Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

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The Secret to Writing a Novel in Three Days

Just saying those words “a novel in three days” seems like an impossibility to me. I know I could never churn out 60,000+ words in that amount of time. At my current rate of 2,000 words in 90 minutes, that would require 900 minutes (15 hours) at my computer. There’s just no way I could hit that.

But, for some authors—namely Michael Moorcock—it’s a possibility. He could write a 60,000 word sword and sorcery novel (a la Conan) in just three days. Granted, sword and sorcery isn’t exactly high literature, but it’s still a pretty impressive achievement.

Here’s the basics of his process (taken from THIS POST, where you can find more details):

  1. Have everything prepared.
  2. Model the basic plot on the “Quest” theme.
  3. The formula depends on the sense of a human being up against superhuman force — politics, Big Business, supernatural evil, etc.
  4. Make lists of things you’ll use.
  5. Prepare an event for every four pages.
  6. Prepare a complete structure. Not a plot, exactly, but a structure where the demands were clear.
  7. Prepare a list of images that are purely fantastic, deliberate paradoxes say, that fit within the sort of thing you’re writing. The City of Screaming Statues, things like that.
  8. The imagery comes before the action, because the action’s actually unimportant.
  9. In your lists, in the imagery and so on, there will be mysteries that you haven’t explained to yourself.
  10. Very often a chapter is something like: attack of the bandits —defeat of the bandits.
  11. Time is the important element in any action adventure story.
  12. Don’t have any encounter without at least information coming out of it.
  13. You start off with a mystery. Every time you reveal a bit of it, you have to do something else to increase it.
  14. Never have a revelation of something that wasn’t already established.
  15. There’s always a sidekick to make the responses the hero isn’t allowed to make: to get frightened; to add a lighter note; to offset the hero’s morbid speeches, and so on.
  16. Divide your total 60,000 words into four sections, 15,000 words apiece. Divide each into six chapters.
  17. When in doubt, descend into a minor character.
  18. Once you’ve started, you keep it rolling.

It’s a pretty impressive formula, one that seemed to work wonders for him. After all, EVERYONE who reads fantasy has heard of Elric of Melnibone and his soul-drinking blade Stormbringer (no relation to the Hunter’s blade Soulhunger!).

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Book Review: Emperor for an Eclipse by Eris Adderly

Today I’m bringing you something a tad different than my usual fare—a fantasy book that’s a bit saucier and dirtier than I’m used to reading. The author is a romance writer branching out into fantasy, and overall she NAILED it with this book.

Emperor for an Eclipse

He was expendable. He was a sacrifice. He was the emperor.

An_Emperor_for_the_Eclipse_Cover_614x960Raothan Ga’ardahn wants to take his own life. Twelve years in exile have a way of beating a man down, and the shameful secrets of his past, no matter how far buried, weigh enough to keep him that way. The last thing standing between him and oblivion is a sign from the gods. That, and a unit of Imperial Guard trooping onto his farm one late summer’s afternoon.

Across the continent, the Taunai heed the warnings of their dead: act to correct an unforeseen fracture in the Pattern of events, or face annihilation. Niquel, their bravest Questioner, accepts the challenge to descend into the dangerous lowlander capital for the good of her people. A journey alone away from her snowy mountain home awaits. Any worry about the strange man in her dreams will have to come later.

When the paths of the two outsiders cross on the steps of the imperial palace at Protreo, the fate of the empire shifts. One the Novamneans call ‘exile’, the other they call ‘witch’. Neither will ever be the same.

My Review: 5 Stars

I found this to be a HIGHLY engaging read, one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read this year.

Make no mistake: I’m not real big on sex/erotica in novels, and this had it in spades. Perhaps a tad too much  focus on the sex and all for my tastes, without as much focus on the story.

But the world is bright, colorful, engaging, and well-described, with vivid details that make it an absolutely enthralling read. The backstories are interesting, and I was so disappointed that I didn’t get to find out more about the antagonists and protagonists. Thankfully, there will be two more books for me to get more details on what’s going on.

If you like fantasy and erotica, this is a book you’ll definitely enjoy!

Here’s a Taste:

Raothan bent back to his task, using the repetitive motions to smother away nagging thoughts and urges. Before long, he was in that still place with only his breathing and the sensations of the moment: the sun on his back, rind and stalk moving under his hands, the scent of warm earth in his nostrils, hoofbeats …

Hoofbeats?

He cocked his head, focusing his attention on the muted thudding. His farm was, if not remote, at least a short ride form the main road. There would be no one with occasion to lead a horse out this way, and damn sure not more than one. Still, his ears didn’t lie. He stood and turned in the direction of the sound.

A sprig of something dark bounced over the rise, growing as it came. Raothan knew that silhouette. The years would not let him forget. A spear point, aimed at the sky from horseback. Another black point joined the first, and then another. A rider’s helm, the pointed ears of a mount. Two, three, ten …?

J’rt Thi’s fucking blood, what’s this now?

He tucked the harvest knife into his belt and dusted his palms together, knocking away the worst of the dirt. The approaching riders—some sort of guard unit, if his impressions served him—came on at a walk: casual, confident, not even bothering to press their mounts into a trot.

They were cutting a straight path in his direction, and his steps took him back to the near edge of the field where it abutted the yard surrounding his house. What was there to do but meet them and learn their business?

Probably some fool new decree being enacted. A tax levy, I’ll wager.

The riders jangled up, bits of tack glinting under the noon light, two columns of five splitting apart and fanning out into a semi-circle before him. An eleventh man, who’d ridden in at their head, stepped his horse forward. Raothan crossed his arms over his chest.

“Look at this one,” he heard one of the riders mutter to a neighbor, “head shaved like he thinks he’s some kind of warrior.”

“The general would shit a sword,” the other agreed on the low assessment of this foreigner standing before them.

The leader swept a hand to the side for silence.

“Are you Ga’ardahn?” he said.

Raothan suspected the man already knew the answer to his own question. How many other Elvigra kissmelon farmers could there be out here?

He laid a finger alongside his nose and then angled it at the man, acknowledging the accuracy of his guess. “It seems I am.”

His eyes skimmed the line of what he now was sure were Imperial Guard. The Emperor’s sigil—a pair of crossed swords beneath a crescent moon—fluttered on blue pennants strung around the shoulders of every horse. Raothan noted the bulk of muscle distributed among the riders, the sharp eyes and taut grips. There were seven men and three women. None of them looked as though they had seen lives of ease. They were not here for a tax levy.

The leader nodded once at Raothan’s confirmation and tugged a folded leaf of parchment from a saddle pocket. He opened it and began to read, his voice carrying and formal.

“Raothan Ga’ardahn, you are hereby summoned to the Imperial Palace at Protreo Novamne Solarius by the order of His Excellency, First Councilor Ptyverias Firsoni. You are to meet with the First Councilor to discuss your forthcoming duty to the Empire. Accommodations will be provided at the pleasure of His Excellency.”

The man looked up from the parchment at him. “Do you come to the palace of your own will, Ga’ardahn, or do we drag you behind one of our horses?”

Raothan stood there, assessing, holding the leader’s dark-eyed gaze. The fact that he felt the need to ask if Raothan would be willing did not bode well at all. He narrowed his eyes.

“Let me see the summons,” he said, taking a step forward and putting out his hand. The leader sneered.

“Can you even read, ‘vigra?”

He kept his hand out and moved to stand beside the horse. Something twinkled in the man’s eye, and he handed the parchment down, amused. The leader shrugged and quirked a smile at his unit, as if to say, “This ought to be entertaining.”

Raothan read the content of the summons with no trouble, backing away several steps as he did. It was all there, just as the man had read it. What it meant was anyone’s guess.

Being an exile wasn’t a crime in Novamne, nor was being an immigrant, rare though the Elvigra were on this side of the mountains. And his “forthcoming duty to the Empire”? He shook his head. Even if they knew what he was …

No. It doesn’t matter what they want, or what they know. No more cities. No more empires.

“And whom do I have the pleasure of addressing, Guardsman?” Raothan met the man with a smile now. He straightened in his saddle and looked down a blunt nose.

“I am Ogdavian, of his Imperial Majesty’s Palace Guard. You may refer to me as ‘Captain’ ”

Raothan’s grin widened.

“Well, Ogdy,” he drawled, lifting the parchment, “you can tell ‘His Excellency First Councilor Firsoni’ ”—here he spat noisily onto the summons—“that he is hereby summoned to bend his prick around backwards and go fuck himself.” At this, he crumpled the parchment into a wad and with a decisive popping gesture of his fingers sent it rolling onto the dirt.

There were noises from several of the guard: a few growls, a chuckle or two, and Ogdavian’s face had gone tight. Raothan gave him a mock salute, turned on his heel, and strolled away, moving back inside his house.

“Somehow I expected no less,” he heard the captain say to his back. Then, to his guard unit: “Take him.”

About the Author:

Eris writes subversive romance for people who hate romance novels. Her award winning stories are the stomping grounds for bada** heroines, untamable alphas, a spectrum of sexuality and a serious disregard for convention. Much like her namesake, Eris likes to make trouble. When she’s not staying up into wee hours writing, Eris also likes to read, baby-talk her cats, exasperate her husband, and obsess about writing some more. Somewhere in the middle, there will be pizza.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Emperor-Eclipse-After-Exile-English-ebook/dp/B06WRPXT3V 

Read Eris’ thoughts on her website: http://erisadderly.com

Connect on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/erisadderly

Tweet at her: https://twitter.com/erisadderly

 

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Education Isn’t Everything!

When I talk to other, more well-established authors, I often find myself wrestling with a bit of an inferiority complex. I know I have my strengths as an author (ability to talk easily with people, interesting ideas, good writing skills, etc.), but I have a hard time feeling like I can match up with many of the authors I encounter.

A large part of it is due to my lack of education. I have a high school education, with no academic training in ANY career or profession. Everything I know, I’ve learned by studying outside of the formal education system. I doubt I will ever obtain a degree in creative writing, English, literature, or any of the other backgrounds that cater to being a good writer. I don’t even have a background in a specific profession I can use to write from a position of authority.

It’s tough to feel inferior, and this particular complex is something I can usually ignore enough to be confident as an author. I may not have the education, but I have a keen intellect and the desire to work as hard as possible to be the best author I can be.

Turns out this is actually enough to make up for my lack of education!

A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that cognitive ability (also known as intelligence) is often enough to make up for a lack of education. Specifically, the study examined the differences between students from disadvantaged backgrounds vs. students with more advantage (better education). To quote the research “Intelligence is the most important factor in determining long-term achievement outcomes”.

Non-cognitive or personality traits like perseverance, grit, and a good work ethic are all factors (albeit minor ones) in success. But the single most influential factor in success or failure of the students was their intelligence. Formal education and academic advantages were far less important than the intelligence of the people participating in the study.

This gives me hope that I can succeed, even without the education that so many other authors have. As long as I continue to sharpen my intellect, expand my knowledge base, and use my non-cognitive traits (like determination), I have a good chance for success.

 

 

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Interview with M.L. Spencer

I had a chance to sit down with the awesome M.L. Spencer and talk a bit about her past, her writing, and everything that makes her an absolutely unique (and quirky) author.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, my name is M.L. Spencer. I grew up in an orange grove in San Bernardino, CA. That orange grove was my first fantasy world. I mapped it, built cities, towns, rivers, waged wars, fortified castles, installed conflicting political systems and differing religious ideologies. It was my first foray into fantasy world building!

And then a bulldozer took it all away to build a freeway.

So I built another world, this time on paper. Decades later, I’m still building worlds; it’s what I do. The only difference is now, it’s usually me who destroys them.

What were you like at school?

I was that person who could speak Elvish, recite every line from Star Wars, and of course no one wanted to sit next to in class. You know the kid I’m talking about.

Were you good at English?

Yup. But I failed typing class because my teacher thought I’d plagiarized a novel blub we were supposed to write and then type. He didn’t believe I wrote it on my own!

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Which writers inspire you?

My favorite authors are Robert Jordan, Frank Herbert, and Stephen King.

So, what have you written?

Right now I’m writing a series called The Rhenwars Saga. The first two books are available on Amazon, Darkstorm and Darkmage. Darkmage won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for fantasy.

Where can we buy or see them?

https://www.amazon.com/Darkstorm-Rhenwars-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01MT77SK9

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01MT77SK9 https://www.amazon.com.au/Darkstorm-Rhenwars-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01MT77SK9

What are you working on at the minute?

Right now I’m working on Book Four of The Rhenwars Saga

What genre are your books?

Dark Epic Fantasy

What draws you to this genre?

I like high stakes, turbulent plots, dark heroes, and complex villains.  I also like gritty realism as much as possible.

Why do you write?

I write to bring my characters to life. They exist as real people in my head. They must be freed!

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

I had a great idea!  And a great idea is a terrible thing to waste!

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I work full time and write full time. It’s basically a second job. I think I may even spend more time at my “writing job”!

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?

I am absolutely obsessive about writing. I’d write every second of every day if I could. As it is I have to come up for air and clean a dish or cook a meal occasionally. It’s hard, though!

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

When I am on a roll, my mantra is, “A chapter a day keeps writer’s block away!”  For me, that’s about 5,000 words a day.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I outline extensively before I ever set pen to paper. I will usually have one plot tangle or two that’s not worked out ahead of time, leaving it up to my muse to bridge those gaps as I go. Sometime this results in writer’s block, but that’s rare. Usually the solution to a problem will strike like lightning at the most unexpected moment—or in my sleep!

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

The last novel I finished, Book Three of The Rhenwars Saga, was the hardest. It was difficult because I was putting together a lot of characters who had never been together before in the same scenes. There was also a ton of character growth and changes in plot direction—all in a land with no sunlight, which I had to world-build from the ground up. That took every scrap of my biology knowledge! Nothing came easy with that book. Nothing!  It was a struggle every step of the way. But it was worth it —I’m very happy to say that I think it’s my best writing so far!

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Dialogue. I can write dialogue in my sleep. Except for Quin; his dialogue takes me forever to come up with. He’s usually very formal, sardonic, self-deprecating, and insightful—all at the same time!

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It depends on how busy I am with life. Usually six months. Although the original 230K word-manuscript of Darkmage was written in a whirlwind 40 days!

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yes. I can plot myself into a corner with the best of them!  Then I usually have to mope around banging my head on the wall until the lightning strike provides clarity.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Read other novels. Listen to music. Research. Seek inspiration in poetry and works of art.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?

The Rhenwars Saga is a tale about the conflict between two opposing philosophies of magic and the moral imperatives that drive them. It’s basically about two conflicting moral ideologies.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I hate writing stand-alone novels; I get too attached to my characters and my ideas are usually ginormous. Short stories? Forget it! For me, it’s go big or go home!

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

A little of both. I have an excellent content editor who keeps me humble. I am usually my own copy editor, although I did employ one for Darkstorm.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

I try to. I usually fail at this. I can’t stay away from a fresh manuscript!

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

My covers were done by Claudia McKinney and Teresa Yeh at phatpuppyart.com. My 16-year-old daughter and I selected the models for the covers from looking over pics at a modeling agency—what a great time that was! In all fairness, we picked both models because of the personalities they projected, which was far more important to us than their looks.

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How are you publishing this book and why?

Indie!
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

The main advantage to publishing Indie is that I retain my rights. I don’t have to worry about my publisher going out of business and having my rights tied up in litigation for years, a nightmare scenario I’ve heard too much about lately.

What is your favourite book and why?

Right now my favorite book is Patrick Rothfuss’s A Wise Man’s Fear. His lyrical prose his breathtaking.

What is your favourite quote?

Nietzsche: “If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.”

What is your favourite film and why?

Avatar. Because it’s so unbelievably cool!  An entire world that is its own goddess formed out of an interconnected network that functions like fungal mycelium!  Incredible! And I just love the whole “stranger in a strange land” motif.  It’s always been a favorite of mine.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t. Give. Up. Ever.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Usually poetry or literature. Darkmage is inspired by Nietzsche and Machiavelli’s The Prince. Darkstorm was inspired by the poem “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I play MMORPG games, teach biology and raise three children.

What does your family think of your writing?

They think it’s pretty cool unless I don’t come out of the room for five days straight. They usually start missing me when the dishes stack up.

 

Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?  Came really close. Almost got my boyfriend clobbered by a one-armed biker!

Do you drink? Smoke? Gave all that up. Now my main vice is coffe.

What is your biggest fear? That I will lose my memory when I age.

What do you want your tombstone to say? She wrote.

What secret talents do you have?

I am pretty good at music composition. One piece I had a big hand in creating had over 25 million likes on YouTube, last time I checked.

Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

When I was a kid, I used to have a recurring dream of a ghost train that whooshed out of my bedroom closet, chugged down the stairs, and then sped off into the night across the orange groves.  Too much Stephen King for me!

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How We Respond to Attacks on Our Identity

We all have our an identity, a persona we have built up in our heads. Our identity may be built around our profession, our passion, our hobbies, our physical location, the place we went to school, the sports team we cheer for, the vehicle we own, our gender, our sexual orientation or preference, our heritage, our role in our family, community, or job, or any number of things. We need to build on these things in order to have the foundation for our identity and our sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

But what do you do when that identity comes under threat? When someone is racist, homophobic, or just cheers for the wrong football team, how do you respond? How do you deal with what you perceive as “hate speech” or “hate crimes”?

An article on Psychology Today gives an interesting breakdown of the way we humans respond to an attack on our identity:

Constructive Action – We try to overcome the threat to our identity by engaging in productive behavior, but we don’t address the threat directly. It’s sort of an “ignore it, be a good worker, and it will go away” mindset.

Concealment – We try to hide or tone down the identity under attack in the hope that the attack will stop. “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Identity Exit – We completely discard that part of our identity that is under attack. Instead of fighting, we choose to “flee” the attack.

Derogation – We denounce or criticize the person or thing attacking our identity, hoping to discredit or humiliate the attacker and thus stop the attack. We “strike back”.

Ignore – We simply ignore the person attacking our identity and move on with our lives without addressing the attack. This is common in situations where we feel “powerless to do anything”.

Importance Change – We make a conscious shift of how important the identity is to us. Perhaps it stops being the thing that “defines us” and becomes “just one more part of what makes us us”.

Meaning Change – We make a conscious shift of how we perceive the part of the identity and its significance to us. It may decrease in its perceived value, and we rank it lower than other parts of our identity.

Seek Assistance – We turn to others, perhaps those in authority, for help in dealing with the attack on our identity. We all need “reinforcements” to get us through the tough times.

Positive Distinctiveness – We try to change the attacker’s opinion of our identity by arguing the values and virtues of that particular identity. Try to “bring them around to our side”.

In this modern day and age, it feels like EVERY part of who we are is being attacked, criticized, or mocked by others. Our response to those attacks can affect the outcome—not only for the attacker, but how WE move on from the attack. Consider your instinctive reaction to attacks on your identity, and see if there is a better, more productive way to respond.

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Book Review: FERTS by Grace Hudson

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I’ve got a book I found myself enjoying a lot more than I expected! I found it a sort of cross between The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Equilibrium. Dystopian fiction worth reading indeed.

FERTS

FERTScoverThe war is over. Resources are scarce. The population is dwindling in the Forkstream Territories.

Pinnacle Officer Wilcox has created FERTS amidst the chaos, a facility designed to protect the female population from raiding hordes.

Beth 259201, a newly-demoted Epsilon Internee, suspects that there is something more that lurks beneath the carefully constructed order of the facility.

 

She has a gift, one that could brand her a defective. A novice fighter, she must use her intellect to survive. Her own life, and the lives of many more may be at risk. Will she succumb to the plans in store for her or will she conceal her secret long enough to discover her own path?

My Review: 4 Stars

While it took me a chapter or two to get into the book, by page 30 I was fascinated. I found myself curious to find out more about these “Beths” (each with their own unique number) and the horrible “breeding world” in which they lived. I LOVED the way the girls were ranked according to the various factors (attractiveness, musculature, personality, etc.). It was a fascinating look at what would happen if modern society broke down “being a woman” into numbers and formulas.

The story overall was pretty good, though I found myself enjoying the first 2/3 more than the last part. The climax was good (satisfying ending), but there was quite a bit that felt dangerously close to Deus Ex Machina.

SPOILER: DO NOT READ IF YOU HATE SPOILERS!! The character develops a sort of telepathy or precognition, but I didn’t catch the explanation of how or why. Unique powers like that need explanation or a reason why. END SPOILERS

A lot of details were also left vague, unclear, or unexplained. While the initial world-building was excellent, too many questions were left unanswered. Not the least of which was what made the main Beth so different from all the other Beths around her.

But, all in all, a good book, and one I’d highly recommend to any dystopian fans!

Here’s a Taste:

Cerberus strode out through the rear of the observation tower, leaving Quinton to his track and surveillance duties. The console zoomed in through trees to show the clear, glowing bright red outline of a young Internee, bent at the waist, visibly panting. Her hand gripped the tree beside her as she crouched, other hand planted firmly on her right knee to steady herself. She had lasted all of two minutes, the Ward Beacon surely must be having some kind of effect on her Implant Marker by now. Quinton looked more closely through the cracked monitor, admiring the sharp outline of her jaw, the defiant spread of her shoulders, as she leaned back against the tree, resisting the call.

“Go back,” he whispered.

She raised her head, as if sensing something.

He checked her file in the logs, Epsilon Circuit, three years trained, two years fight duty. Beth 259251. They were all marked as Beth, only the numbers would change between Internees. She was assigned to Epsilon Circuit due to a hormonal imbalance at fourteen. She had contracted a common autoimmune disorder, causing her fertility rating to drop to a 5.6, but it was her muscle mass that relegated her to the betting Circuit of Epsilon. Her muscle mass was far above regulation and despite her condition she was physically strong, testing high on agility. Her fight record was exemplary, a formidable opponent for any challenger from the Epsilon Internee fight pool.

The endurance monitor blipped. Her heart had begun to stutter. She had five, maybe six minutes to get back within the ward zone before her time ran down.

“Back, come on,” he muttered.

It was none of his concern, certainly nothing he would voice in front of the other Operators for fear of derision. The Internees were plentiful, and the common Epsilon fellows were worth far less than the price of a basic ration.

The endurance monitor spiked, displaying elevated cortisol and increased respiration. She clung to the bark under her fingers, scrabbling for equilibrium. He had seen this routine so many times before and had grown tired of the spectacle. He could do without another demonstration tonight.

Before long, Beth 259251 stood to her full height, appearing to move towards the ward zone. Quinton exhaled, shifting back in his seat, ready to log her return. She hesitated, then turned to face the sparse plains of the suspension zone. Each small step was heavy, but she persevered, dragging her body further from the tower reach. The beacon’s steady hum permeated the forest. Her hands crept up to cover her ears, routinely dropping back down in futility. One minute and forty-five seconds later she dropped to her knees, heart rate spiking, shuddering. The endurance monitor blipped once last time as her form faded to a dull green on the console.

“Recovery detail, suspension zone border.” He called out the coordinates into his radio, ignoring the crackle, repeating the details to ensure they had been received.

“Confirmed, Quinton. Log response time at 18:16.”

“Proceed as logged,” Quinton replied. He hissed a breath out through his teeth. The Epsilon fellow was no longer his concern.

About the Author:

Grace Hudson lives in Melbourne, Australia, land of sun, surf and drop bears!

She spends a lot of time in her writing cave but can be tempted to come out to check social media from time to time.

Her debut dystopian novel, “FERTS” was released in June 2015. Open Doors, an Aussie urban fantasy was released in Feb 2016. The Rogue Thread (Book 2 of FERTS) and Alpha Field (Book 3 of FERTS) are the latest releases for 2017.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/FERTS-Book-1-Grace-Hudson-ebook/dp/B010II21DW/

Read Grace’s thoughts on her website: http://www.gracehudson.net

Connect with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GraceHudsonAuthor/

Tweet at her: https://twitter.com/GraceHudsonAU

 

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Transition Words

 

When it comes to creative writing, we all have our “style”. Some people like to use fewer words and shorter sentences, while others of us (I’m guilty of this) prefer to go with longer sentences that use more flowing words.

Longer sentences aren’t bad, but they must be constructed properly to avoid being boring, dry, or becoming run-on sentences. Transition words are useful to help you put together better longer sentences.

Transition words and phrases signify a connection between portions of the sentences. They can compare, contrast, and organize, and they can help make the transition between the various parts of the sentences smoother.

There are a few types of transition words:

  • Addition/agreement — In addition to, by the same token, as well as, furthermore, and moreover serve to reinforce or add on to the sentence.
  • Opposition/contradiction– In spite of, instead, although, despite, but, and nevertheless can all indicate a shift in perspective or belief in the sentence.
  • Condition/cause– Because of, while, due to, provided that, and in order to all show causes and conditions that link parts of a sentence together.
  • Emphasis/example– For example, for this reason, chiefly, especially, to emphasize, in other words, and in general all support or emphasize the idea you are trying to communicate, highlighting them for the reader’s attention.
  • Summary/conclusion – As shown above, in summary/conclusion, to sum up, and for the most part are all used to close an idea or thought, or to sum up what was just said.
  • Place/location – Near, above, beneath, beside, across, between, further, farther, and in the middle all help to qualify location in writing, and work together with time/sequence transitions to give the reader an understanding of the “where”.
  • Time/sequence – First, later, before, during, after, until now, by the time, occasionally, and from time to time all answer the “when” of the writing.
  • Consequence/effect – Because, for, so, hence, and consequently explain the reason behind something or the consequence of the action.

These transition words can help to smooth out your longer sentences and make it easier for the reader to transition between thoughts/ideas.

 

 

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Is Your Character a Psychopath?

In every great novel, there are villains doing villainous things, anti-heroes treading the line between good and evil, and even noble heroes willing to do “dark” things for the greater good. Everyone has their “dark side”, the part that they hide from the world and which only comes out in moments of great stress or emotional turmoil.

And then there are those whose dark side is a lot darker than we might suspect. On first glance, we understand there’s something different or off about them. As we discover them more and more, the belief is reinforced. Their behavior or mannerisms are never quite…right.

Sound like one of the characters in your novel? Maybe it’s the person whose hiding his villainy and pretending to be an ally, or the supporting character who is just a little too eager to embrace the dark side. If that’s the case, the person may secretly be a psychopath.

There are multiple ways to recognize and diagnose psychopathic tendencies. One of them is the Five Factor Model, which uses “openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism” to diagnose personalities.

According to the Five Factor Model, psychopaths are a combination of:

  • Low conscientiousness and agreeableness
  • High anger
  • Low anxiety
  • High assertiveness
  • High sensation-seeking
  • Low warmth

The Elemental Psychopathy Assessment also uses a series of items (anywhere from 18 to 178) to measure and diagnose psychopathic tendencies. The questions indicate that psychopaths:

  • Believe they deserve special treatment and that feeling sorry for others is a weakness
  • Care less about their relationships with others and don’t worry about others’ feelings
  • Look for the motivation behind kind actions
  • Have a temper, which can lead to trouble
  • Are impulsive when angry

These are just a few of the signs that the person has psychopathic tendencies.

The truth is that it’s incredibly difficult to tell a psychopath apart from a neurotypical person. They have learned from a very young age to mimic “normal” or socially acceptable behavior, so they can blend in. However, understanding these traits about the psychopaths can help you to understand if that person (in your novel, of course) is actually hiding psychopathic tendencies. It can make your writing of the character much richer and deeper if you understand the underlying reasons for why they do what they do or how they perceive their actions and their relation to others.

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Book Review: Within Stranger Aeons: Lovecraft’s Mythos in the 21st Century

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I have something a bit different: an anthology of tales of a very Lovecraftian nature. For those who enjoy proper horror, it’s a collection definitely worth reading!

Within Stranger Aeons

There are dimensions beyond that which is known to man. They are realms as vast as space and older than time itself. In these realms are beings beyond light and shadow, beyond good and evil, and there lie harbingers of the end of the human age.

The stars are right.

Within Stranger Aeons FRONT

This is the epoch of terror & devastation. It is an age which is…Within Stranger Aeons.

Featuring stories and poems by: Michael Fisher, H.P. Lovecraft, Andew Bell, Mord McGhee, Juan J. Gutierrez, Owen Barrass, Kevin Candela, William Henry Tucker, Roy C. Booth, Ashley Dioses, Andrew J. Lucas, Essel Pratt, G. Zimmerman, Brian Barr, Mark Woods, Justin Hunter, Amanda M. Lyons, Dona Fox, Charie D. La Marr

My Review: 4 Stars

More than just short stories–a glimpse into a world where the horrors you dare not think of could very well come true!

As with any collection of short stories, there are some that hit the mark and some that fall short. A few of these are merely interesting tales, while others will send a shiver to the very marrow of your bones.

The first offering, composed by H.P. Lovecraft himself, sets the tone for the book. The brooding Chthonic feel of these stories will have you quaking in your shoes and turning the lights up just a bit brighter. You will never look at rock concerts, empty bathtubs, icy ponds, or the Everglades the same way again. If the authors of these shorts have their way, you will never sleep again…

 

Find it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01G0RD7A6/

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Forget About Goals; Set a System Instead

One of my “fun little quirks” as a person and an author is that I’m VERY goal-oriented. I try to be as realistic as possible, but when I set a goal, I feel like it’s carved in stone. Come Hell or high water—or a scalding combination of both—I’m going to reach that goal!

Then I ran into a fascinating article on Psychology Today that talks about a new way to approach goal-setting. Basically, it says that the GOAL isn’t what matters. Instead, it’s the system that helps you reach that goal that matters most.

The article gives some interesting examples:

  • If you’re a coach,your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • If you’re a writer,your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
  • If you’re a runner,your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur,your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process

I found that writer example really sold the concept to me. I have a general idea of how long it takes me to write a book—about 6-8 weeks, for 120,000 words. However, I’ve failed to meet that “goal” way more often than I’d like to admit. The objective-oriented part of my brain shrieks in panic every time I pass the self-imposed deadline.

In late 2016, I signed a contract with Dragonblade Publishing to publish the three-book Queen of Thieves series—beginning with Child of the Night Guild. But they gave me a tight deadline: Book 1 on Jan 18, 2017, Book 2 on July 18, 2017, and Book 3 on Jan 18, 2017. I usually spent about 6 months working on the book, PLUS all the editing, formatting, and proofreading time. So that was a tight goal, one I immediately worried I wouldn’t reach.

So before the stress killed me, I sat down and decided to figure out how long I needed per book in order to reach that goal. I figured out I’d need to complete each book in 2 months (Nov-Dec 2016, and Feb-March 2017) to reach it. But instead of focusing on the actual date deadline, I broke it down into a simple system: 2,000 words (1 chapter) per day, 6 days per week. At 50ish chapters per book, that comes out to about 8 weeks per book. Add on a couple of months for beta reading, personal edits, and my final fine-tuning, and I should be able to hit that goal.

Well, four months and 200,000 words later, I 100% agree that the SYSTEM is what matters. I’m still fighting off stress as I watch the submission deadline come closer day after day, but I tell myself that the system is working. I’ll be finished (fingers crossed) with the first draft of Queen of the Night Guild (Book 3) by this weekend, and I’ll get back to work on the second draft of Thief of the Night Guild (Book 2) after the March 31st launch of The Last Bucelarii (Book 3): Gateway to the Past. With the system I have in place, I will be finished with Book 2 just in time to submit it to the publisher. But I’ll then have six months to complete Book 3, which means I may be able to put out The Last Bucelarii (Book 4): Anamnesis by December 2017.

Goals are important, but the “how” is, in my opinion, far more important than the “what”. Focusing on the system (writing 2,000 words/1 chapter per day) is far less stressful than focusing on my goal (120,000 word novel in 8 weeks). As long as I keep working the system, I’ll hit my goal. And that is what counts in the long run!

 

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