Tag Archives: romance

#FlashficFriday: Silence and Love #FreeVerse

Paul Cornoyer Winter twilight along Central Park

Silence and Love

There was a time when we talked,

A time when words connected us the way kisses join lovers.

You mind amazed me as much as your body did

And I knew them both better than I knew my own.

You still amaze me but years have wedged silence between us.

Not the stony silence of anger or hurt—thank god, not that.

 

It is the silence of comfortableness,

The soundless speech of two old people

who sometimes read each other’s minds.

The quiet sharing of a back porch in the summer.

Side-by-side on a second-hand settee with a blue cushion,

You reach for my hand, and I am swept away.

 

Now when we speak, it is a more cerebral sharing,

Mind to mind, heart to heart,

Two old people still in love, but with little to say.

Did we say it all in the young wild days?

Did we spend our words the way we spent our kisses?

If so, then many more remain, waiting to pass between us.

 

No. We were learning each other, discovering truths

and facing our self-deceptions.

Now it is a calm sharing.

I still know your mind and your body

and love them better than my own.

I still love it when you hold my hand.

 

And when we speak it means something.

And when we kiss it means something.

And when we hold hands in the silence

Of an evening on a back porch,

Side-by-side on a second-hand settee with a blue cushion,

It means everything.


“Silence and Love” © Connie J. Jasperson 2015, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Literature, Uncategorized, writing

My love affair with Willam Butler Yeats

Yeats Mural and quoteWilliam Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms.

His poetry is one of my favorite sources of inspiration.  In his early years he  was not afraid to write of faeries, and mystical things that fired my childish imagination. Later, as he grew as both a writer and as a person, he also wrote wonderful works that were more firmly rooted in reality.

William Butler Yeats, painted by his father, John Butler Yeats, 1900

William Butler Yeats, painted by his father, John Butler Yeats, 1900

Born in Ireland on June 13 1865, Yeats was born into the Protestant, Anglo-Irish minority that had controlled the economic, political, social, and cultural life of Ireland. His free-thinking, bohemian parents counteracted that cultural bias, and raised him to be proud to be an Irish poet and writer. He was raised in a home where art and literature were celebrated, His father was a famous artist, John Butler Yeats, who was renowned for his portraits, though his work never earned enough to keep the family financially secure–thus they moved around a lot.

The entire Butler Yeats family were highly artistic; his brother Jack became an esteemed painter, while his sisters Elizabeth and Susan Mary—known to family and friends as Lollie and Lily—became involved in the Arts and Crafts Movement. That movement of decorative arts was exemplified by traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and it often used medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration. It advocated economic and social reform and has been said to be essentially anti-industrial.

WB Yeats early essaysIn December 1923, Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, just after Ireland had gained independence. Fortunately, the prize led to a significant increase in the sales of his books, when his publishers Macmillan  capitalized on the publicity. He was able to repay not only his own debts, but those of his father–this was a huge source of relief for the whole family.

To a certain extent,  Yeats was a product of the arts and crafts movement. His poetry was whimsical and serious, and completely reflective of his passionate, turbulent life.  He has been quoted as saying a poet should labor “at rhythm and cadence, at form and style, ” and was a founding member of the Rhymers’ Club, a group of London poets who met to read and discuss their poems. The Rhymers placed a very high value on subjectivity,  how someone’s judgment is shaped by personal opinions and feelings instead of outside influences, and on craftsmanship.

william-butler-yeatss-quotes-4This emphasizes to me the value of a writing group–even Yeats had a group of people to bounce ideas off, and that group improved his craftsmanship.

Reading the work of W.B.Yeats greatly shaped my own view of poetry and literature in general. His life was unconventional, and chaotic, and his love affairs were famous, especially his life-long, frequently unrequited love for the Irish revolutionary/actress, Maud Gonne. He struggled with love and morality as did all free-thinking artists and writers in his day–but his struggles and the struggles of his contemporaries freed their imaginations, and they produced great works.

Of all his works, this is my favorite:

The Stolen Child by  W.B. (William Butler) Yeats

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

 >>><<<

Loreena McKennitt, the Stolen Child  (via You Tube)

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Friday Interview: Carlie M.A. Cullen

Photo of CarlieAs I promised a while back, today Carlie M A Cullen, author of The Heart Search trilogy, has consented to answer a few questions for us. She is a lovely, talented woman who has been one of my editors for several years now!

CC: Hi Connie! It’s lovely to be here. Thank you for the tea.

CJJ: Hello, and you’re welcome! Tell us a little of early life and how you began writing:

CC: I grew up as an only child. My parents worked full time and both had second jobs. As a result I was left to create my own entertainment. I loved the tales of Hans Christian Andersen and started to write my own fairy tales. I found myself disappearing into the stories I created and it made me feel less lonely. From there, I progresses to writing longer short stories and poems. It’s something I’ve continued to do into adulthood.

CJJ: As you know, I love this series. Tell us about your most recent book.

CC: I hope you’re not after any spoilers, Connie! [laughs] Heart Search: Betrayal is the final book in the trilogy and takes Remy and Joshua’s story to its natural conclusion. However, it’s not all hearts and flowers – far from it. There is a traitor who is passing copious amounts of information to someone who has a massive grudge against the coven, and who they are in league with. But there are four possible suspects. Which one is it and can the coven discover their identity before it’s too late? There are many twists and turns along the way, some good and some terrible. Certain characters really shine and there’s the discovery of new talents along the way. Unfortunately there are casualties, some of which may shock my readers.

CJJ: The story line in Betrayal is quite divergent from the previous two books. How did you come to write this novel?

CC: When I reached the halfway point in the first book, Heart Search: Lost, I knew there was too much of a story for just one. It was at that point I realized Heart Search would turn into a trilogy. I couldn’t leave the world I’d created and made the decision to complete the trilogy before moving onto other stories I had in my head.

CJJ: I always have that problem too. I think some stories are just larger than we originally thought. So, do you have a specific ‘Creative Process’ that you follow, such as outlining or do you ‘wing it’?

CC: It depends on what I’m writing really. With Heart Search, I had the first twelve chapters meticulously outlined, but around chapter five my characters decided they were going to take over and make me tell their story their way. I threw away the outline and have ‘winged it’ ever since. As I wrote this based on current day, it was easy to do.

With my next book, I’ve had to do some extensive world building and creating magic systems and the like before I began writing. However, as far as the story goes, again I’m winging it and seeing where my muse and characters takes me.

CJJ: Well your muse is taking you to some wonderful places! In your opinion, how does your work differ from others of its genre?

CC: I can only really talk about the Heart Search trilogy here. In the first book you have two POV’s: Remy in first person and Joshua in third person. Their stories run parallel to each other and every now and then they softly bump before going off again. I believe this is what makes it unique. In book two, I brought in extra character voices and gave them their own POV’s in third person. The final book takes even more POV’s into the mix, always in third person, whereas Remy has maintained a first person POV throughout.  I also believe (going by the reviews I’ve read) the storyline itself is completely different to what others have read before. Put all this together and that’s what I think makes my work so different from others in its genre.

CJJ: So now we get down to the question that I always wonder: Why do you write what you do?

CC: As I said earlier in the interview, I loved the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales and that was a huge influence in my writing. Growing up I tried reading different genres, but I always came back to fantasy. There’s something so intriguing about the characters you can create, the worlds you can build, and adding to that those mystical creatures we all know so well: fairies, goblins, dragons, vampires, et al. It seemed only natural for me to write in this genre. It’s where I’m in my comfort zone.

CJJ: I know why I chose the indie route for my work, but I’m curious as to why you’ve chosen this path.

CC: Originally, I wanted the dream of getting an agent and a decent publishing deal, but I was new to the industry and quite naïve. After a few rejections, I decided that after all my hard work on the book it would be nice to give people a chance to read it. In addition, I had people I knew asking me for it. It was about that time I joined Myrddin Publishing. Everyone was so supportive from day one so I published it through them and haven’t looked back since.

Now I know more about the industry, I’m really glad I’ve taken this path. I have so much more control over where my books are sold, what sort of cover I want, what price to charge, and how much I want in royalties that I think I’d now be too stifled by a major publisher.

CJJ: I agree! Being a part of the Myrddin Group has been a blessing to me too, considering the assistance we give each other in every aspect of bringing a book to market. And the fact that you really are in control of your own work and profits makes this an adventure!  So what advice would you offer an author trying to decide whether to go indie or take the traditional path?

CC: This is a tricky one to answer because what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for another. I think the best thing they could do is talk to other authors, some who are indie and some who have gone the traditional route. Ask them about the pros and cons of both and then they can make an informed decision that’s best for them.

I wish I’d done that in the beginning as I was so green it was ridiculous, but I was one of the lucky ones who met some wonderful indie authors who helped me along the way.

But going back to the question, do your homework and don’t make any snap decisions or judgments that you may later regret.

CJJ: Very good advice! Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to visit with me, and for sharing your wisdom!

Alice in Wonderland Tea SetCC: Thanks so much for inviting me, Connie. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you. Now, is there any more tea brewing?

CJJ: Yes, actually. This is a lovely citrus Lady Grey, I hope you like it! This tea set is my Alice in Wonderland set, which my children gave me last year!

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Betrayal front coverCarlie M A Cullen was born in London. She grew up in Hertfordshire where she first discovered her love of books and writing.

She has always written in some form or another, but started to write novels in 2011. Her first book was published by Myrddin Publishing in 2012. She writes in the Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genres for New Adult and Adult.

Carlie is also a principal editor for Eagle Eye Editors.

Carlie also holds the reins of a writing group called Writebulb. They have published four anthologies so far, two for adults and two for children, all of which raise money for a local hospice.

Carlie currently lives in Essex, UK with her daughter.

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Links for Carlie M A Cullen

Website: http://carliemacullen.com

Twitter: @carlie2011c

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CarlieMACullen

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=240655941&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B009MWVL5A

About.me: http://about.me/CarlieCullen

Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/CarlieCullen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6550466.Carlie_M_A_Cullen

BOOKS:

Heart Search, book one: Lost: http://smarturl.it/HeartSearch-Lost

Heart Search, book two: Found: http://smarturl.it/HeartSearch-Found

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Heart Search book three: Betrayal

Betrayal front cover Today is the release of a book that I had a great time being a part of–Heart Search  book three: Betrayal, by UK author, Carlie M. A. Cullen. I had the privilege of being a structural editor for this, and it was a project I really enjoyed.

Where to start? It is the third book in a trilogy, and so it picks at the end of the previous book, of course–but a new reader could start with this book and not feel too confused.

For me, this book is a roller-coaster of events and emotion, as Samir’s and Joshua’s covens prepare to defend themselves from an upstart rival’s attempted takeover. The disappearance and kidnapping of Erika casts suspicion on several people, and the discovery of a traitor in their midst is an unpleasant monkey-wrench tossed into the works, making it difficult for Samir and Joshua to know who to trust.

Their enemy, Liam, is a low-class thug who has no problem starting the equivalent of a gang-war within the vampires’ society. His heavy-handed bullying of his subordinates and cruelty to his victims is evidence of that. His second in command, Max, is much smarter vampire, a man who could have been quite decent under other circumstances and isn’t quite sure that his maker is all that sane.

Phoenix, the hidden traitor in their midst is an arrogant, self-absorbed twit, and definitely a jerk. The traitor claims to care for the person handed over as a hostage, but does it anyway, knowing the hostage will not be treated well. Phoenix manages to cause nothing but trouble before their identity is finally revealed.

Remy’s sudden separation from her family has her twin in an uproar. Her emotional instability affects Becky, her twin, as do other aspects of her life, although neither woman is aware of that connection. The stilted, angry phone conversations between the two only serve to complicate things.

This book has many, many threads that are woven together to create a compelling story of intrigue, Stockholm Syndrome, and the arrogance that comes with immortality. It is filled with strong characters and inventive plot twists—some creepy, some chilling, and some downright horrifying.

It’s a paranormal romance, so some graphic sex and a great deal of violence make this book definitely an adult read.

When launching a new book, marketing is always a tough thing for an indie. I must say, Carlie has really stepped up for this:

She is putting forth a Raffle Copter Giveaway of some gorgeous Heart Search themed jewelry.

heart search jewelry

That is some fabulous bling for her loyal fans!

Another thing that Carlie Cullen had done for marketing is she has created a really awesome book trailer for YouTube, The trailer is very noir, and really shows the atmosphere of the books:

Heart Search book three: Betrayal Trailer

These are really good marketing tools, and I feel sure her investments will pay off in the long run with good initial sales.

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Heart Search 3-Betrayal, Carlie Cullen

Betrayal front coverI read voraciously, in all genres and one of my not-so-secret vices is the occasional lust for a good paranormal fantasy.

One of my favorite authors in that genre is Carlie M.A. Cullen, who just happens have a new book coming out in her Heart Search Trilogy. Today she is revealing the cover for the final book in the series–and as with the first two covers, I  really love it. It totally speaks to the book’s dark theme. Her cover artist is Nicole Antonia Carro, who is one of the best indie graphic designers in the business, and an accomplished author in her own right.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the first to read this manuscript, and it is quite the finish to a bold trilogy.

What I find most intriguing about this series is that it revolves around people who have become vampires, and who no longer think the way humans do. But despite the real difference that having the kind of power they have makes in the way they view the world, they are family oriented and deeply committed to each other.

I’ve never considered writing about vampires and likely won’t, as my creativity doesn’t turn that way right now, but I confess I am curious about many things in regard to the conception of this series. To that end, I will be interviewing Carlie at a later date, and she has promised to answer most of my questions.

In the meantime here are the particulars for this book that is so beautifully covered:

Blurb for Heart Search: Betrayal

One bite started it all . . .

Joshua, Remy, and the twins are settled in their new life. However, life doesn’t always run smoothly. An argument between Becky and her twin causes unforeseen circumstances, an admission by Samir almost costs him his life, and the traitor provides critical information to Liam. But who is it?

As Jakki’s visions begin to focus on the turncoat’s activities, a member of the coven disappears, and others find themselves endangered.

And when Liam’s coven attacks, who will endure?

Fate continues to toy with mortals and immortals alike, and as more hearts descend into darkness, can they overcome the dangers they face and survive?

>>>—<<<

Carlie M.A. Cullen, Author

Photo of CarlieCarlie M A Cullen was born in London. She grew up in Hertfordshire where she first discovered her love of books and writing.

She has always written in some form or another, but started to write novels in 2011. Her first book was published by Myrddin Publishing in 2012. She writes in the Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genres for New Adult and Adult.

Carlie is also a principal editor for Eagle Eye Editors.

Carlie also holds the reins of a writing group called Writebulb. They have published four anthologies so far, two for adults and two for children, all of which raise money for a local hospice.

Carlie currently lives in Essex, UK with her daughter

>>>—<<<

You can find Carlie’s books at:

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You can connect with Carlie via these social links:

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Do take a look at her books–if you are a fan of paranormal romances, these books are a fun read, filled with characters that are larger-than-life, and adventures into the dark and mysterious world of the immortals who surround us.

Editors Note: I did make a typo in the Title of this post.  It is Heart Search : Betrayal, not Betrayed as was originally posted.

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Autumn’s advent

Larch Forest fwp.mt.gov

Larch Forest fwp.mt.gov

I love the changing of the seasons. In the native northwest forests, the colors of the big-leaf maples,  and alders paint the landscape in shades of yellow and gold, dotted with pops of red sumac and scarlet vine-maples. The gold of the larches in the high-country is startling to those who’ve never seen a deciduous conifer. I am awed by the majesty of the autumn forest.

The sky is also changing. The days grow shorter and the rains of the monsoon months approach.

The gray overcast tends to linger unending, eternal.  I wonder if the sun will ever shine again. And just as I am feeling desperately sorry for myself  the clouds part to reveal a patch of blue so beautiful my eyes hurt, and I must wear my sunglasses to shield my weak, northwesterner’s eyes.

Irene, who is from Texas, mocks me for needing protection from the rare occurrences of sun–but we who have grown up in the long dark winters have little tolerance for it; thus the cheap sunglasses become so much more than a fashion statement.

These are the writing months, the mad dash to finish that first draft, and the build up to NaNoWriMo. These are the days when inspiration knocks me in the head and takes me far, far away. These are the days when I dive into reading for pleasure and forget to cook dinner.

Autumn glory lingers for a brief few weeks, then the rain moves in and turns unraked leaves to soggy, moldy  messes waiting for the winds of November to set them free–free to fly from yard to yard as my mind soars in other realms.

But evening and morning still bring colors as the sun turns the clouds every shade of angry that is possible–gold, red, purple and even black–occasionally juxtaposed against that poignant shade of blue that makes my heart ache, and my eyes sting with tears unshed.

 

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Strapping the Monkey to the Typewriter and Selling His Work

0000-9780857863782At times, creativity seems to fail. We’ve become bored with the work we’re doing and need some new thing to spark that creative genius lurking deep within our coffee-addled brains (or wine-soaked, as the case may be.) An infinite number of monkeys strapped to IBM Selectrics, industriously typing out Shakespeare could do better.

For myself, the way to beat this is to write something, anything–even if it doesn’t pertain to my major work in progress. The best part of being an indie is that you can write in whatever direction the mood takes you.

And that is how Huw the Bard  came about. I was supposed to be working on Forbidden Road, but I had become bogged down. NaNoWriMo came along and Huw grabbed me by the imagination and away we went.  This jump-started my mind on the other book too, so I wrote on both books for the next year. Forbidden Road was finished, edited and published in 2013

Now Huw the Bard has been published and I am working on Valley of Sorrows. In the meantime I have to find ways to publicize my work, and since we just acquired a hefty car payment, it must be affordable. (As in CHEAP.)

google plus iconIn other posts I have discussed the importance of getting Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Pinterest, Facebook and Google+ profiles created. You must also have your Author Central profile put together on Amazon and one for Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and any other major online place you sell your works.

Today, I want to say that Facebook is fun, and a great place for a free launch party. We had a great time with that, and I do think it helped sell books.  But you need a sustainable place to put your work, and Facebook is no longer that great a venue for selling books.  I’ve had better luck through blogging, if the truth be told.  My good friends helped get Huw the Bard off the ground with their blogs and tweets.

Also, Facebook won’t allow your posts to be seen by many people unless you pay them. They call it ‘Boosting’ the post. I have done that on occasion, and  for 30.00 I sold 3 books.  That is a terrible return on investment.

tsra-button-01I was directed by Aura Burrows, who writes the hit series, “The Cold” on www.BigWorldNework.com, to an interesting and free website run by a friend of hers. It is called The Story Reading Ape Blog and I have gone to the “contact me” page and followed the instructions. It is free, and Chris is awesome as a person–he is very sincere about helping indies get their work seen. I will keep you posted as to how that goes for me, and if you want to try it yourself, please feel free to click the link and go for it.

There are many venues–blog hops,  paid ads on Goodreads and Google–all of which I will be doing over the next year. Paid ads are tricky–the ones I can afford are not that big or prominent so perhaps they aren’t a good investment. However, there are many affordable indie book websites who will sell you ad space for $30.00 to $50.00 a whack–a sum that is doable for me if I give up Starbucks for my craft.

So now begins my real push to get my work out there–to make it visible so readers will see it and want to know what it’s about.  I have to push Tales From the Dreamtime as well as Huw the Bard, because I have that wonderful narrator, Craig Allen, depending on me to sell our audio-book! I’m selling a few books here and there, but I’ll be posting about which venues were most successful as the year progresses.

The real trick will be to get the work out in the public eye without spamming and alienating my friends.

 

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Filed under Books, Epilepsy, Fantasy, Literature, Publishing, Uncategorized, writer, writing

HUW the BARD Launch

HTB New Front Cover with gold frameToday is the official launch of HUW THE BARD, a novel set in the alternate medieval world of Waldeyn.

I am doing something quite unique, for me–I am hosting a Virtual Launch Party via Facebook, complete with virtual canapes, champagne, and caviar. The link for this event is here: Huw The Bard Launch Party. Any and all are welcome to stop by and share in the revelry.

This is the hard part of going the indie route–I wrote, had it edited, got it published, and now I have to sell it. There is an art to this, I ‘m sure! Some people with moderately good books are quite successful, and others with truly great books, not so much.  Even Charles Dickens had trouble selling his work, back in the early days of publishing. In fact, most of the early authors of books we now consider classics were unheard of in their own time, except by a few intrepid readers.

So now, in this modern era of social media, I am trying to let the world know I wrote a book. I want folks who might be interested in it to be able to find it.

But I want to do this in such a way that I am not spamming my Facebook friends — because they get enough of that already without me adding to it. Hence, my launch party, open to the public and of course, my friends. How this will go, I don’t know, but I have been looking at other avenues of exposure, and now begins the (tasteful) twitter campaign. Also, many of my friends are supporting me by posting reviews, excerpts and cover reveals on their blogs, which is a huge help.

Carlie M.A. Cullen posted a lovely review.

Maria V.A. Johnson also posted a great review.

Fresh Pot of Tea, Alison DeLuca hosted the cover reveal, and posted an excerpt of the book.

So if you are available, feel free to stop on by  the Launch Party, have a virtual canape and swap a joke or two with me and my friends. I will be posting medieval music that I have come across on YouTube, and of course, we will talk about the book.

HUW THE BARD on Amazon.com

YouTube video book trailer featuring the music of Tom Cusack

 

Lute onBlack Background

 

 

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Midnight Blues

science of relationships dot comTwo days ago I woke at 3:30 a.m. with the plot of a short-story in my head. People often ask me where I get the idea for some of the more obscure things I write, and I tell them I literally dream them up. They think I am kidding, but it’s true. Some of my best stories have arrived in the middle of the night–the real trick is to get up, go to the computer and write it down.

After all these years I have learned to do just that.

My husband is used to me getting out of bed and going to work at all hours of the night. How do you sleep when your head is a television? My imagination is killing me, and since I have my main bursts of energy during the strangest times of night, I get a lot done before noon. Anything after that could be a wash-out as I might be napping in an upright position,  a corpse at the keyboard.

dont-tell-people-your-dreams-show-themWhat I do is give the tale a working title, one that will be changed to a better title later.  I write down the basic plot as I remember it, and the characters.

If I had any names in the idea I woke up with, I write them down, otherwise I give them temporary names. I give the environment it’s name and write down the feelings I had of the dream environment.

Then I note every thing else I can remember about it–sounds, tastes, smells–anything that might make the story more real.

Fitzgerald's Fortune Cast of Characters and plot summary pg 1&2In the final outline, most of these things will be boiled down, changed to make a cohesive tale, as  my dreams tend to be quite random.

This is not to say that all my dreams are worth writing about–that is absolutely not the case, although they are often hilarious and sometimes confusing.

Some of my dreams are frightening, and make me go “hmmm….”

The point is, inspiration comes to us from the most random of places. Unfortunately, some of the best story ideas have come to me while driving, and that is a real stinker–there I am on the interstate, and the best plot idea I’ve ever had is fighting for my attention, demanding to be written down–which is definitely not an option at that point!

I am no longer allowed to drive with my laptop propped on the steering wheel, go figure. I have gotten off the highway and sat in a gas-station parking lot, jotting down the idea, on whatever is available. Once it is written down, I can go on my way, and concentrate on driving with no distractions.

270px-Rosetta_StoneUnfortunately, I seldom use my handwriting skills any more–the ease of communicating via the keyboard has eroded that  all-important penmanship I once received high grades for.  Four months later, when cleaning out the car, I will perhaps find a napkin covered in indecipherable chicken-scratches.

If I don’t toss it with the rest of the litter, which is the smart option, I will take it to my office (the infamous Room of Shame) and go over it with a magnifying glass, like Jean-François Champollion trying to decipher the Rosetta Stone.

Nine time out of ten I give up, frustrated; one more glorious idea gone forever, shot to hell in the world of the ephemeral.

Why is there  never a translator of obscure texts around when you need one?

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Knights Running Bare

200px-Saint_George_-_Carlo_CrivelliOne thing we don’t really think about when we first sit down to tell a tale is the attire our characters will be sporting. (Or not sporting, as the case may be.) But it does eventually come up, and how we get that across to our readers without boring them to tears is important.

Much of the time, my characters wear armor, the men and the women both. I’m an equal opportunity author–I think women deserve to be encased in gleaming tin as often as men, so there you go.

When I am reading a historically based novel, I want to be able to picture the characters in the right style of clothing, but unless I am reading the curtain scene in Gone With The Wind, I don’t want exact details. In most cases, a sentence or two giving us a general description is all that is really necessary.

Some of you may say, “But clothes are an essential aspect of the culture I am trying to describe!” I agree – every culture is rich in the way their clothing is decorated, and in what is considered appropriate for each gender. But again, a sentence or two here and there will do the trick. If you give the reader  the general idea they will fill in the blanks with their imagination. Too much detail may cause the reader to lose the momentum of the tale.

As a reader,  unless we are talking armor, I want to know what they are wearing, but don’t waste my time giving me more than a few sentences.

However, if we are talking armor, while I, as the reader, don’t need too many details, you as the AUTHOR, do need to keep some details in mind when you are writing the story. Your knights are not running bare–they are fully clothed in steel. That affects HOW they move.

First of all, it’s important to note that ‘fully armored’ means the characters are wearing:

  1. Helmet:  a form of protective gear worn to protect the head from injuries
  2. Gorget:  a single piece of plate armor hanging from the neck and covering the throat and chest.
  3. Pauldrons (or spaulders):  a single large dome-shaped piece to cover the shoulder
  4. Besagews:  circular defenses designed to protect the armpits
  5. Couters: the defense for the elbow in a piece of plate armor. Initially just a curved piece of metal, as plate armor progressed the couter became an articulated joint.
  6. Vambraces: forearm guards, defenses for covering the forearm
  7. Gauntlets: several different styles of glove, particularly those with an extended cuff covering part of the forearm
  8. Cuirass: back and breastplate
  9. Fauld: bands of metal surrounding both legs, potentially surrounding the entire hips in a form similar to a skirt.
  10. Tassets:a piece of plate armor designed to protect the upper legs
  11. Culet:   a piece of plate armor consisting of small, horizontal ribs that protect the small of the back or the buttocks
  12. Cuisses: to protect the thigh.The word is the plural of the French word cuisse meaning ‘thigh’. While the tassets of a cuirass could protect the upper legs from above, a thrust from below could avoid these defenses. Thus, cuisses were worn on the thighs to protect from such blows.
  13. Poleyns: armor that protected the knee
  14. Greaves: shin armor
  15. Sabatons: covering for the foot. Fourteenth and fifteenth century sabatons typically end in a tapered point well past the actual toes of the wearer’s foot, following fashionable shoe shapes of the fourteenth century. Sabatons of the first half of sixteenth century end at the tip of the toe and may be wider than the actual foot. They were the first piece of armor to be put on.

Charles_Ernest_Butler_-_King_Arthur - via Wikimedia CommonsThat’s a hell of a lot of steel and it took some time to put on. The very fullest sets,  could be configured for a range of different uses, for fighting on foot or on horse. They were complicated and took a while to get on correctly, and a man needed help with some of the more involved things, like lacing them on.

The reader doesn’t need to know this, and they don’t care. But what the AUTHOR needs to know is how this sort of attire affects what your character can actually do!

Realistically, most medieval soldiers did not wear full sets of armor as their daily attire. In general they wore the minimum amount of metal they could get away with unless they were going into a situation that could result in a battle. When your characters are out riding around, if you have them only partially armored, they will be more able to move around in a logical manner, than if you have encased them in a gleaming sardine can.

arthur-knights-table-1Some readers (like me) are quite savvy–they will know you haven’t thought it out well if your fully armored knight is suddenly indulging in a moment of passion with fully dressed Lady Gwen.

Think about the many layers of what your characters are actually wearing–it can’t be done! For that you must undress them, and it is a bit involved, so they must plan ahead for their romantic trysts and leave the armor at home.

When writing historical fiction it is important to remember that people are not really that much different nowadays than they ever were. They get cold, so they wear clothes, in many layers. The warmer the weather, the fewer the layers. Inside a warm building, they may be lightly clad. Keep that  in mind as you are writing, and convey the idea of their attire with a minimum of words, and your reader will get more enjoyment from the tale.

736px-Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_The_Tune_of_Seven_Towers

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