In the sunshine of words

Share

Summer, as we all know, is a magical time.

A time of glorious mornings, of high blue skies, of long, gentle evenings.

Of the feeling of soft grass under bare soles, of the delicious shock of water from the sprinkler.

It’s so easy for our eyes to stray from the stories on our computer screens or in our typewriters to the green vistas beyond the window. So many of us take the opportunity to move our laptops to a table outdoor.

And we find inspiration in the beauty of the natural world around us, or from the breathtaking achievements of people past.

So here are some photos showing the kinds of views that inspire some of your favorite bestselling authors.

Enjoying a quiet neighborhood, DelSheree Gladden likes to sit out on her deck to write during the summer. And she has a back yard that’s just about perfect.

Kayla Dawn Thomas also loves her back deck in Washington State. She sets up her writing desk there every minute the weather allows.

A quaint English garden is D.G. Torrens’ favorite writing place in the summer. “Especially when it is in full bloom and my cherry blossom tree is beginning to bear fruit, my garden is alive with birds and squirrels.” It’s a wonder Dawn can concentrate on her next book!

Water inspires Mary Doyle. “When I have a laptop near water, the words flow,” she says. So she likes to visit her brother and set up on his decidedly inspiring back deck in Minneapolis, MN.

Water is also a strong theme in Toby Neal’s inspiration. She finds beach walks inspiring. And with homes in Maui and near the coast of northern California, beaches seem always close at hand for Toby.

The peripatetic J.L. Oakley finds the white noise that surrounds her helpful, so she sets up at the closest café whenever she has the chance. “Plus, I get to watch the characters outside—weird and inspiring.”

Samreen Ahsan finds inspiration from old European castles and palaces, like this one, the Pena (“Feather”) Palace in Sintra, Portugal. This inspiration shows up in her fantasy novels set in a castle, Once Upon a [Stolen] Time and Once Upon a [Fallen] Time.

Scott Bury rides his bike 50 kilometres (30 miles) every day when the weather allows, and finds inspiration in the surprising sights. This week, he spotted a Great Blue Heron only metres from the bicycle path in the middle of Ottawa, Canada.

Tell us about your favorite place to read, and we’ll enter your name in a draw for a free book!

Share

The Bonding Blade—Out today!

Share

Thursday teaser

By M.L. Doyle

The follow-up to M.L. Doyle’s acclaimed The Bonding Spell is out today on Amazon. You’ll only need to read this sample, featuring the 21st-century incarnations of the Sumerian goddess Inanna and her demigod lover Gilgamesh, to be convinced to get the whole book.

I checked my cell phone for the time again. Waiting for Fredricks began to grate at my nerves. “How does he manage to make an immortal feel like she’ll die before he finds what he’s looking for?”

Gil flashed his teeth at me before turning his most intimidating glare to the wizard.

“I thought you knew where everything was in this hovel of yours,” Gil said. “What is taking you so long?”

“I apologize, my lord. There are many references to blood contracts and many more that claim to be a way to break the contract, but upon further inspection, the breakage usually involves the death of the person who entered into the agreement.”

“Well, that won’t suit our purposes, will it, wizard?” I said.

“No, my goddess. I understand. I think I’m getting close.” He held a large book open, his hand skimming over the words. “This one is a bit different. I’m just working out the translation now, but roughly it says, ah… blood is the permanent bond for which the promise lives. Ah, it goes on, and this was the part I was unsure of. Oh yes, right here it says, ‘but the trials of Shamash bring the … the …  I just can’t figure out this word. Sword maybe? The dagger?”

“Blade,” Gil said, his voice heavy. He leaned both hands on the table in the center of the room. “The blade of Utu.”

Fredricks and I waited for him to elaborate, but he didn’t.

“Gil?”

He straightened, ran a hand through his hair and took a deep breath. “You won’t like it, my queen.”

I crossed my arms and leaned a hip against the table. “I don’t like what’s happening to my Quinn now, sooooo…”

Gil held his hand out to Fredricks, who hefted the large tome into his hand. Gil held it up as if it weighed nothing. He skimmed the page, running his finger back and forth over the same passage a few times. His face hardened as he read. Finally, his gaze flicked up to me. “You know of Utu?”

I was so happy when that one was crushed into oblivion, Inanna said.

“Nope, but evidently, Inanna does.”

“I would hope she would. Utu is or was the lord of justice in her time. He meted out punishments, adjudicated disputes …”

“And contracts, I assume.”

“Exactly. He is quite well known for having several items which, after his death, could be used to determine the right and the wrong of things as he did while alive. A staff that would bend and twist when someone told a lie. A ring that would glow to identify the righteous party.”

“Handy. Too bad we don’t have doodads like that these days. Are you saying one of these items could be used to break Quinn’s contract?”

“No. Both of the items I spoke of were destroyed.”

“How do you know that? And how could an immortal die in the first place?”

Gil lay the large book on the table and leaned over it, a rigid set to his shoulders. “I know this because I killed him myself, and destroyed his talismans.”

Fredricks shrank back, sucking in air with a hiss, his hand to his throat. The drama queen.

 I waited for Gil to elaborate, but he didn’t. The longer I waited, the more disturbed he looked. Finally, he slammed the book shut and picked it up, holding his hand out to me.

“We’ll be back, wizard. Speak to no one about this.”

The Bonding Blade

Can the embodiment of an ancient goddess live a balanced life in modern times?

Former Army Sergeant Hester Trueblood struggles to find the answer, seven years after fate bonded her to the ancient Sumerian Goddess, Inanna. Whether engaging in battles to the death with demons or entering fight club scraps, Hester’s life is forever subjected to Inanna’s whims and insatiable lust. It hasn’t been easy to juggle the mounting perilous challenges, or to tolerate the demands of her demi-god lover, Gilgamesh.

When her warrior Quincy is stricken with a mysterious illness, Hester thinks a supernatural blade could be the answer to save him. Or it just might destroy the world.

One thing is for sure. Nobody is immune from the painful reality of loss and suffering—not even a goddess.

Read the exciting second instalment of The Desert Goddess series. A blend of fantasy, action adventure, mystery, and romance with a biting sense of humor.

Get it today in paperback or e-book format on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Angus & Robertson (Australia), Playster or 24Symbols.

M.L. Doyle

aimed to prove her brother wrong when she joined the Army on his dare. Almost two decades later, she not only confirmed that she could, contrary to his warning, make it through basic training, her combat boots took her to the butt-end of nowhere and back countless times and she lived to tell about it … or write about it as it turned out.

A native Minnesotan, Mary lives in Baltimore where her evil cats force her to feed and care for them including cleaning up their poo. To escape from her torture, Mary loves to hear from readers. Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

Share

Our favorite secondary characters

Share

Part 2

Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

Characters are what make readers read stories. If we don’t find characters we can love, hate, despise, fear, identify with and cheer for, the story just won’t hold our attention for long. 

Readers love great characters, and writers love to create memorable characters, too. But it’s not just the hero or protagonist. Every hero needs a villain, every lonely lover needs a love interest. 

Sometimes, readers are more interested in the secondary character than the protagonist. Think of Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings, Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, Boxer in Animal Farm

And writers love their secondary characters, too. This week, more of your favorite bestselling authors share their favorites among the characters in their own books.

Seb Kirby 

With Matteo Lando in Take No More, I wanted to create a villain who was bad but potentially redeemable.

As the son of crime boss Alfieri, he’s been raised in the expectation of taking over the family business when the time is right. But he’s trapped by the weight of this expectation and never able to justify himself in the eyes of his father or those lower down in the hierarchy who see him as a favoured son. This gives him a vulnerability that underscores the heartlessness of his deeds.

Dawn Torrens

My favourite secondary character is Tristan from Tears of Endurance.

Tristan plays a big role in the novel as he is the brother of the protagonist. He is a good guy with a guilty secret that he must conceal from his brother.

Tristan battles with his feelings a great deal and through loyalty to his brother, he ends up suffering inner pain.

DelSheree Gladden

My favorite secondary character to writer was Oscar Roth from my Someone Wicked This Way Comes series: Wicked Hunger, Wicked Power, Wicked Glory and Wicked Revenge.

I enjoyed writing Oscar because he was out of his mind most of the time and I got to do things with him that I couldn’t with a sane character.

Scott Bury

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my own favorite secondary character, Rowan Fields from Torn Roots.

Then I asked a reader who his favorite secondary character of mine was. After a moment’s thought, he said “The amulet in The Bones of the Earth.”

This both surprised and delighted me. The amulet is an important element of the book, and I revealed is personality gradually over hundreds of pages. To have readers not only recognize that but also love the character just made my day.

Who is your favorite secondary character?

Share with authors and readers: tell us who your favorite secondary character is in any book. What about that person appeals to you? Do you identify with them? Do you love them or hate them? Would you like to read a book where they move from secondary to main character?

Let us know!

Share

Goober: One of My Favorite Secondary Characters

Share

By Gae-Lynn Woods

Roseohioresident (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Secondary characters. Rarely do we talk about them, but they’re an important part of the seasoning that livens up any story. Asking me to choose which character I love most is a bit like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. So I’ll just say that for this moment, a sweet secondary character named Goober is my favorite.

He made his debut in The Devil of Light, the first Cass Elliot Crime Novel, and has appeared in each book since. In The Devil of Light and Avengers of Blood, Goober ended up playing important roles by stumbling across dead bodies (in one case a body so very freshly dead that Goober thought it was still moving, zombie-style). In A Case of Sour Grapes, he’s spared from finding bodies and plays a true secondary role, adding color and texture to the story.

Goober’s character is based very loosely on a real-life character who lived in our neck of the East Texas woods. The little town nearest to my grandparents was home to a woman with mild mental challenges who rode a lawn mower as a means of transportation. Although I vividly remember seeing her scooting around town on her red mower, I never learned her name or anything about her past. But her image, and the freedom she found on that mower, never left me.

A Case of Sour Grapes - mystery by Gae-Lynn Woods

As do all my characters, Goober appeared in a story at the exact moment he was needed. He wasn’t fully formed, but a general sketch of who he was – based on the woman from my childhood – arrived with him. In The Devil of Light, we learned that he was abandoned on Forney County’s courthouse lawn when he was a toddler, and was adopted by an elderly widow. Although Goober was a little slow when it came to formal education, he is a talented gardener and handyman, but the intricacies of maintaining his red riding mower escape him. In Avengers of Blood, we find out he possesses a wisdom about people and their capabilities belied by his gentle nature.

I love Goober because there is absolutely no guile about him. My other characters live life on multiple levels, as we all do, but Goober is one of those rare ‘what you see is what you get’ people. He continues to grow through the stories and we’ll learn more about who Goober is, but I don’t think he’ll lose that simple sweetness that makes him so unique.

I do kind of hope he’ll stop finding bodies because it’s a tad traumatic for a soul as gentle as Goober, but on the other hand, he is prone to stumble into the most unusual situations…

Gae-Lynn Woods

is a Texan who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle, one very cranky donkey, and The Dude, a rescue kitty with attitude.

Gae-Lynn writes the Cass Elliot Crime Series. When she’s not playing the roadie, tending to cows, fixing fences, or digging post holes, Gae-Lynn is working on the next Cass Elliot novel and the next Companion Novel featuring Maxine Leverman, Cass’ best friend, who makes her debut in Avengers of Blood.

Gae-Lynn can be found:

Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Google+   |   Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website   |    Blog

Share

Personal memories and fiction

Share

Literary musings

By D.G. Torrens

Personal memories in my writing has featured a great deal. My first book, Amelia’s Story, was filled with personal memories as it was my autobiography.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

However, transferring those memories to the page is not quite as easy as you would think. Accuracy is key.

If you are writing a true story, it is imperative you can back up what you are writing about. For example, documentation, permissions from corporate, local and governing bodies, depending on what your story is about. It may be your story, but researching your past events for accuracy is important.

I personally revisited all the places from my past that feature in my book. This was to refresh those memories that I would be writing about. It really made a huge difference as it reminded me of things that I had long forgotten about.

This can have its pitfalls as memories forgotten are not always good memories. I had to prepare myself for an emotional roller coaster of a ride.

Personal memories have also featured in my fictional novels, too. When one of my characters is going through an emotional time in their life, I often draw from a personal memory that will make me feel the emotions my character is going through so that I can write her/his emotions with accuracy, thus making my readers feel the character’s emotions also.

I guess, it is a bit like when an actor methods acts for a part in a movie. They get into character for the part. I do something similar for my writing.

D.G. Torrens

is the author of 14 books, including the bestselling trilogy, Amelia’s Story #1, Amelia’s Destiny #2 and Amelia The Mother #3. This is an emotion-charged true story that the author wrote for her daughter.

D.G is a mother/writer/blogger who has a dream to inspire as many people as possible through her story. To show those with little hope that dreams can come true.

D.G is a prolific writer and in 2013, her works were recognized by BBC Radio WM, where she has given several live interviews in the BBC studios in Birmingham, UK. Thereafter, D.G. became a regular Headline Reviewer for the radio show for the next 12 months.

She currently has 15 published titles, and plans to release three more before the end of the year.

Visit her:

Share

Memory and dialog

Share

Monday musing

By Scott Bury

Photo by Max Goncharov on Unsplash

How does memory factor into my writing? Thinking about this brought me to one of my earliest memories: July 31, 1965. 

On that warm, sunny Winnipeg summer day, I was standing on the front steps of my parents’ home. My father was sitting on the top step in front of me, and around me were some other kids from the neighbourhood.

I cannot remember what the conversation was about, but I can remember that at one point, I said, “today is the first day of August.” I remember feeling that I was kind of going out on a limb; I remember not being sure that what I said was true.

“Not quite,” my father said. “Tomorrow is August first.”

And I can remember, strangely enough, feeling pretty good about that—about being close to knowing the date, because I was sure that none of the other four- and five-year olds there had any clue what the date was. I can remember at least one of them being surprised that I was as close as I was. After all, even a grown-up could err on the date by one day, right?

I was four at the time (now you know my age). There were no cell phones to check the date and time on. Phones then were heavy, clunky black things tethered to the wall by stout wires, or screwed to it in the kitchen. Actually, every family I knew had only one phone.

We also all had black-and-white television sets—huge wooden crates with a screen maybe a foot across. I remember how my parents and I used to fiddle with the rabbit-ear antennas on top, or the fine-tuning dial around the channel-changing dial beside the screen to try to clear up the image on the screen.

I remember the white stucco house with the blue wooden trim that we lived in. The front yard seemed as wide as a park, and I remember the oak tree as immense, with a canopy that gave enough shade for family picnics.

I don’t know whether this memory directly informs my writing. But I have always loved blue-and-white houses, and I was immediately taken with Cycladean architecture when I saw pictures of it during high school. 

Unsplash

But there is one lesson I think we can draw from this. Think of your own favourite memories. They’re probably not about big, dramatic events. They’re probably of quieter moments with your families, when you’re not doing anything in particular. No one says anything life-changing.

If there is something about this memory that has any effect in my writing, it’s that. People don’t usually speak in full sentences, and what they say does not seem memorable, at first. And yet, that’s what we do remember. At least, I do. 

This is where I find a lot of fiction writers go wrong. They try to pack so much into dialogue that it sounds false. Listen to some of the everyday conversations around you. People almost never speak in full sentences, they make mistakes all the time, they start sentences, change their mind part-way through, backtrack part way and substitute words. And if you ever tried to re-create the funniest, most enjoyable, laughter-filled conversation you ever had on paper, it probably came out as gibberish. This is why most politicians sound false: they’ve prepared what they say.

I know that stumbling speech with little import makes for bad reading. But still, I remember those quiet times and those gentle conversations, and to me, they’re the most real memories I have.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

Since then, he has published mysteries, thrillers and a three-volume biography, the Eastern Front triology: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War, the true story of a Canadian-born man drafted into the Soviet Red Army in World War II.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

Learn more about Scott from his:

Share