#writephoto – The Wasting

Sue Vincent runs a wonderful writing prompt, #writephoto, each week, using her own photography as inspiration. Maybe it’s the snot monster talking, or maybe, once again, Sue has come up with a great image, but as soon as I saw this week’s photo I heard the first line of a story. And here it is:

‘So that’s the last of it then, is it?’

‘Well, yes.’ I shuffled sideways, as though I could hide the patch of green. ‘I’ve used all of it.’

Master Pinchface advanced on me, bony finger extended. ‘And you call this a Wasting then, do you?’

‘Um.’ I looked around. I mean, the place did look pretty much like a wasteland. Or at least the start of one. The grass dead and tumbled, the soil rising as dust to the sky. Except for that one patch. ‘Well…’ My voice cracked, and I felt myself flush.

‘Let me get this straight.’ The Master glared at me, eyes red under his hood. ‘You were given, at great expense by the Council, a bag of Wasting dust. And your job, your only job, was to render this,’ he grimaced, waving his arm, ‘place,’ he spat the word, ‘a wasteland. Am I correct?’

I nodded. My mouth twisted and I shuffled a little further away. It hadn’t been my fault, really it hadn’t. But she had been so pretty, sitting there in her russet gown, wings all silvery like the moon on harvest night. I’d not had the heart to sprinkle the dust where she sat, combing her long dark hair and singing, her voice like chiming bells. And then when I remembered it was too late, the bag flapping empty in the wind. And now she was gone.

‘So tell me,’ the Master went on,’ what is the golden rule regarding a Wasting?’ He raised feathery eyebrows, shrivelled lips pursed.

I cleared my throat. ‘Um, the rule is, Let no green remain, or the land will grow again.’ I bit my lip. ‘I didn’t mean to,’ I went on. ‘And I think, well, it’s not too bad, is it?’

Not too bad?’ Master Pinchface’s voice rose to a shriek, tattered sleeves catching the wind. ‘You must be joking!’ He advanced on me, pointing his finger again. Too late I saw the tip had started to glow. The last thing I heard before my world went dark was laughter. Silvery, like bells on the wind.

———–

Master Pinchface moved forward, the pointed toe of his boot pushing at a pale stone lying on the grass, all that remained of the young apprentice. He shook his head. Taking a small bag from his pocket he opened it, spilling black dust that swirled across the small patch of green grass, turning it to brown. Now that, he thought with satisfaction, was a proper Wasting.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

New Release – The Spirit Well by Charles Yallowitz – Return to Windermere

Return to Windemere in THE SPIRIT WELL!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Born from the light and darkness, Dariana can no longer avoid her fate.

The final corrupted temple stands between the champions and Baron Kernaghan having their great battle. Only one problem: the Compass Key refuses to work with Dariana, who long ago wiped all memories of the Spirit Well from her mind. Now, they are forced to follow a trail of clues that Dariana’s former self left behind centuries ago. It is a path that will lead the champions into a part of their friend’s past that could tear them all apart.

Will the bonds of friendship be stronger than the call of blood?

Grab it on Amazon!

Add it to your Goodreads ‘To Read’ List!

Excerpt: I’m Sorry . . . Again

“I’m sorry, but I told you that my powers make the Compass Key argumentative when it comes to the Spirit Well,” Dariana sheepishly explains while rubbing her clear ring. She smiles when Fizzle lands on her head, the drite’s cool tail running down her spine. “This is very scary for me. None of the champions have made it to this temple, much less the final battle with my father. It’s hard to take in after this destiny being my entire life for so long. I used to always dream of how I would handle my temple, but things are different now that it’s no longer a distant dream. What if I make a mistake and get someone killed?”

“We trust you, my friend, and know that you will not fail,” Timoran whispers as he slides the Compass Key across the table. He is confused when the relic sparks at her touch and gets pushed back into his hand. “That is fairly disheartening. If you cannot use the Compass Key then there is no way to find this Spirit Well. Perhaps it does not like your physical touch and will respond to your telepathy. I wonder why the gods would create this obstacle.”

“It’s possible that we did this,” Delvin suggests while using one of his enchanted rings to create a delicious cup of coffee. He gestures for the barbarian to throw the relic over to him, but the red-haired barbarian refuses. “You’re right, Timoran. Probably not a good idea to toss something like that around. Anyway, we had the Compass Key warded against agents of the Baron. They aren’t able to see it, which means they can’t find or use it. The decision made sense at the time, but things are different now. Maybe our spell has a small effect on Dariana. Not saying you’re working with the Baron, but there could be enough of an aural touch to cause this problem. Do you think we should cancel the spells, Nyx?”

The channeler heats up a cup of tea, which she sips at while considering the possibility of her magic being the issue. “They should stay because I don’t think they’re the problem. Dariana said this has happened before, which means the gods made a mistake. Sorry for how that came out. Gabriel, who better not get angry at this conversation, created the Compass Key first and then turned Dariana into a champion. He couldn’t fix the problem thanks to the Law of Influence, so it’s remained all this time. Though he had to have created something to help us move on.”

“Maybe we have to find Isaiah and he’ll lead the way,” Sari says from the couch. Flipping to her feet, she joins her friends and immediately takes a strawberry off Luke’s plate. “He hasn’t been much help since the first temple, so one has to wonder what his purpose is. I doubt we need his protection any more, which means he has to have another role to play. What do you think, Dari?”

The telepath rubs her temples while scanning the city for a sign of the fireskin, part of her praying he is not nearby. Dariana finds evidence that Isaiah has been spying on them until recently, but the caster is long gone. She considers tracking the faint trail and goes as far as the outer wall, which is where the psychic tracks make an odd leap into the sky. The strain of following Isaiah any further makes Dariana pull back and return to find that everyone is staring at her again. Realizing that she can no longer delay the inevitable, she gets out of her chair and kneels to her friends. Fizzle is still clinging to her head, which makes the apologetic bow both amusing and awkward.

“I know I say this a lot, but I really am sorry, my friends,” Dariana states while keeping her forehead pressed to the stone floor. She looks up at the sound of rustling feet and is surprised to see that everyone is approaching her. “Long ago, I managed to avoid being put back to sleep long enough to track down the Spirit Well. My curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know where my path would meet its end. I was still forced to wipe my memory of the location, but I do know that I left a map behind. There are a few clues that I buried in my subconscious where even I could not dislodge them after erasing the original discovery. More may come to me as we get closer, but all I know now is that we should go to Rodillen. I was hoping the Compass Key would work and we could avoid this extra journey.”

“Like our luck would be that good,” Nyx mutters while she helps Dariana stand.

Need to catch Legends of Windemere from the beginning? Then click on the covers below!

You can start for FREE . . .

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Or grab the $4.99 ‘3 in 1’ bundles!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen 3D Conversion by Bestt_graphics

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
3D Conversion by Bestt_graphics

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

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Also Available in Single eBooks:

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Interested in a new adventure? Then grab your Kindle & dive back into the world of Windemere! Don’t forget an apple for Fizzle.

Author PhotoAbout the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

Published! A Thousand Rooms

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-09-25-592Yay! I’ve made my way through the tangle of formatting and emerged on the other side ready to hit the big red Publish button. A Thousand Rooms, my fourth novel, is now available to purchase through Amazon.

A stand-alone novel, A Thousand Rooms follows the story of suddenly-dead Katie and is set in Sydney, Australia, where I lived for a couple of years.

You don’t wake up expecting to die…

Katie is thirty-two, single, and used to work in advertising. She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying, trying to find her way to… wherever she’s supposed to be.

And whoever she’s supposed to be with.

Heaven, it seems, has a thousand rooms. What will it take to find hers?

I’m thrilled to finally have A Thousand Rooms out, almost two years to the day I started writing it. I’ve had a lot of help along the way, and really do appreciate all your support. I’ll be visiting a few blogs in upcoming weeks to talk about the book a little more and in the meantime, if you decide to treat yourself to a copy, thank you and I hope you enjoy it!

Guest Post with Author Kate M. Colby #Desertera

perf5.250x8.000.inddToday I’m very pleased to welcome author (and author-y friend!) Kate M. Colby to my blog. Kate has just released The Courtesan’s Avenger, the second book in her Desertera series (and if you haven’t read her first book, The Cogmsith’s Daughter, get yourselves a copy now!). Set in the steampunk world of Desertera, The Courtesan’s Avenger is a tale of murder, intrigue and justice – I can’t wait to read it 🙂

Today, Kate’s written an excellent post about character motivation, something she feels is key to good story-telling. There’s a lot of useful information here, so read through and let us know what you think in the comments. Take it away, Kate!

As an author, the question I get asked more than any other is: “What advice do you have for aspiring writers?” or some variation of it. With the release of my second novel, The Courtesan’s Avenger, I finally feel like I’m in a place to offer some solid advice (without feeling like an imposter!). So, here it is: if I had
to give just one tip to budding writers, it would be to give your characters, both major and minor, a strong motivation.

Why? Because every person (or magical being or animal) you meet has a goal that drives them, influences their actions, and shapes their personality and worldview. Even a motivation as simple as getting through the work day, or as pure as surviving an apocalypse, can have huge impact on a character’s part in a story. For me, motivation is the core of a character and absolutely essential to creating well-rounded, complex, and relatable individuals. It’s also an aspect of my writing on which I really pride myself and I always love to see mentioned in reviews.

In my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, Aya Cogsmith is driven by revenge. More than anything, she wants to obtain justice for her wrongly executed father and resume her rightful place as heir to his workshop and trade. Aya’s vengeance is the guiding light of the novel and the vessel that influences her decisions (and therefore the plot). The goal makes her relatable to readers – who hasn’t felt wronged before? – and also leads to mistakes and stumbling points that give her further depth.

The sequel, The Courtesan’s Avenger, features a new leading lady with a similar motivation. Dellwyn Rutt wants to obtain justice for a fellow courtesan who has been murdered. However, unlike Aya, Dellwyn’s motives are not self-interested. She simply wants to see a wrong made right. Therefore, the path she takes is entirely different and far less dangerous. Instead of political turmoil, Dellwyn must face conflicts in her own sense of morality, strained friendships, and her inability to fully trust others.

Keep in mind, motivation shouldn’t be exclusive to your main and supporting characters. Know the motivation of everyone in your world. In The Cogsmith’s Daughter, there’s a scene in which Aya goes to a bakery. It’s early morning; the baker has been up since before dawn baking. She wants to get rid of Aya as quickly as possible, but she also wants to show a little kindness to the crestfallen young woman.

Because I know these short-term goals, I can express them through the baker’s actions and words. Will the reader identify them exactly? Maybe, maybe not. But the baker seems all the more real for having these goals.

On a similar note, feel free to give characters secret motivations. For example, Dellwyn’s employer has intimate connections to two of the other employees that I never tell the readers. These affect her aspirations for their careers, what she expects of them, and how she treats them. If I told the readers the full truth of these relationships, there would be a “lightbulb moment,” and the relationships would take on even greater depth. As it is, the employer’s motivations remain appropriately hidden (They’re not key to the plot, after all!), but her relationships to those two employees are complex, interesting, and feel real.

Motivation can make or break a character. It gives readers a way to empathize with, love, or love-to-loathe a character and creates a necessary depth within the character and story. In the case of minor characters, motivation is a simple way to take them from “good” to “great.” If you like character-driven novels (particularly starring strong females), complex relationships, expansive worldbuilding, and a dash of intrigue and romance, I think you’ll like my novels. If you liked the tips in this article, you’ll probably
like what I have to offer on my blog. Links to all this and more below.

Before I sign off, I want to extend a huge thank you to Helen Jones for hosting me. I really appreciate your authorly friendship and the opportunity to share more about my novels and writing process with your readers. If anyone reading hasn’t read Helen’s Ambeth series (What are you waiting for?!), I highly recommend it. It’s another great example of complex, motivated characters.

Wow! Thanks, Kate 🙂 So, what do you think? Like Kate, I agree that knowing the motivation of every character, even the minor ones, is key to presenting a well-rounded story. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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kate-m-colby

Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk fantasy novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

 

Book links:

The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1)

The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2)

Social links:

Website – http://www.katemcolby.com

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/katemcolby

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/authorkatemcolby

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/katemcolby

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/katemcolby

Tumblr – https://katemcolby.tumblr.com

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/katemcolby

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/katemcolby

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+KateMColby

Short Stories and The Experimental Notebook II – A Visit from C.S. Boyack

Craig BoyackToday I’m delighted to welcome Craig Boyack, author, blogging friend and mastermind behind Lisa Burton (I hope Lisa won’t mind me saying that). Craig is a tireless promoter of bloggers and writers across the blogosphere, plus posts plenty of entertaining content, so hop on over to his blog and check it out.

Today Craig is visiting to talk about his latest release, The Experimental Notebook of C.S.Boyack II, now available on Amazon. It’s a collection of short stories, and a follow up to his successful Experimental Notebook I. Here, Craig talks a little bit about the reasoning behind releasing a collection of short stories, and makes some excellent points. In fact, I’m feeling a little inspired myself… Take it away, Craig!

Thanks for inviting me over today. I’m touring around with my new book, The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II. This is a collection of fifteen short stories and micro-fiction of a speculative nature. You will find some science fiction, some paranormal, and one that might pass as fantasy. This is the second collection of short form stories, as you might guess from the title. Since they are stand alone tales, there is no requirement to read the previous one first. They are both priced at 99¢, so you might want to anyway. (I hope.)

My Muse sends me ideas all the time. They always have some interest, but I used to discard them if they wouldn’t carry a novel. On rare occasion, I might weave something into a novel, but it felt incorrect somehow.

I created yet another living document, and started keeping the ideas. Now, whenever I get stuck on a larger plot point, or I simply don’t have time to work on the novel, I hammer away at short stories.

This poses the question of what to do with them. At first I thought maybe I should use them as blog posts, but there were a lot of them. Then I noticed some people marketing them on Amazon. Some of the early examples were one short story for 99¢. This seemed a little off to me, so I kept observing.

Some authors were writing a short story to drive sales of a novel they’d published. That seemed like a really good idea. I read a few of these and the various prequels felt like they were on to something.

I’m not willing to write out backstory and sell it separately from my novels. Then I had the idea of bundling my short fiction together and offering a volume for 99¢. This felt like a better deal to me, and I occasionally buy a short story magazine, so it was familiar too. This is where the first Experimental Notebook came from.

The first one sold so well, that it was worth doing again. I will always write short form, but there is a certain effort that goes into publishing and promoting. As long as people keep reading them, I’ll keep releasing them.

I decided these volumes needed a theme so they seemed familiar somehow. The first cover had an alchemy wheel, and I decided to repeat that by using two on the new release. If I ever release a third one, it will have three wheels, and so on.

Ex NB Cover IIThis time you get fifteen stories, an excerpt from my newest novel The Playground, and a revisit with an old friend for those of you who enjoyed Will O’ the Wisp. I like writing the characters from my novels into short stories after the fact. This way it isn’t backstory, it’s more of a where-are-they-now kind of visit.

I’d appreciate you checking it out, and it’s free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

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Craig Boyack
I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.
I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.
I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

What Happens Next? Add To The Story…

IMG_2594On Thursday I posted my usual Thursday Doors post, although my door this week was blocked up. It happened to tickle the fancy of Craig Boyack, who started to write a tale based upon what he thought was behind the door:

For over a thousand years, the ancient evil remained walled up behind a blessed doorway at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
In the summer of 2016, an overzealous archaeologist detected something behind the wall using electromagnetic sounding equipment…

Then I added another bit:

…entering through the old crypt, the archaeologist made their way through the vaulted chambers, footsteps echoing as they headed deeper into the dark…

Then Craig wrote another bit, adding that maybe we could invite participants:

The smell of moss and rot filled their nostrils. The light failed. A slight dragging noise came from farther down…

So I added another bit:

… the smell grew stronger, but with a hint of something darker, like smoke from a funeral pyre. All at once the archaeologist was aware of the great weight of stone pressing down from above…

And I agreed with Craig – it would be fun to get some more writers involved. So, what happens next? Make sure you read the comments, and let’s see if we can keep this story thread going 🙂

A Journey Through Ambeth, Part II

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about the real landscapes that had inspired Oak and Mist, my first Ambeth book. With the release of Hills And Valleys, the third book in the series, that landscape has now expanded somewhat. So, with the past week being what it was, I thought I might take a wander through my fantasy world, and share it with you 🙂

I hope this isn’t too much like Toto pulling back the wizard’s curtain in Oz – I just wanted to share the landscapes I had in mind when I wrote the Chronicles. For Alma’s adventures in the human world, I used real locations – places I’d lived in or visited many times that had left an impression on me. However, when I created Ambeth, I didn’t have specific places in mind, wanting instead to write the world I could see in my mind’s eye. Later, when I looked back, I could see where the influences had come from.

IMG_0541

Hearst Castle, California

‘From out of an immense structure of white stone came towers topped with tiles that gleamed like mother of pearl… It shone so brightly in the sun that Alma blinked, shading her eyes.’  Oak and Mist

IMG_2028

Criccieth Castle, Wales

‘My heart rejoices at the thought that our old castle will guard my secret, high on its mound behind its twin-towered gate.’ Hills and Valleys

Notre Dame Doors

Doors to Notre Dame, Paris

‘The large wooden doors… were wondrously crafted, with hinges made from intricately shaped and figured metal that curved across the… wood like living things.’ Oak and Mist

Criccieth, Wales

Criccieth, Wales

‘Alma sat with Merewyn on a low wall near the jetty, looking along the curving beach to the mountains beyond.’ Hills And Valleys

Inspiration comes to us from many places. I recently walked past a grove of trees in my neighbourhood and immediately had another book idea. An unusual outside light on a neighbour’s house inspired a short story. So how about my fellow writers out there? Do you write from the real world, or gather influences to shape a new landscape? And where have you been that has inspired you?