasy aside in order to take a new direction: historical fiction. I complained, moaned, almost threw things...until I focused on the situation at hand. Instead of giving up, I sat back and analyzed where I was and why I was there. It is not a mistake. It was designed for me to be where I am. Why? Perhaps to reach people in different scenarios, under different genres, with an improved skill set where it developed while writing my Christian fantasy trilogy "The Relics of Nanthara".
There is a reason I am a Chiropractor practicing in Gastonia, NC, an assistant youth football coach, an author, and successful at all three. I don't know who I am going to touch or influence in a positive manner, but I will. As for writing, don't fuss over things not going the way you planned. Let God control the plan, you just follow it in obedience. As He clears the way, opens doors, and prepares you for the future, all you have to do is step into what He has set up...and watch what happens.
There are times when unforeseeable situations drive your thought patterns into the direction of doubt and confusion. Whether issues brought up by yourself, a planned path by God, or the untimely stresses of life...they appear. And usually in the middle of when things are going well. Happenings like this are not uncommon but not acceptable either.
The question is this: how do you handle them? Do you persevere and push forward to your goals? Do you sit back and wallow in the mire and muck of despair? Have you been there and throw blame on everything else but you?
For me, I choose the first response. Whether a scathing review that bashes your "masterpiece" of literature, the closure of your publishing company, or the lack of a story idea which has lingered for months, you can succeed. If your stresses evolve from your job, or a family crisis, you can gain victory over this.
See, most folks, due to the din of misery they create around them, can't see or understand that a situation can be used to carve and shape your persona into a more wicked weapon of positive power; something that can be used not only to help attain your goals but to help another reach theirs.
Satan's job is to wreak havoc by subtle means: discredit, deception, emotional response. He also tries to strike where he knows will hurt you most or at your weakest link. If you know this, he shouldn't have any opportunity to succeed in your life. Whether he attacks your writing, family, health, or your mind, keeping positive by staying in prayer, and applying Jesus' written Word, you can defeat the negativity attempting to flood you and your life. I write about Jesus because I know Him and experienced how He is capable of changing people's lives.
I hope this little note encourages you. Just a thought.
My apologies for not posting in a while. Life and work can get in the way sometimes. But I'm back!
I'm going to chat a bit on a historical novel I've written and is in the process of being critiqued as you read. Since I was a Civil War re-enactor for 15 years, it was easy for me to write about this topic. I had a plot idea, the setting was perfect, but I wanted to represent as much historical accuracy without the book veering into the realm of "Hollywoodized", so to speak. In other words, fake, or in re-enacting terms, farby.
The setting deals with two brothers, one who is a Christian and one who is not. One fled south while the other remained in the north. It is not a story of brotherly hatred, but of an unexpected antagonist, an officer in the ranks. The brothers, before the war broke out, were robbed on the street. In their defense, one of the attackers was killed. A court trial found them innocent of the incident, but the defending attorney, prominent and wealthy, never lost a case...until this one. And he also happened to be the uncle of the boy criminal who was killed.
Thus, the story follows Emory Gilroy's life in the 83rd Pennsylvania and his struggles with war and the officer, Lt. Carlisle. As the story continues, Emory battles the rebels and Carlisle while trying to find his brother, reportedly killed in action via a letter from his mother. The rest you will have to find out when it is released.
I chose the 83rd due to their prestige and the path of their battles during their 1864 campaigns. It involved many instances where I could describe a soldier's life and a bit more, yet it also gave me an opportunity to involve both of the brothers in realistic events. My experiences as a Civil War living historian gave me a ton of knowledge on how to describe some of what these soldiers went through. It is these descriptions some of my critique partners have said shed light on what these soldiers went through.
The battles were easy for me. One of my strengths in writing is describing combat in various forms, and by using my background in re-enacting and history, it was a no-brainer. But the story is more than just battle, its the human side of war; at least that is what I tried to capture. There is still some tweaking, but I am pleased so far with the result. This was my first novel spanning less than the 80,000+ words of my other works. So, look for the title, Enemy in the Ranks, in the future.
Whew! I never thought I'd get them done, but I did. My first trilogy is complete. I just sent in my line edits and now await the cover art and maybe some fine tuning before its release on ebook first in August, 2012.
Which brings me to a question...have you ever finished anything you've started? Do you have more things on the back burner; the infamous pile of "I'll get to it later"? Maybe you figured it's not worth it because of what others have said. Granted, there are people who cannot write well but I am speaking to those who know they are gifted to etch pen to paper, or stamp key to screen.
So, for those procrastinating on writing because of crappy things said to you: get off your hind parts and start! Geez! He's rude. It may sound rude, but there are times in life people need a fire under their feet to get them moving. I can't tell you how many times I've said, "Hey, that would make a cool story," and did nothing about it. Honestly, I wasn't sure I had it in me. Yes, I've written things for school, and articles for an organization I've belonged to, but I thought those jobs to be minuscule. I truly felt you needed some massive training, degree, or job entailing tons of writing experience in order to script a novel. Not so. In fact, when I first wrote my first draft, I thought it 'neat' until other people liked what they heard.
Hmm, maybe I have something here. So, with God's help, I pursued it. Now, I have two novels published, one to be released, another awaiting contract, two more completed, and another half-done. Whew! Those works may be on the back burner, but I shift my pots around and let some simmer while I add ingredients to other masterpieces, and all of it done despite what others have said.
Do not quit, stop, or just plain forget. There may be something hidden in your words, a story to tell, a testimony to share, which could change the lives of people who read them, forever. Never underestimate your potential by accepting doubt, negativity, and disbelief as the final verdict. Those words are DREAMKILLERS!
Now, I'm talking about verbiage expressed by family, friends, fellow authors, etc. You name it, there have been folks who've either said harsh things to crush my dream or remained silent, saying naught, and being just as uncaring.
But you know what? It didn't stop me. Accept what others say about your writing and you might as well tie some strings to your limbs, head and buttocks and let them control you in life; be the puppet they want you to be. OOOORRRR...do what you know you are capable of doing and start your dream. And now is as good a time as any. I look forward to seeing your works published.
Hey all! This is a special posting by one of my fellow author friends, Rebecca Ryals Russell. She has written a bunch, so read the good stuff below. There is plenty of info to absorb, including where to get her books. Enjoy!Available soon, you can get a sneak peak at Harpies, Book Two of Seraphym Wars series by Rebecca Ryals Russell. Excerpt: Chapter One
The door to our cottage slammed with a boom which echoed across the empty beach. The windows rattled in their frames and I yelled, “Good, maybe it’ll fall down around your ears. Serves you right if it does.” My voice cracked, which pissed me off even more. It had just started doing this and the kids at school mocked me, although nearly every other boy’s voice sounded the same.
But every other boy at school had a dad or stepdad or at least a grandfather. I had none of the above. I had a revolving door full of Mom’s boyfriends.
Stomping barefoot across the sandspur-strewn sand mom called a yard, I ranted and yelled with each small prickly ball I removed from my heel or arch. I hated those things—the way the prickle got under my thumb nail when I plucked it from my skin drove me crazy.
The tension in my shoulders eased as I strode down the night-cooled sand. The beach always soothed me in a way I couldn’t explain. It was the main reason I spent so much time there. Whether by day or night I craved the solitude and swish of the waves licking the white sand--—the warm wet breeze off the ocean rustling through the dried seed heads of the dune grass. I stopped and faced the ocean with eyes shut--listening.
A flash far out over the black sea fluttered behind thick clouds. Even through my closed lids I could see it. Slowly a rumble rolled across the sky until it roared overhead like a freight train. I loved night heat lightning. My favorite nights on the beach were spent watching God’s spectacular light shows.
I opened my eyes. Momentarily distracted from the argument I’d stormed away from, I sat for a few moments on the sand watching nature’s electrical display. Cold dampness slowly eased through my cut-offs. I dug my toes into the cold sand. Purple streaks of jagged light flickered within white and black clouds as they comingled. With each scatter of light that streaked across the clouds, I imagined Greek Titans clashing swords.
Finally I stood and began walking again, my mind tangled with thoughts about the fight I’d had with mom. Again. It was the same old thing. She insisted on bringing home strange men, hoping to make us ‘a complete family’, as she called it. I thought we were complete enough. I didn’t see the need for anyone else in the house. I didn’t get to see her enough as it was, what with her working double-shifts at the fish cannery then ‘dating’ all the time. I loved my mom. She was a wonderful mother and companion. It had been just the two of us all my life. But I was cool with that. It appeared, however, Mom was not.
The air crackled and popped with the glory of nature’s energy. Lines of electron brilliance zig-zagged through the black sky illuminating the wide, white sandy beach for an instant then plunging it back into velvet blackness. An ethereal glow imprinted on my retinas for several seconds longer as though the sand was lit from beneath.
I glanced down at my feet, awash in the cool Atlantic saltwater. Phosphorescent amoebas danced around my ankles, swimming in the gentle wake. I lifted my foot then lowered it again watching the bio-luminescent creatures swarm away then back again.
The air crackled and the hairs on my arms stood on end. It felt odd—exhilarating and tickly. I glanced up. Over the surging black sea, another brilliant streak illuminated the sky. I counted—one, one-hundred, two, one-hundred, three, one-hundred then cringed as a sonic boom of thunder rumbled across the world, vibrating the sand beneath my feet. I shouldn’t be on the beach with a heat storm this close. I knew the risks, but it was so beautiful I couldn’t pull myself away. Going back meant facing mom, and I wasn’t ready to confront her. I was tired of arguing.
The air sizzled, like bacon frying. The hairs all over my body stood to attention again. I looked down--—the danger of the ocean water lapping gently around my ankles hit me at the same time as...How could I have been so stup…I lifted one foot to run when the bolt of energy I’d thought so beautiful miles away struck my head.
My body went rigid.
I couldn’t breathe.
I couldn’t think.
It seemed an eternity passed. Images flew through my mind like a slide show on speed. Everything I had done or said since birth bounced around my brain in no particular order. Mom and me at the zoo watching the chimps and laughing. Mom and me snuggled on the couch watching a scary Halloween movie. Mom and me singing ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ on my birthday with two chocolate cupcakes sitting on a dirty plate in the middle of our kitchen table.
Images of places and people I’d never seen flashed in there as well. A thin blonde girl with frightened, hollow eyes hid beneath a tarp in a dirty alley. Large green dumpsters angled together for a shield. Flaming red hair above a freckled face matched the flames a young teenaged boy stared at.
When the slide show finally stopped, I crumpled into the surging surf, face down on the wet sand—somehow managing to turn my face at the last minute so I didn’t suffocate. I had no feeling in my extremities and the entire world was bathed in an unearthly brilliance. A gentle blue-green glow suffused the edges of the saw grass at the top of the dunes in the distance. Tiny white crabs poked their heads up out of the sand to investigate the Gulliver on their turf, wore bright yellow auras edging their shells.
I tried to rise or even move, but my body refused to cooperate and lay prone in the cold salty water. Am I dead? Who will take care of Mom? I can’t be dead. This doesn’t happen to kids. Kids don’t die. Kids die all the time. Especially stupid ones.
I realized with shocked chagrin that my feet and lower legs were completely under water when I felt the creeping cold splashing on my thighs. I’m not dead if I can feel things.
My next thought chilled me to the core. Oh, God, the tide is coming in.
Here are the links and topics detailing where I’ll be all month. Check them out and win PRIZES. Seraphym Wars Series Summary May 2 Seraphym Wars and Stardust Warriors Series Blurbs May 10 Who are the Vigorios? May 4 The Prophecy of the Vigorios May 7 EXCERPTS AVAILABLE TO READ: Harpies Chapter One May 12 Harpies Chapter Two May 15 Harpies Chapter Three May 16 Prophecy Chapter One May 23 Prophecy Chapter Two May 25 Prophecy Chapter Three May 28 Odessa Chapter One May 29 Odessa Chapter Two May 30 Odessa Chapter Three May 31 GIVEAWAY: Comment on EACH of my postings
(listed above with links) showing you read the posting. Commenters will acquire ONE point per comment. At the end, fill out the form on my blog, Under the Hat
. The prize?
This lovely Phoenix medallion and a bag of swag including Odessa notepad, Seraphym Wars pen, Mind the Signs bookmark, coverart Postcards for each book in both series AND an eBook copy of my newest release: Harpies, Book Two Seraphym Wars Series.BIO:
Rebecca Ryals Russell writes MG and YA Dark Fantasy while living with her family in a Victorian house on five acres of North Florida countryside. She also runs a Vacation Rental Log House on the property: Florida Black Bear Cabin
Over the course of the next few years she has several books being published in two series: Stardust Warriors for MG readers and Seraphym Wars Series for YA readers.
Be sure to check out the special interactive Middle Grade Reader website Tween Word Quest
for tons of information about Stardust Warriors as well as the other projects Rebecca has in the works and Under the Hat
for all of her other works.
Catch Rebecca at any of these links: Under the Hat Tween Word Quest Teen Word Factory Odessa Prophecy Harpies FACEBOOK TWITTER GOOGLE GOODREADS LINKED-IN JACKET FLAP TRIBERR YOUTUBE
Barnes and Noble http://tinyurl.com/rebeccaryalsrussell-B-N
iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/odessa/id433118705?mt=11 http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/zarena/id460312541?mt=11
TAGS: Rebecca Ryals Russell, Seraphym Wars Series, YA books, YA Fiction Books, YA series, demons, Seraphym, dragons, Dracwald, Vigorios, Prophecy, Odessa, Harpies
Me and my first novel in print. Way cool.
EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRA!
The books are here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God is Great!!!!!!!!!!
I just received my first shipment of the first novel Secrets Revealed. For a limited time, I am offering the books for $12.00 plus $5.00 2 day priority flat rate shipping. LMK if you are interested. If so, send me a PRIVATE MESSAGE with your mailing address. Please, pass the word, so others may know. A purchase link is below. Thanks!https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=416&category_id=60&keyword=relics+of+nanthara&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1
Folks, let’s be honest. Some of these stories we hear about through the media, books, and even the classroom goes beyond words or description in believability. Many times, it goes beyond human comprehension. There’s no way that happened! Impossible! Someone made it up!
Well, there’s a good chance it was not made up, and if it was, it carries elements of truth. Which brings me to this short article today: look to real life for real ideas.
I’ve sat at family gatherings, you know, the big Greek ones, and just enjoyed some of the stories shared of my grandparents upbringing. Those stories are swimming with ideas for the right person to come along and scribe something creative. One of my relatives shared the story of his grandfather with me. At first, it sounded like a Hollywood screenplay, but it was true through and through. Again, another great idea.
The news is saturated with nuggets of information to spark interest in someone’s mind, and if you want to delve into something less credible and more ridiculous, read the tabloids. Absorbing the truth of these stories doesn’t mean you have to write exactly what was shared. You can twist some of the elements to venture off into a fictional novel of almost any genre. The finished product is up to you.
So, this is short for today, but hopefully enough to get your brainstorming ideas charged. Also, my first novel, Relics of Nanthara: Secrets Revealed, is due out in paper by the end of April, 2012. Visit my website to snoop out what the trilogy is about.
You said what? Boring? You want me to re-write? Do you have any idea how long I spent on this scene?
Yes, admit it. Some of us have reacted in a similar lackluster way toward someone who has critiqued our work in progress. Whether it is your parents, your significant other, a classmate, workmate, your editor. Let me try and simplify things: if you cannot handle critiquing, input, advice, suggestions, or constructive criticism of any sort—don’t write. In fact, your inability to be taught will follow you in life and you will complain, fuss, and &@!$ at any type of support given to you.
Rule: If you want to be a good writer, darn good writer, or an excellent writer…listen to others, especially those more seasoned than you.
If dealing in a specific genre, editors and publishers have tons of experience in your field and only want you to get better. That’s their job, to help you. I hired a freelance editor, Susanne Lakin, to help me in my early start. By printing out her editing, I created a notebook with her suggestions and corrections. Before you know it, tada!—a study guide. I thank God for her. She is awesome. After contracting with MuseItUp Publishing, I was blessed again with a fantastic staff that critiqued me from the owner, Lea Schizas to the cover artist, Delilah K. Stephens. My God, you are being worked over around every corner! And I am better for it.
Be willing to take instruction. Gather several views of input and compare all of them as you move through your story. You may find similarities in what they saw, or insight to things you were totally blind to.
Now, there is another side to this. Don’t give your story to someone who has no idea of what you are writing about. If they don’t read, if they are jealous, if they have no concept of writing anything, avoid them. I would not ask advice from a vacuum salesperson on how to fix my roof. Duh. At times, these people may have some good advice, but make sure it is not a ton of notes pertaining to their preference instead of an honest, constructive critique. If they want a story to go their way, have them write it!
The bottom line is this: be open and humble to listen to others. I’ve had one word said to me by someone unexpected who dropped by my office, and it set the tone for a positive day. Despite your humbleness, also remember it is your story. You may be adamant in having a scene go a certain way, but with another set of eyes, perhaps you can still have the same destiny taken on another route. Take care.
Nick G. Giannaras
Recently, I have submitted a sci-fi novel based on a Christian superhero, The Nuclear Fist Chronicles: Darksoul, and plan on adding future books to his ongoing story. Therefore, my particular article today will delve a bit into how to create a superhero or what makes one. Well, what makes a superhero? Malachi Drake is my main character. My son gave me the inspiration in creating the story. One day, he wanted me to go on to a website where you can create a superhero and print him out. I made my own guy, printed him out, and kept the picture. For several days, I kept looking at this pic, wondering, thinking what I could do with it. Then one evening, I ran downstairs, jumped onto my computer, and within three days had five chapters written.
I like my heroes to gain their powers from a believable situation. Gene mutation and cosmic ray blasts were kind of taken, and I definitely did not want him to come from an alien race. So, I did some dabbling into science and concocted a situation that was remotely feasible to give Malachi the environment in which to enhance his abilities. Falling into a vat of experimental nuclear fuel/coolant sounded cool, and in looking at the science, it worked.
This line of thinking (creating realistic backgrounds) was the basis for creating my other superhero/villains in the series. The neat thing about “creating” is that there is almost no limit in how they are made. The background is one of my favorite things to do since during the writing process I can see the character taking shape.
Appearance is a major part of a hero’s persona. Many times I use downloaded images I keep in a file as inspiration, and use the pics in some fashion to stir my creative juices. Having a goofy looking character takes away from the story; it causes a horrid image of this superhero in the reader’s mind, thus taking away his ability to function in the story.
In my world, I like for superheroes to be powerful, yet not too overwhelming. Despite what powers you grant your hero, there always has to be a weak link or an Achilles heel to your character. Nobody is invulnerable. Having a weakness helps to create conflict which is a key element in driving a story, and conflict can come in a variety of ways: family hardship, lack of love, poor relationships, fear, personality, ego, you name it.
Another topic to use in creating a superhero is a name. I’ve written on names before, so I will keep it simple: a cool name is a must. If you are worried about copyrights, trademarks, etc., the net has many lists of “created characters” to keep you from infringing on others’ property. Most heroes have a birth name and use a fictitious name to hide their identity. Again, this is your prerogative.
Lastly, setting has a part in deciding what your hero will look like, what he can do, and how he will fit. I can’t see Superman dwelling in medieval times, or Green Lantern battling in the 1920’s. Is it possible? Yes. Does it appear believable? Eh, not really.
I hope this little piece influences you to write the next best selling superhero sci-fi novel. Be sure to check out my website on this new novel, hopefully to be contracted soon.
Take care, Nick
How many of you have written or started writing a story knowing full well you would be expecting criticism and flak from others? Did you stick to your guns? I have. The novels I have written thus far began on one road before taking a slight detour along the road of improvement, enhancing the story despite disapproval and condemnation.
From friends? Family? Fellow authors? Yep.
In fact, my fellow author’s critiquing did nothing but help me. For some of my friends, they fussed when story elements had to be changed from its original conception. They worried more about themselves than the idea that a story coming to fruition that they had a part in.
Did I deviate? Nope. Did I feel bad? Nope.
What about those coming against the content of the story? Did I veer from my intended goals? Not at all. I knew there was a reason to write. I knew there was a reason I was blessed to write; to share an entertaining story to others with a message, especially YA. I was not going to conform to what others said just to appease them, and neither should you. If there is a reason deep in your heart to scribe, or paint, or sculpt, or speak. Our First Amendment rights give us the unique ability to write and speak on almost any subject in a variety of different methods. Some authors are calm as can be, writing children’s books and such, while others push the limit of what is allowed in print. The neat thing as an author, we can take topics considered taboo in certain societies and weave the concepts into a special world where ‘said’ topic becomes tolerable, readable, and at times educational.
I guess the bottom line of this short blurb today is to not let anyone deter you from what is on your heart. Write what is given to you, the passion delving in your mind, the urgency to scribe into words feelings haunting you since day one. Like Nike says, just do it.