Ordinary Heroes | Extraordinary Times

Remembering 9/11: Dedicated

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Monthly Fellow Writers' Blog Hop ~ Hosted by the Gladiator's Pen

Topic for Tuesday September 13th:  Remembrance 9/11  

This is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America.. What effect did this have on your writing, if any. Was it short term effect or  from that point on. Or write story, poem, song, or a remembrance or dedication to those who were lost and the heroes that rose to the occasion during this frightening time in our country and seen around the world. 

~~~~

 

Ten years ago, this week, an extraordinary tragedy devastated the city of New York but the horror and shock ricocheted around the world. It was one of those events in history that we can all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing. Over the last few days I have been watching footage and documentaries on the fall of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre and the events that happened just prior and just after this horrific event. That day changed countless lives in so many ways. It scarred the skyline of Manhattan, New York and it broke the heart of the modern world. This was not only a nation that was affected but all around the world the emotions so raw and so vulnerable echoed in all our hearts.

 

On the day it happened I was millions of miles away but in my heart I was right there as shocked and horrified as anyone.But for me, what stands out in my mind of that day is not just the devastation but the small mercies and bravery of humanity. I remember the ordinary heroes that stepped up in the hour. I remember the countless heroes that walked into the heart of devastation to save who they could. As I watched the events unfolding I wondered what would happen if I were thrust or someone I love were thrust into that situation. How would I react? How would they react? I was also rocked again by the realization that tragedies, large and small, happen every day and that we cannot stop them. But how we react and how we act in the face of these tragedies is the living legacy?

 

Did this affect my writing and how?

 

Yes, it did. It made me realise that even very ordinary people one would not notice can become extraordinary heroes. I write a lot of poetry when I am faced with dark emotions and those days just after 9/11 I was assailed by images that were forever imprinted upon my mind and emotions that were imprinted on my heart. But when the human heart encounters tragedy, we have to find something to hope for and to live for. I also realised that words are powerful, whether spoken or written. 9/11 caused me to start sharing my poetry with others. I have always written poetry as this is the way I handle events in my own life. Call it my personal therapy. But before then I had not shown anyone my poetry. I had written it down and hidden it away. But 9/11 made me realise that we are all human beings. We all experience tragedy in some form in our lives. We all must fight darkness with light. This is the human condition. But human beings need solidarity with each other. We are social creatures who need compassion, empathy and mercy. I realized that although my own dark moments may be personal to me, the emotions evoked and felt are universal. When I saw and heard about the ordinary heroes making a difference after those events, I wanted to be able to reach out in solidarity. My method of communication is words. I needed to use my words to convey emotions. So from that day I vowed that I would share what I had written because people need to know we all know both darkness and light in our lives. But it is the light that gives us hope and faith to continue. Emotional vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength because that is how we learn empathy.This is one of the poems I wrote soon after 9/11.

 

Falling Free © Kim Koning 2001

I used to be afraid of just one thing

Fear of falling from great heights imprisoned me

I imagined stumbling then falling, never waking

I used to dream about falling and breaking on rocks far below

I was always taught the only way to overcome fear is to face it,

I needed to look deep within and find that courage

Our family had looked at death so many times, 

How could a mountain overcome my faith in courage

Climbing mountains I found my place of peace

But looking down a mountain made my hands slick with sweat

How ironic that the same place that offers you peace

Can freeze your soul in a prison with gates of fear?

Then one summer’s day with the sun burning down on my mountain

I took the first step to facing my greatest fear

My skin was clammy with cold, rivulets of fear dripped down my back

I watched as crazy people threw themselves off the mountain

Suddenly I found myself sitting on the hot rock

Someone was tying straps and chains around me

I had sudden visions of being bound and chained

Thrown from my place of peace, how could I fall free, chained?

Then a voice broke through my reverie and told me to step out

I opened my eyes and looked down, nothing but empty blue sky was before me

My legs were swinging and there was nothing but cool air there

My vision spun and I thought I was going to faint, I stepped off onto a ledge

There is a time in life when you face mortality and know you are not strong enough

As you stand suspended, a reflection of weakness stares back at you

Covered in shame, you have two choices staring back at you

Jump or step back and accept your weakness

I was in that time standing on that mountain ledge

Looking up, I found myself surrounded by jagged peaks, windswept grass

I saw an eagle far above me flying free and I reached my place of peace,

With my heart in my throat, I stepped off the ledge into blue sky

I felt wild and free, I was falling free, This might be the end, This may begin

I learnt the truest lesson that day, fear is but a ledge you can choose to

step off

 

May we never forget 9/11 nor the events after that day. My heart goes out to the countless people affected by the tragedy of that day. May the Grace of God cover the scars that will always remain with those affected and those that witnessed. May we never forget the ordinary heroes that acted when they needed to without thought for their own safety. May the courage of New York’s ordinary heroes be an extraordinary inspiration to us all.

 

Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people’s souls. – Melody Beatie

 

Related articles

Patti Larsen | In the Spotlight | Run or Hide

 

Patti Larsen is a middle grade, young adult and adult author with a passion for the paranormal who writes a great deal of horror for someone who is afraid of the dark. She lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband Scott and four enormous cats. (That’s the official bio.)

Kim: Patti, congratulations on the release of both Run and now Hide – the first 2 in a 4 part YA series.

I know Patti as a friend with a wicked sense of mischief, an uncanny ability to cut through the BS, loyal and supportive and a mind as dark as my own is at times. Yesterday I reviewed Run and promised that I would introduce you to the imagination behind the characters. This is one INDIE author to watch because she has plenty more tales in her. When I say that the HUNTED series is the next YA hit – I meant every word. But for those who think that YA is a tad tame for your taste…let me introduce you to Patti and her HUNTED series. I dare the “grown up” kids amongst you to not be terrified, fascinated, shocked and riveted by the HUNTED series. This series is not for the timid. But if you like characters that are in as much inner conflict as outer conflict, you will love each of her characters in this series…both the good guys and the bad guys.

So without further ado I am going to let the lady who is never short of a wry comment tell you about herself and give you some teasers of RUN and HIDE: the first two books in the Riveting HUNT series.

Patti, Congratulations on the release of Run a couple of weeks ago and Congratulations on Hide’s release which gets released today. I am thrilled to have you on Dragonfly Scrolls.

~~~

Kim: Tell us a little about the writer that penned these incredible novels. 
Patti: I know you don’t want the shiny, polished version, right? (Knowing you P, I would not get it…no, we want the real version.) I’m a writer by choice and passion, a cat lover extraordinaire. I adore summer above all other seasons if only we could get rid of bugs. I’m a blonde and always will be no matter what Mother Nature thinks. I work far too much and love every second of it. (Believe me, this woman is a machine when it comes to getting the words out! Hard working is an understatement.) And I’m addicted to the voices in my head. I joke about wishing they would leave me alone, but I really love having them around.
Kim: What draws you to YA?
Patti: I was always a hard-core sci-fi and high fantasy girl growing up. That’s what I read and was exposed to, thanks to my father. But when my niece introduced me to Harry Potter and, later, Twilight, I realized my inner angsting teenager had been yelling at me for years to let her have a go. And despite the fact I have a few adult works I’d like to get to eventually, the pack of under eighteen’s in my head won’t let me go there just yet.

Kim: Does this series have an Omni-Premise? What is it?
Patti: No one is going to save you. You’re the only one with the power to do that.(A message we all could hear and heed.)

Kim: Reid, your main character, is also your POV throughout these two books. Where did Reid come from?
Tell us how he introduced himself to you.
Patti: I often receive my inspiration as flashes of images, almost like movies playing in my head. In this case, Reid appeared as he ran down a nighttime forest trail. There was just enough moonlight to see the terror in his face when he stopped for a minute. He turned and looked up. I could see his breath just puffing white in the cool of the air. Somewhere in the distance, something howled. Reid instantly panicked and ran on. I can still hear the sound of his sneakers on the hard dirt path and it will always give me goosebumps. (Bbbr…I just had a shiver down my spine.)

Kim: Both of these novels are emotionally intense as the reader is swept into the turmoil of Reid running and hiding.
Tell us about the process for writing such an emotionally intense storyline. How did you release your emotion?
Patti: Writing the series was a wild ride, I have to admit. All four books came out of me over about fifty days, with only a month of actual writing time and another 20 days of edits and breaks. It was like there was no stopping the story from coming out. I actually first thought there were three books, only to find out by the end of book two there were four!

I found I had to take days off in between writing binges to rest my mind from the constant conflict and turmoil. Reid is a tough kid, though, and he got me through it, though I’m not sure I’ll ever write that much that fast again.

Kim: Your antagonists in this series are as strong as Reid’s voice. Where did the inspiration come from for the “bad guys”?
Patti: I have the most over active imagination on the planet. I have trouble sleeping often because I’m afraid of the dark. Yup. Sad. But makes for great monster fodder.

The silver eyes came from a dream. The claws are very velociraptor–Jurassic Park still gives me nightmares.

I also have a pure and panic-laden phobia of sharks. Thus the teeth. But I always think monsters who look more human than creature are the scariest of all, which is why they retain their man-like shape. (That definitely makes them scarier…we don’t want to face a man-like monster..that is just cutting to close to home.)

Kim: If you could give Reid one piece of advice at the beginning of the series, what would it be?
Patti: Don’t panic. You’re going to be okay, I promise. Mostly. Maybe. Okay, just run.

Kim: Can you give us a teaser from Run and from Hide?
Patti:

Run: Alone, Reid gasps in one deep breath, another. It hurts his ribs, his lungs. He manages to roll over on his right side and regrets it. His shoulder screams in protest. Still, he is finally able to wriggle his numb hands loose from what holds him and claws at the cloth around his eyes.

Darkness. But not complete. The moon is up. Trees loom over him, the smell of spruce and fresh air so sharp it almost hurts. He jerks at the plastic ties around his ankles while. his vision swims through a veil of pain-laden tears. He manages somehow to force his screaming hands to work the ties loose and he is free.

Sixteen-year-old Reid thinks life is back to normal. His sister Lucy pulls herself together and cuts him free from a year of foster care. She promises to take care of him, that her new boss and her new life are what they both needed to start again. Until Reid is taken in the middle of the night, dumped in a wild stretch of forest far from home with no idea why he is there. Lost and afraid, he learns to run from the hunters who prowl the darkness, their only pleasure chasing down kids like him. And killing them.

Hide: “There’s no way out,” Milo says like it’s a death sentence. As far as they all know it could be. Everyone falls so silent Reid can hear the buzzing of the light bulb as it flickers its life away.

“You heard him,” Marcus says. “Time to move on. You,” he points at Cole and the boy perks, “keep an eye on that line.” He jerks his thumb at the electric cable. Like it’s going anywhere. 

Laughter bubbles up in Reid’s chest but he manages to hold it back. Somehow he doesn’t think Marcus would appreciate it. And not that Reid really cares but he’s too tired and wrung out to do anything about it if the other guy finally decides to challenge him.

Reid isn’t sure if he’s grateful to be alive. He’s managed to save a small group of kids from the hunters, but only by trapping them all underground without food or water or a way out. If starvation doesn’t kill them, thirst will. Still, they are out of the hunter’s reach and that’s something. Reid refuses to stop trying, even when the kids find out they aren’t alone in the mine after all.
Kim: Where can readers buy Run and Hide?
Patti: Amazon.com is my favorite place to buy and sell books! They are also available on Smashwords in a variety of downloadable formats

Kim: What are the other books in the series and when and where will they be released?
Patti: Fight is book three, coming out September 15th and Hunt, the final book, is scheduled for release on October 1st. (Readers will be waiting with bated breath for the last two to be released.)

Kim: Would you like to give a message to the readers of this series?
Patti: Read them at night alone in the dark. And hang on. Oh, and the nightmares? Sorry about that… (Um..now that you mention it…some of the nightmares I had after reading your books almost sent me to therapy…now I know where to send the therapy bills. 😉 )

Thank you Patti for an insight into your world and into Reid’s world. You are an inspiration in creativity and self-discipline to your friends, fellow writers and readers all over. We wish you all the success possible for many sales and many new readers/fans. Congratulations again!

You can find her at

Her Website: http://www.pattilarsen.com/

Her Writing Blog: http://www.pattilarsen.blogspot.com/

Her Book Blog: http://www.pattilarsenbooks.blogspot.com/

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pattilarsenauthor

And On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ – !/PattiLarsen

You can find Run HERE (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/82356) and HERE (http://www.amazon.com/Run-The-Hunted-ebook/dp/B005HZJX9W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1314734322&sr=8-2)

You can find Hide HERE (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/85195) and HERE (Amazon is still to be released in a couple of hours so will add the link then..)

Hide is now LIVE!

Get it here….

http://www.amazon.com/Hide-The-Hunted-ebook/dp/B005K0EFZQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314887009&sr=8-1 

(Aside: On the 1st of October I will have the pleasure of Patti’s virtual company again when the last book of the series is finally released. So mark your calendars to come back on the 1st. Now…go to your nearest Amazon/Smashwords and buy RUN and HIDE.)

Run | Patti Larsen | This year’s Next YA Amazon Hit

run

Sixteen-year-old Reid thinks life is back to normal. His sister Lucy pulls herself together and cuts him free from a year of foster care. She promises to take care of him, that her new boss and her new life are what they both needed to start again. Until Reid is taken in the middle of the night, dumped in a wild stretch of forest far from home with no idea why he is there. Lost and afraid, he learns to run from the hunters who prowl the darkness, their only pleasure chasing down kids like him. And killing them.

My Review

Heart-pounding….

Pulse-racing…

Blood-pumping…

Nerves-Jumping….

Stomach-churning….

Nail-biting….

Teeth-clenching….

You will look over your shoulder.

You will tense at every sound.

You will wonder when they will get you.

Step into Reid’s shoes and you will be turning the pages as fast as the hunted can run.

Imagine your worst nightmare…release the monsters of dreamland horrors….and you will also want to RUN!

Patti Larsen has created a world that will disturb you, haunt you and change you. As she literally asks you to jump into her character’s shoes, you will be faced with a world where everything you ever knew just got spun on its head and spat you out.

The conflicts are finely crafted and taut with tension. The voice will cut you with emotion.

For fans of The Hunger Games Trilogy, get your hands on this story. You will not be disappointed.

You will not be able to forget these characters.

You will not be able to put this book down but you will not want this story to end.

If you want to know more about this incredible writer and her riveting Hunted series – stay tuned – tomorrow I will be doing an interview with the author herself. There will be teasers as well as upcoming news on the 2nd book in this Hunted series.

To Pitch or not to Pitch?

Delivery of the baseball from the pitcher to c...

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Pitch 101

(Aside: This will be a long post but you may learn a new way to pitch your next story. Let’s find out how to hook that agent/editor.)

Recently, I attended a writing conference. Now, why do writers attend writing conferences? For the camaraderie of fellow writers. For the many workshops on offer. To meet and greet your favourite authors, editors and agents. Yes to all these reasons. For me the biggest draw-card of a writing conference is the opportunity to talk to agents and editors about your book/s and your writing. This is when the inevitable question will present itself to writers:

To Pitch or not to Pitch?

How many opportunities do you get to pitch your WIP face to face with either an editor or an agent? If you answered zero to none, that would be pretty accurate. So if given the opportunity to pitch, why would you say no?

There is a clichéd saying that you should not look a gift horse in the mouth. The same could be applied to the Pitch appointment. The first rule when offered the opportunity to Pitch is:

  • Take the chance. Take the Pitch.

What is a Pitch? Is there a right or wrong way to Pitch your WIP?

A pitch is basically your sales pitch for your WIP. This is your chance to sell your story. I think a lot of writers have confusion around Pitching. Yes, your WIP is your baby. But that is only while you are writing it. When you start the editing process your “baby” needs to become your “product”.

A year ago I wrote a post on my creativity blog called:

Publishing your book: Be market savvy. Be reader savvy. 

“Your WIP is finished and is perfectly edited. It is submission time…Suffice to say, the creative end of the process is basically complete but now the business end of the process begins. Your precious WIP that you have spent hours of grueling energy over is now just a “product” in the “shop of publishing“…Writing your book is a creative and personal process. Submitting your book for publication is a marketing game. Publishing your book is a sales game…”

So the biggest disservice you can do to both your WIP and your pitch is to still think of your WIP as a “baby”. But I hear you say that you have never been a salesman; that you don’t know how to sell your book. Have you ever gone for an interview? Have you ever applied for a loan? The chances are you have done at least one of these things. Which means you have sold something: you sold yourself as an investment product. Aren’t you trying to get an agent or editor to take your book on to publishing? Then you’re selling. You are the best salesman for this job. After all nobody knows this manuscript like you do.

So is there a right way or adversely a wrong way to pitch your manuscript? I think that there is a right way that will at least get the agent or editor listening to you intently. I am going to teach you how to sell your WIP to that next agent or editor that you pitch to.

F.A.B.G.

  1. Feature
  2. Advantage
  3. Benefit
  4. Grabber

This little acronym is one that is well known to the sales industry across the world. It is an acronym that I used to train people in selling and turning “lookers” into “buyers” when I was in the sales industry. But this is also an acronym that you can use in the Pitch session. So do you want to know what this acronym means and how it will change the way you look at Pitching? Well I am going to tell you anyway. So if your WIP is your product, how are you meant to sell it? This is how.

  1. Feature

Your book is your product but it is not your feature. Your feature is that one aspect of your WIP that will make an agent or an editor want to take this book on. So you have to figure out what your feature is. It may be the specific genre, it may be your intended market, it may be your plot, it may be your POV, it may be your characters. Your feature is that one feature of your book that makes your book marketable and readable. So find out what your feature is.

Example: Product = Pen  | Feature = Ball-Point Pen

  • Advantage

The advantage is what advantage does your book’s main feature have that will have an agent/editor peering up with interest. This must relate to the feature you have chosen to sell/pitch. 

Example: Product = Pen | Feature = Ball-Point Pen | Advantage = Ball-Point pen with a Fine writing tip

  • Benefit

The benefit will make the difference in whether your WIP is the right manuscript for that agent/editor. In other words, how will the feature’s advantage benefit the customer. The customer in this case being the agent/editor.

Example: Product = Pen | Feature = Ball-Point Pen | Advantage = Ball Point pen with a Fine writing tip | Benefit = writes legible words with ink that will not run on most surfaces.

  • Grabber / Clincher

The grabber is that last GRABBER of a selling pitch. It is what will make the agent sit up and start nodding his/her head without even being aware that they are agreeing with you. The Grabber is basically a summing up of feature + advantage + benefit rolled up into a short, concise and assertive statement.

Example: Product = Pen | Feature = Ball-Point Pen | Advantage = Ball-Point pen with a Fine writing tip | Benefit = writes legible words with ink that will not run on most surfaces | Grabber = Don’t you want your pen to be able to write on most surfaces without running?

  • The second rule is: Dance according to the tune.

This means knowing who you are pitching to and what you are pitching. This means doing your homework before the pitch session. Find out what other mss this agent/editor has signed. What do they like? What don’t they like? This also means knowing where your WIP fits in when compared to other books in the same genre. If you are writing a YA, you do not want to be pitching your book in a monotoned professor-like voice (actually in most instances you do not want to be pitching like that). Pitch it in way that it will appeal to Young Adults. This is what will make your pitch stand out in the agent’s/editor’s mind. 

  • The third rule is: First Impressions count.

Be professional: in both grooming, attire and body language. Be punctual. If you do not have an appointment, pitch at an appropriate time – not in the bathroom. (Don’t hijack the agent/editor. The right time will present itself usually by them being interested in you while chatting.) Be concise in your pitch. Be market savvy: if the agent/editor asks you who is the market for this book, you need to be able to answer without hesitation. Be assertive. Be confidant but not arrogant. Sell not preach your book’s idea/s. Be gracious.

  • The fourth rule is: Short but Sweet.

Be salient and succinct in your pitch. Use only the most necessary plot points and talk about only the protagonist and antagonist in your story. At most pitch sessions, you have 10 minutes to pitch your WIP. Use that time wisely. A writing partner gave me the best advice:  sum up your story and the main conflict + climax in 1 sentence. If you have picked the correct sentence, the agent/editor will ask you to elaborate and if you get to that stage, half the battle is won already.

Good Luck with your next Pitch. Just remember that once you are at the Pitch stage, your book is no longer your “baby”, it is now your “product” and you have just been made a salesman. Other than that, you need to realise that it is still up to the agent/editor whether they want your particular WIP. Do not despair if your pitch failed. It may be that it is the right story, wrong time. Keep on persevering. Keep on pitching. Those are the most important rules of thumb.

Share some of the insight you may have from one of your pitches. Why have some pitches been more successful than others?

[Aside: At the conference, I followed my own advice and had one successful pitch and one pitch that didn’t take. The one that didn’t take was simply because it was not the genre/market that the editor was looking for. Again, this publishing industry is all about timing and what’s hot and not. You won’t know unless you pitch. Most editors/agents will give you some good feedback. Of course just because a pitch is successful, does not mean the end of the journey. It is only the second step. The first was finishing a full novel in the first place.]

My visit to Rachna’s Scriptorium

Interview

A couple of weeks ago my good friend and one of my writing partners, Rachna Chhabria, asked if she could interview me on her lovely blog: Rachna’s Scriptorium. Rachna and I became friends through an online writers group called Scribblerati that we both belong to. Very soon we were Facebook friends and this year we became writing partners.

For those who follow my creativity blog, Dragonfly Scrolls, you will be aware that I am usually the one asking questions in the interviews. Asking the questions is the easy part. Rachna turned the tables on me this week and put me in the “answer” chair.

The interview will be posted in 2 parts. In this first part, posted today, Rachna asks me about my writing process and the NZ publishing scene. My thanks to Rachna for a lovely interview. If you have not visited her Scriptorium before, bookmark her blog because one visit will soon turn you into a fan.

Part 1 – My visit to Rachna’s Scriptorium.

nVrkvW2

Tales of Fantasy | Tim Ahrens

Today I have the pleasure of writer, Tim Ahrens,  in the interview chair. 

Please join me in giving him a warm welcome. Make yourself comfortable well we talk about fantasy, the importance of strong characters and the tales that have inspired him over the years.

Welcome Tim…

girl with a quill: If you were a character in a story, how would you describe yourself in 6 words?
Tim: Short in stature, strong in heart.

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing for?
Tim: I have been writing since I was about thirteen. That would make it about 33 years I think.

girl with a quill: Who or what influences your writing?
Tim: Oh I go way back. Lets see there was Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Jordan, Stephen King, among others. What got me writing was the urge to tell stories that would spirit others away on new and wondrous adventures. Much as the writers I have mentioned did for me.

girl with a quill: What aspect of the writing life do you find the most challenging?
Tim: Finding the energy to write. I work full-time as well as care for my mother and my home. I try to squeak in what little time I have to continue my writing.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Write time of day set aside or do you write when the inspiration strikes?
Tim: Both, On my days off I read what I have completed and get inspiration from that. On work days I wait until the sun has set and the house is quiet so that I can slip into the world I am weaving.

girl with a quill: Tell us what inspires you as a writer?
Tim: The tale itself is what inspires me. Really I am sometimes as eager to see what will happen next as my readers are.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Muse?
Tim: Music and mood is my Muse. I can sometime start and finish an entire chapter just based on one song I am listening to or the mood I am in at the time I start to write.

girl with a quill: Where do you write? Describe your place of writing to us?
Tim: It a room about ten feet by ten feet. I have taken great pains to fill this room with things that I have grown up with as well as figures and posters and such that I have collected over the years. An oak desk sits against one wall of the room giving me a view of everything within it. A computer sits on the desk, with a large stereo near by. The floor is carpeted in grey shag. On the walls there is a star-scape painted.

girl with a quill: Are you a pen and paper writer/typewriter/digital writer?
Tim: I use a computer and word processor. I am hopeless without my spell checker as anyone who knows me will tell you lol.

girl with a quill: Do you have any writing superstitions or traditions that you follow?
Tim: It has to be dark outside and I have to have a hot cup of coffee near my right hand at all times.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?
Tim: I love fantasy. But I also write some sci-fi, horror, and contemporary. I try to keep my hand in a little of everything just so I don’t get stuck writing only one genre. It also keeps my mind and writing nimble and fresh.

girl with a quill: What genre would you like to write in but have not yet? Why?
Tim: Mystery. I really don’t think I have any talent for that genre.

girl with a quill: Do you have any beta readers or critique partners? Do you think they are a necessary resource for writers?
Tim: Yes I do. Several close friends as well as a few great friends on Facebook give me their take on how things are going. I think this is very necessary! Even if you do not end up taking their advice you do get a look at what you have written with fresh eyes.

girl with a quill: Would you describe yourself as a pantser or a plotter?
Tim: I would have to say pantser. I have a rough outline in my head when I begin a tale. But never really know where it’s going to go until I am in the meat of it. I think it’s more fun that way.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your process of getting a new idea for a novel or story?
Tim: I first create the type of character that I want to write about. I then build his world around him or her based on the type of person I have made him or her. From that point I fill in the people and place around him or her. Then when I have a complete picture of who he or she is what he or she looks like and who is most important to him or her I set up the reason for the need for his story to be told. The character is everything for me. If they to not live in my mind at the time I am writing the story then there’s no point.

girl with a quill: Are you working on anything now? Can you share a little about your latest WIP?
Tim: I am trying my hand at an epic. It will have seven central characters not including the villains. Its fantasy and will take place in several countries with the central characters being drawn together to do battle with a massive foe. I am shooting for something at least as big in scope as Lord of the Rings was. I hope 🙂

girl with a quill: What publishing market are you aiming for?
Tim: All of them. I want as many people who like my style of writing to have a chance to read it.

girl with a quill: There is a lot of talk right now about Digital Publishing (Ebook) versus Traditional Publishing?
What are your thoughts on this debate?
Tim: Although I like the feel of a real book in my hands, as well as the sensation of the pages being turned; I can understand that not everybody has the space or the money to buy a real book. In that case I feel e-books are just fine. Anything to get the written word out to people who enjoy reading a great book.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Tim: Character. They create the story in my opinion, not the other way around.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Tim: His name is Torg Stumpchewer. He is my favorite because he is half-human and half-troll. But accepted by neither group. Although he has a massive and somewhat hideous appearance he is still a kind and heroic figure on the inside. It’s kind of my way of saying don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Tim: His name is Dar-elLan-Martak. He is from the Cenotaph Road series. By Robert E Vardeman. Not only is Dar a heroic and steadfast hero. He is also thrown into the situation he find himself in by accident. With only his companion, Man sized spider, to help him he travels to unending world on the Cenotaph Road. Trying to find his purpose and his way home. What’s not to like?

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Tim: Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Vardeman, Edgar Allen Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I have learned how to write what I like and how to build a great character all by reading their wonderful work. In short without them and many others I would not be published today.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Tim: Super girl (from the comic) Ayane (from D.O.A.) Inyx (from the cenotaph road) Sassafras one seven four ( from the story with the same name) Circe ( from remnants of the gods) What a party they would make!

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Tim: Never throw anything out!!!!

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Tim: See I told you, you were a good writer!

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Tim: That anyone can pick up one of my books and escape into a world of wonder.

girl with a quill:Tell us where we can find you and your work on the World Wide Web?
Tim: Please look for my book, The Salvation Of Tanlegalle, at any fine online book store as well as Amazon.com. You may also find it as well as my self and more samples of my work at www.Creative2at.com/client/tim-ahrens/home.html

Character Recipes | Spices & Secret Ingredients

Shop with spices in Morocco

Image via Wikipedia – Spice shop in Morocco

Do you love cooking?

Or do you prefer baking?

Personally I love cooking. In baking you have to be very careful to follow a recipe to the letter. You have to be precise with times, temperatures and measurements. The smallest variation could be disastrous. Frankly the thought of baking leaves me cold. I tend to leave that to the experts like my clever CP who is a baker extraordinaire and my amazing mother who is the world’s best baker. Cooking however, is something I love and something I thrive at: especially when it comes to making my own tasty recipes where the only rules and limits I need to stick to are the boundless limits of my creative imagination.

The art of creating a memorable character has more in common with cooking than baking. You have your standard ingredients as your base but the rest is up to your creative skills as a writer: you are the chef in your own Character Recipe. So what’s my Character Recipe? What spices do I use to flavour? What secret ingredients do I use to make the character breathe with depth and emotion? What is my inspiration for the recipe? This brings me to the topic for this month’s Tuesday Blog Hop.

Topic for Tuesday August 9th:  Character Recipe 

Alphas, betas, helpless Hannas we all have characters we love and those we hate.

But how did we create them? What’s your character recipe? 

 

The best cooking is rich with spices, sauces and exotic flavours. The best dishes are when you, the cook & chef extraordinaire, can come up with a new twist on a well-known dish. Writing a story is very much like this. Just by changing the spices in a dish you can create a whole new flavour explosion. Characters are the spices that writers use to flavor their own dishes: the stories.

Very few plots are completely original. I read a quote this week that your story is either a Romeo & Juliet or a David & Goliath but just in different variations. In just the same way most cookery dishes are just new twists or different variations on the old tried and true favourites. But the difference between each dish is the combination of spices, herbs and sauces that add the final WOW touches that create an EXPLOSION of taste-bud orgasm that leaves you breathless and wanting more. We have all had those moments where we have had a plate of food put in front of us that may have looked similar to a well-known dish but the moment a forkful is put in your mouth: Your tastebuds just melt in submission of a flavor EXPLOSION that is happening in your mouth.

Creating characters is like adding my favourite spices, herbs and sauces to a dish. They are the WOW factor in a dish that will make you begging for seconds, thirds and fourth helpings. For me characters are what I love or hate about a story. Sometimes it is even  a question about loving to hate the bad guy/girl in the story. They often are the most memorable. Just like a great spice they might be sharp, spicy-hot or colourful. I have always had a soft spot for the villains in the piece. Maybe it is because they are limitless and in-your-face with their attitude and their lack of moral or ethical restraints. They do what we may in our deepest parts dream to do but dare not.

In my current story I have two Main Characters and a shadow character that binds them together. I have quite a few beta characters and secondary characters but these three characters that I mentioned are the heart, gut and backbone of this story. I am going to write an individual post for each of these three characters. So let me start today by introducing you to the character who started it all.

My favourite character in the story is actually my antagonist or villain. Her name is Eliza Chambers. She is also the inspiration for the whole story. The story is really her story and all its complications. She isn’t the easiest of characters to work with and in the beginning she was quite stubborn and reticient in sharing with me. But I am equally as stubborn and with a lot of persistence I managed to tease the story out of her. She lives in Victorian London in the suburbs. She is the eldest daughter of a very well known and high society family. But she does not fit the mould of either her society’s view of a woman nor her family’s. She is feisty, headstrong and incredibly independent. Her heroes of the day are the many inventors of the Victorian age, starting with her father. She also sees and communicates with spirits. This starts getting her in all sorts of trouble and soon trouble is brought to her own doorstep  in the form of deadly family secrets & skeletons that force her to face her own capacity for rage and scorn. The twist is that she ends up confronting her worst self and she becomes the family skeleton & secret.

One of my betas told me they found her creepy. I loved that reaction and that description. It meant that I had interpreted Eliza correctly and done her justice even though justice is the last thing she has coming. The story is about ghosts, family secrets, cursed love affairs, revenge and redemption. Without Eliza Chambers there would be no story. She will give you the creeps but she will also fascinate you as she has me. I love writing all her chapters because it stretches my skills and my imagination. Because she lives in a Victorian time I had to think, speak and act like a Victorian woman. She starts off very stubborn, secretive and austere, even cold at times. But as the complications ensue, passion and scorn transform her into a woman bent on revenge and seething with rage. Hell hath no fury like Eliza Chambers being scorned. In the end this is a woman who even ghosts & spirits fear to tread with. I think women will understand her even though they will swear they have nothing in common with her and men will fear her. She has given me sleepless nights many a time since I first met her last year in October.

Where did she come from? I really don’t know. One day she just appeared and started telling me her story. It was all I could do to grab a pen and start writing down the bones of this story. Perhaps she came from my fascination with ghosts & the afterlife which usually co-exist with family secrets & skeletons, both literal and figurative. I am also in love with the Victorian era and often believe that is my true era. I also like strong women who don’t always fit the mould. Are there elements of me written into the character? That is a difficult one because when you create a character there is a fine line between yourself and a created personality. Would I behave in the ways Eliza does? I would hope that I didn’t. But in the same manner, I can sympathize with her. The fun part of a mean & vengeful character is that you get to act out without actually acting out.

Eliza Chambers will remain with me for a long time even after this story is finally put to bed. She is a complex individual who chooses the wrong turns. Her story is an extreme story of cursed love, taboo relationships, betrayed secrets, broken hearts, revenge and thrown together with large helpings of the supernatural. But the one reason why I do respect her is that she never apologizes for who she is and above all she stands up for her views of right and wrong, good and evil: even though her views may be slightly skewed and twisted. Do I like her? Yes, there are many parts of her I like. Do I like her actions? No, although understandable, they are extreme and usually bent to her own agenda which is tinged with revenge, scorn and rage. But all of these same characteristics make a great story and create a multi-faceted person who you will either love to hate or hate to love.

 Eliza Chambers

is the spicy pepper,too hot chilli and pungent garlic to my, or should that be her, story: The Raven’s Court.

Kim