Djen in the House

Today’s post is dedicated to my friends and critique partners, Lisa Fender and Toni Burns, who have recently released their debut novel, Fable, Book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy. These sisters are taking a weekend for themselves and their families at beautiful Buena Vista, Colorado. However, they will be checking in regularly (probably from the hot springs) to reply to any questions or comments you post.

I’ve had the distinct and unique pleasure of seeing this book through to its fruition and of working with these wonderful ladies. Yet, while that only came about two years ago, I know the story of their four year journey (first Lisa on her own, and then Toni joining her for the revisions).

Fable, is a true labor of love in that, Lisa and Toni are sisters and this collaboration has brought them much closer together. Toni spoke to this at their recent launch party even after Lisa told her not to make her cry. They were joined by their cover artist, Mike Kloepfer, and the event was a great Fable Launch 078success.

Enough of the heartstrings and more about the book. I’ll let it speak for itself:

Stevie Barrett lives an ordinary life in Golden, Colorado, where nothing remarkable ever happens. That is until right before her high school graduation, when Stevie’s life takes a bizarre turn. Her best friends, Jack and Alyssa, want to be supportive, but are confused by the events plaguing Stevie.

 Stevie’s mom is attacked by men with glowing gold eyes. A strange being spies on Stevie, hidden in shadow. She has waking visions of a people called the Djen and their archaic world. And when her and her BFFs don’t think it can get any weirder, Stevie heals a stranger with a touch. The abilities build until they are a tidal wave awakening within her and threaten her sense of reality.

 Her efforts to understand what is happening lead her and her friends to discover a group known as the Rebellion. These warriors from another dimension are hunting her. Their leader is a man bent on destroying Stevie and possessing her legacy. In order to stop him and save everyone she loves, Stevie and her friends must embark on a quest to find and return Tecton, one of the five Orbs—relics—of the other plane she comes to know as Djenrye. The journey will alter everything she believes, propelling her into another world and another life.

Now, let’s hear from the authors.

RG How hard is it to maintain the ‘voice’ of the characters when you as co-authors and sisters have such distinctive voices yourselves?

Lisa: It is very hard, sometimes we have to meditate on it for a few moments to find a voice of a character. Toni is much better at it than I am. I think Colton’s voice is her masterpiece!

Toni: Now that’s funny, because I think of Colton and Stevie as having come from inside Lisa’s head. The twisted antagonist (Torren) I think was more me – only because of my love for horror and serial killer documentaries. Those tend to freak my sis out.

RG – Lol! I think I’m going to agree with Toni on that one. So ladies, how does critique play a role in helping to keep that voice and the consistency of the story?

Lisa: You and Janet are great at helping us keep that voice. I think sometimes though, you have one way of how the character should be and we have another, hence Torren, but once we explain what we’re doing you both grab the concept and keep us consistent. We appreciate your critiques and can’t see writing our books without both you and Janet involved. I guess what I’m saying is your stuck with us for the long haul!

Toni: I have to heartily second that! And, Robin, you’re twisted imagination helps us remain consistent with the creepier characters’ voices and actions.

RG –  Torren’s tough because he’s young/hurt/bitter in the novella, and older/colder/nastier in the novel. And, thanks for the compliment, Toni ;). This next question is more for Lisa although, Toni, you can chime in if you want. What prompted you to write this particular story.

Lisa: Actually, I sat down one day by myself and thought what kind of world I wanted to make. I knew I didn’t want to write about the usual Urban fantasy characters, like Vampires and Werewolves, I wanted to do something different. That’s when I came up with a take-off of the genie, or Djinni as it were. Then I wrote down everything about them I happened to look up about  Djinni lore and was amazed that some of my story was part of the lore of the Djinn. I had no idea! Anyway, the name Djenrye came from Toni. She had come over to visit one night. I told her my idea and asked how I should spell Djenrye, with a “G” or a “J” and she said why not Dj, like the Djinn. I decided to call them the Djen, instead to match the world’s name.

Toni: Robin, I ask that question all the time. I am happy to help put meat on the bones of the story, but I have to say I don’t know how my sis not only comes up with these great story lines, but keeps them straight in her head! I am in awe.

RG – Well, I think it’s Djenious!  Okay, we’ve been critiquing the novella, which continues your world building and provides some history of Djenrye. I know you’re readers are going to be extremely intrigued by Djenrye and its inhabitants the Djen, Adrone Elves, Faugns, Magi, and others. What one thing about Djenrye and/or the Djen is most fascinating to you? (BTW, there is an excerpt of the novella on Lisa’ blog of 6.14.13, see link below)

Lisa: Well, the one you didn’t mention—the Gods and Goddesses. Although, my favorite right now are the Djen. They are the main characters of the Djenrye world. The Gods won’t really come into play until the second novel.

Toni: The one thing I find the most fascinating is less with the characters, but how they came into existence. But… that won’t come to light until a later book (we have a secret – said in sing-song).

RG – Sorry, easy to skip them as they are so in the background right now. As I watched your grandchildren/great niece/nephew at the launch party, a thought occurred  to me.  You’re leaving a legacy for them. What would you say to them and your children about their dreams and aspirations?

Lisa: I say Go For It! No matter what they are, you can reach your goals if you work hard and dream big. I wish I would have started my novel writing years ago, but I guess this was the time it was supposed to happen. I hope they always remember that I did what I always dreamed of doing and they can too!

Toni: Ditto squared! I have always told my kids to do what they love and I am thrilled to be helping my sis follow that advice… now to just get me on board.

RG – I heartily agree! Here’s a question for your cover artist. Mike, what vision do you have for the upcoming novella and the second book in the series?

Lisa: Even though Mike isn’t here to answer this, (he doesn’t have access to the internet on a regular bases) I can answer this because they are my visions too . Mike puts into art the images in my head. The novella will be the sigil of Phraile Highlae, one of the cities in my world. It’s a saber-toothed tiger with a crown on its head. The crown represents the 5 Orbs, or Ortehlae in the Djen language. Each orb has a particular color, which relates to its representation.

The second novel, Lore – Book 2 of the Lorn Prophecy, is the city of Phraile Highlae, as if you were looking at it from the cliff on the opposite side of the canyon.

RG – That’s the way Stevie Barrett sees it in her visions. Perfect! Lisa and Toni, is there anything else you would like the readers to know?

Lisa: I will let Toni decide what to add here, but as for me, I’m married to a wonderful man who is completely supportive of my writing. I have two grown children, Brandie and Travis, and Brandie has given me two beautiful grandchildren, Madison and Carson. They are all the loves of my life! I am a sci-fi/fantasy nut and have never been one for chick flicks or sit-com’s on TV, although I did like MASH. I do read other genres though, such as mysteries and historical fiction. My favorite books are the Game of Thrones series, Harry Potter series, and of course, Lord of the Rings trilogy. I am a big fan of Dan Brown, Steve Barry, and John Sandford. I do not, however, like books that have become more commercial writing though, like James Patterson or Lisa Jackson. I want a book that takes me into the fiction world and into the characters minds.  I love reading, but I also love hiking and feel blessed to live in such a wonderful state as Colorado. We want to retire in the mountains.

Toni: A secret that’s not really a secret, my family calls me “Tanya”, my friends call me “Toni” and my sister gets to call me either one because she is my sis and my friend.

Front Cover for FableRG – Can I call you both too? You don’t have to answer that. Thank you, Lisa and Toni for making my blog a stop on your tour. Definitely leave comments and/or ask the authors questions. They will be checking throughout the day to reply.

You can purchase Fable in e-book or paperback, by clicking this link, at Amazon.com.

You can connect with the girls at:

Lisa’s Djen Den – http://www.lisafender.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LisaFender1 and https://twitter.com/ToniBurnsMe

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FableBookI

See you all in Djenrye! ~ RG

The Dreaded Synopsis . . . HELP!!!

WBI really want to enter a certain writing contest this year. It requires an eight page SYNOPSIS, and the first twenty pages of my manuscript. The manuscript is easy. Not so much that other thing.

I know my story. It’s not like I don’t know what to put down. But, how to do it? I haven’t written a synopsis since school. I’m not sure they’re even the same, or if I remember what’s to be done.

Help me get rid of this synopsis block. It’s that word . . . synopsis . . . intimidating me. Silly, technical sounding label.

I know there are resources to help me with this, but I’d like to hear some feedback from other writers. What’s your approach to writing a synopsis? Do you have any rules of thumb? Any tried and true tips? What not to do?

(Slaps hand to forehead) It can’t be this hard! Sheesh!

~RG

 

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Happy Holiday! Happy Day!

Christmas Tree.books

Enjoy your day, family, friends!

RG

Short Is Sweet!

Over the past month and a half, I’ve written three short stories, submitted two to a monthly contest, and one to a friends blog for the Halloween season. This little writing side trip has been fun, revealing, rewarding, and a palette cleanser.

In September, I entered and won the Darker Times Fiction contest with my horror short, No Lights. I surprised a few folks who weren’t aware of the darker side lurking beneath my surface. In October, I entered Pay the Piper, a supernatural piece, and was rewarded with second runner up. Both of these stories will be published in the Darker Times Anthology (date to be announced) and will be available in e-book and paperback. This has me pretty giddy as they will be the first pieces I’ve had published since a poem, in another anthology, in 2000.

In the spirit of Halloween, I also rallied to a request from a friend to write flash fiction (although mine is over the word count a bit) to post on her blog for the haunting season. I’m going to keep this one under wraps as I may be able to enter it in the November Darker Times contest.

While I hope that I can add more short stories to my repertoire, the next big goal is to get my novel published. That brings me back to why this venture into the dark side has been cleansing. It has made me eager to dive back into the revisions on my book, shown me some things I need to do to make it better, and helped me realize I have a character that needs some TLC.

Stay tuned!

I’m Watching You

I have been all over the page lately. My brain on overdrive.

Maybe it’s the change in weather.

Maybe it’s the month.

Maybe it’s just that my imagination feeling rather hyper.

The way my brain feels.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a little review piece to further send the synapses into acceleration.

Anyone know John Reeves? No? Well, you should.

He’s the hero of an action/thriller series by Kirkus MacGowen. The book I’m going to talk about in this post is Wrath, the second book in the series. The first one is The Fall of Billy Hitchings if you want to read them in order.

Wrath picks up with John Reeves return to his hometown where he’s dealing with a little bad family blood, working with an accountant and wannabe, although inept, private detective, and a vengeful, psychopathic, serial killer.

Wrath is a visceral read. It makes you feel the action and some of it doesn’t feel that great if you’re a little squeamish. I found myself drawn in with most of my senses, the descriptions acutely visual.

The one issue I had with it was I wanted a little more John Reeves. This book dealt with his relationship to his ‘estranged’ brother and I felt there was enough of the brother, but not quite enough of John. If you read both books, you’ll see what I mean.

However, that one issue doesn’t keep me from giving Mr. MacGowen’s book a huge thumbs up. I’m looking forward to reading the next John Reeves adventure.

The psychotic in this novel got my appetite ready for the Halloween season. The next two reviews are witchy in nature. Although both have a little vamp and ‘other’ supernatural in the mix.

First is A Discovery of Witches, a supernatural tale woven by Deborah Harkness.

Diana is reluctant to embrace her witch heritage, but when the historian of alchemy stumbles on a ancient manuscript that only       opens for her, the supernatural world around her closes in.

Deborah Harkness creates a rich world of witches, vampires and daemons in this book, the first of three. I did not want to put this                    down. It kept me engrossed and pulled me from England to France to New York and then into time itself where it left me, anxiously waiting for more.

I guess I have to get the next book, huh?

Next is The Forever Girl: Sophia’s Journey by Rebecca Hamilton.

This was an intriguing read about a young Wiccan who discovers that she’s a descendant of elemental witches and a forever girl. I’m not going to go into all that because I want you to read and find out for yourself.

There is mystery aplenty in Ms. Hamilton’s first book of the series. Cruors (vampiric beings), Strigoi (shifters), and many more paranormal beings. There’s also an unsolved murder or two.

This is more of a YA or New Adult read, but I enjoyed it immensely. I did have one issue. The ending. I wish it had left me with a stronger feeling that there is more to come. It did and it didn’t, so I would be okay if it was a stand alone or a series. Since it’s billed as Book #1, then it needs to be a little more leading.

That’s it for book reviews. I would like to throw in a theatrical review even thought the musical is ending this week.

I recently saw a production of Three Penny Opera at the Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden, Colorado. I just want to say Bravo! Also, if you love the arts in any way, shape, or form, check out your local theatre productions. The big stage is not the only place to see excellent theatre. Support the little guy.

Well, I succeeded in throwing my head into a more frenetic tail spin. Anyone have something they’d like to recommend?

The voices in my head.

I hear voices. I know what that sounds like…crazy.

The loudest voice in my head is my character Simon. Lately he’s been nagging me to get on with revisions of “his story.” Yes, he is a little possessive of the novel since it is about him. I won’t argue with the fact that he did have something to do with the direction it took.

Lately, Simon is competing with Grace, who is a new character in a new idea for a novel. Unlike Simon though, Grace is content to sit back and wait her turn. She does; however, get a scene in when Simon shuts his mouth.

There are also, Hayden and Blush, characters from a short story that I wrote, which won 2nd place in The Creatively Crazy Writing Competition. They are biding their time until I decide to write a full length story about them. They whisper now and then, never raising their voices, just reminding me that they should get a turn eventually.

By now, several of you are contemplating a call to the nearest asylum. I don’t blame you, I might have too if someone told me this a little over a year ago. That was before I started writing my book. Now, if I don’t hear from one of them, I worry. I need them to motivate me, but not just my characters, I need my friends, family, and followers to encourage me as well.

I want to see Wayward published, so does Simon. He’s very adamant about that. Actually, so is Grace, because the sooner that happens, the sooner her story gets told.

I hope you all get where I’m coming from and understand. My mother told me once that when I was little, and she would put me in time out (usually for my smart mouth), she would hear me telling stories. Making them up where I sat on the little red bench, in the hallway, by myself. So, obviously, I’ve been hearing voices most of my life. If only I had listened to them sooner.

: ) Robin

Going Up…… (I hope) – "Top floor, Agents, Publishers, Readers!"

I’ve heard it called a pitch, or a log line, but my favorite phrase is elevator speech. It’s the quick version of a self marketing ploy, that can be spewed forth between floors – hopefully – going up.

Now that I’ve said this, I would like to put my pitch out there for you to read. I will preface it first by telling you that my book is called Wayward (at least until someone tries to talk me into changing it) and it is a paranormal fiction (or speculative genre). I welcome any comments or questions you have, and will answer them, but keep this in mind, if you ask me anything where the answer might be a plot spoiler, you will get the game show buzzer.

Without further ado, here it is:

Simon isn’t sure how to tell his disapproving father that he wants to move home to the small mountain town of Farrell Springs. The need to make a decision escalates when he is inadvertently pulled into a conceptual plane called Wayward, where dreams are tested and the dead interact with the living. But, Wayward also holds memories, and after a disastrous family gathering, he returns there to uncover the family secret and decide on the life he truly wants.


Okay, that’s it in a nutshell. I hope to hear from you and the next time I post about the book, I might just include an excerpt.

Until next time,
Robin

Here’s the windup…..and the pitch!

The world series is going on and it’s nearly Halloween, so why not throw a little of both in here. This past Saturday, my critique partner and I went to the Hearts of Denver Romance Writers conference. Neither one of us writes romance, but it was open to any genre and we had the opportunity to pitch to an agent. The idea was that we would give this a shot and see how it went, you know, kinda like being in the bull pen, practicing.

We get there and I find out that I’m the very first pitch of the day – right after the welcome and introductions. Here is where is gets Halloween scary. I think I might have looked like Elsa Lanchester in the Bride of Frankenstein. I’m pitching to an agent from New York, not a local agent, but one from the city of the New York Times Best Seller’s list (cue Psycho music).


So during the introductions/question and answer session, we meet the agents. They are normal people. They even seem a little on the nervous side themselves. Okay, maybe this won’t be so bad. This line of thinking did nothing for my Tell Tale Heart, which was trying to beat it’s way out of my chest. Taking a few deep breaths, squaring my shoulders, and putting on my most determined face, I made my way to the table and introduced myself. After that it was a blur. I actually managed to recite my pitch (log line/elevator speech) from memory (and the crowd roars!) and I answered all the questions he asked without hesitation and satisfactorily. Then when I expected him to say, ‘Well, it sounds interesting, but I don’t think you’re ready.’ he takes his business card, flips it over, clicks his pen, and writes on the back, ’50 pages and synopsis’ (hallelujah!). My critique partner, Lisa, came away with the same results. We are happy and ready to learn about openings and query letters, and even though it was a long day, it was a good one.

The day ended with getting my blog fixed up and some delicious chili prepared by Lisa’s daughter. A big thank you to Lisa, Brandi, and family. It was great to meet Lizzie T. Leaf! And thank you Jim McCarthy, for chasing the ghouls away and giving me the chance to tell you about my story. I hope to send those 50 pages soon!

Bwahahahahaha,
Robin

The Importance of Being Ernest

I want to say, that it is very important to have a critique partner or group. That person or persons can put things into perspective that you, as your own worst critic and editor, may not see or catch. Just sitting at Starbuck’s and discussing the plot of your book can bring that AHA! moment or the subtlest of changes that help the flow of your prose.

Make sure that you establish ground rules, even if they are unspoken/unwritten. When my critique partner and I met for the first time, we barely knew each other. We each brought something to read, but we also found out a little about each other and what we wanted to get out of the “business” of our meetings. We would not demoralize, humiliate, be hypercritical or mean. We would be honest and supportive, offering suggestions and constructive criticism. I would liken it to a couple who are courting, everything is tentative at first, but as the relationship grows, a more open dialog is established. Pretty soon, you each know how to approach critique with your partner.

I am truly blessed with a critique partner, who is becoming a good friend as well. I also belong to a writing group where learning craft is the focus, but we manage to throw in a little critiquing from time to time, and the people in it are honest and constructive, never destructive. That is key!

So, cheers to Lisa and the Golden Wannabe Writers Group! They are awesome!

Regards,
Robin

…and away we go!

This is my introductory post!

I recently finished the first draft of my first novel. I’m taking a break from it, so that I have a clearer perspective when I start revisions. In the meantime, I’m working on a short story for the next Creatively Crazy contest.

Speaking of crazy, I’m also going to make an attempt at pitching my book at an upcoming conference, that is, if I can get one constructed that conveys what I want to say about my book, and that has a big enough hook to snag readers.

In subsequent posts, I will introduce my book and keep you updated on the revisions.

TTFN,
R.G.C.

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