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Lighting a Fire

Everybody wants to write a book, but most do not. Writing is hard rndrbnlogowork. What got you started, and what helps you get through a complete story?

I’ve had four science fiction novels and a book of poetry published, and a children’s chapter book accepted for publication. How did I get here? Good luck, working at my craft, a father who insisted on proper grammar, and some level of ability.

I’ve written poetry as far back as I can remember. I kept it in a series of spiral notebooks that accumulated in my attic, wrote cards for holidays birthdays, co-workers leaving the office, and the occasional small newsletter. Along about 2005 I wrote a poem I wanted to keep, so I scrounged around online and ended up putting them in Yahoo briefcase (online) as I had too many computers to keep them on just one.

That December I was reading an ezine I liked and discovered they had a poetry contest; I believe the theme was ‘sleep’, a subject I write about frequently.  Since I had a poem handy (read online),  I sent it in, and the poem was one of four runners-up., I didn’t win.

But they published all four of the finalists, and I was psyched. I joined a couple of online communities and started working on my poetry. In one of them, I ran across someone who was starting a small print poetry mag (since died, I believe). He liked and published a couple of my poems. That was early 2006. I found out about “The Muse Online Writers Conference,”  a free, online virtual conference, and “attended” that October.

There I “met” Linda Barnett Johnson. Linda runs writers forum, and she insisted that her students join both fiction and poetry forums. Poetry alone was not an option.

At  that point, I’d never written a word of fiction (at least, not since elementary school ), and I would have sworn I never would. However, I liked Linda, and I wanted to join the poetry forum, so I signed up. I started writing for children, as that felt less intimidating – and shorter. As a poet, I was a terse writer, and generating sufficient word count worried me. My first story ended up published online. It was a *long* time until I placed another, but thus encouraged, I continued to write fiction.

And no, writing for children is not easier than writing for adults — in fact, it’s tougher.

Many years ago, a family friend lost his wife and all four of his children in a house fire. This incident had haunted me ever since, and one weekend I wrote a 5000 word story in which the main character, a nine-year-old boy, lost his mother in a house fire. I couldn’t change my friend’s outcome, but in my fictional world, I could.

I spent the next year and a half or two years whipping it into shape. Although I have (and had) a good ear for language and a solid knowledge of grammar, I knew little about structuring a story. I set out to learn about plotting, characterization, dialogue, setting, points-of-view, and, yes, more grammar. I joined a critique group and took the ICL basic course. I hung out on Writers Village University and took their free fiction course and a couple of others that proved extremely helpful. The story was accepted for publication. It won’t be out until next year. In the mean time, I have had four science fiction novels published by MuseItUp Publishing and published a book of poems that go with the novel, Sand in the Desert.

Aleyne Desert, done by me using GIMP

Aleyne Desert, done by me using GIMP

I started writing science fiction in 2010. I am a huge science fiction fan, but I’d never written a sci fi story — I had kind of a phobia about it — so  in September  of that year, I decided I’d do Nano (National Novel Writing Month) that November, and began to plan my story.

I devoted most of my time and energy to world building, a bit to thinking about the characters, and devoted about  a page to the plot. Then I started writing. I heard about an online editing workshop given through Savvy Authors. Through Savvy, I connected with a publisher and submitted the manuscript. It was rejected. They liked it, but not enough to publish it. I worked on the manuscript, including strengthening the ending. That June, I pitched to Lea Schizas and she accepted it.

Backtrack to November 2010. Robert Brewer runs a chapbook challenge on his PoeticAsides blog. I wanted to participate, so I created a poet to go with the universe of the novel and wrote 31 of his poems that November. I used eight of the poems in the novel, as I worked studying the poems into the plot.

 

Nope, I never intended to write sequels to my first science fiction novel either. Unfortunately, my characters didn’t agree with me, and they hounded me until I have in, took notes, and agreed to write the books.

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Margaret Fieland https://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-SK
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Persona Poems and me

About Persona Poems

Persona poems are poems that are written in a voice other than that of the author, where the author pretends to be someone else. The first one I wrote was in response to a poetry writing exercise. The next one that I recall writing ended up in “Lifelines.” Since then, I’ve created two treb4cfimaginary poets as part of the science fiction novels I’m writing, and written at least 30 poems by each of them.

Writing a persona poems involves getting inside the head of the narrator (or in my case, the supposed author of the poems). It’s kind of like acting a part in a play, except that the writer is creating their own dialogue.

A Well-known Persona Poem

Here is a persona poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, one of my favorite poets.The young girl’s voice, her longing, and her desire to be  bad come through so clearly.

Notice the pattern of two unrhymed lines followed by two lines with end rhymes, and how in the final stanza both pairs of lines rhyme.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172082

a song in the front yard

By Gwendolyn Brooks

I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.

I want a peek at the back

Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.

A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now

And maybe down the alley,

To where the charity children play.

I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.

They have some wonderful fun.

My mother sneers, but I say it’s fine

How they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine.

My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae

Will grow up to be a bad woman.

That George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late

(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it’s fine. Honest, I do.

And I’d like to be a bad woman, too,

And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace

And strut down the streets with paint on my face.

Creating a poet  — or two

In the course of writing my science fiction series, Novels of Aleyne, One thing that surprised me in creating the two poets and writing in their voices was the ease with which I slipped inside their heads. The first poet I created, Raketh Namar, namesake of the main character in my novel Relocated was supposed to live and write 5,000 years before the action in the novel and was the author of one of the most sacred texts of my aliens, the Aleynis. I don’t usually write prayers or write about spiritual subjects, yet I found myself writing them without difficulty.  Later, I created another poet, Constance Trusdatter, a very political poet who lives and writes about 100 years before the action of Broken Bonds, the second book in the series. I don’t usually write much about politics, yet a good number of Constance’s poems are strongly worded poems about this very subject.

World Creation

I am a way-back science fiction fan, but until November,  2010, I had never

written a science fiction story. The

This is the cover for my  poetry collection, Sand in the desert. I wrote the poems to go long with Relocated, which I wrote for 2010 National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo.

Around September or October of 2010 I decided I would simply go for it and write a science fiction novel for NaNo.  I started with the world-building: the planet, the aliens, the Terran Federation, the aliens’ society, values, arts, politics (or lack thereof). I’d been mulling over several things for years: a society based on personal responsibility, and one where the “normal” relationships contained multiple partners and included same-sex relationships.  I continued happily outlining the society and the people. I noted down about a page about the plot, including the main character, his father, and a couple of others.  I decided to write a YA/MG sci fi novel.

To make the plot work, I needed my aliens to be distinctive but close to human in appearance. I gave them wider hands and feet, no body hair, and heads that were more oval than ours. I also needed them to have skin color that could be found here on earth, yet still be distinctive, so for this and a number of other reasons, one of them being that I was damned sick of the good guys always being white, I made my aliens, my main character, and his father Black.

I also wanted to participate in Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides November Chapbook challenge, so I conceived of a poet to tie the two together. One of my alien characters is a scholar, and my main character ends up studying the poems of my imaginary poet. Raketh Namar, the author of the poems, exists in the universe of the novel some five thousand years before the action of the book on planet Aleyne. Raketh Namar, the poet, was the author of one of the most sacred texts of my aliens, the Aleynis. I don’t usually write prayers or write about spiritual subjects, yet I found myself writing them without difficulty. Raketh Frey, the main character in the novel, studies these poems during the course of the action. Eight of the poems, noted in the acknowledgments, appear in the book.

In the universe of the novel, this collection of poems was translated into English Common Speech by two of the other characters in the novel, Ardaval Namar and Gavin Frey, the father of my main character, Raketh Frey. Aleynis do not translate their sacred texts, and this translation is therefore unusual.

Having written the poems, I wanted to put together the collection and publish it, but having dilly-dallied for some time, I decided to self-publish. The cover, designed by Karen Cioffi, and Michele Graf edited the collection, including some valuable suggestions about the order of the poems.

Here is one of the poems:

Ode to My Father

When I was very small child

he was as tall

as the stars.

When I was boy-high

he had shrunk

to the height of a large tree

When I became a man,

he shrank to the size

of a fist.

When I became a father,

he rose again.

His head touched the sky.

Now he is gone.

I take my small son

and point heavenward.

“There is your grandfather.”

Here’s an exercise that you might want to try:

Left as an Exercise for the Reader

Read up on a famous figure (living or dead)  (or use someone you know) whose personality is completely different from your own. Write a poem from that person’s perspective about an important event or series of events that shaped who he or she was.   

Rob’s Rebellion

Check out my newest book, Rob’s Rebellion, fourth in the Novels of Aleyne series.

Robs Rebellion 200x300

Blurb

Colonel Rob Walker always does his duty, even when it means risking  shaky relationship with his family. When he’s ordered to bring the treaty negotiations between the Terran Federation and the Aleyni to a successful conclusion, he’s determined to do just that, even when both sides would rather he fail. How can Rob pull off a miracle and avoid a war, one where both sides could be destroyed?

Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lRxFdOJp6Q

Excerpt

“Laura? Carol? Where is everybody?” Rob drew in a deep breath.

Footsteps clattered on the fake wood floors. “Carol took the children to Fellowship. I didn’t want to go.” Tear streaks marked the dust accumulated on Laura’s face. “I want to go home. I don’t want to live in this dump.”

“This is home,” Rob grumbled. “I’m commander of this base. This is my posting. Why would you expect me to take us back to New Oregon?”

“You might have refused the posting.” Laura’s mouth formed a straight line in her oval face. “You can resign from the Federation Guard.”

“Resign? What would I do then? Come on, Laura, be realistic. I’ve got two wives and four children to support. We wouldn’t even have the price of tickets home for us on a commercial star ship” What the blazes would become of his career if he quit? His father’s sneering face rose in his mind. His father continued to predict Rob’s career would crash and burn. He clenched his fist. He’d do anything to prove his father wrong.

“Surely you can find other work.” Laura swiped a hand across her eyes. “Everyone here hates us.”

“For God’s sake, Laurie, I’m a fifty year old career colonel. The Guard is my life. My career. What else would I do?” Rob stomped into the living area and over to a small section devoted to cooking. “What the hell is there to eat around here?”

Laura shrugged and dropped into a chair at a small table. “Check for yourself.” She glared at Rob, her arms crossed over her chest. “You can starve for all I care.”

Rob pulled out another chair and sat opposite her. “We’re not going home, er, back to New Oregon, and that’s final. Relations between the base and the Aleyni are touchy enough. They liked Reynolds, and I arrested him for treason. The treaty with the Federation is up for renegotiation. If the Guard sent the wrong officer, the Aleyni could refuse negotiation altogether. I’m not going to be the one who is responsible for starting a war.” He was sick of defending himself for doing his duty. He was a soldier, blast it. He might not be much of a commander, but no one was going to fault him for shirking his duty.

“You’re being melodramatic,” Laura protested.

“Maybe, but we’re staying here.” Rob stood and jerked open the cold store, which held nothing but some juice. “Come on, we’re going to the market. We’ll find someplace to eat.” He extended a hand to Laura and pulled her to her feet.

“There’s nothing here and nowhere to go.”

“Not on the base, but in Aleyne City.” Rob pulled out his pocket comp and began searching for Restaurants, Aleyne City.

“Not until I wash up.” Laura glared at him and stumped off down the hall.

Rob sighed and lowered himself into a chair to wait

Bio:

Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life.  Her poems and stories have appeared in journals such as  Turbulence Magazine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines, was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011.  She is the author of  Relocated, Geek Games,  Broken Bonds, and Rob’s Rebellion published by MuseItUp Publishing , and of Sand in the Desert, a collection of science fiction persona poems. A chapter book is due out later this year.
Links:

Rob’s Rebellion on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Robs-Rebellion-Novels-Margaret-Fieland-ebook/dp/B0198UXBF8/

Rob’s Rebellion on publisher’s website:

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/series/robs-rebellion-detail

My Website:

http://www.margaretfieland.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/MargaretFielandAuthor/

Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/margaretfieland/

 

DaddySkylerBeach

Interview with author Kevin Hopson

DaddySkylerBeach

Tell us about yourself
I was born in upstate New York, but I have lived in Virginia most of my life. I grew up during the 80’s, so I still get nostalgic when I think about those days. I’m married to a lovely woman (14 years), have a wonderful son, and a pet Chihuahua named Paco.
How did you get started writing fiction?
 
It was always an interest of mine ever since I was young enough to read. I never took it seriously, though, until I got older. When I first got published in 2010, it made me commit to writing for the long-term.
Do you consider yourself a full-time writer?
 
I didn’t used to, but I feel like I’m moving into that role now. Though I juggle other things, writing is becoming more of a career/profession for me. It definitely takes up the bulk of my time.
You write in various genres. Which, if any, do you consider your favorite?
 
That’s difficult to answer because, unlike the majority of writers, I don’t like to stick to one genre. If I had to pick one, though, it would be fantasy. Since I can create any world I want, I find it easier to write in this genre.
What’s your favorite among your own works, and why?
 
Another tough one. I really like my more recent works, but there’s an older story that still sticks with me. It’s a short story called Three Miles Below. I took a break from writing back in 2010 and 2011 after the death of my first son. It took a while to get back into it but, after my second son was born, I felt rejuvenated. Three Miles Below was the end result of that. I was inspired to write again, and I believe this story was what took me to the next level as a writer.
What’s your writing process?
 
It’s pretty simple. Some people put together detailed outlines for their stories, but that isn’t my style…at least most of the time. I come up with an idea first, think about the type of characters I want to include and then go to work. I do outline at times, but I prefer to write on the fly. My stories tend to take unexpected turns when I write this way, which I believe is a good thing.
What do you want readers to take away from your work?
 
Whether readers enjoy a story or not, I want them to appreciate the creativeness of it. I don’t like to write stories that people have read a million times already. I always try to think of new ideas or different takes on certain genres/sub-genres. Also, I want readers, regardless of their overall view of a story, to say “If nothing else, he’s a good storyteller.”
You just finished making a beautiful trailer for my novel, Rob’s Rebellion. What got you started doing trailers?
 
Thank you for the kind words. I’ve always had a fascination with movie trailers. I used to watch them “On Demand.” That’s how obsessed I was with them. Anyway, art – in its many forms – has interested me ever since I was a child. I started doing trailers for my own books when I first got published and then got away from it for a few years. However, wanting to promote my more recent works, I picked it up again this year. I’ve had so much fun making them that it’s now become a full-time hobby.
What’s the most difficult part of writing a novel for you? The toughest part about doing a trailer?
 
I have yet to write a full-length novel. I’ve written novellas and novelettes, but the novel still eludes me. Whether it’s writing longer works or attempting to write a novel (trust me, I’ve tried), time and patience are the most difficult things for me, especially when I have a four-year-old at home.
When it comes making trailers, the toughest part is editing. Fading, panning, trimming video/music, etc. It can be tedious at times, but the final product typically makes it all worthwhile.
What are your favorite writing tools?
 
I love using random generators, whether it’s to create characters, places, or even story ideas. Nowadays, you can find sites that will spit out helpful information for just about any genre you write in.
What are you working on now?
 
I’m in the final stages of editing for a novelette that’s due out this winter by MuseItUp Publishing. It’s kind of a prequel/spin-off to my fantasy novella The Fire King. It revolves around a dwarf named Modrad, and it’s titled Vargrom: Modrad’s Exile. I’m also plugging away with the book trailers.
Where can readers find you on the web?
 
My Blog:
My Amazon Page:
Any last words?
Thanks for taking the time to interview me. Also, for all of the writers out there, don’t look at this profession as a competition. We’re all in this together, so let’s support one another!
And check out Kevin’s latest story, Delivering Jacob
Delivering Jacob 300dpi

Silly rhymes, or how I spent my journal time

Another Image courtesy of MS Paint

Painted with Pixels

I am apparently on a silly rhyme kick.

As you may recall, I started going “Morning Pages,” though mostly in the afternoon, about two months ago. A couple of times recently I have found my head filled with rhyme. Today is one of those days.

So here, folks, are some really silly rhymes:

Cabin Fever

cabin fever, got it bad
cabin fever burns me
cabin fever, flaring up
because my honey spurns me.

cabin fever, raging fire
fire will consume me
fire’s burning me to ash
fever’s going to doom me

cabin fever
cabin fever
cabin fever

Cat and Mice

scittter, scatter, little mice
the cat is going to get you
crawl into the holes tonight
if that cat will let you

kitty, kitty, come away
you would be a damper
round the table as they play
leave the mice to scamper


Dog Digger

;
the dog’s in the yard
she’s digging a hole
she hopes will go
right down to China

she pushes the dirt
and the grass clumps away
no digging do
could do finer

Tree, Wind

the tree is growing by the pond
the branches hanging over
a breeze is blowing hard today
a ripple in the clover

breeze blows columns
through the grass
on the pond,
see ripples

hawks are circling
overhead
as the wind’s strength
triples

wonder when we’ll
go to sleep
wonder when the
wind will

as I lay here,
counting sheep
waiting for it
to still.

hear the air,
it’s whooshing past
listen to its whistle
marigolds will bow
their heads
to the lowly
thistle

Editing
i’m off to cut and paste to my blog
i’m off to thundering edits
hear the clatter of words
as they race down the page
eager to earn some more credits.

Preditors and Editors poll results

Ihe cover for “Lifelines” by Lin Neiswender won third place in book/ebook cover art in the Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll.

Also the Poetic Muselings placed third in poets category.

Our anthology, “Lifelines”, placed tenth in anthologies in the anthologies .

Thanks, folks, to everyone who voted for us. We appreciate your support.

And I’m a guest on the Book Boost, blogging about poetry.

http://thebookboost.blogspot.com/2012/01/poetry-in-motion-with-guest-blogger.html

Our anthology and us muselings in Preditors and Editors poll

The cover of “Lifeline,” the Poetic Muselings’ anthology, with artwork by Lin Neiswender, has been nominated in the P and E book/ebook cover artwork category.
Our cover, our anthology, and us poets are all in the Preditors and Editors poll:

Check it out, and if you like it, please vote.

http://www.critters.org/predpoll/bookart.shtml

Poetic Muselings poets http://critters.org/predpoll/poet.shtml

Lifelines Anthology http://critters.org/predpoll/antho.shtml