The Luxury of Vampire Time

I have always wanted to do things once without anyone knowing I have practiced, and then do them again—perfectly. And I now know why. There is much dignity in the rhythm of knowing how to do things well. And much comfort. And maybe, just maybe, a little ease for the fragile ego. Because I have always felt eyes upon me—judging eyes that catch every misstep.

Perhaps this is another reason for my love of all things vampire, if I have any need of another. They have this time, this wonderful, incredible spans of endless time to really do things well. To have the luxury of doing everything perfectly, at least with all the time in the world to practice, seems to this mortal a very big deal indeed.

And what would I spend these endless millennia of time on? Well, that’s a no-brainer! More storytelling, of course. Time to become a great storyteller sounds like paradise to me. What draws you to the paranormal storyline?

January Bain
STORYTELLER
Forever Man
Forever Woman
Forever Clan
Forever Angel

www.ChampagneBooks.com
jbain@xplornet.com
http://www.JanuaryBain.ca

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Storybuilder Inc. — Building a Revision Template

Storybuilder Inc. is on a brief break until May. (To view all posts, click here.)

For those of you who have followed the series, you have all you need here to see your project from initial premise to polishing. The last few installments will focus on polishing itself, a phase that can take on many layers, spanning months to years, and overlapping with various stages of the submission and publication phase.

While you wait, start building a revision template. That’s a list of to-dos and must-checks that will help you hit some of the major angles of revision that are often over-looked if you simply revise from beginning to end several times. Building your template takes time and your template can always be added to as you gain experience, but I have found the following five books to be invaluable for creating that list:

1)       Donald Maass, Writing Twenty-first Century Fiction

2)      Noah Lukeman, The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying out of the Rejection Pile

3)      Rayne Hall, The Word-Loss Diet

4)      Jessica Page Morrell, Thanks, But This Isn’t for Us: A (sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why your Writing is being Rejected

5)      Robert McKee, Story

See you all in the spring!

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Graeme Brown has been writing epic fantasy since he was a child and continues to develop his stories every day. He is the author of The Pact and is an editor for Champagne Books.

Find out more about Graeme and his writing by visiting his website, HERE.

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Readers’ perception

When a reader opens a book, in many cases he doesn’t see what the author envisioned when she wrote her story. He sees his own interpretation of the book through the lens of his personality. He filters the story through his own life experience. Sometimes the reader’s and writer’s versions are almost the same. Other times, they’re vastly different.

I recently had a review of my novel which really surprised me. It wasn’t a bad review, far from it. It was a nice review, but the reviewer mentioned a fact that made me open my mouth in astonishment. What? Have I written it so badly that she didn’t see the main point of the novel? Did she even read it before writing her review?

Some writers engage in disputes with readers over the unwanted reviews or fling accusations around. I think it’s a pointless practice. But I ask myself: what should I do so the readers see the book the way I see it? Is it even possible?

There is a well-known axiom among writers: you can’t please everyone. I’d take it one step further: you can’t deliver the same version of your book to everyone, even though the words and grammar are exactly the same. People are bound to see it differently, to read different revelations into it. Every man and woman, when they open a book, are on a quest for a mysterious artifact, but no one searches for the same object or the same emotion.

Some try to find absolution. Others strive to prove their own worth. Still others long for a spiritual guidance or just want an escape from life worries. And the more people manage to achieve their goals through my book, the better writer I am, no matter what they perceive in my writing. I wish all my readers luck in their search.

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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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Putting on the Fur

My apologies for being MIA in the last few weeks – let’s just say I needed to replace my laptop.

Over the winter holidays, I chanced across an independent game called Heroine Quest – it’s a puzzle game in addition to having a warrior option for me to muscle my way through it. If you are hankering for something nostalgic and full of Norse-Mythos, I highly recommend it.

One of the characters is not all that she seems – towards the end of the game, you’ll have the option of returning her to original form if you can solve the puzzle. While I’m less familiar with the Norse version, the earliest interpretation of something similar came from a Shetlandic Source – the Selkie. For the sake of this article, we’ll go with the Animal Wife motif, but tons of legends allow for the male versions seducing human women as well, although in my reading experience it tends to be more towards a mythic booty-call then marriage. What this won’t cover is stories of metamorphosis that is not common to the creature. For example: Zeus had a habit of changing shape and turning nymphs into creatures to hide them from Hera’s wrath. Shapeshifting and lycanthropes can be covered in a future article.

The selkie was thought to be a seal that, when removing its animal skin, reveal a typically attractive human beneath. If human men could steal the skin, the maiden selkie would be forced to marry him and have his children. Typically in the stories, the wife would stare longingly at the sea and weep, and it was often her children that would return her skin to her – through a child singing a song telling her where to find the skin, or the child coming across the garment and not knowing the significance. She would then take the garment and return to her home/seal husband. Generally speaking in the story, she would avoid her human husband but go back and play/see her children.

There are numerous interpretations of the variety of animals seen in this motif – I’m familiar with the idea of an otter, but there’s the Icelandic Swan Maiden, African Buffalo-Maidens and Croatian She-Wolf. Some stories even mention faeries and spirits whose clothes are compromised and they become bound to the humans who see them.  An interesting near-subversion would be the Japanese Kitsune, or fox-spirit, who were more dangerous then many of their other counterparts. Often times, if the kitsune chose to marry a human man, she would do so until he discovered her true identity. Given the crafty nature of kitsunes, it was probably a good thing for the poor husband if she merely ran off and didn’t cause trouble – but what kind of stories would those be?

Do you have a favourite story about an animal who shed their fur or feathers to become human? How about a tale of an ordinary human who found the skin – and had some unintended furry consequences?

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Being a Writer

One of my fellow fantasy writer, Daniel Ionson, asked me to compose a homage about why I write, and kindly offered to post it on his blog. (You can visit Daniel’s blog at http://danielionson.wordpress.com/). I thought the piece would be worth sharing on my blog, and on here too, since I haven’t posted for some time.

(Storybuilder Inc. fans, not to worry – I am on a short break while I wait for the busy academic term to end.)

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

pencilI am a writer, and that means I write. If I were thrown into a dungeon and told I could have but one thing, I would ask for a pencil. You see, with a pencil I could at least write my stories on the walls and keep it sharp by rubbing it against the edge of the stone. If you were kind, you might give me paper, for when the walls are full, and perhaps a dictionary, so I might discover new words to play with. But if you weren’t, still I’d find a way to put my stories between the lines of others and ponder their meaning.

I am a writer, and that means I love words. When I awaken, I hear words and sort them out in my head like playing cards, shuffling with abandon until I find an arrangement that makes me grin. My truest distress comes when I cannot find a pad of paper, and my academic notes are often inscribed with scribbles about a fantasy worlds that might be just as obscure as the mathematics that fill the rest of their pages.

I live to write. This does not mean I must write to live, for the two are not the same thing. No, often I starve so that I can write and make a living so that I do not starve too much. Book deals, book store placements, fan letters—these are by-products, afterthoughts, and compliments that make me happy, but I am far more contented to enjoy the friends I meet on the way. You will never hear me ask you to buy my books, but you will hear me talk about how much I enjoyed writing them.

I am a writer, and that means I love stories. I live story. I breathe story. I am story. If, upon my departure from this mortal frame I were to enter into a wonderful afterlife and behold, in a glance, the life I’ve lived, my truest regret would be all those moments I spent worrying and forgetting. Life is full of wonder, fear, joy, sadness, excitement, pain, mystery, and uncertainty, but above all, life is  full of story, and could I live for ever I would live to discover more stories, and expand the universe just a little.

Come, reader, friend, scholar, muse. Close your eyes, just for a moment, and think of what surrounds you, every time you draw breath, and every time you let it go. Life is endless and immense, it is the comfort of a mother to her only son, the sorrow of a wife who’s lost her soul-mate. It is the anger of a lost traveler, and the rage of a betrayed lover; the folly of arrogant fools, the wisdom of old men whose bitterness has made them hunch, the rudeness of a joker, the hurtful tears of one who doubts herself. Life is strange, enticing, tantalizing and profound.

And so I write, eager to capture all these fleeting snowflakes in their glass ornamental stories, eager to live every moment twice as fully, daring to dream, daring to write, no matter the cost.

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Growing the Story

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This week, Growing the Story. Most stories, including romance, grow around conflict. Conflict occurs when one character is at odds with the objectives of another character or force. Conflicts within the story create tension and interest, especially when the resolution of the conflict is in doubt. Who wants to read a story where a couple meet, fall in love at first sight, marry, and live happily ever after.

Conflict within the story may be internal or external for one or more character(s). In romance, one element of conflict is resolved when two (or more) characters achieve a happily-ever-after or, in the case of some erotic romance and erotica, a happily-ever-after-for-now ending. The romantic hero/heroine’s internal conflict may relate to meeting the expectations of society, loss of freedom/lifestyle through marriage, whether this is “the one,” or making a relationship a success. The external conflict in the romance occurs when the couple resolves their relationship conflicts to achieve their happily-ever-after. The external conflict of the romance may involve other individuals or situations around the couple.

Other conflicts revolve around the setting in which the romance occurs. Whether a high-tech office, a Regency soirée, or a medieval battlefield, secondary conflicts keep the readers’ interest and provide an opportunity for the writer to enrich the characters and show them in other contexts, so that the story goes beyond a simple romance to bring about a satisfying ending.

In my new erotic romance series, Cupid’s Back in Business, Teddy and Diana, who met on Aphrodite’s Island in Her Teddy Bare and achieved a happily-ever-after-for-now, return to New York to consider a more permanent relationship. Teddy in real life is a billionaire real estate investor and much more. The gym/spa where he first saw Diana occupies the bottom floors of his multi-story business/home. His first task will be to convince author/artist Diana to move in, so he can pursue his permanent courtship with the love of his life. Both will be constants throughout the series. More about them next week.

A note – I HATE cliffhanger endings. Whether as a reader or a writer, I want a SATISFYING ending. There is nothing satisfying about buying a book and reading it through only to discover that you must buy another book to discover the ending, if then. To me, it’s a cheat and should come with a warning. There’ll be no cliffhanger romances in Cupid’s Back in Business or anything else I write.

Next Week, Developing the Characters

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Sci-fi inventions for the year 2723 for PLANET

My inventions: 2723 A.D. for the novel PLANET by January Bain

I thought someone out there in virtual land might enjoy reading about the things I needed to invent for a sci-fi book I wrote a while ago. It was a very interesting process for this writer and one I hope to repeat as often as necessary, doctor’s orders.

(1) Rejuvenation Institute for DNA stem cell therapy serum injections that “sets” the body back 50 years to enable a type of immortality.

(2) 100 Earth Zones under one United World Government.

(3) Automatic robot that cleans the apartment: Turbo-Robot (my personal favorite)

(4) Titan: More than twenty-three hundred kilometers across, the massive rock and ice structure was bigger than the total square kilometer size of Area Two. The largest of the one hundred Zones that gridded the planet, it stretched its tentacles from the Mississippi River system through the Great Plains to foot of the Rocky Mountains, from the former Canadian/US border to the state of Texas.

(5) New Earth

(6) An army of unleashed von Neumann probes, those self-replicating robots that are “seeding” the galaxy with terraform. (I didn’t invent this as it has already been mentioned for by scientists.)

(7) Previous Disasters: tainted through the centuries by numerous plagues of man-made viruses, nuclear explosions, naturally occurring volcanic eruptions of scalding lava that had burst inopportunely through the crust on occasion, the near collapse of the ecosystem that planted the idea for their current United World Government and one biotech disaster that decimated the entire population of Zones Ten through Twenty.

(8) Gabaray (space incinerator) turns space junk to dust.

(9) Implanted miniature chip that allows instant access to a device that acts similar to a twenty-first century cell phone. Also, it has reduced crime to virtually nonexistent due to its tracking nature.

(10) Flash-8, their very own personal flying conveyance that holds one to three people depending on style: ex. Rover (two people) or Viewer (one person) or Sedan (three people) Mind-controlled crafts.

(11) Nearly invisible headsets that allow you to mentally key in your thoughts to be later downloaded and stored in the library memory hard-drive for future generations.

(12) Movie screens inside your head or that can also be projected to a 3-D hologram for everyone to enjoy.

(13) Library of Data.

(14) Space Arks for the Exodus.

(15) Runatrons as slip-on, one-size-fits-all magnetic shoes that you ride just above the ground sort of like the old fashioned Segway people mover.

(16) Communiviewer: internal viewer much like a cell phone.

(17) Cyber-replicates to use for mundane and dangerous jobs.

(18) Hand-held FTL88 processor for recording information: lightweight, sturdy and see-through.

(19) Child-find trackers.

And so the list will grow. Hope you found it fun to peruse. Wishing you a great day!
Best, January Bain
The Forever Series

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Building a Series: Building the World

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The next element in building a story/series is “Building the World.” Authors can take free rein with their imaginations when creating a world. Based on the intended theme, they can fill it with their own visions, values, beliefs, and prejudices or craft a totally different reality in the future or in a different world.

Regardless of what is being created, certain questions common to all societies and cultures must be addressed by the author to make the story believable. What is the society’s explanation of the world? Where did they come from (origins)? Where are they heading (the future)? What should they do (ethics and values)? How should they attain our goals? What is true and false (knowledge)?

out_of_the_darkness_divider

In my series, tentatively named “Cupid’s Back in Business,” billionaire real estate developer Theodore C. Bareston III has a secret identity that he’s kept hidden for centuries. In Her Teddy Bare, he convinces Diana Harper that she should give love another chance – with him, of course. In Conquering Cupid, the first story in “Cupid’s Back in Business,” while he courts Diana after they return to New York City, Teddy is moved to embrace his past which lies buried in ancient Greece. But Diana is no fool and a series of “guest” visits raises doubts about her new boyfriend who is reticent to answer her questions. Finally, shadows from her past may imperil her future with Teddy.

As the plot develops and conflicts emerge some of the questions about the world will be answered. It’s not necessary to answer all the questions, especially all at once. No one wants an information dump. Snippets of the world can be delivered in later books. In scifi/fantasy, my favorite series is McCaffrey’s Pern series – a masterful creation of an entire world and culture. Do you have a favorite series?

Next week, Developing the Characters

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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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