A little nonsense now and then…

Hi all! My name is Adam M. Johnson. It seems appropriate that an introduction to a fantasy blog should include something fantastical. And so some background information about myself unconstrained by the pedestrian concerns of reality:

I fancy myself a man of few modest accomplishments:

I do not walk on water, though on rare occasions I have been known to skip. The laws of gravity do apply to me, but, fortuitously enough, not to my stock picks.

I once made witty small talk with the prime mover in the Tulsa greyhound station, but (alas) lost her phone number. I have the Dalai Lama on speed dial, Barack Obama in my rolodex and the supreme court in my pocket. The Pope returns my calls.

I have beaten both Gary Kasparov and Bobby Fisher at checkers. My name has become a synonym for audacity in Sanskrit. I am renowned throughout the middle east for my yodeling skills. I alone keep the Bulgarians in check.

I am the reason the Mona Lisa is smiling.

I have gone from the beginning of time to the ends of the Earth, taking only a brief rest stop in the middle of nowhere (Elk City Oklahoma).

I have found dark matter underneath my mattress, and a Platonic form in my closet. Dick Cheney showers in the bathroom and does my laundry on alternate Tuesdays. My middle name is the highest prime number.

I have ascended Mount Everest, though I will admit to taking the elevator. I am only the second person to have ever soloed on the ukulele at Carnegie hall.

I have strolled a four minute mile. I once dozed off in Salt Lake City and woke up with a silver medal in pairs luge. Claims adjusters live in mortal dread of my shadow. I rent out the Brooklyn Bridge for parties.

I have been burgled by Winona Rider, ambiguously wed by Britney Spears, and callously ignored by the academy. I may or may not have been Shirley McClaine in a past life. The California Republican Party exists purely for my own amusement.

I recreate Gene Kelly dance routines in the street when the weather is inclement, and Fred Astaire numbers on my ceiling when it is not. I have turned right at Albuquerque. I have performed the entire St. Matthew’s Passion on harmonica.

The Patent office refuses to look at my perpetual motion machine, but were quite interested in the cold fusion reactor. One idle weekend in January 2003 I constructed Mitt Romney out of balsa wood and misshapen paper clips. George W. Bush’s brain sits unused in my glove compartment.

I have written a sequel to War and Peace, a prequel to the Divine Comedy, and will set to work fixing the Star Wars prequels as soon as I have a free afternoon. I have invented a whistle that attracts Mormons.

I’m planning to rig the 2012 election in Texas. I rule Delaware with an iron fist, and New Brunswick with a velvet glove. I have completed the tour de France on unicycle, and broken the sound barrier in a shopping cart. Particle physicists are in awe of my underwear drawer. The 1997 Nobel Prize for economics is currently propping up my bookshelf.

I’m holding back the Mississippi with the sheer force of my personality, and duct tape.

Note: I must give credit where credit is due: I was required to read this essay by my 12th grade English teacher:

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/yale-university/115950-best-college-essay-ever.html

I felt sufficiently moved to eventually write my own version. I’ve been looking for a good place to use it ever since. The person who wrote the original also allegedly made it into NYU thanks to (or maybe in spite of) the essay.

We Interrupt These Introductions…

Including today, there are only three post days left in the first round on Guild of Dreams, which were all supposed to be an opportunity for the regular contributors to introduce themselves. Adam is up Saturday and Joshua on Monday.

So why are you posting today, Bruce? We already heard about the sappy love songs you wrote when you were six.

Hey, there’s no reason to get nasty; I’m not trying to usurp anyone’s intro, I’m just filling in.

When I decided to put the Guild together, my intention was to have a nice cross-section of authors and

No, that’s not Rachel…her crossbow is bigger.

fantasy sub-genres represented so we might offer something for the majority of fantasy readers, the people for whom we intend the blog. Unfortunately, Rachel Hunter, a very talented writer and the youngest of our group, has had to pull out because of other commitments. Hopefully, she will join us eventually, and I will certainly hit her up for a guest post or two in the meantime. No matter what happens, we all wish Rachel the best.

I was excited to have Rachel’s point of view included on the site. At the tender age of 19 (not much older than my son), I knew she would add a perspective that many of the rest of us here could no longer provide (read between the lines: we’re old. Well, older than Rachel, anyway). Many has been the time I’ve wished to be in her position: still in my teens and too busy with my writing to take on anything else.

Sigh.

But this does bring up another subject: writing is hard work.

Everyone has seen those “what people think I do/what I really do” memes floating around Facebook. Well, here’s the truth: writing isn’t just about writing anymore, especially for the independent author. Some of our other duties include: editing, rewriting, cover design, formatting, and promotion. That last one is the biggy. I do most of my promo through Facebook and Twitter, and it can easily take up two hours or more a day if I let it. Add in Goodreads, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and more other social media sites than I care or have time to list here (does anyone still use MySpace?), and you can see how quickly it can get out of control. Did I mention blogging? You have to have your own; you do guest posts; then some jerk asks if you want to contribute to a collective site (after Steven Montano agreed to be a part of the Guild, I was shocked to find out he already blogs four times/week! How does that guy find time to write those great books of his?).

Not Rachel, either..

That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? On top of all that, we all have lives. To the best of my knowledge, no one on this site writes full-time to support themselves (yet). As is the case with many of your favourite writers, we have jobs, school, families, commitments. Writing–our passion, the thing we love–gets fit into the cracks of time in our lives whenever we can eke out a few minutes. We get up early, stay up late, learn to type with one hand while eating a sandwich/drinking a coffee with the other. We write on the bus on the way to work, we plot in the shower, we sneak snippets of dialogue from the people in the coffee shop as we write our blogs and update out status. We all wish it was more, but we take what we can get. We do it because we love it; we do it because we have to; and, most of all, we do it for you.

And you can help. If there’s an author you like, follow them on Twitter, friend them on Facebook, do whatever they call it on LinkedIn, then share, retweet, pass along whatever they’re up to, their blogs, their promos. Become part of their success. Every time I see someone has retweeted something of mine, it warms my heart (and I think a fairy gets its wings, too). Every little bit helps.

So good luck, Rachel. We understand. And we’ll see you soon.

The Beginning: An Opening and an Introduction

Hello everyone,

My name is Kody Boye. I just wanted to start off first by thanking our wonderful creator, Bruce, for opening up this blog to myself and all these other fantasy bloggers here. I’m sure we’ll have a great time.

To introduce myself, I’ll start with a little synopsis:

I’m Kody Boye. I was born in Southeastern Idaho and started writing when I was seven, after a teacher assigned my class an object-specific writing topic. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to react, but right when I began writing I became so engrossed in the process that I wrote throughout the entire time period in class, then at our first break. My love of writing continued to escalate throughout my youth and into my teenage years, where I eventually made the transition from fantasy to horror, and I eventually was published at the age of fourteen in the Yellow Mama Webzine with my short story [A] Prom Queen’s Revenge.

Fast forward a few years later and I’ve become mildly-successful with my writing. I’ve put out a few books, both independently and through presses, and have made a small name for myself. I’ve done what some people in the past never got to do due to the lack of the internet, so to say I’m incredibly-thankful for my writing career at this point would be an understatement.

I began writing as a child because it was somewhat of a joy. As a teenager growing up in small-town Southeastern Idaho, where both the pressure from religious persecution and a number of other things were weighing on me, I used it as an escape mechanism to run away from the problems I was having (which included, but was not limited to: atheism/agnosticism, a blossoming mental disorder, my sexuality, and the fact that I was so horribly bullied.) At the age of fifteen, when a specific event forced me to leave school, I poured myself into my writing, and for the next few years I worked myself to the bone to produce what I thought were substantial and complex works. I wrote a handful of novels during that time that will never see their light of day in their current incarnation, and eventually I began rewriting my true love—fantasy—when I was sixteen. I did this because, at the time, I had a brain tumor scare that I believed would leave me incapable of writing. That, however, didn’t happen, and I am still here today to write and share my story.

At twenty, living with friends in the capital of Texas and making my living on my writing, I write for a variety of reasons. I write to support myself. I write to entertain myself. I write as an escape mechanism. I write to transport myself to other worlds and see other places, to understand different peoples and cultures and times and scenarios. I also write to entertain and make others happy, to uplift them or take them to a place where they can feel safe (or sometimes utterly terrified) for any given length of time. Most importantly, though, I write for myself—because in the end, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else, and because I feel it is ultimately what I am supposed to do with my life.

I’m A Writer. I Just Never Asked Myself Why.

I’m Steven Montano, and I write novels about a magic-wracked post-apocalyptic earth, a place where vampires and humans wage war.  I’ve never been accused of writing a happy ending.

But I do love that I can say “I’m a writer”.  A year ago I considered myself “an aspiring writer”, which, when you think about it, is really pretty silly.  You can be an aspiring author – in fact, until you actually publish something, that’s what you are – but you’re either a writer, or you aren’t.

I’ve actually been a writer for a long time…nearly 20 years now (holy crap, was it really that long since I turned 18?). I’ve been an author for almost that long, since I started publishing short stories when I was in college.

I realized, however, as we started throwing this Guild of Dreams thing together…well, let’s be honest, Bruce “threw” it together, and he did an outstanding job, while I pretty much said “Yeah, that’s great” while I ate cookies and drank wine…that I had never asked myself that famed question, the one that all authors ask themselves at one point or another.

“Why do I write?”  It never occurred to me to even wonder about this before now.  (Yes, I’m slow.)

And as it turns out, I have quite a few reasons…

* I write to escape.  I like to fall into mist-covered worlds filled with black ice and ancient ruins, where vampires ride on the backs of razor-winged reptiles and humans scorch the sky with arcane fire.  I like to tread through crypts in haunted forests and journey across desert plains populated by undead marauders.  These places may sound terrifying to you, but I love them.  I can hide in them for days.

* I write because I’m in love with words.  I love to craft them, to shape them, to fuse them into images that burn in the mind.

He crosses vast distances in the blink of an eye.  He not only ignores temporality, but geography.  His mind is adrift, no longer fused to his body.  He passes like a ghost across the barren landscape, through pillars of smoke and wastelands of dead trees.  He scars the earth as he walks through an air turned dreadfully bitter and cold.

He passes cold camps and barren towers, abandoned homes and wrecked vehicles.  Tubes of hollow steel protrude from the ground like totems.  The ribs of ancient beasts lay gnarled and yellowed in the pale sun. 

Stuff like that.  Cool, huh?

* I write to understand.  My life, like anyone’s life, has seen its share of loss and sadness and anger and pain.  I’ve lost loved ones, and I’ve lost friends.  I struggle to be the man that I want to be.  Sometimes when I foist my negative emotions on my characters it helps me to better understand myself.

* I write to release my dreams.  Blood Skies is based on a nightmare I had about a group of women trapped in a glade, where they were hunted down and killed by black unicorns.  I tried to find the right story for that dream several times before I finally got it right.  I had to convey all of the emotions I’d been saddled with upon waking, the fear and regret, the sense of solitude and isolation at being lost at the edge of a frozen wasteland… the feeling that I was lucky to have woken at all, unlike those women, who would remain forever trapped.

* I write because I love to tell stories.  I have to tell stories.  I can’t read or watch television or even listen to music without wondering what I can use for my writing, what I can steal and twist to make new stories.

* I write because I love to do it, pure and simple.

* I write because sometimes it’s the only way to calm the storm inside my brain.

* I write because I seem to be good at it.  That may not really be the case, but that’s what people tell me.

* I write.  I don’t really need reasons.  It’s just what I do.

The fictional reality of me…

I’m one of those rare authors who hates talking about himself. I’d rather let my work do the talking for me. I want to stay in my in little hole, cut off from the rest of the world and write…LOL. Okay so back to reality.

 I love movies and books, but the latter so much more. I want to get into the characters head and see what they are thinking. If the main character is the middle of an epic duel with his protagonist and gets his arm sliced off, I wanna know know what his shocked little mind is thinking at that exact moment. Does he go berserk or does he he let the shock overwhelm him? And at that moment, does the protagonist step back and give him time to digest it or does he swoop in for the easy kill? These are the fun details that keep me up at night obsessing.

I wrote my first novel which I consider to be my personal magnums opus, because it espoused a two year effort in trying to create my version of Star Wars marrying the concept of the ancient greek story Troy with Jurassic park. Let’s just say, that so far, the response has been a bit underwhelming. (Apparently there are only two acceptable ways to visit dinosaurs. Travel back in time or discover a lost world or—recreate them genetically and put them on an remote island.)

After I regrouped from that travesty, I decided to embark on a new series to capitalize on the werwolf and vampire craze sweeping—and refusing to die—through literature. But I also wanted to take advantage of the sudden popularity of the e-book. After all, how cool is it that you can download to your phone and just read? No more hand cramps flipping pages. You have to love technology!

I also wanted to create the guy’s answer to ‘Twilight’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the ‘bible’ of paranormal romance. I just thought that the action-adventure crowd needs the polar opposite to rally around. I do realize that women readers vastly outnumber men, but there has to be an untapped market out there for the anti-version of Twilight. Right? (Okay, so we writers suffer from the illusions of grandeur syndrome.)

It was crazy idea that I couldn’t shake, but I did plot my madness with a a rational meticulousness. If I was going to do this, I’d was going to do it right and tailor my product for those readers who download on phones or computers. I was going to strip down the basic fine culinary of novel and make a fast food—cheeseburger and fries meal—for the reader on the go. That meant aiming for a novel that would round out about 70,000 words ( the novel ended up being 69,000 words). I would have to find a style that shortened and demanded every word to deliver time and a half effort, to pull this off. There would be no frivolous three page writing of a character waiting by the dryer as her favorite hoodie dried, worrying about a buddy that met a cute girl, the character suspected was a vampire, in some park and now she hadn’t received a call or text from him in three days.

Impossible right? I didn’t think it was impossible enough. I wanted to channel back to the 80’s and imbue my story with the sort of campy action and cheesy—but memorable one-liners from such movies such as Rambo, Dirty Harry, the A-team—etc.

I’m a huge Roller coaster-enthusiast and I try to write a story that sends my readers on the ultimate ride. Everything I write keeps that in mind. I want you to plunge down steep hills, throw you into heart-pounding twists. I want to give you a chance to catch your breath, but just before you can say—wow—I want to grab you and send you through the next set of surprises.

And that brings up another fascinatingly favorite subject of mine—the adjective. As a writer, you’re told that using them is a crutch a bad writer uses to prop up their sentences. Personally, I think they are seasoning you add to a soup. The right mixture makes a great soup and over-usage kills it. But I’ll take it one step further. You do not write—the blood was red—unless, you’re trying to show the character is shocked by the vibrant and almost unreal richness of the color. (And preferably, the character is even more shocked because the blood is coming from another person they cared about deeply)

However, in today’s world, our society uses adjectives freely and often to describe things, so in a perverse sense, a writer needs to capture that as a way of illustrating how a character thinks and interacts. Over usage of adjectives combined with a dreaded ing word for emphasis can perfectly bring a character to life in a way that relates to the reader. The same thing with profanity. (Which I abhor as member of the human race.)

It’s that inherently unstable chemical concoction of ideas from which Freaking Wicked was born. I had no problem from straying from the original mythology of the vampire, werwolf, and Frankenstein monster as long as I stayed true to the original premise of the legends. What does that mean? I’ll let one of my characters tell you:

Decker threw back his head and laughed. “You know, I always thought if you became a monster with cool and freaky powers there was always suppose to be an evil price to pay for that—you know—usually your feeding habits are gross and offensive to most of the world.

With that ruling principle keeping my character firmly staked to the ground, I created what I think are the perfect characters for my premise. Here is a quote from the book…

The surrounding myths encompassing vampires and werwolves were mostly wrong. Silver bullets and wooden stakes could not kill Megan and Jack. Neither could garlic or sunlight. There might be some magic ‘talisman object’ that could kill them, but neither Jack and Megan were much for volunteering themselves for experiments to find out and Harris firmly agreed—although he often warned if they ever gave into their wicked desires and started boning each other, spontaneous combustion was a strong possibility. Grod had the same regenerative powers. The only known ways to kill Grod, Megan, and his werewolf bad-self, was to sustain enough body damage that their bodies couldn’t regenerate fast enough, like being caught in a massive explosion or thrown into tree shredder”

Jack the werewolf can transform into werewolf-mode at will. It’s only in this mode he has the his super-strength power. I don’t tell you that—I show you in the subsequent action, allowing the reader to deduce that rule on their own. Being a werewolf is the ultimate cool-guy of the novel. Jack feeds off sex, essentially stripping his willing victims of their essence and transforming it into supernatural energy. Wait a minute—Mr Poor! Didn’t you just break a rule! LOL. No—I didn’t. The defining essence of the werewolf I used, is going into an unstoppable killing frenzy. Jack is the ultimate cool-guy, relying on common sense and natural instincts to govern him. But I show you his fits of anger that threaten to override his good sense throughout the novel.

Megan, my ‘deliciously evil vampire’ with her super-model looks at first might seem like the shallow eye-candy of a good 80’s movie, but I brutally disprove that in the 2nd chapter. As a vampire, she likes to kill people and that brings a perverse morality conflict for her to deal with. She can’t quite make the leap of logic she is a vampire and humans are basically cattle to her predator like being. Making it worse, she knows, but refuse to admit she has had these psychopathic tendencies as a human. Evil wishing to be good is stinking cute according to my werewolf, but I do think the reader will enthusiastically empathize—because she has this overwhelming desire to please Jack. She loves the wolf and she’d die for him.

Grod my resident Frankenstein monster/super-soldier is more of a minor character modeled after Dolph Lungren’s character in Universal Soldier—except he’s not scheduled to go crazy until the third book. To sustain his massively-muscled psychic he has to eat a brown mush manufacture by the government.

Action sequences. I’m very particular about them. Pacing is everything and I don’t need a paragraph to describe one action. “Selecting another special round, Jack took aim and pulled his trigger. The SUV exploded into a fireball and littered the road with burning metal and glass. “

That’s all I need to write unless I want to emphasis a particular action so it resonates in the reader’s mind. Kind of a ‘wow’ did he just do that, kind of moment. Again, this is a thrill ride ride and every sequence has to be designed to elicit the maximum amount of screamage.

 Hopefully, I’ve accomplished what I consider to be the paramount goal of my responsibility to the reader. Going back to the roller coaster idea—I want the reader to get off my book and say: “Wow! Super fantastic. Let’s do that again—but first I want to sit down on that park bench and let my head stop spinning.”

So if you dare, check it out and tell me declaritively if I deliver…

Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?

Me in Nice, France this spring (see #2 below)

So, I started writing an introduction post about myself. What my first story was about, what my writing journey has been like, where I am now. Then I started to get bored, and I thought, ‘If I’m bored, what will readers think?’ So I decided to do a list instead. I like lists. Here are five interesting facts about me and five interesting facts about my stories.

Yours truly:

  1. I grew up in a huge family. I have an older brother and four younger siblings. I also have friends that have been adopted by my family and are pretty much siblings now, plus stepsiblings. So growing up there were six of us kids. There wasn’t a dull moment in our house! Plus my parents were always taking in people from our church and giving them a place to stay. Our doors were always open to people. I have so much inspiration for writing from my childhood.
  2. I love traveling. I’ve been to eight different countries including the US. I love going to new places and meeting new people. This may be because of how often I moved when I was younger. Whatever the reason, it’s the reason for the next fact — drumroll, please…
  3. I’m studying Linguistics to gain my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certificate. I hope to use the certificate overseas to teach English classes, or possibly even here in the US for ESL speakers. Linguistics is so fascinating! I love the power of language and how we can tell all kinds of stories.
  4. I’m a very religious person. I’m a Christian, but I’m also Torah-observant. Things that people see as Jewish — Passover, Shabbat, kosher eating — I observe because I believe that when I observe such laws, they bring me closer to God and the lifestyle he wants for me.
  5. I read a lot. I think it was Stephen King who said the two main rules of writing were reading a lot and writing a lot. I read YA, fantasy, scifi, contemporary, action/adventure, and your occasional nonfiction, mystery/thriller, or romance.

My writing:

Example of #2! In Promising Light, the shape changers battle the oppressive Protectors.

  1. I’ve been writing since I was very young. My first story was about a doll that came to life and the young girl that owned the doll. I asked my brother to read it and he told me I needed new paragraphs when someone new started talking. My mom loved it. I wrote it in one of those black and white composition notebooks.
  2. Certain themes repeat in my stories. The power of family and friendship, courage and bravery, bigotry and oppression, memory and the past, twoo wuv — you’ll see a lot of these things in my books.
  3. I write best in the afternoon and when I’m undistracted. Sometimes I’ll have a good morning, but afternoon is usually best. I’ve been awake for a while but I’m not sleepy from dinner or tired from the day in general. I need at least an hour or two to myself. I get into a pretty good groove and usually write about 2-3000 words at a time.
  4. I draw inspiration from pretty much everything. Books, movies, TV shows, music, dreams, real life — I use a little bit of all of is in my writing. My brain just picks up cool pieces of conversation, interesting people, dramatic situations, and I take it pieces here and there and mix it up and combine it with my word skills and sweat, blood, and tears and bam! Stories are born.
  5. I honestly can’t think of anything for #5, so here are some lines that I really like from Shifting Light, the novella that starts off The Protectors series:

‘Seth took Sashe’s hand and pulled himself up, barely pulling on her arm. He stood inches from her, holding her hand, and her breath caught in her throat. She could smell the faint alcohol on his breath, and his eyes bore into hers. This far from the lantern, half of his face was cast in shadow, the other lit orange. She picked a piece of hay out of his hair, and he stared at it.

Evan whistled a catcall from above, and Sashe stepped away, dropping Seth’s hand. “Come on,” she repeated. She walked out of the barn, her face heating up as Sierra howled with laughter above them.’

See you around!

Why Do I Do It?

How often are writers asked why they write, and better yet, why do they write a particular genre? It can be a difficult question to answer, especially without seeming trite or clichéd.

I write multiple genres, mostly leaning towards the darker side of the spectrum, but I actually began with fantasy. I had an interesting five-star review that described my fantasy work as “fantasy for non-fantasy readers” and I guess the reviewer is right. I started writing fantasy because I’m a huge fan of the genre, and I was following the “write what you want to read” doctrine. But I have to clarify this point – while I love fantasy, I also hate it.

There are fantasy writers I find enchanting and exhilarating, writers like Jack L. Chalker, Tad Williams, Lawrence Watt-Evans, and Tanith Lee, but mostly because their work is not what I consider typical of the genre. That’s exactly why I love their kind of fantasy.

Apparently, I’m not a true fantasy fan, however, because the norm for fantasy, the epic high fantasy novels with lofty ideals and super-human flawless heroes, over-descriptive by my taste, bore me to tears. I can’t stand encyclopaedic segments inserted in amongst the story to demonstrate the author’s world-building talents, or pages and pages of imagery-riddled description of the landscape or the characters’ clothing, accessories or hair-dos. I think the ardent escapists demand these things, reading fantasy to completely free themselves from their world and their troubles. If it comes into play as a legitimate part of the story, that’s great, but in most cases, I find those kinds of things superfluous at best, and often poorly integrated into the tale.

As well, I like realism to my fantasy – edgy, gritty and cruel. Things aren’t always pretty in real life, and I want that reflected in the fantasy I read. If you do something dangerous on a regular basis, someone eventually gets hurt very badly and/or dies. If people are subject to torture or more responsibility than a normal person can be expected to handle, they break down, they might snap and turn to something like alcoholism to cope, or they may even go insane. Magic doesn’t always work the way it is supposed to because spell-casters are regular people and therefore fallible. Like in Stephen King’s fantasy writing, royalty sitting unobserved alone in their throne rooms, with nothing to occupy themselves, might just pick their noses out of boredom. (Yeah – ewww – but that’s realism, folks.)

I’ve seen evidence that my kind of fantasy doesn’t appeal to the average fantasy fan, the ones who read fantasy explicitly for that extreme display of world-building and those flowery descriptions, and not for the story proper. One reviewer complained there was no world building to my Magic University (she gave me a one-star rating). There was no doubt some truth to that depending on what she was looking for in the way of world-building. The story is set in one location over a 24-hour period, which limits exposure to the world and anything outside of that setting. There is no well-defined good guy/bad guy, and all of the characters are flawed in some way. Not pretty, and not perfect.

There are subtle elements of world-building to the tale, carefully integrated in appropriate places, such as the differences between the Masters and the Renegades and the biases and conflicts that exist because of it, reptilian culture and what social restrictions led to Nia’s exile, Shetland’s struggle with being magically endowed when he is a member of a race that normally repels magic, just to name a few examples. If you are accustomed to preferring that “in-your-face” display of world-building, details like these that have been carefully interwoven into the plot will probably fly under your radar, and my stories aren’t for you.

On the other hand, if you want something different, story-focussed fantasy that feels like it could actually happen if magic and mythical creatures did exist, you might get a big kick out of my work.

Some readers do.

Chantal Boudreau

Why I am a Writer

For most of my early life, I really wanted to be an artist. Yes, an artist – paint brushes, oils, canvas, pencils and all that. It may be a strange way to start a post on how I became a writer, but there you have it.

Hi, I’m Autumn. This is my first blog here at Guild of Dreams and my chance to introduce myself. The important facts about me you can find on my “home blog” of No Map Nomads, on my Author’s Page at Amazon, or here at the Guild of Dreams. But to save you the clicking, here you go: I live in Maine with my husband and two tremendously cute cairn terriers. We all live in a 24′ yurt (if you don’t know what that is think Mongolia and giant round tents), but we are building a “cottage”. I’ll let you know how that goes . . . .  In my day job, I’m a conservationist and work on saving the environment. That sounds really cool, but is a lot of paperwork usually! But my real passion, now that I’ve discovered it, is writing. And this post is about how I became a writer.

As is the case when there is something you love to do – and have all the free time childhood can offer – I spent a lot of time while growing up drawing. I became quite good at it. Everyone said so. They would ask “Are you going to be an artist when you grow up?” I said “yes,” of course. What else would an eight year old say?

English: Paint brushes Deutsch: Pinsel

I never paid attention to the fact that everything I drew was to illustrate one of the many stories zooming around my youthful brain. Even though in high school I won a short story competition and wrote for the newspaper, that I took editing and writing courses in college, and that my honors project was writing five short stories and illustrating them, I never took my eyes from the fact that I was going to become an artist (I will not acknowledge the pink journal of really bad poetry I wrote in Elementary School which, upon learning the existece of from my mom, my husband hid away knowing if I got my hands on it, I would burn it!) I never had a second thought about my career path until I graduated, got a job at an art gallery, and sat staring blankly at a piece of white paper. I had no ideas to paint.

There are two things I’ve realized about my painterly abilities. One is that I’m a great copy artist. While I can draw just about anything put in front of me, original ideas are difficult for me to come by. I lack vision. And the second is that the stories and ideas in my head I have a difficult time putting on paper in image form. I would become immensely frustrated trying to capture in one scene a story scape trapped in my mind. I just never got good at that.

I virtually abandoned painting and my life went on with graduate school to switch my major to a more practical science degree. Then my boyfriend, now husband, found a few pages of a story I’d written tucked inside my plant pathology notes. Years before an aimless walk had led to an abandoned trail only differentiated from the forest by the deeper collection of leaves and pine needles. Eventually I found a set of stone steps. I still remember the shiver of “oh this would be so great in a story” that came with the discovery. The idea grew until I wrote snatches of it in college and university notebooks (At least I was writing something in my notebooks – even if it was not relevant to the class!) . It was my husband’s encouragement to write the whole thing down that led to my first novel Ancient Fragments. 

Ancient Fragments remains unpublished. Looking back, I can see that I made just about every novice mistake when I wrote it. But I can say I did write it, and I loved the experience. It is what made me realize that I’d been pursuing the wrong interest all along. Everyone, including myself, had focused on the very visible side of my childhood hobby of daydreaming.

Years after having written Ancient Fragments, I now consider myself a writer. There were many starts and stops. Ancient Fragments took nearly eight years to spit out. It took a few more to take writing seriously, to admit I wanted to be published, and to realize I had a lot more ideas in my head. I’ve taken a couple of Adult Education courses focused on novel writing and I’ve done the slogging through query letters to editors. (If you add up all those years just mentioned, you’ll realize I’m older than I look. Most people peg me for 28 and I’ll happily accept that decade-off assessment!)With only one book on Kindle, Born of Water, I’m still learning the ropes. But one thing remains the same, I love writing.

If figuring out a plot point hinted at early in the novel is fun to do as a reader, that has nothing on being the person who creates that little tidbit early in the novel to have it come around full force later. I love the moments in creating a story when everything comes together. The shiver of inspiration that came to me on the discovery of the abandoned stone steps lost in the forest is minuscule compared to the breathless joy of uniting plot threads while leading a story into unknown terrain. I love brainstorming new creative elements, and I absolutely adore the moment when I finish writing the last word in a novel. It means I get to flip back to the beginning and start editing as I read through and experience the story all over again. I’ve been told that if you like editing, you are either crazy or you are a writer.

And perhaps one of my favorite things about being a writer is that you can share a story you’ve created with someone who will experience it directly in his or her mind as they read it. Somehow the dreams I form into words will be translated back into images and be experienced by someone else. It will become theirs as much as it ever was mine. Something about that just amazes me.

I write because I have too many ideas in my head. Through writing, I can selfishly explore the depths and intricacies that I may breeze through if they stayed in ephemeral form. And then I can pass on that idea to be experienced first hand by someone else. That is why I am a writer. For me, it is as simple as that.

Autumn

My novel, Born of Water, currently has a free promo going to celebrate the Summer Solstice – and the opening day of the novel. The promo ends 6/21/2012 at midnight – check it out while you have time!

What Can I Say?

As I sit here wondering what I’m going to write about, I find myself faced with thousands of those nagging little self-doubts. Oh, I can write on my own blog, but that’s just my little corner of the world and I am usually addressing writers. What can I possibly say to readers?

Well, then I realized–hey, I’m a reader too!

It’s true that there’s probably nothing I can say that you haven’t seen a million times before. After all, the internet is just packed with fantastically written information, and one of the most common themes is writing, publishing and reading.

That’s the beauty of words though. No one is going to put them together in the same way. You can find something new and exciting in each new style. Every time you choose to go on a new adventure with an author, you get the chance to feel new feelings and see things from a new point of view.

Everything is New

It’s been said that there is nothing new under the sun and there are several theories about how many basic plotlines there are ranging from 7 to 36. Just a couple of opinions include Ronald Tobias’ claims that there are 20, and George Polti’s that says 36. Most people can agree, I think, that if you try hard enough you can see the similarities to other stories in anything you read. The beauty of it is that there are new ways to tell the same story. New twists, new attitudes, new ideals–that’s what makes it all so exciting.

That’s why I write. I write to find the joy of discovery. I write to examine my own life, the choices I make, and I write to understand others. I am not that good at sticking to a genre. I do write fantasy, but I write several other genres as well. But what I love the most about fantasy is the ability to create worlds. You do that to a certain extent in all genres, but none as totally and completely as what is possible in fantasy. There are no limits or boundaries, and even when you are working in a “known” realm or character type, you can still bend and shape them to your own ideals.

For instance, if you happen to have a demon that isn’t happy with life in hell–I mean, who would be–you can have them struggle to escape and when they get to earth, show them in a whole new light. Not many people would consider demons hot or sexy, or see that they have a desire to understand people and care about them–but you can if you see it that way. That’s how Hell’s Own started, and Alexander was born in my imagination; as a desire to see and understand people from a unique perspective. I think his is about as unique as you can get.

Tami Parrington is a freelance writer and author of seven novels including Hell’s Own. Check out Hell’s Own on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Hells-Own-ebook/dp/B001B8QFF4

Welcome to the Blog/Who the Hell Am I?

Have you ever had one of those moments when you think maybe the universe is trying to tell you something? That just happened to me.

I was three- or four-hundred words into a post talking about me and about this blog–and I think I was being quite witty, to tell you the truth–when the whole thing disappeared. I’m sure I hit a wrong button somewhere, but it’s more fun thinking the universe took control to suggest I do a little rewrite.

So be it.

Welcome to our little blog site, Guild of Dreams, where you’ll find myself and 10 other fantasy authors pooling our resources to entertain and perhaps enlighten you. We’re all different people with different writing styles, but we all share a love of fantasy and a desire to reach you, the reader, so our aim is to write about things that you will find of interest. To that end, I think we all want this site to be as interactive as possible: leave comments, make suggestions, tell us when we’ve hit a nerve or when we’re full of crap; anything you want, just don’t throw bottles–I had enough of that playing heavy metal covers in bar bands during the ’80s.

So what do you want? Don’t be afraid, let us know.

Okay, enough about you, what about me? I’m not egotistical enough to think everyone reading this is a huge fan of my work and came here just to read whatever I have to say (one can pretend though, right?). So, who the Hell am I?

Well, to find out the basics, you can check out my link in the little bar menu above. But there’s more to me than where I live, a little Canadian humour, and the fact I’m married to a drop-dead gorgeous burlesque performer–though with most people, once they find out about my wife, kind of tune out everything else about me. You want to know more than that and the fact I have two children, a dog, a cat, and a hamster, right?

Here you go, then.

The first thing I remember writing was a song when I was in grade two. It was about love, like all good songs, and contained Earth-shaking lyrics like: “red as fire, orange as fire, yellow as fire, blue as our car” and “I love you when I go to bed at night, but not without my Teddy bear”.

No, I’m not making this stuff up, folks. I may have mentioned my night-light in there somewhere, too.

I went on to write many poor quality songs through my teens, though those were a little more angsty and rarely mentioned stuffed animals, but the first story I recall was a little science-fiction masterpiece called “The Mystery of the Blue Marble” (sounds ominous, doesn’t it?). It involved a mysterious blue marble (see how that ties together?) that shows up out of nowhere in the schoolyard. Children and teachers investigate, a searing laser issues from the marble, and much carnage and mayhem ensues. I think it was about a page long.

The next story I remember was written in grade 10 and concerned a man finding out his wife has been cheating on him. My English teacher, Mr. Black (if you’re reading this, sir: thank you), loved it, and I remember him actually opening his mouth to read it to the class then stopping and changing his mind. Apparently, back in the early ’80s, such things were inappropriate for small, undeveloped fourteen- and fifteen-year-old minds.

In the years between high school and my mid-30s (ouch, my age is showing), writing became spotty as things like earning money, pursuing love, and drinking too much (a good, writerly quality) took up much of my time. You, know…life. I wrote a few little stories, all of which leaned toward the dark side of the human condition (one about a serial killer, another about a woman who kills her boyfriend because she suspects he’s a murderer when really he’s just going to propose to her, and a few others I’ve forgotten, so it’s best you don’t know about them). I submitted a few to magazines and had them summarily rejected, but it was no surprise; I didn’t even know how to spell edot back then.

Then one night I lay in bed tossing and turning, unable to find blissful sleep. I had a story developing in my head (not a very good one, it turned out, but one I was excited about at the time). I tried to ignore it, tried to get my much-needed rest, but my wife eventually kicked me out of bed because my energy was keeping her awake, too. To the kitchen table I went, pad and pencil in hand, and scrawled out a story with the hideous name “A Brief Discussion on the Subject of Time Travel”. The story, its subject matter and quality are irrelevant to this discussion, it is what happened upon writing that story which is of importance here:

I renewed my love of writing.

From that story on, I couldn’t stop. And didn’t want to. I took mail-order courses, on-line writing workshops, attended a conference, read grammar and how-to books. Five complete novels, ten + short stories and more outlines and scribbled notes than you can shake a stick at later, I can’t imagine a day without writing. It balances me, makes me an easier person to be around, and makes life feel more worth living. That night I wrote a really mediocre story about two guys in a coffee shop debating the reality of time travel, I found my passion.

And I want to spend the rest of my life sharing it with all of you.