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Archive for the ‘Guest Authors’ Category

0061-eWomenNetwork Thanks to Gail Z. Martin for stopping by and sharing a little bit about getting pigeon-holed as far as writing genres.

Defying Categories by Gail Z. Martin

“Writers, like actors can get pigeon-holed.

If you’re very successful writing one type of fiction, publishers, agents and readers want you to continue to write that same type of fiction, sometimes indefinitely. While it’s great to have ongoing series, most creative people like to experiment, stretch their wings, try something new. Creating a new series that is in the same genre is often an easy sell, because since you’ve succeeded with that genre before, people expect continued success.

But what if you’ve got ideas for other types of stories, outside that genre? Then it can get dicey. Publishers and agents worry about risk. Readers of one genre might not read the other genre. Even your gender might be an asset in one genre and a liability in another. Some genres are considered to be more competitive than others, and certain genres have overall higher sales figures/readership than others. All of those things factor in to potential profitability of a new series, the impact on your track record/reputation, and future opportunities.

Ideally, you want to have the freedom to keep doing what made you successful, while being able to risk venturing into new territory. Some authors achieve this by writing in the other genres with separate publishers, or by working with a small press. Others use indie publishing to bring out series in genres where they haven’t previously made a name for themselves. Still others choose to use a pseudonym, either to separate their sales in one genre from those in another, or by or because they don’t want to confuse readers whose preferences might not cross over. Lingering stereotypes about author gender lead some writers to assume one persona for one genre (like romance) and a different personal for another genre (like suspense). I’m looking at you, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb.

I’ve been very lucky to have had supportive publishers who have enabled me to write epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk. I’m currently working on new books that fall into the horror, dark urban fantasy and space opera categories. I don’t know whether those will find a home with a publisher or whether we’ll bring them out indie, but they are tales I want to tell. I know up front that not every reader will follow me across the genres, but I believe there will be some degree of overlap, and welcome the chance to develop relationships with new readers.

Writing is about creativity as well as earning a living. If you keep writing the same kind of things without a chance to explore new ideas, you’re likely to get bored, resentful or stale, none of which will do good things for your fiction. So write what you want, and eventually those stories will find a home and an audience. They might not succeed equally, but you’ll learn something in the process, have some fun, try out new skills, explore new place, meet new people. That journey is just as important as the destination.

DaysofDead Banner V1 copy My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Get all the details about my Days of the Dead blog tour here: http://bit.ly/2eC2pxP

holdontothelight-fb-banner Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight–100+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! All of my guest blog posts have links to free excerpts—grab them all!

TrickOrTreat excerpt from Caves of the Dead in my Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures

Enjoy an excerpt from Coffin Box, one of my Deadly Curiosities Adventures short story

Hot stuff! Look at my video for Ice Forged and Reign of Ash

Hey! My Ascendant Kingdoms series is on Audible! Start with Ice Forged here

Treat yourself with an excerpt from Leona Wisoker’s Guardians Of The Desert

TrickOrTreat DoubleDragonSampler#1 

About the Author:

Gail Z. Martin is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Solaris Books); Shadow and Flame the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books); The Shadowed Path (Solaris Books) and Iron and Blood a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin. A brand new epic fantasy series debuts from Solaris Books in 2017.

She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities. Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden Adventures. The Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

Find her at http://www.GailZMartin.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com, on Goodreads and free excerpts on Wattpad .

Thanks again to Gail Z. Martin or her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, quotes, blogs from me, and more. Have an inspired day – and Hold onto the Light. – Vonnie 

 

 

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001]Thanks to author Peter Schranz for stopping by and sharing an interesting essay on science fiction writer, Mark Twain! Having visited Twain’s boyhood home this summer, I wonder what Samuel Clemens would think of it?

For those who haven’t ordered their copy of Hides the Dark Tower containing Peter’s story, “Tower of the Sea Witch,” here’s the link. Now, back to the essay. Enjoy!

An Anticipation of Twain’s by Peter Schranz

‘It’s not news that science fiction writers are good at making uncanny predictions about future technological advancements: Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon developed Apollo 11, Wells’ 1903 story The Land Ironclads triggered World War I, and Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein gave birth to the misunderstood English corpses responsible for the gothic rock music of the early 1980s. What a slice of pie it would be if I could justify the argument that I belong on the list because of ‘Tower of the Sea Witch,’ my contribution to Hides the Dark Tower, but unfortunately that story is set before technological advancement was even invented.

I would say that the list, long as it is, has snubbed Mark Twain, one of my country’s greatest science fiction writers. You might not think he’s a science fiction writer, but I intend in this paper to pry that false notion right out of your brain forever.

A French translation of part of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” appeared in the Revue Des Deux Mondes of July 15, 1872. Three years later, Twain discovered the article, took exception to its note that his story wasn’t that funny, and re-translated it back into English to reveal that the French translation was a disjointed shadow of the original, mainly via his feigned and smart-alecky ignorance that French and English syntax and grammar significantly differ.

While the idea of machine translation dates back many centuries, the first actual machine to translate wasn’t available until about fifty years ago. This means that Twain predicted the translation method made famous by machine translators (‘letter-not-spirit method’) by a good nine decades.

I’ve included below a small section of the story in all three versions, or, as Twain himself wrote, “in English, then in French, then clawed back into a civilized language once more by patient, unremunerated toil.”

‘Why, I’ve seen him set Dan’l Webster down here on this floor–Dan’l Webster was the name of the frog–and sing out, ‘Flies, Dan’l, flies!’ and quicker’n you could wink he’d spring straight up and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag’in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn’t no idea he’d been doin’ any more’n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightfor’ard as he was, for all he was so gifted.’

‘Tenez, je l’ai vu poser Daniel Webster la sur se plancher,–Daniel Webster etait le nom de la grenouille,–et lui chanter: Des mouches! Daniel, des mouches!–En un clin d’oeil, Daniel avait bondi et saisi une mouche ici sur le comptoir, puis saute de nouveau par terre, ou il restait vraiment a se gratter la tete avec sa patte de derriere, comme s’il n’avait pas eu la moindre idee de sa superiorite. Jamais vous n’avez grenouille vu de aussi modeste, aussi naturelle, douee comme elle l’etait!’

‘Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this plank–Daniel Webster was the name of the frog–and to him sing, “Some flies, Daniel, some flies”– in a flash of the eye Daniel had bounded and seized a fly here upon the counter, then jumped anew at the earth, where he rested truly to himself scratch the head with his behind foot, as if he no had not the least idea of his superiority. Never you not have seen frog as modest, as natural, sweet as she was.’

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last fifteen years of your precious life doing nothing but feeding a machine translator a perfectly blameless piece of English, instructing it to translate it into another language, and instructing it once more to translate its own translation back into what it swears on a stack of bibles is English. If you haven’t done so, perhaps you will after reading the following brief examples, created using a well-known machine translation service whose name I am too polite to reveal:

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

O Roméo, Roméo ! C’est pourquoi es-tu Roméo?

O Romeo, Romeo! This is why are you Romeo?

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Loin dans l’ombre peering, je me tins longtemps plein d’étonnement, de crainte,

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood full of astonishment, fear,

In fairness to the translation in the Revue Des Deux Mondes, its French (I’m so magnanimous as to presume) is without fault, a feat, considering Twain’s ample colloquialisms (which I guess is the joke), whereas the French in Shakespeare’s and Poe’s machine translations looks about as bad as the re-English.

But this eerily similar, slavish adherence to the “from” language’s syntax (cf. 1875’s “Never you not have seen frog as modest” and 2015’s “This is why are you Romeo?”) and the refusal to translate certain words (cf. “Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this plank” and “Loin dans l’ombre peering”) is what demands that I forward Mark Twain for consideration as a member of the technology-anticipators’ club. The mistakes he made in his translation and those that modern machine translators make are so similar that I can only assume Twain’s capacity for prediction was that of a science-fictionist’s.

Not even Douglas Adams’s Babel fish gives bad translations, but if you, reader, are beginning to suspect that my argument is spurious, you may retort that the Babel fish is not a machine, but a leech-like creature. Firstly, to this retort, I would suggest that yours is one of those irrelevant distinctions favored by students of sophistry, and secondly, I would cross my arms and pout in the corner.’

And here’s where you can find Peter’s books, Astonishing Tales of the Sea and It Spits You Out & 12 More Stories to Rub Your Chin To.

Thanks again to Peter Schrantz for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, quotes, blogs from me, and more. Have a fantastical day! – Vonnie

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0061-eWomenNetwork Thanks to author Gail Z. Martin for stopping by and sharing tips on how to make epic fantasy epic. And lots of links to free reads. Enjoy!

Making Epic Fantasy Epically Epic By Gail Z. Martin

By definition, ‘epic fantasy’ deals with sweeping storylines, plots that involve the rise and fall of kingdoms and dynasties, the fates of empires and massive battles. There are a lot of moving parts in a good epic fantasy, but if you do it right, it purrs along like a race car, taking you on a breathless journey.

That requires a lot of engineering under the hood—or between the covers, as the case may be. I’ve written two sprawling epic fantasy series (The Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle and The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga). They involve a large cast of characters, a big map, lots of battles, and complicated magic—which is a lot for an author to keep straight!

Shadow and Flame, the fourth (and final) book in the Ascendant Kingdoms series comes out in 2016, wrapping up that series. I found in this book that it’s as complex to wind down an epic series as it is to ramp it up. (I didn’t have quite that challenge with The Dread, the last book–for now–in the Chronicles series, because in my head, it’s not really the last book. There’s a seventeen year break in the action where the characters get to rest up and drink some beer, and then there’s more action coming their way in six more books I haven’t written yet. But since it’s not over for me, it’s not over. )

DEADLY CURIOSITIES-VENDETTA Which got me thinking about how epic fantasy works under the hood. No matter how big and sprawling your series will be, in your first book you’ve got to get people to care about your main characters or they won’t get to the truly epic part. It usually starts in one of two ways (or you can combine them if you’re tricky!) Either a person has a big problem, or a person has the chance to go on an adventure. Let’s look at both.

Sometimes it all begins with one person who has a big problem. If that problem could have been dealt with before it got out of hand, the world might have been able to stay as it was. But because the main character has to do something dangerous or brave or reckless because of the problem, the wheels begin turning and nothing will ever be the same again. Only of course, at this point, he/she doesn’t know everything’s about to change. Your protagonist only knows that he/she’s gone from having a big problem to having an even worse problem with no resolution in sight.

In hindsight, once everything blows up, you see that had the powers-that-be been a bit more fair, a tad less heavy-handed, a smidge less ruthless or greedy, they might have gotten to hang on to their status quo. But no, they had to piss off the wrong man (or woman) who then sets in motion the events that lead to the fall of the bad guy’s power base. That’s because whatever it was that cheesed off the hero, it wasn’t really an isolated problem. It was part of a larger, systemic rot that had been going on for a long time, getting more and more out of control, in a system unable or unwilling to reign in its abuses. And finally, they screw over the wrong person, who decides that he’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. Cue epic movie score.

Martin_WarOfShadows-TP[1] In other cases, the protagonist gets sent on a journey. It’ll be fun, they said. You’ll see new things and meet new people, they said. Instead, something goes wrong. The simple journey ends up drawing the protagonist into bigger issues that have their own ramifications. Things go from bad to worse, usually involving magic or soldiers. Companions are found along the way with the skills to get out of one jam, but those same companions often create the next dangerous situation. And all the while, the protagonist is being drawn into a funnel of events whose scope and ramifications just get bigger and bigger until the young person who was sent to market to sell a goat ends up fighting off the armies of evil or winning the throne.

A lot has been said about epic fantasy embodying Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, and that is at the heart of many stories, with plenty of twists and embellishments. But I think that’s because Campbell really described a process that happens in real life—at least, in a life where someone is seeking something better, maybe even enlightenment. We all in our heart of hearts want to go on an adventure that awakens greatness within us, connects us with people who are loyal friends, triumph over adversity and return home victorious, wealthier and wiser.

Two of the other pieces that need to come together include imagining the villains and the problems that confront the hero. Usually, the hero doesn’t start out intending to fight the Ultimate Bad Nasty of Evility. It starts with a corrupt guard, a thief, a garden-variety bully. But as the hero gets more enmeshed in the situation, the stakes rise. Larger and more dangerous villains appear. That means the author has to plan the story to escalate, envisioning how and why the small problems become big ones, how the small bad guys become big villains, how the forces against the hero and the forces on the hero’s side coalesce.

There’s a lot more that goes into making an epic fantasy epically epic, but these are a few of the big pieces. The next time you read epic fantasy, ask yourself ‘what’s going on under the hood and how did the author do that?’ You’ll have double the fun!

Print My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: www.AscendantKingdoms.com

And now, readers, the good stuff:

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors before 11/1!

Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world. Launches Dec. 29

More Treats! Read an excerpt from Bounty Hunter a Jonmarc Vahanian Adventure.

Epically epic treats! Here’s an excerpt from The Summoner.

Lots of Tricks! New Blaine McFadden (Ascendant Kingdoms) short story set in Velant Prison No Reprieve.

Trick Or Treat with an excerpt from The Raven’s War.

Treats not Tricks! Excerpt from Creiton’s Sword.

About the Author:

Gail Z. Martin is the author of the upcoming novel Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books) as well as the epic fantasy novel Shadow and Flame (March, 2016 Orbit Books) which is the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Shadowed Path, an anthology of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories set in the world of The Summoner, debuts from Solaris books in June, 2016.

Other books include The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) from Orbit Books and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books.

Gail writes four series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures, The King’s Convicts series, and together with Larry N. Martin, The Storm and Fury Adventures. Her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Realms of Imagination, Heroes, With Great Power, and (co-authored with Larry N. Martin) Space, Contact Light, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.

Thanks again to Gail Z. Martin for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have an epic day! – Vonnie

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weston201415 365 Thanks to author Neil Weston for stopping by and sharing the inspiration for his story, “The People of the Tower.” Enjoy!

From Poem to Story by Neil Weston

‘I’m one of these writers who wants to write stories with a flowery, poetic form as their backbone. Not an easy combination to pull off, as witnessed by a well of rejections! After getting my story, “The People of the Town,” accepted into Pole to Pole Publishing’s Hides the Dark Tower anthology, using a similar format, I was finally able to breathe that this style could work. It was only my second short story acceptance and, more importantly, was an experience in patience and belief.

The story originally started as a short-form poem and was inspired by my earlier poetic creations of servile/servant, warrior Japanese Kimono Droids (soft-faced, androids wrapped in colorful, steel, Kimonos and impervious to almost any munition) and a fascination with Japanese culture, history and mystery. A Kimono Droid inspired poem can be found in issue seven of Eye to the Telescope online.

My imagination is bleak, and I wanted these droids or variations of them to be the only things to survive an apocalyptic scenario. When I hit upon a near future destroyed by over industrialization, the shaping of the tale became evident. I have a penchant for irony and was keen to see the ending reveal painfully downbeat. My favorite poets are Bukowski, Plath, Shelley and of the modern crop of speculative poets, Alicia Cole. I think they all impacted on my vision and approach and to take a chance on some beautiful, brutal words, which then inspired the shape of the landscape in my head. Thanks as well to the Internet and multitude of websites for slowing me to fine tune dress and language and food.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] I like my poetry to be self-contained tales, and I think practicing Twitter fiction was a perfect form by which to learn to choose words carefully. With the editorial expertise of F.J. Bergmann, you can find one of my favorite creations in Mobius: the journal of social change, Vol 24, No 1 (under Neil Weston), which provides an insight into how and why “The People of the Town” evolved in the manner it did. Even though I’m always eager to finish one tale and tell the next, from poem to short story was about a calendar year of adding, subtracting words. This was truly a tale that refused to be rushed into being, much to my frustration! But I think the end result delivers my vision…’

To learn more about Neil Weston, visit his Facebook page.

If you’d like to read more of his work, you can check out a story in Forging Freedom Dimensions and a piece of flash fiction in Big Pulp.

Thanks again to Neil Weston for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more Guest Authors, Quotable Wednesdays, posts from me, and more. Have a fascinating day – Vonnie

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jgottwig Thanks to author Jeremy Gottwig for stopping by and sharing the journey from inspiration to published short story of the science fiction tale, “Who Abandon Themselves.” Enjoy!

Inspiration to Story by Jeremy Gottwig

‘Years ago, my wife (a religious historian) told me the story of the Abelard and Heloise. I’m not sure why it came up. Knowing her, it was probably just bouncing around in her mind.

Either you already know the story or you can use Wikipedia, so I’ll spare you my three penny synopsis. I will say that the story of Abelard and Heloise is sad, scandalous, sexy, and a little bit painful. It stuck with me, and years later it inspired my piece, “Who Abandon Themselves”, which is now available in the Hides the Dark Tower anthology.

Being the science fiction junkie that I am, I plucked these characters from Medieval Europe and dropped them onto different planets in a star system very unlike our own. In other words, I was not kind to these characters, but nor was their own time. “Who Abandon Themselves” focuses on a brief, fictional moment near the end of their relationship, but I envisioned a backstory that resembles historical reality. I recommend that you read my story before you dig into the facts. You shouldn’t encounter too many spoilers, but I suspect the story will be more enjoyable if you encounter these characters without context and fill in the details later.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] I would like to end on a personal note.

The title of my story, “Who Abandon Themselves”, is taken from a quote by Peter Abelard in one of his letters to Heloise: “The men who abandon themselves to the passions of this miserable life, are compared in Scripture to beasts.”

I love this quote, but I have to be honest: being married to a religious historian doesn’t make me a genius at deciphering religious texts. This quote feels like a moment of raw clarity in the middle of an otherwise unrestrained rambling. I encourage you to seek out the letter in its entirety if you want to see what I mean.

This reminds me of the process of writing and editing stories.

I rewrote the ending to “Who Abandon Themselves” half-a-dozen times. It had stagnated, and my cosmetic changes had little effect. My wife listened to me read and reread the thing after each little tweak. She provided honest (and brutal) feedback. My own moment of clarity came while reconsidering the relationship between my characters. Something clicked, and everything changed. I rewrote the entire ending from scratch. My wife liked it, and I submitted the story to Kelly and Vonnie.

employee01 And so I dedicate this story to my wife. She inadvertently gave me the idea, she loaned me her expertise as a historian when I had questions, and she listened to me read and reread the thing until we were both satisfied.”

To learn more about Jeremy Gottwig, visit his website or follow him on twitter and Pinterest.

And here’s where you can find his book, Employee of the Year.

Thanks again to Jeremy Gottwig for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have a fantastical day! – Vonnie

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mcguckin briana Thanks to Briana McGuckin for stopping by and sharing her journey as a reader, writer, and person with cerebral palsy. She has a story in the newly released speculative anthology from Pole to Pole Publishing, Hides the Dark Tower.

Broken, Brilliant by Briana McGuckin

‘My mother once told me: people with cerebral palsy are brilliant minds trapped in broken bodies.

This was not a don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover remark. She wasn’t teaching me about tolerance. This was part of a pep talk.

I was born about a month early, and I fit in one of my father’s hands. When I finally learned to walk, I did it on my toes—knees bent, leaning in upon each other to support my own weight.

Details are boring, but one way or another oxygen gets in where it shouldn’t and damages brain tissue. That’s CP. The severity of the resultant disability, and its complications, are so different across individuals because the damage can be slight or extensive, and affect different areas of the brain.

My hamstrings and heel cords are tight—as dictated by the garbled orders coming down from my brain. My hips were twisting, my knees bending, and my heels rising, all to accommodate the tension in my body. My legs were the worst of it, and still are.

I had a seat belt installed at my school desk when I was very young because I would concentrate so hard on what I was doing that I would fall right out of my seat. Later on in life, I was one of those “lucky” kids who got to walk the perimeter in gym instead of playing dodge-ball, or running the dreaded mile, but I promise you that I had already done my time in the form of physical therapy; for as long as I can remember, there were always kind strangers in the house bearing giant medicine balls, and little toys for fine motor-skill development. (Anyone else remember when Polly Pocket actually fit in your pocket?)

I had major surgery when I was ten, lengthening my heel cords and hamstrings, and getting metal plates put on my hips to set them straight. I missed some school, re-learned how to walk, and then went under once more to have the metal plates removed.

What does all of this have to do with writing? Well, it actually has more to do with reading.

My parents didn’t know how I was going to turn out, you know? A baby is a baby. If I couldn’t walk, they wouldn’t know it until it was time for me to start walking. If I couldn’t talk, they wouldn’t know until it was talking time.

But I was a talker. According to Mom (and moms exaggerate a bit, so bear that in mind) I was babbling full sentences well before my time, and to anyone who would listen.

Encouraged, my mom read to me often, and perhaps my entire destiny as a reader (and thus a writer) hinges upon one single habit of hers: while she was reading, she pointed at the words. She read me children’s books this way, and she even read out from the Danielle Steele books she was reading. It slowed her down, and she had to flip past all the dirty parts, but I bet in her estimation I didn’t have a lot of other ways to entertain myself. She saw a child who was doing a lot of work disguised as play—frustrating work, on giant medicine balls.

One day she forgot to point. She still loves to tell that story. “Mommy! Use your finger!” It was confirmation that she was doing something right for me.

I was reading before we got to reading in school, needless to say. My teacher was annoyed because my mother “might have taught [me] wrong,” and then—the next day, it seems to me—I had been placed in the “gifted readers” reading group. Suddenly I was winning spelling bees and writing little stories that received high praise from my teachers. And from there it just kept growing.

I say all this to contrast two internal pictures that I had of myself. On the one hand, I always understood that there were things I couldn’t really do, and places I didn’t fit in. I have been called ugly names, shoved into lockers, and gotten into little schoolyard scraps over being awkward and clunky.

And surgery is swell and all, but as the years go by old failings of my body creep back up on me. I can walk well enough, but my heels are inching off the ground again, and my knees are turning in. Strangers and acquaintances alike pull me aside to tell me the ways in which I can fix my body – and never because it’s a conversation I have started, but rather because it’s a problem they can see (and think that they can solve).

They mean no harm, but all the same it reminds me of my flaws. Something is wrong with me.

On the other hand, I have these words. I can take them in and spin them out, doing deft and delicate work mentally that is really beyond my physical capacity. In the wild expanse of my imagination, nothing can stop me: my reason is a muscle I can flex, train, and use. I may not be able to undertake whatever I choose, but I can understand. And I can give that understanding to others. Stephen King calls writing a form of telepathy.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] Nothing is wrong with me.

I guess I am a writer because I am not a runner. I choose to cherish myself for the things I can do rather than berate myself for the things I can’t. I choose it every day, and sometimes it’s hard.

It’s so easy to focus on our flaws, whatever they may be. But our flourishing is more important. We are all broken. We are all brilliant. Go with brilliance, I say.

Nothing is wrong with you.’

To learn more about Briana, check out her blog, Moon Missives.

Thanks again to Briana McGuckin for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guest posts, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have an inspired day! – Vonnie

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karinachainsaw2 Thanks to author, Karina Fabian, for stopping by and sharing her take on writing monsters, and for including Whimsical Words in her I Left My Brains in San Francisco Blog Tour.

Writing Monsters: Start With What You Know by Karina Fabian

‘One maxim I try not to work by is “Write what you know.” Trust me, if I did that, I’d be bored and so would you. I prefer to write what I can learn about, sometimes learning as I go. However, it’s a good idea to start with what you know.

You know that you want to write a story with an imaginary creature in it. What do you know already about the story? Do you have characters, or are you looking for a character to fit a plot? I could easily imagine that Generation Dead started with Daniel Waters saying, “I want to write a YA about how hard it is for minorities or people who are ‘different’ to make it in society. Hey! What could be more different than zombie teens?”

Even when you don’t know much about a particular monster, starting with what you do know can give you direction. For example, when I was asked to write a zombie story that eventually led to the Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator series, I didn’t know much about them aside from some vague memories of Night of the Living Dead and the notion that modern authors were using zombies either as sympathetic characters and sickening corpses. I knew I preferred the shambling undead version, but I didn’t want to do scary horror.

I Left My Brains in San Francisco cover You probably also know what’s hot and what’s been done. Waters probably realized that with Twilight being such a hit, doing his story with vampires would not be as popular (not to mention drive him batty with comparisons). However zombies were gaining new life in the fantasy scene. I knew that the apocalypse had been done in movies and books, so I wanted a different approach.

As a result, I made my zombies animated rotting meat with some curious residual attitudes and mental processes, and I made them rare enough that they were not a pestilence, but a pest. And who do you call to get rid of pests? Thus, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

When you want to create a monster for your story, it can help to spend some time mulling over what you know about the legendary monsters and how they are being treated in movies and literature today. This will give you some starting points and direction for your research and imagining.’

If you are interested in learning more about monster creation, Karina Fabian is teaching a webinar on the subject, Oct 19, 7pm MT. You can register at here.

Plus, Karina is offering four fun extras: a Trailer, Zombie Quiz #1, Zombie Quiz #2, and a Crappy Crude Song.

NeetaLyffe_ILeftMyBrainsinSanFrancisco_audio_MED Curious about I Left My Brains in San Francisc, the second Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator book, available in audio by author Karina Fabian, and narrated by Becky Parker, form publisher, Damnation Books?

Here’s the cover blurb:

Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator–but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she’s looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it’ll be a working vacation after all.

Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.”

And here’s an excerpt:

‘Survival Hardware hadn’t seen such a rush of customers since the last Armageddon prediction coincided with Black Friday.

Manager Clint Sanders rubbed his hands with glee. Oh, Marley, if only you hadn’t gotten drunk and decided to go zombie hunting. Was it only last Christmas?

He hurried to Customer Service, crafting an announcement in his mind. “You want to live! We want to live! That’s why you are going to file calmly to the back if you need a suit.”

Yeah. Sense of urgency, plus that “We’re in this together” crap.

He got to the counter and nodded at Bitsy, who had rung up a chainsaw and a half-crate of bleach.

God bless survivors. Clint continued to the back. Out of habit, he checked the exit door, even though it was always locked from the outside. He needed to delete Marley’s old code from it.

He cleared his throat. “Listen up! You want to live! We want to live!”

The exit door clicked.

That’s impossible!” he declared. The store fell silent.

Boss?” Bitsy’s voice ended in a squeak.

That’s not what I meant! Security team to customer service!”

He reached under the counter for a shotgun. Bitsy grabbed the chainsaw. They had filled them that morning—another example of the excellent service at Survival Hardware.

The door swung open, and the zombiefied remains of his late business partner, Marley, staggered through.

Clint to blasted him with the shotgun. The impact knocked the Marley out the door.

Clint used the gunsight to scan the parking lot. “He brought friends! Call Nine-One-One. I’m putting this place on shutdown.”

Screw that! I’ve been prepping all my life for this!” With a howl of challenge, Bitsy dashed out the door. She swung low and decapitated her former boss before moving on.

Thundering footsteps signaled the customers following in her wake.

He gaped at the carnage while Dirk called 9-1-1. It’d be too late by the time they got there. All that’d be left was to clean up the zombie parts and get the customers back in to pay.

God bless survivors.’

And here are some buy links:   Damnation Books and Amazon: paper and Kindle

More about the book can be found hereAnd if you’d like to know more about Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, go here. The second book, I Left My Brains in San Francisco, is supposed to be out in audiobook – but unfortunately, it has been briefly delayed. For more info.

But do not despair! Anxious for some zombie humor? So are we, but I Left My Brains in San Francisco still isn’t up on Audible. BUT you can get the first 3 chapters free and a chance to win the audiobook of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, the first in the series. Go here now. Hurry! This offer goes when Audible finally posts the book!

About the Author: Winner of the Global eBook Award for Best Horror (Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky tales that keep her–and her fans–amused. Zombie exterminators to snarky dragons, things get a little silly in her brain. When she’s not pretending to be an insane psychic or a politically correct corpsicle for a story, she writes product reviews for TopTenReviews.com and takes care of her husband, four kids and two dogs. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. You can find Karina Fabian on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

081315_BeckyParkerGeist-7530lowres-Version-2-240x300 About the narrator: Becky Parker Geist owns Pro Audio Voices, serving clients internationally with exceptional voiceover for audiobooks, advertising & animation. She loves creating audiobooks with sound effects! Married with 3 adult daughters, Becky lives in San Francisco and New York, working Off Broadway regularly. You can find Becky Parker Geist on her Website, Blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks again to Karina Fabian for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have a zombie-free day! – Vonnie

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