Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Initiating Incident vs. Establishing Shot Beginnings

Posted by: Nicole Luiken


First, I should define some terms. What is the Initiating Incident? It’s that moment when your character is jarred out of their rut, their life changes and story truly begins. In screenwriting terms, this is when the character passes from the Old World into the New World of the story.
Some authors advocate always using an establishing shot of the Old World, some always starting with the Initiating Incident. Both can work. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
A beginning that starts with an Initiating incident is often more action-packed and interesting. They raise immediate questions in the reader’s mind. What is going to happen next? Will the hero prevail? The drawback is that the reader doesn’t care about the characters yet. Mindless action alone doesn’t engage. 

 However, it is possible to write an action-packed beginning that makes your reader begin to care about your main character. Karen Robards does it all the time with her romantic suspense books.  Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison starts with an initiating incident (the arrival of an airship with the new that Maia’s father and older siblings have died and he is now the emperor) and yet also immediately engages reader sympathy (Maia has been in cold lonely exile for his entire life.)
The advantage of an establishing shot beginning is that you have an opportunity to show what the character is like before their life is upended and thus can show how devastating or necessary or frightening that change is to them. The disadvantage is that with many characters their Old World simply isn’t very interesting. (This depends on the character. James Bond movies always start with an action-packed establishing shot of Bond doing spy stuff. His normal world is interesting.)
So how do you know when to use which? It depends on the particular demands of your story.
For example, I chose not to do an establishing shot for my novel Through Fire & Sea. I would have had to start off showing Leah scrubbing floors and I deemed it too boring.
In another novel, Gate to Kandrith, the Initiating incident is when Sara finds out she’s being sent to Kandrith as an ambassador. This is how my first draft started, bang, dive right in. But the published version starts two chapters earlier: while rewriting I discovered that I needed time to introduce the decadent, corrupt world of the Republic and develop some of the characters that lived there because they were important to the book’s ending. This was absolutely the best way to start this story. Otherwise when the villain showed up at the end, the reader would have been “Who IS this guy?”
Different mediums may require different beginnings. Movies are much more likely to use the Old World, New World method. People decide to go see a movie based on the trailer. They’ve paid for their ticket. They’re not likely to get up and leave the theater if the first five minutes are a little slow. Books are a different ballgame. People will put down a book if the first two pages don’t grab them.
Think about the difference between the opening for The Martian by Andy Weir and the movie. Both were smash hits, but I honestly believe the book wouldn’t have grabbed as many readers if it had started in the same place that the movie did: before the accident leaving the hero stranded.
Of course, Initiating incident and Establishing shot aren’t the only options. There are a couple of hybridizations.
The Hunger Games starts off with a tease. We are told that it is the day of the Reaping but not what that means until after ten pages of Katniss’s Old World. The drawback to a tease is that the reader won’t wait forever for the payoff.
Another solution is to have a bridging conflict, so that something of interest is happening to your character while you establish their Old World. This is what I ultimately used in Gate to Kandrith, showing Sarah at a very tense political dinner.
Remember, the first beginning you write isn’t chiselled in stone. I usually rewrite my beginning more times than the rest of the novel. Don’t be afraid to take several stabs at it until you hit one that accomplishes what you want. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

WHAT IF? A writer’s love affair with cryptids

Posted by: Dani Harper, AUTHOR

The idea of strange and mysterious creatures sharing our world has always fascinated me. As a little kid, I soooo wanted Nessie to be real (and I wanted a sea monster of my very own!) 

Even now, as an alleged grownup, few things would excite me more than to see a major news network announce that the Sasquatch was alive and well and reading the Seattle Times in a Pacific Northwest forest.

Why? Maybe because one of my hobbies is collecting myths and legends from many cultures. Maybe because I grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, and I write paranormal and fantasy novels now. It might also have something to do with my addiction to monster movies (I can usually be counted on to drop everything and bring the popcorn!) Mostly it’s that my imagination and creativity thrive on a single driving question:

“What if?”

Unknown animals have been dubbed “cryptids”, and cryptozoology is the study of such undiscovered creatures. The root of both words comes from the Greek word kriptos, meaning hidden. What if, indeed!

ANIMALS ALLEGED TO EXIST BUT NOT CONFIRMED:

The most well-known aspect of cryptozoology, the one which tends to capture most of the media attention, concerns the search for animals which are alleged to exist but are not confirmed. This includes the aforementioned “classics” like the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot—but they’re only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The Beast of Bray Road is a werewolf-like being reported to live in Wisconsin. The Thunderbird with its 14-foot wingspan is still said to follow storms from Texas to Illinois. The Ogopogo is a legendary lake monster in British Columbia, Canada (see my post: http://herebemagic.blogspot.com/2018/06/is-there-monster-in-your-lake.html ). And a sea serpent named Caddy has been sighted off the northwest Pacific coast. 

You’ve probably heard about the Chupacabra of Mexico and the American Southwest, which is said to drink the blood of goats. The Jersey Devil purportedly haunts the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, while Florida is allegedly home to both the Skunk Ape and the Muck Monster.

Around the world, there are countless cryptid stories. The Himalayan mountains is believed to be the territory of a number of primate creatures such as the Yeti, the Buru and the Barmanu. Another primate, the Yowie, is Australian. 

Mongolian Death Worm
Image: Bigstock.com
One of my favorites? The Mongolian Death Worm. Who couldn’t love a title like that? This large snake-like creature is said to live beneath the sand in remote areas of the Gobi Desert. Residents there claim the bright red worm kills by spraying an acid-like venom or by electrocuting its victims! I don’t know if these cryptids inspired the mighty sandworms of Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, but they did apparently influence the “graboids” of the movie Tremors (and yes, I’ll admit to owning that movie – popcorn, anyone?).

ANIMALS THOUGHT TO BE EXTINCT

What you might not know is that Cryptozoology encompasses two other fields of investigation. One is the search for still-living examples of animals generally thought to be extinct. For instance, tales are told in South America of the mapinguari, a 10-foot tall mammal with huge backward-facing claws that lives in the deep jungle. The descriptions are eerily similar to that of the Giant Ground Sloth (megatherium) that lived in the region 10,000 years ago.

The swamps, creeks and waterholes of Australia may be the home of the carnivorous bunyip or kianpraty, described as having a doglike face, tusks, and flippers. Some think the bunyip may be a prehistoric marsupial which did not go extinct.

The premise of The Meg, a 2018 movie, is that a giant prehistoric shark (megalodon) could still be swimming in the unexplored depths of our oceans. And hey, there could be hope for that theory if you look at the story of a 
The ancient Coelacanth is alive and well...
Image: Bigstock.com
six-foot-long carnivorous fish called the coelacanth. This bony creature was believed to have gone extinct 65 million years ago. That is, until someone caught one off the coast of Africa in 1938! Since that time we’ve learned that there are not one but two species of this primitive fish still lurking in the depths, and you can see some of National Geographic’s video footage at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jl_txxYQEA  

KNOWN ANIMALS SIGHTED IN NEW PLACES

The third area of cryptozoology concerns animals which are known to exist, but are being sighted in areas very far from their usual habitat. Are black panthers roaming the British countryside? And what about the stories of giant black cats in many American states from Alabama to Texas and beyond—including the Ozark Howler? Are they escaped pets or former zoo animals? Or variations of indigenous animals?


Are big black cats roaming in new territory?
Image: Bigstock.com
Although stories of black mountain lions persist, science holds that leopards and jaguars are the only big cats whose coloration can be entirely black. In recent years, a few jaguars were confirmed present in Arizona and New Mexico – areas where the species once lived many years ago. So far, however, the confirmed jaguars were all spotted, not black.

CRYPTIDS NO MORE

Would it surprise you to know that the mountain gorilla, the okapi, the Komodo dragon, the platypus, the kangaroo and the giant panda were all once thought to be fictional creatures? 

Sri Lankan legends tell of the ulama, a terrifying horned bird that screams in the night. In 2001, it was discovered to be a new (and very large) species of owl! A similar thing happened in Western Indonesia, where Moni folklore featured the bondegezou -- the "man of the forest". In 1994, an animal new to science was discovered there: the dingiso. This black and white tree marsupial spends a lot of time on the ground and often stands upright.

DO WE NEED CRYPTIDS?

You only have to glance through the TV guide to see that interest in cryptids has grown exponentially in recent years. For some it's a serious pursuit. For others, it's just good fun. But whether we want to believe or just want to be entertained, cryptids have an important job:

Humans need things to wonder at and things to wonder about. As our lives become increasingly ruled by technology, the more we may take comfort in the idea that not everything in our world has been documented and catalogued, that we don’t know everything there is to know. That there are still mysteries...

And we still get to ask what if?

………………………………………………….


The fae are cunning, powerful and often cruel. The most beautiful among them are often the most deadly. Hidden far beneath the mortal world, the timeless faery realm plays by its own rules—and those rules can change on a whim. Now and again, the unpredictable residents of that mystical land cross the supernatural threshold…

In this enchanting romance series from Dani Harper, the ancient fae come face-to-face with modern-day humans and discover something far more potent than their strongest magic: love.


See ALL Dani's novels on her Amazon Author Page





Monday, January 14, 2019

HERE BE NEWS for January 14, 2019

Posted by: Dani Harper, AUTHOR
All the latest 
from the authors at 
Here Be Magic
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In Case You Missed It:

Monday, January 7 - 

"HERE BE NEWS" - All the latest from the authors at Here Be Magic.

Thursday, January 10 -
"WHY J.R.R. TOLKIEN'S SEMI-COLONS BECAME THE BANE OF MY WRITING EXISTENCE" - Every writer has quirks that show up in their work – until an editor intervenes! Author Angela Korra'ti reveals some of her own idiosyncrasies.

Friday, January 11 -
"ONE MAN'S VILLAIN IS ANOTHER MAN'S HERO" - All about pirates, privateers, and other swashbucklers by author Ruth A. Casie.

Saturday, January 12 - 
This week's Bring It Back(list) feature is "LIONMEADE" - Tales will be told, truths will come to light, but above all, love will reign. Author Linda Mooney's paranormal romance is also on sale for 99 cents this month! See below for details.


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Bring It Back(list) Feature:



LIONMEADE
A Paranormal Fantasy Romance
by Linda Mooney
Word Count: 43.6K

$0.99 e/ $9.99 p


A kingdom is rife with rumors of the evil that lays in wait on the fringes of the woods. Fairy tales of curses, animalistic beasts, and an inhuman prince—Lady Bethel has heard the stories all her life, but what she once thought were just stories told to keep a child in line could prove to be so much more.

The daughter of Lord Voril of Banderling, Lady Bethel spends her time following in her late mother’s footsteps, caring for the sick in the villages surrounding Banderling Mayne. While traveling home after dark, against her father’s warnings, Bethel and her guards are attacked by what she thought were wild animals, but she couldn’t be more wrong. When she awakens, she can’t remember much, but she remembers voices. Particularly one—her savior.

Adain has taken it upon himself to hunt down the beasts that threaten the kingdom. The number of attacks grows, but he will stop at nothing to end the monsters he knows all too well. Having been in exile all his life, he must remain the faceless benefactor to Lady Bethel, despite his growing feelings, for she can never know the reality of his world.

Tales will be told, truths will come to light, but above all, love will reign.

Warning! Contains a deep forest retreat, death, blueberries, possible solutions, attempted kidnapping, and a birth defect with unimaginable consequences.

Excerpt and Buy Links

EBOOK SALE! 

Until January 31st, you can get the ebook of LIONMEADE for just 99 cents!

(Available at this price only on Amazon and Linda's website
Note: Click BUY EBOOK to get the Nook or PDF version.)
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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Bring It Back(list) - LIONMEADE, a Paranormal Romance by Linda Mooney

Posted by: Linda Mooney
From January 1st - 31st, you can get the ebook for just 99 cents! (Available at this price only on Amazon and my website. Note: Click BUY EBOOK to get the Nook or PDF version.)

LIONMEADE
Paranormal Fantasy Romance
Word Count: 43.6K

$0.99 e/ $9.99 p


A kingdom is rife with rumors of the evil that lays in wait on the fringes of the woods. Fairy tales of curses, animalistic beasts, and an inhuman princeLady Bethel has heard the stories all her life, but what she once thought were just stories told to keep a child in line could prove to be so much more.

The daughter of Lord Voril of Banderling, Lady Bethel spends her time following in her late mother’s footsteps, caring for the sick in the villages surrounding Banderling Mayne. While traveling home after dark, against her father’s warnings, Bethel and her guards are attacked by what she thought were wild animals, but she couldn’t be more wrong. When she awakens, she can’t remember much, but she remembers voices. Particularly one—her savior.

Adain has taken it upon himself to hunt down the beasts that threaten the kingdom. The number of attacks grows, but he will stop at nothing to end the monsters he knows all too well. Having been in exile all his life, he must remain the faceless benefactor to Lady Bethel, despite his growing feelings, for she can never know the reality of his world.

Tales will be told, truths will come to light, but above all, love will reign.


Warning! Contains a deep forest retreat, death, blueberries, possible solutions, attempted kidnapping, and a birth defect with unimaginable consequences.


Friday, January 11, 2019

One Man's Villain Is Another Man's Hero

Posted by: Ruth A Casie

Sir Francis Drake and William Kidd. Villain or hero? To the Spanish, Sir Francis Drake – as well as most Englishmen – were pirates and heretics because they attacked Spanish lands and were not Catholics. To the English Drake was a hero and a privateer, someone legally licensed to plunder enemy ships. The French called Captain Kidd a pirate for much the same reason. Kidd, at the Governor’s request was part of the fleet defending the Caribbean island of Nevis against the French. The governor did not pay the sailors for defending the island, telling them instead to take their pay from the French.
Villain or hero? Pirate or privateer? What is the difference? What’s in a name?
Technically, pirates and privateers are the same. They both attack and rob ships at sea. The difference is a privateer is backed by a government. Corsair and buccaneer also defined as pirate, a thief who preys on ships at sea similar to highwaymen who prey on coaches on land. Yet the words aren’t quite the same and what constitutes a pirate at one point in history isn’t quite the same at another time.
How many synonyms can you think of for “pirate”? We’ve already mentioned buccaneer and corsair, but words like marauder and swashbuckler have also been interchangeable with “pirate,” but are they really the same?
Below are several synonyms for pirate provided by Cindy Vallar.
Sea dogs were English pirates (some were privateers) that attacked Spanish ships and towns, particularly in the Spanish Main during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Perhaps the best known of these gentlemen adventurers was Sir Francis Drake. Today, this word refers to a seasoned sailor toughened by his experiences at sea.
Buccaneers acquired their name from the French word boucanier. Based on the island of Hispaniola, these rugged men hunted oxen and boar, then smoked the strips of meat over a barbecue or boucan. When the Spanish government tried to get rid of them, they took to the sea and raided Spanish ships and towns. The English anglicized the French term to buccaneers. By the seventeenth century pirates who preyed on ships in the Caribbean were called buccaneers and operated out of Tortuga and Port Royal during the 1600s. The best known of the buccaneers was Sir Henry Morgan. The cruelist was Jean David Nau, also known as François L’Olonnais. In the seventeenth century, buccaneers who sailed from Tortuga, Port Royal, and Petit Goave were also known as the Brotherhood and the Brethren of the Coast.
Corsairs roamed the Mediterranean Sea in oared galleys for nearly three centuries. They were based in North Africa, in the Barbary States of Algiers, Tunis, Morroco, and Tripoli. Initially privateers under the Ottoman Empire, they devolved into piracy and menaced shipping into the early eighteenth century. Instead of gold or spices, they sought people whom they either held for ransom or sold into slavery. The word corsair is also used to denote French privateers, particularly during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The term derives from the French corsaire, which means privateer, and from the French word for a nautical cruise, la course. Their principal port was Saint Malo, La Cité Corsaire.
Spaniards referred to runaway slaves as cimarrónes, which the English and French shortened to maroons. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, marooners became synonymous with pirates of the Caribbean, perhaps because they would maroon one of their own on a desert island with little or no food if they committed an egregious act against the company. This was deemed a fitting punishment since the marooned pirate either died a slow death or shot himself.
Dutch pirates were called zeerovers. In the last sixteenth century, another term sometimes used for pirate was vrijbuiter (freebooter), but it had a variety of meanings: adventurer, buccaneer, free spirit, libertine, pirate, and pillager.
Around the same time that freebooter entered the English language, the French referred to their Caribbean pirates as flibustiers. Translated into English as filibuster, this word referred to seventeenth-century buccaneers, especially those who were French, Dutch, and English – Spain’s typical enemies. Perhaps the best-known flibustier was Michel de Grammont, who became their leader during the 1670s. Instead of choosing captain for his title, he picked chevalier, the French word for knight. In the nineteenth century, filibusters came to mean armed American adventurers and later politicians.
Swashbuckler first appeared in the sixteenth century to refer to someone who made a loud noise by striking his sword against his buckle or shield. In the twentieth century, Rafael Sabatini used the term as a dashing and daring soldier, adventurer, or pirate, such as Captain Peter Blood, giving birth to the swashbuckler genre of adventure fiction. Today the word often refers to pirates or movies about them.
To pirateer meant the men aboard a privateer attacked any ship, not just those of the enemy. The Calendars of State Papers during Charles II’s reign (1660-1685) mention the word.
Wherever there are seas there are pirates. The difference between being a pirate and a privateer was oftentimes a thin line that some men crossed. Are these terms interchangeable? It would seem so. Researching to identify the top two or three in each category was hopeless. Many times the same person could be found on multiple lists.
My definition of pirate is different. The romantic in me sees a pirate, privateer, marauder, or swashbuckler as someone who displays behaviors and makes decisions that are morally and emotional awe inspiring. Sounds like a hero to me!

Releasing February 12, 2019 by Ruth A. Casie…
The Pirate's Jewel
a Pirate's of Britannia story
Wesley Reynolds will do anything to avenge his family’s banishment from Dundhragon Castle even throw in with the notorious pirate, MacAlpin. His plan: ruin Lord Ewan’s trading network. He has a more devious plan for his father’s best friend, the man who abandoned them at the eleventh hour. He’ll ruin the man’s most precious jewel, his daughter Darla. Wesley gets so close to succeeding he can almost taste it, but revenge is not nearly as sweet as Darla’s kisses.
Darla Maxwell, beloved by her parents has no prospects of marriage. Her father and Lord Ewan search to find the right husband. Darla’s special gifts are frightening to many. She has visions that often come true. The murky image of a man haunts her, she’s sure it’s Lord Ewan’s soon-to-be son-in-law, but the vision morphs when she meets Wesley. The meaning couldn’t be any clearer.
Revelations surface indicating Wesley has been deceived and his revenge misplaced. Will he find the truth of what really happened to his family in time to stop the pirates? Will Darla forgive him? Will he ever forgive himself?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Why J.R.R. Tolkien's semi-colons became the bane of my writing existence

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
For a while now, my wife has been going to a small casual reading group involving another household of friends of ours. I recently joined in, once they decided to read N.K. Jemisin's excellent Broken Earth trilogy. And since, hey, I like reading books, I've decided to stick around!

And to my great pleasure, the next thing we're tackling is The Silmarillion.

It's deeply amusing to me to go back and reread Tolkien, whose work I've loved all my life, now that I've published a few novels of my own. After having worked with a few editors now, and in particular one editor on all three of the Rebels of Adalonia books, I've started being more aware of editing-level details in other people's work.

Even Tolkien's. And this time through The Silmarillion in particular, I noticed one huge thing that leapt out at me: SO. MANY. SEMI-COLONS. Like, every other sentence or so.

If you've read this particular Tolkien work, you know that it's written in deliberately formal, mythic language. I've known this for ages, of course. But this time around, the semi-colons particularly stood out for me because my editor on the Rebels books very specifically made me yank a great number of semi-colons out!

I now have a much, much better understanding of where my propensity for throwing semi-colons all over my prose came from. :D

So with this in mind, I thought I'd share with you all today a list of other quirks in my own writing I know I have to keep on top of, lest they get out of my control.

In no particular order:

1) Why should I say something in twenty words when I can use a hundred instead? Verbosity. It's my superpower.

Let me underscore this for y'all: the draft of the book I submitted to Carina Press that became Valor of the Healer clocked in around 118,000 words. Its original draft was more like 167,000. I took out over fifty thousand words editing that thing down. That's a short novel's worth of words right there, folks.

When I write posts for my own site, the SEO plugin I've got complains at me about this, too. It gets cranky if I have too many sentences that are too long.

2) If I get fixated on a particular word or phrase I really love, I run the risk of overusing it all throughout a draft. Sometimes across multiple books.

I've learned about Scrivener's functionality for checking word frequency in a draft. I WILL be making more use of this!

3) I also overuse ellipses, particularly if I'm writing a shy character. This came up a lot as I was creating Faanshi in the Rebels books.

4) I find it all too easy to get into a rut with sentence structures, too. The first time through a draft I don't always catch this, but it's a thing I look out for in edit passes. It helps my prose flow better if I vary up the sentence structures and lengths.

5) Likewise with catching myself starting consecutive sentences with the same word. In fact, while writing this post, I rearranged the previous item in this list just so all the sentences wouldn't start with "I"!

This is another thing the SEO plugin on angelahighland.com will complain to me about.

There's more I could go into, to be sure. But in the name of curbing my natural verbosity, I'll cut it off here and turn it over to you all. Particularly fellow writers, whether you write professionally or for pleasure: what are your own quirks you catch yourself doing in your work?

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Angela writes the Free Court of Seattle books as Angela Korra'ti, and the Rebels of Adalonia books as Angela Highland. Either way, you can find all her books at angelahighland.com! Or, you can find her on Facebook or Twitter. (She makes no apologies, however, for her comma choices.)

Monday, January 7, 2019

HERE BE NEWS for January 7, 2019

Posted by: Dani Harper, AUTHOR
All the latest 
from the authors at 
Here Be Magic
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In Case You Missed It:


Monday, December 31 - 

"HERE BE NEWS" - All the latest from the authors at Here Be Magic, plus we've included 10 NEW YEAR SUPERSTITIONS just for the fun of it!

Wednesday, January 2 -

RESOLVE TO BE HAPPIER THROUGH READING– Could greater happiness be only a page away? Author Maureen Bonatch examines the many positive things that come to us through reading.

Thursday, January 3 -
"STARTING OVER (AGAIN)" - 2018 was a rough year for many of us. Author Angela Campbell talks about how books – especially romance books – have helped to lift her spirits. 

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New Release: 

SLASH
Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 38.2K
$2.99 e / $9.99 p 

#K9cops



Officer Sonia Sparrow is an introvert of sorts, spending her workdays on the force, and her off days alone. But lately it seems she’s acquired a new partner. A dog, that she’s dubbed Slash, keeps showing up at the nick of time to save the day.

Michael Masson, a former Marine, is looking for a quiet life, but he can’t help the desire he still has to serve his country. Having been burned in love once before, he’s vowed to never show his other side to anyone else. Instead. he chooses to spend his life roaming the country and not getting close to anyone. But when he spies the female police officer in trouble, he can’t just sit back and let it happen.

Sonia has been burned in relationships in the past as well, and if she can’t find a trustworthy man, she’s decided a dog would be the perfect companion to keep her loneliness at bay. What she didn’t bargain for was getting both.


The truth is almost too farfetched, but Michael is determined to make her believe. He hopes this new partnership will not only heal old wounds, but evolve into a deep and loving relationship for the both of them.

Warning! Contains beef jerky, once for yes, a coffee break, the constant fear of discovery, an unexpected ally, a trial run, and two broken hearts finding comfort and love within a common goal.


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