Sunday, April 22, 2012

On writing - First and Third person

When you're writing or editing your masterpiece, following rules is boring. I know. I'm horrible at it myself. Still, there are a couple of things that really annoy me when I read. It doesn't matter how well planned the storyline is or how well created the characters; if the basic structural rules don't work, the book will be difficult to read.

Let's start with a basic thing you should think through before you put your pen on the paper, or open your new Word document.

First or Third person?


Most people who start to write begin with a first person point of view. It's natural - we're used to observing events this way, through our own eyes, and telling a story from the perspective of "I" is fairly easy.

A lot of people will tell you it doesn't matter which you pick, and that which to choose depends on how you want to convey the story, blah, blah, blah, blah. Honestly; there is fashion in story telling, just as in clothing, purses, furniture, or cars. If you don't believe me, pick up a bestselling book from the 1960's and compare to one from 2012. At the moment, third person is more common and more fashionable than first person, and some publishers won't even consider a manuscript written in first person. You, as a writer, need to be aware of this before you start, because once you've written 80,000 words from one perspective, going back to change to the other is a pain in the behind.

This said, pick one, and do not switch in the middle of the story. This sounds self evident, but it's not. If you start writing in first person, it will soon be tempting to toss in something that someone besides the main character sees or does. If the main character doesn't know about it, you can't write about it.

Let me try to explain this a little better. Let's assume the main character is named Bonnie. Bonnie starts the story off with, "I sat on the bus," and elaborates on her adventure there for a couple of chapters. Meanwhile, Filip is doing something else. Filip is doing something very interesting. Some authors will try to toss in a couple of chapters where Filip tells the story, "I went into this old mine and found a box with old clothes and a map." If you're writing in first person you can't do that; you can only have one story teller. Few blunders an author can make throws the reader out of the story in the same way as changing the person behind the "I."

Some writers try to put in a portion in third person in the middle of a first person story. This is generally also a no-no. You might be able to get away with a brief portion if it's still told by the main character. In my example, it would be along the lines of Bonnie saying, "Filip later told me he went to the old mine and found a box. While he was there..." If the writer can find a way to explain to the readers how Bonnie knows what happens even though she wasn't present, Bonnie can tell them something about Filip. Filip can't tell the readers diddly.

If you're writing from third person, all this is much easier. Start a new scene or a new chapter and write about Filip. When you're done with Filip, start a new scene or a new chapter and go back to Bonnie. No problem.

:-) Maria

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Birth of Ms Callaway


A long time ago, in the distant past known as 2007, I was role playing on Myspace together with a group of people I'd never met. At the time, I couldn't even guess just how big an impact this would have on my life; I ended up moving to the other side of the world, and diving into a new career. Michelle in Canada started me off and taught me how to do it. Carol in Australia taught me skills I use in my daytime job today. Mike, well, I married Mike, LOL! Sarah in England, Nikki in Norway… So many wonderful people I would never have met without the Internet, and they still mean the world to me.

Writing stories together allows characters and story lines to take on a life of their own in a way they never do when sprung out of only one mind. Characters are shaped from their interaction with other people and through events outside their player's control. It's really a fascinating experience, and for a few years, I was completely engulfed in this world.

As years passed, life moved on and changed, and I no longer had the focus to keep up with Myspace. The story lines move so quickly, and if you look away for a week, at least a month or two have passed in the character's time. I still wasn't able to let go of my girl; by now, Maria Callaway had a long history, and a personality and character completely of her own. I started to play around with ideas in my mind. She was already a person, and I spun stories around her, added some mythology, and sprinkled with inspiration from my Myspace friends.

I had a pretty good visual image of Ms Callaway's world; I knew what it looked like and how it worked. Now, a bigger story line was taking form. I tried to change her name; it seems presumptuous to write about someone sharing your own first name, but no matter what I called her, she changed too. I finally submitted. Her name is Maria Callaway, and Maria has to be one of the most common names in the world, so it's good enough.

After knowing her for five years, and working on her in book form for almost three, the first three novels about her life are done. ("Touch of the Goddess," "Wrath of the Goddess," and "Return of the Goddess.") To celebrate, I have made a collection volume with all three books, called, The Goddess's Saga. Holding the proof filled me with a very satisfying feeling of accomplishment. It's big, nice looking, and solid. Somehow, much more "real" than other books I've written.

Observant readers will notice that the end of the Goddess's Saga isn't really an end. There are many unanswered questions, and even though each novel can be read separately, with a beginning and a conclusion, we have yet to reach the end of the story. Maria, Stephan and their friends still have a number of adventures ahead of them, and their final fate is still hidden.  I do have plans for a fourth novel that will tie it all together. I doubt it will be ready during 2012 though... Until then, check out "The Goddess's Saga!"


For more information, take a look at:
The Goddess's Saga - website
The Goddess's Saga on my website
The Goddess's Saga on Facebook


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome, Stephenia McGee!

A few days ago, Stephenia McGee's new book, "A Legacy of Lies" was featured on the blog. The excerpt fascinated me, and I asked Stephenia to come back for an interview. Luckily, she agreed! =D

Stephenia McGee, Writer with degree in Animal Science!


Welcome Stephenia! I am delighted to see you here! I'm curious, how does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books? 

My husband is a huge support. He is the one that gently (and sometimes not so gently) pushed me to follow my dream of writing a book. He has gone to writer’s conferences with me, and he is always the first person I bounce ideas off of. He is also my first editor, and reads through my first drafts helping me see when things don’t make sense or flow right. He has also become somewhat of a marketing director as well! He took it upon himself to find a few people to do reviews and write about my book in print magazines that will be coming out in the next few months.


What is your favorite review of your book? 

My favorite review I have gotten so far is from author Patty Froese. She put it in a category I had never considered, but I loved it. She really seemed to get it. Here’s her review:

When I first started reading this novel, I fired off an email to the author (an online friend) and told her that this was a fantastic book.  And I was serious.  She starts with a murky mystery and it doesn’t let up until the very end.  In fact, as I read the last few pages, I realized what this book was:  this is an Inspirational Gothic novel.  Think Castle of Otranto and The Turn of the Screw in a cowboy romance.  Fan-TAS-tic. 

The story follows Jim, a ranch hand with a history he refuses to discuss, Sarah, a frustrated student sinking in debt, Jonathan, a billionaire with a heart of steel and Elizabeth, a lost soul who can’t seem to remember who she is or why she keeps coming back to a strange little shop that is always open in the middle of New York City.  They are all linked in one tragic tale of love, rejection, redemption and supernatural intervention. 

This book has it all: a nice quick plot, a massive castle, cowboys, a dark mystery, a cold seductress and a story that leaves you thinking about it long after you’ve finished the book.  If you’re looking for one good read, I definitely recommend this book. 


Would you share with us what inspired you to write this kind of story? 

My husband and I were killing time on the two hour drive from our college to his parent’s house. We were talking about how I’d always loved to write and throwing around story ideas. We actually started with a man in hospital room and the preacher who comes to hear his final confession. That prologue no longer exists, but the entire story stems from his confession.


When did you discover you are a writer? Was there a specific catalyst? 

I wrote my first story from a first grade spelling list. Then I wrote a children’s story from a pig’s perspective coming to America on the Mayflower. A short story project in high school turned into several chapters. So, I guess it’s always been there. Like I talked about earlier, my husband was talking to me about how I liked to write and all these story ideas I had while we were traveling one day. I really started working on my first book then. I played with it, but it was just a hobby. Then he took me to a writer’s conference when I finished my first manuscript (oh how awful it was!) and I really started to let the dream bloom. It wasn’t what I had always said I was going to do. I intended to go to Vet school, and I have a degree in animal science, but this was something that just wouldn’t let go of me. Then, my mom brought me an old notebook that she had kept with all those stories I had written growing up. When I looked at it, it hit me. Before any plans, before any expectations, before anything else, writing is what I did. It was something God put in my heart from the very beginning; I had just buried it under everything else. It was then that I made a commitment to making it my career to be a novelist, and I haven’t looked back!

Anything else you want to share? 

If it’s okay, I’d love to share a little about Spirit Horse Ministries. We are still trying to start-up, but now that we have official 501(C)3 status and are a Mississippi non-profit organization, we are starting to get things rolling. SHM is designed to create a “hometown” for foster children, especially those that are older and are looking at leaving the system and entering a world where they are alone. We want to create a type of “Mayberry” for them. A place to come home too. We will also have afterschool and summer programs that focus on not only foster but handicap, at risk and underprivileged children as well. They will work with therapeutic horses, go fishing and learn important life skills like cooking and how to balance a checkbook. It’s a big dream. We are opening a country store to help raise funds by selling homemade and donated country items, and should have some day programs running this summer. We’ve been super busy, so our website is a little out of date, but if you want to know more you can go to www.spirithorseministries.org for more info. A portion of all my book sales goes to help the ministry.


Website: www.StepheniaMcGee.com

Facebook: www.facebook/StepheniaHMcGee

Twitter: www.twitter.com/StepheniaHMcGee


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Good news and time for a giveaway!

A while ago, I entered the Royal Palms Literary Awards Competition with one of my screenplays. I am one of the finalists! *happy dance*

To celebrate these happy tidings, there will be giveaways of my brand new and beautiful promotional material for the Goddess's Saga and Embarkment 2577. There are pens, postcards, bookmarks, e-books, and a limited number of signed copies of the books. To claim your prize, follow these easy steps:

  1. Go to one of the following Facebook pages:
    1. My author page
    2. The Goddess's Saga
    3. Embarkment 2577
  2. Like the page. (If you already like one of them, please pick another.)
  3. Send a message to the page to claim your prize.
The giveaway is open until May 18, or as long as supplies last. (Don't worry, I have a fair amount of cool stuff lined up, I just have no idea of how many will respond to this. :-)
Also, if you have a book preference, please let me know.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Legacy of Lies

Exciting Friday! Today, we have an excerpt from talented Stephenia McGee's new book "A Legacy of Lies." It is a story of modern cowboys sprinkled with the supernatural, suspense, and Christian Romance. Sounds like a thrilling combination! This book is definitely on my to-read list. Thank you Stephenia for letting me use your material on the blog!


Check out the blurb:

Sarah Sanders is so stressed-out at college that she’s having fainting spells. She’s behind on the rent and facing eviction. Dropping out of school feels inevitable. Needing a break, she accepts her boyfriend’s invitation to visit his parents’ ranch out west. But she finds much more in Montana than fresh air and mountain trails. 

Ranch hand Jim Anderson has suffered from night terrors for over a year. But despite this secret struggle, his life at the ranch had been a welcomed escape from his past. Until those terrifying dark shadows started coming for him in the middle of the afternoon. 

Brought together by an unseen hand, Sarah and Jim must travel across the country to unravel a web of deceit and uncover Jim’s long history of lies before the evidence is sealed away forever.







Stephenia had me at "Terrifying dark shadows." Then, I read this excerpt:



It was cold.

Too cold.

The eerie silence of a moonless, starless night engulfed him.

Jim shivered. It had been high noon only a few minutes ago. Had he fallen asleep? He didn't remember being tired. He shook his head and tried to focus his groggy mind. He peered around cautiously. Where was his horse?

A rustling sound in the bushes startled him. His eyes darted to investigate.

Nothing.

No, wait. There it was again. Off to the left. His eyes strained, searching for the slightest movement or shape. Something. Anything.

Silence.

He felt like a kid afraid of the dark.

Get a hold of yourself, man.

Fingers of fear teased along the back of his neck. The hairs stood on end. He shivered. Where was that horse?

"Ciervo!" His voice sounded weak even to his own ears. He tried again. Now he was completely hoarse.

Swallowing the panic rising from the pit of his stomach, he took a cautious step forward. He heard stirring in the woods behind him. Squirrels? He listened intently.

The noise came again. No. Definitely not a squirrel. Something was pacing in the woods. Deliberate. Stalking. Jim's mouth went dry.

Mountain lion.

His heart raced and he looked desperately around, scanning the darkness. Blackness blanketed the meadow. Jim hoped Ciervo hadn't wandered too far. He started to walk. Slowly. Calculating. He couldn't tell in what direction he moved.

His cell! He could use it as a light source. Jim's hand brushed at his hip. It wasn't there. He frowned. It always stayed on his belt. He never left the ranch without it.

Jim's eyes strained, but he could barely make out his surroundings. The farther he walked, the darker it got. His breathing came in quick, rapid intakes.

A shrill sound broke the silence. His heart leaped.

"Ciervo?"

Where was he? Was the mountain lion after him?

Hoof beats. Thank goodness.

They were pounding quicker than his rapidly drumming heart. A shadow appeared about thirty feet in front of him.

It wasn't his beloved horse. It looked like something galloping up from Hell.

The horrid creature ran wildly toward him. The cold air caused the hot breath to billow from its nostrils like a smoking dragon.
The monster's eyes looked like no earthly thing he had ever seen. The bulging orbs had a luminescent shine that came from deep behind the pupils. In the pitch black they glowed like a ghostly beacon.

The horse-shaped beast lowered his head. The creature was preparing to slam into him. Jim threw himself out of its path and landed sharply on his hip. His right thigh slammed into a large, extruded boulder. Fire shot down his leg. Ignoring the pain, he jumped to his feet, eyes probing the darkness for the crazed brute. The ghostly version of Ciervo had vanished.

Despite the cold, he began to sweat. Jim felt eyes boring into him. Someone or something watched him. He was exposed. Unprepared. His heart hammered in his chest. His body refused to move.

Another sound. Different. It wasn't rustling limbs or bushes, and it certainly wasn't the horse's wild hoof beats. It was quiet, like a soft whisper. Crying? No, calling out for something.

He strained to catch the garbled words. The voice grew louder. More urgent. Still he couldn't make out the woeful tone. Then, as if his brain finished translating some cryptic code, the word became clear.

"James!"

Again. Louder this time. "James... James..." The voice rose and fell in the darkness. Its eerie sound slithered into his ears.

"Hello?" His voice echoed hoarsely. He held onto a feeble hope the voice came from someone nearby lost in the dark along with him. No one here knew him by that name. He stood holding his breath, listening.

Suddenly, a freight train of frigid air knocked him backward. Terrified, he dared not to move. The voice came again.

"You must help. Soon it will be too late--"

An insidious roar erupted around him. Hot, musty breath bathed Jim's face. He struggled backward. He couldn't quite make out the figure standing over him. The silhouette was enormous. Its shoulders spanned at least four feet. An odd-shaped head swayed from side-to-side.

It growled.

Paralyzed with fear, Jim lay helpless. The creature rose to stand upright. Seven. Eight feet tall. Jim gasped for air. His feet tore into the soft ground, trying to gain footing. Desperately trying to get away. The creature came crashing toward him.

Stephenia McGee
Stephenia McGee

I'm off to get me the book, and to schedule an interview with Stephenia. Keep your eyes open; she will appear on the blog soon. :-) To get more information:







What's that? Where you can get the book?  
It's easy, check it out at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cover for Kidnapped - TBR May 11

Today is a very exciting day for me. I have, in my computer, the brand new cover for Kidnapped. It is designed by wonderful artist Gwen Phifer, and each time I look at it, I feel my mouth turn into a grin from ear to ear. Kidnapped will be released on May 11 by Desert Breeze Publishing.

Check out the blurb:

It's a late winter night when Patricia Risden heads home in her car, on a road she's driven many times before. She doesn't have a care in the world, that is, until a man appears from nowhere, right in front of her.

The next thing she knows is being a prisoner of the unscrupulous Alliance Commander Travis 152; an intimidating man who demands information and complete cooperation. Travis soon realizes his mistake; Tricia doesn't know anything, and she is incapable of even getting a glass of water from the ship's computer.

Infamous for being a ruthless executioner, conditioned since childhood to feel nothing besides fear and pain, he still deems her harmless, and finds enough pity for the lost young woman to let her out of the cell. A decision that will change both their lives forever.

In celebration of the day, I have put up a page for "Kidnapped" on my website. Http://www.hammarblad.com/kidnapped. Here, you can read an excerpt from the first chapter, and excerpts from a couple of reviews.

If you want more information, please check out my Facebook page. I have planned some giveaways for spring and summer, so liking it might be worthwhile. :-)






Sunday, April 1, 2012

Interview with Jillian Chantal

Very exciting day today - welcoming talented Jillian Chantal to the blog. Her new book comes out April 15, and is definitely something to keep eyes open for!

Jillian Chantal, romance with international flair


Please tell us your latest news!

My newest book from Desert Breeze Publishing comes out April 15, 2012. It's Book One of The Gambler's Inheritance series and is called The Gambler. So, when you're bemoaning that it's tax day, you can escape with a mystery/romance novel.

What do you love about your latest book?

I love the fact that my heroine is psychic and has her visions in an odd way. She's not your run of the mill psychic. I also realized about half way through the book that I was writing a variation on the Cinderella theme. Being a pantser, that came as a surprise.

Can you tell us something behind-the-scenes about this book that readers would love to hear - something not easily found on your website?

I flew out to California and spent two days and nights on the Queen Mary in order to research the story. I took the ghost tour as well as the behind the scenes tour. I hope it makes the book feel authentic and pulls the reader into the scenes in a good way.

Do your fictional characters develop on their own, or do you have their lives planned out in advance?

Oh, on their own, for sure. Part of the joy of writing for me is the adventure of the first draft. I start with a basic premise and it grows organically from there. Such fun for me!

Would you share with us what inspired you to write the story?

I love the early Twentieth Century and am a huge history buff of all the different ages and eras. I just adore reading and studying about things that happened in the past. This book came from my fascination about the older ocean liners. I also have another novel out with Desert Breeze Publishing, called Redemption for the Devil which takes place in 1920 and is on the Mauretania.

Living on the Gulf of Mexico makes me a water person and so, my fascination with oceans and history made me want to write these kind of stories.

What's your favorite place you've visited? Do you have a "must see" destination on your bucket list?

I love the British Isles. I base a lot of my stories there or have characters from England, Scotland, or Ireland. I haven't written a Welshman yet, but want to.

Is there something funny about you people don't know?

I am a roller coaster nut. I love, love, love to ride them. It is so much fun to go backwards, loop around, fly up and down hills and just plain have fun with them. The weird thing about it is that I can ride them all day long and not get sick, but put me in one of those movie theaters that have the 360 degree screen and I get so nauseated that I think I'm going to die. I got so sick at the Oh Canada show in EPCOT, I had to go outside and vomit. Crazy, huh?

Anything else you want to share?

I hope that anyone who reads this story enjoys it. I had a blast writing it and figuring out the whodunit myself! LOL! Thanks for having me come in. I enjoyed the questions. They were fun and well thought out.


For more information, visit Jillian at:

http://www.jillianchantal.com
http://southernsizzleromance.wordpress.com/