Listen to the Muse (Pt 2): Guiding the Muse

4-27-12: Turning a page | Flickr – Photo Sharing! Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com

You’ve done it.  You’ve finally heard the muse, and words are starting to pour into your head and out of your fingers.  The story is shaping up, and you really like where things are going.  Then disaster hits.

Oh, not the disaster of the words stopping and the feeling of being unable to move forward, but the disaster of the muse taking you off into regions you really do not want to get into.  You are writing a science fiction tale, and the muse is dragging you off into fantasy land.  Or, even better, you are writing a horror thriller, and the muse suddenly takes that hard left turn into comicville.  That disaster.  Don’t tell me it hasn’t happened to you.  I think everyone has faced that at one point or another in their writing career.

So, today we are going to look at what you can do about this.  There are ways and WAYS of handling these unwanted hard turns.  Much of it depends on how much work you want to do in editing and revising after you are done filling all of those pages with words, words, and more unwanted words.

Bull Through

Personally, I have tried this one, and it didn’t go so well.  This is where you take the story, and you keep going the way you want to go despite the muse trying to drag you off into some tangent that you think you’ll have to edit out later.  For those who are plotters and have a solid feel for the story, this might work.

This method is more a case of driving your muse, than guiding it, but there might be times when you have to use it.

Whine and Beg

Another attempt at making the muse go where it doesn’t really want to… right now.  Another method I have tried, and had blow up in my face.  Not nearly as spectacularly as the Bull through, but still pretty bad.  The story wound up unsalvageable for me, so I recommend caution if you decide to try this one with your uncooperative muse.

Bargain with it

“If you go this way, I’ll incorporate that bit.”  This one works fairly well for the loosely plotted and organically written stories.  In this method you listen to where the muse really wants to go, and you compromise.  You nudge the story in the direction you really want to go, yet you also incorporate pieces of the path the muse wants you to take.

This one can be a good way to get a completely stalled out story moving again.  Especially if the reason you’ve stalled out is because you and the muse are in a death match staring contest.  I’ve used it in the past with good results.  And, I’ve also usually wound up going back and editing in the rest of the path the muse wanted me to take.  So, be ware if you decide not to follow your muse lockstep.  (Although crossing genre lines is a good time to demand a compromise situation.)

Nudge things along

This is the mildest arrangement you can have, and is often best used with purely organically written stories.  In this scenario, you let the muse lead you down the path to wherever it wants to go.  However, along the way, you keep putting up little bread crumbs for possible branch points that will take you back to the destination you want to get to.  If used properly, it can enrich your story by adding unexpected elements, and scenes you would not have dreamed were relevant, yet you find out just how relevant they are later in the work.  If it is used improperly, it can derail a story by adding massive amounts of padding that have to be revised out later.

Use with caution, but this one is one I would strongly recommend to be your first go to method.  Just because the muse leads you to a spring of ideas does not mean you have to drink from the pool.  You are always free to drink from your own water bottle, and save the new ideas for another time.

There is one last method to guide your muse, and I have yet to figure out how to make it work.  That is when you distract it.  Things have ground almost to a halt, and you start up another story.  With two going, you hop over to the one you really want to finish first, the one you are having the most difficulty getting the muse to cooperate on.  With the second story underway, you sneak in some time to work on this project in the middle of your new one.  Supposedly, because the muse is turning out inspiration for the second project, you can harness that for the difficult one.  I know several writers who can do this – they have no difficulty keeping multiple projects running simultaneously.  However, when I try, I wind up tangling the projects together so bad I cannot separate the two afterwards.

And, if all else fails with moving forward, there is always the option to just sit back and not write anything at all.  Wait out the muse’s absence or temper tantrum.  I’ve been faced with this three times now in my current project.  I could have bulled on, and if I were closer to the end of the work, I might have tried to.  However, being in the middle of the story, I did not want the narrative to unravel on me, so I put it down, and walked away for a few days.  When I came back, I tried writing more on it.  Still didn’t have that “spark”, and so I left it to sit and mature some more.  When the muse returned, I can say they were not amused.  Now, I’m dealing with a sulking muse.  Oh, well.  I’m back to getting a little progress each day.  I can live with that.

What do you do when your muse tries to take you in unwanted/unexpected directions?  I’d like to hear about it in the comments below.

Book Review: The Legacy – Fate

Book Review: The Legacy – Fate

 LX (or Alex for us Earthlings) is a Navigator. From the moment of his birth until he became of age, he prepared for his calling. On a routine exploration mission that shouldn’t have taken more than a few months, an incident propels his spaceship light-years away from his destination, leaving him stranded on the third planet from a star called Sol.

The laws of survival are strict; he must not fraternize with the natives. However, an encounter with Mellie changes everything. She has speed and strength unknown to Earthlings yet strangely similar to his own species. This new discovery compels him to learn more about her and those who call themselves vampires. For her, he will break rules, his people’s rules, until there is no turning back.

Meanwhile, mysterious storms are devastating cities. When they learn of their origin and the humans fail to see the threat, he, and his new friends, might be their only chance, but to save them and the one he loves, he may have to break his primary Oath: the vow never to take a life.

 

This is a massively overdue read/review, and I’d like to take a chance to extend my sincere apologies to GG Atcheson for the delay.

 

World Building

  • Reading through the story, there were many times I felt as if I were walking through the tale, rather than just picking up the words from a page.  In between those times, I was lost in admiration for the rich tapestry GG wove with the blend of natural and medical facility.  Part of the world she builds up one delightful layer at a time is the physical world, another part is the political world, and yet another part is the internal world.  Each layer added is a delightful addition to the ones that come before, and add a vibrant texture for the story to exist within.

Character Development

  • From the first words, the characters begin to develop into their own people.  There are a few places where things become a touch too stilted for the main character, but that is more from a well developed lack of knowledge how English is spoken in the modern world than a fault in the writing.  GG does a wonderful job presenting Alex’ trouble with modern English without making the story hard to follow.The growth of the characters has a natural ebb and flow, with some of the support cast providing their own humor relief.  Even with the “other side” there’s a nice organic growth, though the motivations aren’t quite as clearly defined (and considering the little you DO learn about them, I’m not sure I’d WANT to have those motivations more defined.)There’s also a few unexpected twists and quirks to the development as well.  Won’t say too much more, or I’d likely wind up adding in spoilers – can’t have that, now, can we?

Pacing

  • The pace of the story is spot on.  Even with the touch of fantasy included (it can also be explained as ESP if you just can’t stand the thought of fantasy in a sci-fi book) the organic feel to the story keeps the pages turning and the interest high.  Personally, I’m looking forward to reading more of Ms. Atcheson’s work, but I’m going to have to remember to start earlier in the evening – these aren’t long (for me), but if I don’t get an early start, I wind up being up much too late because I can’t put them down.

Overall score?  If you guessed 5 of 5 paws from this pukah, you’d be right.  GG Atcheson managed to hit the main writing elements perfectly for me, and do it in a wondrously new twist on an often overworked character type.  Nicely done!  (Now, where’d I bury that other book?)

 

If you’re intrigued by the review, and would like to pick up a copy of Legacy: Fate you can find it Here over on Amazon.

 

If you’d like for me to consider your book for a review, please stop by my Offered Services Page and fill out the simple submission form.

Book Review: The Sword and the Flame: The Forging

Book Review: The Sword and the Flame: The Forging

The Sword and the Flame: The Forging by [Bialois, CP]

 

In a world where magic and the sword rule and dragons are forgotten, a band of friends find each other but can they overcome their own fears and trials in time to fulfill their destiny? Their adventure begins in The Sword and the Flame: The Forging. Before a weapon can be used, it must be forged in the fires of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expectations

I’d picked this one up during last year’s Virtual Fantasy Con 2016, and haven’t had a chance to read it yet thanks to life getting in the way.  By the time I managed to read through, I knew it was fantasy, but couldn’t remember exactly what had attracted me to pick it up.  So, this was a blind jump.

World Building

I’ve long admitted to being a Dungeons and Dragons fan, so I’m not sure how well the world building is actually done.  For those familiar with the RPG game, it’s all familiar territory which may cover any minor gaps.  However, with that said, there’s enough sketched in up front to help the reader quickly get an idea what’s around them as well as a basic understanding of the political system in place.  Nothing too unusual in this area.

Character Development

This is where CP Bialois shines brightest.  A quick sketch of the main cast of characters, so you know who everyone is.  Felt similar to sitting down for a new campaign with freshly made characters – a few basics to let everyone get acquainted, then the action starts to develop the characters from there.  Even though this felt heavily influenced by the game system, there was no obvious gaps as the characters developed, like you’d see in a normal game.  Each of the characters learned, or drew from previous training, as the story progressed which was a refreshing change.  (I’ve run into a few other tales that draw from a game system, and you can tell when the characters “level up” – personal pet peeve of mine.)

Pacing

The pace of the tale is steady to fast, though not completely breathtaking.  Again, it felt like a well planned campaign – each sequence of events had a naturally engaging ebb and flow, a little tweak of tension here or a touch of down time there.  I did run into a couple of minor jumbles where a scene slightly overlapped view points – once was a night scene and one set of characters played through the entire scene, then the second set came upon the scene slightly before it “ended” for the first.  I distinctly remember that one because I had to go back and re-read a page or two to figure out who was where doing what.  (Of course, I could also have been getting lost due to being tired – though this was early on, so I doubt that.)

Overall Rating

I’m an admitted gamer geek, yet there’s a few things here that pull the overall rating down.  As such, a solid 4 out of 5 paws is what I’ll give this book.  I don’t know if I’ll go back and re-read or not, which would be about the only thing to push the rating up.  However, I do look forward to finding the next book in the series and reading through it.

If you like Dungeons and Dragons, or the newly emerging LitRPG genre, then you’ll very likely enjoy this story.  All the familiar, and expected, RPG elements are present, which is a lot of what leads me to knock the final star – for me, the story’s too predictable.

 

If you enjoyed the review, and are interested in reading further, you can find The Sword and Flame: The Forging on Amazon Here.

 

If you enjoyed the review and want me to review one of your works, please stop by my Offered Services Page and fill out the simple submission form.  I’ll contact you soonest to discuss details.

Until next time, keep the pages turning.

—- Elizabeth Newton’s Olivia Roberts Stops By To Visit With The Pukah

Why are strangers suddenly appearing in a sleepy North Carolina town asking about Lee Harvey Oswald? What do they have to do with widow Olivia Roberts? Why is her neighbor and friend Bill Horton so dead set against her traveling to Dallas, Texas? When she journeys from her North Carolina home to Dallas in search of answers to questions from November 22, 1963 she learns more than she ever expected. “View from the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale” is a story of “what-ifs”? What if the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 was a conspiracy? What if accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was innocent? What if someone knew the truth and could prove it? What if someone you trusted turned out to be hiding a secret so big it could change history? This is a tale of friendship, love, political intrigue, and murder.

 

 

Today we are welcoming Elizabeth back, and she has brought with her Olivia Roberts.  Welcome ladies, I’m excited you could make it in today.

Olivia, may can you share a little about yourself?

  • I was born outside of Asheville North Carolina and I’m a good person who got caught up in a bad situation.
  • My parents were very conventional. Conservative, church going folks, my father served in the Army before marrying my mother who wanted to be a wife and mother. They wanted my life to be better and insisted I go to college. They were not happy when I began to date my late husband because he had a bad boy reputation.
  • I grew up in a very small and close knit community. I married my high school sweetheart. I was a high school cheerleader. I did Girl Scouts and 4-H and Future Homemakers of America. Everything was as American as apple pie.

Did your personality help you develop how you handle pressure?

  • I was a teacher before I retired.
  • Well, I’ve always seen myself as conservative. I was a wife and mother and now a grandmother. Recently I’ve found myself to be stronger than I ever imagined and I have a hotter temper than I thought.
  • In the past I would have said no. I had a very conventional life. Now I can handle pressure. If someone tries to make me do something against my wishes I will stick to my guns. I’m a lot tougher than I ever believed.

I’m sure being in your position has brought you a lot of unwanted attention, Olivia.  Do you have anyone who you turn to as a friend or ally?

  • Sometimes you have to trust people even when you don’t know them well. I have learned to follow my gut instinct. I trust my neighbor Bill, my friend Judy, and of course my sons. I have also come to trust new friends, Mike and Shelli. (Laughing) I trust my hairdresser.

Do you consider any single person an enemy, or is the definition applied to larger group?

  • I think people who lie to protect themselves when they have done something wrong need to be punished. I’m not very happy with my government or for that matter any government these days. We are supposed to be a government of the people but it isn’t that way anymore.

Would you like to see anything changed in the way things are done?

  • I would like to see the government and people in the government forced to come clean on crimes that have been covered up. I would like to see true government transparency.

How do you handle complements and insults from friends and enemies?

  • If an enemy complements me, I’d say, “Thank you but I am not some dumb old lady. I know you are trying to get over on me and it will not work.”
  • If a friend insults me, I tend to respond with, “Why would you say that? What have I done to make you feel that way?”

If you could change anything about yourself, or become any creature, what would you choose?

  • Oh I would love to be a bird. I think it would be wonderful to fly away, high above the clouds and feel that freedom.
  • I’d also like to be taller and I’d like to learn how to physically defend myself.

Speaking of dreams and wishes, do you have a special someone that you wish for?

  • Absolutely. I have been blessed to find my soulmate even this late in my life. But I prefer not to talk too much about Bill.
  • There is only one man I would ever consider marrying now.

Do you have a dark secret you can share?

  • Hmm, I fell in love with my best friend and his secret is my biggest secret.

What about fears?  Any big ones lurking in the closet?

  • My greatest fear is being caught and separated from my loved ones.

One last question to end on a positive note.  What is your biggest accomplishment?

  • I’m very proud of my children especially my son Jesse. I am proud of my friend Bill who is the bravest person I know.

Thank you Olivia.  I has been an honor talking with you today.

Elizabeth, thank you so much for bringing Olivia with you today.  It has been fun, getting to know her a little bit better.

If you want to read more of Olivia’s story, the image above will take you to Amazon where you can pick up your copy today.  If you missed Elizabeth’s author interview, you can read it here, and if you enjoy the series, then come back this Saturday for our next guest, Jackie Perry.

If you are interested in having me host your author and character interviews, then please drop by my “Offered Services” and submit your request.

Until next time, happy reading!

 

 

 

Plans, ideas, disruptions

Albrecht Dürer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

And now I lay me down this oath to keep
A prayer, a wish, I need that’s steep

To one above, I swear this now
I will not forsake the pre-order vow

By end of month, this work to you
I will up load for other’s view

And if I fail, my promise keep
Then ever more the depths I reep

So with this prayer I solemnly give
I pray for all to know I live.

Amen

 

This has been running through my head since Wednesday, January 13,2016 when I got word back on the latest manuscript going out for publication.  There were a few big-ish problems, and it was recommended I delay the release.  I double checked with Amazon, and discovered I was caught in a double bind – if I delayed, I would not be able to set up another pre-order for twelve months, and if I didn’t get the final copy uploaded by the 21st, I would find myself in the same place.

I have worked feverishly on correcting the problems pointed out in the early chapters, and have gone through to verify there were no other major upsets lurking in any of the later pages.  If all goes well, I should have the final notes in from all the readers by Monday, which means with a little luck, a LOT of late nights, and no major new issues cropping up, my prayer will be answered.

Beslynx Spiritwalker’s novella WILL go out on time!  Now, if you will excuse me, I still have 30 or so pages to finish self-proofing before I enlist the aid of the next round of read/critique partners.  Blessed be!