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Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

I often write in my bio to be used at the end of a story or the back of an anthology or book which contains my writing that I believe the world is still filled with mystery, magic, and miracles. And I do still believe. But I think the number of us who still listen to the voices of the cicada and crickets in September as they foretell the arrival of autumn is growing smaller.

When the first star appears in the dusky sky, less and less of us make a wish. When salt spills, fewer and fewer of us toss a few grains over our left shoulder into the devil’s eye. And I don’t know many other people who still make sure they put their right shoe on first in the morning so they’ll have a good day.

The magic which permeated our lives and world is slowly vanishing. Perhaps it’s because many people don’t believe any more. Perhaps it’s because the hum of air conditioners and thrum of automobile’s have made it too hard for us to hear the whispers of fairies in the garden.

I’ve heard the term, Granny Witch, used to describe women who dabbled in herb-craft, storytelling, and maybe a bit of dousing. The women who say a prayer or make a wish for good health as they knit a blanket for a baby. The girls who add not just sugar and flour, but blessings, to every cake they bake.

I suppose as a teller of stories, a grower of herbs, a star-wisher, cloverhand, and knitter & crocheter of special gifts, I qualify as a Granny Witch. and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

Here’s the link for a fabulous essay on Granny Witches at Appalachian Ink, the blog of writer Anna Wess.

 

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“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
– George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Still reading the Game of Thrones books and hoping to see a new book published in the not too distant future. George Martin is a wonderful stroyteller, whether you choose to delve into his world or not. Yes, there’s violence, language, and sex, but his world building is to be admired.

I like this quote, not just because it shows a wonderful relationship between parent and child, but because of its great truth. To pick up a snake when you’re not afraid of snakes is no act of bravery. To kill a copperhead threatening your children when you’re terrified of snakes, is being brave.

For me, it is a fearful thing to put my stories and artwork out in the public eye. I suppose it’s because I fear my work isn’t good enough. I’ve never been part of “the in group,” so I think I’m pretty sure my creative work—and by extension, myself—will be rejected or thought less than acceptable. Whether in science-fiction and fantasy fandom at cons, at writers’ conventions, bookstore signing, or at an art exhibit—I’m always one step away from running out the door. (Though I’ve been told I hide it well!)

So when you see me at public venues, know I face a fear by being there. I’m not sure if I’m brave, but I do know my heart is racing and my hands are shaking—just a bit—as I pry myself from in front of the computer or drawing board and mingle with readers, writers, and fans.

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The Story Arc, or as it’s formally known, the Narrative Arc is something we learned in school. It was simplified and taught in a watered-down way in elementary school, re-taught to us in middle school, and finally, some time in high school we really got what our English teacher was talking about: it’s the path of the story or narrative.

In the old days (yes, I’m older than many of my readers), the Narrative Arc taught was always the Gustav Freytag version: Esposition, Inciting Incident (Complication), Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Resolution, and Denouement. (I’ve always liked the word “Denoument,” it sounds quite lovely, almost like the name of an exotic character in a mystery novel).

Nowadays, there are many versions of the Narrative or Story Arc. It is useful for writers (and readers) to be aware of the various structures. When I write a story, it doesn’t always fit into the Gustav Frytag mold. But it is important for me to keep some format in mind when writing. Readers need to feel the story has a structure and the author has a plan.

I found a great post on Story or Narrative Arcs on speculative writer, Steven Southard’s blog: Shifting the Narrative Arc.

Enoy the post!

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The Golden Egg Fantasy is my favorite genre as a reader, writer, and artist. In my search for input from other writers of fantasy, I stumbled across a wonderful blog, MythicScribes – The Art of Fantasy Storytelling.

Author of the blog, Brian DeLeonard, includes many helpful posts like: “Bridging the Gap Between Author and Character” and “Using Fantasy to Enhance a Story”

I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I do.

(Painting: “The Golden Egg” copyright 2012 Vonnie Winslow Crist. All rights reserved.)

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Skean copy The book world has changed enormously since my children’s book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, was published. Yes, I had to do school visits and storytellings, but most of the promoting was done by my small press publisher. The Vegetarian Resource Group secured reviews and in-person interviews, placed ads in print publications, and listed the book in their printed catalog. Brick and mortar stores, both independents and chains, carried the paperback and royalty checks were issued when sales were good.

Nowadays, authors with small press publishers are often responsible for securing their own interviews and reviews. And those interviews are usually done via the internet, whether later published on a blog or offered as a podcast. Advertisements in print publications have been replaced by book trailers on YouTube, online ads, and excerpts read on a computer screen. Online book stores have grabbed a huge share of the book market, and if profits are realized, an online deposit is made in an author’s electronic account.

So what’s an author to do? I say, “Embrace the changes and learn the new world of books!” And that’s what I’m trying to do with The Enchanted Skean, my just-released fantasy novel from Mockingbird Lane Press. For better or worse, the book world is changing, and this writer is trying her best to take advantage of the new technologies and the wide support network offered by the internet.

So please check out the following, and let me know what you think.

Alesha Escobar’s Blog Interview of Vonnie: http://www.aleshaescobar.com/feature-friday-the-enchanted-skean/

Larry Matthew’s Podcast Interview of Vonnie: https://soundcloud.com/larry-matthews/vonnie-winslow-crist-talks

Book Trailer for The Enchanted Skean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-8C9OkyJCU

Online 3-chapter excerpt of The Enchanted Skean: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/books/the_enchanted_skean_excerpt

And giving credit where credit is do, thanks to Alesha and Larry for doing the interviews, Jamie at Mockingbird Lane Press for the book trailer, and the readers who’ve bought the book. It takes lots of support to become a successful author, and I appreciate all the support I’ve received.

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Thanks to author, Jaleta Clegg for stopping by and reminding us of our need for storytellers. Enjoy!

The Need for Storytellers by Jaleta Clegg

biosmall Humans are storytellers. Look at our history. Stories have been handed down for ages. We have stories to warn and teach. We have stories to amuse. We have stories to help us remember. We even have stories about storytellers. Scherezade saved her life and the kingdom with her storytelling. Allan A’Dale recorded Robin Hood’s exploits and by doing so, became part of his legend.

Everyone of us is a storyteller to some degree. Remember when you were little and got caught with your hand in the cookie jar? “I didn’t eat the cookies, mom, honest. It was the giant gorilla who lives under the couch. He ate the cookies.” Or your imaginary friend who used to play with you. Or when you played make-believe. All of us have a need to tell stories. It’s part of being human.

Galaxy Quest brought up an interesting alien race. They had no concept of fiction or stories. It led to some very funny situations in the movie, but think if that were true. How would our society change if we had no concept of fiction or make-believe or lying? Everything we said, every story we told, would have to be completely true. I have a hard time imagining such a world.

Some people have predicted that we will no longer need storytellers because technology is making the paper book obsolete. But the paper book, and popular fiction as we know it today, have only been around a little more than a hundred years. We’ve had storytellers for thousands. The medium may change, but we will always need storytellers.

Think of your favorite game. I bet it tells a story. Think of your favorite movies. Someone had to create the story for those. Think of tv shows, music, art–all of these tell stories in their own way.

poisonpawn I started writing my stories after reading a lot of very disappointing books. I was frustrated by characters I didn’t like and endings that left me with a bad taste. I couldn’t find books with the type of stories I wanted to read. I love adventure, action, explosions, good guys who are mostly good, and bad guys who might as well wear a black hat to advertise their badness. I love a bit of romance mixed in. I love books that end with a positive note. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but that’s the kind of story I love. That’s what I set out to create.

I’m addicted to storytelling now. I can’t stop myself. I’ve always loved it. So be warned, once you let your inner child loose with your imagination, you won’t be able to stop. But who would want to? We humans love a good yarn.”

Jaleta Clegg loves playing with words, stringing them into new worlds and spinning yarns about the people and creatures who populate those worlds. Her stories range from science fiction adventure to silly horror to everything in between. You can find more about her at www.jaletac.com and about her science fiction series at www.altairanempire.com You can follow her blog, The Far Edge of Normal at http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com (and for fans of recipes, Jaleta also posts them on her blog). To buy her books, including the soon-to-be released Poisoned Pawn: http://tinyurl.com/jaleta-clegg-amazon

Thanks again to Jaleta Clegg for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and my new feature, Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a magical 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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