Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Photo by Heather Cannon. Used with permission.
How to Use Your Life in Your Fiction

By guest author Lila Diller

Can I write about what happened to me? What should I keep in mind when including a personal story in fiction? If you’ve ever wondered this, there are three actions you can take.

Last year I published my first Christian romance novel. Though it is definitely fiction, much came from my own personal experiences. I had a friend ask how I got around some obstacles she was facing. She had written a memoir about her marriage, but the few friends she showed it to told her it would ruin her and her husband’s reputations. When I told her how I used my life as a springboard for a fictional story, the light bulb went off.

You can use your personal life as raw material for your fiction stories, too. Here are the most important things you want to keep in mind.

You’ll be kissing that writer’s block goodbye much more often when you use your memories as raw material for certain scenes.

1. Get the Legal Stuff out of the Way First

Include a paragraph on your copyright page. You’ll want to cover your tracks to protect you from being sued for libel, defamation, or a cut of royalties. Consider copying and pasting this notice or something like it to your copyright page:

Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

2. Change a Few Details in Each Scenario

Protect the Identity of Your Loved Ones. It’s not just for legal reasons that nonfiction writers will say, “Names and details have been altered to protect identities.” You can capture the essence of a good story, an interesting dialogue, or a characterization without revealing so much that when your mother reads the story, she says, “Oh, that must have been so-and-so.”

If possible, change either the gender of the character, the time frame, surrounding circumstances, and/or the setting it happened in. Always change the name of a person, a place, or a landmark, unless it’s absolutely integral to the plot to leave the original.

3. Try Free-Writing about a Memory that Inspires You

Start with the nonfiction version of the truth; then you can change later. If you’re having trouble getting words on the page, sift through your memories until you find one that matches the flavor or inspires some aspect of your current story. Just free-write every detail of that memory down that you can think of. Don’t edit yourself; don’t worry about possible incriminating clues that might shed light on what really happened.

Once you have the memory down on paper (or computer screen), then go back and highlight the important parts. What details are absolutely necessary to make a good story? Then you can start changing non-essentials.

Let me give you a few examples from my first novel, Love is Not Arrogant or Rude. My readers have asked if this was taken from my life. My answer is “yes, but no.”

  • Though the three main characters are based on my husband, my former guy friend, and myself, I never worked with or under my husband. I didn’t meet him while on staff at our alma mater but before as students. And I have never been chased by two men at the same time. 😉
  • The dogs mentioned are based on real dogs, but Sasha was a purebred Collie of my husband’s when he was growing up. I only saw pictures and heard stories about her; I never met her as she had died before then. Esme is a real dappled dachshund that my in-laws currently own (15 years after we were first married).
  • My sister really did try to commit suicide; but I changed her name, changed the reasons why, and shortened the time it took for Morgan to realize how complicated depression is. It took me much longer to come to some conclusions.

Conclusion

You can definitely use your personal life as inspiration for a story. Sometimes the most realistic details come from experiencing those feelings, taking those actions, or saying those words yourself. Don’t be afraid to use them. Just keep in mind that you want to protect yourself and your loved ones.


About the author

Lila Diller is outnumbered by a houseful of males: husband of 15 years, two energetic boys, and a hyper dog. When not homeschooling her boys, you can find her studying the Bible, reading, singing, scrapbooking, or binge-watching Netflix. You will only find her cooking or cleaning when she can’t put it off any longer. She loves to help readers not only to escape from stress in an entertaining and believable story but also to fill their minds with the truth and hope of Jesus.

You can visit Lila's website at liladiller.com. You can also find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/loveisseries and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/liladiller.




If you love Christian romance, check out Lila's “Love is…” series on Amazon! You can also get a free digital copy if you sign up for her FB group Beta Reading for Lila Diller Author.  

Have you ever included autobiographical scenes in your fiction? Any questions for Lila?

Tuesday, February 06, 2018 Laurel Garver
Photo by Heather Cannon. Used with permission.
How to Use Your Life in Your Fiction

By guest author Lila Diller

Can I write about what happened to me? What should I keep in mind when including a personal story in fiction? If you’ve ever wondered this, there are three actions you can take.

Last year I published my first Christian romance novel. Though it is definitely fiction, much came from my own personal experiences. I had a friend ask how I got around some obstacles she was facing. She had written a memoir about her marriage, but the few friends she showed it to told her it would ruin her and her husband’s reputations. When I told her how I used my life as a springboard for a fictional story, the light bulb went off.

You can use your personal life as raw material for your fiction stories, too. Here are the most important things you want to keep in mind.

You’ll be kissing that writer’s block goodbye much more often when you use your memories as raw material for certain scenes.

1. Get the Legal Stuff out of the Way First

Include a paragraph on your copyright page. You’ll want to cover your tracks to protect you from being sued for libel, defamation, or a cut of royalties. Consider copying and pasting this notice or something like it to your copyright page:

Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

2. Change a Few Details in Each Scenario

Protect the Identity of Your Loved Ones. It’s not just for legal reasons that nonfiction writers will say, “Names and details have been altered to protect identities.” You can capture the essence of a good story, an interesting dialogue, or a characterization without revealing so much that when your mother reads the story, she says, “Oh, that must have been so-and-so.”

If possible, change either the gender of the character, the time frame, surrounding circumstances, and/or the setting it happened in. Always change the name of a person, a place, or a landmark, unless it’s absolutely integral to the plot to leave the original.

3. Try Free-Writing about a Memory that Inspires You

Start with the nonfiction version of the truth; then you can change later. If you’re having trouble getting words on the page, sift through your memories until you find one that matches the flavor or inspires some aspect of your current story. Just free-write every detail of that memory down that you can think of. Don’t edit yourself; don’t worry about possible incriminating clues that might shed light on what really happened.

Once you have the memory down on paper (or computer screen), then go back and highlight the important parts. What details are absolutely necessary to make a good story? Then you can start changing non-essentials.

Let me give you a few examples from my first novel, Love is Not Arrogant or Rude. My readers have asked if this was taken from my life. My answer is “yes, but no.”

  • Though the three main characters are based on my husband, my former guy friend, and myself, I never worked with or under my husband. I didn’t meet him while on staff at our alma mater but before as students. And I have never been chased by two men at the same time. 😉
  • The dogs mentioned are based on real dogs, but Sasha was a purebred Collie of my husband’s when he was growing up. I only saw pictures and heard stories about her; I never met her as she had died before then. Esme is a real dappled dachshund that my in-laws currently own (15 years after we were first married).
  • My sister really did try to commit suicide; but I changed her name, changed the reasons why, and shortened the time it took for Morgan to realize how complicated depression is. It took me much longer to come to some conclusions.

Conclusion

You can definitely use your personal life as inspiration for a story. Sometimes the most realistic details come from experiencing those feelings, taking those actions, or saying those words yourself. Don’t be afraid to use them. Just keep in mind that you want to protect yourself and your loved ones.


About the author

Lila Diller is outnumbered by a houseful of males: husband of 15 years, two energetic boys, and a hyper dog. When not homeschooling her boys, you can find her studying the Bible, reading, singing, scrapbooking, or binge-watching Netflix. You will only find her cooking or cleaning when she can’t put it off any longer. She loves to help readers not only to escape from stress in an entertaining and believable story but also to fill their minds with the truth and hope of Jesus.

You can visit Lila's website at liladiller.com. You can also find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/loveisseries and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/liladiller.




If you love Christian romance, check out Lila's “Love is…” series on Amazon! You can also get a free digital copy if you sign up for her FB group Beta Reading for Lila Diller Author.  

Have you ever included autobiographical scenes in your fiction? Any questions for Lila?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

By guest Shannon L. Mokry

So you want to write a children’s book, but you don’t know where to begin? First get those ideas on paper, just the basic outline or concept to start with. Then, before you go any further, decide what age group you’re writing for. Next, consider what subgenre you are wanting it to be. If you have already finished your piece and are only now looking at defining it, all is not lost. Most manuscripts need several revisions before they are ready to publish.

So why is it so important to define now? What is a genre anyway? Both of these things are important because they tell you how long your piece needs to be, and what expectations your readers will have . If you want your book to be read, then it is important to understand your audience.

When I decided I wanted to write for children there were several questions I needed to ask myself. Will I be writing fiction or nonfiction? What age am I writing for? Children’s books fall into several age brackets. Hilari Bell does an amazing job listing them all in detail here.

For our purposes, the bare facts look like this:

  • 8-12 Middle Grade (MG) 40,000-55,000 words, MC(Main Character) is usually 10-12. It’s important to keep the story age appropriate. You really start to see subgenres at this point; is it a mystery, a fantasy, sci-fi? No specific page count. Still mostly sold in paperback.
  • 10-13 Early Young Adult (EYA) 50,000 words, MC 13-14. This category is a gray area. While it had some popularity a few years ago, it is important to note that libraries and bookstores don’t recognize this category. If you find yourself here, pick MG or YA and make the adjustments needed. This article goes into more detail on why EYA is not a real category. 
  • 12-18 Young Adult (YA) 55,000-70,000 or longer. These are full on novels with a MC usually 15-17 yrs old. No language concerns, no specific page count. You start to see an real uptick in ebook sales.

Now let's look a little closer at the differences between MG books and YA books. The vast majority of MG books are written in third person, while the majority of YA books are first person. That doesn’t and shouldn’t restrict you, but it is important to be aware of. Another factor is where the average MC age comes from. Kids want to read about kids their age or older. They do not want to read about younger kids. For example, a 16 year old doesn’t want to read about a 12 year old, they just don’t relate. For a similar reason, an 8 year old can read about 10-12 year olds just fine, but doesn’t relate at all to a 14 or 15 year old. That really makes sense because a 8-10 year olds are still in elementary school and while they may be looking forward to middle school, high school is too far into the future.

You may notice a that MG book doesn’t deal with edgy topics. There shouldn’t be any bad language or intimacy, drug use or explicit violence. Some of these things may be hinted at but not gone into detail and not be things your MC is experiencing. With YA all those rules go out the window. YA readers want to read about edgy subjects. They are exposed to and experimenting with the darker things in life. You can still write clean and sweet, but ignoring the roller coaster of emotions that a teen goes through will just make your book unrelatable.

About the Author


Shannon L. Mokry lives in Texas where she homeschools her three daughters. The Bubbles stories were inspired by stories she would tell her youngest daughter Charlotte. She recently published a MG novel.

Website / Twitter / Facebook

About the Book


Escaping Gardenia
MG fantasy

Friendships are forged in the most unlikely of places.

From a kingdom at war with dragons, Ivy is sent to scout out a path to safety. Along the way she learns about magic and accidentally hatches a baby dragon.

Safety is the next kingdom over. Vlad, a gamekeepers apprentice, joins in the effort to help the refugees. His only intent is to help as many people find safety as he can.

Making new friends was the last thing either of them expected. Can they get Ivy's village to safety and learn to trust each other? Or will they learn to late that even well meaning secret can have big consequences?

Available from Amazon

Q4U: What are some of your favorite books written for these age groups?
Thursday, January 25, 2018 Laurel Garver
By guest Shannon L. Mokry

So you want to write a children’s book, but you don’t know where to begin? First get those ideas on paper, just the basic outline or concept to start with. Then, before you go any further, decide what age group you’re writing for. Next, consider what subgenre you are wanting it to be. If you have already finished your piece and are only now looking at defining it, all is not lost. Most manuscripts need several revisions before they are ready to publish.

So why is it so important to define now? What is a genre anyway? Both of these things are important because they tell you how long your piece needs to be, and what expectations your readers will have . If you want your book to be read, then it is important to understand your audience.

When I decided I wanted to write for children there were several questions I needed to ask myself. Will I be writing fiction or nonfiction? What age am I writing for? Children’s books fall into several age brackets. Hilari Bell does an amazing job listing them all in detail here.

For our purposes, the bare facts look like this:

  • 8-12 Middle Grade (MG) 40,000-55,000 words, MC(Main Character) is usually 10-12. It’s important to keep the story age appropriate. You really start to see subgenres at this point; is it a mystery, a fantasy, sci-fi? No specific page count. Still mostly sold in paperback.
  • 10-13 Early Young Adult (EYA) 50,000 words, MC 13-14. This category is a gray area. While it had some popularity a few years ago, it is important to note that libraries and bookstores don’t recognize this category. If you find yourself here, pick MG or YA and make the adjustments needed. This article goes into more detail on why EYA is not a real category. 
  • 12-18 Young Adult (YA) 55,000-70,000 or longer. These are full on novels with a MC usually 15-17 yrs old. No language concerns, no specific page count. You start to see an real uptick in ebook sales.

Now let's look a little closer at the differences between MG books and YA books. The vast majority of MG books are written in third person, while the majority of YA books are first person. That doesn’t and shouldn’t restrict you, but it is important to be aware of. Another factor is where the average MC age comes from. Kids want to read about kids their age or older. They do not want to read about younger kids. For example, a 16 year old doesn’t want to read about a 12 year old, they just don’t relate. For a similar reason, an 8 year old can read about 10-12 year olds just fine, but doesn’t relate at all to a 14 or 15 year old. That really makes sense because a 8-10 year olds are still in elementary school and while they may be looking forward to middle school, high school is too far into the future.

You may notice a that MG book doesn’t deal with edgy topics. There shouldn’t be any bad language or intimacy, drug use or explicit violence. Some of these things may be hinted at but not gone into detail and not be things your MC is experiencing. With YA all those rules go out the window. YA readers want to read about edgy subjects. They are exposed to and experimenting with the darker things in life. You can still write clean and sweet, but ignoring the roller coaster of emotions that a teen goes through will just make your book unrelatable.

About the Author


Shannon L. Mokry lives in Texas where she homeschools her three daughters. The Bubbles stories were inspired by stories she would tell her youngest daughter Charlotte. She recently published a MG novel.

Website / Twitter / Facebook

About the Book


Escaping Gardenia
MG fantasy

Friendships are forged in the most unlikely of places.

From a kingdom at war with dragons, Ivy is sent to scout out a path to safety. Along the way she learns about magic and accidentally hatches a baby dragon.

Safety is the next kingdom over. Vlad, a gamekeepers apprentice, joins in the effort to help the refugees. His only intent is to help as many people find safety as he can.

Making new friends was the last thing either of them expected. Can they get Ivy's village to safety and learn to trust each other? Or will they learn to late that even well meaning secret can have big consequences?

Available from Amazon

Q4U: What are some of your favorite books written for these age groups?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

by guest Kandi J. Wyatt

As you open the pages of a good book, you are beckoned into a new world, a place where magic may exist or where people travel between planets on trains. The possibilities are endless and only limited by the author’s imagination and effort. When an author does an excellent job of world-building, the reader longs to climb into the pages of the book and not leave.

Harry Potter, Marvel Universe, Star Wars, Middle Earth, Narnia, and the ‘World’ of Game of Thrones are all examples of worlds that exist because an author had a vision and then dove into world-building. World-building takes thought and consideration to be thorough. Many different aspects go into creating a world that feels real.


via GIPHY

1. Places

The most common aspect of the world is where it’s set. Is it the seas of the Caribbean or is it the halls of Hogwarts? Are there woods, mountains, or deserts? Currently, I’m working on creating a planet. It will have a combination of all extremes. Hannah Heath has written on how to not fall into the rut of common places.

2. People

Once we have a place, we now need to know who inhabits these spaces. As I create my worlds, I make my people fit the place they inhabit, or if they don’t then that’s part of the plot. How would where they live affect their physical attributes and their psychology? In my Dragon Courage world, the rainy marshes of the Carr led to some depression in the characters. The word Carr came from a Celtic background and so my characters tend to have red hair and the tempers that are associated with redheads. My middle grade fantasy, Journey from Skioria, has people that are short, hairy, and have nails that extend out to climb trees since they live in trees.

3. Culture

Early on in my life, I was introduced to different cultures through missionaries that came through my home. As I grew older, I went and visited missionaries in Arizona and New Mexico and was able to see for myself a different culture as I worked with the Navajo and Hopi tribes. Later, I lived in Ecuador for two different years and stayed in Mexico for a month. These experiences let me understand that each people group has their own unique set of laws, norms, and taboos. Why should our stories be any different?

What cultural aspects do you need to add to make your stories? In the north of the Dragon Courage world, tradition holds sway. Since “change comes slowly to dragons” it takes a war for tradition to change. The southern dragon colony of Boeskay sets up on the bluffs overlooking the river. Riders sit out on their porches at night and watch the sunset. Sometimes, it’s the little touches that make the world come to life. It could be as simple as referring to years by a specific season, or it may be as simple as an expression. H. L. Burke, in her book Beggar Magic, uses the expression, ‘By the strains!’ The strains are a significant aspect of the world and are held in awe by all.

4. Language

As a language teacher, I love thinking of how language affects us, but I’ve yet to put it into my books. I did create an accent more than anything in Dragon’s Revenge. For this new project that I’m brainstorming, I’m thinking of creating a script at least for the world, if not some language.

Think of Harry Potter. How would the books have been different if it wasn’t for

via GIPHY


5. Beliefs

As all believers know, our beliefs are what define us. We will do anything for something we believe in. This should be true of your characters as well. I’ve been challenged recently to go beyond the typical on this area. Hannah Heath (if you don’t follow her, you should. She has an amazing blog for writers.) shared some very thought provoking ideas on how to write Christian fantasy and religion.

6. Technology

How do your characters get around? Do they use the horse and buggy or are there airships? How does your protagonist wash her clothes? What? You haven’t thought of that? Then you should! No, really, you should. It’s not just the steampunk genre or subgenre that should have technology. Does your antagonist spread rumors via social media and his iphone? That’s technology at work, too.

7. Mythology

The most well-known author for having mythology in his work was J. R. R. Tolkien. He wanted to provide a mythos for Great Britain and ended up creating Middle Earth. When I wrote Journey from Skioria, I had fun having characters share little myths. You don’t have to create elaborate stories, but know what a few are or have an idea of what the mythos looks like for your world.

8. Animals

As you build your world, realize there should be more than just people, or aliens, living in it. Who or what else inhabit it? As I’m brainstorming for my newest idea, I realized that a mole-like animal may come in handy. Mythical creatures most often coming into fantasy stories, but think outside the box. What other animals would make your world right? Would it be a cat, a dog, horses, whales, kangaroos, or cheetahs?


If you stop at these eight, your world may be complete, but there are so many other things to consider as well. Think of your own life. What influences it? Add those to your world-building. Sure, you might not use all of it in your actual writing, but if you know it, then it will come out into your story-telling.

About the Author

Even as a young girl, Kandi J. Wyatt had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that's her own five or the hundreds of students she's been lucky to teach. When Kandi's not spinning words to create stories, she's using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.

Connect with Kandi:
Website / Facebook / Google Plus / Twitter / Pinterest / Goodreads / Amazon

About the Books

In a world where dragons and humans live in peace with each other, it is a privilege to be a dragon rider, but riders, like everyone else, must find their purpose. In this series, twins Ruskya and Duskya fight for their dragon’s futures and their lives! Braidyn struggles with balancing justice and mercy as he searches for a stolen nestling. Kyn and a new friend, Ben’hyamene, discover a breed of wild dragons which have been at war with humans for four hundred years, and the two learn that peace is better than revenge. Kyn helps Duskya and her daughter, Carryn, search for a young rider who stumbles upon a slave trade. Carryn learns that bitterness leaves a person in bondage as much as being a slave. Follow along the riders’ quest in this exciting middle grade fantasy series by author Kandi J Wyatt.


The One Who Sees Me 

Teenage slave girl Faru’s life has been turned upside down when she discovers she’s been traded to a new master, forcing her to leave all she‘s ever known. Upon her arrival, Faru meets a friend, Cailean, who helps her adjust to life in the strange location. Life settles into a new pattern, and romance blossoms between the young friends. But as soon as they plan to get married, another proposal comes about – one that cannot be ignored. Being a slave means not always marrying who you love.
On a daring journey to heal her heart, Faru encounters the Existing One. Will she trust Him and do His bidding even if what He requests is so hard?

Follow Faru’s tale in author Kandi J Wyatt’s retelling of a Biblical story found in the Old Testament book of Genesis, showing that when things don’t make sense, God will guide the way.

Get it HERE
Read reviews from Pursue Simple Joy / Julie L. SpencerLive. Love. Read

Pick up the rest of the series!
Dragon's FutureDragon's HeirDragon's Revenge / Dragon’s Cure / Dragon’s Posterity / Dragon’s Heritage

Q4U: What aspects of world-building do you most enjoy experiencing in books? What aspects do you find most fun to develop? Most challenging?
Thursday, January 18, 2018 Laurel Garver
by guest Kandi J. Wyatt

As you open the pages of a good book, you are beckoned into a new world, a place where magic may exist or where people travel between planets on trains. The possibilities are endless and only limited by the author’s imagination and effort. When an author does an excellent job of world-building, the reader longs to climb into the pages of the book and not leave.

Harry Potter, Marvel Universe, Star Wars, Middle Earth, Narnia, and the ‘World’ of Game of Thrones are all examples of worlds that exist because an author had a vision and then dove into world-building. World-building takes thought and consideration to be thorough. Many different aspects go into creating a world that feels real.


via GIPHY

1. Places

The most common aspect of the world is where it’s set. Is it the seas of the Caribbean or is it the halls of Hogwarts? Are there woods, mountains, or deserts? Currently, I’m working on creating a planet. It will have a combination of all extremes. Hannah Heath has written on how to not fall into the rut of common places.

2. People

Once we have a place, we now need to know who inhabits these spaces. As I create my worlds, I make my people fit the place they inhabit, or if they don’t then that’s part of the plot. How would where they live affect their physical attributes and their psychology? In my Dragon Courage world, the rainy marshes of the Carr led to some depression in the characters. The word Carr came from a Celtic background and so my characters tend to have red hair and the tempers that are associated with redheads. My middle grade fantasy, Journey from Skioria, has people that are short, hairy, and have nails that extend out to climb trees since they live in trees.

3. Culture

Early on in my life, I was introduced to different cultures through missionaries that came through my home. As I grew older, I went and visited missionaries in Arizona and New Mexico and was able to see for myself a different culture as I worked with the Navajo and Hopi tribes. Later, I lived in Ecuador for two different years and stayed in Mexico for a month. These experiences let me understand that each people group has their own unique set of laws, norms, and taboos. Why should our stories be any different?

What cultural aspects do you need to add to make your stories? In the north of the Dragon Courage world, tradition holds sway. Since “change comes slowly to dragons” it takes a war for tradition to change. The southern dragon colony of Boeskay sets up on the bluffs overlooking the river. Riders sit out on their porches at night and watch the sunset. Sometimes, it’s the little touches that make the world come to life. It could be as simple as referring to years by a specific season, or it may be as simple as an expression. H. L. Burke, in her book Beggar Magic, uses the expression, ‘By the strains!’ The strains are a significant aspect of the world and are held in awe by all.

4. Language

As a language teacher, I love thinking of how language affects us, but I’ve yet to put it into my books. I did create an accent more than anything in Dragon’s Revenge. For this new project that I’m brainstorming, I’m thinking of creating a script at least for the world, if not some language.

Think of Harry Potter. How would the books have been different if it wasn’t for

via GIPHY


5. Beliefs

As all believers know, our beliefs are what define us. We will do anything for something we believe in. This should be true of your characters as well. I’ve been challenged recently to go beyond the typical on this area. Hannah Heath (if you don’t follow her, you should. She has an amazing blog for writers.) shared some very thought provoking ideas on how to write Christian fantasy and religion.

6. Technology

How do your characters get around? Do they use the horse and buggy or are there airships? How does your protagonist wash her clothes? What? You haven’t thought of that? Then you should! No, really, you should. It’s not just the steampunk genre or subgenre that should have technology. Does your antagonist spread rumors via social media and his iphone? That’s technology at work, too.

7. Mythology

The most well-known author for having mythology in his work was J. R. R. Tolkien. He wanted to provide a mythos for Great Britain and ended up creating Middle Earth. When I wrote Journey from Skioria, I had fun having characters share little myths. You don’t have to create elaborate stories, but know what a few are or have an idea of what the mythos looks like for your world.

8. Animals

As you build your world, realize there should be more than just people, or aliens, living in it. Who or what else inhabit it? As I’m brainstorming for my newest idea, I realized that a mole-like animal may come in handy. Mythical creatures most often coming into fantasy stories, but think outside the box. What other animals would make your world right? Would it be a cat, a dog, horses, whales, kangaroos, or cheetahs?


If you stop at these eight, your world may be complete, but there are so many other things to consider as well. Think of your own life. What influences it? Add those to your world-building. Sure, you might not use all of it in your actual writing, but if you know it, then it will come out into your story-telling.

About the Author

Even as a young girl, Kandi J. Wyatt had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that's her own five or the hundreds of students she's been lucky to teach. When Kandi's not spinning words to create stories, she's using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.

Connect with Kandi:
Website / Facebook / Google Plus / Twitter / Pinterest / Goodreads / Amazon

About the Books

In a world where dragons and humans live in peace with each other, it is a privilege to be a dragon rider, but riders, like everyone else, must find their purpose. In this series, twins Ruskya and Duskya fight for their dragon’s futures and their lives! Braidyn struggles with balancing justice and mercy as he searches for a stolen nestling. Kyn and a new friend, Ben’hyamene, discover a breed of wild dragons which have been at war with humans for four hundred years, and the two learn that peace is better than revenge. Kyn helps Duskya and her daughter, Carryn, search for a young rider who stumbles upon a slave trade. Carryn learns that bitterness leaves a person in bondage as much as being a slave. Follow along the riders’ quest in this exciting middle grade fantasy series by author Kandi J Wyatt.


The One Who Sees Me 

Teenage slave girl Faru’s life has been turned upside down when she discovers she’s been traded to a new master, forcing her to leave all she‘s ever known. Upon her arrival, Faru meets a friend, Cailean, who helps her adjust to life in the strange location. Life settles into a new pattern, and romance blossoms between the young friends. But as soon as they plan to get married, another proposal comes about – one that cannot be ignored. Being a slave means not always marrying who you love.
On a daring journey to heal her heart, Faru encounters the Existing One. Will she trust Him and do His bidding even if what He requests is so hard?

Follow Faru’s tale in author Kandi J Wyatt’s retelling of a Biblical story found in the Old Testament book of Genesis, showing that when things don’t make sense, God will guide the way.

Get it HERE
Read reviews from Pursue Simple Joy / Julie L. SpencerLive. Love. Read

Pick up the rest of the series!
Dragon's FutureDragon's HeirDragon's Revenge / Dragon’s Cure / Dragon’s Posterity / Dragon’s Heritage

Q4U: What aspects of world-building do you most enjoy experiencing in books? What aspects do you find most fun to develop? Most challenging?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Today I'm addressing two pairs of "spelling challenge" words a reader asked me to discuss. These pairs perplexed me a bit, because they aren't actually homophones. But because they are "kissing cousins" so to speak, pronunciation-wise, you might have gotten mixed up somewhere along the line about which word is which.

Then 

Pronounced then (voiced th, short e like in elephant); rhymes with pen, when, den, wren.

adv. - at that time; soon after, following; in addition, besides. In that case; according to that, as may be inferred; as it appears; as a consequence.

Examples
Just then, an ambulance hurtled past.

First Bill arrived, then Frank did.

You're not going to pay me, are you, then?

Mnemonic
THEN is WHEN it HAPPENS.

For more guidance on using THEN in "and then" constructions, see my post "And then...derailment at Conjunction Junction."

Than

Pronounced than (voiced th, short a like in apple); rhymes with man, pan, ran.

conj. - connector used to compare an inequality between subjects; function word used to express difference in kind, manner or identity. Often used in a pair with rather (rather...than) to indicate preference.

Examples
This project is more trouble than it is worth.

Liesl is older than Louisa.

I would rather go swimming than sit on the hot beach

Mnemonics
STAN is more of a MAN THAN you are.

Use THAN to COMPARE APPLES to APPLES.

For more guidance on constructing comparisons using THAN, see my post "Compare with Flair."

Lose

Pronounced lUz (long U sound like used, voiced s / zuh like in laser); rhymes with use, ruse, booze, snooze,  choose.

This one is tricky, because its spelling is a bit counter-intuitive. 

v., trans. - to misplace; to suffer deprivation or loss; fail to keep control or allegiance of; bring to destruction or ruin; to wander or go astray; fail to keep in sight or mind; to free oneself of

lost,  losing

Examples
Do not lose this key, or we can't get back inside.

James tends to lose his temper easily.

Did he lose his ship on that terrible reef?

Helen seems lost in daydreams.

Max, Leo and Parker all hope to lose weight.

Mnemonic
The O sounds like OO, the S sounds like Z;
Make it four-letter LOSE, or LOSE the spelling bee!

Loose

Pronounced lUss (long U like used, unvoiced s, like soup); rhymes with juice, truce, moose, goose

adj. - not rigidly tight or securely fastened; not tight-fitting; detached or disconnected; slack; flexible or relaxed.

v., trans. - to release, untie, detach or discharge.

loosed, loosing

Examples
Tendrils of hair slipped from Harriet's loose ponytail.

Megan knew her diet was working when her old jeans fit loosely.

Desmond used a loose, flowing brushstroke in these paintings.

Don't let the goat loose, it will eat Mama's petunias!

Jake is constantly loosing his biting tongue on his enemies.

Mnemonics
Don't let the GOOSE LOOSE with the MOOSE; they would SOONER fight than call a truce.

OO-whee, LOOSE and free!

Do these near-miss words trip you up? Any other almost-homophones you'd like me to address in a future post?
Thursday, January 11, 2018 Laurel Garver
Today I'm addressing two pairs of "spelling challenge" words a reader asked me to discuss. These pairs perplexed me a bit, because they aren't actually homophones. But because they are "kissing cousins" so to speak, pronunciation-wise, you might have gotten mixed up somewhere along the line about which word is which.

Then 

Pronounced then (voiced th, short e like in elephant); rhymes with pen, when, den, wren.

adv. - at that time; soon after, following; in addition, besides. In that case; according to that, as may be inferred; as it appears; as a consequence.

Examples
Just then, an ambulance hurtled past.

First Bill arrived, then Frank did.

You're not going to pay me, are you, then?

Mnemonic
THEN is WHEN it HAPPENS.

For more guidance on using THEN in "and then" constructions, see my post "And then...derailment at Conjunction Junction."

Than

Pronounced than (voiced th, short a like in apple); rhymes with man, pan, ran.

conj. - connector used to compare an inequality between subjects; function word used to express difference in kind, manner or identity. Often used in a pair with rather (rather...than) to indicate preference.

Examples
This project is more trouble than it is worth.

Liesl is older than Louisa.

I would rather go swimming than sit on the hot beach

Mnemonics
STAN is more of a MAN THAN you are.

Use THAN to COMPARE APPLES to APPLES.

For more guidance on constructing comparisons using THAN, see my post "Compare with Flair."

Lose

Pronounced lUz (long U sound like used, voiced s / zuh like in laser); rhymes with use, ruse, booze, snooze,  choose.

This one is tricky, because its spelling is a bit counter-intuitive. 

v., trans. - to misplace; to suffer deprivation or loss; fail to keep control or allegiance of; bring to destruction or ruin; to wander or go astray; fail to keep in sight or mind; to free oneself of

lost,  losing

Examples
Do not lose this key, or we can't get back inside.

James tends to lose his temper easily.

Did he lose his ship on that terrible reef?

Helen seems lost in daydreams.

Max, Leo and Parker all hope to lose weight.

Mnemonic
The O sounds like OO, the S sounds like Z;
Make it four-letter LOSE, or LOSE the spelling bee!

Loose

Pronounced lUss (long U like used, unvoiced s, like soup); rhymes with juice, truce, moose, goose

adj. - not rigidly tight or securely fastened; not tight-fitting; detached or disconnected; slack; flexible or relaxed.

v., trans. - to release, untie, detach or discharge.

loosed, loosing

Examples
Tendrils of hair slipped from Harriet's loose ponytail.

Megan knew her diet was working when her old jeans fit loosely.

Desmond used a loose, flowing brushstroke in these paintings.

Don't let the goat loose, it will eat Mama's petunias!

Jake is constantly loosing his biting tongue on his enemies.

Mnemonics
Don't let the GOOSE LOOSE with the MOOSE; they would SOONER fight than call a truce.

OO-whee, LOOSE and free!

Do these near-miss words trip you up? Any other almost-homophones you'd like me to address in a future post?

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The writing habit can be difficult to maintain when you are experiencing a lot of stress. Creativity happens best in states of relaxation, says Roseanne Bane in Around the Writer's Block (a resource I heartily recommend).

As you might guess from my absence in December, I've been grappling with some hard life stuff, particularly being "the sandwich generation" having to deal with overwhelming demands from elderly parents and school-aged kids at the same time. I feel like I'm emotionally tapped out most of the time. I know that writing can be a good outlet for stress release, but getting back into a groove after the holidays were in the stress-mix is challenging. So I turned to another well-thumbed resource for encouragement, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. One of her best block-busting tips is to write about your childhood.

How we react to stressors in adulthood is to a large degree shaped by childhood experiences. But as Harry Potter learned when trying to conjure a patronus, good memories have tremendous power to protect us from the forces of despair. Recently, I've tried to focus on bright spots in my past when a worry begins to spiral from anxiety into panic. I have to say, it has improved my sleep tremendously.

Here are some prompts to help you go back into your own timeline and find moments of joy, peace, excitement and insight:

  • My imaginary friend
  • My secret hideout
  • My three favorite toys when I was eight years old
  • My favorite subject in kindergarten
  • My cozy spot
  • After school, I liked to...
  • A cool surprise from my mom or dad
  • The wonder of milkweed or dandelions gone to seed
  • My childhood neighbors
  • How I was comforted in a dark moment
  • My favorite after school snacks
  • A special moment with a sibling or cousin
  • A bedtime or campfire story my family invented
  • Games my family played on car trips
  • How my sibling reconciled with me after a squabble
  • My most impressive creation with blocks or Legos
  • The best snow day
  • A sick day when I felt well cared for
  • A surprising discovery about a grandparent
  • My favorite scenario to pretend
  • Given a stack of paper and box of crayons, I would create...
  • The nearby woods
  • The neighborhood park
  • How it felt to go barefoot in summer
  • Learning to swim or skate
  • The book I read again and again
  • My best friend in elementary school
  • My lucky shirt
  • Treasures I kept in a secret spot
  • My favorite stuffed animals
  • The best dream I had as a kid
  • The coolest guest to visit my family
  • Holiday traditions I grew up with
  • My parents' best games or stories
  • Songs I liked to sing in the shower
  • Games I played in the bathtub
  • A time my team won a great victory
  • A special food my parents would make just for me
  • Fun times in choir or the class play
  • The best prank I ever pulled
  • My favorite teacher
  • My playground buddies
  • A school project that turned out especially well
  • My lunchbox or lunch bag
  • My first pet
  • The feeling of mud and puddles

As Anne Lamott says, "Everything we need in order to tell our stories in a reasonable and exciting way already exists in each of us. Everything you need is in your head and in your memories, in all that your senses provide, in all that you've seen and thought and absorbed" (Bird by Bird 181). Visit those memories and sensations, and the words will come.

In times of stress, what helps you relax enough to write?
Thursday, January 04, 2018 Laurel Garver
The writing habit can be difficult to maintain when you are experiencing a lot of stress. Creativity happens best in states of relaxation, says Roseanne Bane in Around the Writer's Block (a resource I heartily recommend).

As you might guess from my absence in December, I've been grappling with some hard life stuff, particularly being "the sandwich generation" having to deal with overwhelming demands from elderly parents and school-aged kids at the same time. I feel like I'm emotionally tapped out most of the time. I know that writing can be a good outlet for stress release, but getting back into a groove after the holidays were in the stress-mix is challenging. So I turned to another well-thumbed resource for encouragement, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. One of her best block-busting tips is to write about your childhood.

How we react to stressors in adulthood is to a large degree shaped by childhood experiences. But as Harry Potter learned when trying to conjure a patronus, good memories have tremendous power to protect us from the forces of despair. Recently, I've tried to focus on bright spots in my past when a worry begins to spiral from anxiety into panic. I have to say, it has improved my sleep tremendously.

Here are some prompts to help you go back into your own timeline and find moments of joy, peace, excitement and insight:

  • My imaginary friend
  • My secret hideout
  • My three favorite toys when I was eight years old
  • My favorite subject in kindergarten
  • My cozy spot
  • After school, I liked to...
  • A cool surprise from my mom or dad
  • The wonder of milkweed or dandelions gone to seed
  • My childhood neighbors
  • How I was comforted in a dark moment
  • My favorite after school snacks
  • A special moment with a sibling or cousin
  • A bedtime or campfire story my family invented
  • Games my family played on car trips
  • How my sibling reconciled with me after a squabble
  • My most impressive creation with blocks or Legos
  • The best snow day
  • A sick day when I felt well cared for
  • A surprising discovery about a grandparent
  • My favorite scenario to pretend
  • Given a stack of paper and box of crayons, I would create...
  • The nearby woods
  • The neighborhood park
  • How it felt to go barefoot in summer
  • Learning to swim or skate
  • The book I read again and again
  • My best friend in elementary school
  • My lucky shirt
  • Treasures I kept in a secret spot
  • My favorite stuffed animals
  • The best dream I had as a kid
  • The coolest guest to visit my family
  • Holiday traditions I grew up with
  • My parents' best games or stories
  • Songs I liked to sing in the shower
  • Games I played in the bathtub
  • A time my team won a great victory
  • A special food my parents would make just for me
  • Fun times in choir or the class play
  • The best prank I ever pulled
  • My favorite teacher
  • My playground buddies
  • A school project that turned out especially well
  • My lunchbox or lunch bag
  • My first pet
  • The feeling of mud and puddles

As Anne Lamott says, "Everything we need in order to tell our stories in a reasonable and exciting way already exists in each of us. Everything you need is in your head and in your memories, in all that your senses provide, in all that you've seen and thought and absorbed" (Bird by Bird 181). Visit those memories and sensations, and the words will come.

In times of stress, what helps you relax enough to write?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

With guest Rebekah A. Morris

1. Tell us a little about the stories collected in Christmas Delays.
These are all set during the years of World War Two.
The first one, “Christmas Delays,” was one of the earliest Christmas stories that I wrote, and for that reason it’s extra special.
“Peter’s Christmas” was inspired by a classical song on the radio. I have no idea what the song was, who wrote it or anything. I just know that when I heard it, I heard someone calling Peter. Over and over they called, and so I had to write a story and find out why they were calling him.
“I’ll be Home for Christmas” makes me cry every time I read it. I don’t think there was anything special about it, but it’s one that I really like.

2. What do you enjoy most about the short story form?
They don’t take as long to finish. :) I can usually have one written in a few days and then can move on to another one.

3. What is most challenging about writing short stories?
Keeping it short but still having a full story. Some of my Christmas stories may not seem to have a big plot, but that’s real life. At least it is for me. My life isn’t a constant up and down of excitement. Sometimes the stories are really short and even when I try to expand them, they won’t get any longer. Others are hard to keep short.

4. Christmas Delays is one of eight books you are releasing this holiday season. What led to the decision to release so many products at once?
I love Christmas stories! After I wrote my very first Christmas story, I kept writing. Now I write at least one new story every Christmas time. With so many Christmas stories waiting to be read, I thought doing a Christmas Collection with many small books would be fun instead of just one book with multiple stories in it. That way I could keep adding to the collection each year.

5. What special planning and challenges have you faced with multiple releases?
Keeping them all straight was the biggest challenge! I’ll admit that I did upload the cover and interior of one book to the wrong title. And I didn’t notice the typo on one cover until after I had my proof copy. It was rather crazy trying to get them all ready at the same time and make sure which story I was working on.

6. How do you manage production for multiple books? What organization techniques have proven most helpful?
I did do a lot of assembly line. And since the interiors all match, except for the story, once I had it formatted for one story, it wasn’t too hard to do the next. But writing down each book and what needed to happen with it was probably the most helpful. That way I wasn’t constantly checking to see if I had included the Christmas Collection logo in the back of the book, or done the title in the same fonts. But I had to make sure I knew which book I was working on!

7. What tips do you have for authors seeking to create holiday books?
Have fun! :) Pour your love of the holidays into your story, and then be willing to share it with the world. Your story doesn’t have to be exciting or a page turner. You want a story with warmth. Think about what you love, what you enjoy most about Christmas and include some of that into your story. Christmas stories don’t have to be long, but they can be. Most of all, remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

Thank you for having me.

Q4U: What theme might you enjoy writing a cluster of stories around?

About the Author


Rebekah A. Morris is a homeschool graduate, an enthusiastic freelance author and a passionate writing teacher. Her books include, among others, Home Fires of the Great War, The Unexpected Request, Gift from the Storm, and her bestselling Triple Creek Ranch series. Some of her favorite pastimes, when she isn’t writing, include reading and coming up with dramatic and original things to do. The Show-Me State is where she calls home.

Learn more about Rebekah and her books at www.readanotherpage.com.

About the book

Christmas Delays and Other Short Stories
Three Christmas Stories from World War II

Christmas Delays
A doctor, called up for duty in the army, spends one more Christmas with his wife in an unexpected way after God's Christmas delays strand them in a small house with another family.

Peter's Christmas
Very mild weather might not feel like Christmas, but young, orphaned Peter and his older sister find the peace and love of the season with the Hampton family in spite of the sadness of war.

I'll Be Home for Christmas
Grandpa recounts the memories of his first Christmas away from home during WWII.

Available at Amazon.com

The full collection:


Tour Schedule


November 13
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory Post
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Kaylee's Kind of Writes – Book Spotlight
Resting Life – Review and Excerpt
Perry Elisabeth – Excerpt
Rachel Rossano's Words – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 14
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Odelia's Blog – Author Interview and Book spotlight
Bryce’s Creative Writing Corner – Author Interview, Review, and Excerpt
Counting Your Blessings One by One – Review and Excerpt
Perpetual Indie Perspective – Book Spotlight

November 15
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Whimsical Writings for His Glory – Author, Review, and Excerpt
Maidens for Modesty – Author Interview and Review
The Destiny of One – Book Spotlight
Rebekah Ashleigh – Book Spotlight
Stephany's BLOG Snippets – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 16
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Laurel's Leaves – Author Interview
Stories by Firefly – Review
Claire Banschbach – Author Interview
Kelsey's Notebook – Review and Excerpt
Jaye L. Knight – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 17
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Ruffles and Grace – Book Spotlight
With a Joyful Noise – Book Spotlight

Bookish Orchestrations – Closing Post
Thursday, November 16, 2017 Laurel Garver
With guest Rebekah A. Morris

1. Tell us a little about the stories collected in Christmas Delays.
These are all set during the years of World War Two.
The first one, “Christmas Delays,” was one of the earliest Christmas stories that I wrote, and for that reason it’s extra special.
“Peter’s Christmas” was inspired by a classical song on the radio. I have no idea what the song was, who wrote it or anything. I just know that when I heard it, I heard someone calling Peter. Over and over they called, and so I had to write a story and find out why they were calling him.
“I’ll be Home for Christmas” makes me cry every time I read it. I don’t think there was anything special about it, but it’s one that I really like.

2. What do you enjoy most about the short story form?
They don’t take as long to finish. :) I can usually have one written in a few days and then can move on to another one.

3. What is most challenging about writing short stories?
Keeping it short but still having a full story. Some of my Christmas stories may not seem to have a big plot, but that’s real life. At least it is for me. My life isn’t a constant up and down of excitement. Sometimes the stories are really short and even when I try to expand them, they won’t get any longer. Others are hard to keep short.

4. Christmas Delays is one of eight books you are releasing this holiday season. What led to the decision to release so many products at once?
I love Christmas stories! After I wrote my very first Christmas story, I kept writing. Now I write at least one new story every Christmas time. With so many Christmas stories waiting to be read, I thought doing a Christmas Collection with many small books would be fun instead of just one book with multiple stories in it. That way I could keep adding to the collection each year.

5. What special planning and challenges have you faced with multiple releases?
Keeping them all straight was the biggest challenge! I’ll admit that I did upload the cover and interior of one book to the wrong title. And I didn’t notice the typo on one cover until after I had my proof copy. It was rather crazy trying to get them all ready at the same time and make sure which story I was working on.

6. How do you manage production for multiple books? What organization techniques have proven most helpful?
I did do a lot of assembly line. And since the interiors all match, except for the story, once I had it formatted for one story, it wasn’t too hard to do the next. But writing down each book and what needed to happen with it was probably the most helpful. That way I wasn’t constantly checking to see if I had included the Christmas Collection logo in the back of the book, or done the title in the same fonts. But I had to make sure I knew which book I was working on!

7. What tips do you have for authors seeking to create holiday books?
Have fun! :) Pour your love of the holidays into your story, and then be willing to share it with the world. Your story doesn’t have to be exciting or a page turner. You want a story with warmth. Think about what you love, what you enjoy most about Christmas and include some of that into your story. Christmas stories don’t have to be long, but they can be. Most of all, remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

Thank you for having me.

Q4U: What theme might you enjoy writing a cluster of stories around?

About the Author


Rebekah A. Morris is a homeschool graduate, an enthusiastic freelance author and a passionate writing teacher. Her books include, among others, Home Fires of the Great War, The Unexpected Request, Gift from the Storm, and her bestselling Triple Creek Ranch series. Some of her favorite pastimes, when she isn’t writing, include reading and coming up with dramatic and original things to do. The Show-Me State is where she calls home.

Learn more about Rebekah and her books at www.readanotherpage.com.

About the book

Christmas Delays and Other Short Stories
Three Christmas Stories from World War II

Christmas Delays
A doctor, called up for duty in the army, spends one more Christmas with his wife in an unexpected way after God's Christmas delays strand them in a small house with another family.

Peter's Christmas
Very mild weather might not feel like Christmas, but young, orphaned Peter and his older sister find the peace and love of the season with the Hampton family in spite of the sadness of war.

I'll Be Home for Christmas
Grandpa recounts the memories of his first Christmas away from home during WWII.

Available at Amazon.com

The full collection:


Tour Schedule


November 13
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory Post
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Kaylee's Kind of Writes – Book Spotlight
Resting Life – Review and Excerpt
Perry Elisabeth – Excerpt
Rachel Rossano's Words – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 14
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Odelia's Blog – Author Interview and Book spotlight
Bryce’s Creative Writing Corner – Author Interview, Review, and Excerpt
Counting Your Blessings One by One – Review and Excerpt
Perpetual Indie Perspective – Book Spotlight

November 15
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Whimsical Writings for His Glory – Author, Review, and Excerpt
Maidens for Modesty – Author Interview and Review
The Destiny of One – Book Spotlight
Rebekah Ashleigh – Book Spotlight
Stephany's BLOG Snippets – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 16
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Laurel's Leaves – Author Interview
Stories by Firefly – Review
Claire Banschbach – Author Interview
Kelsey's Notebook – Review and Excerpt
Jaye L. Knight – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 17
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Ruffles and Grace – Book Spotlight
With a Joyful Noise – Book Spotlight

Bookish Orchestrations – Closing Post

Thursday, November 09, 2017

by guest author Annie Douglass Lima

I’ve always thought that it’s especially helpful for writers of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, alternative reality, etc.) to travel outside their home country. If you’re going to be creating new worlds and cultures, it’s valuable to be able to experience different cultures in our own world and draw inspiration from them, after all.

I was raised in Kenya, where I lived for almost my whole childhood. As an adult, I spent a year in Indonesia, as well as living in the United States for a while. At the moment, my husband and I live in Taiwan, where we’ve been for over ten years now. In between, I have visited a total of twenty-one countries so far (with plenty more still on my bucket list!). These international experiences have definitely impacted my writing.

Although Kenyan culture has not made it directly into any of my books so far, spending time as a foreigner in an unfamiliar world inspired some of the interpersonal and intercultural struggles the characters in my Annals of Alasia fantasy series have had to face.  (And by “foreigner” I mean the way I thought of myself when my family visited America.  As a child, I considered myself Kenyan and was much more at home there than in the U.S.) In Book 3 of the series, Prince of Malorn, my character Prince Korram has to travel into the Impassable Mountains to seek the help of a nomadic tribe called the Mountain Folk.  In the kingdom of Malorn, Mountain Folk and Lowlanders tend to distrust each other and avoid contact whenever possible, and both sides claim that the other mistreats them.  I wanted to show that, often, it just takes better understanding to lead to acceptance and appreciation of another culture. That, and the willingness to learn new ways of doing things and respect others’ customs even when they’re different. That concept reflects my love of getting to know other cultures and appreciating the differences between them.

I’ve enjoyed bringing several elements of Taiwan’s culture – both good and bad – into my Krillonian Chronicles alternate reality series. Here are a few examples:

  • In Taiwan, gifts or awards involving money are always given in red envelopes. When my martial artist character, Bensin, wins prize money in a cavvara shil tournament, the officials hand it to him in a red envelope. 
  • Betel nut, a mild narcotic, is very popular in Taiwan. In the city of Jarreon, it’s also common and is sold legally in shops decorated with flashing colored lights, just like here. (In another province of the Krillonian Empire, betel nut is illegal, and a certain character with an addiction goes to great lengths to find a black market supplier.) 
  • In Taiwan, cheap boxed meals available at “hole-in-the-wall” eateries are a common and convenient lunch or dinner for laborers or anyone in a hurry or short on cash. In the city of Jarreon in my series, they’re common too – for big business owners to order in bulk for their slaves’ lunches, or for City Watch officers to pick up to feed prisoners in the Watch Station cells. 
  • New Year is the most important holiday of the year in Taiwan. People celebrate it by putting up decorations, giving gifts of money to children (yes, in red envelopes, often decorated with special designs), and by sharing special meals involving traditional foods with family. I actually combined ideas from that with Christmas in creating the Krillonian Empire’s New Year holiday. Characters there celebrate with seasonal music and decorations, sharing a feast involving traditional foods with family and friends, and exchanging gifts with family members. Slave owners sometimes give their slaves gifts as well, though those usually consist of practical items (one enslaved character receives a toothbrush, toothpaste, and extra socks).

I’ve had a number of readers comment that the cultures in my novels are both interesting and believable, and I know that’s because I’ve drawn on real ones to create them. If you write speculative fiction and have had the privilege of experiencing multiple cultures (even second hand), I would encourage you to use bits and pieces of them to shape the worlds you create. It’s fun to write that way, and it will be all the more fun for readers to explore those worlds!

Q4U: Have you drawn from actual cultures to enrich your writing? Please share in the comments!

About the Author


Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published fifteen books (three YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.


BlogFacebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Google Plus / Amazon Author Page

About the series


Take a look at this exciting new young adult action and adventure novel, The Student and the Slave, now available for purchase! This is the third book in the Krillonian Chronicles, after The Collar and the Cavvarach and The Gladiator and the Guard.

The series is set in an alternate world that is very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with "have a rack"), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

First, a Little Information about Books 1 and 2:

Book 1: The Collar and the Cavvarach

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

Click here to read chapter 1 of The Collar and the Cavvarach.

Click here to read about life in the Krillonian Empire, where the series is set.




Book 2: The Gladiator and the Guard

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Click here to read about life in the arena where Bensin and other gladiators are forced to live and train.


And now, The Student and the Slave, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!



Book 3: The Student and the Slave

Is this what freedom is supposed to be like? Desperate to provide for himself and his sister Ellie, Bensin searches fruitlessly for work like all the other former slaves in Tarnestra. He needs the money for an even more important purpose, though: to rescue Coach Steene, who sacrificed himself for Bensin’s freedom. When members of two rival street gangs express interest in Bensin’s martial arts skills, he realizes he may have a chance to save his father figure after all … at a cost.

Meanwhile, Steene struggles with his new life of slavery in far-away Neliria. Raymond, his young owner, seizes any opportunity to make his life miserable. But while Steene longs to escape and rejoin Bensin and Ellie, he starts to realize that Raymond needs him too. His choices will affect not only his own future, but that of everyone he cares about. Can he make the right ones … and live with the consequences?

Click here to order The Student and the Slave from Amazon for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through November 31st!

Giveaway


Enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of the first two books in the series!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Thursday, November 09, 2017 Laurel Garver
by guest author Annie Douglass Lima

I’ve always thought that it’s especially helpful for writers of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, alternative reality, etc.) to travel outside their home country. If you’re going to be creating new worlds and cultures, it’s valuable to be able to experience different cultures in our own world and draw inspiration from them, after all.

I was raised in Kenya, where I lived for almost my whole childhood. As an adult, I spent a year in Indonesia, as well as living in the United States for a while. At the moment, my husband and I live in Taiwan, where we’ve been for over ten years now. In between, I have visited a total of twenty-one countries so far (with plenty more still on my bucket list!). These international experiences have definitely impacted my writing.

Although Kenyan culture has not made it directly into any of my books so far, spending time as a foreigner in an unfamiliar world inspired some of the interpersonal and intercultural struggles the characters in my Annals of Alasia fantasy series have had to face.  (And by “foreigner” I mean the way I thought of myself when my family visited America.  As a child, I considered myself Kenyan and was much more at home there than in the U.S.) In Book 3 of the series, Prince of Malorn, my character Prince Korram has to travel into the Impassable Mountains to seek the help of a nomadic tribe called the Mountain Folk.  In the kingdom of Malorn, Mountain Folk and Lowlanders tend to distrust each other and avoid contact whenever possible, and both sides claim that the other mistreats them.  I wanted to show that, often, it just takes better understanding to lead to acceptance and appreciation of another culture. That, and the willingness to learn new ways of doing things and respect others’ customs even when they’re different. That concept reflects my love of getting to know other cultures and appreciating the differences between them.

I’ve enjoyed bringing several elements of Taiwan’s culture – both good and bad – into my Krillonian Chronicles alternate reality series. Here are a few examples:

  • In Taiwan, gifts or awards involving money are always given in red envelopes. When my martial artist character, Bensin, wins prize money in a cavvara shil tournament, the officials hand it to him in a red envelope. 
  • Betel nut, a mild narcotic, is very popular in Taiwan. In the city of Jarreon, it’s also common and is sold legally in shops decorated with flashing colored lights, just like here. (In another province of the Krillonian Empire, betel nut is illegal, and a certain character with an addiction goes to great lengths to find a black market supplier.) 
  • In Taiwan, cheap boxed meals available at “hole-in-the-wall” eateries are a common and convenient lunch or dinner for laborers or anyone in a hurry or short on cash. In the city of Jarreon in my series, they’re common too – for big business owners to order in bulk for their slaves’ lunches, or for City Watch officers to pick up to feed prisoners in the Watch Station cells. 
  • New Year is the most important holiday of the year in Taiwan. People celebrate it by putting up decorations, giving gifts of money to children (yes, in red envelopes, often decorated with special designs), and by sharing special meals involving traditional foods with family. I actually combined ideas from that with Christmas in creating the Krillonian Empire’s New Year holiday. Characters there celebrate with seasonal music and decorations, sharing a feast involving traditional foods with family and friends, and exchanging gifts with family members. Slave owners sometimes give their slaves gifts as well, though those usually consist of practical items (one enslaved character receives a toothbrush, toothpaste, and extra socks).

I’ve had a number of readers comment that the cultures in my novels are both interesting and believable, and I know that’s because I’ve drawn on real ones to create them. If you write speculative fiction and have had the privilege of experiencing multiple cultures (even second hand), I would encourage you to use bits and pieces of them to shape the worlds you create. It’s fun to write that way, and it will be all the more fun for readers to explore those worlds!

Q4U: Have you drawn from actual cultures to enrich your writing? Please share in the comments!

About the Author


Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published fifteen books (three YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.


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About the series


Take a look at this exciting new young adult action and adventure novel, The Student and the Slave, now available for purchase! This is the third book in the Krillonian Chronicles, after The Collar and the Cavvarach and The Gladiator and the Guard.

The series is set in an alternate world that is very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with "have a rack"), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

First, a Little Information about Books 1 and 2:

Book 1: The Collar and the Cavvarach

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

Click here to read chapter 1 of The Collar and the Cavvarach.

Click here to read about life in the Krillonian Empire, where the series is set.




Book 2: The Gladiator and the Guard

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Click here to read about life in the arena where Bensin and other gladiators are forced to live and train.


And now, The Student and the Slave, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!



Book 3: The Student and the Slave

Is this what freedom is supposed to be like? Desperate to provide for himself and his sister Ellie, Bensin searches fruitlessly for work like all the other former slaves in Tarnestra. He needs the money for an even more important purpose, though: to rescue Coach Steene, who sacrificed himself for Bensin’s freedom. When members of two rival street gangs express interest in Bensin’s martial arts skills, he realizes he may have a chance to save his father figure after all … at a cost.

Meanwhile, Steene struggles with his new life of slavery in far-away Neliria. Raymond, his young owner, seizes any opportunity to make his life miserable. But while Steene longs to escape and rejoin Bensin and Ellie, he starts to realize that Raymond needs him too. His choices will affect not only his own future, but that of everyone he cares about. Can he make the right ones … and live with the consequences?

Click here to order The Student and the Slave from Amazon for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through November 31st!

Giveaway


Enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of the first two books in the series!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway