What’s our inspiration? Writers and other creative people have many different approaches to beginning their projects. Today A Drift of Quills are talking about what inspires us to write our stories. They’re near and dear to our hearts, and writing a novel is an extraordinarily personal experience!
As I near the day I push the “publish” button for the second book in The Mage’s Gift, this seems a good time to reflect on the motivation behind the story. I think it was years in the making, and I think I will say the same about all my books and stories. What does inspire me? What prompts me to set pen to paper (I really did start out that way), and then fingers to keyboard? I’m inclined to call it “magic.” Continue reading A Drift of Quills: What’s Our Inspiration?→
I am thrilled to announce that Blood and Shadow, the first novel in the Mage’s Gift, is now available on Amazon! It’s taken a lot longer to get here than I’d planned, but we’re finally there, and book 2 is not far behind. No, really.
A vengeful mage. A powerful gift. A naive youth.
Sherakai never wanted to become a warrior like his father and brothers. Satisfied with being fourth in line to inherit title and responsibility, he wants only to be Master of the Horse. But on the eve of his sister’s wedding, a terrible gift arrives and Sherakai’s course changes forever. His magic is the key to secrets he does not know or understand, and he must learn to fight to escape a future he doesn’t believe in. Now he must use what he hates to regain what he loves.
Writers, what do you do to find time—or to make time—to write?
Readers, are you curious how the minds behind the books work some of their magic?
It’s the First Friday of the month, and A Drift of Quills is sharing tidbits on their MO (modus operandi). Ooooh, secrets!
Time—we all need more, right? Can I have a secret extra day in the week? Or how about a clone?
I’m one of those blessed souls who theoretically has time. Awesome, right? Mmmmaybe…! Anyone who looked at my life would assume there are great gobs of the stuff lying around, waiting to be used.
I have plenty to do, believe me. There are the regular chores that come with being an adult and the extracurricular chores that spring up when you belong to a group or indulge in hobbies. On top of that, there are the tasks that fall on the plate of any indie author (a.k.a. “marketing”).
So for me, it boils down to making the time to write. Or rather, making myself write. I seem to be most productive late at night, but convincing myself to stay up when my comfy bed is calling and my eyelids are drooping is almost as hard as scheduling dentist appointments.
Okay, not really. I’d far rather stay up late writing every single night than go to the dentist.
Structure and Goals Are Not Bad Words
If when I stick to a schedule and plunk my keester in the chair before my computer every morning, I’ve found I build up steam. I might start small; I’ve set a goal to write no less than 100 words a day. In the beginning, that hundred words can be like pulling teeth. (Ha! Pun!)
But the more I stick to the schedule, the more I write.
You’d think that with such a reward,the sticking would be easy. Inspiring. Exciting!
It is exciting. It’s also challenging.
So what helps me?
Joining a writing challenge (x-number of words per day)
Having someone to be accountable to
Giving in to my competitive side (trying to beat the high word counts in the above-mentioned challenge)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .
A time for every purpose under heaven.
The time is right.
Time and tide wait for no man.
Hey! Have you got the time?
This is the question we Quills consider with our post for July 2016.
Most would agree, I think, that there never seems to be enough time to go around. So how, in a life filled with family, friends, day jobs, and more, do we find time to write?
I recall as a child, my mother saying that it annoyed her when people asked her how she found the time to do things. With eight—yes, count them, eight—children, she was a busy woman. She always said: “I don’t have time, I make time.” I guess… (Read more!)
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How do you find—or make—the time to write or read? What would you like to see us talk about? Let us know in the comments below!
Image: “Clock” via StockSnap.io is licensed under CC0 1.0
Does the word “research” give you the shivers? Dark memories of term papers or visions of endless numbers and figures? Well, it’s the first Friday of June (already!), and A Drift of Quills is here to show you what research means to fiction writers!
“My name is Robin and I am a member of Researchers Anonymous…”
I blame it on my mother. I read a lot when I was a little girl. When I’d come across a word I didn’t know, I’d ask Mom what it meant. She invariably sent me to the dictionary.
A hundred years later (okay, not quite a hundred…) I find myself somewhat suspicious of her motivations. Did she actually (sometimes) not know the definition? Or was that just her way of making me an independent, curious wordie?
A Drift of Quills is back on this beautiful First Friday! This month we’re talking about tough writing challenges we’ve faced, and how we’ve resolved them. And—we’ve got a guest! We’re so pleased to welcome P.S. Broaddus, who has recently released his debut middle-grade fantasy novel.
My partners in this month’s endeavor will probably not be glad that I’ve procrastinated writing this until the last minute (I have a laundry list of excuses reasons!), but it’s given me the opportunity to get a sneak peak at what they’ve chosen to write about.
Five Good Things is such a great article to put together. I get to share some of the cool things I’ve found while procrastinating researching my own writing!
Use Scrivener to Manage Your Blog http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2016/03/03/scrivener-book-marketing/ Writing straight into your blog software (WordPress, Typepad, etc.) presents its own problems—you can’t write offline, and searching through old blog posts to find mentions on a specific subject can be difficult. Boy, has Joanna Penn got some great advice! I’m definitely bookmarking this page.
Leftovers and Palette Gremlins http://www.michaelwhelan.com/leftovers-palette-gremlins/ As long as we’re talking about artists, I’ve got to send you over to the site of one of my all-time favorites: Michael Whelan. I hope you recognize the name from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné books, Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn — and the epic Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. “Leftovers are little spur-of-the-moment doodles or sketches created from paint left over from a work in progress. Most of these quickies end up in the trash, but some are kind of cool on their own and others have lead to full scale paintings.” Go see! Be entertained.
Magic—what’s the value or purpose of magic in fiction? This month A Drift of Quills is taking a peek under the corner of the magic carpet. Naturally, we’re talking about why we, as authors of fantasy, write about magic.
Since we were wee sprouts we’ve been enchanted (punny, right?) by stories about magical beans, geese, unicorns, dragons, kings, gingerbread houses, swords, ships, and all kinds of diverse things. Magic opens the doors to new ideas, exciting places, amazing people. It encourages our imaginations and broadens our horizons. Best of all, it allows us to step out of the mundane, lift our heads, and engage in wonder.
He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. ~Albert Einstein
Magic in fantasy is a feast for the eyes, a symphony of the senses. Anything is possible. Charles de Lint said something absolutely profound about magic and life:
I do believe in an everyday sort of magic—the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we thing we’re alone.
In my book As the Crow Flies, magic plays several roles. I like the complex depths that mix offers. I like the contrasts. In Crow’s life, it doesn’t have a particularly good reputation and his opinion isn’t improved when a wizard sends him on a suicidal mission. He comes up against more “bad” magic but… he also has an experience that affects his very notion of himself. His imagination is sparked; his horizon changes.
In the Mirror, a short story, encourages reflection of self. What choices have we made in the past, how have they impacted us, and how might we change our path in the future?
The story, The High Roads, focuses on talents and responsibilities. How do we use what we’ve got?
Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Some of my earliest reading memories are of stories that included magic. I recall reading, over and over again, Little Witch, by Anna Elizabeth Bennett, and Mio, My Son, by Astrid Lindgren. Also, Bewitched was amongst my favorite television shows. When Samantha’s nose twinkled, you never knew what might happen next. Those tales engaged my imagination and sense of wonder. They moved me out from my world of cares and worries (such as they were as a child) and into another realm where anything was possible.
When a story engages my emotions, I’m involved. But when it also encourages my sense of wonder, I’m hooked. This is what magic does. It creates something I’ve never before seen, heard or felt. It makes me wonder, each step of the way, “what if…” (Read more!)
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What does “magic” in fantasy mean to you? What book have you read that best illustrates the ideal magic?
Are you an author? What is the purpose and value of magic in your writing?
Wow. This is the last first Friday of the month for this year! (Did I bend your brain with that?) Today A Drift of Quills will take you on a short visual expedition. We want to share with you pictures of the people, places, and things from our latest works.
For my person I’ve gone with the obvious choice: the main character. Sherakai’s tale begins when he is a youth, about fifteen years old. As the youngest of four boys, he’s got a pretty easy life. His father and his older brothers are warriors, and although he admires that, he has no inclination to follow in their footsteps. He’s not keen, either, on being sent away from horse and home to study at the faraway College of Magic. Of course nothing goes the way either Sherakai or his parents plan…
Sherakai’s beautiful home is located in rolling hills at the edge of the mountains. His father raises the Indimi-o per’la Tojitu there. The Children of the Wind are horses endowed with just a little bit of magic.
When Sherakai arrives at Nemura-o pera Sinohe—The Gates of Heaven—his life takes a turn down a dark path. His guardians, Fesh and Teth, look something like this:
Teeth clenched, Sherakai pushed the threads away, but it hurt as though he were tearing out parts of himself. The creatures howled, and Bairith’s voice rose above them, his spell-weaving become a command. Desperately, Sherakai reversed his actions and tried to pull the threads back into himself. He had more success at that, but the creatures came to their feet, writhing as they tried to escape the hands on their heads. Their howls increased to very human screams. The guards crouched next to them, wrapping arms around the distorted bodies to hold them immobile. A third guard moved behind Sherakai, clamping a hand around his throat and applying steady pressure.
As consciousness began to fade, the tugging renewed and the dog beasts quieted. Darkness edged his vision, but it could not blanket the helpless sense of violation.
“There,” the mage said at last. He released Sherakai’s hands and gently stroked the animals’ misshapen heads. “There, it is done. All is well. Hush, hush …”
As we are approaching this holiday season, with all the “busy-ness” that it entails, it seemed right to keep things a bit simple this time around. Thus, we’ve decided to share with you, pictures of our imagined people, places and things from our work.
For a picture of a person, I’m actually going to expand this definition to include a character that is not a person. That is “Bane,” from Select:The Oathtaker Series, Book Two. Bane is a wolf that Jerrett mistakenly takes for a dog. Because of his connection to the animal via his attendant magic, Bane assists Jerrett in an escape . . .
Welcome! It’s the first-Friday-of-the-month again! A Drift of Quills is talking about what makes us write — and we’ve got a guest today. We are so pleased to welcome H.M. Clarke, author of a variety of books ranging from fantasy (yay!) to sci-fi, to paranormal. She writes a lot, and now we’re going to find out why!
H.M. Clarke Author of The Way to Freedom series, The Kalarthri, and Winter’s Magic Haley’s website
What makes me write?
Oh, that’s easy. The little blue imp with the electric cattle prod makes me.
Well, not really, but that is what it feels like sometimes. Especially when you are not in the mood to put pen to paper, but then your conscience digs at you to move your butt and get writing or else.
But seriously, I would dearly like to give a flowery response that will be made into a Twitter/Facebook graphic and get posted everywhere for the next twenty years… But I can’t. What I have to say is not really inspirational or mind-blowingly philosophical. It is in fact quite the opposite.
What makes me write is determination, lots of hard work and the bull-headedness to think – ‘There, I’m doing it and I don’t care what people think about it.’ (Well, actually that’s not true. I’m a writer after all, with a writer’s ego. Please tell me you like my work…)
What makes me, and many other writers write, is the need to get stories that I actually want to read and get involved with down on paper. That is really the crux of it. What keeps me writing is the determination and hard work that I mentioned before. Determination and will power is what drags writers out from the immense pool of wannabe authors and makes then actually dry off and finish something.
Writers write; the rest talk about it.
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My Two Cents
What makes me write? There should be an easy answer for that question. Something uncomplicated. “Because I must” is woefully inadequate. It only prompts more questions. I write because… I grew up surrounded by stories, immersed in stories. I dreamed them by night and played them out by day. They penetrated my blood. And I embraced them. I cannot even begin to imagine my life without writing. I am head-over-heels, passionately in love with writing. With the symphony of words, the tangle of emotions, the twist of action and reaction, the incredible possibilities of creation.
But, like any other occupation/obsession, it is not always easy.
Some days I am grateful to manage a word count of a couple hundred. On others, I fly on the wings of thousands. Some days I search my mind, heart and soul for the right words, the ones that mean something; because they are not merely words, they are articulations of hope, fear, excitement, pain, despair, love… It is exulting. It is exhausting. There is, for me, no middle ground. It would be boring if there were.
Like anything worth doing, it takes (as Hayley pointed out) dedication and will-power to make writing work. To get all the way to the end of a book — and keep going. This is not an easy path to take, but oh, how rewarding it can be…
My reason for writing today differs from what it was when I set out to write my first book, Oathtaker. Although I’d done a fair amount of creative writing back in the day, it had been some time since I’d taken pen to hand (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be), to tell a tale. My “day job” requires that I write on a constant basis, and I’ve been at that for . . . quite some while. But legal writing is altogether different from creative writing. So, what was the impetus at the outset of my journey? Quite simply, I had to see if I could do it.