These random ramblings and author musings are designed to entertain, though they might drag you kicking and screaming through my daft indie publishing journey. If you are somehow inadvertently informed, or if you have discovered something useful within, well then . . . count that as a jolly coincidence. Thanks for reading! (header background - Sky_18 Free Texture #133 by Brenda Starr)

20130127


Word of the week: abject /ˈabˌjekt/ (hear it!) - adjective – 1. sunk to or existing in a low state or condition; 2. a : cast down in spirit, b : showing hopelessness or resignation; 3. expressing or offered in a humble and often ingratiating spirit - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Surprise! 

A number of months ago, I helped my mother clean out her storage unit, and we stumbled across a blue suitcase-looking item about a foot square in size, so we opened it and discovered . . .

A Smith-Corona Calypso! [insert triumphant music here]

Wow! Immediately, I was transported back to the age of eight—kneeling at the threshold of my open closet door (apparently the only office space I had at the time), paper in the machine's roll and concentration at its highest, one index finger stabbity-jab-jab-jabbing at the keys: clack-clack-clackity-clack, clickity-clackity-clack-clack.

Holy smokes, that ribbon!
Ha! Oh yeah . . . I also remember trying to jam the keys in the carriage all at once, and typing teeny inky letters onto the fleshy ends of my fingers. Writer's block must have stricken, even back then, or, well . . . all right, I was probably just a distracted little kid.

Yet on this very typewriter, I had written my first-ever stories. Two of them, both of which I have to this day. Fan fiction-based, short, self-illustrated (like children's books with oddly grown-up themed scenes and situations), and they absolutely sucked in mechanics. Sucked! Blegh. But the overall plot was there—a hook, a beginning, a middle, and an ending—which doesn't surprise me, really, since from the age of four I'd devoured books like most kids scarf down sweets.

The best part about them, though? The pages were glued together along the top of each, like a spine. Two little crude books. Cute! *snuggles them* Typing then on that now three-plus-decade-old typewriter, had I a hunch I might be indie publishing my future works? Maybe. Ooo . . . foreshadowing, anyone?

Well, just for kicks, I would like to share a snippet of this ages-old writing of mine, complete with an in-line commentary from the older, much wiser author I've become.

*gaspeth!* “Like, oh my God! Won't you be all embarrassed 'n stuff!?”

Oh, goodness, no. . . . Are we really that snooty we can't even laugh at ourselves once in a while, and share this giggle with others? Please. All writers have past writings that can and should be giggled at. My son—my own firstborn flesh and blood, mind you! The one who'd written the free verse poem a few posts back—has already giggled, snickered, chuckled, and guffawed at it a gazillion times, and I haven't yet melted into a puddle of abject horror and humiliation.

No. I giggled with him.

Having studied the writing craft for nigh on a decade now, I assure you, my current writing has improved . . . honest!

* * *
Background information: I was eight, untrained in both typing and in the writing craft, and the main character, Daniel, is a small flying horse the size of a mouse. Here is an excerpt from chapter two—wait, no . . . it's all of chapter two.

—begin:

On and on Daniel flew until he came to Miss Owl’s home. The dark, gray trunk was a sight for sore eyes. He landed silently on a branch next to the solatare [I meant ‘solitary’ here?] home and he knocked softly.

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” she said in a gray voice [What exactly constitutes a ‘gray voice’?] and opened the door. “Daniel! How nice to see you. Come in, come in. So what have you been up to and why did you come here?”

“I had a fight with my father and I had to go somewhere and so I came here. For only one reason though. To help me find a girlfriend. [A girlfriend? I thought it was because he had a fight with his father.] Would . . .” Daniel asked. [Asked? Sans question mark. He seems to have trailed off there. Hmm . . .]

“Of course I’ll help you and it isn’t too much bother. [Oh, pfft, not too much, no . . . *grumble* Stupid kids knockin' on my door at all hours of the day . . .] I’ll get my crystal ball. [Ha! Of course, a crystal ball. Why is it every fantasy has some ‘seer’ in it?] Sit down and make yourself at home. I’ll make some tea. Do you want some?” she asked.

“Yes, thank you,” Daniel said politely [no kidding] and he looked around. The eerie spider webs didn’t make this home a popular home but it was cozy. [Cozy? She ought to clean her stinkin' house.] She had many paintings. They were all beautiful. [Wow, that's telling the reader! Literally.] Then his eyes came across one certain picture that made him feel uneasy. It was a picture of an owl and it had a winged horse in its talons. The sight of the blood made him shiver. [Sheesh, if I were him, I’d hightail it the heck out of there. ‘Come, my little pretty, into my lair . . . I will make you some tea and lull you to sleep so I can EAT YOU! Bwhahahahaha!’]

“Oh, I see you like my picture of the ‘owl hunter.’ [Boy, for a 'seer,' she's not altogether too perceptive, is she?] My cousin caught that little winged horse for supper so I drew a picture of it. Came out nice, didn’t it?” she asked. [Ach! Drop the stupid tag. And oh, how nonchalant of her: ‘Yeah, by the way, we eat your kind.’]

“Uh . . . yes it did,” he said uneasily. [Repetition: wasn't he 'uneasy' just a paragraph ago?] So that’s what happened to uncle Loyed. I knew it. [And apparently I didn't know how to spell the name Lloyd back then. Lol! Silly. I could have just re-named the character.]

“Have some tea while you wait for my prediction,” she said and gazed into her crystal ball. “I see a light. It’s Tina. [And she knows this, how? It's just a bright amorphous mass at the moment.] A little winged horse that is calling for you. [Ah. Must have taken on some shape.] She is telling you to follow her.”

“That can’t be,” Daniel said doubtingly. [Ach! Hideous adverbial dialogue tag! (Note: I had another one in another chapter: “cryingly.” Blegh!)]

“Come see for yourself.”

Daniel gazed into the crystal ball and he saw the most beautiful winged horse he ever saw.

Her mane was a beautiful [Now I wonder, how many things were “beautiful” in this story?] grayish-black [and gray] and her eyes were sky blue. Her coat was white with a tint of gray [oh, yes, and here's “gray” again] in it. Her gentle hooves brushed against the top of the tree-tops [why the hyphen?] as she flew silently away. She was calling to him. She looked back at him and instantly he fell in love. True love. [Well, my goodness, that was quick! Don’t you think they ought to go out for malteds or something first? Movie? Dinner?] She winked at him and flew gently away. [Pfft. Flirt.] Her wings had a graceful movement to them and deep inside he cared for her. Then he looked a Miss Owl. [Oh, shoot, yeah. Her. Winged-horse-eater.]

“She loves you, Daniel. She wants you to follow her. You’ve got to save your true love. [Um . . . she seems pretty safe actually, flying free, flirting and all.] Go now, and when you come to a place where you do not know, nothing is familiar, [Well, yeah . . . that's the definition of 'unfamiliar.'] you will come to a cave. That is the only place you know. [He’ll know a cave in a place where nothing is familiar? How, exactly?] You will find a map. In the map you will find a key and a sword. Take them both, and follow the map. [Nah, just discard the map. It's a prop. Every fantasy has a map in it. You don’t really need it.] Go now and find your true love.”

“Thank you, Miss Owl. I will go,” he told her as he flew off. [Wait—suddenly he’s a zombie? He’s been enchanted by that stupid tea. Brainwashed, I tell you! Daniel, no! Don’t go! *commentator reaches out with one hand in desperation* It’s a trick! . . . and a chapter cliffhanger, actually.]

—end

Blegh and double blegh. How terrible, and so very giggle-worthy. But you know, it's fun to see how much one has grown over the years as a writer. It lends hope with the realization that there's always room for growth (and for jell-o), and that truly, the learning process never really has to end.

20130116


Word of the week: onomatopoeia /ˌänəˌmatəˈpēə/ (hear it!) - noun: the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (as buzz, hiss); the use of words whose sound suggests the sense - (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)


Greetings, all! And welcome back.

I'd like to take a break from my mad writer ramblings to toss you my first-ever article for the online magazine, The Writer's Beat Quarterly, formerly known as In Pencil in 2008.

Back then, I had been just handed a moderator position at The Writer's Beat writing community and was excited to learn that not only would I become one of the many editors on the staff team (and have been so for four years, going on five), but I could also contribute articles to this ever-growing e-zine with a built-in readership! In other words, I could share what I learned over time about writing, editing, and the publishing world. Small-time exciting stuff! For a small-time writer, that is.

So, what topic had I picked for my first-ever article in my brand-spanking new contributing editor's position? One of my favorite, and something all writers (particularly newbies) need to stay mindful of.

Please allow me explain: With some exception, humans generally take in the majority of their world through sight, which (again, generally, and I offer this up in the broadest of notions) the other four senses take a subconscious back seat to. For the majority of the time, this is somewhat fine and dandy . . . for real life purposes.

For a writer, however, presenting only what characters “see” around them does both a scene and a potential reader a huge disservice; it leaves the story's world much too “flat.” Linear, perhaps. Narrow. One-dimensional—wait, no. Mathematically, that would be a dot. Two-dimensional. Yeah . . . kind of like a plane (no, not the kind that fly, unless you plan to throw a vast area of flat space with no depth and—ha!—yes, right . . . best of luck with that), or a tabletop, only . . . without all of those wonderful extra “goodies” that give substance to a real-life, three-dimensional tabletop; i.e. a more “rounded” item that “pops out” of the book and pops the reader in the nose, and I don't mean via a children's pop up book.

And yes, I have been smacked in the face by a tabletop.

So now, without further ado, allow me to make much ado about something, or possibly nothing (depending on how you want to look at it), with my first-ever WBQ article . . . 

* * *

Tickle Your Readers' Senses 

Consider a world. Tasteless, odourless. A place where the sense of touch is non-existent and the only sounds are of people talking. Oh, but its sights!

A woodland trail lined with clusters of ferns stretches before you. Sunlight streaks through a canopy of leaves to dapple the forest floor with a soft play of light and shadows. Small birds sift for morsels: worms, fallen red berries, an occasional bug or two. Chipmunks dart and bushy-tailed squirrels scamper. A stone wall runs parallel to the path. You stroll along, your dog romping and nosing ahead of you, a smile upon your face. What a glorious day. You're glad you'd decided to take a walk that afternoon.

Easily visualised, right? Of course. But don't you feel cheated, just a little bit?

Many new writers make the mistake of relying solely on sight to tell their tales. Sight is important, no doubt, but so are the other senses. A world, no matter how decorative, will still feel 'flat' if these vital details are withheld.

Take our world, for example. Our world is alive; it pulsates with different sounds, tastes, smells and textures. Thunder booms and lightning crackles. Unsweetened coffee nips at the tongue, hot and bitter. Sulphur burns the nostrils. Hedgehog spines prickle and sweat itches on a hot day. A cornucopia of stimuli surrounds us all the time. Take these away and what do you have? A lack of depth in sensory detail. Our world doesn't rob us of its splendour, so why should you deprive your readers of your story world's delights? 

Immersing them in a world rich with sounds, tastes, smells and, yes, even touch, is easier than you might think.

[Please click here to read on.]

Photo credit for redwood forest - goingslo (Linda Tanner) – Flicker Photo Sharing – Creative Commons License

20130105


Word of the week: palimpsest /ˈpalimpˌsest/ (hear it!) - noun : 1) writing material (as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased; 2) something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface. - (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Indie Author of the Month: Please Come Meet . . . Court Ellyn

Back in July of 2012, I had the distinct pleasure of reading one of the best indie published fantasy novels I've ever come across. So good, in fact, I had to keep reminding myself it was indeed indie published—very well written with engaging scenes and extremely well developed characters. I was engrossed.

I would like you to meet this wonderful indie author as she tells you a little about herself and introduces her past and current stories, and I deeply implore you to support her as she strives to bring her excellent tales to the forefront of an ever-growing readership.

* * * 
*tap tap* Is thing on?

Hi, I’m Court Ellyn and I write fantasy stories. That’s not to say I’m only interested in adventure, heroes rippling with muscles, and wizards flinging fireballs. Those things are fun, don’t get me wrong, but if there’s no meat to a story, these things are meaningless. They’re like eating icing without cake, gravy without potatoes, ketchup without fries. Blech.

I guess I started writing fantasy when I was in college because I lived in small, quiet, conservative southern towns all my life and never got into trouble, so I needed the adventure. Who can say why a girl prefers swords to lipstick and books to chasing boys? Meh. Then enters the philosopher side of Court Ellyn who loves to dive down into the deepest part of human existence and explore our darkest emotions and motives. Now, that’s the cake, the mashed potato, the pommes frites, the part that provides the palimpsest of substance to my stories. I guess I have the same philosophy when cooking. If the mashed potatoes need the gravy to be edible, then they aren’t good enough. Add something else.

So what kinds of things are we talking about here? A prison warden who desperately wants to believe that her prisoners are capable of rehabilitation. A womanizing knight who destroys his twin brother’s chance at happiness. A priestess tortured by broken faith. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these stories published in magazines such as Kaleidotrope and Silver Blade, and most recently in Explorers: Beyond the Horizon, an anthology by Dead Robots’ Society. But I’m most excited about my novels. Blood of the Falcon was released last May and has done surprisingly well at Amazon. It always feels amazing when complete strangers enjoy the fruits of your efforts. Means you seasoned things right.

Samples of all my published work are available on my website: www.courtellyn.com



Court Ellyn, Blood of the Falcon
Blood of the Falcon - Vol. I
Kimberly's end note: Having been trained to evaluate manuscripts for possible publication, I could clearly see the time and effort Court Ellyn had put into her project, Blood of the Falcon (vols. I and II), to make it shine; a pure gem for her readership, nothing less than her best work in structure, plot and character development, and mechanics.

And this is something I look for as I begin to support other indie authors in their self publishing endeavors through my indie press site, Imagination Ether Press. Word of mouth is strong, and a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member can quickly grow into a far-reaching web of: “Hey, you absolutely have to read this!”

So, that said, I do highly recommend reading Court Ellyn's work. Believe me, I'll certainly be one of the first in line to buy the sequel to The Blood of the Falcon as soon as it's available, as I miss the characters and the world.

I wait with bated breath.