World Building Post #3 – Culture, Tech, Relgion, and Magic

This may end up being a long post, but there was no way I could pull these four items apart from each other, they’re just too intertwined. We’ll go over picking a cultural stage, fine tuning the details of the cultural, choosing a level of technological advancement, picking a religion and fine tuning the details of their practices, and deciding on the rules of magic.

So, lets say you’ve picked two sentient races – both are humanoid and will share the same magic (so in essence they’re the same, like all humans here on Earth) but the Southern Race will all have blue-green hair and the Northern Race will all have brown hair. They are mostly isolated from each other and have evolved separate cultures, religions, etc.

The Southern Race lives by the water (we don’t know what the coastline looks like yet or if it’s an ocean or a lake because we haven’t made the map but water plays a huge role in their culture). What cultural stage are they in? I always start with a stage from here on Earth and then tweak it, so are they comparable to hunter/gatherers, or agriculture based, are they pre-Roman empire, Roman empire, Colonial, Shakespearean, Victorian, industrial revolution?

For this example I’ll combine hunter/gatherer with agriculture. They’ll be a settled people, living in permanent villages and farming, but still rely heavily on fishing, hunting, and gathering. This probably means they have domesticated plants like wheat or corn but no domesticated animals, or very few domesticated animals, like cows or sheep. From this we can discern that they’d probably wear animal skins and you can choose the style from among the various examples provided by the North American Natives, the Australian Aboriginals, and the African tribes.

With this information we can begin to shape their culture – let’s start with gender roles. The men are stronger, physically, so they would do the physically intensive labour like cutting down trees to build new homes, plowing the fields, and hunting. Women then would be responsible for the planting and tending of the gardens, making and caring for the clothing, looking after the children, and gathering extra foods. Preparing the meat and skins and harvesting the crop would be a joint effort. Teaching the young males would be the job of the village elders – all males. Young girls would learn by working along side their mothers.

Technology would include the type of tools they use for building, hunting, and farming. It would also cover the style of their buildings. They obviously have simple tools since they are able to cut down trees and plow land, but are they bone, stone, or metal? Moving from bone and stone to working metal is always a big step, but doesn’t mean the culture has to evolve past basic huts and hunting/gathering/farming. It does determine how effective they are at feeding themselves and protecting themselves.

Religion – again, I base mine loosely on something we already have on Earth, polytheistic – male dominated, polytheistic – female dominated, monotheistic – male or female, ancestor worship, nature worship, or abstract (such as Confucianism which follows principles for harmony with the Universe but no specific deity). Trust me, you have a lot of room to work within those options.

We’ve already sort of established a male led society by making all the village elders male. This means the spiritual and intellectual leaders are male. This doesn’t mean the deities will all be male. Just because the women don’t hold positions of power doesn’t mean they aren’t respected. If you look at most polytheistic religions the darker gods or trickster gods were male (Loki, Raven, Hades, Seth). In the Greek and Roman traditions many goddess played important roles as patrons of wisdom, the hunt, the moon, and seasons. In pre-Roman society the female deity was most often associated with fertility, childbearing, and the health of crops.

So, for this example, let’s go with the most basic of polytheistic religions – one god, one goddess. The god represents strength, the hunt, success in war, and is responsible for the overall protection of the people. The goddess represents success of crops, prosperity, health in childbirth, and is responsible for the well being of mothers and infants. They are both good deities so to have good things happen worship must be offered in some way. Neglecting this worship would result in the deities neglecting their duties to the people and bad things happening. Choose a method of worship, the form of prayer, type of ceremonies, type of sacrifices/offerings and how they differ based on intent (is the offering to the god for success in battle different from the offering a husband would make the goddess when asking his wife be protected during childbirth?)

With good or benevolent deities offerings of crops, hunted animals, or crafts is usually enough. Sometimes the “deities” lay out rules that the society has to live by (like the 10 commandments) and breaking these rules can result in disaster unless penance is made. With a dark deity the people generally make offerings to the “bad god” to appease him and prevent his wrath from falling on them.

I almost forget – priests. Is there a set person, or group of people, responsible for making the offerings? Are they male or female? Can it be either, or, or both? And is religion connected to the magic.

Okay, magic. You’ll need to decide how much magic, how complicated it is to use, and how many people get to use it. You also need to know if it is taught, innate, or a combination of the two. Since the culture we’ve chosen leans towards the Medicine Man, a person chosen by the spirits at a young age to learn from the elder all the secrets of the gods and people, I’m going to spice things up by choosing something else. The ability to use magic is innate, control is learned, and it appears in 20% of the females and 2% of the males. The magic is connected to the land, things like divining wells, finding rivers, helping crops grow, finding animals, etc. The village elders are responsible for offerings to the god and goddess and magic and religion aren’t tied too tightly together.

Congratulations, you now have the basics of a society. Placing them on a map will help determine more about them. This is already a long post so I’m going to split it here and tomorrow we’ll do a second example with the Northern Race because there’s so much left to explore and by changing just one detail you can spin a whole new web of possibilities.

Sharing some “inspiration”

The word inspiration makes us think of grand and wonderful things that drive us to do better and be better. “You inspire me”.

Writers see it a little broader, it’s anything that sparks idea or passion in our writing. “I got the inspiration for that scene when …” But there is still, somehow, a positive note to it. Being inspired is positive. But the point of inspiration isn’t always positive.

The main characters in my fantasy novel, twin sisters, Meryum and Sepherym, watch their father die in a duel. That scene always fell flat, so did the fact that they both seemed to move on pretty damn fast after the fact. But what did I know about death?

My mother died 10 months ago, cancer. We were able to keep her home until the very end. We were able to say goodbye, even my son who was, at the time, almost 3. 10 months later it’s only now starting to get better. And only a little. Now, I understand. Now I know the pain these two girls are going through, I know what drives them, and I know what eats away at them. I think that when I finally rewrite that scene and continue past it I will examine my own feelings, reknit them into something else, and maybe finally find release and acceptance. Writing fiction as therapy I guess. Can’t hurt to try – might hurt while I do it and I’ll cry through those scenes, but I hope they will resonate with readers instead of falling flat.

All that was an introduction to the recent experience that is driving at me to write this post. My grandmother (my mother’s mother) went to the hospital last night – she’s fine, she’s already home. But there is a lot of drama in my family that I will not lay out here because I don’t know who reads this and I don’t want to insult people by speaking of things that aren’t my business.

There’s family drama, a lot of it, and my grandmother has been put squarely in the middle. She feels that four of her grandchildren are being used to “blackmail” her actions and choices. She feels she has to choose between two people she loves dearly. She told me Saturday afternoon that she was heartsick because of it, that she didn’t know what else to do.

Immediately after a phone call from one of the people involved she felt nauseous and dizzy and went to the bathroom. My grandfather found her there, sitting on the floor, unable to get up, barely able to speak. So she went to the hospital.

I came home from ice-cream with my family to find out that less than a year after my mother had died my grandmother was in the hospital and we didn’t know if it was anxiety, or a heart attack, or a stroke. Tense hours followed as we waited for news. And this time it was good news, a lot of relief, a lot of thankfulness. She’s fine.

And more than coming to know this set of emotions and knowing I can now use them to create realistic characters I am driven by a sense of anger. I am angry at the person who made that phone call. I am angry that person let the situation get this far out of hand. I am angry at this person for their own actions, and not for anything I was told about the whys and the who-dunnits. That anger is strong inspiration, this whole situation is strong inspiration. I know exactly which character is going to really come alive because this person has acted … okay, deep breath, don’t say anything insulting. But this character will come alive, this character will have a believable personality, and I know it will be believable because I have seen it first hand. No, this situation, this family drama, won’t be featured in any piece of writing I have on the go, but I have been inspired.

Signing off …

Life as Distraction, or Inspiration?

So, inspiration and concentration are connected. If we are inspired we write without distractions getting in. If we concentrate we write without distractions getting in. And in conclusion to my last post – couldn’t find any wine, pistachios are impossible to eat while writing because cracking pistachios takes two hands, and music is a God send that tripled my productivity even when I wasted some time watching bits of the movies my son was watching during quiet time.

Sometimes nothing will work. No matter how good the music or tasty the snack or readily available your beverage of choice, be it caffeine or alcohol, there are days when inspiration won’t come and concentration will be impossible.

So now you’re catching up on your blog reader (I appreciate that) and browsing Facebook, posting complaints that you just can’t find the words to complete your next chapter. Maybe your muse is trying to tell you something. A writer writes what they know, we’ve all heard that before, and it applies less to ‘facts’ then to feelings and the human condition. So, maybe, just maybe, if your muse has fled and your story fell flat you need to do some more research into the human condition.

And that’s not as hard as it sounds.

You have a choice to live your life as an inspiration to your writing, or a distraction from your writing. My kids aren’t distraction, they’re inspiration. You will not be able to craft a realistic child character until you watch a few dozen kids racing around the local park. You will not be able to portray the feelings of a parent towards those children until you take your own children (niece/nephew, neighbour’s kid, whatever) to the park for the day, or better yet keep them for a weekend. Need to know something about being terminally ill? Find a local cancer support group. Need to write teenagers? Go to the mall on a Saturday and sit in the food court, or hang out outside the teen clothing store, or sit near a pack of teens in the movie theatre, or find a pack of teens in any of their natural habitats and make notes!

But it can be more simple than that. You’ll over hear things in the supermarket that will inspire some witty dialogue in your next book. You’re mother, ranting on the phone because your father was a moron? You can’t use it word for word but note her tone of voice, her word choice, the intensity of her breathing, the issues that matter to her. (So next time she calls in the middle of writing time pull out a pen and paper and makes notes as you talk to her). Daily experiences that we pass off or pass over as distractions may fuel our muses.

Stories are about people and their emotions. Stories are about life. Writing is a solitary craft, though in some ways social networking sites are changing that. Still, at it’s core, writing is achieved by sitting alone, wrapped up in our own heads, putting words on the paper. We set aside life for those precious hours we have each day to write. But we can burn out that way, run out of interesting characters, witty dialogue, or interesting situations. Living life is the only way we’ll be able to write about it.

Yes, Facebook is a distraction, unless you’ve gone to a writing group on Facebook to get help with something (trust me, I’ve gotten some great pointers from the Nano group on Facebook), so are sites that post meme after meme just to make you smile. Reading the news can be a distraction, but sometimes it can be a source of great inspiration. Dinner with friends or family, an afternoon shopping with a distressed girlfriend, sitting on your front step and watching the neighbours work on their yards while you sip your wine? Yeah, there’s inspiration everywhere. When your muse flees the scene go out and find her some more ideas. She’ll reward you for it.

Signing off …

Inspiration and Concentration

Many writers know, too well, the feeling of not wanting to write, of losing interest in a project, of losing steam. It’s depressing, sitting in front of your computer or paper and staring for what feels like endless hours without putting a single word down. Your muse has left! You’re wasting your time! It’s hopeless, pointless!

And yet, we’ve all been on the exact opposite side of that experience. You know, when the words tumble through your mind faster than you can write them and you worry you’ll lose pieces, and when it all pours onto the page as fast as you can write or type? It’s a heady rush of creation, truly inspired, and impossible to stop.

But for the most part we walk a middle ground, trudging along, putting one word behind the other to make sentences that are more than passible. The question becomes, how do we stay motivated? How do we stay inspired? How to we keep ourselves from falling into that rut where no creation takes place?

Everyone has a method that works for them: music, a new project, junk food, wine, a good book, a Facebook marathon, a television marathon, video games … you name it, an author has tried it. Sometimes, like with music or junk food, it’s something we do while writing to stay on track. Other times it’s something we do between writing to keep our minds fresh and motivated.

Right now I’m not writing, I’m editing. And to top it off, I’m doing contract editing so it’s not even my own work. Very little inspiration is needed right now, leaving my mind free to ponder all the ideas I have in the works. What I need now is concentration, and it’s amazing how similar my symptoms of lack of concentration are to my symptoms of lack of inspiration. Maybe inspiration and concentration are closely linked. Maybe that awful lack of productivity has less to do with a runaway muse and more to do with an desire to be anywhere but in my chair working.

(I should be editing and instead I’m writing this blog – hmm)

So, if the symptoms are similar, and if the causes are linked, then maybe, just maybe, the treatment can be the same. And since walking away from this job and browsing Facebook or watching television with my 3-year old are not options (because I’m on a deadline and need the money for this contract) that leaves music, junk food, and wine.

I’m going with all three – I’ll dig up a CD, find some chips and salsa, or pistachios, and a glass of wine, and maybe I’ll be able to spend the rest of my 18-month-old’s nap time editing. This is my writer’s craft experiment of the day. I’ll let you know how it works out for me.

Signing off (in search of good music, better junk food, and cheap wine) …

The Female Experience

Someone on the Nano Facebook group commented that they felt their female characters were androgynous and flat, that they were indiscernible from the males. He’s not the first writer to have these woes on either side of the gender board. When I started writing romance I had the strange task of writing male characters that would be believable and entertaining for a female audience, not a mixed audience. Fortunately I have my husband to help me keep my male characters sounding male, and I get to watch my husband interact with his brothers, a lot, so I get a lot of insight there.

Before I get into the real bulk of this blog entry, that’s my first tip: observe. Don’t know where? Here’s some ideas: a shoe store/department in a large city when they’re having a massive sale on women’s shoes, a bridal shop (you may want to tag along with someone you know, or get to know a staff member first), somewhere where they do nails or hair (tag along, get to know staff, or make an appointment and find out what a pedicure – minus the nail polish – feels like), go to the same coffee shop as your wife/girlfriend on girl’s night and sit across the shop, undercover style, go to ladies’ night at a night club/golf club/or bar. Observe the women there, what do they talk about, what words do they use, what music is playing on the overhead speakers, how are they dressed, what age range do they fall into … For ladies, go to a sports game with your other half or a brother/father/uncle, hang around in the background during the game at home, go to the bar/club/pub/pool hall, etc and watch how men act there, try out a barber shop, and observe.

Okay, the female experience. It’s different for every female, and depends on family structure/stability, cultural backgrounds, country of origin, country of residence, if those two are the same or not, level of education, access to education, religious factors, etc. But for a middle class female in North America growing up in the late 80s, the 90s, and into the new millennium, here are some things you should keep in mind.

I am a firmly middle class female. My parents were never divorced or separated. I am the oldest of two girls. I had a decently close knit extended family while growing up. I was born in 1987 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and lived there until we moved to Bitty Town Manitoba (make up your own one street town and insert here) on 80 acres when I was in the 6th grade. Moved back to civilization in the 9th grade. I went to a private religious school from K-8, then public high school 9-12 and university for 4 years after that.

Okay, that’s my life in a nutshell. Here’s what I experienced: Judgement is the first word that comes to mind. Everyone is judging you and if they’re not you feel like they are. You have to fit in, somewhere – and I never did, not wholly. I was a nothing so I wasn’t a “popular” kid (I’ll do a blog on that later). I wasn’t totally Goth or punk. I wasn’t a band geek, and though I took electronics I barely passed. I didn’t start on the video games until after high school and I sucked at chess. I didn’t smoke anything. I was smart but because of 3 years isolation (living in the boonies and attending school in the city) I missed those formative pop culture years completely and knew nothing about teen actors, music, etc. I knew a little bit about a whole lot of things and never enough about any one thing to belong somewhere. So yeah, I felt judged. I was weird, the odd one out, even among friends.

That has a lasting affect on self esteem and self image. Last night we were going to go to a movie with my siblings-in-law (but babysitting fell through on our end and we couldn’t attend) and I made a comment to my husband that I felt I always had to help get the kids settled and supervised while he got ready and was never afforded the same luxury – I don’t take hours to get ready but I do have to brush my hair (it goes to my tailbone and tangles easily) and often get changed because as a female you cannot wear your comfortable, loaded with pockets, mom clothes to the movies because they are dumpy and frumpy and make your husband feel like he’s the dork.

Well, to make a long story short I was told “I wish you would change before going out, I know you have to dress functionally at home and that’s okay because I know how you look underneath all that but you could dress better when we go out.” and “I know you’re not like my sister (30, not yet married, no kids, runs marathons), and it’s not a fair comparison but men do compare – I don’t because she’s my sister – but other guys are the theatre will look at both of you and compare and I don’t want you to fall short because you’re wearing frumpy clothes” – yeah, it came out a little harsh, and he didn’t mean it like that, and once he had his foot in his mouth he proceeded to chew it off. Still, I went to bed in tears.

We are judged and compared everyday by complete strangers. I catch myself doing it. I try to turn it into a writing exercise (why did I think she was rich? why did I think he was a jerk? what do people do or say to make you jump to conclusions? What about their body language or style?) but I still pass snap judgements on complete strangers. And I know people are doing it to me. And I’m afraid of what they think, I’m afraid of being deemed less important, less beautiful, because I have stretch marks, or because I have little extra money to spare and can’t buy designer clothes.

Emotional. Yes, women can be rational and intelligent, we can be engineers and lawyers and judges, we can be fair and impartial, but we are emotional. Even when my head is saying “what a stupid reason to be mad at your husband” I’m still furious. Even though I know my husband didn’t mean to offend me last night I still went to bed in tears. I don’t know about other women, but I get worked up very quickly – I over think things, imagine the worst, dwell on negative thoughts and negative things people say, and the mistakes I make. I spiral down to almost depressed before being dragged out of it. Somewhere along the way rational thought stops, but at first it’s there, battling with the emotions, and sometimes feeding the negative cycle because you know that you’re being stupid and irrational and you can’t stop.

Women cry. We cry when we read newspaper stories about children getting hurt (deliberate or accident). We cry during movies. We cry over novels. We cry when our pets get hit by cars. And it’s all right. In fact we wish men would cry more. We think it makes you stronger, not weaker. It makes you whole and complete, not pathetic or broken.

Women are prone to sudden changes in their emotional state.

Pregnant women are a whole other kettle of fish. If you know one, spend the weekend with her and encourage her to talk about being pregnant, and to complain about being pregnant. You’ll learn a lot.

Mothers are a strange mix of teacher, taxi driver, servant, chef, laundry service, shopping service, and angry mother bear in protect-the-cub mode. We cry even more when we read or see anything about children being hurt. We want to throw our children under a moving bus but we panic if our sister is half an hour late for dinner (and she happens to have the kids for the day). No, trust me, this happened. My sister and her husband took the kids to the zoo and we met them at the park AT FIVE THIRTY. By the time they showed up at SIX I’d forgotten how nice it was to have an afternoon of quiet to work on my editing contract and all I could think was “where are my babies, why aren’t they here, I don’t want to share them anymore, I want them here, now, please”. Yeah, I was begging with God. I was twisting my wedding ring back and forth. I was pacing the length of the playground checking and rechecking every entrance. I love my children and I love quiet afternoons but in the end, the kids win out, every time, and I’m a selfish introvert.

My kids are awake, and that means I must drop my role as writer and start my role as Mom. This is another part of being a stay-at-home parent of either gender.

Writers, get in touch with the opposite gender in you (your feminine side, or masculine side). Get to know people of the opposite gender. Ask them questions (and if it feels too weird preface it with “I’m a writer and one of my characters is going through ‘x’, can I ask you how you’d deal with it?”) Remember that gender does play a role in forming who we are, but it’s not the only factor.

Signing off …

The Very Best Part of Me

*Title quote from Evanescence’s song*

No, this isn’t a bio post. This is a post about characters. I mentioned in my last post, about Zoedar, that the characters started out being based on me and my friends. Sepherym’s maid was based on my sister, the cousin was based on my other best friend, Sir Luke was based on a very grumpy friend of mine from electronics class. But that was because, at the time, the story included the princesses and a few others being hidden on Earth as humans, so we were the humans that would become Zoedavians and travel away to a different planet. Cute and all, but the idea was later cut.

All my characters are at least a little autobiographical because they come out of MY head and because they deal with issues that interest me. A lot of my protagonists are female because my husband says when I write male characters they sound like girls. I’m working on improving that but I still stick mostly with female leads. A lot of the time my characters are fairly plain (with the exception of those two princesses and my one vampire character), they are nice looking but not celebrity pretty or super model pretty, often they are insecure about their looks or their talents or their self worth. They aren’t popular kids (if it takes place in high school), they aren’t rich or famous. It sounds like an everyday sort of person you’d want to read about, someone plain and normal who is thrown into extraordinary events and who discovers self worthy and inner strength along the way. But how many times can I write about THAT girl who is essentially me? More importantly, how many times would you read it?

Change the hair colour, the eyes, the age, the name, but she’s still the same girl. I read a very good tip in an article – borrowing a body for your character. While sitting at the park or the pool or on the bus select someone around you who is about the right age and pretend that they are the character, not you.

What’s the point, she’s still the same girl, right? Wrong. She’s not me anymore, she’s that girl on the bus. And now she has all sorts of annoying habits. And she listens to music that I hate (because I can hear it from where I’m carefully observing). I can give her all sorts of traits and habits that I don’t have because she’s not me! And I don’t have to be embarrassed telling you that the character wet the bed until she was 12 because it’s not me, it’s that stranger on the bus who will never know she’s in my story.

Strong characters are multi-dimensional, they have strengths and flaws, they have room to grow, they love things and hate things and have opinions on everything. They are people, full real living people. They just live on paper and not in the rest of the world. And strong characters are unique, they look and sound like themselves and no one else. We’ve all run into people who look like us or at least share one or two physical traits. We all have friends who share at least some of our interests and opinions. But we are all unique and so too must be our characters.

There is still something autobiographical in every character. In my latest novel , “Liar, Liar”, the female lead’s mother grows rose bushes just like my mother did. But so far that is the only distinctly autobiographical point in the novel. As a writer I pour so much of my creativity into every piece that it’s impossible not to have a part of my leech into the writing.

So there is my writing tip for the day. If you have characters that are too flat, or sound too much like you, give them someone else’s body and really imagine them again. They’ll take on a new life and you’ll find real freedom in letting them go.

Signing off …

Calling all Angels

*Title quote from the song*

I started seriously writing in high school – of course most of it was complete and utter crap. Well, the writing was crap. Some of the ideas were gold. Let’s start this story at the beginning with one Stephanie M., my best friend at the time.

Stephanie had thought up a little story for herself, and two other friends who she had been very close to and did not see very often. She allowed me to be the forth member of this little world. Slowly the other two friends were dropped and a third friend of ours was added. That third character has remained within the story but has been based on different people as we went along.

Stephanie was Reiny, a blue haired princess who could control water. I was Miriam, a red haired princess who could control fire. We were busy writing a language (basically a secret code) and creating magic powers for ourselves. And that’s when the dreams started.

Obviously we’d just spent too much time talking about all this stuff and Stephanie started dreaming about it, but the dreams were like scenes from a movie, vivid and full of life and strange characters. The next thing we knew we had a very complicated, multi-versioned world. Her job was to dream, my job was to jot down the details and keep it all straight – cancelling out stuff we didn’t like, replacing it with new, more interesting ideas, filling in the gaps, smoothing out inconsistencies. We’d sit for hours on the weekend, or at lunch, talking and sorting and day dreaming this strange world.

And that is your introduction to what we named “Zoedar”. The princesses were originally called the Angels of Zoedar. They were the ones to save the planet from evil. But the story kept growing. The princesses were hidden on Earth, as three teenage girls, sent to live with different families only to find each other in high school. New characters developed, some based on friends we had, some based on dreams.

After high school Stephanie moved on to other projects and I fought my way through university. But Zoedar lived on in my notebooks and I was always touching up plot lines or character sketches until Stephanie handed over the reigns to me and stepped back. At first she came by once or twice a year to go over any major changes, now we do all that via computer. She reads every draft, approves every major change, and advices me when I get stuck. She’s going to get major credit when this is all over.

So, what does Zoedar look like now? I still use the original map, but now I have smaller countries, and they’re not all ruled by a single king. Zoedar is the name of a country, not the planet. I cut some of the original deities and added some extra characters. You’ll no longer see Reiny and Miriam – now they are Sepherym Reiny Hukaru and Meryum Reigh Hukaru – twins who will never see Earth. The third sister is now a cousin – Tatyonym Aris. Many of the original characters remain (Luke, Jonathan, Troy, Queenie, Tritaton, Catrana, Zaine, Robyn, Andrake) and I’ve added a few more (Erjon, Edana, Ashlynn, Daniel – added while Steph was still involved – Aewyn, Kale, Jackson, Jackson’s wife, Amelia, James). Okay, these are all just names to you, and there’s no time or space to tell you how each places a role in the story, but you can see how the world has grown from four girls to fully populated.

The plot – war. An old enemy returns and the princesses are separated by war. They must each untangle webs of betrayal, old and new, and pick out friend from foe from among people claiming to be allies. Betrayal comes from some surprising places, and loyalty from unlikely sources. They will fall in love, have their hearts broken, and lose people close to them. In the end they will face not just a man but an entire family with hatred to spare and an entire race on the edge of destruction as they fight to reclaim two thrones from the clutches of “evil”.

There are other plots, other stories, stories of Sepherym’s childhood, stories of the world’s history, stories that simply take place there. I have one about a magically aided plague that wipes out an entire province. I have one that’s about a rebellious fairy and how she finds a place in the bigger world. But those are stories for another day.

Signing off…

And the point was the point of it all.

*Title quoted from “The Point”, a wonderful movie narrated by Ringo Starr*

So what is the point, anyways? Of this blog, I mean. After all this is only my second post and too early to be asking you the meaning of life (which is 42), I hardly know you, yet. Back to the matter at hand – the point of this blog. Well, it’s so you, the readers, can get to know me, the writer, and keep up-to-date on my available books, and so I can share tricks of the trade that I have learned along the road to writing my novels.

Every writer has tricks of the trade that work for them, and every writer is different. I think if more writers share how they work more young writers just learning to write will find ways that work for them a lot faster. When I was a younger, less experienced writer, I always wanted a published writer to mentor me, just for a little bit. I think we all search for that writer or editor that will mentor and guide us through the soul wrenching and overwhelming process that is ‘writing a novel’.

Sadly most writers and editors don’t have time for that sort of relationship. And if they did, well there are more of us looking for mentors than there are writers in a position of giving that sort of help. So, we’re all in this together. The blind leading the blind.

As well as stories, I have a lot of opinions about the writing world and, as the mood strikes me, I’ll share those too.

Today I will end with some advice.

1) Back up your work once a week. Or more. Trust me on this. I was aiming for once a month and then, 8 days before back-up, my 18 month old drenched my laptop in juice. Thank God I didn’t lose any data and my laptop is fine now. Life is too short to make all the mistakes yourself so learn from mine. No computer or notebook is ever completely save from overheating, small children, animals, floods, being forgotten outside, being stepped on, or getting lost. So invest in the external hard drive or a stack of discs or a USB drive and back up every week.

2) When the big computer store where you bought your laptop takes one look at the juice smear on the keyboard and says “The liquid has gotten into the boards. It will cost $300-$400 to repair, and at least a month because we will have to replace parts. And it’s not covered by your warranty,” tell them thanks but no thanks and find a small, locally owned repair shop. They’ll at least open it up and tell you if it can be saved before telling you it’ll cost $400. And, if you’re lucky (like I was) it’ll cost you $60 and two days. Because not even a professional techie can tell you if your motherboard is fried without opening the computer.

I have an editing contract to complete (it was due a while back but it took me a long time to work up the courage to take my laptop in for repairs) so I’d better get down to it.

Signing off …

Casia Schreyer – Freelance Writer and Novelist

I’ve never been good at introducing myself but here goes.

I have been writing for many years, both fiction and non-fiction. This past year I started supplementing my income with freelance writing and editing jobs with the hopes of creating a name for myself and to practice my craft so that one day my novels will be published. Those first few jobs were more practice than creating a name for myself since they were ghostwriting jobs. Not the sort of fiction I’d want my name on anyways. Then I picked up a long term editing job.

Talk about a godsend! I have been working with Albert Everett from Dubai editing his screenplay/novel series, Mountain Paradise. What a wonderful series! Episodes 1-3 have been edited and returned (sadly a laptop mishap has slowed me up on Episode 4 but I get my laptop back today and I hope to have #4 done by the end of summer). I have several other projects from Mr. Everett to edit. It has been a wonderful working relationship (on my end anyways) and I look forward to seeing the novel version of each episode in print.

In April I signed on with Blue Ribbon Books to write 30,000 word romance novellas for digital release. I don’t really read romance novels, I never thought I’d be writing them, and my first one was on digital shelves in May! Off The Market has recieved decent reviews on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com since its release. I am working on my second novel for them, and then I hope to write the two sequels to Off The Market and have them published over the fall and early winter (Overhauled and From The Ground Up are the two sequels; I’m currently writing Liar, Liar).

I have my own works in progress, mainly fantasy and science fiction, novels, novellas, and short stories. I’ll be releasing details of those stories and worlds here as I go. I am a regular participant in NaNoWriMo and can often be found wasting time on their Facebook page instead of writing. I am always on the lookout for a quick freelance job or a long term working relationship.

Personally? I am a happily married mother of two who is taking some time to stay home and raise my kids. I’ll be forced to enter the workforce again this fall as we’ve bought our first house and now have a mortgage. Hopefully I’ll be working a few evenings a week, plus my writing while I’m home with the kids during the day. I collect blank noteboos and brightly coloured yarn. I’m an avid journaller, writer, knitter, and crocheter (so my collections are useful – now tell that to my husband!) and I have a Facebook based business selling custom knit accessories and baby sweaters. You can find me at https://www.facebook.com/#!/schreyerknits – Likes are appreciated and you can order any time. Oh, I also enjoy cooking, which is what I need to do now. Crockpot chicken does need to be ignored for 3 hours, after all.

Signing off …