Thursday, December 30, 2010

An amazing opportunity

Many of you may remember last May, when I attended the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop for Fantasy. It's time to apply for this workshop again! It's very costly, but you can also apply for a grant to help with costs, and you can arrange for payments. They only choose 8 authors, and the competition is fierce, but it was SO worth the time and money. I got a small grant and then was able to raise the money with the help of friends and total strangers. Here's the link:

Check it out and let us know if you decide to apply.
Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Characterization and Exposition

The next chapter in Self Editing for Fiction Writers is Characterization and Expostion. It's quite a long chapter, so I'll try to sum it up as best I can.

Characterization is simply introducing your characters. Exposition is how you go about doing that. Many writers feel as though they have to give the reader a clear picture of each new character who is introduced. They never bring in a new character without a brief personality summary, or they introduce their characters with flashbacks to the childhood scenes that make them who they are now.

Some information is needed, of course. This is where Show, Don't Tell comes in. Character development needs to flow through the story. Just like you get to know a new friend, your reader should experience getting to know your characters through their dialog and action.

One way you can give an important piece of information about a new character is to have another character think or say something about him. For example: instead of writing, "Bob was not the sort of person others liked right away," you can write, "Like most people, I disliked Bob on first sight." See the difference?

You can develop your characters through dialogue and beats (pieces of action that go along with dialogue.) That's something we'll talk about later, but think about it. Body language is a big factor in getting to know a person. How they speak, their tone of voice and facial expressions can tell you a lot about them. If you want your readers to get a feel for who your characters really are, show them to us through dialogue and action.

Okay - give us a paragraph where you introduce a new character. Don't edit it. Give it to us the way you have it and we'll examine how you did it and see if it needs any changes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Dreaded Editing Process

hi everyone - hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. I got some requests to talk about the editing process. This is a great topic because we all want our manuscripts to be the best they can be before sending it out to a publishing house. The less work an editor has to do, the higher our chances of getting picked up.

I will be using the book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. I recommend buying this book to keep in your library so you can refer to it often. You can find it on

Writing and editing are two different skills. You actually use different sides of the brain for them. I've heard it called the Critic and the Creative. The Critic is stronger than the Creative, most of the time. And the older you get, the stronger it gets, unless you work to rev up the Creative. The Critic settles down when you are sleeping or doing something that doesn't require concentration, like taking a shower, running the vacuum cleaner or washing the dishes. Do you ever notice you get good ideas when doing things like that?

So, it's best not to edit while you are writing. At least, that's what I've been taught. But I find it almost impossible to do that until I'm down to the wire and simply HAVE to get something finished. Then I bust through, get it down and play with it when I'm done.

We focus on fantasy here, but the editing process is the same no matter the genre.

Chapter One of the book is called "Show and Tell." You may have heard it another way - "Show, Don't Tell." There are times, of course, when you simply need to tell something, but the reader would rather be shown. Here's an example:

Verilla was mad. (telling)

How would you change this to show the reader Verilla is mad? Would it look different if Verilla was a man?

Do you have anything in your WIP that you need help with showing instead of telling? Share it with us, and we'll work on it together. Have fun!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What now?

Okay, so Voice didn't grab much interest. What would everyone like to talk about? I'm totally open to suggestions. I know I have some new readers - would you guys introduce yourselves and let us know what you're working on?

NEWS: I'm excited because an agent has asked for the full of Fairyeater! She's had it for about 6 weeks and I'm hoping to hear something soon. I'll keep you posted.

I gave myself a couple of weeks off and then got to writing again. I completed a picture book manuscript and am now going to begin plotting and developing a new fantasy novel, Koda's Quest.

Suggestions - let me have 'em and we'll get discussing again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Style and Voice

The elusive author's voice ... we've all heard we need to develop our voice. But what IS voice? Voice is something that lays between the words – it carries you and keeps you reading. Why do you (the reader) put a book down? There’s no chemistry between you and the voice. There has to be a connection between you and the characters/story.

Voice is your personality on the page. It’s a controlling presence behind the story narrative – it’s the person, the voice, the entity behind the story, driving the story forward. It’s style. Sentence structure. Sound. And it needs to be distinctive, unique and appropriate for the story.

Style is close to voice, but there’s a difference. It’s part of developing a voice. It’s the relationship between writer and reader and is the vehicle through which you say whatever you have to say. It’s the way you get your story told. Style is more than the way you dress up your story. It’s the complete way you tell the story; point of view, first person, third person, genre.

Style is the literary choices the narrator makes.
Voice is how the characters sound.

Let's talk about voice and style for the next couple of weeks. Let us know if you've found your literary voice/style. And let's talk about the differences between a fantasy voice and a non-fantasy voice.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Interview with fantasy author, Susanne Lakin

Susanne Lakin
The Wolf of Tebron
Living Ink Books, 2010

FFF is proud to offer this interview with Susanne Lakin. Welcome Susanne! I'm honored to have you here. Everyone here has high hopes of publishing fantays novels.

(FFF) Can you tell us a little about yourself?

(SL)I’ve been writing a long time, ever since I can remember, but only in the last four years have I been writing intensively. I was raised by a mother who was a successful screenwriter for TV and so have been around writing all my life. I’ve been married to Lee for 27 years and we have two grown daughters. I love the outdoors and am pretty much a former hippy, so feel more comfortable sitting on the floor and sleeping in the woods!

(FFF) You write contemporary fiction and fantasy. Can you tell us what drew you to fantasy?

(SL) I’ve read fantasy and sci-fi all my life. My favorite books as a young teen were Ray Bradbury’s. I loved his creative mind and imaginative stories. I have read more fantasy than any other genre in my life.

(FFF) The Wolf of Tebron is described as a fairytale. It felt allegorical in nature when I read it. I enjoyed the adventure Joran experienced. I wondered as I read if it was really happening or if Joran's travels were more spiritual in nature.

(SL) Joran’s adventures were real (to him). His dreams were dreams, but it does cross over a bit when Joran has to enter his dream to rescue his wife.

(FFF) Can you tell us how you got started writing it?

(SL) This particular book was inspired by a favorite fairy tale of mine—The Enchanted Pig (Grimss). If you read that tale, you will see a lot of parallels. In it, the wife has to go to the four ends of the world to find her husband. I take elements from traditional fairy tales and tweak them into new stories that are deeper and richer. That’s at least where the basic plot came from. As far as how I got started writing fairy tales, that was a divine assignment, given quite clearly when I read Chesterton’s Ortodoxy and his chapter on “The Ethics of Elfland.”

(FFF) Did you get the characters or the plot first?

(SL) In this case, the plot came first. And I wanted to use an animal to depict God’s faithful love—which could be no other than something in the dog family. A wolf seemed perfect, like Aslan, not tame, but strong and fearless. However, I want to show God has humor and affection as well, so you’ll see that in the book.

(FFF) How do you feel about Christian fantasy authors using magic or dark arts in a novel?

(SL) All Christian fantasy writers cross into these avenues in some way. Some people are offended by that, but as long as the usage and intent behind the imagery is in line with Scripture and its values, to me there’s no problem. I take issue with books like Harry Potter in some ways as they veer readers away from God and his sovereignty and holiness, encouraging magic that leads to self-reliance and self-praise rather than leading to God. That’s not to say every fantasy book should blatantly point to God, but there is a danger in giving the message that dabbling in black arts is perfectly safe and fine from God’s point of view. Using dragons (which is common in Chrsitina fantasy) could be considered wrong, since the only dragon mentioned in the Bible is God’s worst enemy, yet when a dragon is used as a way to lead to biblical truth, it’s not a problem.

(FFF) How do you separate your fantasy ideas from your contemporary ideas?

(SL) I just do. When I’m writing a contemporary novel, I just switch brains. :)

(FFF) Many of the followers of Fairies, Fantasy and Faith are beginning writers. What advice can you give us on writing inspirational fantasy?

(SL) Read a lot of great books. My favorite author for fantasy is Patricia A. McKillip. I aspire to write as well as she does but it’s like a receding mirage that keeps moving farther away the closer I get. Don’t necessarily try to write exactly like them, but study whyand what you love about their writing and stoies, and then pray and trust God to lead you to write what he wants you to write. I am always a bit surprised when these stories formulate in my mind and heart with deep important issues and messages in them.

(FFF) Any other thoughts?

(SL) We need lots of fantasy authors out there writing great books. Fantasy is the best way to reach minds and hearts, and the top best-selling novels in history have been fantasy novels. Don’t let anyone pooh-pooh you for writing in that genre. We all know that it’s the best!

(FFF) Thanks again for being here! We are all excited to know Christian publishing is more and more open to fantasy novels. I believe great truths can be told in stories, and especially fantasy. May God continue to bless your writing. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series!

(SL) Thanks so much!

You can learn more about Susanne and The Wolf of Tebron at

Monday, October 4, 2010

Deepening Characters - part 4

Sorry I missed posting this last week. I was down sick with the swine flu and had a deadline of Sept. 30th to finish Fairyeater for an agent who asked for the FULL! I made it and now I'm waiting for her to read it and get back to me. YIKES!

Also, a reminder that Port Yonder Press is taking proposals for fantasy novels this month only:

This last exercise to help you really know your characters is simple. Your characters must engage the reader by what is happening to them and how they feel about it. Ask your protagonist a question and have her write a letter back to you with the answer. Then do the same thing with your antagonist. Write the answer in their voice.

I asked Akeela if she was really going to go through with becoming the Fairy Guardian. She told me:

You asked if I’m going to become the Fairy Guardian. I don’t know. I mean, Krezma assures me Celtar has planned my steps and given me a purpose. Part of me wants to embrace that. Part of me simply wants to stay in Broem, get married and raise a family.
But my heart is restless. Somehow, deep in inside I’ve always known this is not where I’m supposed to be. I love the forest. I love our cottage. Still, can I believe the prophecy? Can I really be the Fairy Guardian?
My mind is in turmoil, but my path is clear. Yes, I suppose I will go through with it. I hope I won’t lose myself in the doing.

That revealed a lot to me about Akeela's character and personality. Now, it's your turn. Ask your characters what you need to know about them. When you're done, drop us a post and let us know how you made out!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Deepening Characters - part three

I hope everyone benefitted from last week's assignment. Of course, doing this kind of exercise may not help every writer, but the more we delve into our characters' minds and thoughts, the move alive they will be on the page.

I have another exercise for you. This particular exercise helped me learn more about my villian, which added depth to the story. My mentor asked us to write a conversation between our protagonist (mine is Akeela) and antagonist (Tzmet) and use ourselves as the moderator. Begin with a question for both of them. Here's what mine looked like:

Pam: Why don’t you band together and work to make the land and people prosperous?

Tzmet: There is no point to this discussion. I refuse to align myself with this uppity child.

Akeela: You don’t even know me.

Tzmet: I don’t have to. My father’s plan is perfect! Why should I deviate from it just to make you happy?

Pam: Okay, you guys, why don’t we just look at the possibility. That doesn’t mean we have to do it.

Tzmet: Hah!

Akeela: Please, Tzmet. Talk to me. I know about you, how things were when your father was alive –

Tzmet: My father is still alive! Blood worms and swamp grass, why am I even talking to you?

Akeela: Maybe you owe me.

Tzmet: What could I possibly owe you?

Akeela: You killed my father.

Tzmet: Such a lie. I don’t even know your father.

Pam: We’re getting off the subject. Let’s list some advantages to working together, okay?

Akeela: In the battle at Tindan. You killed every man, woman and child there. The only reason I am alive is because Krezma saved me.

Tzmet: Don’t speak that woman’s name to me!

Pam: Guys, come on.

Akeela: Okay, let’s talk about working together.

Tzmet: Please. It will do no good.

Akeela: Maybe it will. I mean, let’s look at what we can do. I can talk to fairies. I can also see auras around living things. That could maybe help with communication between villages.

Tzmet: And why would we want to communicate between villages?

Akeela: What if someone needs help?

Tzmet: Such tender mercy! What will it get you but a bruised heart and lighter purse? People who need will take advantage of you every time.

Akeela: Did that happen to you?

Tzmet: Shut up, you vile creature!

Pam: Maybe we should keep the name calling to a minimum.

Akeela: Combining our strengths can only benefit us. Think about it. You can still live in your castle and you won’t be afraid.

Tzmet: What?

Akeela: You can have the freedom to come and go without people being terrified of you.

Tzmet: I like that. People being scared of me, that is.

Akeela: And you won’t have to be alone. You would have friends.

Tzmet: What would I need friends for?

Akeela: Everyone needs friends.

Tzmet: I’ve never had a friend. Friends betray you. They leave you. They take advantage of you and bleed you dry. I will not show weakness in this way.

Akeela: I’m sorry for you.

This is where I found out my villian was lonely. As you can imagine, it changed the way I handled her. Now, it's your turn. Write the conversation and let us know if you discovered anything or how it helped you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Deepening Your Characters, part two

Real characters keep the reader reading. If they don't care about the characters, they probably won't want to finish the book. Last week, we started to learn how to do this with some basic rules. Now, I have an assignment for you to complete. It's only part of what you can do, but this will get you started. I'll add to it next week.

Answer these questions:

Who is your protagonist?

What is his/her obvious need as the story opens?

What is the protagonist’s hidden need?

What are you trying to get across in the book?

What is the message in one word?

What is a question about the word?

What is the answer to that question?

Where in the Bible can you find an example of this?

The answer to the question is your protagonist’s hidden need. He/she must come to this conclusion.

In the first quarter of the book, you need to make the reader care about the characters. Your characters must engage the reader by what is happening to them and how they feel about it.

Next week, we'll find out even more about our characters with another part to the assignment. Remember, knowing your characters deeply will enhance your writing. It will also help if you are blocked.

Let us know if you found out anything you may not have known with this small exercise. Let me know if it's helped in any way.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Deepening your Characters

Since we have some new readers, let's talk characters again. Fantasy characters are a bit different from other characters. You may have heard it said characters need to be 3D. I would argue fantasy characters need to be 4D. No matter what, our characters need to be real, alive, interesting, believable. How can we do this?

Here are some rules to get you started. Next week, I'll share an exercise to help you really deepen your characters.

6 rules for characters
*Make them suffer (not random)
*Allow their attempts to reach the goal to fail during the course of the story
*Despite the successes, get them to a place of no return
*Consider forcing the protagonist to question their assumptions (am I doing the right thing? Maybe there’s another way to believe.)
*Provide tension on every page (any kind, excitement, fun, or not)
*Give your characters qualities that sometimes serve them well and sometimes don’t

Let's talk character development!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Breaking News!!

Do you have a fantasy novel between 50,000-100,000 words? Port Yonder Press will be accepting proposals for fantasy novels in October! Check out the site:

Get excited and get writing!

Monday, August 23, 2010


I'm back from vacation and trying to get back into the writing swing. Let's talk about how we do that. What tips can you give and what has worked for you?

I babysit my grandchildren two days a week. Today was one of those days, therefore, no writing was done. We did, however, watch a Barbie video (the Nutcracker) and it featured a couple diffrent kinds of fairies. It got me excited about getting back to my manuscript. Of course, I have to finish my post-vacation clean up, but I'm determined to discipline myself better and get my novel completed before someone asks me for a complete.

How do you get yourself going when you're out of sync?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Looking Ahead

Greetings faithful fantasy bloggees! I'm back from the Greater Phila. Christian Writers Conference. It was a good conference this year, fully packed and lots of fun. I'm preparing my family for vacation right now and will be leaving tomorrow for a week. When I return, we'll get back to our fantasy discussions. I've missed them.

Danielle needs help with portraying a scene and characters. We'll definitely get into that. And if you want to talk about anything else, please leave a comment and we'll get to them, as well.

I'm hoping to welcome several new fantasy writers! And you know who you are. :) Please let me know you're here.

I'll be doing some interviews with other fantasy authors now and then and am looking forward to that.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Talk to you soon!

Monday, July 26, 2010

I have not gone over to the dark side

Greetings dear friends - please forgive my silence yet again. I was up to my eyeballs with summer theatre. We did The Jungle Book. I was the music director/accompanist and helped with costumes. It was nuts. We lost a week of rehearsal time because our schools ran late due to all the snow we had this winter, so we had long practice times and even a few evening music rehearsals. But it went well and I'm back in the real world again.

Here I am with Baloo.

Before I go on with the aspects of fantasy writing, I'd like to hear from you. What would you like to talk about? What questions about fantasy do you have? We'll tackle them all.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Meeting Tess Gerritsen

Forgive my silence the last two weeks. We were getting my 17-year-old daughter, Mary, ready to leave for a 6-week internship with in CA, and then summer theatre started (I'm the music director for the kid's show) and wow, here I am, already so busy I can hardly get any writing done! My goal is to finish Fairyeater before the Philly conference in August.

My illustrator friend, Kim, and I also took a trip to Assateague/Chincoteague Islands 2 weeks ago for research on a children's book idea we're working on. It was a great trip.

But the biggie was last night. Another writing friend, Debbie, and I went into Philadelphia to see a screening of Rizzoli and Isles, a new show coming on TNT July 12th at 10pm. It is based on characters from several books by Tess Gerritsen. Tess writes mostly thrillers, but she also wrote one of my favorite sci-fi novels, Gravity. I consider sci-fi a cousin to fantasy. :) We enjoyed appetizers and drinks before the show, got a free t-shirt and Tess did a Q&A and signed books. I took my copy of Gravity and found out it was her favorite book, too! How cool is that?

Here we are with Tess herself! She was warm, funny, interesting and personable. We enjoyed ourselves very much.

I'll get back to the fantasy world next week! Happy 4th of July! God bless America.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Character Development - The Dark Side

We've been talking about character development and how we use our life experiences, memories and emotions to create characters who are vibrant and alive.

Let's look at developing our antagonist or dark characters.

I have to admit, I enjoy writing Tzmet (my witch) very much. She's evil in the beginning, but there's also something humorous about her. She's so vain and she speaks her mind. She holds nothing back. And I've enjoyed her character arc, as I never intended keeping her totally evil. Being a selfish person at times, I draw on my inner thoughts and desires in creating her. Am I like Tzmet? No. But there are times when I wish I could be like her without any bad consequences. HA!! Fleeting thoughts, to be sure, because I really am a nice person.

Her father, on the other hand, is totally evil. I don't get in his POV or his thoughts at all. I simply show him to be cold and and merciless. Of course, I blow him up at the end, but hey, we need a fitting end for the bad guys, don't we?

Let's talk about creating the dark side of characters.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy Anniversary!!

Fairies, Fantasy and Faith has been live for one year! I wasn't sure how I would like blogging, but wanted to try, and it's been great. Thanks, everyone, for taking part in the discussions! I hope you continue to stay with me.

We've been talking about developing characters. Part of character development is drawing from our own experiences and emotions. That can be hard, especially if the emotions and memories are painful. But it brings your character to life.

When I was working on Krezma, the old woman who raised my main character, Akeela, I drew on my own feelings of raising a special needs child. Akeela does not have special needs, but Krezma was forced to take her and raise her. She was in the process of trying to get back to her own daughter and was given the responsibility of a newborn baby girl. Krezma feels resentful - and feels guilty for feeling that way. She's grown to love Akeela, but she's sharp tongued and just plain mean with her. Krezma wants to do the right thing, but she also wants to get back to her plans.

I have times of resentment, too. Raising a special needs child is hard. Anna has autism and seizures. She's severly mentally retarded - at age 19, she still functions at about 18 months with some scattered older skills. I'm tired. I'm stressed. I worry all the time. But I love her and do the best I can for her. I don't treat her like Krezma treats Akeela, but I did draw on some of the emotions I have to create Krezma's character.

I've also had to revisit some old pain to bring life to Akeela. She was okay, but not as interesting or three dimensional as Tzmet (the witch.) I needed to bring Akeela up to Tzmet's strong character. It was hard to relive the feelings I had with the memories, but Akeela is vibrant and alive now. Totally worth the pain.

How do you handle the hard, painful emotions sometimes needed to create characters who are truly alive?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Character Development

Last week we talked about what comes first, character or plot? There's no hard rule for this. Each author does what is best for him or her. But we all have to agree we need strong, interesting characters the reader will care about in some way. They need to be memorable. The reader needs to either root for them or want to see them DIE!! :)

What makes a strong character? And remember, they don't have to be likeable, just memorable. Here are a couple of examples:

Frodo Baggins (The Lord of the Rings) - why do we love Frodo? He has a terrible responsibility thrust on him, but he takes it on with grace and humility. No, he's not perfect and he needs help, but he gives himself to save his world.

Scarlett O'Hara (from Gone With The Wind) - she is a protagonist who is totally self-absorbed, selfish and snarky. But she's memorable. She's strong. She does what she has to to survive. We can admire this without liking her.

So, how do you go about developing your characters, especially main characters? How do you keep control over secondary characters so they don't take over?

Monday, May 17, 2010

What Comes First?

The characters or the plot?

It's been said the characters drive the plot. How your characters react to what's going on determines where the plot goes. That makes sense to me. Consider this scenario:

Kelly is walking through the woods. She hears footsteps behind her. How does she react?

If she breaks into a run, what happens?
If she turns around to face whoever is following her, what happens?
If she ducks behind a tree and leaps out onto who is following her, what happens?

Do you see how Kelly's reaction determines where the plot goes?

How about before you write a single word? What comes to you, the plot or the characters? Does it make a difference for the story? When I got the idea for Fairyeater, the villian (yes, the Fairyeater) came to me first. Then I had to figure out why she eats fairies and what happens when she eats them. How is the world affected?

After that, I had to come up with a hero who would stop her somehow. Then I had to answer the questions, why does she need to stop the Fairyeater? What would happen if she didn't? What is the ticking time bomb - meaning, if the Fairyeater isn't stopped by a certain time, what will happen?

So, let's talk about how the characters drive the plot this week. Next week, we'll look closer at character development.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Post Retreat Reentry Syndrom

Greetings, fantasy friends. Yes, I'm suffering a terrible case of post-retreat-reentry-syndrom after last week's amazing workshop. I'm still processing everything.

I have things for us to talk about and will post a new topic next week. Right now, I'm taking care of the house, kids, grandkids and my hubby, who just had knee surgery this morning. I did get some writing done in the waiting room. :)

I also took a host of fantasy pics, which I'll be sharing on fairiesfantasyandfaithpictures (see the link to the right.)

So, before we get back to discussing fantasy writing, does anyone have a workshop or conference experience they want to share?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More updates

Wow! And wow, wow! We took a tour of Highlights and Boyds Mills Press yesterday and met several editors. It was so interesting and exciting! I don't just write fantasy, but other children's books, as well, so I have a couple of things on my mind that I think I can send in to both when I get home.

My group critique went well. No *big* problems, just some things that need clarification. I read my new prologue and got tears and applause. :)

Today, I'll do some more revisions and then our last group critique and workshop. Tomorrow, we have an agent joining us to talk about the fantasy market. She's also meeting with us individually so we can ask questions, practice our pitch or read our first page. Then I'll meet with my mentor again and talk about how the revisions are going. Laura Ruby has been great. She's smart and creative and really listens. I drive home on Saturday. Can't believe this incredible week is almost done! How will I ever get back into my regular routine??

I'll try and update you tomorrow night.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Workshop Update!

hi all! I'm having an amazing time here in the Poconos at the Highlights workshop. I've already written a new prologue and am working on revisions. We have LOTS of time to write here. I have my own, little cabin and we have breakfast together and then the whole morning is ours to write. Then lunch and group critiques, a break, a workshop, dinner and more time to write. It's a writer's dream! I don't know how I'll ever come back to the real world. HA!

Our group workshops aren't really the kind where you can take lots of notes - but more of a conversation. I'm trying to capture as much as I can so I can share with you.

I have my group critique tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.

There's a running stream at the bottom of the hill and I took a long walk on Sunday morning and got lots of great fantasy pictures. Will post them on my Fantasy Photo site when I get home.

I'll update you tomorrow!

Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm Off!

I'm heading out tomorrow morning for the Highlights Workshop. Please pray for me for traveling mercies (I'm driving) and that I learn all sorts of good stuff that I can share with you!!

See you in 10 days!

Friday, April 23, 2010

New Fantasy Titles

Announcing a new fantasy series: The Wolf of Tebron (Living Ink, September 2010)
You can check it out on the right under fantasy-related sites, CS Lakin. Congratulations to Susanne!

This is an encouragement to fantasy writers. Living Ink Books was created specifically for Bryan Davis and his Dragons In Our Midst series. It is an imprint of AMG -

When I spoke to Rick Steele (editor) a couple of years back at the Philly conference, he said AMG wasn't sure if they were going to add to their fantasy list. Now, it seems they've changed their minds. This is very cool! Rick is going to be on faculty at the Greater Phila. Christian Writers Conference this year:

Kathleen Kerr from Zondervan will be there, too, and she is looking for YA fantasy!

I am also on faculty and will be teaching one workshop on building a fantasy world as well as a workshop for Teens Write. My friend and writing partner, Joyce Magnin, and I will be doing the First Timers Orientation. Hope you all can come out! Anyone who is attending the Philly conference, let us know and we'll arrange to have lunch or dinner or meet in the evening and hang out a bit.

On a side note: we need a name for ourselves. Are we FFFers? That doesn't work for me. Fantasy Friends? Let's come up with a name so I can greet you properly.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm riding a tidal wave!

hey friends ~ well, I leave in 11 days for the Highlights workshop. I'm getting pretty excited about it. I have 7 fifteen page manuscripts to read and make notes on before I go and have done 2 so far. It's really neat to see what other fantasy writers have come up with.

God is blessing me in ways you can't imagine. A great, big tidal wave of blessing! I told my daughter's equine therapist, Jill, about the workshop and how I was accepted and how I'm working to earn the money to go. I had prayed about sending out support letters, but felt God was telling me not to do it. He said He would bring in the money. I was to keep working at whatever came my way and trust Him. So, I did. I got some editing jobs, a sewing job, a cleaning job, am planning a yard sale this weekend, did a friend's hair and a couple of friends gave me money. Jill was so excited about all this that she told a friend. Her friend is so excited about my story, SHE wants to send money. She's going to send $500!! That was on Wednesday last week.

Thursday, Jill calls to tell me she told another friend and that friend wants to send $100! By this time, I'm dizzy with excitement.

Saturday, we attended the spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the Autism Center and Jill was the speaker. She came up to me in the beginning and said she had told all the teachers in her school and they want to send money, too! She thinks she has $1,200!!! My knees almost gave out! HA!! I have a balance of $1,500 and here, Jill has raised almost all of it. And without me asking for a penny. WOW!!

I'm riding this tidal wave of blessing and screaming COWABUNGA! and wondering where in the world I'll end up! But I know God will be with me.

Isn't it amazing? I wanted to share this with you in hopes that your faith will be encouraged. God doesn't always make things this easy, so when He does, it's cause for celebration. I hope you all hang in there and keep working and look for the blessings. I can't wait to go and come back and share everything I learned with you!!

Glory to God!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Taking a Break

I sent in my manscript for the Highlights workshop last week. We were told to stop working on it because that's what the workshop is for. So, I stopped.

It's driving me nuts!

Let's talk about taking a break from our writing. Do you take breaks? Why? For how long? Are breaks beneficial? How?

I am reading Terry Brooks' latest trilogy, Genesis of Shannara. Ohmygosh. I seriously want to have lunch with this man! HA!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

Even from the grave we make our song - Alleluia! Alleluia!

I wish you all a most blessed and joyous Easter celebration! Jesus is alive!!

With great hope in Christ,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Taking Chances

I finished up what I'm going to send to the author who will be mentoring me for the Highlights workshop. I'll print it out - all 392 pages - and get it in the mail next week. I wanted to include the beginning of the third part because I'm doing something really different and wanted feedback on it.

My writing partner said I surprised her. She reassured me that was a good thing. There are times when an author will surprise her, but she doesn't like it. However, what I did seemed to work.

Are you taking any chances in your writing? How do you feel about it? What kind of feedback are you getting? Do you think fantasy writers can take more changes and get away with it?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Work Habits

I want to continue to get to know everyone better. Let's talk about our work habits. Do you write everyday? Do you have a special place for writing? Do you ever go somewhere else to write? How important are these things? Can you share anything that helps you?

On a personal note: I was #1 on the waiting list for that Highlights Whole Novel Workshop for Fantasy and this morning received an email telling me someone can't make it ... so, I'm going!! I can hardly believe it. I have to raise about $2,000 because I got a small grant, but I believe if God brought me this far, He'll help me get what I need. I can't wait to share everything I learn! The workshop is May 1st-8th.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Writing Dreams

Let's take a break from the writing process, get to know each other a little and have some fun. :)

When did you know you wanted to write?
When did you know you wanted to write fantasy?
What are your dreams for your writing? It's okay to dream BIG!
How many novels have you written? Are they all fantasy novels?
Do you write anything besides novels?
Anyone considering your novel/short story/article or devo?

I'll jump in later!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Adding Romance

One part of character development is the romance angle. Let's face it, a story is always a little more exciting when there's a bit of romance involved. Do you agree or disagree?

And do we handle this differently in fantasy?

Of course, it depends on what age you are writing for and the audience you're aiming at. But I have a suspicion even boys don't mind romance if it's handled properly. I'm writing YA fantasy and I do have a love interest for Akeela. I've had to tread carefully, though, showing their attraction to each other. I want it to be real, but I don't want to stray too far.

My friend, MaryAnn Diorio, is talking about romance right now on her blog, The Write Power (the link is to the right on my blog list,) and she's breaking it down nicely. Check it out.

But let's talk fantasy romance here. If you've included it, how are you handling it? And don't worry if you don't have romance. It's not necessary for every story. But I'd like to hear from you anyway, because you've probably read books with romance in them. How do you feel about adding romance to fantasy?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fantasy Characters

We've batted characters around a couple of times, but I want to look deeper at fantasy characters. How are they different from contemporary characters? How are they the same?

We are all familiar with elves, dwarves, wizards and the like. How can we come up with new fantasy characters that are fresh and interesting?

How can you take an "old" fantasy character and make them new?

In my WIP, I use fairies. They aren't the main characters, but are crucial to the plot. I wanted to do something different, so I researched them and bought books about them. Then I took an idea from one book and used the four elements: earth, air, fire, water. I gave each group of fairies a specific job in the world I created. I want to do something similar in each book I write and have already come up with two other types of fairies that are different from what I've learned about fairies.

I have two groups of people I totally made up: the Kazmura (cave people) and the Acadians (forest people). It took some time, but I worked at developing them before I added them to the story by figuring out their habits, history, beliefs, environment, etc. I came up with new words and phrases for each group.

I also have dwarves, but wanted to make them fresh and different somehow, so I took what I knew about them and only tweaked them a little. They look like regular dwarves and they are miners ... but my dwarves mine salt. It adds a new dimension to an old group of characters.

Let's talk fantasy characters. How are you handling developing new ones or making old ones fresh?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Struggles and Writing

Hope you enjoyed your "snow day!" I had a real nice weekend in Williamsburg and got quite a bit of writing done. Not as much as I would have liked, but I'm pretty satisfied. Akeela is out of the caves, but has accidently fallen into a Moon Dancer ring. How will she get out? We'll find out in the third part of the book. Right now, I have to finish the second part. And I'm so close, I can smell it! HA!!

I came home to find out a couple of writing friends are experiencing some struggles with their health. They want to write, but are being interrupted by doctor visits and worries.

I've heard it said rough times make for a better writer. We actually become better writers after we've experienced pain of some sort ... especially emotional. What is up with that??

Are you experiencing struggles this week? How are you handling them?

Has going through fire and trial made you a better writer? Any idea why?

Let's talk.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow Day

Here on the East Coast, we've had a pounding of snow and we're expecting more tomorrow. Thankfully, the power stayed on in my area. Those down the shore are not so fortunate.
I'm giving myself and you a Snow Day. We'll have another topic for discussion next week!
Talk to you then ~ keep writing!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Building A Fantasy World

First, an announcement: I want to let everyone know about an incredible workshop possibility for MG/YA fantasy novelists. Highlights is sponsoring a week-long, mentoring workshop with established fantasy authors. They are only taking 8 authors. Check out the details here:

I've applied and am waiting anxiously! You never know what God will decide.

We talked about Character Arc for our heroes and villians - some secondary characters should have complete character arcs, too, but we don't need to talk about at this point.

Let's talk about building our worlds. Fantasy writers have somewhat of an advantage over contemporary writers in that we can do anything we want with our worlds. We don't have to obey the laws of nature or have a world that is like Earth. Of course, we want to make our worlds real so the reader feels part of the story. How do fantasy writers create fantasy worlds that seem real? What do we include? What should we avoid? I look forward to good discussion!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Character Arc Part Two

Last week we looked at Character Arc for our heroes. What about our villians? Do we need a completed Character Arc for them, as well? I believe so. Readers like well defined characters, whether good or bad. Villians need to be real or we won't believe our heroine really is in trouble. And villians need growth and change. But don't get me wrong. It doesn't mean your villian must be redeemed, although that works for some stories (remember Return of the Jedi?) Change/growth can be for the good or bad.

How are you handling the Character Arc for your villian? I can't wait to hear.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Character Arc

My annual weekend retreat with my private writer's group was this past weekend. We studied charactar arc, which is very timely since it's the next thing I want to talk about here.

What is character arc? Simply put, it's the path a character takes toward the end of the book. How they grow or change. It can a change for the better or a change for the worse. Significant or small. In some stories, characters don't really *change*. But characters should experience growth.

In fantasy, we can play more with character arc. And we have the freedom to include at least one character who is totally evil and doesn't change, except for being defeated (killed) by the hero. In LOTR, Sauron, the dark lord, is totally evil, has no personality and does not change. But he's not really a main character, even though he's the main antagonist. Saruman, however, does go through a change - for the worse. We don't see him before he turns over to Sauron's side, but we know he was not always this way because Gandalf tells us. And we see him fall deeper and deeper into Sauron's power.

So, let's look at character arc. This week, we'll start with your hero's character arc. In the beginning of your story, where is your hero emotionally, spiritually, mentally? What is their hidden need? Where are they in the middle? The end? Have you given the reader a completed, satisfying character arc? Where do you want to see your hero land? What is the end point? What growth do you hope to see at the end?

Lots of questions. You don't have to post an answer to every one, but I've included them to help you really see your hero and ponder where you want them to go. Let's talk!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Sorry to be late in posting this week. I lost a beloved friend from high school to cancer yesterday. I've been thinking of nothing else.

I'd like to talk about ideas. I think we may have touched on this subject, but let's talk about it again.

Ideas are everywhere. They come out of the blue. They come from seeing something - a picture, a friend, a movie, another book. The Bible says there's nothing new under the sun, so when we get an idea, we have to make sure we give it enough of a twist to make it fresh.

Where do your ideas come from? How do you decide which ideas are keepers? How do your life experiences help? How do they hinder?

Let's talk!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year and Setting Goals

We had some good discussion on The Hero's Journey. I hope it's helped you with your writing.
Here is a brief overview:

Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where they recieve the CALL TO ADVENTURE. They are RELUCTANT at first, or REFUSE THE CALL, but are encouraged by a MENTOR to CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the Special World, where they encounter TESTS, ALLIES and ENEMIES. They APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE, crossed a second threshold where they endure the SUPREME ORDEAL. They take possession of the REWARD and are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World. They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the experience. They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the Ordinary World.

The Hero's Journey is a skeletal framwork that needs fleshing out with details and surprises of the individual story. The structure shouldn't call attention to itself or followed too precisely. The order of the stages above is only one of many combinations. The stages can be deleted, added to and shuffled around without losing any of its power. Only you, as the author, can determine what your story requires.

So, now we face a New Year. This is a good time to set some goals and share them. It's important to have encouragement to keep our goals, so let's help each other and hold each other accountable. What are your writing goals for 2010?