That One Rogue Sentence… Lessons from Best Selling Authors

ancientfutureThere is never a good enough reason to be inactive as a writer. The last few months have been chaos here, but time well spent. While I have been dealing with chronic pain problems and haven’t spent time on my blog, or social media, I have been sitting at the feet of many literary masters and learning from their handiwork. I have been delving into the depths of J R R Tolkien, George R R Martin, Stephen Lawhead, Mary Stewart, Raymond E Feist, Melanie Rawn, J K Rowling, Traci Harding and have read more Terry Pratchett than is probably decent.

It’s superfluous to say that I have learnt a lot. Here are the lessons which have stood out to me the most.

  • A book can be completely perfect in structure, punctuation, grammar, spelling and plot: however, I am noticing that most of these authors have that one rogue sentence which gives away information in an inappropriate place, is completely confusing or messes up the flow of what they are writing. It’s normally in the first three chapters.
  • If you are writing in a manner which describes an accent, or is old world language (such as Shakespearian speech,) you are making your life incredibly hard if you only use it for certain characters. It is too easy to slip out of that voice and it stands out like a sore thumb to the reader.
  • The legends break all the rules. Tolkien writes sentences which are so long, they become confusing. If I wrote like that, my writing mentors would slap me. But, it does add to the flow, so who is right and who is wrong?
  • Ebook formatting seems to have no standards, rules or quality control. Some formats are easier to read than others, thanks to the use of white space. (I have a post coming out on that in September. The blog officially restarts on September 1st.)
  • Using foreign speech alongside a lot of unfamiliar names which have crazy spelling (for example, Welsh) breaks your brain. If you cannot get your head around a character’s name, reading can become hard work and easy to abandon.
  • I know all the arguments about prologues, but they are worth reading! Books make more sense if you don’t skip them.
  • I’ve read two books where I have come to hate the main character. Everything works too easily for them and they became so cut-throat ambitious, I turned against them and will never read any more books in that series.
  • I know it can be wise to kill your darlings, but if you start a series with ‘the good guys,’ then you slowly kill them all off over several books, the reader is left alone and wondering who to cheer on. All that is left is the bad guys. You can overdo it.
  • Never write a massive series that you may not be able to finish. It may be wiser to leave all books as complete, with a teaser to get the reader to pick up the next one. That way, if chaos intervenes, you won’t get stoned for not writing that last tome.

As I said above, the blog will be back in action, posting two days a week from September first. I am still very unwell and have become a lab rat, as the pain management doctors try a variety of potions to see if they can make me more comfortable… however, I have no choice but to go back to work.

Posts scheduled look at the writing process, resources for character writing, writing sites which are godsends, plot building, publishing and more. Comments are off in some posts and on in others, so I don’t overwork. I am going to be on social media far less than in the past as well. Balance has to be maintained.

Thank you to all of you for your good wishes and understanding. I hope my health does improve over the next few months and that I can get back to visiting your blogs and being more supportive.

Writer Beware

Gold class sites

 

http://www.accrispin.blogspot.com.au

“Writer Beware® is the public face of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Committee on Writing Scams. We also receive sponsorship from the Mystery Writers of America. Like many genre-focused writers’ groups, SFWA and MWA are concerned not just with issues that affect professional authors, but with the problems and pitfalls that face aspiring writers. Writer Beware, founded in 1998, reflects that concern.

Although SFWA and MWA are US-based organizations of professional fiction authors, Writer Beware’s efforts aren’t limited by country, genre, or publication history. The Writer Beware website and blog can be used by any writer, new or established, regardless of subject, style, genre, or nationality.”


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This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

#Romance University for Writers: A Gold Class #Writing Site

Printhttp://romanceuniversity.org

Purpose: Dedicated to helping writers establish and advance their careers, introducing readers to a variety of authors, and delving into the ever-inscrutable male mind.

Monday: Crafting Your Career
Most writers begin writing because they love the process–using just the right word, crafting the perfect sentence, giving life to imaginary people. However satisfying the writing process, many writers begin to want more. The want people to read about and love those imaginary folks. Okay–they want people to pay to read about those imaginary folks. Join us each Monday at RU where we’ll discuss the business of writing or career topic. Visiting Professors (guest bloggers) often stop by the school to offer advice.

Wednesday: Anatomy of the Mind
This is the day we explore every facet of writing, reading, and men.

Friday: Chaos Theory of Writing
On Fridays, RU Faculty along with industry professionals and established authors will focus on the elements of manuscript writing. Tips to help you hone your craft and write a damn fine book. After all, it will be your writing that will catch (and retain) the interest of a lucky agent or editor.We’ll tap into our own experiences, share what’s working and what isn’t as we chase our dreams of becoming published authors. We’ll also discuss advice from our favorite writing reference books and websites. So join us each Friday to experience the chaos of writing.”

Gold class sites

Writing Historically Based Books: Author Philippa Gregory

The-Other-Boleyn-Girl-by-Philippa-Gregory“Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl which was made into a tv drama, and a major film. Now, six novels later, she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.” Sourced from her web site, http://www.philippagregory.com

These videos are on how she researches her books and is drawn to work on the main characters. It’s a fascinating process, which I enjoyed hearing about. If you are a lover of research or historical fiction, you’ll be inspired by watching these clips.

Do You Write by Heart or Head? Technique Overload

Complexities that put me off my game.

Complexities that put me off my game.

When does studying the craft of writing stop you or inhibit your work? That is a question which some of us need to ask. Writing has become more than a plotter or pantser issue, it can come down to science vs your instincts as a bard.

I like to know I am doing things the right way. However, in branching back out into fiction, I am finding the more I read about what to include, the more nervous I am becoming with my writing. I look at images on Pinterest, like the one on the right, feeling bemused, hemmed in, inadequate and I am stunned into inaction by a fear of failure. What if the “right” way is not my way? Jane Austen wrote without all this!

Since I originally studied writing, main characters have become protagonists and there are also antagonists, contagonists, deuteragonists… what? Deuteragonists are the main secondary characters. Why can’t we just say that! How many aspiring authors are being scared away? I often get the feeling you I am being told to be perfect and write a specific way, rather than being allowed to just write down that story I need to tell.

There are things I need at the beginning: plot arcs, descriptions, body language, emotional reactions which are realistic, archetypes as a guideline and character profiles (such as the Enneagram); however, I need to begin to ignore many technical articles or stash them for later in the writing process.

Things that freak me out when I am writing a new story for the first time:

  • Dos and Don’ts for the Last 10,000 words of your story.
  • What you should write and when : hook, plot point, response, mid point, attack, plot point, climax, resolution… complete nervous breakdown?
  • Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 5 (What if I don’t fit neatly into all that? Did I fail?)
  • 200,000,000 ways to say that, went, and or whatever, which makes me feel like I need to watch every word as it comes out.
  • Revealing secrets, pivotal information etc. for maximum impact on a very detailed, precise manner. (What if I don’t fit neatly into all that? I really stink at this, don’t I!)
  • The First Five Pages. A writer’s guide to staying out of the rejection pile. (That has to come with editing, you can’t get that right, straight off the bat!)
  • The most annoying type of story conflict / the most hated antagonist readers will throw the book down after reading etc.

You get the picture.

My answer: learn slowly as you go; be open to new ideas but don’t let them mash you into a one-size-fits-all, formatted cliché like a Hollywood blockbuster movie… You need to get that story down before you can start working on perfecting it.


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

Controlling How Much of YOU Appears in Your Fiction

SlidingthroughyourfingersAs you write, you write out of your own experiences, no matter what the genre. It is a cliché but parts of you are always going to bleed through your keyboard to the reader. Your life is teaching you plot, characterization, behaviour traits and all the essentials needed to build a fully-formed, believable work of fiction… and that is good. However, you may not want your novel to be a kiss and tell where your subconscious has dobbed you in, through character personality traits, conflicts and experiences.

Consciousness is the key to control. If you have journaled about your feelings and experiences in life, you will discover themes and events which will enable you to identify what is too much you. Plus you’re building a resource you can use to craft a better story. It could be likened to a mini self-service and/or character psychology course. It’s a lot cheaper than taking your novel to a therapist!

The act of physically writing out something which has happened helps to clarify events, giving you a new perspective on how and why things happened as they did. It’s a great plot formation tool that will both inspire your fiction… and keep you off the page! You are creating your own privacy control options, enabling you to effectively edit out the parts that are too close to the way you think or act.

However, don’t become paranoid about self-revelation:

“Let some of you come through. You’re obviously not writing a memoir here, but this book is still partly about you: the world you see, the way you think, the experiences you have with people. And trust me, readers are interested in who you are. So don’t be afraid to let bits and pieces of your personality and even life details seep into the text. It will breathe a lot of life into the book.” David Shenk

May I challenge you to get a journal and start to write about your life, your feelings and how you see the world. Look at how much may have slid through into your fictional work… and what comes out that you didn’t expect. It is a journey that will reward you in many ways.

For helpful information on journalling, go to Journal Chat with Dawn Herring, or Write for Life with Nathan Ohren.


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

The Power of Day Dreaming in Fiction #Writing

Thos Office 2

“Set Building”

I am a fantasy writer, who has hassles with description. Day dreaming and visualising is the only way I can cut through all the one sided fuzz that runs through my head. Otherwise my writing just sounds like a monologue! For me it’s a challenge as I am very analytical. I am more interested in the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the story, than telling it.

I have a few tricks for getting over this: Pinterest, story boarding and “set building.” The last two set my ideas in concrete; Pinterest shows me things I can mull over, and all these techniques expand and improve my work. I find I rarely click on the links in Pinterest, it is the images or quotes which give me the ideas, so that is what I use the boards for.

I use cheap home design software for set building, to mock up the main areas where scenes take place. Without knowing where things are in relation to each other, I trip myself up. Details can be hard to visualise. Avoidance of bad reviews and harsh criticism sounds like a great goal to me… It’s amazing what details readers notice…

This is the perfect example of how Pinterest helps. This gorgeous Celtic motif Witches Dagger is made by Bladesmith Jeff Helmes. I wanted to buy it, buy Aussie Customs had other ideas... please click on the image to go to his Facebook page. If you are a fantasy, historical or crime writer, you will love him.

This is the perfect example of how Pinterest helps. This gorgeous Celtic motif Witches Dagger is made by Bladesmith Jeff Helmes. I wanted to buy it, but Aussie Customs had other ideas…  Please click on the image to go to his Facebook page. If you are a fantasy, historical or crime writer, or just love shiny things, you will love him.

I have been building Pinterest boards which give writers the same inspiration that Pinterest gives me. So many images generate story ideas! As I am not well, I have cut my public boards down to four pivotal areas I relate to the most. (Sorry, the romance board just had me nauseous, it was the first to be divorced.)

If you are into fantasy, historical writing, Steampunk or Memoir, you will enjoy my themed boards. The Inspiration Board for All Writers has been there since the beginning and there are over 1100 pins on it, specifically on writing skills. (Though Pinterest is not letting me access all of them and I have no idea why.) Links are below the image. Have fun raiding it and please tell me, what works for you?

For All Writers

Fantasy Writer’s Dream Board

Steampunk

Memoir / Life Story / Autobiography

2014-03-08_21-29-37

(If you have been following me and pins have gone missing, my sincere apologies. As they were mainly repins, there shouldn’t be a difference. I also had to cut back on many of the people I was following as it was just too much.)


Creative Commons License
This work, created and Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Think Outside Your Niche: Awesome Plot and Character Ideas

2013-12-02_15-04-37In addition to gaining more markets and outlets for our writing, exploring the sites of other genres can also turn up gold dust. Last year Damian Trasler wrote me an excellent post on the success he has had with switching to screenwriting. It inspired me to think outside of the confines I have placed myself in as a writer. There is more out there I can do, I simply need an open mind. 

When I was planning my blog posts for this year, I came across “The Script Lab” web site, and thanks to Damian, I stopped and had a good look around. It is exceptionally useful to all kinds of writers. I am encouraging you to go plunder it for your own needs.

hairymnstr_Coffee_Mug_1Some of their content includes:

  • Character and scene questionnaires to help you build backstory, develop personality traits etc.
  • Naming characters effectively to convey their role or personality.
  • Key moments and plot points in story structure (there are quite a few of these and they are great.)
  • Comparing movie plot breakdowns, which every writer can use.
  • Don’t miss their articles on the Triangle, the 100% Rule and the Three C’s!
  • Rules on Writing Heroes
  • Scene Types… and masses more!

Go raid it! http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting-101/screenwriting

ArtiosMediaSiggy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheScriptLab

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheScriptLab

Their writing inspiration board on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thescriptlab/writing-inspiration/

REBLOGS WELCOMED

realcharacters


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

Images in this post belong to The Script Lab and Open Clipart.com

Writing Research: Sword Fights

Cate Russell-Cole:

This is one of the benefits of occasionally doing a WordPress tag search: you find posts like this that make you go “wow.” I never knew that sword fighting was this complex… ok, I have never tried it. This post is one my Fantasy Writing pals will love. Thanks very much Lithicbee for getting my thinking outside it’s narrow confines! Great post.

goneviking

Originally posted on Lithicbee:

I enjoy fight scenes in movies, whether it is some gun-fu or a long martial arts battle or an awesome sword fight, which got me to thinking about how well I can pull off writing one of these scenes for a story. I would love to write a really cool sword fight, for instance, but I a) have never held a sword much less fought with one, and b) am not really familiar with sword terminology. Of course, as writers, we make stuff up all the time, but it is nice to at least sound like we know what we are talking about. So I turned to my pal Google for some help on the subject, and here is a round-up of what I found.

Martin Turner of martinturner.org.uk had two interesting posts, the first about the difficulties of writing a sword fight and how other writers have handled them…

View original 426 more words

Please Help a Fellow Author Who Has Suffered a Serious Stroke

1527836_10151884844036127_532640268_nThe greatest gift blogging and social networking has given me is the people I have met, some of whom are very dear to my heart. This post is an appeal to help Rags Daniels, a fellow Author who has suffered a stroke. He is in his early seventies and has a long road to recovery ahead. Obviously, he is offline, so I am asking all of you to help out by sharing / tweeting about Rags’ books and/or buy some to help him with the medical costs his family are undoubtably inundated with.

Rags is one of the few proper gentlemen left! He has the heart of a lion and has become very special to me in the months I have known him. He has given generously to charity work over many years and has also taken a child into his home to care for. If anyone I know deserves the help, he does. You just have to look at the love left on his Facebook wall to see that he’s gained a special spot in more hearts than mine… and he is an awesome writer with incredible life experience from which to draw his novels!

Please share his books on your social media accounts and/or buy a book… or two! For those of you so inclined, I am sure prayer would be welcomed. Please go to Amazon in your country and search for Rags Daniels. His book descriptions are below with links to the United Kingdom site. They come in Kindle and paperback and are perfect for crime lovers.

51oYw8O9BSL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_Lallapaloosa: October 8, 1967, ‘Che’ Ernesto Guevara was executed… Or so the world believed. Inspired by a true sequence of events, ’Lallapaloosa’ tells in flashback the story leading up to the betrayal and ‘capture’ of the worlds most famous revolutionary and master of disguise. Original, fast moving, and atmospheric to the last whiff of a Partagas cigar, it begins thirty years after the event with a series of sinister murders against a fraternity of retired mercenaries who, having fought alongside ‘Che’ in the Congo, grouped for one last mission in the jungles of Bolivia. For thirty years, Richard Strang, thought he shared the worlds best kept secret with no one. Then one summer evening, the tap of a blind man’s cane, and a nose for the toasted Cuban leaf, changed all that.

rags4

Click on image to go to Rags’ Amazon Author page.

Foxy Lady:Lady Carolyne Dryden is a brilliant and gifted young woman operating a policy auction house in London for her father. Late one evening she is brutally assaulted, robbed, and left to die. A few days later two bodies are found in the same house the assault took place. Others follow, and a sewer of corruption contained beneath the razzamatazz of a General Election leads to shattering revelations and murderous passions; causing her well-organised world to turn into an arena of pursuit and terror, and where the only certainty is that nothing is certain. Bursting with insight into the seedy, sleazy world of political funding, Foxy Lady leads the reader totally believing through all its unbelievable twists and turns until its astonishing climax. Optima corrupta pessima. ‘The best things corrupted become the worst.’

51HAqZGFfbL._SY445_Groomed to Kill: Group 13 aka Pegasus, the Government’s assassination and dirty tricks squad some say still exist. Others vehemently deny its existence.‘Groomed To Kill’ is a well crafted high velocity tale of intrigue, sex and betrayal. Dialogue driven, it is a story taken from the journals of James Sutherland and spans over fifty years of one mans life, a life dedicated to serving without question those whose responsibility it is to defend the realm by any means at their disposal. Jimmy Sutherlands’ story begins in post war ravaged Salford and tells of his schooling in weaponry by Owen Kelly, a WW2 veteran sniper. Throughout his distinguished career, Jimmy carries out numerous assassinations for his taskmaster and controller Frank Steadman. Then on retirement, Jimmy gets news of the release from prison of crime lord Hector Cicero, brutal murderer of his brother, Billy. The scene is now set for what becomes a searing quest for vengeance, culminating in a vicious gangland battle for supremacy in England’s northwest. Aided by Andy Cassin, his old and trusted childhood friend and whose brother was also murdered by Hector Cicero, Jimmy Sutherland takes on both the Cicero and McGuire crime cartels with devastating consequences…

30sex Hours: ‘Operation Spanner’ was the codename of an undercover investigation carried out by Manchester City Police, in 1988. The police had obtained a video which they believed depicted acts of sadistic torture. Convinced the people in the video were being tortured and killed, a murder investigation was launched, a number of properties were raided and several arrests were made. Now meet the voluptuous and delectable, PC Koral Devine. Dark, sultry and according to her superiors, a bit of a handful, she had been tipped by her Commanding Officer to win the prestigious award of undercover policewoman of the year. But first she had to infiltrate a ring of local luminaries lead by amateur film maker ‘Uncle Albert’ and resident Magistrate Hilda Carstairs, who were believed to operate a lucrative business catering for the slaves of ‘leather and steel’. Her assignment is both a perilous and intimate initiation into the world of sado masochism; and PC Koral Devine will do absolutely anything to get ‘her man’.

51YeTX3qqLL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_Salford Sunrise: Salford Sunrise is a well-crafted, brilliantly witty, high velocity tale of intrigue, sex and betrayal. Dialogue driven, the story has been taken and adapted from the chronicles of James Sutherland and spans over fifty years of one man’s life, a life dedicated to serving without question those whose responsibility it is to defend the realm by any means at their disposal.


Meet Rags

Rags_croppedRags Daniels aka Trevor Timbs, was born into a working class family, the second of four children,  Salford 1944.  He migrated South 1956. Wild and curious, he ran off to London, where he met the majority of the characters he writes about.

The swinging sixties and early seventies played a major roll in his insatiable thirst for adventure, and against a backdrop of mini-skirts, mod’s, rockers and Muhammad Ali, bore witness to an era of crazy fads, culminating in  Britain’s first ever woman Prime Minister in 1979. And of whom Lord Acton said, ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely, ’ and by the end of her era, Thatcher was case in point. And while the Nation paddled through rubbish, bodies unburied, strikes, power cuts, spiralling inflation, limited working weeks, abysmal production, etc, etc, the real money was going into the pockets of fraudulent corporate boards and City Yuppies. (Groomed to Kill), his first book was written against a backdrop of inner city poverty and tells of lad who  became a government assassin.

Rags worked in Norway on timber frame construction, where he met John Millen, a naval architect who designed Pearl Harbour after the war. He became a ‘minder’ for his mother-in-law, both on and off his motor yacht in which he and his wife toured the world. Returning home,  he then attended Brunel University and passed I.O.C.W.(GB)inc,  exams. Rags started working with Borough Architects Dept.; resigned; got married and built his own house in South Devon while running several companies. He has also constructed a steel mill in India  and a tiger compound in Nepal for the World Wildlife Trust.

When widowed, he returned to writing and investigative journalism… It is from his diaries of the 60’s and 70’s he wrote ‘Foxy Lady’, creating a fictional account of one such tale of political intrigue, and one for which he was interviewed by MI6. His latest book ‘Salford Sunrise’, is available in Amazon Kindle and ‘Lallapaloosa’ is currently being scripted for the silver screen. He resides with his son, an A level English teacher, and Roxzan, his 13 year old adopted Granddaughter.


Follow Rags

Not Your Average Romance Writer: Nora Roberts

Visit Nora’s web site at: http://www.noraroberts.com

Nora-Roberts-pic“Nora Roberts (born Eleanor Marie Robertson; October 10, 1950) is an American bestselling author of more than 209 romance novels. She writes as J.D. Robb for the “In Death” series, and has also written under the pseudonym Jill March. Additionally, some of her works were published in the UK as Sarah Hardesty. Nora Roberts was the first author to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. As of 2011, her novels had spent a combined 861 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, including 176 weeks in the number-one spot. Over 280 million copies of her books are in print, including 12 million copies sold in 2005 alone. Time named Roberts one of their 100 Most Influential People in 2007, saying she “has inspected, dissected, deconstructed, explored, explained and extolled the passions of the human heart.” Roberts was one of only two authors on the list, the other being David Mitchell.” Source” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nora_Roberts

Myths, Mists and Magical Tales… Arthurian, Mediaeval and Celtic Information Sources

Celtic Dreaming Image Copyright Protected

Celtic Dreaming
Image Copyright Protected

Earlier this year I started to study the history of Ireland and the Celtic people, including Wales, Scotland, Basques and the Picts. The more I studied, the more I became intrigued by the rich cultural heritage, strong characteristics of the people and their legends and beliefs. Then I found myself engrossed in Mediaeval history, castles, weapons… It’s been fun!

If you are a fantasy, paranormal, romance or historical writers, you will find a generous helping of inspiration on these pages. Please also explore the sites these pages belong to for more information.

Arthur: http://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/student_orgs/arthurian_legend/celtic/celtic.html

Druids: http://www.celtic-twilight.com/otherworld/druidism/bonwick/index.htm

Seers: http://homepage.eircom.net/~shae/chapter16.htm

Faeries: http://www.timelessmyths.com/celtic/faeries.html

Animals: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/rac/rac17.htm  and http://www.celticheritage.co.uk/articles_animals.cfm

Nature Worship: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_nature_worship

Celtic Religion: http://www.celtic-twilight.com/otherworld/celtic_religion_overview.htm

Bards: http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/articles/onbards.html

Other Worlds: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ffcc/ffcc260.htm

The Pale: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pale

Sexual Equality: http://www.examiner.com/article/new-age-101-brief-history-of-the-celts-major-precursors-to-new-age-beliefs-part-2

Sacred Groves: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_grove

War: http://www.applewarrior.com/celticwell/ejournal/beltane/warfare.htm and planned warfare: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/gafm/gafm07.htm

Cult of the Severed Head: http://www.celticheritage.co.uk/articles_headcult.cfm

Invaders: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/middle_ages/ireland_invasion_01.shtml

The Tuatha de Danaan: http://www.greatdreams.com/reptlan/Tuatha_de_Danaan.htm ; http://www.danann.org/library/arch/irishmyth.html and http://www.danann.org/library/arch/chronol.html

Resources on Castles

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/finefella/ Creative Commons Licence.

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/finefella/ Creative Commons Licence.

These links will will assist you in designing and writing about your own. Some of the information is introductory level. The free Project Gutenberg books should be very helpful.

project-gutenberg

What you are up against when storming a castle, thanks to Horrible Histories.


Purchased iStock Image not for reuse for any reason, commercial or otherwise unless you buy it yourself.

This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2013. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

No images on this blog may be copied, captured, or altered for your own purpose without the consent of the originating owner. 

Stephen King: Short Stories and Novels, How they Form

Stephen King“Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. He made his first professional short story sale in 1967 to Startling Mystery Stories. In the fall of 1973, he began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co., accepted the novel Carrie for publication, providing him the means to leave teaching and write full-time. He has since published over 50 books and has become one of the world’s most successful writers.” Source: http://www.stephenking.com/index.html

The Life Journey of a Mystic in Fiction

Image Source: http://www.giantbomb.com/druids/92-4091/
Original artist unknown.

One of the spiritual areas that fascinates me is prophecy. I love fantasy books featuring people who strive to reach a high spiritual calling. Being a Mystic / Prophet appears to be one of the toughest roles anyone can take. They can be held in awe, regarded with fear or suspicion or ostracised… if left alive. It is as demanding as the role of a warrior.

Some prophets have it easier than others. For example, the Oracle of Delphi in Greece, was constantly breathing in toxic fumes from volcanic gasses that came up through a rock. The priests around the Oracle did the interpretation of the gibberish this chemical high produced. They were the ones with the real power. The actual position of Oracle doesn’t sound too onerous to me, though definitely dangerous to their health!

Often these mystical people were embroiled in power battles within epic fables and stories. Being a mystic supposedly gives ordinary people marvellous power; but is that view a myth? Depending on the storyline, that power can be public and impressive, or limited and only able to be used in a covert manner. The little power they have may not be enough; it could often leave the mystic frustrated. How often do the wise ones have to stand back and watch those they warned make avoidable mistakes? That or they can be so power drunk, they start to destroy everything around them, including themselves. You can turn the storyline so many different ways.

According to the Old Testament, if you were a prophet and your accuracy was less than one hundred percent, you could be stoned to death. Nostradamus would never have made it. The Egyptians could change gods like you change your socks. Depending on who you represented, being one of their religious leaders could be a job with a limited shelf life! If you were ever on the wrong side of the current religious fad, you could kiss your robes and your good life goodbye.

Look into the job description of a mystic further. While literature romanticises quests and great adventures, more often, the wise ones were called on to deal with the conflicts and faults of their societies. That can mean that their purpose in life was to be unpopular. I can see why figures such as Jonah legged it when given a tough challenge. For most prophets, the training and standards are anything but easy and would leave them feeling humbled and impotent. Then to make them feel better, people don’t tend to roll out the welcome mat when it’s your divinely-given task to go tell them they are wrong. In the same shoes, I’d go whale watching too. It could be worth the risk. There are always plenty of rocks laying around to be thrown… Moses was another Biblical figure who firstly said “I don’t think so!” when he heard what he was meant to do.

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The early life of a prophet involves sacrificing a normal life; developing exacting discipline; being misunderstood; learning focus and meditation; studying relevant areas such as magic, medicine, history and literature; making your fair share of humiliating bloopers when you hear or judge the facts wrong and the obligatory “character building” wilderness experience.

The best prophets are grown in the toughest places and at times, are called into a time of living in solitude, while they do the equivalent of a Prophetic Masters Degree… in the middle of nowhere with scant protection and few comforts, if any. If they were really lucky, the wilderness would be their permanent mailing address. Loneliness is often the prophet’s closest and only friend.

Prophets are deliberately developed where the conditions are toughest. If you were a Celtic mystic, they may have chosen to go to sea. Sometimes they made landfall, sometimes, they didn’t, being on a boat for weeks. The forests and the desert are not the only choices for getting away from it all to hear clearly.

Celtic Monasteries have been found on tiny, wind-slapped islands (not wind-swept, that is too gentle), where you need to be a mountain goat to move around. The tougher the life, the better one’s attitude grows. It’s the truest of cliches; suffering gains you perspective on human nature and shows you what really matters in life. You must have suffered to be able to relate to others’ pain.

So as you write about awesome soothsayers, crystal ball gazers and wand carrying heroes, consider what manner of life experience and training that led them to the centre stage in your novel. True mystics are not born with all the talents and graces they need, they’re made: most probably the hardest way!

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NaNoWriMo: Planning and Tracking Tools

I was involved in NaNoWriMo last year. These are some of the most useful tools people were looking for in the lead up to the big month. I hope you find them useful.

If you’d like inspiration on novel planning, here are two excellent Youtube videos from writer, Johanna Harness. I loved the second one, but both are inspirational and full of useful ideas. Please visit her at: johannaharness.com


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.