Going With The Flow

Chapter 15 out of 21 chapters, is off to the editor. The current project is right on track.

What? Huh? Just what do you think you’re up to? Are you really sending off just one chapter at a time to the editor? Are you nuts?

This might be what some are thinking, if they are following my entries in my face book fan page.

So what am I up to? Why not wait and send the whole manuscript to the editor? Well, let me splane the madness.

Pst, pst; that was intentional.

We work at it and work at it, and finally we think we have the story, from start to finish. Now back to the beginning. We throughly go through the first 3 chapters and eventually call it good. Then we notify the editor and when she is ready we send off the first chapter with synopsis of the story, chapter by chapter. This starts the editing process of sending and receiving chapters.

This does 2 things.

It imposes a deadline: We know that we will be getting a chapter back, so we have to have another chapter ready to go out to editing. If we are not ready, it breaks the flow.

This gives a sense of progress: Chapter by chapter editing gives us a sense of progress, of flow, of accomplishment. I know, that’s silly, but hey, that is how we see it.

Since we think the manuscript is complete, we do a final review of the chapter before it goes out to our editor. This way we only partially fall into the trap of “we can add this to make it better.” The rewriting trap.

Getting a chapter back from editing, going over it and then sending it out and getting comments back from beta reader, gives us a sense of progress. If we sent the whole manuscript out for editing, that would take what? Month or two to come back. Then we would have a couple of weeks of checking it out? Then we would need to send it out for beta reading. Another couple of months? Before we get it back? So while we wait for the return of our work, we sit around and twiddle our fingers. So to speak.

Now some might say, that would be a good time to work on the next project. And they would be right. But for me, waiting for the whole book to come back makes it feel like I have not accomplished anything, that I am not doing anything for it.

When we get a chapter back from editing or from beta reading, it’s like the 25th of December. “Lets see what others had to say about it.” Do our thing and then, wait with anticipation for the next one.

Lone Wolf

Note: This is a work of fiction. Something that simple sprang to mind.

Lone Wolf

With all her big brothers and sisters off to school, our ranch became a lonely place for our three-year-old daughter, Becky. She longed for playmates. Cattle and horses were too big to cuddle and farm machinery dangerous for a child so small. We promised to buy her a puppy, but in the meantime, “pretend” puppies popped up nearly every day.

I had just finished washing the lunch dishes when the screen door slammed and Becky rushed in, cheeks flushed with excitement. “Mama!” she cried. “Come see my new doggy! I gave him water two times already. He’s so thirsty!” I sighed. Another of Becky’s imaginary dogs. “Please come, Mama.” She tugged at my jeans, her brown eyes pleading, “He’s crying–and he can’t walk!”

“Can’t walk?” Now that was a twist. All her previous make-believe dogs could do marvelous things. One balanced a ball on the end of its nose. Another dug a hole that went all the way through the earth and fell out on a star on the other side. Still another danced on a tightrope. Why suddenly a dog that couldn’t walk?

“All right, honey,” I said. By the time I tried to follow her, Becky had already disappeared into the mesquite. “Where are you?” I called “Over here by the oak stump.  Hurry, Mama!”

I parted the thorny branches and raised my hand against the glare of the Arizona sun. A numbing chill gripped me.

There she was, sitting on her heels, toes dug firmly in the sand, and cradled in her lap was the unmistakable head of a wolf! Beyond its head rose massive black shoulders. The rest of the body lay completely hidden inside the hollow stump of a fallen oak.

“Becky!” My mouth felt dry. “Don’t move.” I stepped closer. Pale-yellow eyes narrowed. Black lips tightened, exposing double sets of two-inch fangs. Suddenly the wolf trembled. Its teeth clacked, and a piteous whine rose from its throat.

“It’s all right, boy,” Becky crooned. “Don’t be afraid. That’s my mama, and she loves you, too.”

Then the unbelievable happened. As her tiny hands stroked the great shaggy head, I heard the gentle thump, thump, thumping of the wolf’s tail from deep inside the stump.

What was wrong with the animal? I wondered. Why couldn’t he get up? I couldn’t tell.  Nor did I dare to step any closer. I glanced at the empty water bowl. My memory flashed back to the five skunks that last week had torn the burlap from a leaking pipe in a frenzied effort to reach water during the final agonies of rabies. Of course! Rabies! Warning signs had been posted all over the county, and hadn’t Becky said, “He’s so thirsty?”

I had to get Becky away. “Honey.” My throat tightened. “Put his head down and come to Mama. We’ll go find help.”

Reluctantly, Becky got up and kissed the wolf on the nose before she walked slowly into my outstretched arms. Sad yellow eyes followed her. Then the wolf’s head sank to the ground.

With Becky safe in my arms, I ran to the barns where Brian, one of our cowhands, was saddling up to check heifers in the north pasture. “Brian! Come quickly. Becky found a wolf in the oak stump near the wash! I think it has rabies!”

“I’ll be there in a jiffy,” he said as I hurried back to the house, eager to put Becky down for her nap. I didn’t want her to see Brian come out of the bunkhouse. I knew he’d have a gun.

“But, I want to give my doggy his water,” she cried. I kissed her and gave her some stuffed animals to play with. “Honey, let Mom and Brian take care of him for now,” I said.

Moments later, I reached the oak stump. Brian stood looking down at the beast. “It’s a Mexican lobo all right,” he said, “and a big one!”

“Whew! It’s not rabies,” Brian said. “But, he’s sure hurt real bad. Don’t you think it’s best I put him out of his misery?”

The word “yes” was on my lips, when Becky emerged from the bushes. “Is Brian going to make him well, Mama?” She hauled the animal’s head onto her lap again, and buried her face in the coarse, dark fur. This time I wasn’t the only one who heard the thumping of the lobo’s tail.

That afternoon my husband, Bill, and our veterinarian came to see the wolf.

Observing the trust the animal had in our child, Doc said to me, “Suppose you let Becky and me tend to this fella together.” Minutes later, as child and vet reassured the stricken beast, the hypodermic found its mark. The yellow eyes closed. “He’s asleep now,” said the vet. “Give me a hand here, Bill.” They hauled the massive body out of the stump. The animal must have been over five feet long and well over one-hundred pounds. The hip and leg had been mutilated by bullets. Doc did what he had to in order to clean the wound and then gave the patient a dose of penicillin. Next day he returned and inserted a metal rod to replace the missing bone.

“Well, it looks like you’ve got yourselves a Mexican lobo,” Doc said. “He looks to be about three years old, and even as pups, they don’t tame real easy. I’m amazed at the way this big fella took to your little gal. But, often there’s something that goes on between children and animals that we grownups don’t understand.”

Becky named the wolf Ralph and carried food and water to the stump every day. Ralph’s recovery was not easy. For three months he dragged his injured hindquarters by clawing the earth with his front paws. From the way he lowered his eyelids when we massaged the atrophied limbs, we knew he endured excruciating pain, but not once did he ever try to bite the hands of those who cared for him.

Four months to the day, Ralph finally stood unaided. His huge frame shook as long-unused muscles were activated. Bill and I patted and praised him. It was Becky to whom he turned for a gentle word, a kiss or a smile responded to these gestures of love, by swinging his busy tail like a pendulum.

As his strength grew, Ralph followed Becky all over the ranch. Together they roamed the desert pastures, the golden-haired child often stooping low, sharing with the great lame wolf whispered secrets of nature’s wonders. When evening came, he returned like a silent shadow to his hollow stump that had surely become his special place. As time went on, although he lived primarily in the brush, the habits of this timid creature endeared him more and more to all of us.

His reaction to people other than our family was yet another story. Strangers terrified him, yet his affection for and protectiveness of Becky brought him out of the desert and fields at the sight of every unknown pickup or car. Occasionally he’d approach, lips taut, exposing a nervous smile full of chattering teeth.  More often he’d simply pace and finally sulk off to his tree stump, perhaps to worry alone.

Becky’s first day of school was sad for Ralph. After the bus left, he refused to return to the yard. Instead, he lay by the side of the road and waited. When Becky returned, he limped and tottered in wild, joyous circles around her. This welcoming ritual persisted throughout her school years.

Although Ralph seemed happy on the ranch, he disappeared into the surrounding deserts and mountains for several weeks during the spring mating season, leaving us to worry about his safety. This was calving season, and fellow ranchers watched for coyotes, cougars, wild dogs and, of course, the lone wolf. Ralph was lucky.

During Ralph’s twelve years on our ranch, his habits remained unchanged.

Always keeping his distance, he tolerated other pets and endured the activities of our busy family, but his love for Becky never wavered.

Then the spring came when our neighbor told us he’d shot and killed a she-wolf and grazed her mate, who had been running with her.  Sure enough, Ralph returned home with another bullet wound.

Becky, nearly fifteen years old now, sat with Ralph’s head resting on her lap. He, too, must have been about fifteen and was gray with age. As Bill removed the bullet, my memory raced back through the years. Once again, I saw a chubby three-year-old girl stroking the head of a huge black wolf and heard a small voice murmuring, “It’s all right, boy. Don’t be afraid. That’s my mama, and she loves you, too.”

Although the wound wasn’t serious, this time Ralph didn’t get well. Precious pounds fell away. The once luxurious fur turned dull and dry, and his trips to the yard in search of Becky’s companionship ceased. All day long he rested quietly.

When night fell, old and stiff as he was, he disappeared into the desert and surrounding hills. By dawn his food was gone. The morning came when we found him dead. The yellow eyes were closed. Stretched out in front of the oak stump, he appeared but a shadow of the proud beast he once had been. A lump in my throat choked me as I watched Becky stroke his shaggy neck, tears streaming down her face.

“I’ll miss him so,” she cried.

Then as I covered him with a blanket, we were startled by a strange rustling sound from inside the stump. Becky looked inside. Two tiny yellow eyes peered back and puppy fangs glinted in the semi-darkness. Ralph’s pup!

Had a dying instinct told him his motherless offspring would be safe here, as he had been, with those who loved him? Hot tears spilled on baby fur as Becky gathered the trembling bundle in her arms. “It’s all right, little Ralphie,” she murmured. “Don’t be afraid. That’s my mom, and she loves you, too.”

 

So What is Next?

So what is next up, now that ‘The Challenge’ is getting closer to completion. I really don’t know. There is ‘Devon’ waiting in the wings, and I have 11 other concepts with at least a rough draft of the rough outline of the rough idea.

So what is next. The Merlin like story? One of a couple of space adventures? Maybe the underwater/spy/save the world like story? Some would say, that, Devon should be next, if that is his story, and picks up where ‘The Challenge’ leaves off. Which it does, and which it is. Even though I try to stay clear of it, some things just sneaked in.

I have tried and tried to stay away from Devon. There is more to his story then the character in the story. He is the character that started this roller coaster, oh so very long ago, and neither he nor I could have guessed, that what was developing, was ever going to be told.

Shawna, created and operated by the better half, Deeitras, and another (who, out of respect will remain nameless), were the primary developers for helping to create Devon. Yes, there was a real personality behind Shawna, and a real personality behind Arianna.

Arianna, not the original character’s name, (again out of respect for the operator,) who will be paramount in the book, ‘Devon’. In the Challenge you get a small taste of her. But to do the character, and the operator justice is going to be tough.

Devon is going to be the hardest story to write. I am guessing that it will take at least a year, once we get started, to finish the first draft.
In the mean time, I think I need to probably work on my scifi space adventure. The first story published on amazon, before I got a program that made life so much easier, as far as getting the stories published. ‘The Guardian Returns’. Then there will be two genres out there from my one brain cell. Perhaps I should start promoting a bit more. Some might be saying that I should have been doing that all along, promoting. But I wanted to learn and grow a bit before I let the wolves have at me. Though they will find that I am very tough to chew on, and not very tasty. But I can learn a thing or two from the wolves.
Who knows, even now I can feel Devon trying to break free, but, for the here and now. ‘Demesne, The Challenge’ needs to fly in the wind, and soar free with the other dragons.

Life

Note: This is a work of fiction. Something that simple sprang to mind.

Life

In this modern time, people go about their daily lives and have forgotten, and can no longer acknowledge the one part of their world that makes it all possible.  They wake up to the blare of the alarm clock, then it is the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the day with showers, breakfast, getting dressed for either school or work.  The shouted questions and answers, the rumble of the car or bus, hum of the tires, and the clamor of the radio.  Clicking of computer keyboards, tapping of pencils, shuffling of feet and chairs.  Then home to the family and the arguments and fights, laughter and giggles.  Then to bed so that the next day it can start all over.

My eyes opened to darkness.  Night would soon be replaced by the warmth and glow of the sun.  The all encompassing black of the night was broken up into shifting shadows of gray, black, and the silvery glow of the full moon.  The long dark shadows, of the trees across the ceiling, looking like cracks running across the top of a frozen winter lake.  Outside the trees have taken on the appearance of bent and twisted poles.

A slight breeze, moving through the tops of the trees, brought the faintest sounds, dry Autumn leaves rustling in the tree tops, the call of an owl as it makes its last flight for food of the night.  I could hear the other campers, some snoring, the rustling of material as they shifted in their sleeping bags, and some mumbling as they dreamed.

I was the first to awaken, and I did not want to disturb the tranquility that mother nature had spread over us, like a big warm feather blanket, to cover the harshness of our modern life.  I was warm and comfortable, snuggled into my sleeping bag.  The air had a cool clean crispness that carried the smells that only nature has.  Moisture in the form of the morning dew.  Pine, a light tangy sent that can almost make you feel the point of the needles.  A damp mustiness of leaves decaying on the ground mixed with the dryness of the soil.

Sliding out of the sleeping bag, the chill of the morning air is like hundreds of needles lightly poking into the skin.  Energizing the body to meet the day.  I shiver slightly, but I feel like I have the strength and energy to handle anything.  I am alive and it is wonderful to be alive.

I walk a short ways away from the camp, to the edge of a hill.  The moon is just about to pass out of sight and the sky is starting to lighten and change colors, as the sun starts to rise above the horizon.  I close my eyes, and as the sun crests the edge of the world I can feel its warmth and energy, as the first rays of light touch my face.

This is what is missing from our daily lives.  To know who and what we are, we must get away from the city, away from people.

Go to the place and time, the birth of a new day.

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Comments are welcome, even encouraged. Let us know what you think.

Did you like this example of mind meandering?
What would have made this better?

 

Editors and Beta readers

Are Editors and Beta readers helpful?

Most say that editors are a necessity and I fully agree with that. If not for spell & grammar checking software, I wouldn’t even consider doing this writing thing. Then there is my editor. Must have! Mine lets me know if I start using one word or phrase too much, tells me when I need to do some more research into this English language thing. And then she adds just a little touch here and there, that, most of the time adds to the scene. Sometimes I don’t agree, and change it. I would never consider sending my editor a rough draft or first draft, that would be cruel. I do the best I can, and when I think I have gotten it good enough, then I send it on. I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I send my work, one chapter at a time to my editor, trying to have a chapter ahead of the one she is working on, in her mailbox. I know a few writers that send the whole manuscript, and wait for the editor to get done with it. I like this chapter at a time, work in progress stuff. Once all the chapters are back from editing and beta reading. I give it a once over, and then send the whole thing back to editing.

So, are editors helpful? For the good editors, I give them five thumbs up, 5 stars, and a life time supply of Wanka bars.

Beta readers. Can you live without them? Some might think so, but, I believe most writers would say that they are needed almost as much as editors. I have a good one, if I can keep him on track. He is not really into the fantasy stories, and I think, not much into reading at all. Which I find to be good. I sent him the outline and the first chapter. Right off the bat he came up with a problem. I hinted at action in the first chapter, but, according to the outline, there was nothing hinting at said action. Ooops! I went over the story, the outline and then the chapter. Everything was fine as far as I could tell. Everything matched, looked good and sounded good. WRONG. So in this case, the beta reader did exactly what he was supposed to do, find content that didn’t seem right. Not so little in this case.

Beta readers, are they helpful? For me, just as much as editors. More Wanka bars.

Inspired by a dream

Inspired by a friends dream

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          While visiting a friends house last evening, I was happy to discover that you lived next door! The house I was visiting had some older women living there and they were very in touch with nature and the energies around them. They knew you well and they knew your children. As we talked, they said that the kids were playing around back, with their kids and that if I wanted, you were probably around in the back, laying on a couch and I could go visit you.
As I came around back, it was great to see the kids, grown more now, playing, having fun with their friends!  You were laying down, very beautiful, very tired, in a very “southern bell” sort of dress. I paused to take in your beauty and to feel how good it felt to see you again. It has been a long time since we have been here, in this dream state….
            Time has weathered you some, but as your eyes opened, you caught my look….  your eyes said hello, but your mind met a moment of fear – wondering where your man was – were the kids safe? and there are the kids, playing just around the corner – of course they are safe….  do you see the size of the guy standing watch over them as mom sleeps? Your fear is gone. Your man is busy and un attending as usual. You smile! “Well there you are” you say. “It has been a long time, glad you are back”
            You seem tired, too tired, and almost frail. I sit down next to you on the bed/couch and you come to life! We sure do bring each other to life – our life. Our parallel universe life that runs in time, on a different plain.
A hug, an embrace and almost…. a kiss. It is always…. almost!  Our minds seemed to cover time in an instant – the this and that of what has been going on…. but always there, and never asked – what happened to “us”?
Always thought, never asked.
            Reality brings you back, the worries the fears…. and yet I, as always, ride the universe a little more – less fear – no worry – you are beautiful!
So I fade off back out front, the kids do notice as I wisp by – leaving my earth eating stride aside for the feet of a Cherokee to pass thru their space, un noticed, leaving them to the joy of the play and no worries of the man they never saw with mommy…
            Casual conversation with the women next door… they do not know your story, as gently I poke.
A daughter of theirs, and artist, a teen, and she flirts with my head as I flirt with her art. We dance, a game of circles… and slowly I fade off… not having unsettled the force – leaving all as found, and peaceful.
 
 
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What are your thoughts about this? Does it have story potential?
 
 

Keeping Characters in Character

We are in the editing phase of the 4th story and I was taking a break. A train of thought came to me about the characters in the series. On how much a stickler I am about the character being who they are.

Huh? You might say. Well let me get on my soap box. 🙂

Maybe it stems from my gaming days or maybe it is just me, but, when I am going through a re-read of a chapter, one thing I try to keep in mind, is the character acting properly.

Does the character maintain the core personality that developed. Are they reacting the way they should or have I given them traits from someone else. Are they walking, talking, reacting and feeling things, the way that their character should.

There has been a time or two when I stop and ask. “would Aithera really do something like that?”, “is Beth talking better then a child of that age?”, “should Jira be scared or concerned, or would she be more able to handle the situation by now?”, “would Aithera wear pants here or would her penchant for skirts or gowns be better?”, “what would Jira be thinking of at a time like this?”

We have even looked at scenes, and re-written the dialog, re-written the scene and even deleted the scene because the character was ‘out of character’ for it.

I said earlier, the core personality that developed. I gave the character a look, a path to follow, and a goal to reach. In the story, the characters personality and being developed around events. Now the character has a life.

I hope the life my characters have is one worth reading about. Do your characters have a life?

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing is a questionnaire going around the author community.  tagged us, so now it is our turn. Participants answer, and then tag five more authors to participate.

Our answers are short, this will apeal to some and others may want more. Feel free to ask for more. What do you want to know?

1. What is the working title of your next book?   Demesne’ Challenge – this is the fourth in the series

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? A comment was made about a couple of characters, and that got us to thinking how we could do it. An idea formed and expanded from that.

3. What genre does your book fall under? Fantasy Fiction

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? This one is tough. There are so many good personalities that would fit.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A challenge is issued, and accepted. The results changes the lives of more than the combatants.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self-Published

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? We are still working on the first draft

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  The world of Shanara (check spelling)

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? Positive feed back from the earlier books, readers wanted more.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest? Interesting characters are not all ways on 2 legs.

 

Now that you know who we are and what we are up to, check out these fine authors:

Vickie Adair on Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Vickie-Adair and her blog www.vickieadair.com

Steve Piacente on Facebook – www.facebook.com/steve.piacente and his blog www.stevepiacente.com

Sandy Wolters on Facebook – www.facebook.com/sandy.wolters.5 and her blog sandywolters.weebly.com

Eleesha – Find her spritual facebook page  www.facebook.com/eleeshathesoulwhispererbook

Alana Nicole Sholar – her book is based on reality find her on facebook  www.facebook.com/pages/Alana-Nicole-Sholar and her site is www.hunginthemiddle.com

Demesne’ New Beginnings teaser 2

Demesne’ New Beginnings teaser 2:

Jira is almost to the trees when several more dark ones come running out, and she skids along the ground and turns, heading off to the side, trying to run around the side of the cottage when several dark ones come around the corner. She skids to a halt, turns, and flings out a hand and a wall of fire springs up between her and the ones from the trees. Turning, she whips her hand in front of her and a wind blows through those on the side of the cottage, scattering them into the building and off to the side. She dashes between them and heads through the old garden and towards a new tree line. Just before she makes it to the trees, she is struck in the back, a cold tingling washes over her as she stumbles and then falls to the ground. The knapsack leaves her hand and lands next to a tree. She rolls over, looking behind her, and then her hands come up and a ball of fire streaks from them towards the group coming at her. Most scatter, but one stands his ground, and raising a sphere, the fire ball is deflected off to the side.
He raises the sphere and points it at her, but she sees a streak on the edge of her vision, and the sphere pointer is struck in the side of the head with a staff. The staff then flies back the way it came and as Jira follows it, a young man steps from the trees and catches the staff. He then starts running towards her.
Jira gets to her feet and whirls around, hearing something behind her, and she gasps as she is grabbed by the shoulders and feels a shock running through her and her arms twitching. Another blur and the staff nails her attacker and knocks him to the side with more blows, faster than the eye can follow, and finally her attacker lies still. The young man moves near her and the dark ones fall as he deflects their attacks and counters. More of the sphere-wielding ones have appeared, but his staff deflects their attacks as well.
Turning, Jira sees more coming from the trees, and then there is a commotion behind them as another staff-wielding man is attacking them from behind. The young man is suddenly next to her.
“We need to get out of here. There are more coming.”

Want more? Take a look at http://www.voldamar.com/voldamarbooks.html

Demesne’ New Beginnings teaser 3

Demesne’ New Beginnings teaser 3:

That night, Jira watches the young man discreetly as she and Brodie are sitting around the campfire. I know I have seen him before, I just can’t place him. She takes a sip from her cup. He is not exactly handsome, but he is cute and so polite. I suppose I could make our return trip faster, maybe jump to the castle now that I know exactly where I am. It just might work this time. But then I would not have the pleasure of his company. She takes another sip and looks around and sees the other man standing slightly away from the campfire like a guard on watch. This Brittle, he is a quiet one, always wary, but relaxed. He moves a lot like Devon. I think it is going to be interesting to find out what his story is … both of their stories, actually.

“You are quiet this night, Miss Jira,” Brodie says softly. “Do I trouble you so that you need to constantly watch me?” Jira startles and blushes, thankful for the darkness.

“Oh dear, have I been that obvious?”

“Not in the least,” he says warmly as he looks over at her. “We are trained to see what others might miss.”

“Oh,” Jira replies and then she gets up the courage to ask, “What is your story? How did you come to be with Brittle?”

Brodie’s brow narrows slightly and then he smiles and his clear blue eyes capture hers. Jira blinks rapidly and then looks down to her cup.

“Brittle says that he found me when I was a babe. He had been sent to protect a valuable person when the estates was attacked. He said he did what he could, but there were too many for him alone.” Brodie turns and looks into the fire. “He said he found me nearly smothered by my mother. She died trying to protect me, and her weight must have taken my breath away, so the attackers left me for dead as well.” He takes a deep breath. “Brittle found that I was alive when he moved my mother to check on me. Since he felt he had lost what he came to protect and he could not sense this person any longer, he took me and fled.”

http://www.voldamar.com/voldamarbooks.html

Short Stories & Thoughts on writing