Mapping Your Epic Journey

Although I cannot speak for every author, I assume those that create an epic adventure begin with the world in which the story will revolve.  The lands, the peoples of those lands, the creatures, geography and the plot will all revolve around where the characters are in the current narrative.  When I began my epic tale, I began first with a map of the world.  Then I sectioned the world into provinces, capitals and major cities, oceans, rivers, on and on.

From the map you are assisting the reader gain a visualization, and of time and distance.  You may find yourself tweaking the map before your story is completed.  I know I did.  The hero of my tale had to set foot into all ten provinces to awaken evil forces and to draw out the free beings of the seven races to his cause.  For in the last story of my trilogy there is all out world war.  No one is spared, for the goal of evil is to destroy the first heavenly world created, but the last to fall.  Now that I am writing the Chronicles, I will have nine other maps to make and nine stories to chronicle their utter failure, due to the influence of evil.

For me the map creating process was one of my favorite parts of writing this tale.  I am not a literary genius, my grammar and sentence structure is poor.  What I can do is visualize the world and the story.  Then I go on an expedition to find the words that capture the world for the reader.  I ratchet up the action with each book, to an exhausting finale, that has everyone in the world of Allivar taking a stand.  They must take that stand, the last paradise is at stake.  If you decide to take the chance of reading my tale, you will soon find yourself in a unique world, with unique characters, and an original story ten years in the making.

Enjoy the journey!

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Author Interview – A.R. Silverberry

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Name:

A. R. Silverberry

Book title:

Wyndano’s Cloak

Genre:

Preteen Fantasy Adventure

Publisher:

Tree Tunnel Press

Date of publication:

3/15/2010

Who or what inspired you to write in this genre?

Every since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to fantasy literature. One of the first books I saw as a toddler was an illustrated tale about two aboriginal children, who were known as the Dream People. You can imagine what ideas that inspired, and I spent hours lost inside the illustrations. After that, fairy tales and myths were my mainstay, even in high school. By then, I was also reading anything by Tolkien I could get my hands on, and lots of Robert E. Howard. Not just the Conan stories, but the creepy tales set in the south. Then sometime in the late 90’s, I started re-reading the Oz books. At some point, I thought I’d like to write something like that, creating a world so wonderful and magical that people wished they could live there.

Tell me about your story:

Jen has settled into a peaceful life when a terrifying event awakens old fears—of being homeless and alone, of a danger horrible enough to destroy her family and shatter her world forever.

She is certain that Naryfel, a shadowy figure from her past, has returned and is concentrating the full force of her hate on Jen’s family. But how will she strike? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with the dark arts and twisted creatures she commands with sinister cunning.

Wyndano’s Cloak may be Jen’s only hope. If she can only trust that she has what it takes to use it . . .

How long did it take you to write this book?

I started it in 2004 and finished it in 2008, followed by another year working with two editors. The first editor worked with me on content, continuity, and did some light grammar and sentence structure edits, which were very helpful. The second editor did copyediting, proofing for typos, grammar, and the like. I’m really glad I used both. The book went out as clean as anything out there.

What made you self publish?

For an entire year, my first editor urged me to submit Wyndano’s Cloak to an agent. He even wrote an agent about the book without me knowing! Quite a vote of confidence! But I just decided that this one was for me. I wanted total artistic control. When a book is traditionally published, authors have no say over the cover art, and editors can demand changes in the text. Even the title may be up to the editor. If you refuse, you me may lose the contract and have to give back your advance. I knew they would fuss around with it and demand changes that I wasn’t willing to make.

How have you promoted your book and what is most successful?

I published it first as a hardback. I sent out ARCs to reviewers, entered it into contests, and displayed it at book and library expos in an effort to place it in book stores and libraries. I did dozens of book signings at Borders and Barnes and Noble. Most of my sales have come from those, and meeting with children in person has been the best part of my experience as a writer. So many kids tell me they want to be writers, and several have written to me that they are working on their own books!

How do you combat writer’s block, if you indeed experience it?

As a psychologist, I find the term writer’s block to be too general. It doesn’t specify what the problem is. Is the person experiencing fear of failure? Procrastinating? Or are they hung up on a creative issue, like not knowing how to handle a particular point in the plot? These are very different things, and require different solutions. I seldom have difficulty with the flow of my creativity. When I get hung up, it’s usually while working on revisions and I’m trying to find a solution to something that needs to be changed. I have several kinds of files I set up that help. For each chapter, there’s what I call a sketchpad. In this file, I can take sentences or paragraphs and work on them somewhere where it doesn’t matter. I also have a journal I write in while I’m working on each book. I’ll often play with ideas there. Finally, I have worksheets for exploring emotions, scenes, sequels, and the like. I also save files from the previous day’s session by date. That way, I never lose anything. The main thing is to get away from the tyranny of the manuscript page, because anything written there seems to have more weight. The other thing that really helps me is to carry a notepad in my pocket wherever I go. I get my best lines and breakthroughs away from the computer, usually when I’m out walking.

What other writing do you do?

I’ve written some short stories and picture books. I do book marketing in the form of blogging, interviewing, and press releases. I used to write a lot of psychological assessment reports, but I’ve gotten away from that so I can concentrate on creative writing.

What methods do you use to plan/write your book?

Ideas can come in many forms. An image, a title, a character. Whatever the form, I try and nail down an initial statement of the theme. If I don’t, it’s more challenging to come back later and unify the story. After I’ve got the theme, I develop the main characters, establishing their motives and traits. From there, I work out a plot outline. Usually that’s in my mind, although for Wyndano’s Cloak, I had it on paper. Then I’m off on the first draft. At this point, I let my creativity run. If the characters or the story seems to be going somewhere different than I had originally thought, I allow myself the opportunity to discover what that is. I trust my unconscious, and I listen to my gut. If something feels right, even if I can’t quite explain why it’s right, I’ll go with it. After the first draft, I sit down to see what I’ve got. I’ll adjust the theme, characters, and plot accordingly. This is the toughest part for me. It takes real discipline to cut out things you love for the good of the story. And I may think about what direction I want to go in for weeks or months. I allow myself as long as it takes. Brahms took twenty years on his first symphony!

How long have you been writing prior to getting published?

Before I could write words on paper, I used to dictate stories to my mother. I wrote a few stories and poems in high school and after college, but I didn’t start writing seriously until 1998.

How do you cope with rejections?

I consider any constructive feedback, and then continue to hone my craft. Getting published traditionally is like winning the lottery. It’s an ever-narrowing doorway that a growing number of aspiring writers are trying to squeeze through. The lack of a sale to a publisher doesn’t mean the story isn’t good. Editors are human, and ultimately, they’re are deciding whether to publish something based on how strongly they resonate with it.

What piece of advice would you give to debut writers?

It’s a cliché, but still essential. Read a lot, write a lot. At the same time, learn as much as you can about the craft. Work with a critique group, if you can find other authors that you resonate with, and who will be supportive of your creativity, not just critical for the sake of their own egos. Work with a professional editor. Get your manuscript beta read before publishing. Don’t rush your work out there. If you feel any misgivings about anything, keep working on it.

Are you currently writing another book?

Yes. I’m now sending out a draft of my latest novel—part survival tale, part spiritual journey—to beta readers. The book is as yet untitled. Hopefully, I’ll just have one more revision before it’s edited. I’m planning to submit this one to agents and publishers first. If it doesn’t get picked up, I’ll publish it independently. This is a marathon, not a sprint!

Where can a reader purchase your book?

Soon, the Wyndano’s Cloak hardback will only be available on my website. Ebook editions are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. It’s currently on sale for .99.

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Links:

A. R. Silverberry website: http://www.arsilverberry.com

A. R. Silverberry blog: http://www.arsilverberry.com/blog

Follow Silverberry on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-R-Silverberry/122991764395051?ref=search

Follow Silverberry on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arsilverberry

A.R., thank you for participating in the author interview.  Tolkien has certainly influenced my fantasy trilogy. As an indie author myself, I know how helpful the network of indie authors has been for me in bringing my stories and journey as an author to the general public.  I wish you the greatest success with Wyndano’s Cloak and all your future works.

Dragons of the Marog

Ever since I was a small child I was fascinated by monsters.  Whether it was those that appeared in B-rated movies, or in novels, the battle between mortals and these monsters enthralled me.  Usually I felt it was impossible for the hero to defeat such forces, but somehow they always found the way.  In particular, dragons have always been my favorite monster.  Part dinosaur, part flame thrower.  Some are winged and terrify from the air, some earth bound, or hidden in the crevices waiting for an unsuspecting victim.

When I began developing the plot for my mythological trilogy, The Chosen One of Allivar, monsters had to be present to heighten the adventure and danger.  I began book one, Rise of the Fallen, by giving the reader hints of the history of my created worlds and the wars once held against dragons.  In one narrative, Arimar the hero as a young boy listens to his caretaker’s stories over a campfire about the dragons of the Marog (Forbidden Lands) and how they were bound to those lands in a previous age.   The hero is told to avoid the Marog at all cost.  An event in the first book leaves no option open for the reluctant hero.  For him to return home, the Marog is his only path.  This is a clue to the reader where the plot is bound to.

In book two, Bound to Forbidden Lands, I play around with two meanings of the word “bound.”  Bound to the Marog are four guardian Dragons that watch over the northern and southern entrances. In the Marog is Gold and other resources that people covet for greed and power sake.  The creator placed the watchers, the Gregoron, to watch over the gold.  Like the tale of the Nephilim the watchers kidnap and imprison mortal women, to give birth to their offspring, the Luminars and Luminags. Evil forces also experiment with creating giants, also bound to the lands. The Marog is heavily watched and guarded, none that have entered ever leave.  But Arimar has no choice, it is his only path home with five hundred thousand followers. So, his company is bound to the Marog.

I ratchet up the adventure in book two, with the battles the company engages with their enemies inside the Marog.  When the remnants of the company are almost safe they come to a dead end where the guardians converge upon them with fiery wrath.  How does it end or do they escape?  This is the hook, the catch, the cliff hanger.

In book three, Last Stand of the Living, I bring the reader into the frenzied pace of all out war.  A war which includes the unleashing of all evil forces bound to the Marog and the underworld, and yes all of the dragons.  I recall in the Simarillion, the battle of the sudden flame, where Dragons, Balrogs and Orc are unleashed upon the lands.  The imagery of that simple narrative inspired me to the unleashing of my imagination and the monsters of my mind.  If you are up to the challenge of this story, book three is intended to exhaust you emotionally.  And like the imagery witnessed in the movie version of Lord of the Rings, my narrative should capture your imagination of the greatest battle ever fought between the forces of good and evil.

In December we will all be able to see how the narrative of The Hobbit is played out on the screen, and get a glimpse of Smaug the Golden.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.  In the meantime, if you are up to an epic adventure, give my trilogy a try.  Be forewarned, you must invest time in the first nine chapters, which deal with creation and history. There are many clues embedded in the narratives that will explain the following 2-1/2 stories.  You may find yourself rereading to uncover those clues.  Then, all the compressed history of those nine chapters shall be unleashed in the sixteen stories to follow, the Chronicles, with even more battles of dragons and monsters.

Are you ready for dragons?

Author Interview – Alana Siegel

Author – Alana Siegel

Book Titles:

THE CHARM (Olivia Hart and the Gifted Program, #1)

THE RETREAT (Olivia Hart and the Gifted Program, #2)

Genre:

young adult, fantasy, romance, and adventure

Publisher:

Self published

Date of publication:

THE CHARM was published on December 12, 2011.

THE RETREAT was published on August 12, 2012

Who or what inspired you to write in this genre?

Reading has always been my passion.  I am an avid young adult, fantasy reader, and I escape to Hogwarts, Forks, Camp Halfblood, or District 12 for a few hours each day.  I love getting lost in an adventure with characters who feel like old friends.  I began writing THE CHARM because I had a story of my own.  I wanted to extend the reading adventure and share it with others.

Tell me about your story(s):

Olivia Hart and the Gifted Program is a series that follows high school kids with special powers as they deal with everyday teenage drama and supernatural plot twists.  Olivia is easy to identify with, and she reminds the reader of the overemotional adolescent years that form who we become in adulthood. Nothing will prepare her, however, for the discovery that she can compel people with her mind.  Imagine how different high school would have been if you had the ability to charm your way out of trouble.

How long did it take you to write this book?

Writing has always been a hobby that was maintained on long train rides in and out of Manhattan between the hours spent at my day job.  I wrote the novel, THE CHARM, by writing emails to myself on an iPad.  Then, I would piece it all together over the weekends.  An engagement ring, a move 3,000 miles across the country, and one adorable kitten named Zeus later, the final edit of THE RETREAT, book 2, was conceived.  Both books took about four years to complete.

How did you find a publisher?(if applicable)

I didn’t find a publisher, however, I found two terrific editors instead.  Olivia’s world wouldn’t be the same without the help I received from Carol Weber and Maria Johnson.  Detail oriented and professional, they were spot on with their analysis of my work and supportive friends throughout the whole process.

Carol Weber’s website:  http://www.carolscorrections.weebly.com

Maria Johnson’s blog:  http://maria7627.wordpress.com

What made you self publish? (if applicable)

The publishing industry is changing for the better.  Great books can now be read by the masses without getting tangled up in the politics of the publishing industry.  With websites to post book reviews, the end users (the readers) are now the final judges of a book, instead of the large publishing houses.

How have you promoted your book and what is most successful?

Joining twitter, I was able to contact thousands of authors, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they were welcoming and willing to help.  They retweeted my novel to their followers, shared my story on their blog, and passed along helpful tips and advice.  Goodreads is also a fantastic place to connect with fellow readers and writers.

How do you combat writer’s block, if you indeed experience it?

Since writing is a hobby, writers block isn’t a main concern.  Instead, the issue is writing receives lower priority on my list of things to do, even if I would rather spend the afternoon escaping to my bedroom with my laptop.  It is hard to budget the time when you work in finance (just found out I passed level 3 of the CFA exam!), have a wedding to plan, and relationships to maintain.  However, the lapse of time just makes it sweeter when I actually key my thoughts into the computer.

What other writing do you do?

I try to post on my tumblr blog every few weeks (http:// makeeverymisadventureanadventure.tumblr.com).  The entries usually relate to writing, fantasy, or pop culture.  Oftentimes, I ask fellow authors to share their thoughts.

What methods do you use to plan/write your book?

Writing is the easy part.  Lately I have been debating the best methods for publishing.  I use Kindle Select Publishing, which allows me to promote the book for free 5 out of every 90 days.  The concern is that you need to be publish exclusively with Amazon and may miss out on other markets – nook, smashwords, etc.  I recently came across a company called Pubslush that works like American Idol for books, letting potential readers vote on their favorite ideas.  If you win, the company publishes your books.  Plus, for every book you sell, a copy is given to a child without access to books in a third world country – similar to the concept for TOMS and their shoes.  How cool is that?

What piece of advice would you give to debut writers?

If you turn writing into a hobby instead of a job, you will find instant gratification.  Enjoy the journey, and never give up.

Are you currently writing another book?

I am spending a few weeks marketing THE RETREAT, but I have a story arc for an Olivia Hart trilogy (possibly more).  I am also toying with the idea of creating a Kickstarter campaign to earn support to write/film a web series of Olivia’s journey.  Who knows, maybe The Gifted Program will be the next Pretty Little Liars or True Blood tv show!

Where can a reader purchase your book?

My books can be purchased on Amazon as ebooks.

THE CHARM http://amzn.to/THE-CHARM

THE RETREAT http://bit.ly/THE-RETREAT

Don’t have an ereader?  Download the free ereader app for any computer or smartphone! http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771

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Links

WEB http://www.oliviahartbooks.com

BLOG http:// makeeverymisadventureanadventure.tumblr.com

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/embed/fO7GhrerfgU

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Olivia-Hart/198744080212227

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/AlanaSiegel

Thank you Alana for taking part in this interview.  It is my hope that readers and aspiring authors will learn something from your experience and writing.  Good luck in all your writing endeavors.

Golf Indigestion – First Edition

For my readers and loyal followers, you know I write about my very poor game of golf.  I know there is a magazine called Golf Digest.  Well, since there are copyright protections on this, I know that no one in their right frame of mind would ever create a magazine titled “Golf Indigestion” – well, except for yours truly.  I have already written numerous posts on my golf game.  But, now I want my own monthly golf magazine dedicated to those of us who really, really suck at the game of golf. I am looking for a subscription fee of 99 cents per blog post.   It’s cheap and I promise you will not learn one damn thing from me – not one.  You may have a good laugh though.  Isn’t 99 cents worth that at least?  Call it the unhappy meal for the soul.  Call it a round of therapy.  After you read how bad I am, you will feel much better about yourself.

I recall a day in my youth when my father and I went golfing on a warm summer day. So warm was it that the heat index was approximately 121 degrees.  We only made it through the first nine holes.  It was at that point that I should have wondered about this great game called golf.  As hot as it was, it could have been called rolf, for the noise one makes hurling my indigestible breakfast further than one’s tee shot.  That’s how bad my game of golf sucks.  I can hurl further and straighter than my tee off, even with a big Bertha or a Howitzer canon.  I can throw or kick it further than I can tee it off.  My tee shot is called the Rainmaker.  It drives straight to the ceiling of the atmosphere, opening the waters of the heavens, and comes falling back down only ten feet from the women’s tee box.  I never yell fore, because the little old ladies are never worried I’ll hit them.

I kid often about the true story of killing a squirrel with one of my famous shots.  Now I can imagine also placing recipes in my magazine titled “Fairway Kill – You Drill it, I’ll Grill it.”  There would also be a beverage recipe at the back called the 19th hole.  The first drink would be named “OMG Gasping 9-Iron.”  The recipe is really simple, any alcoholic drink straight, with an oxygen tank chaser.  Those who follow me will get this reference, wherein OMG actually stands for “Oh My Groin!”

I would also have sections on the proper way to total your golf cart or launch over a cliff.  Or, how to expertly and artistically wrap your golf set around a maple tree.  How about the best curse lines in golf history?  “WTFoooooore!”  How about a section on why “Any day at work is better than a day of golf.” All this for just 99 cents!  If you subscribe today, I’ll throw in a VHS of Caddy Shack and a bottle of TUMS in for FREE – FREE – FREE (echo sound).  However, handling charges of $1.99 and shipping charges of $3,000 do apply.  What a bargain, right?

So why delay, order today! If your game of golf sucks and you get queasy knowing how much money you sank (not to be confused with putts) into the sport, you need “Golf Indigestion.”

PS – If you haven’t guessed that blog posts are not shipped, you suck at more than just golf.