Alycia Christine

Enchanting Tales, Intriguing Art

Tag: fiction (Page 1 of 2)

What Happens If the Wrong King is Crowned?

“Yucca” drawing – Tap for more information.

Today on SCRAWLS, tensions continue to rise over who will ascend the Tyglesean throne and how the new king will interact with Katja and her allies. What are your hopes and fears about this latest threat to the packmates?

~

Vraelth took a sip of tea before clearing his throat and changing the subject. “Back to the matter at hand, Tryntin has already proved his worth in the battle that destroyed the Ott vre Cael mirror and his siblings. Like the rest of us, he gained quite a few mental and physical scars in the process, I highly doubt that one kiss of true power will ruin him.”

“Even so, war changes beings—sometimes in ways imperceptible by others,” Katja said. “In Tryntin’s case, it seems that the grief caused by war has built him stronger rather than breaking him.”

“All the more reason to see Tryntin prove his prowess with the army, then,” Felan said. “That should go a long way to convincing many Tygleseans of Ashomocos’s wisdom in appointing his brother as the Army’s Commander.”

“Yes, but first Tryntin must publicly declare his abstention,” Daya’lyn said.

“You doubt he will?” Vraelth asked.

Daya’lyn only shrugged.

“He’ll declare it,” said Katja. “He must.”

“Why?”

“Because if he does not, then we’ll have a civil war on our paws on top of the intercontinental war that we are already fighting.” She nodded toward Daya’lyn. “For the protection of all Sylvans, the Inquisition cannot allow such a thing.”

The dhampir’s eyes flicked to meet hers for the barest moment. “The Inquisition is weakened by a third, Katja.”

“Daya’lyn, you are the Inquisition.”

“No, I am the Inquisitor. However, my authority was recognized in Tyglesea only because of Lauraisha’s support. Without her, you and I hold no sway at all except by the Tygleseans’ good graces.”

“Ashomocos listens to you, my friend.” Felan said. “And he will continue to do so if he ascends the throne.”

Daya’lyn nodded. “Yes, he likely will. And what if Tryntin ascends the throne?”

He and the others looked at Vraelth and Katja. Slowly, the two shook their heads.

“Doubtful,” Vraelth said and the others all frowned in thought.

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. As the name SCRAWLS implies, this is meant to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs. Please email me your thoughts!

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

Will Sparks Fly When Mages Dabble in Politics? Find Out Now on the SCRAWLS Fiction Diary!

A lady bug sits among the myriad blooms of Queen Anne’s Lace. Tap for more details.

Today on SCRAWLS, we’re going to mix a little magic and politics. Today’s post finds three characters from my in-progress book Fireforger vying for the Tyglesean throne. This should be interesting!

~

Ashomocos groaned. “Not only do Tygleseans need a wise king to rule them, they need one who can unite them as well. We cannot afford to be divided, especially with the war against the deadwalkers well underway.”

The others nodded.

“Well, what do you suggest?” Felan asked.

Ashomocos just shook his head and looked at Tryntin, who shrugged.

Vraelth looked down the table at the Tygleseans. “Trynt, I may have a solution. My aid in rebuilding so much of the war-torn wharf and merchant districts these past two months has given me quite an outstanding reputation among your merchants. I think they might listen to my recommendations in this dispute and then help convince others of my case.”

Tryntin nodded. “Likely, but how could you make any decision that would be beyond reproof?”

The deep-purple-skinned elf stood and motioned for Katja to do the same. “There is an incantation—very ancient—that I as a charmchanter and Katja as a wraithwalker can do together. It’s called the Bond of Truth and it lays bare every deception within its intended target. If the three of you who are in line for the throne were willing to submit yourselves to this test, we can use it to determine who would make the best king. Then we can build our case from there.”

“It shows every lie?” Saldis asked.

The charmchanter mage nodded.

Saldis shuddered. “Then I formally declare my abstention from the throne. Forgive me, but I’m a far better spy than I am a politician.”

Tryntin smirked at him. “On the contrary, I think your lies make you an excellent politician.”

Saldis rolled his eyes even as he chuckled. “That may well be true, but you didn’t have to say it.”

Tryntin’s grin grew even wider. “The truth hurts, I’m afraid.”

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry from the SCRAWLS Diary. As its name implies, this is meant to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing sketches. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to build my fiction worlds allows you to truly walk the creative writing journey with me through all of its ups and downs. Please email me your thoughts!

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: One Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

A Toucan’s Gaze

"Toucan Gaze" - click the image to enlarge or buy.

“Toucan Gaze” – click the image to enlarge or buy.

Today finds me hard at work editing Dreamdrifter, the sequel to Skinshifter. I wanted to take a break from my productivity to share this beautiful image with you. The keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) is one I photographed in April of this year when my husband and I had the pleasure of visiting the Dallas World Aquarium. Aside from one much beloved tea mug, the image of this flamboyant fellow was one of my favorite souvenirs from the trip. The bird was kind enough to pose for me for fifteen minutes of different photos. I think he had as much fun watching me as I did watching him!

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Writing as a Business: My Pants-on-Head Plot Process

"Banana Leaf Lines" - click the image to enlarge or buy.

“Banana Leaf Lines” – click the image to enlarge or buy.

I was asked about my writing process during a recent Goodreads forum discussion. Since every writer works in a different way, I thought I’d share my methods with all of you and get your thoughts on the matter.

There seem to be two main types of fiction writers in the world: plotters and pantsers. Plotters often write their books in chronological order, while pantsers tend to write “by the seat of their pants”. Plotters usually follow plot outlines and copious amounts of notes when they write. Pantsers usually write with little or no outline at all. Instead they write scenes as they imagine them and piece them together in a proper order later.

After writing four books and several short stories of varying lengths, I’ve discovered that I’m what I’d call a pants-on-head plotter. I tend to start a story knowing two things: a beginning scene and a general idea of the story’s end. It’s only after I write the first couple of scenes, that I actually do any sort of an outline to find out more of the story’s plot.

My starting outline is a simple paragraph that summarizes the whole story. I then expand this paragraph into one-sentence summaries of each chapter as I figure out more details. I develop my outlines as I write the book rather than before I begin. I keep the book outlines short because more detailed outlines give me very little room to play and experiment. I don’t like losing spontaneity in my story discovery process, so I actually threw out my current novella’s outline because it was stifling my creativity.

As unwieldy and “pantsy” as my outlines often are, I’m usually fairly organized when I actually write fiction. When writing a story’s first draft, I create my main scenes in (mostly) chronological order. Then I go back to expand scenes and add transition scenes in the second draft, so that the story makes sense from beginning to end. I research as I write and keep notes on the characters and their world so that I can stay consistent. The third draft is my time to get really picky with details, language use, and themes.

Weirdly enough, I write my first and second drafts in two stages. I typically write half of a book, rewrite the first half, and then begin writing the story’s second half. Once I’ve written the major scenes in the second half, I’ll go back to the story’s halfway point and rewrite from there. It isn’t until I hit the third draft that I read the story fully from start to finish.

So now that I’ve laid out my crazy creative processes for all to see, I have to wonder if anyone else has this bizarre of a writing approach.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Writing as a Business: What Writers Really Do All Day

Serpentine_Trails-4x6ACWriting fiction is a delightful hobby and a grueling profession. There is really no other way to explain it. I’ve run into many people who think that fiction writers must have the easiest job in the world because we get “to sit around all day and make stuff up.” Thank you, guys and gals, for that awesome assessment. It’s a sweet notion, it really is, but playing in the sandbox of my own imagination is only a small part of what I actually do on a daily basis.

The real truth is that while I deal in a form of written entertainment based on invented worlds and made-up characters, the business side of my profession is anything but make-believe. On the economic side, I need to know how consumer demand affects my book supply and the revenue stream that comes from the resulting sales. On the accounting side, I have to understand my company’s profit margins, gross income, net income, required taxes, and a slew of other things. On the organizational side of things, I have budget my time between making new product (writing story rough drafts), refining that product (rewriting my stories), quality control (copy editing and proof reading), producing the product (publishing books in e-book formats like .mobi or .epub and publishing print books in hardback or paperback versions), distributing my books online (through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or even my own website), distributing in person (through conventions and writing events), and marketing my stories (in person at events and online through different websites and social media).

In the beginning of my career when writing was little more than a glorified hobby, I didn’t worry about most of this stuff. I just wrote and rewrote my work. I figured that economics, production, design, and book marketing were things that my publisher would always handle. Then I went indie. Now all of a sudden, my business model has expanded to include every stage of book production and all of the extra responsibilities that go with it. I love the challenge, but the amount of work has left me breathless more than once.

I am my own company. If something doesn’t get accomplished at my office, it’s usually because I didn’t do it. I do everything from the actual writing and rewriting of a book to its cover art design, its final formatting, publishing, and distribution. What I don’t do myself (for quality control and time-constraint reasons), I still oversee. I’m charge of finding the beta readers, copy editor, proof reader, and publicists for each book I publish.

As hard as I work, I simply can’t do it all. To make sure that each and every story I produce is the best that it can be, I need thorough, honest, dependable collaborators at every stage of the process. Good beta readers are just as essential to a book’s development as a professional editor. A savvy publicist is just as important to a book’s visibility as a wide-ranging distributor. And good writing is the beating heart of it all. This means that if I can’t deliver my very best, no one else can give their best either.

Are all of the time and work and money I put forth, worth it? I think so. The time I spend playing in the sandbox of my imagination has a high cost of admission no matter whether I’m an independent author, a traditionally published author, or a hybrid. That being said, I took on all of this publishing responsibility to make sure my time playing in the sandbox is as valuable to readers as it is to this writer.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Free Short Story: “The Twirling Ballerina”

Twirling_Ballerina_Cover-1600x2400Thanksgiving Day has come and gone and now, at last, we’re on to thoughts of manger scenes and glittery things. Finally I get to wish you a very merry Christmas!

Because I love all my readers so much and because I am so grateful for all of your support, I am sharing a precious corner of my heart with you this holiday season in the form of a fiction short story entitled “The Twirling Ballerina”. While it isn’t a Christmas story per say, it is a tale about faith, family, love, joy, and grief that is very dear to me.

Yesterday marked the actual publishing day for this special story, but this morning marked the start of its giveaway. “The Twirling Ballerina” will be FREE for 48 hours on Amazon as my early Christmas gift to you!

I hope “The Twirling Ballerina” moves you and your loved ones! Please let me know what you think of it in your reviews. Also, if you would like, please email the link to this blog article to others who might be interested in the story. I’d love to share this gift with as many people as possible while the giveaway lasts.

To get “The Twirling Ballerina” while it’s FREE, please go HERE before midnight on December 3!

The story’s excerpt is below:

The delicate ballerina spun around and around in the semidarkness. A mahogany music box was her stage and a single moonbeam was her spotlight. Loren shut her eyes and tried to listen to the gentle lullaby of the music accompanying the twirling figurine’s performance over her own ragged breathing. Watching the pale dancer delicately poised on one toe always gave her peace. Her mother had given her this fragile and fair ballerina just before she had died just as her grandmother had given it to her mother before her death. Even though it turned a little slower with each passing year, the heirloom had become more and more precious to its newest owner.

“Loren…”

Loren’s eyes popped open to stare at the dark bedroom. The moon was gone now, but a tiny blossom of light sparkled around the twirling ballerina anyway. She sat up now and tried to focus her groggy mind on the sparkling figurine. The statue lowered its lifted foot and gracefully bowed to her then.

“Good evening, Loren! How I’ve missed you! Thank you for taking such wonderful care of the rest of the family after James and I were gone.”

“Tiffany?” Loren’s eyes widened as the little dancer nodded, winked, and then resumed its previous spinning posture.

Loren turned her head to look at Christina, who was sleeping in the bed beside her. Her exhausted daughter had not even flinched when the ballerina had talked. Loren frowned and lay against her pillow once more.

She looked back at the ballerina and found it twirling to its little lullaby just as it had always done. Had she imagined Tiffany’s voice? Had she imagined the statuette bowing to her? She stared at the figure, but the light that had bathed it just moments ago was gone now. The ever-present melody from the music box kept playing its soft lullaby, but she swore she had heard her dead sister’s words: “I love you” echoing in its lilting tune.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Showers, Flowers, and Keyboard Head-Banging

Along_Tracks_AC4x6As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, fall is here and I am excited. I love this time of year for many reasons, but one of the major ones today is that autumn usually brings rain to West Texas. After a sizzling summer, the cooler temperatures and more frequent showers create a wonderful recipe for last-minute eruptions of wildflowers to color the landscape before the bleak, brown vision of winter descends upon the desert.

Consequently I was shooting Black-Eyed Susans and doing happy dances most of last weekend. It was heavenly. I don’t know what it is about wildflowers that make me so deliriously joyful, but they do. Of course, the last few weeks haven’t all been sunshine and flowers. I’ve also been hard at work on other projects as well. Some of these projects have gone very well and some have caused me to bash my head against my keyboard more than once.

Since the last full update in August, I have:

Writing:

Wrote, edited, and published “The Cleaning” short story. This fiction piece is a much darker tale dealing with the problems of corruption and censorship.

Finished writing “The Twirling Ballerina” short story. This story is short and bittersweet at about 2800 words. It’s making the beta reading rounds right now it seems to be jerking tearful smiles from just about everyone who reads it. We’ll see what my editor says, but I’m really hoping to release this story around December 1 as an early Christmas present for everyone.

Wrote “A Hero’s Moment” short story. This is a 6500-word tale that won’t hit eBook screens until 2015, but I think the wait will be well worth it. This was a fun writing-romp and I think it will just enjoyable of a read…once I get it polished, of course.

Continued writing Thorn and Thistle. The story has been inexplicably frustrating for the past month with one bout of writer’s block after another. Since the first 25,000 words came so easily, I wondered when the other shoe would drop and it finally did at 28,000 words and 10 chapters into the tale. Since then, it seems that I have trekked uphill in the freezing snow to capture every single new word. I finally had to reread the story from the beginning so that I could double-check plot inconsistencies and momentum problems before moving forward. That has helped matters, but it is still a long slog. Time for more research!
 
Photography and Graphic Design:

Photographed pieces of real estate, industrial equipment, and a historical building for clients.

Photographed wildlife including birds and dragonflies near Weslaco, Texas. Several of my blog photos during September were taken during this shoot.

Photographed wildflowers near Monahans, Texas. Today’s photo is from that shoot.

Posted new art photography on my website: “Along the Tracks”, “Gossamer Beauty”, “Orb Cloud”, “Three Beauties and a Beast”, and “Water Bug Ripples”.
 
Reading:

Continued reading the Bible. I finished Acts, Philippians, Colossians. I began reading Romans and 1 Corinthians.

Finished reading The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing. This book is a great source of knowledge for indie authors. I took notes while I read it, which saved me the hassle of trying to remember all of the tips and tricks tucked into this little volume. Last month, I began implementing some of the authors’ advice with good results.

Read Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas by Edward Klein. A fascinating and sometimes unsettling look at these key players in the Democratic Party. The book read like a fast-paced soap opera. If the real-life people are anything close to Klein’s portrayal of them, I pity them.

Read “The Wild Swans” by Hans Christian Anderson. While I enjoyed the premise of the story, I forgot how dry some of the author’s tales can be.

Read The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. I finally read this classic story! It’s a truly beautiful and thought-provoking tale.

Read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This was an interesting, but sometimes frustrating story to read. I found it a bit of a mixed bag with characters that I alternately enjoyed and disliked. It was real and, at times, very gritty in its portrayal of life and death. All in all, it pulled no punches as a cancer book.

Read Broken Aro by Jen Wylie. This book had great potential, but ultimately flopped on delivery. I liked the characters, but the plot was horribly cliché. The writing needed serious editing, especially in regard to punctuation. All in all, this story lacked substance and refinement from beginning to end.

Read Divergent by Veronica Roth. Wow, this story was incredible. I loved the characters. The plot was fast-paced and engaging. The vivid writing grabbed and drug me kicking and screaming straight into Tris’s world. I loved the Dauntless culture and yet I plainly saw its flaws.

Read Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I was so sad to leave the Dauntless culture behind, but the larger cultural world of the factions and their political affiliations was very thought-provoking. As usual the tension of the plot me and the vibrant characters kept me reading well into the night.

Read Allegiant by Veronica Roth. This book was a much slower read for me than its predecessors. The plot was neither as strong or as well-paced as Divergent or Insurgent for me. The writing, while good, lacked the same strong flow due to the split narrative. All this being said, though, I loved the book’s conclusion. I know other people who were less than enthusiastic about it, but I found the ending quite powerful and moving.

Continued reading of Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. I’m stalled on this book, not because it isn’t good, but because my pirate research for Thorn and Thistle has taken me elsewhere. I hope to finish Crichton’s book soon.

Began Real Pirates by Barry Clifford and Kenneth J. Kinkor. I had picked this book up a few years ago at The Denver Museum of Nature & Science and now I’m finally getting the chance to put its information to good writing use. Yeah!

Began reading On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. While I am not a huge fan of King’s books, he is a master storyteller. His book, so far, is interesting from a biographical point-of-view. It’s laced with stories from the author’s life as well as his opinions on what makes quality writing. Like me, King adores Strunk and White’s book The Elements of Style and makes regular references to it in his own book. We’ll see how it turns out.

Read a few Wall Street Journal articles.

Read a few Writer’s Digest articles.
 
Gaming:

Played Jumbline.

Played Mahjong.

Played Minecraft.

Played Munin.

Played Peggle Deluxe and Peggle Nights.
 
Other:

Finished writing my 2015 business plan including a complete publishing schedule for 2015.

Created an “Authors Goals” poster detailing my business dreams and aspirations to hang on my office wall.

Attended the Laredo Comic Con. This was a tiny convention with a few panels and booths available. It was fun, but not a con that I’ll likely attend again anytime soon.

Began a workout regimen alternating between Karate and bike-riding. I studied Karate during and after college, so I’m excited to train in it again. Hopefully it and the biking will give me more energy and keep me healthier.

Taught Children’s Church while my husband was gone on business trips.

Purchased a new phone since mine was no longer holding a proper charge.

Purchased a new, more comfortable office chair.

Replaced the kitchen faucet.

Repaired both my husband’s and my cars.
 
My goals for the next six weeks are to:

Create e-book cover art for “The Twirling Ballerina” short story.

Publish “The Twirling Ballerina” short story.

Finish cleaning up “A Hero’s Moment” short story and send it to my beta readers.

Write “Space Junkers” short story rough draft.

Finish the rough draft of Thorn and Thistle.

Participate in National Novel Writing Month. I know that writing 50,000 words in a month on a story unrelated to any of the work mentioned above probably won’t happen, but I enjoy trying to kiss the wind.

Continue my workout program.

Prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

What’s the Best Weapon against Writer’s Block? Find Out Now!

Rivulets_AC4x6Sometimes writing isn’t fun; sometimes it’s a real chore. I guarantee that you’ll have to trudge through episodes of writer’s block just as much as you’ll skip past easily-crafted scenes. But never fear because we authors have a few weapons in our arsenal to help us break down those ugly creative barriers to get to the beautiful prose on the other side.

One of my favorite personal siege engines against writer’s block is research. Now calm down before your collective groans start drowning out my sentences. Research can actually be a ton of fun because it helps satisfy our natural curiosity as human beings. The other reason research is fun is because it makes our jobs as writers much, much easier.

Imagine this: you are writing a scene where two characters are eating in the middle of a deli-style café, but you’ve never actually set foot inside a deli. It’s going to be very difficult to accurately describe what’s going on around your characters or even what they’re eating if you have no experience in a similar sort of setting, isn’t it?

We writers have words as our only essential tools for building a story, so we must describe everything to our readers. That is extremely difficult to do if we don’t understand how something works or the way an object or person looks. This is why research is so essential to writing and why it becomes one of our most important weapons against writer’s block.

There are essentially two types of research. One is what I call focused research and the other is called ambient research. Ambient research is a type of research that most people don’t even know they are doing when they do it. Ambient research usually happens while writers learn something new about a subject while they are doing something unrelated to an actual focused study of that subject. This could be anything from learning a piece of trivia while playing a game or experiencing a new place for the first time while on a vacation. Ambient research is very different from focused research.

When most people hear the word “research”, they immediately think of hours spent studying dusty volumes in the stacks of a local library. Library reading is part of what I call focused research and it is quite useful when authors need to answer specific questions in their writing. However, focused research is much more than simply wading through library bookshelves. Focused research also means that an author might need to interview a key expert in a particular field or participate in a certain activity in order to “really get a feel” for a specific aspect of his or her story such as its plot, setting, or characters. While focused research seems to happen more often for nonfiction writers, I promise that fiction writers will find it just as useful no matter their genre.

We’ll use me for an example dealing with the two types of research since I am an easy target. Like any good author, I write what I love. I am a fantasy author and I also love watching movies and reading books in the fantasy genre. I learn a lot from fellow speculative fiction authors, but I principally read their stuff because it’s highly entertaining. Keeping all of this in mind, let’s say that while I’m watching the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides movie for the thousandth time that I suddenly become interested in reading more about pirates. I pick up Tim Powers’ book On Stranger Tides, which loosely inspired a couple parts of the movie. After I read that book, I go on to Michael Crichton’s Pirate Latitudes novel because I’m still interested in reading more stories about 18th Century buccaneers—both real and fictitious. This is called ambient research because I have learned more about a particular subject through various forms of entertainment without doing a serious study of it. Some of what I have learned will be inaccurate because the information that I learned came from entertainers instead of scholars; however, some of my new knowledge—like the basic parts of a ship—will be accurate. However, if I suddenly decide that I want a deeper knowledge of the actual pirates who lived in the 1700s, my interest is now intently focused and so my research will be specifically directed toward nonfiction sources such as The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard with the specific goal of gaining a deep understanding of my subject. Hence my research will become focused research.

Because I write what I love, I don’t mind doing research of either type because the research that I do—whether ambient or focused—is about subjects that I find genuinely fascinating in the first place. I often like to approach writing a specific story by reading fiction and nonfiction books of a similar nature or subject-matter before, during, and after the writing process. This constant flow of focused research, ambient research, and general inspiration helps me more easily work around those writer’s blocks caused by a lack of knowledge. I also love to use photographs from my and other people’s travels as a guide to help me describe certain scenes more easily. I use focused research in the form of personal experience, expert interviews, scientific journals, and full-on, library-haunting study sessions for those more persistent blockades.

Whatever research you do, please remember that the key to getting the most out of research is to always make sure your stories reflect your personal interests. Making your stories personal and your subject matters interesting will help drive your passion toward them and your passion will help you ensure that your stories are written accurately. Accurate research is one of the best ways to create high quality writing that readers adore, so make it count. Your readers will pay attention to your story’s details and they will complain when something is incorrect. The last thing you want is to be remembered as a lazy writer, so get your details right before you share you work with the world.

For instance, if your story is set in downtown Chicago, make sure that you know what downtown Chicago looks, feels, and smells like. If your story is set in early 19th Century Montana where horses were the main form of transportation, then talk to cowboys about how they care for their steeds. Study horse anatomy, western-style riding, and tack terminology. Then give subtle hints of your new-found knowledge to build your story’s accuracy. Even if your characters set foot in a completely imaginary realm, you should do some research to find out what realistic place and time period most closely resemble the fantasy world you are trying to build. Remember, good writing drops the reader smack-dab into the middle of a story’s scene. Good research should do the same for the author.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Head’s Up: MUSINGS Book Giveaway at Goodreads!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Musings by Alycia Christine

Musings

by Alycia Christine

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

I’m running a contest for Goodreads members to win one of 10 autographed copies of my new book Musings! If you haven’t entered the contest, please do so before August 31st!

In other news, here is another sneak peek at one of the book’s short stories. I hope you enjoy this “Winter’s Charge” excerpt!

If every story must have a beginning, then mine should start on the ice. I was born on the ice. I was raised on it. I learned to hunt while running over the crisp, clear crunch of it. I am constantly captivated by the purity of its whites and the bejeweled depth of its blue hues. As a boy, I once even lost myself on it.

Losing my way on the ice happened as one of my people might expect, in a blizzard. My clan had trekked west from our summer village nestled amid fields of the tundra’s fading fireweed toward the rocky hunting grounds on the coast. I was 12 years old, and this winter would be my first chance to hunt with the men of our village. I was so excited as I mushed my small dogsled alongside those of the adults. What kills would I make this year to help feed the Alawaeun Clan? Would I catch a seal or a beluga or maybe even a walrus? Surely I was brave enough and strong enough now to hunt all three.

Our hunting party left the wooden shelters of our winter village once the ice fields proved safe enough to sled across. We traveled along the snowy ground with the light of the midnight sun to guide our sleds and the waves of the Aurora to wash our dreams clean. I dreamt of many things during our journey, but the dream I remember most was the vision of Nanuq. I saw Nanuq robed in her magnificent white fur with four great stars of heaven encircling her brow like a crown. With one mighty paw, she held back the frothy waves of the green sea. The outstretched claws of her other paw kept the tremulous mountains from tumbling on top of her. And in Nanuq’s lap an Alawaeun child slept the deep sleep of one at peace with the world.
I am not sure why I dreamed about the great white spirit bear. Perhaps it was a type of premonition given to me by the Father Spirit. The clan elders all say that the dreams dreamt under the Aurora are some of the holiest and most important of our lives. I am not sure if I believe that to be true, but I do know that my dreams under the multihued waves of sky lights are always highly symbolic.

The blizzard that changed my life came soon after the third recurrence of my dream about Nanuq. Our hunting party had just entered the less-sheltered part of Mukluk Pass when the winter storm unleashed its full fury. A blur of white obscured the sun, and then darkness overtook the world. We fought against the swirling cold, our quivering lips as blue as the ice deep beneath our fur-lined boots. My father yelled for the rest of the party members to huddle ourselves and the dogs together, using the sleds as windbreaks.

As the storm worsened, my father and I dug trenches in the mounting snow to further protect ourselves from the biting wind. I heard nothing but the storm’s fierce roar until a sound far louder and far worse shook the frozen ground around us.

“Avalanche!” my father yelled. I saw the word form in his mouth, but never heard it resonate from his lips over the awesome shake of the earth. Even so, he shoved me out of our crude igloo toward safety. Fear fueled my legs and I ran with abandon away from the colossal sound of shifting snow. I ran blind into the swirling darkness, using my ears to guide me away from the deadly waves of white. When a wall of rock appeared out of the blinding blizzard, I tightened the leather gloves around my fingers and began to climb. I scrambled up the craggy mountain while waves upon waves of snow crashed into the pass below me. The avalanche tumbled through the pass, burying anything in its way. I kept climbing, unsure of how high I should go to be safe. I climbed up and up and only stopped when my hands began to blister from the near-constant friction of gripping stone with leather-clad skin. I was high on the mountain now and, although I finally felt safe from the avalanche, the blizzard’s bite was far worse since I was so exposed to the winds. Our clan elders speak of the wind as the touch of the ancestors’ spirits. If that was true, then clearly these gusts were the slaps of ancestors from a rival clan who wished me dead! I had to find shelter soon or I would indeed meet death on this slope.

I found my temporary salvation in the form of a shallow cave on the leeward side of the mountain. It was little more than a hole in the rock. It was too small for a full-grown man to use, but just large enough for me. I shoved myself into the stony darkness and used the remnant twigs of an abandoned eagle’s nest to keep the howling spirits at bay. The last of my strength ebbed and I curled up inside my fur parka to sleep a dreamless sleep…

Want to know how the story ends? Find out more information about Musings HERE.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

MUSINGS Book Available Now!

Musings_Proof_2-4x6

It’s finally here!

MUSINGS Releases Today!

I am so excited to announce that the book Musings hits major online retail stores today!

The short story collection is available as:

  • An eBook for $3.99
  • A print book for $13.99

Click a link to order eBooks through:

Or order the Print Book HERE

Want to read a few excerpts from the book before purchasing? Go to the MUSINGS page and click on the EXCERPT links under the short story descriptions.

Finally, I was honored to be invited over at Total Nerd Takeover to talk about my writing, photography, and more during their latest TNerdT podcast today. If you want to listen to the show, go HERE.

Thanks so much for your support and encouragement! I hope you enjoy the read!

Alycia Christine

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

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