Monday, April 30, 2018

BWL Publishing April Releases, and our .99 Cent special last day


Today is your last chance to purchase any of these for only .99 cents.  Click the covers to get a coupon and purchase in your choice of formats. 

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bringing in the May--in PA


May Day is on her way—in fact, as this post goes live, I’ll be in the hills of PA at camp bringing in the day with fellow congregants.

This is the first big get-together for those of us who are just visitors to the site, the some-time pilgrims. Of course, there are folks who live at the sanctuary year round, serving the organization with hard work, both sweat and detail and are sworn to poverty. They alone witness the white sleep, the deep mud, and the green rebirth, the dry leaves, the storms and rushing waters of the Everything She Touches She Changes Creek, the focal site of the camp.  The wards of the church live with the privileges and hardships of the place, which are entangled.

Some of the pilgrims to the place are old. Some are young. 

The kids are all right! They have cool shoes that light up and neat costumes to wear and know all about Harry the Young Wizard or Gimli the Dwarf as well as Spiderman and Black Panther and Ponies.  Sometimes they have two mommies or two daddies or just a single weary parent, trying to keep up with them. The small ones will cry, grumble and yell inside the bunk house after the old and decrepit are already in bed, wrapped in sleeping bags on futons and concentrating on their muscle aches, or curled up tight hoping to warm their feet. Eventually, all the fresh air and camp excitement, the chill of the night and exhaustion from running through the long grass (kites, sparklers, noisy drones) overcomes them, and the small “replacements” will also pass into unconsciousness.

At night there will always be motion here and there, or a ritual which requires fires, flowers, smokes, and rum. Flames bloom and crackle at new-created campsites, headlamps jiggle through the dark, potty doors bang, bats twitter in the twilight. At night there is some wandering, romance for those so inclined, long philosophical discussions in a tent under party lights with cold cups of coffee or other, more Dionysian beverages at hand. 

You may take a long lonely walk through the hilltop labyrinth and then watch the sky. There are also 2 a.m. trips to the outhouse through the dew laden grass made by the elders. These latter are hoping not to trip and fall, but they are also known for pausing in order to gratefully survey the dark-dark night sky and rejoice at the sight of blazing stars that have been invisible in their light polluted home towns for decades. 

In the morning the women braid wreaths from tubs of donated flowers. Maidens and children will wear them too, as well as the May Queen. Already the ribbons and flowers have been plaited into the great wreath, the one which will be ceremonially raised to the top of the pole. A little sympathetic magic never hurt anyone, especially on behalf of our poor beleaguered planet. 

The dance, an ancient practice from another continent, will take place in the afternoon, when, usually, to our great delight, the chary spring sun comes through clouds and warms us. Shirts and shoes will come off in the humid meadow and the celebrants will enact the rite of pole and wreath, and the young men will struggle (laughter, jokes) with the rising. At last the dance of under-over-under-over will begin, braiding the bright ribbons.  Everyone in that circle will soon be sweating and breathless, dizzy from glancing up at the pole, at the swaying wreath and ribbons. 

Around us this year, the trees will be barely leafed, and the blue sky will come and go through low clouds.  Drumming will provoke showers. Elders will look on, visiting, and congratulating one another because they are still witnesses to life—Winter has “spared them over for another year.”  

~Juliet Waldron

Click the link below for:

All my novels; all formats

 "The Holy Land is Everywhere"--Black Elk

Saturday, April 28, 2018

How Do You Establish a Story? By Connie Vines

 How do you establish a story?  What is your most unusual story?

I, like most of the writers I know, are involved in workshops, plotting groups, and or online classes.  Many of these are workshops sponsored by my local Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers, (past and present) are excellent in content and easy of application.

Christopher Vogler’s workshop “The Writer’s Journey” was a 2-day event which was designed for screen writers.  While I have ghost-written a screenplay, which was adapted for the small screen oversees, this is not main focus.  I have, however, applied what I leaned in this workshop to plot/outline my novels, novellas and expanded the W-plotting guide for my short-stories and anthologies.

And, of course, no writer’s library would be complete without out a physical copy and video version of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”.  His work goes into detail about the art of storytelling and why we, as humans are hardwired (same say it's in our DNA) to accept and expect the ‘myth’.

During my term on The International Chapter of Romances Writers, I taught online classes on character development and plotting.  I, as I’ve blogged about in the past, plot my stores in 3-chapter clusters due to story flow, pivotal-points, dark-moment, etc.  Revisions are simpler for me this way because I can to insure my story’s pacing remain even. 

After my basic story is plotted, my character sketched out and motivation defined, I need to add depth to my character and strength my conflict.  I fine the series of writer’s reference books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, of Writers Helping Writers fame, a must-have reference.  However, I also rely on ‘unconventional’ conflict generation.  Astrological signs are great form of conflict.  (Remember I have always worked odd-jobs—some jobs more ‘odd’ than others, to support my writing habit.)  One of my ‘temp’ assignments was for a local (and semi-well known) astrologer.  I already had knowledge of astrology but he explained charting/predictions/ and conflict due to…well, you get the general idea.  I have found this immensely helpful when my characters come from a similar background which can make ‘conflict’ a stretch.

I applied astrology (though it is never an element in the novel itself) to “Lynx” Rodeo Romance, Book 1.  Rachel is an Aquarius and Lynx is a Leo.  Opposites in the Zodiac, but like all opposites there is attraction/conflict/ and a heart-felt story line.

If a reader is looking for the ‘astrological elements of my character development’ she/he will find them.

Question #2 What is my most unusual story? 

 Meaning: not habitually or commonly occurring or done.
synonyms:  uncommon, abnormal, atypical, unexpected, surprising, unfamiliar, different;
remarkable or interesting because different from or better than others.

All of my stories fall under this umbrella, though for different reasons--depending on the series/setting.

My novels are set in areas I am familiar with, either by residing or vacationing in the area.  In 'Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow," my novel is set in Forest Falls, CA.  Since it is about an hour from our home we dove up the mountain and ate at the restaurant, toured the small town and hiked to the falls.  We also spent the next day at Big Bear Lake.

I mentioned in earlier blog posts, my ties to Native American Culture and the west.

My current release “Tanayia—Whisper upon the Water” is a historical YA novel with a Native American heroine and a setting in a boarding school in the 1880s.  The story reads like a young girls’ diary but is written in the 1st person, narrative.  Once Upon a Romance Reviews calls my 1st person narrative filled with raw emotion-- the reader is standing on the hill top beside Tanayia and living in her world --from Prologue to Epilogue.  Book 2 is a must!

Thank you for stopping by to read my post here at BWL.
If there is a topic you'd like me to write about in the future, please let me know.


**Apache Bread

1 c. white cornmeal
1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper
1 c. boilng water
1/2 c. bacon drippings
green cornhusks

Mix dry ingredients, add boiling water and bacon drippings.  Form into small rolls and wrap in green corn husks.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Makes 12 individual breads.

** A Taste of Native American Culture by Connie Vines

Amazon. UK





Friday, April 27, 2018


Find Vijayas books from BWL Publishing HERE

What are angels? Really... Since they do not come from this earth, it's safe to say they are extraterrestrials... or are they?

Different versions of the Christian Bible name a few, but other ancient sacred texts, like the Zohar, the Torah, the Koran, and the Vedas have long lists of angels who descended to earth to deliver messages, warnings, to teach, test, or punish man.

Angels are legion, as I discovered in my intensive research. Some like Gabriel and Raphael are messengers (which is the root meaning of the word angel), others like Michael who chased Adam and Eve out of Eden with a flaming sword and destroyed the serpent, and Uriel the Avenging Angel, are wielding deadly weapons.

But there is also Lucifer, the brightest angel and mutinous leader cast away for wanting to impart advanced knowledge to the lowly human race. The records also list over a thousand good angels, fallen angels and demons.

The sex of angels has long been debated. Even as the tower of Babel fell, that was the topic of conversation among the wisemen of the time.

As for the Watchers, sent to watch over mankind, they were the ones who found the daughters of man beautiful and took them for wives... They mated with human females, producing the Nephilim, and triggering God's wrath in the form of the great flood, to destroy their shameful progeny... although a few survived. The giant Goliath is believed to be descended from such hybrids.

As I imagine a celestial power ruling the universe, it would have to be organized. My research indicated that there is a very strict hierarchy among angels, like in a military order. There are archons in charge of entire planets, archangels, and many categories of angels whose descriptions vary. Some have multiple pairs of wings, while others look completely human. Others yet have multiple heads, animal heads, and others yet look more like machines with turning wheels.

The two angels who warned Loth and his family of the imminent destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah looked like perfect human beings (no wings) and the depraved denizens of the city found them so beautiful they wanted to buy them for sexual pleasure.

Where do all these angels reside? The universe is a big place and a spaceship would not be enough to contain entire legions. I would surmise there are planets out there, inhabited and ruled by angels.

For the sake of my new series coming very soon (May 2018), AZURA CHRONICLES, one of these planets is AZURA. And what happens there is mysterious indeed. In book One, ANGEL MINE, my heroine, Fianna is a bounty hunter pursuing her mark, a convicted multiple murderer who just escaped from a high security penitentiary on a space station.

What in the frozen hells of Laxxar prompted Fianna to pursue her quarry to this forbidden blue planet? Well, she needs the credits... badly. But as if crashing in the jungle wasn't bad enough, none of her high-tech weapons work. She'll have to go native, after the most wanted felon in five galaxies. It's not just her job. It's personal.

Acielon has never seen an outworlder like this fascinating female, strangely beautiful, and fierce, like the feline predator loping at her side. He always dreamed of exploring the universe, despite the legends... and the interdiction. Is it truly a hellish place of violence, lies and suffering? If it spawned this intriguing creature, it must also be a place of wonders, adventure and excitement...

Fianna's instincts tell her someone is watching. Sheba, her telepathic feline partner, doesn't seem worried... yet, something on Azura isn't quite right.

Vijaya Schartz
  Action, Romance, Mayhem
  Amazon - Barnes & NobleSmashwords -

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Short Story from Tricia McGill

Find all my books here on my BWL Author's Page

My rather large family teemed with stories itching to be written. Unfortunately I will never live long enough to come anywhere near telling them all. This is one of my first ever efforts and was written so long ago I had forgotten all about it. It was based vaguely on one of my brother's unhappy experiences. Do not fret though, for he ended up finding true love. 
Sweet Bitterness

“Australia. You must be mad!”

As Tony laid one shirt carefully on top of another in his suitcase the angry words of his father reverberated around in his brain. Now that the time of his departure was so near he sincerely believed his father was right. He must be insane. But what was the use in remaining here? Melody would never love him. He doubted if she’d ever love anyone but herself.

Ah, Melody! So beautiful, so vibrant, like a pure white rose in full bloom. With a heavy sigh Tony closed his suitcase and fastened the catch.

While preparing for bed he almost pushed all thoughts of her to the back of his mind, but as he tossed and turned beneath the covers in the bed that had been his all his mature life all memories of Melody came rushing back to torment him.

How well he remembered their first meeting.

“Sweet seventeen and never been kissed,” he said. Her luminous brown eyes smiled provocatively at him while her mouth curved in a smile so enticing his poor heart was lost to her in that moment. Like the first wonderful day of spring after a long and bitterly cold winter this vision blew into his life.

 “That’s for me to know and you to find out.” At this retort she tossed her raven hair; hair like silk. And so he took up the challenge and became so besotted by her beauty and vivacity that soon she led him around like a lamb to the slaughter.

“She’s using you, son. She’s making a fool of you. Are you so blind you can’t see her for what she is? She’s a Jezebel.” Tony’s father kept up a constant barrage of criticism. But Tony fell deeper and deeper into Melody’s honeyed web; so deep that even if he possessed the power to break free of her spell he really doubted he wanted to. His love for her was a wild and desperate desire, blotting out all else, consuming him.

When Tony saw a wealthy and influential local businessman making undisguised passes at her, he stormed, “I’ll kill you before I see that dirty scoundrel set a finger on you.”

Melody laughed in his face. “Oh Tony, what a fool you are. Daniel’s a very rich man, and I intend to get the very most out of life. He doesn’t have a hope of touching me, but what harm can it do to string him along?”

And string him along she did. Tony’s jealousy soon reached boiling point. “You belong to me, Melody, and I’m warning you; my patience is coming to an end.” The ache in his poor heart threatened to choke him when he saw her continue to exercise her growing powers over the infatuated admirer.

“I belong to no one.” With a haughty flounce, she taunted him, which inflamed him more.

Tony had other ideas. He set out to prove to the beautiful half-child with the charms of a witch that she did indeed belong to him, body and soul. He arranged a trip into the serene countryside bordering the city and on a soft and warm spring day when the birdsong filled the hazy air and shafts of sunlight filtered through the overhanging branches of a great willow tree he made love to her.

Melody offered little resistance to his sometimes gentle, sometimes sensual, demanding lovemaking, and when he embraced her in the afterglow and gazed down at her lovingly she did not contradict him when he whispered, “Now you are truly mine forever.”

The breeze drifted over their heated bodies and a train whistle sounded mournfully in the far distance. Filled with the sheer ecstasy of the moment and the enchantment of the place of seclusion on a mossy bank where they lay entwined, she’d nodded mutely and sighed.

* * *

Tony stared at his face in the mirror as he scraped the razor over his stubbly jaw. His night had been restless and dream-tossed and the dark smudges beneath his eyes and the lines running from his mouth to his nose made him appear gaunt and older than his twenty five years.

“Hurry up son, Dad wants to get into the bathroom,” his mother’s quiet and placid voice called as she tapped on the door. How he’d miss his family. Going far away seemed like the only solution to his problems and he’d rushed out recklessly to buy a ticket on a liner to Australia. But as his time of departure drew nearer he wondered if he was doing the right thing.

After he’d seduced Melody—yes it had to be termed as seduction, even though she’d been more than willing, he’d said, “Now you must marry me.”

Melody stared at him. Her eyes filled with her surprise; a look that shocked him to the core. But it was the words coming from her beautiful mouth that hurt the most. “I can’t marry you, Tony, don’t you see. My parents would never agree to me marrying a mere labourer, even if I wanted to. I care for you, of course I do, but I’m too young to settle down to dull domesticity. I have so much living to do before I marry.”

“I’ll be rich one day, Melody. I’ll go up north to work. They’re crying out for tradesmen in the midlands; I’ve already applied and I’m waiting on a reply.” His uttered prediction had sounded hollow even to himself.

But before he left to take up the job he’d begged, “Please wait for me?” But when he looked back on it she never promised or pledged anything; in fact the subject of marriage was ignored as far as she was concerned, but being so blindly in love with her he’d taken her silence as agreement.

* * *

Tony boarded the ship with a heavy heart. His mother’s tears and his father’s remonstrations did little to ease the sense of desolation at leaving all and everyone he loved behind. After taking his travelling case to the tiny cabin he was to share with three fellow passengers he returned to the ship’s rail to watch the hustle and bustle on the dockside below. A girl with a mass of black hair stood on the pier waving, the tears blinding her were clear to see even from this distance. Could it be Melody? His heart stopped for a moment as he gripped the rail. Had she come to beg him not to leave? He tasted blood and realised he’d bitten his lip. What a useless fantasy; no hope for that now.

There were no answering letters when he’d written to her in despair when he went away to work up north. Fool that he was he’d made one excuse after another for the lack of mail. It was her parents—they’d forbidden her to reply, he knew it. Or perhaps they hadn’t even shown her his letters. He eventually ceased writing, but instead sent his young sister to Melody’s house on a mission to discover what she could. But, his sister was unable to talk to Melody and her father had forbidden the girl to come to his door again.

Still Tony clung to his dreams as his bank balance steadily grew. Melody would be waiting for him, despite her parents attitude and when they saw how successful he’d become there was no doubt in his mind they’d approve of his marrying their daughter.

Fat chance. When he’d returned, jubilant, nothing had changed. The stab of pain around his heart was still as strong and the taste of bitter disillusionment still there in his mouth.

Dressed in his best suit with a matching waistcoat he’d arrived at Melody’s front door to be met by the formidable figure of her father. “What d’you want here?” The scorn in his eyes as he took in Tony’s immaculate appearance with a barely concealed touch of amazement was belittling.

“I want to see Melody.” Tony squared his shoulders and tried to keep a confident tone.

But her father was curt to the point of rudeness. “Well she doesn’t want to see you. And I’m warning you, my good man, you keep out of her life; she’s a married woman now and can well do without you hanging around.” He pushed his chin forward in a threatening posture, but Tony was barely aware by then of the man’s twisted sneer. A loud thumping in his ears sent him deaf and his heartbeat was so erratic he felt he’d collapse on the step.

“Married?” The word came out on a squeak of disbelief.

“Yes, and she’s quite happy. So I’m warning you, stay away from my girl!” With a finger waving under Tony’s nose he backed up and slammed the door.

Stricken; Tony stumbled around for a week. Then he took to waiting on the corner of the street where Melody’s parents lived, figuring she was sure to pay a call at some stage.

When she finally put in an appearance a further—and more painful surprise—hit him with the force of a sledge-hammer between the eyes. She was pushing a pram. When she drew level with Tony, she stared at him as if he was an apparition. When Tony’s eyes finally went to the pram a child of about three months waved small arms at him and gurgled happily.

Melody’s stunned reaction was clear testament that her father hadn’t mentioned his return. Eventually she broke the silence by stammering, “Tony it’s you.”

“Your Dad never mentioned you had a kid.” Tony could think of nothing more sensible to say. Sick at heart he scrabbled for something to say to end the awkwardness. “How could you do this?” He gripped her arms and shook her.

Melody’s head went from side to side as she whispered forlornly, “Let me explain,” but Tony turned and strode away, hands fisted at his sides.

“I don’t want to hear your lies.” The rain fell like needles on his face as he shouted over his shoulder. “I never want to set eyes on you again, you little tramp!” But deep down he knew his words to be superficial. Unable to keep away, he returned each day in the hope of bumping into her.

On the third day they met again. The pain that skewered his heart as he watched her walk towards him nearly killed him. Her fragile air of innocence had disappeared; replaced by a hard and brittle detachment. The vibrant shining thing she’d been was gone, along with so much else. Her bitter smile cut him to the quick.

“Can we talk awhile?” he begged. So they strolled along the bank of the canal. A wind whipped her dark mane about her face and plastered it across her cheeks. She stared ahead as she explained how her parents forced her into a loveless marriage. “But why? Why didn’t you wait for me. I promised to come back a rich man, and I have.”

“I was pregnant, and they figured he was a good catch. I didn’t want to get married, I’d rather have stayed a single parent but they wouldn’t hear of it. No daughter of theirs was going to flaunt herself to the world as a harlot, they told me—so I did it for peace and quiet.” There was no mistaking her unhappiness, but this was little consolation.

Sorrow pressed down on him like a heavy weight. “Oh Melody, it’s my baby, isn’t it?” He peered into the pram and the infants’ tiny finger wrapped around his large one. The boy smiled up happily. Melody stared down at their joined fingers silently. Tony forced her to look at him by grabbing her shoulders. “It’s my son, isn’t it?” he insisted. “It’s got to be mine. Tell me you never let him make love to you?”

After mumbling some words he couldn’t decipher she turned and fled, pushing the pram before her as if the devil himself was following.

He shouted after her but she either didn’t hear or chose to ignore him. The pain tore at him until he thought he would die. His parents could find no way to help him out of the depths of his despair.

Belatedly he began to realise she couldn’t have reciprocated his feelings from the start. A host of recollections haunted him until he felt sure he’d gone insane. Determined to prove his paternity he pursued Melody relentlessly until her father found out that he’d been trailing her. He threatened to call the police if Tony refused to stop harassing his daughter. So then Tony started waiting further away from her parent’s house. Eventually he met her again.

“Please meet me somewhere so we can be alone together Melody, we must talk.” He knew he was begging but was past the point of caring. What persuaded her he didn’t know and cared little but she agreed on a meeting place on the other side of town.

He arranged to borrow a friend’s apartment for a couple of hours. To his amazement and joy she allowed him to make love to her. All the pain drifted away when he held her in his arms. As he stroked her slender body in the aftermath of their passion he asked, “Do you love your husband?” With her hair spread across the whiteness of the pillow, she looked like a goddess as she stretched provocatively on the bed.

“I hate him, He’s a worm.” Her full lips twisted with disdain. “I treat him like yesterday’s newspaper, and he takes it. He’s a lapdog, and I despise him for it.” She played with the hairs on his chest as she whispered, “I hate the life I’m tied to. I wish you’d help me run away.”

So Tony made arrangements for them to get away together. Melody didn’t turn up at the prearranged meeting place. Frantic with worry and certain something terrible had happened to her he went to the address Melody had given him. At the time she stressed that he should only go there in extreme emergencies. Well, in Tony’s mind this was such an emergency. The man who answered the door seemed to be a decent unassuming person in his early thirties. He greeted Tony without a trace of rancour.

 When Tony explained that he was looking for Melody, the man said, “I’m her husband, please come in.” Tony followed him into a comfortable, inexpensively furnished sitting-room. “Sit down.” He gestured to an easy chair and floored Tony by saying, “I guess you must be Tony.”

Amazed that the man knew of his existence, Tony nodded. “I suppose you know that I’ve always adored Melody and presumed she’d marry me one day,” he said.

He let out a small laugh without malice and sighed. “Poor man, join the lengthening queue. Melody is immature and unable to accept fate or circumstances as they are.” He sat opposite Tony. “You probably already know all that if you know her well. But she’s married to me, and so must accept that I intend our marriage to survive.” With a dismissive shrug he continued, “I’m not condemning her. She’s a butterfly and blithely flings herself into anyone’s arms without thought of the future or the feelings of the person involved. But I knew what I was getting when I married her, and I knew she’d make trouble wherever she went through life. Please forget you ever met her and leave her alone. She’s foolish and incapable of any responsible actions.”

Tony felt as if the world had tilted. Of course he’d always known she was irresponsible and flighty, but having this man talk that way about her made his insides churn. She belonged to him. Suddenly stifled by the over warm room and the anger welling up inside him he bit out, “But the boy is mine, and I’m not giving up my claim on him.”

The man stared down at his steepled fingers before saying in a quiet voice, “This is an intolerable thing for me to tell you, but the child is possibly not yours and is most certainly not mine. I do love the child, and whereas you may claim paternal rights, I am married to Melody.” For the first time his tone turned savage and sharp and the glint in his eyes warned that he meant every word he said. “So, I suggest you forget any illusions you may be harbouring and don’t try to take the boy from me. Melody has no love for him, but I do, and the day will come when she grows old and perhaps no other man will want her...but I always will.”

Tony walked away from that house shattered in mind and spirit.

Now as he watched the gangplank being drawn away from the ship and the last tie to England being severed he knew her husband was the only sane one in the whole sorry tale.

Surely the years would dull the thoughts of Melody’s face and Melody’s eyes to a memory he could cherish. Perhaps one day he’d return to see his son—the boy he was still convinced was his. The shoreline receded as surely as his youth had faded. The illusion of a dream of eternal love was diminishing as his homeland was fading into the mists.
Tricia McGill Web Page

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The word ‘groove’ came to mind the other day. I wasn’t in the woodwork shop carving a sign. It came to mind when I had a morning when I added an exceptionally large amount to my latest move.
While I basked in the accomplishment the word ‘roll’ or ‘run’ didn’t pop into my head. I felt like it was a dated word. But, is it? I mulled over the thought and decided it was still used and a far out idea.
Gee whiz, I decided that I was comfortable in my 60’s and 70’s language and self for the most part. Ok, I don’t have fond memories of stripped bell bottoms and I struggle to imagine owning jet boots again.

Those decades put me in touch with my beloved folk music and I still hang out at ‘coffee houses’. I have an issue with paying six dollars for drink and lining up behind dozens of people to order my coffee. Yes, in the heart of Toronto the lines stretch on forever and some have four or five tills humming.
Really? What’s the answers? Is it possible to regain the ‘chilled atmosphere of the past?
Thank you Orillia, Ontario. We stumbled upon an amazing independent coffee shop tucked on a side street. The tables and chairs were a mix of chairs, picnic tables, benches, and sitting in the corner a very very old piano. We sat down and I started writing. A few minutes later a bearded fellow came in with a friend. He set down his guitar case covered with stickers and sipped coffee. He friend went out to their van (so seventies) and brought in a tiny drum kit. They set up and the guitarist tuned up. Minutes later two gentleman arrived. A heavy-set man sat on the tired piano stool and the other man swun open his upright base.
They chatted and plucked away at their instruments for a few minutes, talking and laughing. The locals in the coffee house (no-I won’t call it a coffee shop) barely gave them a look.
A few minutes later our day, and trip across four provinces had a highlight. We sipped,  wrote, and enjoyed high quality jazz.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Human Nature in Fantasy

Human Nature in Fantasy
by S. L. Carlson, YA fantasy author with BWL

 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

~Ecclesiastes 1:9 New International Version (NIV)

(Quote from the Wisdom Books c. 450-180 BCE)

If there is nothing new under the sun, whyever do I continue to write…new stuff? Plus, how can a quote written so long ago be relevant in today’s world of highspeed internet, spaceships, and modern forms of weaponry? It is as relevant as Christopher Booker’s surmise of there being only seven basic plots. For the Ecclesiastes quote, as with the seven plots, concerns human nature and character, not inventions or accomplishments.

Folk and fairy tales are all about human nature, even when morals vary from culture to culture. For example, thievery and trickery is a negative trait in northern European cultures, but in some Native American or Middle Eastern cultures, they are amusing and even admirable—e.g., the old adage “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.  The Brothers Grimm and Edward Lang rewrote folk tales they’d collected to accommodate the minds of their young readers. Also, the many stories in the volumes of Tales from the Arabian Nights were intended for adults-only, unless, like Disney’s treatment of Aladdin, they are sliced, diced, and rewritten for “the gentle mind.”

I own about one hundred thousand folk and fairy tales in print, and countless more on electronical devises. Decades ago I wrote my master’s paper based on folk tales. For me, these are fantasy quick-reads with pow factors, causing my mind to think about history, people, places, fantastical things, and human nature.

Years ago I thought to write about a magical ring but hesitated because of the popularity of LOTR. J.R.R. Tolkien was known for his love of Norse myths and legends. And then I read folk tale after fairy tale involving rings, one had a magic trait to transport, one provided food, and another made someone wearing it invisible. There is nothing new under the sun.

I wanted to write about a unicorn, but not the fluffy-duffy, rainbow kid-type. Take the opposite of that and what have you got? A war unicorn! Whoever thought of such a thing? And then I read about D&D war unicorns. It wasn’t much like my war unicorn, still…nothing new under the sun.

An author of fantasy (like me) takes a little bit of this and a little bit of that, eye of newt and toe of frog, throw them in a cauldron (or swirl them around in your brain sometimes for years), and out will come...

Something New.


(Book 2 coming September 1, 2018)

Shortened Bibliography: Shakespeare-Macbeth; Bible; Christopher Booker; The Inklings of Oxford; Tales of the Arabian Nights (Richard Burton’s edition); Brothers Grimm & Andrew Lang & 100,000+ Folk and Fairy Tales.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Movies and Books by Victoria Chatham

For my seventh birthday, I was treated to a trip to the movies to see Walt Disney’s Cinderella. 
Cinderella and her Prince colored my world in a way that books didn’t and since then I've been a die-hard (no pun intended) movie fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love books. I was taught to read at home, pre-school. I was, and am, an avid reader of anything that takes my fancy. My books fueled my imagination, but movies had me holding my breath and perching on the edge of my seat as I watched the action.

I think I was eight or nine when I started going to the Saturday morning movies on a regular basis. It very much depended on whether there was a movie theater where we lived. Moving around with my soldier dad was a bit of a potluck lifestyle. I do remember having to do chores to earn the one shilling and sixpence ticket price to enter those magic portals and sit through a B movie, Path̩ news, and then РWOW Рthe all-important feature film.

The cinemas I remember were more like theaters with their music pits in front of the screen, sometimes with actual live music depending on the movie, curved tiers of seating and fancy boxes and always those magnificent tasseled, velvet drapes. Oh, the anticipation when the lights were dimmed and they opened to reveal that magical silver screen. Girls carrying trays of ice-creams and cigarettes paraded the aisles during the breaks. How I envied them! In my innocence, I thought they saw all the movies they wanted for free. The truth, as I later discovered from a friend who actually got a job in a movie theater, was very different.

I still love going to the movies, but today I see them through different eyes as I’m far more aware of the beats in a movie – especially since reading Blake Snyder’s book ‘Save the Cat.’ Although Blake passed away in 2009, his trilogy of books on screenwriting and story structure make him a still recognized writing mentor. I’ve never been interested in scriptwriting, but I’ve found his book and his beat sheets have helped me with my own story structure as did Michael Hague’s workshop on the three-act structure.

There are so many good craft books and great workshops and I know I’ll never get bored with learning about the craft of writing. But there comes a time when, regardless of structure or how many craft books writers have on their shelves, you just have to let loose and bleed on the page. That’s where story comes from, the heart and soul of the writer. Write the story first, then apply the finesse of the craft.

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