Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Whatcha Reading Tuesday!!

It's time once again for the reason Al Gore invented the internet. Yup, Whatcha Reading Tuesday!! I know many people are so fixed on their NaNos this month but a little time to read should always be on the menu for you budding and established writers :) So share what your reading with us. Anything!! And answer our little question: Is there a story you read that if done the right way belongs on the big screen?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Rebooting Clichés

After finishing Suzanne Collins’ THE HUNGER GAMES, a YA dystopian novel, it made me think of how the author had managed to make her characters suffer, provide a good pace and write excellent, grabbing hooks while also keeping the story fresh. Original. Now, maybe it’s not as original as I thought--maybe it’s like an awful lot of dystopian fiction out there? Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve read YA or scanned the bookstore shelves for something to read—but it was enough to keep my interest, enough to want to finish the rest of the series.

 I’ve often wondered why I’ve passed through the library or bookstore, looking for something and eventually leaving almost disappointed. I think I’ve finally figured out why: the originality of ideas are slim.

A strange question that’s bugged me all week, while trying to brainstorm an idea for a possible NanoWriMo project, is: How do writers twist things to make possible clichés or overdone ideas fresh again?

Now, I know everything’s already been done. It can’t be helped that something you came up with follows a pattern—whether due to the genre, characters or situation, but something you can help is the uniqueness of the idea. Putting your own spin on it, twisting the cliché into something that readers haven’t heard before or into something relatively new.

Only question is: “How?”

One way is to play around with the cliché. Figure out what makes it cliché and overdone and try to do the opposite or change elements of that idea to create something that is fresh such as the damsel-in-distress becoming the heroine. Another way is—depending on the requirements of your story—is there a way to blend genres or to mix two different pieces of an idea together to put a new spin on the plot itself? A good example of this is the series of Shrek films done by Dreamworks, using clichés to create comedy. You can also use clichés and change them to fit a more serious or dramatic subject matter or genre such as the TV show Heroes—taking the cliché of the superhero and making the characters almost super normal, with no idea how deeply they are connected, or in some cases, that they exist.

However, clichés also appear when creating inhuman characters or entire races of creatures, not just in plotting. When designing new creatures or new races for your world, consider blending animal and human traits in unexpected ways. However, if this creature is to become a major character or have prominent parts in the story, your readers have to be able to relate to him or her—so it’s important to humanize the character.

An excellent example of humanizing an alien or a human with otherworldly abilities is Spiderman. Alternately, the creators could have had Spiderman look like a spider, however, they chose to keep him a human, but gave him spider abilities such as climbing walls and shooting webs from his wrists.

This method of creating a new species and, if needed, adding humanizing traits, allows for a fresh spin on the typical use of creatures that may have either just been used as pets, methods of transportation, or as weapons. Plus it works well with the world-building of your story—with this new creature the myths and origins can be created by the writer, and thus enriches the novel’s culture with something possibly unheard of.

While trying to avoid clichés, questions you can ask while creating your novel, are the typical: who, what, where, when and, most importantly, how? Who is your character? What or who are they searching for in your novel? Where is your novel set? What time period is it set? How do the events relate to each other and the characters themselves?

Also, ask yourself the big question: “What if?” What if the bomb went off? What if one of them dies? What if one of the characters had a terminal illness? What if he or she had this habit? The possibilities are endless. One way to make otherwise cliché things new again is to add something unusual or unheard of to it, to put the theme in a new light or maybe tell the story in a new POV (point of view).

Another important question to ask yourself is: “Why?” Why did you choose to tell the story this way? Why use this POV and what purpose will this character serve? Why blend these two genres or elements, what purposes will they serve in the scope of your novel? Asking why as you build your novel, with the intentions of twisting and changing clichés, will help determine if the idea works, whether or not the changed cliché helps or hinders your intents and direction for the story.

But what if you can’t find a way to mix the plot or change a cliché? Story generators and sites such as Seventh Sanctum and Chaotic Shiny can help with jogging the creativity. Another resource to look in when considering clichés, and changing them into something readers haven’t seen, is mythology and fairytales. Perhaps take a fairytale or a myth and add a modern twist to it or (if writing primarily fantasy) use the myth/tale in such a way that may pay homage to the possible inspiration of your novel. An example of this would be likening the tale of Little Red Riding Hood to a serial killer, the specifics of his victimology and the types of trophies he may collect (such as red clothing).

These are among the various methods you can try out and consider while creating your novel. Asking these questions and using the resources available, will help you battle clichés, change them and, ultimately, enrich the novel—making things new and unique or giving your story a fresh view—for your readers.

Thanks for reading!

- HC

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Whatcha Reading Tuesday!!

Boo! LOL Just kidding :) It's Whatcha Reading Tuesday!! Come and share what you're reading with us, whatever it may be. Whether it be a book, a comic, a script, a sign telling you to stop blogging while driving, anything!! And with Halloween around the corner, what writer gives you the chills?

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's All About Me: Website for the UnPublished Author...Yay or Nay??

It seems like the most commonly asked question about websites among us writers is: "Should I have one?" This is most often followed by: "Is it worth it?"

If you're published--got that deal, got that book *yay!!*--then the answer to those two questions is a big fat YES! Yes you should definitely have one and Yes it is most definitely worth it. You want people to find your books right? And readers will want to know what's coming next. They'll also want to know more about YOU. So Yes, Yes, Yes...an author website is a must for the published author.

But what if you're not published yet? I mean you could be in the very beginning writing stages, the *shudder* editing stages, or even *gulp* querying every agent you can....should you still have a website? I've heard lots of different opinions on this. A lot of writers claim they just don't have the time. Some even said they think it's kinda pointless when they don't have anything for people to read yet. Not anything that they're willing to let them read, anyway.

So I browsed, read, asked a lot of questions of my already published pals. What's the deal? Is it a good idea or not?


Ok. I'll give y'all a few minutes to shake your fist in fury at the screen....Done? Fantastic. I know that's not the answer most of you were expecting. I think deep down even I was hoping to be able to write out this blog with a sweet little answer like: Nope. It's totally fine if you don't have a website. Don't even worry about it.

But really, there are some very good reasons why the answer is still yes, even for the unpublished author. The best one? Here it is:

Dress for the job you WANT. Not for the job you HAVE.

I'm sure plenty of you have heard that saying before. Unless you're me. Then you're probably kind of lost, much like I was when someone mentioned this brilliant two liner to me. I'm a writer. Any social network that I'm on will tell you this. My occupation on Facebook, Twitter, Webook, etc...?? Writer.

Do I have a job? Um, oh you mean besides writing? Haha--of course I do. I know you might like to know what that is but I'll spare you the details and just say that I can no longer think of bagels without cringing. I cry on the inside. *giggle* No, ok, not really.
But day job aside...I'm a writer.

Are you a writer?

If you are,then of course you want to connect with other writers. With readers. With bloggers, publishers, etc... You might not have a publishing deal yet. Or even an agent. But you need to act as if writing is already your career, regardless of how little time you might actually have to spend on the writing itself.

If you have Facebook, or Twitter, or Google +, or an account on any social network....First of all, if you don't, I want to know who you are! It takes a strong person to stay away. Lol...Seriously though, if you're on any of these networks, chances are you'll have a following of some sort. Big or small. Sometimes even whether you know it or not. You will.

Having a website even though you've yet to be published shows agents and publishers alike that you are serious about this writing business. Why? Because you've put forth some effort, time, and even a little money to make this website. Which means you understand the importance of author branding.

*cough* online presence (see above) *cough*

Sure, some will say creating an author website is not AS important as creating an online presence and this is true. But what's the advantage in waiting? Very little.

Of course there is a negative side to this and time seemed to be the biggest problem. It doesn't take a whole lot to get a site up and running but sometimes keeping up with it can interfere with precious writing time. Not a good idea. If anything, let your website be static. Once it's up...leave it alone. Put up your bio, your contact info, and maybe a brief FAQs page. Yes, you can update it once in awhile but until you get that awesome pub deal, you can pretty much leave it be. Remember that writing comes first. Repeat that will you? Writing. Comes. First!

If you're really against creating an author website, however, I offer a bit of advice from one of the RWA conventions I attended. RESERVE YOUR DOMAIN NAME. You don't need big bucks to do it. Skip a couple lattes. Forgo that new foundation you wanted so badly. But get that domain name before someone else does.

So what do you think about author websites now? Think it's worth it if you're not published yet? Let the debate begin!

Happy Writing!
Ree Vera

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Whatcha Reading Tuesday!!

It's that time again for Whatcha Reading Tuesday!! Yeah, you know you love it :P Share what you're reading with us. Anything at all from novels to works-in-progress to comics to instructions on how to assemble a cybernetic zebra. Whatever it may be, share!! Also answer our little question: With Halloween right around the corner what is your favorite scary story? :D

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Love You

Dear Writing,
Hey...yeah this letter is way overdue, but even now the words don't want to cooperate with me. *Phew* I'm getting sweaty. God, that is so not the right thing to say. What am I saying anyway?
Oh yeah. I was just going over my life and I came to the realization that...I can't live without you. I know that sounds cliche, yet it's so true. You've always been there for me, through thick and thin.
LOL Remember back when I was nine and there was finally a computer in the house. Yeah, that huge bulky refurbished Tandy computer. Do they even exist anymore? Probably not. Anyways it was then that you first came to me.
It was so sudden. Even at such a young age I was taken aback by you. I'd seen you with other people before. And I thought you'd never have the time for me. Then *poof* there you were. My fingers were trembling. My heart was pounding. But before I knew it there were words in front of me...in front of us. It was a great start, a start of something I never knew would be so glorious.
Tell me you remember high school when I would zone out in the middle of class and focus on you and you alone. People thought it was so weird. I didn't care though. I hope you didn't either. Our relationship wasn't meant to be understood be everyone.
Ha! I just thought of when I got my first job. Geez. How many checks went to getting you the best notebooks or smooth writing pens. And that was when I got us that special backpack to carry you and all your wondrous wrappings with me all the time. Most guys my age them were worried about cars, while I worried about you Writing.
Time went on and I thought we'd never part. Just you and me against the world. A little Bonnie and Clyde. Then I let those naysayers come in my ear. I let those words of "you and that Writing are going nowhere" and "why don't you give up on Writing and grow up."
That was a difficult time for both of us. I walked away from our relationship for three years. Three whole years!! The entire time I felt a part of me was missing. That I was an unfinished puzzle. Where was my happiness? My joy? It was you. All that was missing was you.
I came back to you and...you were still there waiting for me. That old happiness and joy was back! However...you didn't trust me. You'd saw my these great ideas and give me glimpses of the right words only to snatch them away.
For the record I don't blame you for being that way. I hurt you...bad. I left you and you want to trust me. That I'll be there like I was in the beginning. That I'll never hurt you again.
My words may mean nothing right now but I promise I'll make it up to you. I'll dedicate myself to you. I want to learn so much more about you. Ugh! Why can't I just say it!!
Writing, I...I love you. Wow, that feels good to say. I love you, Writing. You make me so much stronger. Heck, you define who I am. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.
I understand if you still don't trust me. If you want to throw a few blocks between us that's okay. I'll be there when you want to take them down, just as you were there for me.
That's all I needed to say, had to say. I hope you know I'm telling the truth when it comes to us. I'm waiting...

With all my love,
D. F. Matthews

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Whatcha Reading Tuesday!!

It's time for the reason you get up on Tuesday. *drumroll* Whatcha Reading Tuesday!! Share what you're reading with us. From books to comics to scripts to pamphlets on how to help a koala give birth. Anything!! And answer our little question: What book or author sparked that light bulb in your noggin that said "I will be a writer" ?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Check It Out!! Mark It To-Read!! Buy It!!

Hey y'all, let's show some love to Kitty K. Free's funny and sexy new book:

Confessions of a Serial Masturbator.

Masturbation is the catalyst for a much needed life change, in this the oft quirky, humorous and inspirational story of a woman's journey of self-discovery.

This is the tale of how mild mannered, utterly lonely, socially inept, thoroughly bored, bookkeeper, Breezy Deigh, transforms her stiff and stifled, lackluster existence, to become a bona fide masturbation cult hero.

Breezy Deigh, has the same frustrations many share; an unfulfilling job, a humdrum social life, and a non-existent love life, all tepidly spinning in a maddening cycle of work, sleep, bouts of TV dependency and strawberry cheesecake.

She also has another frustration that many women share - she's never truly had an orgasm.

But Breezy's life is headed full speed for change. A budding friendship with co-workers Cinderella and Gia, leads to a chance encounter with "Pumpkin Eater Peter,” the man who would bring her to her first heart stopping, breath taking, and completely addictive orgasm.

An evening of frustration, a trip to a toy store, and a dildo fairy, initiates Breezy's obsession with masturbation. Her crave to climax sends her on journey of self-exploration, that will change her life, and the lives of many others. Along the way, she has a falling out with a family member, an affair—of sorts—with a neighbor, opens up to the possibilities of love, is caught in the act, and falls victim to a scandalous masturbation misunderstanding, that will forever alter her life, and catapult her from a super average nine to fiver, to the most infamous masturbator the world has ever seen.

You can find here on Amazon for a steal! http://amzn.to/qdyF2m

So go get your copy now. And I do mean NOW :)

~Ree Vera

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Whatcha Reading Tuesday!!

On the count of three. One...two...three! Whatcha Reading Tuesday!! Come on and share what you're reading with us. Anything at all. Whether it's books, comics, poems, your own writings or tips on how to outbox bovines, share what it is =) And answer our question this week: One of us bloggers won a copy of The Bippolo Seed by Dr. Seuss and was very excited. *Ahem* I wonder who that was? Anyway it got me thinking, what is your favorite children's book?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gays in Literature - Avoiding Stereotypes

(Reposted from my Weebly site)

Recently, several readers asked me to do a blog post on an issue that plagues many readers and writers – stereotyping in literature, or more specifically, the stereotyping of gays.

I have to be honest, although I was aware that stereotyping was a problem in literature for any minority, I never really noticed how big of a problem it is for the LBGT community. While doing research for this blog, I found pages and pages of blogs from writers and readers expressing their concerns over the way gays are consistently stereotyped in books. Most have the same complaint. Whichever one the character is (Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, or Bisexual) they are always portrayed in similar fashions. At first, I kept thinking, "Is it really that big of a deal? It doesn't happen that often, does it?" I mean saying that all gays are feminine, skinny hairdressers, who think about nothing but sex is like saying all Jewish people are cheap, or all women are weak. No one thinks that way anymore, do they? At least not anyone outside the dark ages.

It's unfortunate, but yes. They do. Case in point - while looking for a cover to post with the blog, I saw exactly how big an epidemic generalizations, assumptions and ignorance still are today with regards to LBGT's. Since I was asked to do a blog on "Stereotyping of Gays in Literature," that's what I put in the search box. I clicked the images setting in Google, and can anyone guess what happened? I got pages and pages of...wait for it....gay porn and naked men/women.

Uh...am I the only one who sees a problem here? So all gays care about is sex? They're all into orgies and porno? What gives? Ok, so it wasn't ALL sex, but the rest was rainbows, which isn't much better. They aren't all about sex, and they are not all bright, shiny, sparkly people either. It isn't all rainbows and shag carpets.

If you read a lot of literature that has gay people in it, you see it. The men are either all feminine and lispy, or they are big, macho type men in the closet, and at the end of a book over which a guy struggles with his sexuality, he embraces his gayness by wearing a lot of pink, and suddenly talking with a lisp. And women are all butch, masculine and against marriage, man-haters, or, again, overly preoccupied with the horizontal mambo. In addition, when gay couples enter the story, they are always portrayed in strict gender roles. That is, one plays the female role, the other plays the male. I didn't notice it until I started doing the research, but when I thought back to all the books I read with someone who is gay, I realized, the complaintents are right. One is hard pressed to find someone who is gay, or a gay couple, who does not fall into one of those cliches. Or if not them, then into another one.

It's true that most of us think of a romance as involving one person who is more male, and one who is more female. One buys the flowers and holds the door open, and the other wears makeup, pretty, clothes, and does all the household duties. And these days, everything is cliche. With so many stories out there, everything has been done. So the question at hand is, if you are a writer and looking to make a character a member of the LBGT community, how do you avoid stereotypes? 

On some of the pages I read, I found some great suggestions for this. For example, lets say you want to portray a two men or two women in a romantic fashion. Why have them placed neatly into the gender role cookie jars? Why not have them both act male? Or both female? Why not have them both buy the flowers, and both wear feminine/masculine clothes? And lets say you want to portray a lesbian with her own story to tell, but you don't want her to come across like every other lesbian character you've seen? Why have her be tough and masculine and hate men? Or overly feminine and meek, in love with said character? Why not have her wear a bit of makeup, have lots of male friends, and in love with a mechanic who is even more feminine than she? And instead of making the story about an overly macho guy in love with a lisping, rainbow toting hair dresser, make him a shy, quiet guy who gets annoyed at people who think he likes pink, and he's in love with a regular Joe bartender whose overbearing mother has no idea he's gay? (You need tension, in there, somewhere. LOL.)

Another thing of note I discovered, in literature, gays/lesbians fall into one of two categories. Recognizing them may help you to form more original characters. In general, there are "gay characters," and then there are "characters who happen to be gay." The difference? With the first, the plot revolves around a character whose gayness is the driving force of the plot. So, someone who is struggling with their sexuality, or whose being gay somehow otherwise effects everything that happens in the story. With the other, the plot has little or nothing to do with his or her being gay - they just are. Like everyone else, gay people like to read stories about themselves. And like everyone else, they want something original and new.

One tip to avoid annoying or offending them is, if your story is about a character who happens to be gay, don't make a big fuss of it.  Just let them be whomever they are without over-dramatizing it. And if the story is about a person whose gayness is integral to the plot, make it only as big a deal as it has to be for the story. Over-dramatizing it is you, as the author, waving your hand at the gay community shouting, "Look, see, I'm writing about gays! See how tolerant and accepting I am? See?"

Ugh. Not only is that annoying, but it actually comes across as though you are uncomfortable with it. After all, in most stories, do characters preach about their heterosexuality? Not if they don't have an issue with gays, they don't.

Generalizing and stereotyping of gays annoys me, and I'm hetero. The more I researched it, the more it grated. Can you imagine how annoying it is for someone who is gay? Another common complaint is how many authors write in a character who is gay, and then kill them off for fear of losing readership. Don't create a gay character just to die.

One other thing I think should be pointed out here. A common question that kept coming up in my research was, how to deal with gay/lesbian sex in stories? How much do you put in? How much is too much? I agree with the writers who answered thus:

When adding gay sex into a story of any kind, show the same amount of sex from them as you do with the hetero partners. So if your story is a hot and heavy romance with a hetero couple always going at it, then the homosexual couple should be getting some too. If the novel has only one or two short scenes with a hetero couple, or it's offstage, then why should the homosexual couple always wind up in bed? In short, treat your gay characters with the same attention, originality, love, and care as your hetero ones. And when in doubt, ask. If you aren't sure if it is original enough, or you're afraid of offending someone, find a gay person and ask them. Ask them what they see too much or not enough of. Ask them what they would like to see in a story that features someone who is gay.

Minorities either get too little attention or the wrong type, so they love having people ask them about their lifestyle. Being someone who has Cerebral Palsy, I am a minority. So trust me, I know. There is nothing worse than a writer who assumes that because I have a limp, I must feel sorry for myself or that I'm bitter and angry. Or that I'm too slow to understand. And if the person you ask gets twitchy, well, then ask someone else.

Originality is hard with any character. But it can be done. Ask. Research. And read. A lot. Trust me, the LBGT community will appreciate it, and so will your character.

Until next time everyone, write on!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Whatcha Reading Tuesday!!

It's time for Whatcha Reading Tuesday!! The only reason you should love Tuesdays...okay maybe not but it's worth doing a little dance for :) Share what you're reading with us. From novels to comics to screenplays to cryptic symbols in an ice cave. Anything at all!! And answer our little question if you will: It's Banned Books Week, so what is your opinion on banning books? Hmm...a brain tickler =P

Monday, September 26, 2011

Employing Effective Hooks


What do you think of when you hear that word?

Me? I think of fish and how, if you hook a fish by the lip, you're giving him an easy escape. But if you hook the sucker through the cheek—nice and deep— he's yours. The same concept applies to readers—if you have an ineffective hook, the reader isn’t going to stay with your hero/heroine through the journey.

Now, novel hooks are quite subjective things.  What can grab a reader’s attention, may not grab another. Believe me, I’ve gone through novels and—though they sounded really good—the beginning didn’t pull me in and make me want to read more. So, I’d put the book down and try again later.

That “try again later” view isn’t what you want from a reader. You want them to read your work ASAP—you want them to think about it even in the wee hours of the morning when they can’t be bothered to get up out of bed, yet cannot wait to see where you’ll take them next. You want to hook them through the cheek and never let go!

I can think of a few novelists who have made me feel this excited. You know, I can’t do a blog on hooks without mentioning the author who has kept me on my toes throughout every novel I’ve read. Mystery/thriller novelist, Harlan Coben, has really made me judge—for that particular genre— how a hook is effective, what makes a moment just…stop your breath, just as things couldn’t get any worse, and make me—the reader—hunger for more.
Now, thriller and mystery aren’t the only genres that can have heart-stopping hooks. Any novel can, really. 

What’s their big, beautiful, alluring secret?

Hooks—the first line in a novel that kicks it off, in particular, and the last line that finishes a chapter. For this blog, I’ll be focussing on the hook that starts your novel because it’s the hardest to get just right. For this type of hook, it’s all in the technique, how the writer employs the hook and if it’s at the right moment that the story begins—if a character’s life is about to change…or be threatened, if a revelation is about to be revealed…lots of things can become hooks if done right.

Before you start panicking (believe me, I’d be panicking right about now—hooks are hard things!) I’ll give you a few examples.
There are many ways to begin a novel—depending on your genre, audience and on your novel’s point of view. I’ll go through and explain, and give you an example of each. Keep in mind, readers, this is a subjective matter, so what would hook you in would not do the same for me.


Now, this hook is one of the easiest ones to do: The novel opens with a question. The tricky part of this particular hook is that this question hook must then create more questions, a reason for the reader to wonder and thus—throughout the novel—find out the answer to the question.


Must it feel so surreal to fall?


This hook uses what we call an ‘epistolary element’—using a journal or a letter to tell the story. But with a hook, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for your narrator to mention that the weather was bad today or how his/her day was—you need to cut to the chase.


Saturday February 12th/2011

Today it happened. It finally happened!
Someone kissed me.
Well, granted, they were preforming CPR, but it was a kiss. That ought to count for something right?


Pretty self-explanatory—the chapter begins with a fact that relates to the novel’s subject matter or to a scene.


A woman’s heart beats faster than a man’s at seventy-eight beats per minute. But how much can the female heart stand? How many cracks and holes can be patched up and endured before those seventy-eight strong beats become muffled by a jaded shell, before she herself becomes like stone?
If you ask me, it doesn’t take much.

Looking into the Past

These novels generally begin with a prologue, or a short introduction, presenting the protagonist at a later age, looking back over their life and recounting it for the reader.


When I was eighteen, confused and jaded, I met the girl of my dreams. She stood across the road from me, her eyes shining, and her smile small and tentative. Curious and desperate, I stepped off the sidewalk corner to meet her.
And that was the moment I regret most.

The most common method of opening a novel, and the most difficult to grab a reader with, description sets the scene—the setting, the time period, character description. However, if the description isn’t compelling, doesn’t stand out in some way then there’s not going to be much of a hook to grab the reader.


I stared around at my son’s room, feeling the walls close in on me. He was here—in his pictures, in his posters and even in his dirty laundry. I picked up a shirt off the floor and breathed in the scent. Tears choked me as I imagined bars on the window. How could you? He was my son


Another self-explanatory hook: Dialogue hooks your reader—be it be a single line or part of a conversation. For this hook, a short, cut-to-the-chase line is best to hook your reader and keep them guessing as to what the hell your character’s saying and why.


“Don’t you get it, Dad? You can’t fix this!”
“Just give me a second chance—”
“It’s too late for that.”

That phone call haunted me. Became like a specter in the house, a specter with my child’s voice—screaming at me, strangled with tears.
Those were the last words we exchanged.


The hook that most often grabs a reader, but if done poorly, can often be taken as a ‘cheap hook’—a hook simply used to grab a reader and has no other purpose, doesn’t add to the story or to a character. Action hooks however can be effective tools to bring us right into the action, if it’s possible to deliver both character development and to keep from confusing the reader—while, at the same time, keeping the momentum.


Wasting no time, I sunk my fangs into the woman’s jugular. My hold on her throat tightened as she fought and I felt lightheaded as hot blood poured down my throat. It had a spicy flavor, the flavor of fire and of ice—burning in my veins. Like a vintage wine, I drank it in, thirsty for the rare taste of vampire blood. She was a young vampire, only a couple centuries old. Young and gullible. I took it all in, watching the light leave her eyes.

Which hooks do you guys like using? Which ones out of the examples above caught your eye? Why do you think that was?

- M

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bits O'Wisdom: Author Branding

Hey y’all! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to put a blog post up. I have no excuse to give except that life tried very hard to swallow me whole. Good news? I won. =)

Alright, so the last time I posted one of these Bits O’Wisdom, I mentioned author branding. And next week we’re going to cover WEBSITES. *awaits screams of horror*

But for this week, let’s talk about author branding. What is a brand? And how can an author be one?

A brand is basically the essence or promise of what will be delivered or experienced.

What does your name promise your readers?

I know! I can already picture the looks on some of y’alls faces. You’re probably groaning at the screen and saying: “I just want to finish this book! I don’t want to worry about creating a public image or building a following. Heck, I don’t have time!” Or maybe: “Once I get an agent…then, then I’ll start on the whole branding thing. Right now I need to focus on writing.”

Writing should always be your main priority. Always. And yes, creating a public image can be time consuming—I’ve recently begun to realize just how much time it takes. About the same amount of time I DON’T have. Publishing can be and is a slow business. I mean, first you have to write the book. That usually takes a while. Then send out query letters in an effort to snag an agent. That can take even longer than writing your book. So it’s easy to say you’ll worry about building your public image/following later. And that’s perfectly okay. There is no rule saying that all writers must do this before getting published, but what happens when you do get published?

Anything that you’ve attached your “name” to—is now your brand.

This means Twitter, Facebook, Google +, writing groups, blogs, websites, etc….

You may not have all of these but all of you have at least one. So…what if you’ve spent all your time posting pictures of your dog? Or blogging about how cute you think pink elephants are? Tweeting about the cramps from hell….?? Guess that leads to the next question:

What Does Your Brand Say About You?

Or better yet…What SHOULD it say about you? I know you’ve heard that you should have a target audience. If you write romance, target the romantics. If you write YA—your posts and tweets should be teen friendly. The problem with this is that it does put a limit on who you can reach and what you can say. It stuffs you into a genre box. Stifles the real…You. Of course, if you write horror you’re not going to be tweeting about how adorable fluffy yellow kittens are. Just like if your audience is YA, you shouldn’t be cussing like a sailor. Obviously. You want to be relatable but the genre you write in is only half the package. Your brand is your name and it should be YOU. No, you don’t want to scare away your target audience but you should be yourself. Readers/fans will want to get to know you as a person…not just the writer.

Now I love Twitter. If you follow me, you know that tweeting is more like an obsession than a way to build a following—haha—and I tweet about everything. Anything from snippets of my writing to rants about how the washer exploded. (that’s not totally a joke) My genre is romance, but for me to tweet only sappy, sonnet like nonsense would not be true to the real me. I’m a total romantic…but I’m also a normal person that real life happens to. My followers are not only writers but people who can relate to the things I talk about and enjoy my sense of humor. Deranged though it may be sometimes.

Not everyone you come in contact with via social networks will buy your books. That’s probably not gonna happen. But some will. Even those who may not like the genre you write in. Why? Because there’s something about YOU they like. I’ve had people tell me they don’t read romance—at all—but they’re willing to buy my writing when it comes out because they like and can relate to me. And if they’ve got things in common with me…well what the heck? Maybe romance isn’t so bad either.

When it comes to creating a name for yourself…author branding…be yourself and not who you think you SHOULD be. Don’t make it all about your book either. Creating a website under the title of your first book is not a good idea. But we’ll cover that next week.

So…how are you creating an author brand? What do you think comes to mind when people see your name? How do you want to be perceived as an author?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Whatcha Reading Tuesday!!

C'mon, say it in your best soprano...It's Whatcha Reading Tuesday!! Share what you're reading this week from books to comics to song lyrics to the Necronomicon :P Anything at all as long as you are reading it. And this week answer our question which is a literary smackdown. J.K. Rowling vs. Stephanie Meyers...FIGHT!! Two authors enter, one author leaves :D LOL

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review: The Hero of Ages

Genre: Fiction/Epic Fantasy
Published by: Tor Fantasy
First Publication Year: 2008 
Author: Brandon Sanderson

As the third, and final, book in the trilogy, I was expecting something big. And Sanderson delivered on many counts. As the world is ending, dying around them, Elend and Vin and the few remaining members of Kelsier’s crew are up against impossible odds: Up against a god—Ruin—who is determined to destroy the world. Using clues left by the Lord Ruler in supply caches, Vin and Elend struggle to piece together how each event—the death of the world, the deaths in the mists, the constant fall of ash—connects to the Hero of Ages, to the ancient prophecies, to the Mistborn & Misting powers of Allomancy and the Terris peoples similar power, Feruchemy (storing physical attributes in metal to be used later), and creatures in the world.
In this novel, there is a lot of focus on the death of the world, how the past shaped the future, how the Lord Ruler recreated the world and had to deal with the consequences, reshaping humanity and the world to survive. Puzzles from previous books come full circle now, and questions are answered. Though, the conflict was stronger emotionally, rather than physically, the clues and answers kept me reading, eager to see how it all connected.
Characters that seemed to shine the most were, surprisingly, minor in the first two novels. Spook, a young man with the ability to burn tin, and the wise, scholarly Terrisman named Sazed. Spook’s transformation from an insignificant character to a leader was well done and his journey played a significant part in the world problem. Sazed’s journey in this book—his search for truth in the dead religions of the world—was significant in a way I never expected. To avoid major spoilers, I’ll not say anything more.     
This novel was a satisfying sequel to MISTBORN & THE WELL OF ASCENSION and uncovered much of the puzzling questions and revelations that the first two left unanswered, letting the trilogy come to a satisfying, fitting close.
Would I read this again: Yes.
My rating: **** (four stars)
Although this was a satisfying sequel and ending to the trilogy, it does suffer from a lack of tightness in plot structure, seemed too long at times, and doesn’t always deliver in terms of emotional impact or characterization. However, when it does deliver, it is done brilliantly and, in terms of plot twists and magic and the way Sanderson allows things to come full circle, the originality of this author shines.
Would I recommend this final novel in the Mistborn trilogy? Yes. If you enjoyed the first two novels and wish to see how Sanderson closes the series, I’d urge you to pick up this novel and find out.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Whatcha Reading Tuesday!!

One more time, woot woot!! It's Whatcha Reading Tuesday!! Come and share what you are reading with us one comment at a time. Whether it be a book, your own work, poems, or a how to pamphlet on hostage negotiations. Anything at all :) And our question this week is simple: Paper books or eBooks?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Whatcha Reading Tuesday!!!

It's that time again. Say it loud and extra proud...Whatcha Reading Tuesday!! Come and share what you're reading with us. Anything at all from books to warrants to comics to blogs!! Just share what you got your eyeballs glued to this week. Oh and take a moment to answer our question: Do you think classics hold up over time or are they now what academics use to make themselves feel smarter? Uh oh. Feeling like I already ruffled some feathers =P

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Plotter or Pantser

Plotter- those who plot things out.
Pantser- those who fly by the seat of their pants.

Not the legal definition I’m sure, but ever wonder which method produces more successful authors? Do the methodical win out over the spontaneous? I have to say, I’ve been curious about the breakdown. Do more writers get published who rely on careful planning or do the ones who wing it triumph?
Don’t mistake me. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer for this. Everyone has their own style whether it involves outlines and pages of notes or a shot in the dark. Both ways can produce amazing results.

Being too lazy to try and discover what method famous authors’ favor, I can only tell you about unpublished me. As you might guess from the comment above, I’m a pantser. My current work in progress began with only the opening scene in my head and not much more. But is that the whole story?

I think there is more to being a pantser than meets the eye. Although I don’t write anything down, that doesn’t mean I don’t plan. I usually spend days just thinking before I type a word. Generally, I have the whole chapter in my mind and even a direction for what happens down the road. It’s the details with dialogue or setting that usually spring out of nowhere, not the plot itself.
And I have been known to digress, to delve into the world of a plotter. On my opening chapter, I jotted down everything I wanted the chapter to achieve. Opening chapters have to be such workhorses that I didn’t want to leave anything out. And when I got to the ending chapters, I was petrified. How could I wrap up all the details and bring everything together without forgetting a major part? I couldn’t decide in what direction I wanted to take the ending. Who should live and who should die? When to reveal what? I started noting down key items to remember. And that spread to include more and more elements until I had—gasp—a crazy mixed up mess in no order at all.
I began to color code the mess. Items in red were open threads that I hadn’t decided how to resolve. Items in orange were already written and finished. Items in green were resolved in my head, but not written in the ms. Blue items were things I might include, but maybe not. As I got through chapter after chapter, the red parts turned green and finally orange. The blue words disappeared. My notes ended up being amazingly helpful. Who knew!
Would I ever work out an outline for an entire novel ahead of time? I’m way too lazy. Will I use a crazy mess of a system to aid my memory? That’s for sure.
All in all, it doesn’t matter a hill of beans how you get the job done. What matters is maintaining the pace and making sure the plot stays firmly at center stage. No outline in the world will keep you from letting the characters yack about unimportant matters or descriptions from going on forever. Writers have to be able to judge that from experience.
And where do you get experience when you aren’t published? Reading. Reading. Reading. Reading other published novels can teach you about pacing. It’s the example to follow to make sure every chapter advances the plot and isn’t a limp, useless biscuit of rambling.
What say we have our own informal poll? Don’t deny it, we’re all curious. We want to know what floats the other one’s boat. Plotter or pantser? How far do you take preparedness? Or avoid it?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Creating Cultures In Fantasy: Beliefs

So you’re thinking of creating a fantasy race for your novel? As discussed in part one of this series, you choose the physical aspects of your race—you know what the creature looks like 24/7 or what it turns into on certain nights. Besides knowing the breeds of your fantasy race, one important aspect you should consider when creating a fantasy culture is the beliefs of the people. Who or what do they believe in? When creating a fantasy religion, there are a few things to consider.  
1.  Society    
What’s the core societal structure of your fantasy race? Before you begin to think about how the beliefs are structured, you should know the ins and outs of your culture.
First of all, how is the society organized? Are they a race that’s primarily patriarchal or matriarchal? Look within your fantasy culture’s myths and legends; see how the hierarchal structure is. Do the males inherit or do the females? Is there a reason—such as a god or a mythological prophecy—deeming which gender is meant to rule?
Or perhaps, there’s something physical that only males or females can do—such as, in Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey’s If I Pay Thee Not In Gold, only females can use the powers of conjuration—and thus allows them to have great power and influence in the culture. Find out if your own fantasy race has a gender-specific power and see if you can use that within the beliefs to enrich the culture, make it seem unique.
As with any real world religion, each culture has different views on sin and what is considered a sin. In your fantasy race’s culture, what is considered improper or vulgar? Depending on how your fantasy race is set up (hierarchy, the sources of power or income, and the line dividing the different class systems) take a look at the laws and limitations that you put on your race, and try to find something that would mock their systems or be different/odd to them. For example, in a fantasy race that prides itself on honesty and modesty; they may find telling lies, or showing too much skin in public, to be offensive.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are your race’s opinions on virtue? Again, depending on how your fantasy race is set up, take a look at the laws and limitations that you put on your race, and try to find something that they would find acceptable or good. Things such as kindness or honesty or a physical feature/attribute, for example.  

2.      Purpose
Greek mythology had many gods for many different purposes—Artemis was the virgin goddess of the hunt and of women, Aphrodite was goddess of love, and Hades, the god of death. Likewise, in your fantasy race’s beliefs, a god or gods must serve a purpose.
A few things to find out regarding the purpose of the god or gods in your pantheon are:
Myths. Who are your mythological creatures or people? Did they cause an event to happen— such as when Persephone was bound to the Underworld for six months creating winter, or where they the basis of a creature—like Arachne, a weaver who boasted her skill, was turned into a spider.  
What are you fantasy race’s views on creation and destruction? Which force or god is connected with each? Within a pantheon, there always seems to be that dividing line between good and evil, heroes and villains. In your pantheon is there a clear distinction between the heroic gods and the villainous ones or is there a gray area? It’s always good to have a mixture, to add depth and potential tension to the culture.
Speaking about creation and destruction, the powers of the gods should fulfill some key role in explaining how the world works, and how world incidents came to be. Which god or gods control life and death? Love or magic? How do the gods affect each other or connect in your pantheon to explain world events—such as the change of seasons, natural disasters, or the lunar cycle? Give each god a power (or multiple powers) and a reason for controlling that force. Consult your fantasy culture’s myths and legends and try to interweave the culture of the race deeply within this created pantheon.

3.      Worship/Ritual
In your world, your races beliefs can also be shown by the rituals they preform, the holidays and rites of passage they celebrate or things that are shown in your world such as signs and statues. A few things to consider when creating rituals in your fantasy religion are:
Color: The symbolism of color can play a key role in the culture and thus also in the rituals they perform. Different colors also have cultural significance to the reader, such as red for blood and death or purple for royalty. This chart lists different colors and the common associations with each.
Fruit/Vegetables: Fruits eaten or shown during rituals also have cultural/religious significance. Depending on your myths and legends, certain fruits and veggies might symbolize certain gods or invoke certain things such as pomegranates (in Greek myths) symbolizing long life and rebirth.
Symbols: Think of certain symbols such as a sword or a crown and apply them to your culture. Depending on the ritual and the god(s) being called upon, there may be many different symbols attributed to them, such as a loom or a hammer for a god of trade or a shield or arrow attributed to a god of war. If there are many symbols, be specific in the way they are used, and choose one universal symbol for each god to avoid confusion for the reader.
The next topic in our 4-part Fantasy Culture Creation series is “Powers”. Besides creating the physical appearance and beliefs of your fantasy race, it’s important to look over the powers of your race—the magical and physical abilities that can make your race stand out from all the standard races of fantasy and make the creatures your own.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Creating Cultures in Fantasy: Part 1: Breed

Anyone who reads even a little bit of fantasy knows that fantastic or mystical races are a common element to the genre, easily as common as magic. If you’ve read books like Lord of the Rings, or Dritzz Duordan, you know how easily a well constructed, original culture can elevate a story to a whole other level of greatness. Where would LOTR be without the furry footed Hobbits of Hobbiton, or the creepy creature Golom? What would the Elvin race, rather white as they were before him, be without the last black elf called Dritzz? But have you noticed that when it comes to fantasy, but for a few exceptions, most books feature the same beings? Vampires, werewolves, faeries, Elves, Dwarves. And few new authors bother to develop a culture behind their race, a deep and complex system of habits, taboos, and beliefs. At least if authors added a few cultural quirks to their vampires or faeries, they would feel a little more original. I think that’s because for most, the concept of building an entire race from the ground up is such a daunting task that it’s too overwhelming for most. But could you imagine developing your own culture and having it become so much a part of the world’s consciousness that everyone, everywhere knows it by name? A writer’s dream come true, that. But in this day and age, when there are so many other stories to compete with, how can one hope to stand out from the crowd and get noticed? And with the endless possibilities that could go into the creation of whole race, how can you be sure you have a winning combination?

The task of building an entire culture from the ground up is a massive undertaking and a huge topic, enough that I’ve decided to collaborate with fellow FTLOW author and veteran creator Madelaine Bauman, to bring you a 5 part blog on the subject.

After talking with Maddie, we saw that there are literally dozens of elements that can go into a single race. Consider the real cultures of our world. Every race on this planet has a way of dressing, thinking, acting, that is as different from the others as light is to day. All over the world, everything our many cultures do differs, from the music we listen to, to the language we speak, from our faith to what we eat, to the way we view other races. In many cultures, there are various sub-cultures, sometimes with a different dialect of the same tongue, sometimes with slightly altered belief systems, ones that to us, seem like a different shade of the same hue, but to them, seems a vastly different as light and dark. What one culture considers the norm another might consider an enormous taboo. With so many possibilities, how does one even know where to start? Not to mention, races in fantasy have other layers that those of this world do not. The race in your story may have other features besides human, and may also have magic or other abilities that make it even more complex than the races of our world. After much discussion, Maddie and I decided that creating an effective fantasy culture can be broken down into five basic components: Breed, Beliefs, Powers, Language, and Purpose. I don’t think development has to go in that order, but I personally find it easiest to start by giving my new race a face, or, more definitively, a physical framework to build from. So for this first installment, we’ll discuss Breed - that is, what physical traits your beings should have.

For those of you who’ve been reading me for a while, you know I’m fond of breaking things into smaller steps. It makes it easier to organize a larger topic. Where we've cut the construction of a race into four sections, the subject of breed is also broken into parts. For me, it breaks down into three. Relatability, appeal, and plausibility. 

To my mind, the physical aspects of creation is perhaps the most difficult. This is partially because of the sheer scope of possibilities. Are your beings bi-peddle or four legged? Do they have smooth skin, scales, fur or something else? Do they have claws? Wings? Two eyes or eight? The other reason this aspect is so difficult is that there’s a fine line between coming up with something unique and interesting, and something that is still relatable to readers.

Consider what’s been done. The most common ancestry seems to be birds, bats, wolves, and winged insects (faeries). When creating a race, a first step toward making it unique can be to use a creature or traits that haven’t been used much, or combine several. Winged beings are all too common, but why not give your beings the wings of a bird, and the pointed ears of an elf? And throw in blue skin just for fun? Many novice writers who try to create a new race will use a more unlikely creature thinking that it will score them points on the originality meter. They’ll give their beings a half spider form, or make them look like a hybrid of a worm and a human. Nine times out of ten, that won’t work. So many of us are unsettled by creepy crawlies that beings who possess too many such traits will be an instant repellent and not at all easy to relate to. I’m not saying certain traits from any creature can’t work. Who doesn’t love Spiderman? I’m a firm believer that anything can work if it’s used right. In the case of Spiderman, the idea of a man with the abilities of a spider worked because, other than his ability to sling webs and scale walls, he was a normal everyday guy. That and there was nothing horrifically gross about him. He didn’t spit acid out of his mouth, or molt his skin like a snake. Yuck. Your beings have to be relatable, and like it or not, that means giving them some human traits that make us see them the way we see ourselves.

I think there’s a second reason certain creatures are overused – it’s because they’re safe. We already know people will accept Vampires and Werewolves. Creating a new race with as yet unused traits is risky. Readers might not be able to suspend their disbelief enough to accept them. They might be seen as b-movie material. But if you combine features the right way, and you put it right on the page, readers will accept anything. It’s all about the appeal of the race and the writer’s ability to make a reader believe in what they say. Which brings me to the second part of the segment.

When I say appeal, I’m not referring to whether or not readers find your new race of people attractive. I’m talking about whether or not they have a mass market appeal. So, whether or not your beings will be accepted by a wide range of readers. The trick to creating a race of beings that appeals to many is to give them traits that appeal to most humans. I know it sounds shallow, but that’s why creatures with eight legs or a head full of eyes is so hard to pull off, and if they are used, they’re usually villains or henchmen, temporary challenges for the heroes to overcome, without big roles or heavy interaction. We as humans have a hard time relating to that. You can still avoid your people being overly attractive or generic without making them so unusual that people can’t take it seriously.

Consider the concept of a Werewolf. A huge, hairy creature that mauls and kills people. How is that attractive? But why does it work? Because Werewolves are only like that part of the time. In most stories that feature a werewolf, the character is human for the bulk of the time, perhaps with certain traits of the wolf left over while in man form, like heightened senses or super speed, the kind of traits that makes people look badass. Not to mention, predatory animal traits in a sexy package generate a massive hottie appeal. :D. *Wipes drool from mouth* (Actually, I don’t like werewolves or vamps, but I love creating races with badass animal traits, and if used right, they are sexy).  

Getting back on track, if you combine human traits with those of another creature without losing the being’s humanity, you make it easier to believe in. Which brings us to the third and final element. Plausibility.

If you think about it, any being with human and animal traits combined seems a little far fetched. Take a mermaid. A being with the head and torso of a woman, (a man if it’s a Merman) and the tail of a fish? How weird is that? And yet, stories the world over tell of these half fish beings who live in the sea, and people love them. Why? Partially it’s because we have the other two elements, relatablity and appeal, at work here. Mermaids are just human enough to see as being like us, but just “fish” enough to seem exotic. Plus they come from a place that is universally mysterious and still relatively unexplored. This adds to the mass market appeal and the exotic allure of a race. But Mermaids are also effective because, from the perspective of readers who like to escape into a fantasy world, they seem plausible. The sea’s largely unknown depths leave open the plausibility necessary for readers to suspend disbelief enough to accept the concept. Plausibility in creating a new and original race lies in cultivating the ever tantalizing question all humans have in the back of their minds - What if. It lies in starting with the seed of an idea and then building off it by answering other questions. Other questions that spark our curiosity and make us want to learn more. Questions like, if you create a race, how do they act? What do they believe in? What might their religion be like? How different might they’re every day lives be from ours? When we begin to explore these concepts, that’s when a whole culture starts to come to life in our minds. 

This Monday, Madelaine Bauman continues our blog with Part 2: Beliefs, through which she’ll delve into perhaps the most interesting aspect of building a race, developing a belief system that will keep your readers wanting to learn more, and offer your story a real world feel that makes your readers forget the world they’re in is just a fantasy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Featured Author: D.F. Matthews

FTLOW: So tell us about yourself.

D.F. Matthews: Hmmm...Not a subject I am very fond of. Where shall I start? Well, as you can tell from my author picture there I am an enigma wrapped in mystery dressed in a riddle with the socks of a puzzle and a bow tie of blatant deception and a top hat of wonderment. I'm not at liberty to speak to much as I don't want to place those I care for at risk. You see those who lack imagination desire to capture me and use my brain as a buffet...much like the ones in Vegas where you can get king crab legs for four dollars and a subsequent case of food poisoning later on.

FTLOW: What rituals do you have before you write?

D.F. Matthews: Music has been a great catalyst for me personally...although I guess it can't be impersonally for me, can it? Anyhoo, I suppose my music selections are as diverse as my writing is. From Jay-Z to Kings of Leon to Dream Theater to Bjork to Danny Elfman and many more that I choose not to mention at the moment. I switch stories the same way from evil, not female hamsters bent on world domination to being trapped in my own mind with your emotions as actual people and monsters to one eyed rabbits who takes on the role of protector for a girl who embodies the soul of a distant world's deceased princess. But then again I may have said too much already. *shiftily looks over non-descript male or female shoulder*

FTLOW: What inspired you to write?

D.F. Matthews: A lifetime of reading I guess. I read anything I could get my hands on and it proceeded to warp my spongy mind. My library growing up wasn't well stocked, but reading material was thrust upon me all the time. I read entire set of encyclopedias, and every Sunday I read the funny pages. I loved Calvin and Hobbes!! Something about a boy living out his life in pure imagination that...appeals to me. Wonder why? Hmmm...mysteries. From there it went to R.L. Stine, then Stephen King and Dean Koontz, with comics mixed in-between. I was also influenced by a lot of movies. I grow up on The Godfather, Aliens, Terminator and Star Wars all at the tender age of seven. Yes...demented...but then I suppose I've said too much.

FTLOW: When did you begin to write?

D.F. Matthews: I started writing at the age of nine. Nothing terribly eloquent, just a fake newscast set in the land of Looney Toons. You know, like police being on the manhunt for the roadrunner because he dropped yet another boulder onto the poor creature’s head. Don’t judge me I was nine. However I’ve always felt compelled to write. Too much Seuss and television I say. Not that that’s a bad thing.

FTLOW: What genre do you write? Why that one?

D.F. Matthew: Is whatever a genre?...No? Oh well, then. I write for everyone who enjoys a good story. But I suppose if had to narrow it down, for the moment I write for children, middle grade, and young adult. Still I want to create something everyone can enjoy from the parent reading the bedtime story to their children and the whole family who wants to dive into a new adventure.

FTLOW: Is there anywhere people can find your work?

D.F. Matthews: Again I really shouldn't give too much information away, but a deal is a deal and a weasel is a weasel except when it masquerades as a duck....but that's a different story. You can find my work on this blog with Plan 100. Also on WeBook. Not mention I’m about to start a new project on Figment Fiction. But the closest thing to the actual me is this handsome little doppelganger who makes a habit of posting my whereabouts and writings on Twitter and Facebook.

FTLOW: Thanks so much for your time! It's always great to meet fellow aspiring authors and thanks to everyone for reading. Be sure to check out the links above and get to know D.F. Matthews a little more.
D.F. Matthews: Well I’ve had a delightful time. So much so that I’ll entrust you with one of my favorite chapters from Beyond Here. Please, whatever you do, do not post this on the internet…unless it is for For The Love Of Writing. I have a fondness for it.
Now who is going to unstrap me from this chair? Hello? Anyone? Oh boy.


Beyond Here: Chapter Eight

The woods to the land of Dread were as sparse and sickly as their exiled lord. Skeletal blood red trees stretched to the sky like hands reaching beyond the grave. A jaundiced moon watched over the land, casting ghastly shadows over the land. Subtle fog rolled in, mingling with the cool air.

Anger thought the crumbling ruins of the Nevagains had more charm. The sound of their pursuers nipping at their heels only added to the dreary mystique. It was more than the howling and barking; now it was the sound of their padded feet thundering along the ground. Anger was sure he heard the globs of spittle hitting the darkened soil as well.

Fear took the point on this one, this being his land it only made sense. It was hard to make out his inky figure amongst the shadows. Anger's brother strode along with a childlike glee in his step. This wouldn't be a problem if his moves weren't so noisy.

"Fear, you are a fool," he snarled. "Are you trying to bring every beast in Mother here?"

"I'm trying to hurry. Being overtaken by those things is not on my list of things to do."

Fear continued on his noisy path. For someone so frail he sure he sure made enough noise for someone ten times his bulk. With each crunch of dead leaves or a fallen branch Anger cringed. Why oh why must he be made to suffer this ignorance.

Highlighted by the yellowed moon's glare the outline of Fear's castle came to fruition through the trees. A grin played at the edges of Anger's canine mouth. Through the dark one could just make out Fear's grin as well.

"See? No problems." Fear said as he turned toward his brother.

That smile crept off his face only to be replaced with a look of his namesake. Anger halted, curved horns tingling at the sudden silence. No leaves crunched or mad howls or pounding of feet. The land was still as death.

Anger looked at the outline of the castle once more. It was still far enough away that making a mad dash in its direction would mean his demise. He sneered at the unseen lurking around him. His fists balled up and his teeth gritted together as he peered through the dark.

To his left the trees waved, and to his right the moon bleached shadows cried out a warning. He tensed his muscles, readying for an-

"Brother!" Fear called.

Steam billowed from Anger's nostrils. How could his brother be this dimwitted and still be alive? No one with any common sense would-

"Brother! We have to go while there is still time."

"Hush your mouth you ignorant whelp!" He didn't mean to shout but his rage was getting the better of him. His vision was turning red.

"My castle is right here."

"Nytemares are upon us half-wit."

"But Anger I think-"

That was all Fear managed to get out before a blur of motion swept him away. His pained screams filled the vacant darkness. Anger unleashed a beastly howl, more out of his own frustration than from the loss of his brother.

He turned quickly and saw a faint glimpse of a Nytemare darting through the trees. The shadow the beast cast was enormous. It had been sometime since the Nytemares and Demoni were loose. Their containment was one of the best things Mother ever did in Anger's opinion. He knew he was savage, but the Nytemares were on another realm.

A growl came from behind and Anger turned to see. Off in the distance his narrowed yellow eyes saw the monsters, three in all, stalking him. From their perch the Nytemares licked their chops. They stood eight feet tall on their four paws. Their flesh was exposed like newly hatched chicks, a muddled pink with protruding purple veins peeking under the meat. A spider like cluster of dark eyes studied Anger. Their feet were like human hands but with dark talons that gleamed in the light. Green globs of saliva gushed from a maw of devilish razor sharp teeth.

Much to his delight their masters, the Demoni, were nowhere to be seen. Still three rouge Nytemares were keeping him from the safety of the castle.

Nothing but trees were around him, not even a rock to beat them back. His fists and his horns were his only means of defense, and they had to do. Almost instinctively he faded into the shadows around him.

The Nytemares rushed in moving with the speed and power of jungle beasts. A wild hunger was in their eyes as they screeched and howled. One lunged at Anger. With speed that even surprised him Anger launched a hefty fist at the monster. His fist caught the Nytemare square in the jaw, and sent it sprawling yards away. Another Nytemare lunged and he was able to sidestep it. The final one however struck gold raking him across the chest.

It felt like fire coursing through his veins. The pain sent him to one knee, clutching at the wound. He had no time to dwell on the gaping scratches as the Nytemares were circling back. Quickly he rose to his feet letting his wounds soak in the yellow moonlight.

A Nytemare charged at full speed. Anger leaned his head forward at the last moment, his horns smashing against the savage creature's skull. He swore he heard a crack. There was no time to worry about his horns, the job was done. A Nytemare lay dazed at his feet. Two came from his sides, mouths open. He snatched the bloated purple tongue out of the Nytemare on his right. The tongueless Nytemare writhed along the ground, while the other sunk its claws into Anger's back.

Anger howled. He reached behind him and tossed the Nytemare off of him. Light blue liquid seeped from the newly opened wounds. He dropped the still wriggling tongue and went after the yowling monster. The wounded beast clawed at his missing tongue while unleashing savage cries. Anger clamped down on the Nytemare's thrashing hind legs. His back bellowed as he flung the monster into another.

He didn't know how he was still standing. His wounds were deep and raw. But he had to keep moving or end up devoured like his brother. Damn Fear...he could have at least been bait.

The dazed Nytremare staggered to his feet, looking none too happy about being put on his backside. It hurled a furious battle cry as it glared at Anger. The Nytemare clawed at the ground, spittle foaming around curled lips. Anger matched the movement ready to take the fight to the monster. As he did his horns ached as though they remembered what happened before.

Anger charged first and the Nytemare came charging toward him. Every part of Anger felt as if it had been set aflame. He had to keep moving. The castle wasn't far. His wounds could heal later if only he could reach those dank doors.

The Nytemare's jaw unhinged wide enough to swallow him whole. At the very last moment Anger launched himself into the air. His beefy hand slammed on top of the monster its head; slamming it into the ground, mouth first. There was a sickening, yet satisfying, crunch as the cavernous jaw shattered and flesh tore as it taut skin struggled to contain what had been its mouth.

No time to gloat in the minor victory, the beast was merely slowed for a moment. The other two were struggling to get to their feet. He had a clear, if brief, passage to the doors. Survival pushed him forward, making him ignore his pain that told him to quit. Those yellow eyes saw the bone littered steps, and the wrought iron doors. Cawing crows ushered in his presence as he took the steps two and three at a time.

Before he knew it he was at the door. His body crashed against the metal, yet it didn't yield to his power. Horror gripped his black heart. It couldn't be! Why would an abandoned castle be locked? He screamed at the moon, and then pounded his fist into the door. Each blow sounded like a car wreck. 'Open! Open!' he shouted, his voice growing more desperate every time.

From behind him he heard the Nytemares getting organized. They didn't have to rush; their prey was accounted for. They'd savor this meal as they tore at his flesh bit by bit keeping him alive for the entire session. Perhaps they would start at his eyes or maybe his chest, possibly they'd gnaw on his horns until he cried for mercy that would never come.

Anger turned to the stalking Nytemares who converged at the base of the steps. There was no escaping, but he'd make sure they knew they were in a fight. Their claws tapped on the stone steps as they climbed them one at a time. Anger clapped his fist together, egging the monsters forward.


He heard a loud click and suddenly he was flying backward. After the initial shock he slammed the door in the face of the Nytemares. Heart thudding against his wounded chest he saw his savior.

"I told you not to worry," said Fear holding a flickering candle.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...