Friday, June 21, 2013

When you're smiling....

I love to laugh. I actually love to laugh a lot and if someone can make me laugh they are my instant bestie. When there is a character that makes me laugh, I'm instantly in love. Lately, I've been in a dark place when it comes to writing. All angsty, kill a few characters, deep thoughts kind of writing. Now, I have a macabre sense of humor and can also find funny things in what some find extremely morbid but I haven't even tapped into that lately.

So it was with great surprise that while planning out a story, one little line from a character popped into my head. This was going to be a disposable character that I hadn't taken the time to develop. I was going to use him as a place setter to help flesh out something between the hero and heroine. He was lacking completely in physical description, but then he whispered that line as I was jotting down notes, and he became the sexiest thing I'd ever seen. It was a magical transformation and because of his wit I decided he needed to have a story all his own.

I'm sure some will see this as just transference of my subconscious utilizing a character of my imagination to express latent humor I needed to ground myself that got really clinical. Anyhoo, the point is, it may seem odd that a character I made up could make me desire him more, but tis true and I'm very grateful for him. I'm sure when I finish writing this cheeky bugger you'll be grateful too.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Seven Questions with Wynelda Ann Deaver!

It's the fourteenth, so it must be time for Seven Questions with Selah Janel! This month, we're talking to author Wynelda Ann Deaver!

SJ: As a writer, what is your absolute favorite part? What's the part that makes you want to hide under a bed and scream? 

WAD: My absolute favorite part is when my eyes go out of focus, the computer, tv, everything disappears and I’m in the story. It’s like living your own movie, and nothing else is quite like it, except perhaps the way children play and are in the action.  Hide under a bed and scream? That would definitely be revision and marketing. Revision because I just want to scream when I do it, marketing only because I don’t know how (that homework is superhard, mom!)

SJ: Is there a character you've written that definitely comes from you and is a part of you? Who? 

WAD: There are two. The first character I wrote, Alex, was who I was and who I wished I was at the time (20 odd years ago). Completely bad-ass, rides dragons, sword fights with the boys, loyal to the end and interested in justice. She was also the heroine I was working with when my mom died, so a lot of the grief, and the hitting and screaming… that came right from me. Other than her, the character I’m currently writing is based loosely on some of my experiences (she had some of the same, but I threw in a few Greek Gods, a magic garden, and well… you get the idea.) So her past is similar to mine, but what’s happening to her now? Not so much LOL.

SJ: Have you ever written any plot point or scene that makes you blush for any reason at all? 

WAD:Any and all love scenes make me blush to write. Always have, probably always will. Since my primary genre is fantasy, I can get away with a lot of fade to black.

SJ: If you had to have a cage fight with a character you've written, who would you choose? If you got to kiss them better at the end, would your choice change? 

WAD: Someone I wanted to hurt, or who I wanted to hurt badly? That would be the Blue Mage (aka Asshat) from Dragon’s Champion. I can’t stand people who feed on the pain of others. Kissing of the boo-boos? Definitely Ares, the hero of my current work in progress.

SJ: What is your biggest pet peeve with yourself as a writer?

WAD: I don’t write enough. I feel as if I should be writing reams and reams every day. Instead, I wake up, get my son ready for the bus, go to work, come home, spend time with the boy, and then possibly write. I’m getting better at it, making sure that I get words down in the story every day. It’s slow, but you know what? I’m not a single college student living with my parents anymore either.

SJ:  What's the author that you hope to live up to someday? Who's your inspiration? 

WAD: There are too many to count! Frances Hodgson Burnett is one of the reasons I wanted to start writing, along with Madeline L’Engle. Their stories transported me. Now, of the writers I currently read, hmm… I love Lynn Flewelling, Mercedes Lackey, Carol Berg… All of who write wildly different tales, set in  fantasy worlds.   

SJ:  Why MMP? What's your favorite part about working with them?

WAD: Let me tell you a story. I wrote a novella in college, and I was offered a contract on it about 5 years later. Well, technically I never even received the contract. The editing “help” I was getting was vague at best, and downright lazy in parts. I grew so frustrated I pulled the novella (which I knew needed work, but I needed help with it). A friend and fellow writer recommended I submit Dragon’s Champion to MMP, and I am so glad I did. Not only has everyone been professional (from getting the contracts, to cover art, to editing)… they’ve also been incredibly kind (helping out, answering a newbie’s endless questions).

Bright, funny Constance sets off to rescue herself when she first sets foot on the Dragon’s Path. Along the way, she’ll encounter a merry band of brigands, a shop full of dresses (and temptation) and a Golden Dragon. Constance will find out that by taking that first step… she just might find her destiny.

Tune in next time, where I respond to Wynelda's writing prompt challenge!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I'm normal like most people so I need to take breaks from my writing routine to take care of myself.

I garden. I don't have much space to do it, since I live in an apartment, but we're on the ground floor, which gives me an advantage in that I get to use the soil right outside our windows. I plant in pots so I may bring the plants in during the fall and winter so they survive all year round. Currently, I'm growing bay, sage, basil, pineapple sage, an avocado tree, peppers, Chinese melons, oregano, rosemary, thyme, chamomile, and cilantro. So far, everything is alive. I haven't killed anything yet.

I also live near the ocean, so when the weather permits I walk on the beach. Beach walking clears my head. I run plot scenes through my mind until they work. As I walk through the water, I can feel tension leave my body and my blood pressure drops because I'm so relaxed.

I enjoy reading, especially if I don't have to write a review. I like horror and adventure mostly, and I fill my days with books by Edward Lee, Clive Cussler, Shirley Jackson, Richard Matheson, James Rollins, and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Right now I'm reading fantasy - Roger Zelazny's "Amber" chronicles. I'm currently on the first book, "Nine Princes In Amber".

When I'm not doing any of the above, I watch movies, especially horror movies. It's hard to find a good horror movie these days. Most are boring CGI gore fests with cheap shots tossed in to make you jump in your seat, but they aren't all that scary. The last movie I watched was "The Brotherhood Of The Wolf". I like foreign horror movies best of all.

Those are the four main things I do to relax. What about you? What do you like to do in your spare time to replenish your batteries?


E. A. Black

Monday, June 10, 2013

10x10: Swans

Swans, the poem below, is one of my three favorites of my own. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and still do.


Her hands were like swans,
crisp, hard angles
perfectly folded
Awaiting the chance
to take flight,
or perhaps a wrinkle
of character…
a definition beyond


You can find me at where I blog books, writing and parenting. As an added bonus, I have the other 2 of my poetry trifecta up as pages: Peach Perfection and Beloved Melon Head (neither of which would fit for a 10x10). I hope you find, and enjoy them.

You can catch my debut story, Dragon's Champion ,at Mocha Memoirs Press.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chasing the Apocalypse?

In times like these, you sometimes feel reality is breaking down in the real world.  As tornadoes rage across the heartland states, fires rage across the west coast and flood waters rise all over the world,  daily disasters once reserved for science fiction visions of Armageddon seem to be fast becoming part of our daily reality.  All of this was of course predicted decades ago by climatologists who warned that the carbon dioxide pollution we were creating by burning fossil fuels would create an intensifying atmospheric greenhouse effect, causing the Earth's temperature to steadily rise, feeding storm, flood, drought and fire.

And, as we find ourselves shifting into this new reality, how do people adapt?  Some may take comfort in their established beliefs; they interpret the seemingly biblical events occurring all around us as God's judgment on our sinful lives.  Just pray harder; All good children go to heaven.

Others don't seek comfort, though.  They seek...what?  Adventure?  Risk? Danger?  They pursue the ultimate danger; immense monsters out of the sky that appear like cosmic perversions of reality, tearing apart our fragile lives like harbingers of the apocalypse.  I refer, of course, to the storm chasers.  We've all followed them on the news of late, and mourned the tragic death of one of them.  Somehow, we know that one tragedy, and others that may follow, won't keep those strange adventurers from chasing those demonic funnels wherever they appear.

Storms once seen maybe once in a century are fast becoming weekly occurrences.  I have to wonder how our culture might evolve (or, devolve) across the next few centuries as rising seas swallow our coastal cities and intensifying storms decimate our inland towns.  Will our comforting faith in a benign deity give way to resurgent pagan nature worship?  Will the storm chaser become our cultural avatar?  In ancient times, virgins were thrown into volcanoes or disemboweled on altars in sacrificial offering to Mother Earth and Father Sun.  Will the young of the future chase storms as they now attend church?  Will the lost virtue of humility return to our way of life as we again feel small and powerless in the face of nature?

The storm chaser.  Hero and humble worshiper fused into one.  Challenging the power of the storm and revering it at the same time.  Is it danger that gives meaning to our hum drum lives?  Or, is it some primal need to acknowledge something greater than ourselves?  We may have created our own demons with our own pollution.  The same technological sciences that created the apocalypse might someday give us the means to avert it.  But, in the mean time... maybe our next revelation will be found in the twisting funnel of a storm.

Tom Olbert

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What Dreams May Come...?

Getting a late start can get in the way of creativity sometimes, can't it?

But that isn't what I want to talk about today. What I would like to discuss this month is a possible source of inspiration everyone should include in their bag of tricks.


How can dreams provide inspiration? In multiple ways. For example, one night, several years ago, I had a dream about a girl playing an instrument that consisted of streams of water that were strummed like the streams of a harp. I wrote the idea down in one of my notebooks and forgot about it.

Recently, as I was writing a story about a futuristic world with a young girl who was bored to tears with being a pampered, privileged socialite, it seemed the perfect time for this:

Bellina Corvacae stared out over the pseudo-Grecian columns and terraced roof gardens of Orion 6. Her fingers played restlessly with the streams of her water harp as she contemplated another dull afternoon as the pampered only daughter of wealthy First Citizens. 

At last there was a place for that bit of dream that had first appeared years ago. And having written it down made sure it was there when I needed it.

In another case, a very vivid dream provided the main character in a novel that I am still revising...someday I will get it right. ;) This character appeared full blown to me one night:

Flannery Quinn was born to middle-class parents in the center of Dublin, Ireland, Earth in the year 2580. His mother was of Spanish descent and met Reuben Quinn while she was on a choral tour. Maria Morales was a mezzo-soprano beginning to achieve world-wide prominence. Reuben was a dock worker who attended one of her concerts and fell in love. Maria left the tour and moved in with Quinn. Flannery was born a year later.  
The family was very close. From Maria, the boy inherited his olive skin and dark brown eyes; from Reuben his deep red hair. Flannery grew up an outgoing child, extremely loving, and a gifted musician—he had also inherited his mother's talent.  
On his twelfth birthday, Flannery witnessed the deaths of his parents at the hands of off-duty Lord Security Guards. He was left homeless and totally withdrawn. He spoke to no one and abandoned his music completely. Turning to theft as his only means of survival, he managed to survive on the streets for a year.  
When he was thirteen, he was hauled before the Discipline Tribunal on a charge of stealing a loaf of bread. The sentence was the removal of both hands at the wrist. His wounds were cauterized, and he was thrown back onto the streets. He managed to drag himself into the shelter of an alleyway before collapsing in a state of near-catatonia. It was here that Ace Kilcarney literally stumbled over him.  

With the aid of Jeremy Fentress, he got Flannery to US Headquarters, and Kilcarney persuaded the US Research and Development team that the boy would be a perfect test case for their new work in prostheticsHe now has artificial hands with multiple uses, including dagger-blades in the fingertips.           

In this case, I even had a follow up dream later giving me further information about the world. ;)

Sometimes, single images from a dream can eventually meld together into something cohesive by providing an ambiance to start from rather than a full plot, character or even item. In one of my favorite stories from Mocha Memoirs, Drink My Soul...Please, the story began with three iconic images that informed my world and the characters in it:

Stepping out of the three-room cinder block home that seemed palatial compared to others in the neighborhood, Elianora swept dark hair from her forehead with the back of a well-tanned arm.

On the edge of sight, she glimpsed a horse-drawn cart...but it was single harness, not her father’s double rig. A salesman’s signature toga fluttered in the light breeze beginning to stir as he waved to the girl by the cook fire.

He stepped to the doorway of the cinder block hut he was assigned to with the rest of his squad. With a sigh, Dani pushed aside the tinkling curtain of scrap metal serving as door, stooping to go inside. 

From those three images came the entire post-Apocalyptic world that these people live in. I used them to springboard into a technologically-challenged future where love has to struggle to survive in a war-torn society. Read this story to see how dream imagery can go from nebulous idea to fully-fledged work. :)

What dreams may come...can be of major inspiration in your work. Keep a notebook handy and jot down those ideas first thing in the morning. Sometimes those notes will sit unused for years, but eventually, they might be exactly what you need to push that story from acceptable to awesome.

Drink My Soul...Please is available on Amazon for only $0.99, if you would like to see how the dream images worked into the whole.

Have you found dreams to be useful in your writing? I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments. :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Five Ways to Change Your Life...Right Now
"C'mon turn, turn this thing around
Right now
It's your tomorrow
Right now."
 - Van Halen, Right Now

Everyone gets stuck in a rut.  You might be in a rut right now.  Though I may not know your specific situation, I know that moaning and groaning about it isn't going to help anything change.  Change comes from you. 

It's easy to change your life...and you can do it anytime, anywhere.

1.        Eat the dirt cake - in small bites. 
If I were a superhero, my nemesis would be a messy house.  With three little ones and a dog, who are all totally cool, the house is never, ever clean.  There's spills, there's dog hair, there's ...something on the kitchen floor.

By the time I bundle them off to school, all I want to do is have a cup of coffee and write.  But I can't do that or else I'd be sledding out of the kitchen on dishes.  So, I promise myself five minutes in the kitchen.

 Not as fun as seven minutes in the closet, but it's amazing what I can accomplish in that small window of time.  Sometimes (only sometimes) I set the timer for another five minutes to see if I can top what I did in the first five minutes.  By doing this, I'm not overwhelmed by a dirty kitchen  and it's a bit of a challenge. 

2.        Appreciate the small things in life.
Too many times we look for large "things" to make us happy.  How about appreciating that great cup of coffee, a fragrant breeze or just the time to sit and hear your own thoughts.  Don't be too busy to take the time to smell the roses, or dark roast.  I'm fortunate enough to have birds hang out around my deck, and many times I'll spot a lovely bluejay or a robin.  One time I saw a beautiful red headed woodpecker!

3.        Stop reliving the past.

See what Van Halen says? (Because I always turn to them for advice.)   It's YOUR tomorrow.  Grab it, make use of it.  Turn your face toward the future, stop mulling over  "what could have been".  All of us have something to let go of.  Let it go.

4.        Raise your Awareness
After you finish reading this blog post (smile) sit back and close your eyes .  What do you hear?  How do your clothes feel against your body?  How does it feel to breathe deep, really deep?  What do you smell? 

Take sixty seconds to be fully aware.  Feel, hear, smell, look outside (if you can).  Really sense what is going on in the world around you.  You might be surprised at what you experience.

5.        See yourself in others.
We are all human and have faults.  We're not perfect.  So when we see something we don't like or agree with, we do tend to point fingers and judge.  Having been a teacher for years and seeing parents come and go, I know how easy it is to do.  But before you point those fingers, can you see yourself in this person?  If so, step away, keep the bitter, blaming words back.  Give someone a break.  They may have the occasion to do the same for you in the future.

Choose change!