Author Archives: Audra Middleton

Preview

The sequel to my fantasy novel, Watcher, is due out this month, so I thought I would show off a sneak peek of Abomination here today!
              Hope stirred in Willow’s belly like bees in a clover patch. “Oh, Ethan! I know how I’m to get back home!”

             She dug in the pocket of her dress, squealing in delight when her fingers touched the rough little seed pods she stuffed inside before she left the keep at Fern Hollow. There was too much grass where she stood, so she scurried this way and that, looking for a patch of proper soil, finally tumbling down a dip in the bluff to a patch of earth where the grass thinned out as the soil met the white sand of the beach.

            Ethan dropped his small collection of sticks and followed her, perplexed to see the girl who whined so much about the stains on her frock plopping herself down in the dirt, yanking at the grass, scratching at the soil with a crooked little stick so brittle it snapped with each scrape. Once the stick was broken to the nub, she began pulling little seeds from her pocket and scattering them in the freshly tilled soil.

           She looked up at him, blowing a stray curl from her face. “Well, are you going to stand there or are you going to help me?”

           Ethan clenched his jaw. “I think you’ve gone batty. It will be dark soon. The cold is piercing already. Get out of the dirt and help me find some wood for a fire!”

           “Now who’s daft? Don’t you see? I’m the child of prophecy. From the Flower and the Raven a child will spring; to Luminar seeds of change she’ll bring. I’ll plant these seeds, and then I can go home,” Willow explained, patting bits of earth over her seeds.

            “Why would Luminar need to change anything?” Ethan asked, haughtily.

            Willow stood up, rubbing the dirt off her hands and brushing off her dress. “Maybe staring at everything white, gray, and green all day every day has made you all testy.” She looked up at him with sparkling brown eyes and grabbed his elbow. “These are marigold seeds, Ethan! They’re lovely flowers, bright, cheery shades of yellow and orange, some with little bits of red in them!”

             He sighed. “It’s autumn, Willow. We may have a mild climate, but it is still not the season for gardening. Besides, my father and I rarely come to the shore anymore. Who’s going to tend to your little flower garden?”

             Willow scowled and crossed her arms, hope wilting. “God will. Just like he does these white ones.”

             Ethan rolled his eyes and went back up the knoll to retrieve his firewood. “Fine then, Willow. You’ve planted your seeds. It will be a spring of change for Luminar. Now will you lend a hand before we’ve no light at all?”

Be sure to read book one if you haven’t already:
http://amzn.to/1tFSPsT

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May Magic

For May Magic, we here at the WOTI site are answering the question, “If you could have one magical ability, what would it be?”

So many possibilities, it’s difficult to choose.

Initially, I thought time travel would be fun. Experience history first hand. Change some unfortunate events. But my son informed me I can’t change history, quoting the Destiny Trap. Apparently my twelve year old understands more about time travel than I do. At any rate, given the paradox potential, it seems a futile ability.

Invisibility appealed to me. How handy would it be if I could disappear at will? Avoid annoying people, stay in my PJs all day, scare the pee-diddle out of friends and neighbors. Except if the government found out about it, I’d probably end up having to do some kind of spy work. Sounds exciting, but I really don’t want to know the ins and outs of terrorist cells and the like. I’d lose too much sleep.

But the need for sleep…that gave me the idea for my ideal magical ability. I’d like to be able to freeze time. While everyone else stands still, I could take a cat nap here and there. I’d have time to work out, to clean, to finish my novels, learn a new language, maybe even cure cancer, who knows? Limitless time would mean limitless possibilities.

The great thing about exercises like this is how it can really get the creative juices flowing. I’m taking my frozen time power and writing a short story around it. Stay tuned for more of the WOTI authors’ thoughts on magic, and if it gets your creative juices going, leave a comment and share what your magical power would be!

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Recycling

Recycling doesn‘t have to be limited to aluminum, paper, and plastic. I recycle my prose.

Case in point – a while back I had this idea for an Ugly Duckling type fantasy story. It was going to be funny and meaningful… except that it turned out to be trite. So I shelved it, frustrated that the touching story in my head did not translate to something palatable for others when I put it on paper.

Then I had this really sick idea. Instead of a happy ending, what if I threw in this warped Twilight Zone style twist? I honestly didn’t think it would work – trying to combine sick and twisted with humor. So I ignored my instincts and left the story on the shelf.

Then a friend of mine asked me for a short story for his speculative fiction anthology. I dusted off my trite Ugly Duckling story and gave the new disturbing ending a shot. As it turned out, the storyline I doubted actually worked.

The great thing about writing is, nothing is ever a total failure. Even if the end product is a bust, there’s always a chance you can salvage part of it for another project. Use one of the characters in a different storyline, steal that lovely bit of description in another setting, or try a new, out-of-the-box ending and see what happens. The possibilities are endless. I once took a goofy story I wrote in third grade and made it into a funny sci-fi story.

Being ‘green’ with my words presents a fun challenge. Sometimes the end result is a great piece – and sometimes it’s just more fodder for my recycling bin.

Check out my short story, The Witch’s Cure!

http://www.amazon.com/Return-Sandahl-compendium-Methanasia-Troubadour/dp/1493595547/

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Tinkering

I love the tinkering stage of writing. Once the entire story has been roughed out and I can go back in and add details, smooth out the rough spots. It’s enormously satisfying to enrich the story with description, catch inconsistencies, correct nits. However, somewhere in the process of perfecting my manuscript, I have a tendency to get a little manic.

I can’t believe I describe him getting up when I never had him sit down in the first place. How did I miss that? A ‘you’re’ that should be a ‘your?’ Ugh, what is wrong with me? What color were his eyes again? I know I’ve double checked this already, but I need to be sure. Again, I wish I had a binder with all of my characters’ descriptions and back stories all laid out, but by the time I did all of that I could write a whole new novel. Thank goodness for the ‘Find’ function. ‘Find: Theron’ skim, skim, skim – oh right, green eyes. I knew that. Did they have carriages in the Middle Ages? Does it matter? It’s a fantasy novel, in my world there are carriages. No, I’d better look that up.

 

I have literally found myself poring over a ten pound dictionary at midnight, trying to determine the origin of the word pants. Hmmm, not showing a Middle English or Latin origin so definitely too modern to use. Looks like it’s short for pantaloons. Pantaloons is an old fashioned word to be sure, but sounds kind of frufruish. What did Medieval people call pants?

 

It never ends. Thank goodness for deadlines or I might still be tinkering with book one.

 

BUY Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Hitchhiker-ebook/dp/B00GFW97HE/

http://www.amazon.com/Watcher-Audra-Middleton-ebook/dp/B00AXVCA0E/

 

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My Writer’s Passion – Guest Post by Keith McCoy

My debut novel “The Travelers” was released by Burst on February 3, 2014.  While I am admittedly excited and anxious at the same time, I find myself reflecting on how the novel will be received by readers who lean mainstream, paranormal, or literary.  I majored in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and encountered mentors who were definitely literary-oriented and dismissive, even hostile, to anything that might appeal to a mainstream audience.   “The Travelers” is a mainstream novel with a paranormal/fantasy hook.  My fictional premise involves a 1947 radio signal from the luxury liner Queen Mary which is intercepted by an extraterrestrial intelligence leading to a North Atlantic encounter between a World War II GI and his British war bride and an otherworldly, desperate mother and her two small children.  The couple left Southampton with only each other but arrive in New York as a family.

When my college mentor read the manuscript before I even began querying publishers, he told me that he was very impressed and pleased but in the same breath indicated “I only wish it were more literary.”  I expected the response, to be honest, but still am somewhat irritated.  Should all readers and writers be admonished because they do not adhere to an elitist viewpoint?  My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald but I still admire mainstream, fantasy, and science fiction authors.  I personally feel that every reader deserves a means of escape from everyday difficulties and if this means a mainstream work is in order, so be it.  Although I was not born at the time of the Kennedy assassination, I read recently that Jacqueline Kennedy told acquaintances that she needed an escape from reality and found it daily on the 60s soap opera Dark Shadows, hardly a high-brow program but hugely popular to this very day.  Perhaps academics and the literary elite need to take a cue from the former First Lady and acknowledge that excursions into fantasy is necessary in today’s society.

My characters are realistic people who deal with fantastical situations.  Readers, both friends and family as well as strangers, relate that once they reached a critical point at the beginning of the novel, they were unable to stop reading.  While quite complimentary, I do wonder if my college mentors would approve.  I have come to the point that I no longer condemn myself for my fantasy forays and embrace the fact that a larger part of the population are enjoying my work than they would a strictly literary one.  So for all of us authors who write for the masses, kudos!  Our work is just as detrimental to satisfying readers as any other form of writing.

Visit  www.keithwaynemccoy.com for more information about Keith McCoy and his writing projects.

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Love in a fantasy world

Creating a fantasy world means coming up with your own set of cultural norms. When it comes to love, what does it look like? Does age matter? Does gender matter? Does social class matter? What’s expected? Do people always meet those expectations?

For my fantasy setting, I started with a western medieval culture, and then made changes to suit my characters and my personal style.

In medieval times, people married very young. The legal age for marriage was 12 for a girl and 14 for a boy. It just didn’t sit right with me to have my characters married off while they were still practically babies, so I bumped it up closer to twenty in my world. In medieval times, marriages were arranged for political reasons based on monetary worth. So people rarely married outside of their own social class, and never really married for love. In my world, arranged marriages based on social class is the norm, but the couple would likely know each other ahead of time and would probably have a say in whom they were to wed. I wanted romantic love to have a place in my world.

One of the things I did to break free from the medieval box was to have a culture on the “other side of the mountains” that was more advanced than most of the kingdoms in my world. So one could assume that even the less advanced kingdoms have been influenced by the advanced culture. This gave me just the right amount of wiggle room to work with. For instance, if someone chose a different path than monogamy or heterosexuality, they could do so without fear of getting put to death for it.

So in the end, love in my fantasy world is very relatable and recognizable to the modern reader. It’s just that in my world, people might have to conquer evil empires, slay a dragon, or save the world from doomsday prophecies before they can be together.

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Hello, my name is Dori

I have the short-term memory of Dori. I have trouble keeping my own kids’ names straight. How on Earth did I manage to write two fantasy novels? Seriously, I’m asking.

Think about it – with a fantasy novel, you have to create a whole new world with a history, cultures, geography, government. And all this is just the setting, you also have to keep characters and story arcs straight.

I have talked to other fantasy writers, seen interviews. Many keep binders with detailed maps, character profiles, history and legend outlines. Yeah, I should do that.

In real life I’m a planner. I like to have goals. I like to make lists and cross things off as I accomplish them. I like to know what’s in store. But in my writing life – it doesn’t work that way. I can make all the plot plans I want, in the end my characters run the show. I’ve learned it’s best to go where they lead rather than try to fight them.

So how are all these characters, story arcs, history, geography, and cultures all fitting together in a cohesive story? The universal search function in Word certainly helps. Can’t remember if the soldier, Duncan, has a beard or not? Run his name & I can find his every reference in my manuscript. Best function ever.

And I do keep notes, sketch maps. They’re scribbled in chicken scratch on old envelopes and various other scraps of paper, crammed into a dilapidated journal, but they’re there if I ever need to refer to them.

But mostly I think my characters must know what they’re doing. The pictures in my head play out, the pieces fit together, and the result is an entertaining story that takes the reader to a whole new world. The magic of imagination.

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My favorite lines…

My latest novel, Hitchhiker, a humorous paranormal thriller, is now available at most ebook distributors. Here are a few of my favorite lines …

1. “Oh God, I’m going to end up naked in Pike Place Market again.” – Jack

2. There are two kinds of people in this world: those with power and those who get screwed by those with power. Jack knew he’d never be one with power, so he had always done what he could to enjoy the lay.

3. “I am Fear. I am Doubt. I am Reason. You cannot rid yourself of me, nor should you wish to.” – Clark

4. She looked like a cross between an aging hippie and an over-the-hill hooker.

5. “I’m a folder. I fold under pressure. Harris even said so. Bend me, crease me, stuff me in an envelope. I fold.” – Ainsley

Of course the best line is when Special Agent Claudia James redefines sex, but I’ll make you buy the book to see that one ;).

Buy links:

http://www.amazon.com/Hitchhiker-ebook/dp/B00GFW97HE/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid

http://burstbooks.ca/product.php?id_product=110

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Hitchhiker interview with characters #3

hitchhiker ecover

My new humorous paranormal thriller, Hitchhiker, will be available as an ebook next week! In honor of its release, I’m interviewing characters from the book here during my regular posts. Today Jack Conway is here with us. Thanks for being here, Jack!

My pleasure, pretty lady. What can I do for you?

So, you’re a charmer.

It’s what I do.

What do you do, for the FBI, I mean?

Oh, I do a little consulting for them.

So, you’re an expert of some kind? What type of consulting advice do you provide for them?

Let’s just say I know a thing or two about the criminal mind.

Don’t they have an entire department of experts in criminal behavior?

Sure, sure. But why consult with some stiff in a suit when they can work with a handsome devil like me?

Because they might rather work with professionals than a criminal. You do have a criminal record, don’t you?

Oh, I’ve had some run-ins with the law. Misunderstandings with some ex-girlfriends. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Getting swindled out of thousands of dollars would make anyone furious, Mr. Conway.

Just misunderstandings about some investments, that’s all. Now I have a question for you. Are your legs tired? Because you’ve been running through my mind this whole time.

Ugh. I think that’s all I can stand for today. I hope you’ll check out my book, Hitchhiker, and get to know the rest of the FBI freak squad.

Hitchhiker – available at Burstbooks.ca, Amazon.com, and most ebook distributors next week.

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Interview with Hitchhiker characters #2

Next month my new novel, Hitchhiker, will be released. In anticipation, I’m interviewing some of the main characters here during my regular post. Today’s interview will be with Dylan Miller, the Department of Interagency Investigations’ brilliant analyst.

Thanks for being here today, Dylan. Or should I call you Dove? That’s your nickname, right?

Who are you and how do you know my names? Did Clark send you?

I’m the author. Who’s Clark?

Clark is a voice I hear, mostly. What do you mean, ‘the author?’

I’m writing your story, Dove. So you hear voices?

I usually just hear Clark’s voice, but now I’m hearing your voice. I’m guessing you’re just another hallucination caused by my schizophrenia, because I never asked anyone to write my story.

How do you manage to keep a job with the FBI with a mental illness?

Just because I have a mental illnesses doesn’t mean I can’t be a productive member of society. I take medication, and having an IQ of 180 helps. Seriously, who sent you?

How do you feel about your new co-worker?

What, you mean Ainsley? Ainsley’s good. Just as long as she doesn’t touch me or sneeze on me or anything. I mean, I wish I could touch her, but she’s got those burrowing epithelials. I can’t have her thinking my thoughts. Clark put you up to this, didn’t he?

Okay, I think that’s about it for now. Join me next month when I interview the DII’s very own conman, Jack Conway.

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