Word of the week: ambiguous \am-ˈbi-gyə-wəs\ - (hear it!) - adjective - : able to be understood in more than one way : having more than one possible meaning : not expressed or understood clearly

Indie author shout out - Hey, hey! I've got a handful of indie accomplishments to crow about this week!

First, Mr. Glen Solosky [indie author of The Abominable Sruvius] has a new short out . . . for FREE on Smashwords: Walt vs The Space Flunkies - a funky little, awesomely written short story he'd adapted from its original comic book style. Come check it out!

Second, indie author Lorraine Sears will be running a special FREE promotion on Amazon for her novel, Soul Reunion, from Christmas Day through the Sunday the 29th. Come for a download! Hey, it'll be FREE. What do you have to lose?

Third, Lisa M. Green [indie author of The First], has reached well beyond her kickstarter goal . . . thanks to the wonderful help of all her backers! Many congrats to Lisa, and we look forward to reading your book, The First, in all its glory!
Fourth, I absolutely need to shout out about Sparks, the debut novel by indie author R.S. McCoy, another author whom I truly look forward to knowing and helping to spread the word about.
Fifth, the wonderful Miss Holly Kothe (indie author of Sweet Violent Femmes) has a short, Mirror Image, featured in I am Not Frazzle!, a charity anthology put together by Graham Downs, and as the description at Amazon states: "All proceeds of this book go to the Devizes and District Opportunity Centre, a registered charity in the UK that helps children with disabilities and learning difficulties get a better start to life."
And finally . . . why haven't you downloaded your copy of Sons of the Falcon (by indie author Court Ellyn) yet?? What the heck are you waiting for? Go! Now! Stat! Shoo, shoo, shoo! At 99 cents, how can you go wrong, really?

And so now . . . the actual blog post! . . . 

Say What??

More than once, I've been told I have a knack for character dialogue, making it come alive on the page. Well, I had taken this to heart and had written an article for Writer's Beat Quarterly about what I'd learned regarding character dialogue.

And honestly, with the holiday season coming up and many people out and about travelling and what not . . . what better time to post up a past article?

Thus and so, here it is. 

*  *  *
Strictly Speaking: Character Dialogue

Pick up any fiction book and thumb through it. What are you likely to see? Aside from paragraph after paragraph of narration, the second most recognizable part of a novel is the dialogue.

Like real people in the real world, characters who live together within the pages of a fictional world need to speak to one another. Through this, they come to life; they reveal information to the reader about themselves and their situations, and shed light on any number of backstories that might fuel their actions or shape their demeanors.

Thus, well-written dialogue is just as important to the overall structure of a story as narration is. Stilted or awkward speech, characters who speak “out of character,” or one who drones on in exposition can jar or bore a reader, which might make him put the book down in disgust.

But writing believable dialogue can be easy—if a writer is willing to put himself into his characters' metaphorical shoes, that is. How? More on this in a moment.

Let's start by looking at the various parts of dialogue.

Continued here - Strictly Speaking: Character Dialogue


Word of the week: resplendent /riˈsplendənt/ - (hear it!) - adjective - shining brilliantly : characterized by a glowing splendor - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Indie Author of the Month: Please Come Meet . . . Lorraine Sears

All right, everyone. I gotta be honest with you. No words can convey the admiration I hold for this month’s indie author.

No, really.

For as long as I’ve known her (and it’s been quite a few years at WB!), she’s been an absolute wonder: heavily involved in so much, yet she manages to balance her time and various workloads with what seems to be a fine-point precision. She’s everywhere all at once—doing, doing, doing—yet she still finds the time to not only write a full novel (indeed, a whole series of them!), but also strengthen and nurture the bonds of friendship both near and at great distances via the internet. She’s strong and honest, kind and wonderful, and I’m very happy to know her as a good friend and fellow indie author.

So, as December 13th rapidly approaches—the official release date of Soul Reunion (first book of the Soul Takers series)—please consider supporting indie author Lorraine Sears in her writing and publishing endeavors.

But first, come learn a little bit about her here, now, at the Ether of my Imagination. Please let me introduce . . . Lorraine Sears.

* * *
If I could step back in time and tell my teenage self that personal discovery doesn’t happen until you’re a lot older, I think life would have been very different. But ever since I seriously took up the pen again in my mid-thirties, I’ve been finding out all sorts of strange and unusual things about myself.

For instance, I have an overriding need to be continuously, mentally active. My mind has to be occupied at all times, from the moment my eyes open around 6 a.m., until the second sleep catches up with me (after I’ve spent a while reading in bed) after 10:30 p.m. I was once told I’d benefit from meditation, but I don’t think I could stand the silence.

Whether I am reading, writing, listening to music or watching TV, there has to be mental input. My head is a large funnel with everything pouring in, and the output is my writing. I write technical documents for work, non-fiction on my blog, the occasional article, and of course, my fiction.

I’ve written shorts and had them published and I’ve got the all-important trunk novel in at least three different incarnations. But my main focus for the last three years and into the foreseeable future is my Soul Taker series. The first of which, Soul Reunion, is released on December 13th this year.

I’ve always loved stories of the paranormal variety; even as a child they mystified and intrigued me. A few years ago I stumbled across Christine Feehan’s Carpathian series, which combined the paranormal with romance. … Romance, blegh. Until then, I’d avoided slushy romantic novels like they were contagious diseases. But when you have a hunky immortal male worshipping a delicate human female, and going through all sorts of trials to be together forever … well. I’ve always been a sucker for a happy ending and paranormal romance has those by the bookshelf.

After reading the works of Feehan, then Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter, then finally my favourite, J.R. Ward, I was eager to create a paranormal romance series of my own. But with so many fantastic para-rom authors already out there, I needed something new. Something different. As much as I enjoy reading about vampires, they have been done to death. And some writers (no names mentioned), have taken so many liberties with vampire lore that it’s lost all its bite (pun intended). Werewolves are cool too, and I know I’ve got a great were-story inside me, but I wanted to bring a series to life like J.R. Ward has done with the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I wanted to create a world and develop characters that would pop in and out of each others’ stories. So, I came up with my Soul Takers. And I haven’t looked back since.

All my free time is taken up with literary pursuits. Because I read a lot and write book reviews I’ve been approached by several authors asking me to read and review their work, which is a real compliment. I’ve also been approached by a publishing company; now, as one of their pro-readers I get new releases in my favourite genres delivered to my door, to review upon release. Finding time to read is easy for a non-driver like myself. I have an hour’s commute on the bus every day, and a good book makes the time fly.

As a working wife and mother, there’s always plenty that could get in the way of my writing, if I chose to let it. But through my job I’ve learned the value of planning and prioritising with both family time, housework and writing. I can normally find between at least 2-3 hours every day to commit to writing and other related activities.

With my children getting older, it’s marginally easier to find time to write. They’re more interested in doing their own thing: hanging out with friends, etc. They’re not in that baby state where I have to watch them every second of the day to make sure they’re not swallowing pennies or writing on my walls. But I’m never cut off from them. Even when I’m writing, I’m accessible—I don’t have a choice. My resplendent workspace is in the corner of the dining room. And as we’re open plan, this means I’m never out of sight. Thankfully I’m pretty good at pausing thoughts mid-think so I can make drinks, find shoes and referee the odd sibling altercation.

However, the best, most constructive writing for me is early in the morning, after my postman hubby has gone to work and before my children wake up for school and I get ready for work. I usually get between an hour to 90 minutes all to myself. Otherwise it’s in the school holiday when hubby takes the children down to visit their granddad for a few days. Those times are golden. I’m answerable only to me and my whole day outside of work is about me and my writing activities; I even eat my dinner one handed while I work.

Because writing is so important to me, I want to help and support others who also enjoy it. So it’s a real privilege for me to be on the Writer’s Beat staff team where I can do just that. Even better, as Managing Editor of the Oddville Press, I also get to promote talented authors between our pages and delight our readers with their work.

Writing is definitely more than a hobby for me. It’s a coping mechanism for life. On days when I feel low, perhaps missing my mum, I’ll write about her and the good times we shared. When hubby frustrates the hell out of me, I’ll write about the scenario to get it off my chest (sometimes it actually helps me see things from his perspective too). If the children do or say something funny, I like to write about it to capture the moment, a literary photograph. And, when I just want to relax and enjoy myself I’ll write my stories and chill out with my characters.

Writing is not just my hobby. It’s my way of life!

*  *  *
Come visit Lorraine at her blog: Red Lorry's Journey


Word of the week: amuck \ə-ˈmək, -ˈmäk\ (hear it!) - adverb - in a wild or uncontrolled manner – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Four Fantastically Fabulous, Fancy Fellow . . . Um, Indies

Ahh . . .

Now that I’ve finally shoved my ten year old “novel child” out the door and into the big, bad world, having strongly encouraged it to run amuck like a mad-book, screaming and yelling and wreaking havoc of the most dark and gritty kind, I can at last spotlight some of my fabulous fellow indie authors.

And what a set I have for you! Four very talented ladies I’m very privileged to know. Please let me introduce (or re-introduce, as the case may be) these wonderful writers and present their current and future offerings . . .

* * *
Court Ellyn – I had interviewed her way back in January, spotlighting her two very well written and in-depth novels, Blood of the Falcon – Volumes I and II, the beginning of what’s known as the Falcons Saga. Her books were my first real foray into reading other indie authors’ work, and what a treat they were! Much of the time I had forgotten I was even reading an indie author published book, they were that good, and when I discovered the Falcons Saga storyline and its various characters were to be continued possibly by the end of this year . . . believe me, this thought never left my mind, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next book’s arrival.

Well, guess what? The wait is over.

Sons of the Falcon is here, folks! And if you’re strongly into fantasy novels, be sure to grab it!

Download it at Amazon for Kindle, or order it from CreateSpace if you’re of the more traditional, “gotta have a physical book in my hands” person.

Me? I’ll be getting a hard copy, signed by the author herself.

Hey, enjoy chapter one here, at Court Ellyn’s website!

Or keep up with her blog, Wordweaver.

One indie author you don’t want to miss out on!

* * *
Holly Kothe – I’ve always enjoyed the writings of this fellow Writer’s Beat member whenever she’s had the chance to post a piece up for critique at our snappy little writing community. Even in semi-rough draft form, her stories are several hands above most with their interesting concepts and characters who fairly jump off the page. I know she has a novel in the works, but that’s further on down the line.

For now, she’s decided to put together a collection of four short stories, Sweet Violent Femmes, [official release - tomorrow, November 23rd!] and here’s her back cover blurb . . . a small taste to whet your appetite for the full deal:

"Within a month, my romantic, Lost Generation fantasy of the city had sharpened into reality. The only moveable feast I'd found in Paris was of the fleshly variety - a constant supply of lithe, undulating bodies presented under glass, offering every view to the clientele."

In this dark and disturbing collection, Kothe explores themes of the damaged, the devious, and the deranged heroine, and examines the consequences of pushing the female heart one step too far.

The Glass Room
An American girl maintaining her comfortable Parisian lifestyle as a high-end brothel escort faces off with a mysterious client whose sadistic dependencies threaten her livelihood.

After a passionate quarrel with her conflicted lover, a woman realizes that the best kind of relationships are the eternal kind. Sometimes the man just needs a little push ...

Seeing Black
A lonely librarian nursing a broken heart gathers liquid courage in preparation for her sister's visit, and struggles with a peculiar ailment she's had since puberty.

Feminist Theory
A troubled but diligent chemistry student reacts to the unsavory intentions of a predatory psychology professor.

. . . and having had a sneak preview of this collection, I can tell you this with absolute certainty: If you like dark and edgy with female protags who take no shit from anyone, then Sweet Violent Femmes needs to be on your “to read” list.

Come visit Holly's blog: A Little Literary (A Lotta Coffee)

* * *
Lisa M. Green – Another wonderful fellow Writer’s Beat member whose writing I’ve yet to become acquainted with—

“Hang on,” you say. “If you aren’t familiar with her writing yet, then how in blue blazes can you back her with such certainty?”

Because already she’s shown such a high level of professionalism, drive, and dedication to her forthcoming novel, The First, that I can’t help but suspect her writing and her story will be just as powerful and just as near-perfect. (Not totally perfect, mind you; after all, nothing’s completely perfect.)

Spending a great deal of time in various writing circles helps one develop a “nose” for who’s serious about their writing success, and who merely “dabbles” or attempts self publishing for that alleged “easy way out” (which is as mythical as the jackalope).

No doubt Lisa is the former—strong and serious with a eye on success—and you can help back her debut novel at her kickstarter campaign: The First. View the video, and read sample chapters.

Come visit Lisa's website, and her blog.
* * *
Lorraine Sears – My dear friend and Writer’s Beat staff comrade has been working very hard on polishing up Soul Reunion, the first novel in her Soul Takers series, unique tales of the steamy para-rom variety. Para-what?! you exclaim. Para-rom – paranormal romance, a sub-genre of the more traditional romance novel whose focus is indeed romance with elements of fantasy, science fiction, and/or horror mixed in, and prevalent relationships between human and the unusual: vampires, werewolves, ghosts, shapeshifters . . . you name it.

Through her Soul Takers series, Lorraine has constructed a fascinating fantasy world of strong, handsome Soul Takers and their beautiful counterparts, Death Dealers (and yes, they are beautiful despite the title!), as they all strive under the all-powerful Marshall to keep evil from devouring the whole of mankind and beyond.

In her forthcoming novel, Soul Reunion, secret a web of deceit and betrayal must be unraveled and destroyed for main characters Goran and Maya—Soul Taker and Death Dealer, mated lovers for an eternity—to be together as one once more.

Soul Reunion, debut novel by Lorraine Sears, is slated for release for Kindle on December 13th, 2013, and I’ll be interviewing Lorraine next month on December 11th at the eleventh hour, so much more about her will be coming your way!

In the meantime, visit Lorraine's blog, Red Lorry's Journey, and see what she has to say!

* * *
I’m so proud to be able to help support my fellow indie authors and their writing endeavors, as we together struggle to get our names and our projects known to the wide world. Please, consider supporting them, too.

Read, rate, review. It’s the best gift you could give an indie author.


Three-Part Perfect Player Post, Parsed and Pieced by a Persnickety Pest

(read the first and second parts here)

So, after months and months and months of in-depth studying, armed with my super-fancy, now-polished, brand-spanking new manuscript (having been numerous times thoroughly critiqued and beta-read) and a fine-tuned query letter I’d altered time and again to fit the individual needs of each agent and publisher, I submitted everything a second time, sat back to wait, and . . .





. . . it was the same damned thing all over again.


Well, at least no one called me a squeegee.

“Do it right, or do not do it at all,” my muse had said to me.

Of course. By all means. And we’re all familiar with that saying: “If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.”

So this, patient readers, brings me completely full-circle, back to my first post made on November 11th, 2012.

Only it hasn’t begun. It’s finally finished.

Once 365 days left, now none. Short story collections are all out and available.

And that ice-cold water I’d plunged into? It’s woken me up to things I’d never before considered: all those whatchamacallits, doohickeys, and whoozywhatsits concerning the publishing business, things I once believed were reserved only for agents, editors, and publishers.

Pfft. Well, dammit, I’m a writer . . . and an editor and a proofreader, and now a cover designer, a formatter (hmm, is that even a word?), a marketer, a publisher (the last four, fairly non-professional, mind you) . . . still learning things, of course. But already I have learned so much, and will continue to do so over the next decade. Period. (Or full stop.)

Whereas ten years prior, I would never have envisioned sitting and planning (and learning!) all that went with publishing my own work, I have now done so, and again, will continue to do so over the next decade.

Yes, I’m still determined. Yes, I’m still sometimes frustrated. Yes, I’m still occasionally perplexed. Yes, I’m still jittery, having drunk so much coffee over the year my eyeballs are now floating. But am I scared yet?

Nope. Wasn’t scared 365 days ago, not scared now. Publishing a novel is a far cry from a natural disaster, and is unlikely to cause personal harm, and it’s definitely not politics (unless you write political thrillers) nor a bunch of angry circus clowns driving heavy machinery through the woods. Trust me, if it were, I’d abandon it—post haste!

It’s indie [author] publishing . . . that ever-hopeful sliver of light shining through the publishing back door, beckoning just the right type of stubborn writer to crash through with a pissed-off war cry on her lips. No more near-impossibly high hoops held aloft by subjective gatekeepers, no more smacking my head against the brick wall of endless rejections, and the contract fairy has long since died, rest her sorry little soul.

Yes. Indie [author] publishing. Cut the middle. Reach the readers. Period. (Or full stop!)

Well, my hell-spawn demons may never overrun the world. But hopefully they will be enjoyed by my ultimate bottom line and true reason I’d plunged face-first into the ice-cold, now partially charted waters of indie [author] publishing: Dark fantasy readers.

So come, follow me. Mayhem awaits. And please, do mind the shards of fragile brains that I’ve left behind on the floor—you know, those parts poisoned by insistent, repeated claims of, “No, you can’t!”—and enter beneath the stone archway to the dark fantasy world that’s been caged up in my mind for so, so, so long.

Yes, The Perfect Player: Book One of the Caendorian World, is now available.

Please, I implore you . . . Enjoy.

Download via Amazon (Kindle - free to Amazon Prime members!)
Read the thoughts of those unwitting minds I’ve snagged (reviews)
Read the prologue and chapter one – for free! Click here.

Quote from Dr. Seuss


Three-Part Perfect Player Post, Parsed and Pieced by a Persnickety Pest

(read part one here)

Thus and so, alas and stuff, numerous years zipped by. . . .

Aw, hell, they didn’t zip. They evaporated quicker than cheese on Venus, and in those abundance of evaporative years I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and sneezed, and wrote, and ate, and wrote, and slept, and wrote, and built a house, and wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. [← All practice writing, truth be told!] And hey, in that time, I even bore a son (with whom I share a forthcoming novel), and still I wrote, and wrote, and wrotewrotewrotewrotewrotewrotewrotewrote, [← novel focused] until . . .

My computer blew up—I mean, I finished.

“Hurray!” I exclaimed in a happy voice to no one in particular. “I’m finished! Finished! Finiiiiished!”

At last! All of those images, memories, and sensations; those odd names and even odder people; those strange places and objects, bizarre situations and events, and anything else—all mysteriously ‘sent’ from this ‘otherworldly world’ supposedly beyond the reach of others’ ‘perceptions’—everything that had once converged to clash discordantly in my aching brain, had finally managed to melt into one mondo-mega-massive mind-mangling—



I gaped at the matron with the muted iridescent eyes and silvery-black hair—Orenda, I’d learned her name was—who stood as calmly as a cucumber, though much less bumpy and green.

“The first tale,” she replied. “Marisa’s tale . . .” She folded her veined hands atop her crooked walking stick. “It’s a pure and utter mess.”

“But—” I gaped all the more. “The people,” I cried. “The places, the things!” Ach—dammit! I didn’t write in just nouns! I grumbled and fumbled and fumed, while Orenda gazed at me, annoying humanoid cuke that she was. “I did what you told me!” I blurted, and thrust a finger at my computer. “I wrote everything down!”

“And now you must shape it.”

“Shape it?!”

“Yes,” she replied, rather bluntly, “for your readers won’t quite understand it . . . yet.”

She wiggled her gnarled fingers above my keyboard, dusting it with that weird, mystical quick-vanishing silvery craft glitter stuff, before she leaned in to my monitor and sniffed, nose wrinkled.

“What,” I snapped. “Does it smell funny, too?”

“No.” Orenda eased back, face darkening. “The events”—she tsked—“they are all wrong.”


“You must listen—”




“—and learn.”



“Ow!” I flinched. “What the hell?!” I winced, glowering at her. What in the name of everything high and mighty did she just smack me upside the head with the top-crook of her walking stick for?!

“Tut!” she said sharply, pupil-less eyes ablaze. She seemed taller, straighter, more frightening somehow. “Do not repeat everything I say. And neither use double punctuation, nor split your infinitives.”

“Split my—?!”

The top-crook of the walking stick jerked up, and I cowered, fell silent, swallowed the double punctuation like a bitter pill.

Orenda lowered her walking stick—very, very slowly. “You must listen,” she insisted. “Observe and learn. Open your mind to all that you perceive from my world and yours—”

“But I did!”

“Not enough. You will find no solace, no acceptance, no peace in your current work. It is not your finest potential.”

I scowled more deeply, crestfallen.

“Do it right,” Orenda remarked, “or do not do it at all.” And with that, she shimmered out of my workspace and into the ethereal . . . wherever that was.

Alone again, I scoffed—Do it right, or do not do it at all—then flinched involuntarily at the all-too-recent memory of the hard top-crook, adding in sour afterthought, “I still think you sound like Yoda,” and though I had to admit their inner likenesses were very similar, Yoda physically resembled the cucumber Orenda pretended to be.

I dropped into my computer chair, hurt and anger simmering the hot the defiance in my gut and wounded pride in my heart. Not my best potential. Hmph! What did she know? My project was fabulous! Remarkable. Excellent. Superb, wonderful, supreme, marvelous, splendid, and every other superlative synonym for “good” ever invented.

Bar none, it was the best I had written—ever. [← Read: The only thing I’d written—ever . . . not counting those early-on, dead-end short stories.]

So I let out another snobbish ‘hmph!’ and groused into fat air. (Hey, no one ever mentions ‘fat air.’)

“I’ll show you.”

. . . and I ignorantly began to prepare my glorious manuscript for all of those big-name agents and highfalutin trade publishers the world over, knowing—yes!—without the shadow of any doubt they would love, love, love this story as much as I did. Pfft. Hell, I’d probably even have to beat them off with a stick!

A crooked walking stick. Hmph!

Thus, I submitted, and thus, I sat back to wait. . . .






. . . I swear I’d bloodied my nose on at least a thousand publishing doors . . .


You need an editor—slam!

Not for us—slam!

The writing didn’t grab me—slam!



Send a manuscript with fewer than three grammatical errors, and we might consider it – Ha!—slam! (Yes, this happened.)

You’re a squeegee—slam! (This didn’t, but it might as well have, pointless rejections that they were.)

Time and time and time again, over and over and over and over: No, no, no, no. Slam, slam, slam, slam!


Defeat stank like a week-old fish, and I hated that the mystic had been right. But a stubborn nature doesn’t necessarily let one see where one’s gone wrong.

So, crushed with an ego now the size of a grain of sand, I tried one more publisher—a small publisher/editor from overseas—with the tiny hope that someone, somewhere had to like what I’d written . . . right?

Right?? (← Double punctuation!)

Right?? (← Super-emphasized double punctuation!)

Well, this particular small publisher/editor didn’t slam the door in my face. No. In fact, he booted me hard in the backside with the straight dope: My work was unpublishable because . . . and he promptly proceeded to list all the things wrong with my project.

So there I sat in the wake of his email: stunned, aghast, bewildered, flabbergasted, duly stabbed in the gut with my high hopes now ground into a bitter powder beneath his shiny cyber-shoe. My heart squeezed out its melancholy like a sodden sponge squoozen—

Then I threw my head back and wailed!

Oh, how I wailed! . . . and I beat the air with my fists, gnashed my teeth, twisted my face up in excruciating agony, all while hot tears streamed down my flushed cheeks in gushing salty waterfalls of ire, over-exaggerated by raging writer melodrama and a propensity for extra-flowery description.

Why, oh why was fate so cruel, so devious, so tasty? Where had it taken this awful downturn, when I knew I mustn’t fail in my mystic-given task? Who would write those stories needed to be told, and what would become of myself as an author? When in blue blazes had I donned an orange-and-black slicker with a pair of yellow-spotted gum boots? . . . the combination was horrible!

Then I wailed some more . . . oh, woe . . . oh, woe was I! . . . oh, woe, woe, woe was I! . . . until, well . . . I stopped.

What, you expected something more dramatic, more writerly, more exaggerative?

Pfft. No. I simply stopped—stopped wailing and moaning, bitching and complaining about life being oh-so-unfair and all that crap, buckled down, and began to learn.

And therein laid the key (which the mystic—my muse—had been correct about, of course): Listen, observe, and learn. So I sought all I could from those with the expertise to teach all the woven ins and out throughout the complexities of the writing craft. Reference book after reference book, novel after novel, critique after critique after long and sometimes gut-wrenching critique, I devoured everything I could get my brains around about the writing craft, ever-hungry, never-sated—yum, yum, yummy!—and I learned. Oh, how I learned. Learned, learned, learned. Learnity-learned-learned! . . .

. . . oh, bloody hell, this is boring.

*Devon presses the fast-forward button* [insert squiggly-whirring sounds of fast-forwarding tape recorder]

(Continued on November 11th, at yes, this time, the eleventh hour . . .)


Three-Part Perfect Player Post, Parsed and Pieced by a Persnickety Pest


Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu, once said (originally in Chinese, of course): “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” or more correctly translated: “The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet.”

Excellent saying and very inspirational, to be sure, but . . . what happens after that single step?

One thousand freakin' miles! Have you any idea how long one thousand miles is? Approximately a third of the way across the United States—from Delaware to . . . oh, I dunno, somewhere out in Missouri.

One very long, very exhausting walk.

All right, yes, the saying is metaphorical; not many aim to hoof-it from the eastern coastline to Midwestern US, but some writers do strive to slog-it from a novel's point of inception to its final destination—published, and into the hands of a readership.

And that's how it feels: One obnoxiously long haul through several-hundred-thousand edited and re-edited words beneath ten frantically typing fingers, and holy smokes, are my fingers ever sore! So's my brain.

You see, carrying an entire fantasy world, complete with its own people and its myriad sets of circumstances and events—not to mention all of that stupid firmament junk that comes with it—squarely upon one's mind . . . it's a mighty task, I tell you!

But not one I plan to back out on. No, because I made a promise, one I will see to the very end. Death, or the completion of my collection (and other tales)—whichever comes first.

So, how did this obnoxiously long sloggish haul-of-a-journey begin? Come, let me explain . . . *author waves magical hands over readers' eyes . . . readers become woozy, entranced in a wavy, dreamlike state*

Wait! Hold on. Note: Obviously, some of this didn't actually happen. I'm a writer; I aim to entertain. Please take much of this recollection with several grains of salt, and call me in the morning.

Now, where were we? Ah, yes . . . *author waves magical hands again*

Once upon a time, on a dark and stormy night. . . .

Actually, no. Nix that.

It was a bright and sunny afternoon, and there I sat at my then-old, immensely slow computer in the living room of my dinky one-bedroom apartment, click-clacking away, writing, creating, eating, smiling, no cares in the world—mid-90's, newly married, low rent, two cats, no kids, and as much glorious spare time I could ever want, when out of the blue—

Ach! Pfft!

—something tickled my brain.

I cried out, flinching. “What in the *&^%$# was that?” And slapped at the back of my head.

Mind you, now, my frequent creative brain-tickles don't normally cause me to smack my head and exclaim: “ASTERISK, AMPERSAND, CARET, PERCENT, DOLLAR SIGN, HASH TAG!” but something about this particular brain-tickle not only made me shout out strings of stupidity, but also made me whip around in my chair.

And there she stood—as old as a tortoise, though not nearly as short. Or leathery. No. In fact, the woman who stood behind my chair was rather tall for an elderly matron, with long, dark, silver-streaked hair and soft, wrinkled skin the color of parchment. One gnarled hand clutched a crooked walking stick, and her eyes, oh! how bizarre—muted iridescence that swirled as though liquid, sans pupils.

She smiled, skin creasing, bunching around well-worn laugh lines. “I have chosen you,” she said, tone smooth, voice rich—like melted chocolate. “You will write for me.”

I stared—actually, no, I flat-out gaped. Then I glanced around my teeny-tiny living space, trying to puzzle out how this strange old woman had gotten in (I swear I locked my door!) when she leaned close and whispered: “That matters not.”

I goggled. Excuse me? That mattered n—I mean, that didn't matter? Of course it mattered! God only knew how many thieves could—

“No,” she asserted, “it matters not.”









What the—?

Crooked finger shot up. Wrinkly lips pursed. Pupil-less eyes drilled into my freshly tickled brain. I stared, suspiciously. What the heck . . . could she hear my—?

“Thoughts?” Smile returned—this time, a knowing one—and I narrowed my eyes. Who was this, anyway? Or did that matter not, too? At this, her smile broadened in seeming amusement. “In time, you will discover,” she replied. 

Then she straightened against her old bones. “Five stories you will write,” she explained. “Five from my world. Knowledge and understanding—all shall be revealed through images and sensations, memories forever etched. Absorb, never alter, and always trust what you see. You must write”—she gave a slow nod—“because they must know.”

She reached over my shoulder and waved a bony hand at my computer. The air crackled, rippled, sparkled as though she had just sprinkled some silvery craft glitter, though it vanished in a trice. I cocked an eyebrow. Um . . . right. And Yoda-like, you must speak. But no sooner had I twisted in my chair to say as much, than—


Huh. I shrugged, shook my head, and returned to my computer instead. Weirdo, I thought, until a smooth, chocolaty voice echoed in my mind: I heard that. . . . trailed by laughter so blithesome and light, it tinkled like wind chimes—oh, no, wait, it was my wind chimes, only . . . there was no wind. Curious. . . .

Ah. Thus and so, I began to write, secure in the notion that I had been chosen by . . . um . . . some strange old woman whose mysticism had instructed me on a . . . vague bunch of stuff, and offered up some blind hope that somewhere along the line I'd be visited by some images or memories or sensations or—well, I don't know now . . . it all seemed like some odd dream. I yawned. Sleepy, so sleeeepy . . .

So I lay down, sighing, snuggling into some nice, warm blankets, content in knowing I was no less crazy than the kindhearted demon who had decided to rescue one lost, misguided human soul from the fiery pits of—

My eyes snapped open. Wait—what? Demons? Lost souls? Insanity? Fiery pits? Warm blankets?

Oh. Blankets. Right. I gripped them tightly as though clutching reality itself, while my excitement began to bubble and churn. Hmm . . . it seemed things were about to become mighty interesting, indeed. . . .

* * *
Ha! You know what really happened? I wrote, discarded more than half of what I'd written, wrote again, tried out dozens of plot lines, developed vague sketches of various characters in my head, and discarded more than half of what I'd written after that, until I happened upon the starring plot line.

See? *yawn* Booorrrrring. So much more fun and entertaining to fictionalize/sensationalize/imagine what could have (not!) happened.

Now, flash-forward numerous years . . .

(Continued on November 10th . . .)