Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Science Fiction, Science Fact or Fantasy...

It's great to be here today! My name is Rosalie Skinner and I write Epic Fantasy with a twist of Science Fiction. Why did I choose this genre?
Well, we are surrounded with science facts. Gene mapping, clones, implants, microchips, GPS and nanobots and satellites are all factual. The idea of computer obession and total immersion virtual worlds are not so far out of our reach. So when I started writing, the temptation proved too great. I wanted to include these ideas in my epic Fantasy. Strangely they fitted in well. 

My hero comes from a world where space travel is common place. His background as an obsessed teenager, totally focused on his progression through a virtual reality game, works in well with his epic fantasy quest. He must learn to survive in a world similar to those he has experienced while competing in the Game. 

The world of The Chronicles of Caleath include magic, dragons, alien species, heroes and heroines. There are visitors from other worlds, but most of the characters are home grown in a world where magic happens.

Caleath's adventures include several seafaring journeys. Book One opens when he survives a shipwreck. His plan to escape back to the stars begins to unravel soon after. He must survive being hunted by off world assassins while trying to help the people of the southern continent destroy another alien species that threatens them.

It is the little twists of combining science fact, science fiction and fantasy that has made writing the Chronicles so much fun. There are no limits to what you put into your stories, as long as you follow a few simple rules.

Keep your readers believing. Share your ideas with simple concepts, familiar ideas and common sense characters. Even outrageous ideas must have some basis for belief. 

Keep your plot moving. Every scene should push the plot forward. 

Keep your characters true to their nature. No matter what they face, they must behave consistently. They should grow and develop as they face challenges, but only within the realms of believability.

Have fun!!

The eight books in the Chronicles of Caleath are coming soon from Museitup Publishing.

Thanks for your time!!
Photos courtesy of Fotolia.com.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island

I am thrilled to present my cover for Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island. Ghost Dog is a tween action/ghost story due to be released by MuseItUp Publishing in September 2011.

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island

Evil haunts Roanoke Island and it’s up to young Jack Dahlgren to destroy it, before it destroys him.

In 1587, 117 colonists disappeared from Roanoke Island without a trace, leaving behind not only unanswered questions, but a terrifying evil.

Now it’s up to twelve year-old Jack Dahlgren to unravel the age-old mystery and save his family from the hateful beast that haunts the island.

With the help of newfound friend, Manny, a Native American sage, and an elusive Giant Mastiff, Jack must piece together the clues of the Lost Colony to discover what this evil is and where it came from. Shrouded in ancient Native American folklore, Jack must uncover why the evil haunts his island, but can he destroy it ... before it destroys him?

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, by C.K. Volnek, due to be released September, 2011 through MuseItUp Publishing.

You can check out more about Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island by visiting C.K. Volnek at
or emailing her at ckvolnek@yahoo.com

Monday, May 16, 2011

How I Wrote a Novel and Found a Publisher at Age 17

                                                       Written by Daniel Philbin
For 206 Kingston Street, I came up with character ideas first.  Several years before writing the story, I created a character named Jude who runs away from home. In this original story, he was still going to meet this girl named Leslie who picked him up on the side of the road, but he was also going to be framed for a crime. After writing fifty pages or so, I put the story on the shelf for a while, then stole Jude and Leslie (and the scene when they meet) for a creative writing class. I struggled to think of what would happen to them once they met. From the older story, I knew that Jude would get a ride with Leslie, but only after a lot of debate did I decide that Leslie would suggest a place for Jude to stay. This is where the “:haunted” shop came in. The rest of the story, everything about the murder, and Edgar Ross’s correspondence with Annabel, just evolved as I wrote my way through the story. I kept thinking of ideas, then realizing mistakes, and fixing them until I arrived at the end. In fact, I didn’t even know how it was going to end until I wrote it, and even then, I kept returning to it like an indecisive perfectionist. 
This story was unusual as far as the process went. I didn’t use an outline or do really any planning at all, though I did experiment with different ideas I had.  However, usually I start with a character or two, followed by a problem that this character or characters must resolve, or escape from. I then write my way out of it, either using an outline first, or by simply delving into the writing. Sometimes I know several points in my story, specific scenes as “landmarks.” Reaching these scenes and filling in the space between them makes up the story. But each story I write is completely different. Sometimes I begin with a point I want to make, and think of how best to make that point. Other times I come up with a plot idea I love and think of characters to fit it. I think stories with which I think of the characters first tend to work out the best, however. I would recommend writing a lot and experimenting with different ways of starting.

Daniel Philbin began writing 206 Kingston Street for a college creative writing class
when he was seventeen. He is currently studying English at Truman State University, in

Available at: http://tinyurl.com/4xm9eot

Pages: 72
ISBN: 978-1-926931-51-7
Price: $3.50
Warning: Contains moderate violence
Jude Evans, a rebellious teenager, runs away from his abusive parents and takes the bus to Philadelphia to start a life of his own. With no job, no money and nowhere to stay, Jude is relieved when he gets a ride with Leslie Diaz, a friendly, talkative girl his own age. She tells him of a place he can stay: an abandoned shop whose owners disappeared over twenty years ago. But the shop was never abandoned. Behind a locked door, Jude and Leslie discover the library of a spiritualist philosopher, Edgar Ross, and letters between him and an Annabel Castou. Jude wonders why these letters sit in a drawer in an abandoned shop; and wonders why the library is locked from the inside; and wonders what happened to Edgar Ross, Annabel, and the shop owners.
Finding clues: a woman crying in the night, a trapdoor leading to the attic, a journal telling of Annabel’s death, Jude and Leslie stumble upon a twenty-year-old murder.
Along the way, Jude searches for the meaning of life, of death, and of love.
After awhile, he returned the chair to the desk. He opened the drawer again and picked up the old journal he had seen there earlier. He glanced at the door, crossed to the armchairs, and sat in one of them. He held the journal in his hands for a moment, worry and fear battling curiosity before he finally lifted the cover.
April 18th, 1988
She is dead. I am at a total loss. There is nothing left for me. I have sat in my study for three days, her last letter clutched in my hand, a jewel I would lose otherwise. How much time passed between that letter and her death?
Jude nodded. Leslie seemed to be right. He did love the woman he was writing to. She was dead.
I could not survive without my belief in an afterlife and the hope that she has gone somewhere far better than this painful earth.
Jude thought he heard a noise and glanced up at the door in panic. Nothing. The wind howled outside. Perhaps a rat had scurried across the attic floor. That was all. With his legs and arms tense, he continued to read.
It was all their fault. The Gray family had been late to something. Annabel had never been one for caution and stepped out into the street. Ironic how people’s lives cross at odd moments, for odd reasons. Ironic that, had the Gray’s not been late, had they prepared only slightly earlier, or Annabel hadn’t happened to be stepping out into the street at that instant, everything would be different. Annabel would still be alive. She would still be alive, and I would not have contemplated driving a knife into my chest. I wish I had, at the very least told her how I felt about her. But it was too late. Oh, what I would give only to see her again, for her to come back, if I could change the course of events life has thrown at us.
Why did the name, Gray, sound familiar? After thinking about it for a moment, Jude gave up and turned the page over, his fingers trembling. Would anything written in here help him discover why this place was abandoned, or why these things were in this room, or why the door was locked from the inside?
April 30th, 1988
Perhaps she was right; I spend too much time in my books, wondering about meaning in life, and answers to so many enigmas. Perhaps I wonder too much about death. But perhaps not. All the people I have ever asked have told me they have wondered about death, but, have they really? If they have, why are atheists content that their loved ones fade away forever and Christians content to wait for years before seeing them in a different place? Not a month has gone by since her death, and I can hardly bear it. How does one who has truly loved refrain from going mad once their loved one has passed into the great, undiscovered country, the land of mist?
Jude sat up straight. He heard the noise again. Could that simply be from the rats? He jumped to his feet, hurried back to the desk, dropped the book in the drawer, and closed it again. He stuck the key back in the lock and hurried out into the hall. He paused, listening intently. He heard creaking from the floor below and shut the door, his heart pounding. He hurried to the edge of the stairs and peered down. He heard footsteps crossing the room. He clicked the hall light off and backed into shadows.
He tried to breathe silently. He heard the footsteps start up the stairs. He stepped back again, hearing the floorboards creak. He paused, listening. The footsteps came up the stairs.
He hurried into the room with the furnace and behind the wall. He pressed his back against the cold plaster, placing a hand over his mouth to quiet his breathing.
There was a pause followed by a small click, and a beam of light spilled into the room. Jude peered cautiously out into the hall. There was Mr. Ross, with his back to Jude, though he looked smaller, more lithe, and kept his head down as though trying to hide his face. He slid paper under the door, and pushed a long wire into the keyhole. A clank followed, and the man stooped down, pulling the paper out with the key, which he stuck in the lock and turned.
Jude ducked back into his room, holding his breath. He hoped he had left everything in the order he had found them. He heard the door close and then only the wind against the rattling windowpanes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Your Favorite Author

By Cyrus Keith
If you are reading this, you want to become a better writer. To do this, you can take class after class and still not see what happens when the rubber meets the road. Your grammar is perfect, every "I" is dotted, every "T" crossed. It's just not there, and you don't see why it isn't.   That's where your favorite author comes in.
You have a favorite author. You may not know why they are, but they are. You can't stop reading their work. You're hooked on them. Their characters invade your dreams. Their stories leave you with your chest heaving. Rowling, Meyers, Larsson, Collins: You just can't get enough. I just have one question about that:
Next time you read one of their books, stop reading it, and see it. Take it apart like a watch and line up every wheel, cog and spring so you can see how it works. Make a list of the major plot elements you see. Outline the major points of the story. List all the characters. Who is the protagonist? The antagonist? What are the conflicts? Every good story has more than one. Dig for it if you have to. Believe me, it's there.
Look for repeated words, over-the-top prose, excessive adverbs. Do it one better: download a free copy of the Turkey City Lexicon and read it. Compare your story to the Lexicon. Find the Squids in the Mouth, the Brenda Starr Dialogue, Rabbits Called Smeerps, and all those other boo-boos that tell you they may be a best-selling author, but they are, after all, human.
Then look and see what stands out to you as something that works exceptionally well. Anything that stands out. Use the part of your mind that feels words and phrases slide through it. You know those guys on TV that test wine? They swirl it in the glass and watch how it sticks to the sides. They smell its aroma, and then swish it around in their mouth. They take air through it and hold it before swallowing to feel the flavor and how it goes down. Do that with your favorite story, and you'll appreciate it even more.
Now that you know what makes that story work, you can take some of those same techniques, and plug them into your own writing.
Understanding how something works, as well as how it could be made even better, makes you a better writer. And don't feel bad about critiquing a pro. They've already been through it, and suffered through form rejections, and editors, and galley proofs. Besides, they won't even know you're dissecting them like frogs. So it's your own little secret, anyway.
I guarantee, if you break down three different stories from different authors, you'll find your own work taking on a new life, a new energy, and your stories will get the kind of attention they deserve, whether you write strictly for fun, or as a catharsis, or are practicing for publication.
Go and be awesome for someone today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Working Through Writer's Block

By YA Fantasy author Andrea Buginsky

Writer's block is something all writers experience at one time or another, and most likely a lot more than once. It can be very frustrating to get through, but once you do, you're usually good to go for a while. But what happens when that block turns into a huge gap in your writing life?

Lately, I've had a lot more than a block in my writing...more like a black hole. I just haven't felt very into working on my project. I still do the smaller assignments I receive from my freelancing work, but when it comes to my YA novel I started at the end of last year, I'm a bit mystified by why I can't seem to get back into it. Is it a major case of writer's block, or something more?

When you've been away from a project for a long time, it's very hard to get back into it. The longer you stay away, the harder it becomes. There are several different books available on working through writer's block and other problems writer's face that may cause them to lose focus on their projects, with exercises to help them get back into it. One such book that comes to mind is Kristi Holl's new book "More Writer's First Aid."

In her new book, Holl talks about writing habits that can help you, how to deal with different emotions that may cause you to lose interest in your writing and family crises that may pop up and take you away from your writing for a significant period of time. Any of these causes can pull you away from your writing for a significant time, making it harder and harder for you to get back into it.

There are other books and websites that can help you get through these tough times. If your block is caused by depression, and you're having trouble figuring out what's causing the depression or how to deal with it, The Mood Gym can help teach you cognitive skills for coping with your depression and preventing it from coming back. Journaling can also help you deal with what's causing your block by giving you a place to write what you feel without the pressure of writing something publishable. Your journal is for you and no one else! Feel free to write exactly what's on your mind, and get it all out. Then, look back at what you wrote and see if you can find the cause of your block somewhere in there.

If all else fails and you just can't seem to come out of your fog, try talking to someone. If you have access to a counselor or psychologist, you may want to schedule a session to see if you can pinpoint where your block is coming from. If you don't, a close family member or friend may be able to help. Just having someone to open up to and let your thoughts and feelings out can help. Then he or she can help you work through your block.

Not being able to write when you want to can be very frustrating. Don't let the frustration itself add to your block. Find a way to work through it and find the cause of the block so you can deal with it once and for all.

Andrea Buginsky is the author of "The Chosen," available from Solstice Publishing.