Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dark Dancer Release!

Congratulations to my friend and one of my favorite authors, Jaleta Clegg on the release of her magical steampunk fantasy, Dark Dancer. I can't wait to read it!

Here's an excerpt:


Katie held her arms out, twirling inside the ring of mushrooms like a small child. She laughed, lifting her face to the sun. Lavender mist crept around her feet, rising in the center. Flowers dropped to the grass under her bare feet. The mist swirled and spun with each step of her dance. A round window formed in the center, hanging in the air. Katie danced closer.
 

"Don't touch it!" Vague images of a dancing rabbits and a man with pointed ears teased Sabrina's memories. Cold sweat trickled down her spine.
 

Katie brushed the edges of the window, her dance growing more frenzied. The air reeked of ozone and lay heavy as if a thunderstorm brewed in the clear skies. Power crackled through the lavender mist.
 

Katie stretched into the window. Her scream shattered the peace of the quiet meadow. She fragmented like stained glass shattering. Wind blasted across the flowers, tossing the shards of Katie through the window. 

The mist dissipated, thin tendrils falling back to the grasses inside the mushrooms.
 

Sabrina stared in shock. Voices echoed in her head, whispers of warning from her mother, from a strange older man with slanted green eyes and gray-streaked hair. She shook herself free of the memories.
 

"Katie?" She crossed the meadow, breaking into a loping run.
 

She stopped at the edge of the mushrooms. She remembered her mother crushing the mushrooms under her foot. Strange words echoed in her mind, a language she'd never spoken. She watched a last streamer of lavender mist fade into the fairy circle.
 

She sank to her knees. She had to get help, but what would she say? My cousin vanished inside a fairy ring. What would Aunt Dianna say? She couldn't go home, not without Katie. She gathered Katie's sneakers in her arms, rocking back and forth.
 

She had to get Katie back.

Dark Dancer is now available in ebook and print!
Smashwords (all ebook formats)
Kindle 

A strange prophecy haunts the Seligh lords, rulers of the Fey and controllers of all magic in the Summerlands, a prophecy that foretells their fall.


A banished Seligh lord rules the Winterlands with an iron fist while his pets, the balmorae, patrol the borders against all intruders, guarding the secrets hidden beneath his icy lair.



A young woman rediscovers her heritage, a gift of magic and dancing that opens portals between worlds. She holds the fate of their world in her hands. All who live within the lands of the Fey must choose where they standbeside the Dancer or opposed to her.
 

Jaleta Clegg loves to tell stories ranging from deep space to magical worlds and everywhere in between. You can find a complete listing of her work at www.jaletac.com







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Monday, August 25, 2014

Good Advice

Now here's some writing advice I can get behind!




It's only 4.5 minutes and well worth your time. (And, hey, that's my book on his desk! Heehee)

Do you have any great advice for writers?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bad Advice

I mentioned before that I am sort of between writing processes right now. I feel that I have lost touch with my writer's intuition, and the organic process of creating that used to guide me. This problem started, I believe, about six years ago when I started attending writing conferences again after many years away.

Now, I love writing conferences and other conventions. I love seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I love visiting, commiserating, and networking. I love attending classes and workshops. But, I think that along they way, I been given some bad advice at these conferences. (Bad for ME, mind you. This advice might be great for other writers.) Outlines, structure, character arcs, etc., etc. are all great things. They are also hampering my creativity. Big time. I feel almost paralyzed when I sit down to write for fear that I'm going about it all wrong.


Something's got to change, and fast.

So, I'm very sorry, but I am ditching story structure. I am ignoring character arc. I'm not outlining. I'm going to sit down and tell stories the way they unfold in my head. The way that feels natural and right to me. Yeah, maybe I am doing it wrong. I don't care anymore. I just want to feel creative again.

We'll see how it goes.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A New Writing Chair

My old beanbag writing chair was nice, but it wasn't comfortable for long periods of writing. (Watching TV, maybe, but not writing.) So I got myself this lovely little recliner. It's so comfy and nice! I just love it. I like the brown, but I felt it needed a little splash of color too. I also picked up this picture.


It inspires me. My office (though I really don't like to call it that) is quickly becoming my favorite room in the house!

What does your writing space look like?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Apocalypse Panel: Defining the Apocalypse

It's time for the Apocalypse Panel again! This month's question:

What defines an apocalyptic story?

The easy answer for me is

The End of the World as We Know It



I think it's the "as we know it" part that is most important. Apocalyptic stories start from a point of the world that we know, that we are familiar with. I think it would be pretty hard to appreciate an apocalypse in a world utterly unfamiliar to us, since we'd have no "before" to compare to.

Also, the apocalyptic event affects the whole of society. After all, we all go through experiences that change our personal world as we know it. Marriage, children, school, jobs, divorce, death, etc. But those don't make an apocalyptic story. Still, as I think about it, maybe it is our own personal apocalypses that make world-changing apocalyptic stories so appealing to us.

Be sure to check out the responses from the other panelists!

Monday, June 30, 2014

#MyWritingProcess

I was tagged in this fun blog hop by two talented authors, Danyelle Leafty, who writes delightful fairy tales that you must read. Find and follow her on Twitter @DanyelleLeafty. She's awesome! And S.A. Butler, author of the Sonia Fletcher books. Vampire hunter novels with a twist. She tweets @S_A_Butler. Look her up. She's awesome too.

Thank you so much ladies!

Here is a bit about my writing process.

1. What am I working on?

Right now, I am revising my third Defenders of the Covenant novel, Shrouded Skies, looking forward to a September 2, release date! I have a Pony Express fantasy short story, Zeke vs. the Dust Devil that needs to go to beta readers. I have also started on the first draft of a new novel, The Glory of the Stars. Another LDS science fiction novel, though very different from Defenders of the Covenant.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Hahahahahahaha! Most science fiction is not about Mormons. Most LDS fiction is not sci-fi. 'Nuff said.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Why does anyone write what they do? These are the stories that live in my heart and soul. The stories that insist I tell them to the world. I want to add goodness to the world.

4. How does my writing process work?

Umm... I'm kind of in
between processes right now. What has worked for me up until now is just no longer working. I'll keep you posted as to when I find something that does.

Anyway, thanks so much for tagging me Danyelle and Sara!

Feel free to share in the comments how your own writing process works. Maybe something will strike a chord with me. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Guest Post: Characters of Faith in Fiction by Terry W. Ervin II


Today we welcome back my good friend Terry W. Ervin II back to the writing chair in celebration of his newest release Soul Forge! (I am so excited to read this book!) Soul Forge is the third book in his First Civilization's Legacy series.

Terry is here to discuss a subject quite near to my heart. Writing characters of faith.
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Characters of Faith in Fiction

While several of my short stories could be identified as ‘inspirational’ with faith-based overtones, the majority of my writing, especially my novels, are fantasy and science fiction aimed at a more mainstream audience.

That doesn’t mean aspects of religious faith are absent from my novels. A great variety of characters populate my stories and some of them have faith, in varying measures. I find this to be appropriate, being just one possible aspect of a character’s make up.

That being said, there are conventions and potential pitfalls to consider when including aspects of faith in a work of fiction.

The most obvious convention when writing fiction is that an author shouldn’t ‘preach’ to the readers. This can be said of concerns other than religion. Consider political topics such as gun control, socialism, capitalism, drug laws, and more. All of these areas are ripe for espousing one point of view to the detriment of the story being told, including plot and character development. Heavy-handedly ‘telling’ readers how they should think or behave, even if they tend to agree, is certain to turn them off.

Another convention with respect to including faith in a work of fiction is that it should be organic, in that it’s a natural part of the character and story, and not simply inserted. Yes, there are stock characters, such as a strict, ruler-wielding nun in the classroom, or a humble, caring priest working as a hospital chaplain, and they have a place inserted in a story, but they should be used to play their part, after which the story moves on.

As indicated, faith being a part of a character’s make up is both reasonable and realistic. Prayer, moral beliefs, conversation, and actions within that context are all fine. How much depends not only on the character, but also on the plot and theme, and how integral the character(s) of faith are to the storyline. Most readers are comfortable with that. Most agnostics and atheists have friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and even family that believe in God, so having such characters in a work of fiction makes sense. The more important or central a character’s religious faith becomes to the storyline, the more the audience would shift away from ‘mainstream.’

It was probably noted that I said in the paragraph above: Most readers are fine with that.

Most does not equate to all, which leads to a potential pitfall.

If faith plays a significant part in the motivations and resulting actions of one or more major characters in a novel, there will be readers that are turned off. Those readers may be near the extreme end when it comes to intolerance toward religion, or even a particular religion. It should be pointed out that similar reactions occur among some readers with strong faith being turned off by characters that are expressively ambivalent toward God, or vocal in their atheism.

Potentially losing or dissatisfying some readers simply by including characters with faith as a part of their make-up doesn’t sound like much of a pitfall. Usually that’s true.

My experience in this arena is mainly through my novels Flank Hawk and Relic Tech. The main area where faith plays a role in Flank Hawk centers is the Crusader, Paul Jedidiah Roos. While a character important to the plot, Roos isn’t the POV character, and first appears in the 2nd half of the novel.

Even so, I’ve received emails from readers, indicating they returned the novel because of Roos. One reader thought it was wrong for Christianity to exist in my fantasy novel, and was tempted to throw his Kindle across the room because he was really enjoying the novel up until that point, when ‘Crusaders’ first appeared.

The First Civilization’s Legacy Series is a post-apocalyptic fantasy series. Why wouldn’t there be an outpost of Christianity? While those were my thoughts, it’s my ‘policy’ to not debate or attempt to alter the views of readers expressing an opinion, unless they specifically ask about some particular point. I prefer to thank them for giving my story a try and express my disappointment that they didn’t find the read satisfying.

With Relic Tech, the main character, Security Specialist Krakista Keesay is one with a measure of religious faith. It’s not overly strong and isn’t prevalent in the storyline. For example, he says prayers, based on Scripture memorized as a youth, for dead or dying characters. Also, there is a priest that plays a very minor role while the POV character is serving as a security specialist aboard the Civil Transport Kalavar.

Still, some of the most critical reviews, and emails sent to me, have focused on the religious aspects to the novel. The main character was called a TSA Thug and Religious Fanatic. I’ve had readers email me that they quit reading when a Bible was mentioned, saying they don’t like religion in their science fiction. The TSA/Religious Fanatic review was challenged by other readers, and eventually the reviewer agreed that he was off target. A week or two later, the review disappeared. Still, while the review was up, it appeared to negatively affect sales.

There are some pitfalls to having characters of religious faith in a story. But those pitfalls are okay with me. A writer cannot please everybody, and it’s part of the business of being an author—accepting, or at least acknowledging reader opinions and reviews that express disappointment, sometimes based on the content of a character’s make up. Because, on the other hand, there are readers out there that really enjoy reading about Roos and Keesay, and are glad I wrote them as I did, believing they add to the storylines and worlds created.

I guess I’ll see what happens with Soul Forge where, just as in Blood Sword, echoes of Roos’ faith can be found in some of the characters, especially Lilly.

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Thank you so much, Terry! I personally love your characters who display their faith. :)

Be sure to take a look at Terry's books. You can buy Soul Forge here:



Terry W. Ervin II is an English teacher who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction.

His First Civilization’s Legacy Series includes FLANK HAWK, BLOOD SWORD and SOUL FORGE, his newest release from Gryphonwood Press. Terry’s debut science fiction novel RELIC TECH is the first in the Crax War Chronicles and his short stories have appeared in over a dozen anthologies and magazines. The genres range from SF and mystery to horror and inspirational. GENRE SHOTGUN is a collection containing all of his previously published short stories.

To contact Terry or learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at www.ervin-author.com or his blog, Up Around the Corner at
http://uparoundthecorner.blogspot.com