Tag Archives: dragons

HUW the BARD launch date set

Map of Eynier Valley © Connie J. Jasperson 2014

Map of Eynier Valley © Connie J. Jasperson 2014

I am pretty excited about things right now!  HUW THE BARD will be officially launched on March 31, 2014. I’m having a virtual launch party and everything–with virtual canapes and margaritas.

On Friday, March 28, 2014 we will be revealing the cover, on both Carlie M.A. Cullen’s blog and on this place, right here.  I can hardly wait!

It has been a long journey, to get Huw to this point. I began writing him in November 2011, and had the first draft complete by November of 2012.

I have the good fortune to have a friend, Irene Roth Luvaul, who is a professional author and a fine dedicated editor, go over it, helping me to make the manuscript submission ready. (That process is an entire blogpost in and of itself!)

Inset Bekenberg Trail to Castleton

Bekenberg Trail to Castleton © Connie J. Jasperson 2014

At that point, Huw was sent to the fine ladies at Eagle Eye Editors, where he was thoroughly scrutinized and we went through the editing process. Because of the sometimes difficult things Huw must deal with, that was frequently an emotional ordeal, but Carlie, Maria, and Irene nursed me through it.

In the end, the final product is a book we can all be proud of.

In the meantime–here is the blurb that is on the back of the book:


Huw Owyn is the last true bard in Waldeyn.

Fleeing a burning city,

Everything he ever loved in ashes behind him,

Penniless and hunted, no place is safe.

Abandoned and alone, eighteen-year old Huw the Bard must somehow survive.

 It’s two-hundred leagues to safety,

And then two-hundred more.

A lot can happen to a man on a journey like that.

Map of Waldeyn © Connie J. Jasperson 2014

Map of Waldeyn © Connie J. Jasperson 2014


Filed under Adventure, Books, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Publishing, Uncategorized, writing

William Morris, Tolkien, and Modern Elves

Pauline Baynes' map poster of Middle-earth published in 1970 by George Allen & Unwin and Ballantine Books.

Pauline Baynes’ map poster of Middle-earth published in 1970 by George Allen & Unwin and Ballantine Books.

Lately I have been ‘guru-ed’ to death on various different writers forums by a few indie authors, whose own work is a great deal less than stellar, harshly criticizing the quality of writing of everyone from J.R.R. Tolkien to Robert Jordan.

Some people–I wonder, do they even read the comments they write? I am going to tell you straight up: Tolkien did NOT use too many words in The Hobbit, and the movie was not better.  Tolkien was Professor of Anglo-Saxon Studies at Pembroke College, Oxford, he invented the elfin language and as such, we may be assured he had a moderately good grasp of the English language, and the literature of his time.

He wrote in a lyrical style, with descriptions and side quests, things that enthralled avid readers like me who understood how to set aside a day to just to enjoy a good read.

The movie, while it is awesome, exciting and great fun, bears some relation to the actual book but certainly does not chronicle it. In the book for starters, Legolas was not a character, he did not have a love interest, and neither did Kili.  If you read the credits at the end of the movie, you will see it clearly says “BASED ON” the book, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

the hobbitThe problem with the book is not in Tolkien’s writing. It is in the eye of the beholder who never learned patience, or appreciation of a well-told story.

Fortunately, we now have an emerging generation of young women who consider “Pride and Prejudice” to be their favorite book of all time, and this gives me hope. Pride and Prejudice is about manners, yes–but it is also about that intrinsic thing all great novels consider, the search for self, and underneath the trappings of fantasy, the elves and goblins, so is the Hobbit.

That quest to discover who we are and what we are capable of is what drives Bilbo to keep  going, even in the face of terrible events. I have hope that if Jane Austen’s work is once again considered to be popular reading among young people, then the love of a beautifully crafted tale will never entirely disappear and the true appreciation of Tolkien’s great works will once again be celebrated.

What I frequently see in these forums see is an aggressive type of person who criticizes but lacks an understanding of what he/she is ranting about. They claim to be in writing groups, but if they are, I feel sorry for their fellow writers.  These people are the carrion-eaters, the ones who will pick an author’s work to the bone, and casually dismiss it, destroying a fellow authors sense of self-worth.

What a person who writes fantasy needs to know is what the masters of the genre wrote, and what made their work classics.  In other words,  stop looking AT the words as disparate parts that you could write better, and read them in context. You might be surprised at what you will find!

Well at World's End, William MorrisEven Tolkien had inspiration for his works, and he freely admitted he was a great devotee of the work of William Morris, an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and English Arts and Crafts Movement. He loved Morris’s prose and poetry romances. Tolkien’s own work follows the general style and approach of Morris’s work. The Desolation of Smaug as portraying dragons as detrimental to landscape, has been noted as an explicit motif borrowed from Morris, just as countless fantasy authors borrow the modern concept of Orcs, Elves, and many other high fantasy motifs from Tolkien.

Rivendell_illustrationThe modern image and mythology of the elf as he is written into most of today’s fantasy has been directly modeled on the elves of Tolkien’s Rivendell, whether the author knows it or not. Even the elves we find in the onslaught of urban-fantasy-romances are created in Tolkien’s image.

So, now that I’ve had my rant about internet writer’s forums and the bad apples who occasionally haunt them, you’re probably wondering what  I find that is good out there? A great deal more good than bad, actually.  There are an incredible number of people who are willing to be helpful to aspiring authors, and who regularly share good information. The following is a list of good forums you might want to look into.

Writers Digest

Writers Cafe

Absolute Write

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

I’ve had a lot of fun on these forums and I learned a great deal. I never respond to Trolls, because acknowledging them encourages them to think they have power. How you handle them is up to you. Do your homework, research the great literature of your genre and write because you love it.

Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind, long years numberless as the wings of trees! The beginning of the Quenya poem Namárië written in tengwar and in Latin script, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind, long years numberless as the wings of trees! The beginning of the Quenya poem Namárië written in tengwar and in Latin script, by J.R.R. Tolkien.


Filed under Adventure, Battles, Books, Dragons, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, mythology, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Monday, and the Room of Shame

Dragon_rearing_up_to_reach_medieval_knight_on_ledgeToday, my plans are as follows (in no particular order):

1. Clean the Room of Shame (my office)

2. bake bread

3. dust for cobwebs, and sweep the front  porch

4. organize kitchen a bit better (if Hell has frozen over)

5. prepare fabulous dinner for husband.

6. Connect two disparate threads in current work-in-progress.

Alas – most likely only 5 and 6 will happen.  The Room of Shame gets sort of dug out and reshuffled two times a year. The last time I cleaned it, there was still fur from our late cat in some of the corners. Yum Yum (rest her little soul) died in 2008.

800px-Southampton_Medieval_Merchants_House_kitchenI might get some baking done if I get to a stopping point on my story. I love to bake, and I love fresh bread, but I am the laziest woman these days.  I know that if I want to eat I must cook, but sometimes I just go with the Dave’s Killer Bread, rather than baking my own. Its vegan and good, but still home made is better.

Like writing, laundry is an ongoing process, so it doesn’t make it to a list. How do two old people make so much laundry? It’s insane. I don’t get it–I have the most modern of laundry doing appliances and still they don’t pick the clothes up and load themselves. Nor do they then fold and put the laundry away, as I think they should do. What’s up with that?  It’s very frustrating.

the way I work

Most likely I will remain in the room of shame, feet propped on filing cabinet, keyboard in lap, pecking away, writing fantasy tales about people who actually DO things. Perhaps Irene and I will go out for lunch. She’ll come by and pick me up and…

…but that means she’ll see the living room…

Oh-god–I have to clean the house. Gotta go!

And how do you intend to spend YOUR day?


Filed under Adventure, Battles, Fantasy, Food, Humor, Literature, Vegan, writer, writing

2013 – Huh – Look at that!

472px-Judith_Leyster_Merry_TrioThe WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog, which I looked at and said “Huh. Look at that.”  Though it didn’t really tell me a lot, it was interesting and I loved the shiny picture (at the bottom of this page.)

But it got me to thinking about the year and what my personal favorite posts were. In looking back, I realize my favorite posts are not the ones that detailed my personal life, but are the posts dealing with the craft of writing. Still, the things we struggle with on a personal level are the things that form us as writers–me more than anyone, perhaps. They seem to have been the more popular posts, which surprises me.

For me, the year started out with a round of bad health, and in an effort to turn it around, I became vegan.

Vegans and Version Control posted 04 January 2013

That worked to a certain extent, and now a year later, I am still a Reluctant Vegan. I don’t miss meat, as it has never been that important to me, but boy do I miss the cheese. (sigh.)

MSClipArt MP900390083.JPG RF PDEpilepsy. A scary plunge into the unknown if ever there was one.  The  ‘e’ word  appeared 24 February 2013. I have two children who developed seizure disorders as adults, and they have each handled this frightening change in their lives differently. My daughter handles it the way she does everything–she accepts she has it, takes the medicine, and goes on with her life. Other than the first one she suffered which put her in the hospital with broken bones in her face, her seizures have been milder than my son’s. His seizures, when he has them, are severe, and he has been hospitalized three times this year. Each time, it was because he had not accepted his condition and was not obeying dr.’s orders. I am pleased to report that has changed. Sadly he is unable to drive until February 2014–but with the positive way his treatment is going it looks like he will be cleared to drive at that time. In the year since I wrote ‘The e-word‘ he has made a complete turnaround and is fully committed to managing his disease.

Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895Hard on the heels of that major change was the acknowledgement of my dysfunctional family, and dealing with loved ones who suffer from crippling addictions. That was my emotionally draining post, Trains that Go Bump in the Night, posted 25 March 2013. That situation has also seen a major turnaround, with some really positive results. There is still a lot of pain, but the low point seemed to get my brother’s attention too. He is back on track, and with his jail time behind him and a good attitude. He is working a good recovery program, with an honest desire to be truly happy.  He is doing well, and while our relationship has been forever changed by this terrible ordeal, we have mended some fences between us. I was deeply touched to discover through all of this just how many people have lost loved ones to this terrible addiction, and even more importantly, how many have regained some sort of normalcy.

If there is a Hell, Meth is the devil.

But the positive side of all of this is that because I am unable to really face the reality of my crazy existence, I managed to complete the first draft of Mountains of the Moon. YAY!!!  The End Is Nigh, posted 28 March 2013 detailed the strange reluctance I felt to actually  finish the book and let go of my characters. It was hard, but now the book has made it through the second draft and is in the hands of the beta readers.

Due to bad health, I spent many hours on Facebook, killing time when I should have been writing. Face book–A Squirrel Ran Through It posted on 6 June 2013.

BIF Blog Print ScreenThanks to having surgery and being sicker than a dog for the entire summer, I also read a lot of books and blogged about them on Best in Fantasy, my weekly book review blog.  I thank God for all the amazing and wonderful writers out there who fire my imagination and keep me plugging away at this craft. Someday I hope to have written a tale that is considered a “Best in Fantasy” tale–it is something to aspire to and work towards.

Over the course of the year I wrote many technical pieces, on everything from how to format your ms for print, to how to create a clickable table of contents for your e-book, to how to effectively use WORD, and how to–>oh, dear…Grandma’s sort of a know-it-all and she’s not afraid to tell you about it. Are you listening? There will be a test.

I published a novella, Tales from the Dreamtime, a small book of three short-stories which I think is some of my best work to date, short pieces though they are. I also had two short stories published in a children’s anthology, Christmas O’Clock. I was privileged to be included with some high-powered authors like Shaun Allan and Alison DeLuca, along with Irene Roth Luvaul, Mary K. Mitchell, and Nicole Antonia Carro. That is some heady company!

My Coffee Cup © cjjasp 2013All in all, 2013 was a good year, with the misery being more than balanced by the joys. My suspicion is that people who don’t know what it is like to suffer don’t appreciate the true beauty of life.

It has been a hard year, true, but through it all I had the joy of grandchildren, the love of my husband, the support of my dear friends and the beauty of art and music to surround me. I have rediscovered my gratitude — both for the bounty I enjoy, and the people I am privileged to share my life with.

May your new year bring you joy and prosperity and the ability to appreciate them. May you have the good health to enjoy them, and may your imaginary friends never stop talking to you!



Filed under Adventure, Battles, Books, Dragons, Epilepsy, Fantasy, Food, Literature, Music, Uncategorized, Vegan, writer, writing

What the label says

Parisfal - Creator - Hermann Hendrich PD-Art Wikimedia CommonsDuring the Christmas hiatus I’ve been revisiting the manuscript of Mountains of the Moon, tightening it up. I will be sending it to my Beta readers soon, preparatory to the final edit. In the meantime I have still been searching for cover art – my head has an idea of what it needs to be, and I haven’t found it yet, nor have I created the right blurb, although I’m getting close–we want a short, intriguing, sell-the-book sort of blurb.

Huw The Bard progresses slowly–some things just can’t be rushed. I had hoped to have him ready this spring, but that may not happen. The cover is ready, the blurb is ready, but editing is going more slowly than I had anticipated. That is one area I will not rush, so it will go on the back burner for a while. I still plan to enter Huw in the ABNA Contest this year, if and when it is announced, in the genre of Fantasy, as I hope it will be ready to go by then. Nothing is sure or certain in this business, however.

DobrynaThe editing of Julian Lackland is progressing at a good rate–he may be ready for publication before Huw. His cover and blurb are also finished, as is his book trailer. Huw still needs a proper trailer, but we are rolling toward victory!

In the meantime, I am still writing Valley of Sorrows, and it is going really well.  All the threads in my mind are coming together well on paper. That may be a finished novel yet!

One thing that is a bit difficult is trying to decide what genre my work falls under and what labels will get my books to the people who most want the sort of tales I write.  Huw the Bard and Julian Lackland are Historical Fantasies, but there is no genre to cover that! The Tower of Bones series is Epic Fantasy, or so I think, so that is easy (?).

But I’ve never had any luck with my labels.

And labeling is critical–many people won’t look at work that is not in their favorite genre, so they may not stumble upon a work they might enjoy. Conversely, if it is mislabeled, a reader might buy it, find it is not their cup of tea, and write a stinker of a review, based on the fact it is really not at all a historical mystery and what was the author thinking anyway?

So this is my goal for this coming year year: Write good books, label them properly, and perhaps sell a few.

Quaglio_KipfenbergI’ve learned many amazing things about this craft over the last year, things I never knew I had a knack for.  I  sourced the art and designed my own covers for two books, and  Alison DeLuca (our fearless leader at Myrddin Publishing Group) says they will be good covers when the books go to press.  I have helped several authors get their work ready for publication and I managed to make it through another NaNoWriMo as a Municipal Liaison unscathed.

A new year looms, bright and shiny. My ambition is to get the hang of the trickier parts of the marketing of my work–properly labeling it, and making it available to prospective readers. After all, if they can’t find it, they can’t read it!

I hope your Christmas was a warm and cozy thing with good food and family that puts the fun in dysfuntional. I hope the new year brings you everything you need, and some of what you want. I wish you long life and happiness, and the wisdom to appreciate it!


Filed under Adventure, Battles, Books, Dragons, Fantasy, knights, Literature, mythology, writer, writing

Many’s the Fool

Heart of Neveyah relief 3-4-2013 001I’ve been working full speed on fleshing out the fourth book set in the World of Neveyah. It is the third and final book in the Tower of Bones series.

One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve progressed as a writer is to cut the backstory into manageable chunks. I, as the author, am totally into the backstory, but you as a reader may not be. In my previous work, my readers have to slog through a long lead-in before the real action begins. With each successive book, that lead-in has become shorter.

In order to avoid this tendency, I have been working to an outline. Because I have the final half of the book nearly complete, all I am working on is the first half of the book. I have given myself a strict number of pages to accomplish all of this in, which means it is forced to be all action, with the backstory slipped in incidentally.

Mal Evol relief 3-4-2013 001The first half of VOS happens concurrently with Forbidden Road, and some of the incidents from that tale are viewed through the eyes of those left at home.  This book must detail what happened at home and wrap up Forbidden Road. I want it to be a stand-alone book, and it can’t  give away the core of Forbidden Road. Thus, it can only reference what the characters know of the incidents that occurred in Mal Evol as they affect this tale.

Fleshing out this tale is requiring a lot of incidental backstory for me, 90% of which will not make it into the book, but which serves to cement characters and how they act and react in a given situation.  Hence, the outline:

First 1/4 chapters must address:

  1. The redemption of John Farmer
  2. The arrival of bad news and Dane Bransson’s descent into depression and anger
  3. The premature delivery and death of the baby.
  4. Marya’s descent into madness
  5. John and Garran journey to Braden

Second ¼ chapters must address:

  1. Building the wall
  2. Zan’s concerns re: setting the truth geas on Christoph
  3. The resettlement of Braden to Aeoven and other areas,
  4. Attack by the Hounds of Tauron
  5. Completing the Wall
  6. Arlen and the road to High Point Camp/ Jaxon
  7. Edwin’s anxieties
  8. Friedr’s worries re: his disfigurement and how Aeolyn will see him
  9. Lourdan’s Remaking

map of Neveyah relief 3-4-2013 001This is the first half of the book and must be complete at the 50% mark. By giving myself this road map, I am not completely nailed down creatively, nor am I completely winging it. I am forcing myself to stick to the meat of the matter and be sparing with the fluff.

I have set an arbitrary length for the book, and the second half was dealt with the same way. I actually wrote the second half first during NaNoWriMo 2012, because it picks up where Forbidden Road Leaves off and I was in the zone.

Writing the character of John Farmer has been fun. I’ve written a kajillion anecdotal stories for him as a novice and a young journeyman that won’t make it into VOS, but which will possibly be used at a later date in a volume of short stories. By virtue of having these tales, I know who John is. I know what makes him tick, and, most importantly, why he is who he is.

AnneMcCaffrey_DragonflightBoth Agatha Christie and Anne McCaffrey were geniuses at conveying that sense of history with an economy of words. When I think of each character in the compelling books written by these women, the characters I loved and who stuck with me most had a sense of history. The author knew them, even the most minor of characters.  HOW they knew their characters, what their style of writing was, I don’t know, but me — I make a little personnel file for each.

In this post I have just been talking about the fourth book, but I hope to publish the third book set in Neveyah, Mountains of the Moon, by summer. It’s hard to say if it will be through the editing process by then.  I will never rush to publish anything ever again, knowing what I know now about this business.

Some indies have this idea that they have to get it published NOW, regardless of whether an editor has told them it is not ready, and this is bad. Plot holes, threads to nowhere, these are bad, even if you are intending a second book in that series. Even worse is the nearly overwhelming urge to just add a bit to the tale before you click the publish button.  Has anyone else seen what you wrote? How do you know that what you think you wrote is what you really did write? And did you make your revisions by hand, or were you using Dragon? ALWAYS key your revisions by hand if you are physically able.

As an editor, I have seen some interesting manuscripts written using Dragon Naturally Speaking Software.  Words that are technically correct but make no sense until the editor realizes the words actually rhyme with the intended word…you see where this is going.  

Many’s the fool who rushed to publish and rued it later. I was one of those with my first book, but just like many other firsts, I learned a great deal from that experience. Thus I use the map, the calendar and the editor – the three most important parts of any tale.


Filed under Adventure, Battles, Books, Dragons, Fantasy, Literature, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Inspiration, where art thou?

Joseph_Vernet_-_Soldiers_in_a_Mountain_Gorge,_with_a_Storm_-_WGA24728Over the last few months I have spent a great deal of time searching for cover art for Mountains of the Moon,  a book, set in the world of Neveyah, and one that takes place in a rugged mountainous area. A lot of the action at the end of the book is in a ruined keep. I have four heroes, five bad guys, and great deal of hilarity to cover, and it’s hard to know just what will work.

I have no idea what to commission, if anything, and I have been unable to find the right combination of stock pictures, so here I am, writing a fourth book set in that world, with no idea of what sort of cover is appropriate for the one that is currently on hold.

What ever I get, it has to be colorful and eye-catching and SIMPLE.

So this takes me to another cover dilemma–writing the dreaded blurb. So what do the professionals all do?  By “blurb” I mean a condensed, concise, and compelling description of your book, in other words, a book advertisement. The blurb is a book publisher’s description, or even a review comment (but I hate those.)

Back Cover of Mage-Guard of Hamor by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

Back Cover of Mage-Guard of Hamor by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

I went out to several books on my shelves, and discovered that the big publishers don’t write blurbs any more. They just put glowing descriptions of the author’s other work on the back.  I feel that is a bit disrespectful to the reader on the part of the big name publisher–expecting the purchasing public to just blindly follow the well-known author. After several recent expensive disappointments at the hands of authors whom I quite respected, I have decided I am not going to buy your damned $25.00 book unless I know what I am getting, no matter WHO publishes you. I will stand in that aisle and read as much of the book as I need to, if that is what it takes to get an idea of what is inside, proprieties be damned.

ANYWAY–a blurb like that won’t help an indie, because your other work won’t sell your  book–the book has to sell itself. BUT some of the older books on my shelves have great blurbs, little teasers that sold me that book back in the day.

1. Who or What is your book about? Choose either the idea of the book or the main character and stick to that. If you choose the character,  use only the main character in your description, and forget the others, because it is that character’s story that you are trying to sell. (I personally am always intrigued by the idea of the book, and a good example will follow below.)

2. Run it past your reading group, your friends, and your online author buddies. Run it by someone, anyone! Ask them if it makes them want to run out and buy the book, and heed their answer. Ask them why it works or why it doesn’t.

3. Keep it short! I have found that a little exercise currently popular in online writing groups is really helpful – getting in the habit of writing 100 word flash fiction. I write a 100 word flash fiction nearly every day, because you really have to choose your words wisely, if you want to tell your story in such a short space. It is a warm-up exercise for my real work, and I have quite a good backlog of ideas that will become short-stories or novellas, all written this way.

Roadmarks_firstLet’s look at the cover and the blurb on  ‘Roadmarks’, a classic sci-fi fantasy written by the late Roger Zelazney. It was published in 1979 by Del Rey Science Fiction. The cover art is awesome–and it really caught my eye. It is simple, with plenty of visual room for the graphics.

The blurb is intriguing too, as the publisher sold me the IDEA of the novel:

“The Road runs from the unimaginable past to the far future, and those who travel it have access to the turnoffs leading to all times and places–even to the alternate time-streams of histories that never happened. Why the Dragons of Bel’kwinith  made the Road–or who they are–no one knows. But the Road has always been there and for those who know how to find it, it always will be!”

I have the cover design for Huw The Bard, and the blurb. That book is covered!  But Mountains of the Moon–not so much. Finding the art for that book is proving a challenge, but I have six months at least so something will turn up.

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Filed under Adventure, Battles, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Uncategorized, writer, writing

The Dilemma

GRAELENT AND THE FAIRY-WOMAN - Illustration from Legends & Romances of Brittany by Lewis Spence, illustrated by W. Otway Cannell.Romantic love and passion are two things that make up the bulk of many a book I’ve begun to read and then set aside over the past few years. Truthfully, romance novels don’t interest me the way adventure novels do–if they are seasoned well with a bit of romance. Graphic romance with no plot is porn, and I think we should just call it that and be done with it. Adventure with no romance is a travelogue detailing a rough trip, but nothing to write home about.


In a novel, one without the other just does not work. Words splashed on a page for their shock value have been done and over-done, so for me it’s important to keep myself writing for the quality of the tale. If I do it right, I will intrigue the reader and challenge them, making them want to read more.

Adventure must have some sort of romance to drive the plot forward, some unattainable goal whether it is love or an object. I like to look back at history and see what it was about some tales that have kept the interest of readers, not just for years, but for centuries. What do these tales embody that new works should also have, to make them timeless?

Let’s examine the Arthurian Legend. From the website, www.arthurian-legend.com.

I quote:

Illustration by H.J. Ford for Andrew Lang's Tales of Romance, 1919. Arthur meets the Lady of the Lake and gets the Sword Excalibur“The legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table is the most powerful and enduring in the western world. King Arthur, Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot did not really exist, but their names conjure up a romantic image of gallant knights in shining armour, elegant ladies in medieval castles, heroic quests for the Holy Grail in a world of honour and romance, and the court of Camelot at the centre of a royal and mystical Britain.”

There we have the essence of what constitutes a timeless tale: Powerful people doing heroic deeds, and finding a bit of romance along the way. Set them in intriguing surroundings and dress them in metal or velvet (or both) and voila! Now all you must do is cue the magic–bring on the wise old sorcerer.

Hey, it worked for J.K. Rowling!

Boys_King_Arthur_-_N._C._Wyeth_-_p82I do a lot of reading, and if I am not reading, I am writing. My hope is that at some point in every tale I write, my readers will find themselves completely involved in the tale to the exclusion of the world around them. If that happens, then I have had an impact on my reader, the same way as Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams, and Mercedes Lackey have each impacted me.

Someday I will have written that tale.

But if I do that,  I’ll have to sustain the momentum…keep writing good stuff only and forget writing crap….but crap is so much easier to write.

Unfortunately we’re only as good as our next book.



Filed under Battles, Books, Dragons, Fantasy, knights, Literature, mythology, Uncategorized, writer, writing

What lurks within my mind

the belgariadEvery author is an avid reader. If not, they should be.  I began writing because I read so fast the library couldn’t stock new books fast enough to keep up with my habit, and I certainly couldn’t afford to buy them in that quantity.  I was limited to one new paperback book a payday in those days.

Now I read up to 6 Kindle downloads a week, and I feel very fortunate to be in such a position to be able to read as much as I want, whenever I want.

It is that yearning for a good tale that fires my imagination, and gets me writing a new tale. Today I am thinking about NaNoWriMo in November, and  wondering what I will write.

Imago Chronicles Book One  Lorna SuzukiI have read many books this year, books about elves and dragons, books about vampires, books set in the future, in alternate realities–so many books.

Now I have to find the next book that lurks within my mind.

I ask myself, “What do I want to read today?” What story do I want to have told to me, what will take me to that amazing, wonderful place where my heart and mind belong to the book in my hand?

There is a seed growing in my mind…the kernel of an idea. I know it will be a tale of people striving to overcome forces greater than themselves…perhaps the fate of their world hangs in the balance.

Final_Fantasy_VII_Advent_Children_2004Perhaps they are not always the most well-behaved of people, but here is a hero lurking deep within them, waiting for  some catastrophe to bring out that heroic side of them. Perhaps the local slacker is about to save the world…



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Sustaining the Passion

MH900438728The first days of summer have arrived. I’m not sure where the winter went, it flew by so fast. I’m many months behind on a gazillion things I wanted to have ready by now. I realize that goes without saying, but I had to say it anyway.

On a positive note I’m making headway on all sorts of side projects I had no intention of working on until next year.

Of course, the sky is gray until about 10:00 or 11:00 here much of the time, as we are so close to the Pacific Ocean, so the early morning is good writing time with no gorgeous blue skies to distract my sun-starved northwest eyes.

It all balances out.

My Coffee Cup © cjjasp 2013I have this incredible urge to spend all day sitting on my back porch reading, instead of writing.

I’ve been working on several new vignettes for Lackland, for the new edition of The Last Good Knight.  The trick is to keep the feeling of being on a roller-coaster that is part and parcel of the original work, and inject that sense of wonder and newness into the expanded work.

From my point of view, one of the best tales in The Last Good Knight is“The Dragon and the Daisies.”  The  story takes place some seven or eight years after Julian joins the Rowdies. Julian Lackland and Lady Mags have hit a rough spot, and it looks like they have gone their separate ways. Somehow, they work it out, and one of the more hilarious moments in Julian Lackland’s life ensues.

In order to recapture that feeling, I’ve been rereading my original work, and seeing it through new eyes. It’s amazing how much I loved that tale, and I feel that love every time I read my old ms.

I think that is what makes good reading–when the author is able to convey the passion for the story.  That passion is apparent in Anne McCaffrey’s early works, such as Dragonflight, Dragonquest and The White Dragon. I felt that intensity of feeling also when reading Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, to name a few right off the top of my head.

COTS Front CoverThe real trick is feeling that passion while you are writing so that your work is not flat, and yet keeping the story coherent so you don’t devolve into gibberish only you can relate to.


Rather than force it, I think I’ll clean house for a while, and then go read on my back porch.

The good news is, along with a new book in the Tower of Bones series and the two books in the Billy’s Revenge series, a book that I began writing in 1998, The Curse of the Stuarts, will be published early in 2014. This book has taken so long for two reasons. First, even though my sister Sherrie says it’s the most hilarious book I’ve ever written (and she would know,) it’s filled with every error a raw, newbie author can possibly make. I’ve been working on getting it straightened out off and on for two years. The second reason is I only work on this tale when I am between other projects, so it is inching toward publication.

Somehow when I revisit this old manuscript I once again feel that love of writing that is all-consuming, but sometimes eludes me!

Perhaps a relationship with your writing muse is like the most passionate relationship with a partner, filled with moments of absolute joy and abandon, and also with moments of intense struggle. Passion is, after all a two-sided coin–love on one side and hate on the other. Worrying about whether you’re feeling it or not it is a waste of time, because nothing ever remains the same and tomorrow will bring a different emotion.

Keeping the coin spinning is the key to keeping it interesting.


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