On Writing: Inspired by the Litha Festival

Inspiration in Old Traditions

Guest post by Brenda Sparks

writing inspiration

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When I wrote A Midsummer Night’s Demon, I knew I wanted the story to center around the Pagan festival of Litha.  Litha generally falls in the third week of June, during the summer solstice, as the midsummer heat creates a fiery passion that leaves people breathless. The more I learned about the festival, the more the holiday intrigued me.

Litha celebrates abundance, fertility, virility, and nature. During the celebration it is customary to wear garland and crowns of flowers made from the yellow blossoms of St. John’s Wort. Litha rites include dancing, singing, storytelling and feasting centered around a bonfire. Often courting couples will join hands and jump over the Litha fire three times to ensure a happy marriage, many children, and financial prosperity.

Those who celebrate Litha believe it is a time when the Sun God reaches the peak of His power, bringing the heat of summer. Just as the power of the sun at Midsummer is at its most potent so too is the Sun God. He takes His Goddess as His wife and, like the earth in June, she becomes fertile with the bounty of growing life. His marriage with the Goddess makes Him not only Her lover, but her protector as well.

In some traditions, Litha is a time light battles with dark. The Sun God’s potency ensures the continuity of life during the oncoming darkness of winter. For contemporary Wiccans and Pagans, it is a time to meditate on both the light and darkness in not only the world, but in their personal lives as well.

This concept intrigued me, for I knew the characters in my story had a similar dichotomy. Ky is a vampire—the night his domain. He is a dark warrior, a protector of his kind. And Daelyn is a demon. The day belongs to her. She is sweet and slightly naïve about things that go bump in the night. She is the goodness to his devilish impulses. The light to his darkness.

Faeries are said to abound in great numbers on Midsummer’s Eve. As part of the Litha celebration people will commune with the faeries and leave them sweet offerings outdoors. Upon discovering part of the Litha rituals involved sprinkling an offering to faeries, I had to find out what might be given. It is widely believed that faeries enjoy milk, cheese, bread, and sweets, and therefore those items are generally scattered in offering.  While doing research for my story, I came across a yummy recipe I’d like to share.

Faery Fruit Compote

Blend together

 ½ cup water

2 tablespoons of Marigold petals

½ cup of sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Let cool.

In a bowl combine

1 ½ cups each of orange, lime, and tangerine slices

2 cups blueberries.

Pour water mixture over fruit and chill overnight. Serve over lemon angel food cake.

So make yourself some Faery Fruit Compote and if you get a chance please check out my book, A Midsummer Night’s Demon. Thank you for reading!

About the Author

Brenda Sparks has always loved all things spooky and enjoys incorporating paranormal elements in her writing. She refuses to allow pesky human constraints to get in the way of telling the story. Luckily the only thing limiting her stories is her imagination. Her characters are strong, courageous, and she adores spending time with them in their imaginary world.

In real life, she is married to a loving, supportive husband and together they have one grown son who has brought much joy to their lives. Her idea of a perfect day is one spent in front of a computer with a hot cup of coffee, her fingers flying over the keys to send her characters off on their latest adventure.

You can find Brenda on Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.

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On Writing: Write What You Know? Maybe Not.

Reality Lacks A Satisfying Narrative Arc

Guest post by Jeanette Grey

write what you know

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The message is everywhere: write what you know. We hear it from college professors, from abrasive-but-ultimately-kind-mentor-characters in movies, from random relatives who think they have sage advice to offer about writing in spite of never having really pursued it themselves.

It’s reinforced when friends suggest you should write a book about your life. Or about their life. Or about the life of one of their friends who recently had something interesting happen to them.

It’s reinforced when everyone scoffs at the disclaimer in the front of every novel about all people, places and things being fictional.

And it’s so, so tempting. I don’t know about you, but my most wildly productive writing years occurred when I was in my teens and bleeding words onto a page. I just had so many emotions to deal with and no other way to process them except through writing. I wrote what I knew, all right. I wrote my pain, and my joy, and the petty, petty details of my relationships, my family life, my school life. My word count was astronomical, and the sheer carnage in terms of wasted novelty notebooks and drained sparkle pens was enough to fund my local stationary store for years.

Here’s the thing, though: writing about reality is, in general, a terrible idea.

Now, I’m not saying that non-fiction doesn’t have its place. Of course it does. But novelizing real life events has an inherent flaw, because reality lacks a satisfying narrative arc.

What’s a satisfying narrative arc? It’s the lovely, circular aspect of a story that writers painstakingly weave into their books. It’s the details planted in the beginning of a novel that come to fruition in the climax. The twist of fate that unites a hero and a heroine that have complementary strengths and flaws. The conflict that represents whatever the main character fears most and present her with a chance to grow.

They’re the aspects of a story that make you jump up and down, your heart glowing, and that leave you beaming after you turn the last page.

Sure, these things happen in real life, but rarely in the kinds of combinations they do in books. Rarely in the kinds of combinations they need to in order to keep a reader devouring your books.

A random anecdote from life is like a burlap sack, and a well-crafted novel is like a finely tailored suit. Everything fits. And sure, you can cinch a belt around a shapeless swath of fabric, but it’s just not the same.

Personally, when I was still writing about my own life, my stories never seemed to go anywhere. I would get bogged down in the true events behind the story, and I never knew how to push past them to make the story into something more.

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I got the hang of it. After a wordless decade, I started immersing myself in the world of fiction again, and new ideas started to emerge. They were untethered to my life except in the details. I set completely fabricated stories in locations where I had really lived. I gave heroes and heroines jobs I’d really had. I incorporated elements of personalities of friends and loved ones into invented characters, but I invented the characters. I made up the scenarios. The real, embedded details allowed the imagined stories to come to life, but the realities of my mundane and unsatisfying life stopped restraining the narrative, hamstringing it to true events that didn’t really matter to anyone but me.

For me, the key to writing fiction that jumped off the page was just that: writing fiction. I had to write what I didn’t know.

And using my imagination was what finally allowed me to write books that felt true.

About the Author

Jeanette Grey started out with degrees in physics and painting, which she dutifully applied to stunted careers in teaching, technical support, and advertising. When none of that panned out, she started writing. Her stories include futuristic romances and erotic contemporaries, and almost all of them include hints of either science or art.

When she isn’t writing, Jeanette enjoys making pottery, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and her pet frog. Her most recent release, Take What You Want, is available from Samhain Press as well as on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She blogs regularly at Bad Girlz Write and irregularly at JeanetteGrey.com. Follow her on Twitter or Like her on FaceBook.

On Writing: Music as Inspiration

Music and Prose

Guest post by Jack Croxall

writing inspiration with music

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What I’d like to reflect upon here is how useful I’ve found assigning particular songs to certain sequences, settings or even whole chapters of my novel.

I first tried this because I wanted to create a kind of reference point for the feel of some of my scenes; a way of standardising say, a certain location’s mood or the mindset of a particular character. It seemed like a decent enough idea and, once I’d decided on a suitable selection of tracks for a sequence, I always made sure to have a quick listen through any time I wanted to add anything more to said sequence, hopefully preventing myself from accidentally bolting on any tonally dissimilar sentences.

However, I soon realised music could do more for my work than just help with continuity.

I think everybody’s experienced that moment when a familiar song comes on and you’re instantly reminded of how you felt when you first heard it; I know when I hear tracks from Echo Park by Feeder, I suddenly feel as sad as I did at the end of the book I was reading when I bought the album (Watership Down). I mention this because, as I began carefully allocating scene X with track list Y, I started to realise a lot of the older songs in my music library put me in the precise mental state I’d been in when I’d first listened to them during my teenage years.

Now, a lot of teenagers have an incredible amount to deal with and dredging some of that back up could perhaps be considered a bad idea, but upon taking the plunge myself, I recognised I’d discovered a priceless writing tool.

Let me explain a little bit more. The two main characters in my YA novel are, unsurprisingly, teenagers and having not been one for a while, I was sometimes finding it difficult to work out how certain events in the plot might affect them. In rediscovering some of my older music, I realised I’d stumbled upon a valuable window into how I’d felt during the more testing times (but comparatively meagre in the grand scheme) I had gone through as a teenager; insecurity, break ups, cancelation of my favourite TV show etc.

So, the point is, I was suddenly able to construct more realistic reactions and responses to some of the more emotive events that occur throughout my plot, simply because my old music could reminded me of how I’d felt and thought during similar, albeit far less extreme, situations. It really was somewhat of a revelation.

About the Author

Jack Croxall - Author PhotoBorn in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books. A YA Victorian fantasy, Jack’s debut novel, Tethers follows Karl Scheffer and Esther Emerson as they become embroiled in a treacherous conspiracy. The book is available through Amazon and you can find out more by visiting Jack’s blog or the book’s GoodReads page. You can also follow Jack on Twitter or Facebook.

On Writing: The Where and the How and the What?

Writing Is Hard and Other Wise Tidbits

Guest post by Margaret Taylor

on writing: finding inspiration

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As an Author, many times I’m asked, “Where did you get that idea?” or “How do you write a book?”

My fellow Authors can attest to the fact that these two questions are probably the most consistent ones we get asked.  Am I right ladies and gents?

So, I was thinking that today I’d try and answer them.

The first, “Where did you get that idea?” is probably the more common of the two, so we’ll start there.

Most of my ideas come, literally, from everyday life and I’ll give you an example of the one I had not too long ago so you can understand.

Now, as we all know, the Superbowl was not too far back.  And no, I’m not going to start talking about what an awesome game it was!  Because it was.  If you didn’t watch the game, you’ve probably heard about it by now, so I won’t recount any of it.

What I will focus on is the other big story of the game…the lights going out.

Like most, I watched the game, beginning to end and it was only afterwards that an idea came to me for a new book.  As I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep in the aftermath of the nail biting previous five hours or so, I thought…what if?

And here’s the “What If?” I came up with.

What if the lights going out wasn’t some sort of feed power failure as they are saying it was?  What if it was a very powerful witch or warlock or sorcerer who had an obscene amount of money bet on the 49’s?  Said witch or warlock or sorcerer, seeing the game getting away from his/her team decides to intervene and with his/her power or spell or whatever, shuts off the lights in the hopes that’ll be enough of a break for his/her team to recharge and come back.

Ah ha!  I now have my bad guy or girl, yeah?

So that thought led to…ok, so who would be my hero/heroine in that scenario and which of the many series I have going could I fit said bad guy?  Well, the second part of that question was easy to answer.  I have a stand-alone paranormal, “Prophecy of Love” into which the above scenario would fit perfectly as a possible “Book 2”.  That left me with, ok, who’s going to be my protagonist, or good guy to the bad?

Hmmm…

Alright, I admit that was about the point my mind drifted to other things and I fell asleep shortly thereafter.  However, when I woke the next day, I wrote down the thought and will eventually flesh it out for possible development/writing.

Now, this leads to the second question I get asked, A LOT!  “How do you write a book?”

This question is not so easy to answer.  What works for me may not necessarily work for you.  There are numerous schools of thought on how to write.  Many have published books, there are a ton of websites, and the most obvious, creative writing courses out there.

And I’m not talking about the technical stuff.  The grammar, the punctuations, the sentence structure and so on.  That comes with time, practice and a damn good editor behind you!  (Ladies and gents, ALWAYS pay due homage to the editor.  They are the ones that bless the final product and make sure – if they are worth said due homage – that your work looks really good on the backside of the creative process.)  So, no, we’re not talking about that part.

What I am talking about is putting your ideas onto paper.  Getting that scenario, or “What If” out of your head and out there for all to see.

This is not as easy as it might seem.  Everyone wishes they could write the “Great American Novel”.  I think it’s something that crosses everyone’s “Bucket List” at some point or another in their lives.  It’s human nature.  Despite the tunnel vision we’ve developed in the last 50 years, we are, by our very nature, “Sharers”.  We want to tell our stories to the perfect stranger sitting next to us.  We want people to know our trials and tribulations.  Before the internet, we did this via hand-written and eventually typed letters.  Now, we do it via email, Facebook, Blogs, Twitter and so on.

Regardless of the method, we share.  It’s just who we are.

Sadly, despite this, not everyone can write.  Not everyone can see something in their heads and effectively put that on paper for others to enjoy just as much as they do.  The good ones, the great ones, have the ability to draw you in, bring the scenario, the idea to life for those of us not so fortunate enough to have that talent.

I, at least I hope I am and have been told I am, one of the fortunate ones.  I have talent.  Where it comes from, I haven’t a clue.  But, it’s there and even I am amazed sometimes by it.  I’ll be sitting here reading something I’ve written and go, “Hey, you know what?  I’m not so bad at this writing thing…

Anyway, I’ve digressed a bit and apologize.

Moving on.  Writing is like anything else.  It takes practice, lots and lots of practice.  Steven King, in his book, On Writing, said it best I think.

“A true writer…writes.”

And it truly is that simple.  If you’re a writer, and my fellow Authors can back me on this I think, you write.  All the time.  And sometimes you do it without even realizing you are.  (I wrote the next scene in one book in the shower this morning and another while I was out running errands a bit later, just to give you an example.)

Despite the fact I have a “day job” I write whenever I have free time.  I’m not Steven or any of a half a dozen others, yet so the bills have to be paid.  However, I’ve decided that I’m going to devote serious time to my writing in 2013 and see where it goes.  If I’ve honed my craft sufficiently, then maybe I’ll start to catch on and take off.  We’ll see.

That being said, I’m going to give you what I use to write.  It’s a tool, a concept and if it works for you, then please feel free to use it.  It was given to me, years ago, so I don’t “own it” but I’ve lived by it since. And if it doesn’t work for you, then I hope it gives you an idea, helps you create your own tool, that you can use to craft your own works.

As I’ve said, writing is a talent and not one everyone has it.  But the tools are there.  The following is but one of them.

It was once said to me:  “Writing a book is like building your favorite sandwich.  You need everything to work together to enjoy it.  For example, you wouldn’t eat a pastrami on rye without the rye yes?  Or a roast beef without the beef?  No, you wouldn’t.  So, if you look at every book as a sandwich and you have all the elements, all the pieces, then it should work and taste o’ so good!”

I was told that you need a beginning and an ending, which are your two pieces of bread.  They hold the sandwich together, give you something start and end with.

The meat of your sandwich are your characters, all your characters.  The good, bad and yes sometimes ugly.  The meat is what makes the sandwich, well, a sandwich.  If you didn’t have meat, or characters, then all you have are two pieces of very boring bread.

The lettuce, tomatoes, onions or whatever it is you like on your sandwich, is the plot.  These things compliment your sandwich, or the story, but they don’t overwhelm it, or they shouldn’t anyway.  They add flavor – or as he said, “Penash!” – and make you want to keep eating, or reading, to the end.

The mayo, mustard, ketchup and what not, are your sub-plots.  The little twists and turns to the story, or the bit of flavor you get now and again when you bite in and begin chewing.  Again, they don’t overwhelm, but compliment – send your taste buds, or your readers, off in a new, and sometimes completely unexpected direction.

He also added to make sure you love the sandwich you’re eating!  In other words, if you hate pastrami on rye, or mystery novels, then don’t try and write one.  You’ll take one bite – or write one page – hate it and throw it away.  But, if you love Turkey, or science fiction, then get going, start eating and before you know it, the sandwich will be gone and the book is written.

As I’ve said, I’ve used this model to write since I was 16 and as crazy as it sounds, it does work.  Granted I’m not one of those that has to plot everything down to the last chapter.  I never have been.  Most of the time, once I “see” the opening line to a book in my head, I’m gone.  I open up a word doc and just start typing.  It’s not until afterwards, when it’s done, that I go back and apply the above tool to begin the long, arduous process of editing the words to fit it.

Sometimes though, it’s not a line, but a character that I see.  As in the above scenario I spoke about earlier.  In that case, I put the character down first and build the sandwich around it.  In other words, I’m really craving turkey but have no idea what I want to go with it!  I know eventually that I’ll get the rest of it down, I already have the “background world” which I developed in “Prophecy of Love”, so it’ll come.  But, for now, he/she is just a plain old “What if?” waiting in the wings for his story to be told.

And that’s fine.  When he/she starts to “yell the loudest” is when I’ll pull it back out and have my turkey sandwich!

And that’s all there really is too it.

Now, it’s time to build your sandwich, or your story.  One final bit of advice, have fun with it!  Enjoy that Turkey, or Pastrami, or Roast Beef to its fullest!  Savor every bite of it because if you do, then so will your readers.  If you don’t love it, throw it away and start over with something you do love.

I hope this helped to give you a brief glimpse into the creative process that goes on…at least for me.  And if you’re an aspiring Author, please, feel free to use it or not.  It’s whatever works for you.

Thanks, J & M for having me here today.  It was wonderful to share myself with your audience.

Until next time.

Margaret Taylor.

About the Author

Margaret Taylor’s debut release Wolf’s Paradox is coming in June 2013.  She also has Prophecy of Love with Lyrical Press (Coming in Feb, 2014). She’s a Member of SARA, San Antonio Romance Writer’s Association, http://sararwa.net/ as well as RWA.  She has many current projects in the works and if you ask nicely, she might be persuaded to post some tasty excerpts on her blog! *Bring Cookies as payment please!* You can follow Margaret on her, Blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Book Review: The Silver Linings Playbook

Guest Review by Eva Pugzlyte

(Reviewer purchased this book; it was not provided by the author for review.)

The silver linings playbook book reviewPat Peoples is practicing being kind instead of right. He also does thousands of sit-ups on the Stomach Master 6000, jogs many miles, goes to therapy to avoid going back to ‘the bad place’, a neural health facility he believes he has spent 4 months in, and reads great works of American literature. In short: Pat Peoples has embarked on a journey of self-improvement, because Pat Peoples has a theory. That theory is that life is a film created by God and that its “silver lining” will be the end of ‘apart time’ (the reason for which he can’t remember, but he’s convinced Kenny G. has something to do with it) and Pat’s reunion with his wife Nikki.

But something is not right. Someone stole all the pictures of Nikki from his parental home (where he lives after leaving the bad place until he can move back together with Nikki), he struggles with the tragic silver-lining-less endings of the works of Hemingway and Sylvia Plath, and he starts to suspect that he has spent years in the bad place instead of mere months. In the meantime his mother is crying all the time, his father won’t even look at him let alone embark in fatherly conversation, and the Philadelphia Eagles keep losing despite Pat religiously wearing his Hank Baskett jersey.

And then there’s Tiffany, an odd woman who moved back into her parents’ place after losing her job after her husband’s death. She follows Pat around on his runs, “scouting” him, rarely says a word and when she does they have no filter. She wants something from Pat, but he can’t figure out what that could be.

And then he starts getting letters from Nikki.

So does Pat get his silver lining ending? It’s almost impossible to believe otherwise, what with Pat’s blindly hopeful life philosophy, yet I will leave it to you to find that lining (according to Pat Peoples every cloud has one, you just have to look.)

The Silver Linings Playbook is not an epic tale. It’s a bittersweet story about people and relationships. About friends and family and connections. A story about many kinds of love and the refusal to be defeated by mental health issues and pessimism and Kenny G, delicately balancing between laugh out loud funny and heartbreakingly grave.

An interesting facet to the book I found was the breach of the fourth wall. The bad place is where he started writing down his memoirs, because his memories started slipping and at times he talks directly at the reader, sometimes to explain something other times to ask the reader to participate. (I totally channelled my inner Rocky to the beat of “Gonna Fly Now” when he requested it.) This way of writing penetrates the boundaries normally present in fiction same way Pat People’s actions and thoughts penetrate boundaries normally set up between adults.

“Here’s a thought: I’m like Holden Caulfield thinking about ducks, only I’m thirty-five years old and Holden was a teenager.” ­– Pat Peoples, The Silver Linings Playbook (p.282)

I could go on about the parallels between the works of literature Pat read, the writing style and his mental condition, but in the end somehow the important thing is that this book made me laugh out loud and squeezed my heart and made me wail along with 80s power ballads, and it taught me an important lesson: that sometimes the only way to hold on is to let go.

The Silver Linings Playbook Novel review

About the Book

Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of theraphy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!

About the Author

Matthew Quick (aka Q) is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Oscar-winning film. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, among other accolades. Q lives in Massachusetts with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette. He did not supply the copy for review and has no idea he’s been featured on Fight for Your Write.

About the Reviewer

Thinker. Dreamer. Independent. Observer. Night owl. Frank. Stubborn. Easygoing on the surface, but shy underneath. Prone to sarcastic remarks. Ticklish. Lover of arts. Foodie. Would never exchange the feel of paper under her fingertips for an e-reader. Often talks in references. Could eat her weight in licorice. Secretly suspects her house is trying to kill her and shall deny every accusation of klutzery on her behalf. Is known to on occasion name inanimate objects and oftentimes can’t decide whether she loves something because it’s beautiful, or whether it’s beautiful because she loves it.

On Writing: Worldbuilding

IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK

Guest post by Denise Golinowski

on writing: world buildingAs a fantasy author, I often hear how intimidating worldbuilding can be for writers. I often wonder—is it the whole “world” thing or the “building” thing? Suspecting it’s a case of both of those and more, I suggest we change the term and, hopefully, change the attitude. [Drum roll and appropriate trumpet flare]

Henceforth, I shall call the process “world-discovery.”

I think the term works better because it’s more about discovering what’s familiar or different about my character’s world and putting those details on the page.

For me, a story begins with a character, a personality who saunters or struts or leaps onto the stage of my imagination and demands that I tell their story.

The first step to world-discovery is to take in the details of my character. Besides the basic statistics—name, age, sex—I take note of what is unique about this character? What will keep my attention through the writing, and the reader’s attention through the reading? Attractive characters are easy to sell, but there is also something to be said about the flawed character. Bottom line, your character must be interesting enough to you to carry the story for the readers.

A character’s clothing will give you plenty of hints about their world. Do they look like they stepped off a fashion runway (a contemporary world) or a starship (a futuristic world)? Are their clothes machine-made (a world with technology) or homespun (a world with low technology or none)? Do they carry weapons (again, high or low technology) and are they comfortable with the weapons (in defense or offense)?

Let them reveal their story to you. Listen carefully. Whenever they present you with something unfamiliar, take a moment to examine it. Whenever their story requires something unusual, delve into the reason and then explore your options for fulfilling that need. No one lives in a white box. Every room your character enters, how is it furnished? Every street they walk, how is it paved? Every person they encounter, how are they dressed or occupied? Make your character show you what they need from their environment and then discover how to supply those needs.

As you discover more and more about the character’s world, you will begin to do your research. This is a slippery slope and one you have to treat with respect. Dig to get the details you need to tell the story, but don’t fall down the hole into parts unknown and unrelated to your character’s story. Also, don’t become so enamored with your discoveries that you toss in everything, including the kitchen sink, because it just so interesting.

Remember: If it doesn’t move the plot or provide character development, it doesn’t belong on the page. Think of it this way. You use a cell phone, but do you really know how it works? Do you need to? The answer is probably no to the first and definitely no to the second. And neither does your reader.

In my newest book, COLLECTOR’S ITEM, my shapeshifters live openly in society, having come out of the closet, so to speak, about twenty years ago. An entire legal system had to be developed to protect both humans and shapeshifters, codified in the Paranormal Rights Act, but I didn’t need to give my readers the details of the Act and legal system, I only refer to them where they impact my story.

My shapeshifters and their animal personalities are separate entities sharing a physical form. They communicate to each other, but the animal personality is always under the control of the human side. Shapeshifters live in clans and raise their children communally, openly preparing children for the emergence of their animal personalities with the onset of puberty. This dual nature is anticipated but in rare instances, can create serious psychological issues that were once a death sentence, but with the help of modern medicine is now manageable.

I loved developing these parts of KT Marant’s world, but they were only mentioned in passing, or hinted at, in COLLECTOR’S ITEM. Putting any more into the story than I did would have slowed the action of what I hoped would be a suspenseful story.

Think of those fascinating details as seasoning. Put in too much and you’ll spoil the dish. Put in just the right amounts in the right combinations and you’ll have a dish fit for a king.

World-discovery is fascinating. If you are engaged in your character and the story, I know you will easily discover all the details you need to successfully portray their world.

About the Author

Denise Golinowski has always been a writer. A hopeful romantic, she gravitated to fantasy and romance.  Collector’s Item is her second enovella with the Wild Rose Press and is currently available exclusively on Amazon.com for Kindle.  Her first enovella, The Festival of the Flowers: The Courtesan and The Scholar, is also available from The Wild Rose Press.  Denise is a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America, Virginia Romance Writers, James River Writers, Writers Endeavor, and RichWriters.  A native of Richmond, Virginia, Denise lives with her uber-supportive husband and one devoted lap kitty. She is currently working on a Contemporary Paranormal Romance involving another member of the Marant Clan—KT’s older brother, Peter Marant.  You can find her on facebook at Denise Golinowski/Author and at her blog, Golinowski’s Gambol. You can buy Collector’s Item for Kindle at  www.collectorsitembook.com. Visit her blog, Golinowski’s Gambol, and visit Denise on Facebook at Denise Golinowski/Author.

On Writing: The Simpsons Already Did It

Difficulty Finding Original Ideas? Read on…

writing original ideas

© Fotosergio | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I don’t know how many of you watch the adult cartoon South Park but my (now ex) mother-in-law got me hooked many years ago. Late at night after the young children were soundly asleep, we made ice cream sundaes, turned on the VCR, and laughed our asses off.

I’m not sure what this says about me. Yes, I know, the show goes too far and is overly raunchy. Yes, I often find it offensive. Yet it often provides some valuable insights into life. I guess I’m trying to say it makes me think while I laugh and cringe.

The 2009 episode I refer to in the title is where Professor Chaos returns filled with brand new evil schemes for wreaking havoc. Unfortunately, he finds every idea he’s devised has already been done. The long running Simpsons show has already done them all.

Don’t you find the same dilemma in writing romance? For a moment consider how long writing has been around (We won’t even get into oral history). What are the first topics ancient men considered important enough to put chisel to stone, paint to cave wall or ink to papyrus? The universal truths facing us all: life, war, death and love. Perhaps then as now all writers were advised to ‘write what they know’.

Similar plot lines also pop up throughout history with regular frequency. Shared stories or common themes abound in every culture. How else do we repeatedly get the flood story? Almost every culture has a similar tale about the world being cleansed by water and these stories date back to 3000 BCE in Instructions of Shuruppak. If the topic interests you – check out The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell where he deals with this subject.

Now take the romance genre, add in all the poets and writers from the beginning of time, and you’ve got an unbelievable number all writing about the same subject. We do our best but really…how many ways can that first look be described? Or the first kiss?

The desire to be original and to avoid plagiarism keeps us striving. We want our own voice to be heard but a person can only put on their pants feet first and you can only press your lips together by touching mouths. Like notes on the keyboard, there are only so many ways for the male and female parts to fit together. Tab A in slot B…and so forth. Factor in the reader. They like the familiar and want their love stories to follow a certain path: meeting, conflict, love, resolution, and finally living happily ever after.

How many times have you read something and thought – What if the plot took a different turn at this juncture? What if the characters had done this or said that? We can take the familiar, twist it, and add our own spin. In doing so, we hope to make the familiar unique again.

That’s what I did in It’s A Wonderful Undead Life. Taking the archetype, I made the main protagonist a female phlebotomist. After learning she’s worth more dead than alive, she sees the old classic movie and prays for an angel to help her.

Instead she is confronted by a sociopathic vampire. He uses a blood sample stolen from a rival and forces it down her throat. There is only enough blood to stunt her – leaving her trapped between the human and mortal worlds. How can she survive?

That is my story. With a little humor, some gore and a couple of spicy love scenes, I’ve tried to make it my own. And like all the best romances, the ones that stay in our hearts, it ends happily ever after.

 R. E. Mullins was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. She has also lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Springfield, Missouri and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Though she has loved each area, the Ozarks hold a special place in her heart. That is why she set her fictional town of Amber Heights there.

She worked as a Phlebotomist for ten years and assisted in a Continuing Education Course in Phlebotomy for several years. Now she is concentrating on writing. Visit her at any or all of the links below.

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