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Posts Tagged ‘Adventure’

Murder on Marawa Prime (reviewed in the December 2016 issue of Analog magazine) is my only published murder mystery/ action adventure tale. Yet, I enjoy reading murder mysteries and crime fiction. In my “in progress” fiction files, there are several other crime stories which, I hope, will be completed, polished, and submitted to magazines or anthologies in the not too distant future.

Murder_Cover_CS_front Like all writers, I try not to use clichés, so it was with interest I read an article on clichés in crime fiction (which will include murder mysteries).

Here’s the link – I hope you enjoy Crime Fiction – 10 Cliches to Avoid from Freelance Writing.

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Skean copy As I promote my Young Adult fantasy/adventure novel, The Enchanted Skean, I’ve given talks for several writers’ groups. The latest program was sponsored by the Annapolis Chapter, Maryland Writers Association on the Young Adult/ Cross-Over Market — and it also included The Enchanted Skean‘s strange journey from a scribbled first chapter to a published novel.

As you’ll see and hear, my presentation is animated and enthusiastic. A couple of the points I made: Be ready when opportunity knocks (I wasn’t). Be persistent (I am). Writers don’t always agree with their editor’s comments, but an editor is editing for the reader and (sigh) they’re usually correct in their suggestions. And, yes, it’s hard to admit my editors are usually right about their suggestions – I really don’t like to revise work, but I know it’s part of the publishing process.

I had fun doing the program, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. (Please ignore my rather disheveled appearance. I drove over 2 hours in rush hour traffic on a hot day to do the presentation). So here are the 2 links. Thanks to Annapolis Chapter MWA for inviting me, and thank you David Joyner for recording the talk and sharing. Enjoy!
Part 1:  https://vimeo.com/73053339
Part 2:  https://vimeo.com/73054182

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Usually, I have a guest author on Mondays, and decided to do so this week through the magic of links and videos. As you can imagine, as both a fan and writer of fantasy adventure tales, one of my favorite authors is Terry Brooks. I own many of his Shannara books, and have read most of the others.

The World of Shannara One of the favorite books on my bookshelf is The World of Shannara by Terry Brooks and Teresa Patterson. (I own the 2001 version with a white cover, the newer blue cover version is the updated edition). It presents not only an informative guide to places, people, and events having to do with Shannara, but includes lots of wonderful illustrations. And as an illustrator, I admire the many beautiful pieces of artwork between the covers of this volume inspired by the fantasy world of Terry Brooks.

Terry Brooks has a great website maintained by webmaster and author in his own right, Shawn Speakman, and it is to a video of Terry Brooks on that site that I link. I hope you enjoy this amazing author speaking about “Why I Write About Elves.” Enjoy! www.terrybrooks.net/2013/06/tedtalks-why-i-write-about-elves/

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MikeAuthorPhoto9 Thanks to author J. Michael Squatrito, Jr. (my first male guest author), for stopping by and sharing what it takes to make a male fantasy hero. And you’ll notice at the end of the post, he’s looking for guest bloggers for his site.

The Making of the Male Fantasy Hero by J. Michael Squatrito, Jr.

Before I get started, I want to take the opportunity to thank Vonnie for letting me guest blog on her site as well as to be the first male adding content here! With that thought in mind, and no pressure of course, I figured it would be a good segue into the mind of the male author and in particular, the male fantasy hero. My Overlords books are firmly planted in the fantasy genre and the lead character, Harrison Cross, is a young, righteous warrior. He is the prototypical fantasy protagonist – blonde hair, blue eyes, six feet tall, muscular and fit, an accomplished warrior, etc. and he gets the girl in the end (and a beautiful one at that!). So, why should you care?

Harrison might appear to be your regular run of the mill fantasy hero on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. I personally hate seeing movies or reading books where things always fall neatly into place for the lead characters. Or anything that Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger star in! Though my books are fantasy fiction, I want to give them a dose of reality. Harrison might be talented, but he’s young and inexperienced. He makes mistakes. He gets his fellow adventurers into precarious situations due to his inability to realize when you need to fight or when you should walk away. He’s selfless and puts others ahead of himself. He’s fiercely loyal to his team members and to his love, Tara. And no one hurts his canine companion, Lance. Even though Lance is a dog, he never leaves him to suffer, even at the expense of his group.

Harrison is not the biggest of warriors, and many times he is beaten, hurt, over-matched, and imprisoned. Through all of his trials and tribulations, he never wavers from his goal to reunite humanity. These qualities, I feel, draw the reader to root for Harrison, to want him to succeed, to believe in him and his cause. And isn’t that what we all want in our heroes?

Overlords_book_1_final2 When creating Harrison, I had to make sure of many things, such as not making him a super hero, not letting him be too sensitive or too aggressive, not allowing him to win the heart of a beautiful maiden too easily – everything that would not happen in ‘real life.’ You see, male heroes have a lot to live up to. They need to think a certain way and they can’t be allowed to go overboard, but most importantly, they need to be admired by male and female readers alike. For the boys, the male hero must be strong and decisive, someone to rally around, and for the girls, someone they can trust and believe in and, if I’m lucky, someone they can fall in love with. I feel that I’ve accomplished all of that in creating Harrison, and I hope you read his story and agree with me.

You can learn more about me and my project at www.the-overlords.com and you can contact me directly at mike@the-overlords.com . As you can see, I’m looking for other authors to guest blog on my site (Vonnie’s going to post in May!) and if you’re interested, please contact me.

You can purchase my books and eBooks on my website or if you have Amazon and Barnes & Noble accounts, at the following: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=squatrito%20overlords or Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/squatrito-overlords?store=book&keyword=squatrito+overlords

And for authors-to-be or self-published authors looking to help spread the word about your books, I have a self-publishing consultancy called Self Publishing Insight that might be right for you. I have experts that provide services for editing, artwork, social media, self-promotion, eBooks, and much more. Let us help you!”

Thanks again to J. Michael Squatrito, Jr. for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a fantastic day! – Vonnie

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Older, but no wiser than the last time I blogged, I wish each of you a Happy Star Wars Day!

As for me, I fell in love with George Lucas’s saga from the opening frame of Episode IV, and have over the years read most of the Star Wars books and watched (multiple times) all 6 of the movies. And unlike many diehard fans, I have no problem with Star Wars Episodes I thru III. I enjoy them for what they are, and don’t compare them to Episodes IV thru VI.

Nevertheless, Episode IV will always be my favorite Star Wars movie. As I sat in the darkened theater those many years ago, spellbound by the action unfolding on the screen, I was reminded of my love of adventure tales with heroes, villains, damsels in distress, sidekicks, and exotic locales. Whether Treasure Island or Tarzan or Buck Rogers or Lord of the Rings, I’ve always been a fan of adventure tales. And that’s what Star Wars is – an adventure tale.

Wait, you say. It’s a science fiction world built by George Lucas and the various writers who’ve contributed to the Star Wars universe. True. But location, spiffy space vehicles, and lightsabers aside –  it is the sense of daring, of plunging forward against incredible odds, of using wits and magic and luck to battle the dark forces of the world, and the friendship between unlikely allies that lure us into the story. And oh what a story!

For writers like me, there’s much to be learned from Star Wars: world-building, appealing characters, redeemable villians, fallen heroes, complex non-human species, gadgets and gizmos, and creating a compelling adventure tale that is fun to read. Remember, dear readers and fellow writers, good storytelling is good storytelling whether it’s classified popular fiction/cinema or literary fiction/cinema.

For those who’d like to revisit a bit of the Star Wars world, the place to be is: www.starwars.com For those even geekier (I say that with no judgment. How would I know of the link had I not visited it?) — there’s Wookieepeida: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

So on May 4th, all puns aside – May the Force be with each of you!

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The chilliness of late autumn has settled over Wood’s Edge. Juncoes & squirrels haunt the birdfeeders. And just a few days ago, I spent another wonderful Thanksgiving with family. This time of year causes me to think about the things I’m most grateful for. The blessings in my life are many, and family and dear friends are near the top of that list. What, you may ask, does that have to do with my writing? More than you may realize!

One of the reoccurring themes in my fiction is family. Sometimes, it’s a traditional family like the parents, children, and mother-in-law in my mermaid story, “Pacific,” due to appear in Shelter of Daylight from Sam’s Dot Publishing and my forthcoming book from Cold Moon Press: The Greener Forest. Sometimes, it’s a family of both blood relations and friends like the Chaloupek Brothers’ Amazing Oddities performers in “Sideshow by the Sea.”  And sometimes, it’s a patchwork family the protagonist builds through the course of a story.

Whether in fiction or real life, most people need security, a sense of belonging, and love. In “Blood of the Swan,” (another story set to appear in The Greener Forest) the main character, Jorund, is a member of a family and a village community. Yet while on his quest for a healer, Jorund finds he’s ready for a different kind of belonging and love. In my science-fiction adventure, “Assassins,” Flynn has abandoned the security of his mother and the family business. When he finally finds someone he wants to love and protect, he struggles to return home.

Home and all that word represents – that’s the key. Whether it’s Frank Baum’s Dorothy building a family of a scarecrow, tin man, lion, and wizard who still longs for Auntie Em and the farm, or Tolkien’s Frodo building a Fellowship who still longs for The Shire – the characters of a story can teach us about family, friendship, and that there’s no place like home.

And so, this November & December, I wish you a holiday season filled with family, whether traditional, non-traditional, or a combination of the two. May you feel secure and loved, and may you take a few minutes away from the football games and dinner table to read a good story or two.

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vcw-a-cvr[1] Thanks to author & editor, Dan Cuddy, for the following review of Assassins,  my science fiction adventure eShort.

“Vonnie Crist’s story “Assassins” is a tight-plotted story that blends science fiction and psychological realism. The characters, though of a different world, are no different emotionally than people on 21st century earth. The science fiction elements aren’t preposterous fantasizing but possibilities for the future. The story moves the reader quickly through its introduction of characters and of the strange world they inhabit to the tension of conflict. I can see this tale being adapted to an episode of a future science fiction TV show. In fact the intelligence of Ms Crist’s story is superior to most TV shows.”

The thing I like best about Dan’s comments is when he says the characters in Assassins are no different emotionally than the people of today — because that means today’s reader can identify emotionally with Flynn, Natsu, Jaffee, and the rest of the people in the tale. Writers strive to construct characters that their readers can recognize a part of themselves (or someone they know) in, someone who might eat at the same restaurant as they do or buy their toothpaste in the same store, someone who knows how to feel fear, love, and sadness.

Are each of the characters in Assassins based on one “real” person? No. But each character is assembled from bits and pieces of people I’ve met. Appearance & occupation, dialogue & speech rhythm, how a character interacts with his/her environment & other characters, and choices a character makes when confronted with a problem are all essential to creating a fictional protagonist, antagonist, and cast. By creating characters that Dan, and hopefully other readers, can feel an emotional kinship with — I’ve taken a small step towards good writing.

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