Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fan Fiction Contest


Dear imps, tomorrow marks the commencement of this year's Fan Fiction Contest, and I am so excited to share these stories with all of you! A few quick notes before it begins:

1. This year, the voting is limited to fans only. While previous years we invited you to get family and friends to vote, this year we're doing things a little differently. Keep it in mind!

2. You will be invited to vote on your TOP THREE picks. List them in order of preference! Your top pick will receive 10 points, your second pick 5 points, and your third pick 2 points. So think carefully!

3. Comments are welcome and encouraged. Unless the author asks for a critique, please limit your remarks to encouraging notes, favorite lines, etc. This contest is all about the FUN and the IMAGINATION!

And you all are going to love these stories . . . Seriously, each one is tremendously fun and demonstrates incredible talent. I have no doubt it will end up being a close contest! So I wish "good luck" to all of you participants and "happy reading" to the readers. The winners will be announced on September 15, so be certain to visit then.


*During the contest run, I will be taking a break from my regular blogging schedule. But I'll be back with more answers to your great questions after the 15th, I promise!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Short Question - Short Answer


This Short Question is from a reader interested to know more about my Super Secret project. She asks: "I know you can't say much, but is it fantasy? Or are you trying a new genre, like science fiction or, for heaven's sake, mystery?"

Well, I do hope you readers won't be disappointed to learn that the Super Secret project is still fantasy. I truly enjoy reading both science fiction and mysteries (recently went on a binge-read of Georgette Heyer's mystery novels and loved them all). But I don't think my brain works that way. I seem to be wired for dragons.


Detective Smart: "I have Discovered the Murderer!"

Sergent Silly: "Really, Detective Smart? Who could possibly have done it?"

Detective Smart: "It was . . . the butler!!!!"

Sergent Silly: "But . . . but Detective Smart, what about all the blackened and charred remains of the house?"

Detective Smart: "The butler . . . with a match!!!"

Sergent Silly: "But . . . but Detective Smart, what about the distinct odor of dragon fumes?"

Detective Smart: "The butler . . . with an expired deodorant!!!"

Sergent Silly: "But . . . but Detective Smart, what about the hoard we found in the nearby cave in which all the household jewels were hidden?"

Detective Smart: "Circumstantial!!!"

Sergent Silly: "What about the dragon scales littering the yard?"

Detective Smart: "Red herrings!!!"

Sergent Silly: "I don't know, Detective Smart. I really think the murderer might have been the drago--"

Detective Smart: "Sergent! Which of us is the brilliant detective?"

Sergent Silly: "You are, Detective Smart."

Detective Smart: "So who committed the murder?"

Sergent Silly: "The butler did, Detective Smart."

Detective Smart: "Right you are, my good lad. Never forget your proper Role in the Story!"

_______

Okay, so now you see why I don't write mysteries. As for science fiction . . . Yeah, I'm not even going to try that one.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Interview Feature: Jaye L. Knight

Dear imps, today it is my pleasure to introduce a sort-of new fantasy novelist to you! I say sort-of new because, well, she's not really new--she does have a complete fantasy series out under the alternate pen name Molly Evangeline. But she has just launched a new series under her new pen name, so in that respect, she's new! So allow me to present:

JAYE L. KNIGHT is a homeschool-graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean new adult fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God's love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

To learn more about Jaye and her work, visit her website, www.jayelknight.com.

 Jaye is visiting us today for a fun interview . . . and don't miss your chance at the end of this post to win an ebook copy of her new release, Resistance!

INTERVIEW

Welcome to the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog! First of all, would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee? 

Jaye: Tea! I’m a total tea addict. English Breakfast Tea is my favorite . . . with plenty of French Vanilla creamer and sugar, of course. I drink a cup of tea pretty much every morning, and by cup, I mean a giant 2-cup mug most of the time.

I’m quite introverted, so I’m really quiet unless you know me well and get me going on one of my fandoms or something I’m passionate about. Though I spend more time inside with my writing than I probably should, I’m an outdoorsy person. I love summertime and everything that comes with it. I always jump at the chance to go hiking or kayaking. Or flea markets! I love antiques and have a rapidly growing collection of oil lamps, so I’d visit flea markets every week if there were enough around. It probably wouldn’t be good for my finances though. I’m very creative, and besides all the work I put into publishing, I also run a small Etsy shop where I make and sell jewelry specifically for fellow authors as well as pieces inspired by my books. I love history and am pretty old-fashioned, but also have a modern style. It’s an interesting blend of country girl with subtle hints of rocker and Bohemian mixed with it. I like being different and unique. I’m a big fan of music too. Especially Skillet, Building 429, Aaron Shust, and Ashes Remain. They’re my favorite bands. Oh yeah, and I’m a hardcore Green Bay Packers fan. 

What led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller? How did you get into publishing?

Jaye: I was eight-years-old when I first started writing. I credit my mom for that. She’s been a writer since her early teens. I used to see her collecting old magazine photos for character inspiration, and I guess it sparked something in me that wanted to do it too. Once I started, there was no going back. I first decided I wanted to be an author when I was about fourteen or fifteen, shortly after I discovered The Lord of the Rings. I published my first book with a self-publishing company just after I graduated about seven years ago. A year after that, I discovered CreateSpace, and used what I learned from my first book to publish on my own. Since then, I’ve set up my own little indie publishing company, Living Sword Publishing, and plan to continue using it for my own books and any my mom might publish in the future. 

Tell us a little about your work! What was your debut novel?

Jaye: My very first novel was The PirateDaughter’s Promise, which is the first of a four book YA historical series. I started it when I was fifteen, and published it under the pen name Molly Evangeline. It was certainly a learning experience. I really had no idea what I was doing, but everyone has to start somewhere. I learned a lot in those first few years of publishing. Then, a year ago, I changed my pen name to Jaye L. Knight. It was a great way to take what I had learned and get a fresh start to do things more professionally. 

Resistance is not your first fantasy novel, is it? I would love to hear about your first fantasy series! 

Jaye: No, I’ve been writing fantasy for over ten years now. Ever since I watched The Fellowship of the Ring movie, I’ve fallen in love with the genre. In the months after seeing it and reading through the books, I started what was supposed to be a five book fantasy series, though I only completed three. It was so silly and cliché. Basically, real-world girl ends up in a fantasy world. But it was simply for my enjoyment as well as my cousins who I read it to whenever we got together.

Later on, once I started publishing my pirate books, I got the urge to rewrite the series. I eliminated the real-world girl, changed the fantasy world a bit, added some new characters, and developed an entirely new plot for the third book. It became my Makilien Trilogy. It took a lot of work, but it was fun to see it come together when it was such a big part of my teen years. I still had a lot to learn when I wrote it, but it’s all part of my author journey. 

Now do tell us about Resistance. How long have you been developing the ideas for this series? Did the first book present any unusual challenges? 

Jaye: Resistance is the first book of Ilyon Chronicles, which will contain six books total. For being such a big series, I actually haven’t been developing it for all that long—just over three years. Sometimes you need a while to let an idea simmer, but this one took hold of me and demanded to be written now. I actually started writing Resistance the day after the first seed of inspiration hit me. I was reading DragonQuest by Donita K. Paul, and one of the scenes started me thinking on half-blooded characters. I’d already done that in Makilien, but I’d never written about half-bloods who were looked down on by society. It was that tiny little thought that inspired my main character, Jace. The rest grew (very rapidly) around him.

I think the biggest challenge for me was getting the emotions right. There are a lot of difficult issues and some very broken characters in Resistance. Jace is the most tortured individual I’ve ever written about, and while I knew him inside and out from very early on, it’s not easy getting what’s in your head down on paper. There were also things about the book that were constantly developing and changing. I wasn’t only working on this one book, but figuring out the rest of the series at the same time (I’m definitely more of a pantser). So there would be times when I’d think of something I wanted to do in a later book, but would have to go back and make sure it worked with book one. Plus, there were pivotal characters, like my main girl’s twin brother, who didn’t even come into being until I was almost half done with the book, which meant I had to go back and add them in. Things like that were definitely a challenge, but at the same time, it was incredibly exciting to see how it all came together.

Can you pick a favorite character from this new novel? 

Jaye: This is usually a very hard question, and I have many, many characters I adore in Resistance, bit I can easily narrow it down to Jace. He’s the heart of the series and my favorite character I’ve ever written about. I can relate to his brokenness, and it’s really easy to get inside his head and experience his emotions. In a lot of ways, he’s like the more intense male version of me. I think we react to our struggles and surroundings in similar ways. 

What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration? 

Jaye: Movies and TV shows are probably my biggest source of inspiration. I do get a lot of inspiration from reading, but visual inspiration seems to get my imagination flowing the best. Music is another huge source. Epic, trailer-type music is the best. I love artists like Audiomachine and Future World Music. Some of my best scenes have developed while I’ve been listening to such music. It’s also the first place I turn when I need a renewal. If I’m just not that excited about a character or scene, I’ll pull up the playlist I’ve created for the book. I almost always have a theme song chosen for my main characters. Brainstorming while listening to their songs really helps. 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process? 

Jaye: I actually like rewriting and editing the best. It can be really hard to get the story written. And while there are certainly scenes I have a blast writing, it’s perfecting what’s already written that is my favorite. It’s so much easier for me to get the story where I want it when I know the whole book is already written. I don’t like blank pages. My first drafts are usually just awful, but my goal is always to get the words on the page and worry about that later. 

What are you actively writing right now? 

Jaye: I just finished book four of Ilyon Chronicles and am now getting into book five. It’s hard to believe I’ve made it this far and that I only have one book left after this. It will be very interesting to see how the story goes once I really get into it. The plot isn’t as large scale as the first four were. It’s more of a personal story, but I like that. I think I need a break from large scale anyway. 

Would you share a short snippet from Resistance? 

Jaye: Sure! Here’s a bit from chapter one that sets the entire series in motion.
 
  Excerpt from
RESISTANCE
 
 
Forcing aside his nerves, Rayad maintained a casual pace toward the northern outskirts of Troas, one of the largest cities this far south. It lay just north enough to avoid nighttime attacks by the monstrous cave drakes inhabiting the Krell Mountains on Arcacia’s southern shores.
Beyond the outer buildings, he spotted the forest, but first he had to pass through the open meadow scattered with tents and wagons. Heavy, barred wagons mostly—gladiator wagons—all gathered for the games. Many stood empty, but a few contained men with faces and eyes either void or glaring their cold hatred. Rayad diverted his gaze and focused on the road, but he ground his teeth. What was happening to this world? Oh, for the days long past when the inhabitants of Ilyon had served and worshipped their true Lord—millenniums ago, before the ryriks had led the revolt against their Creator and changed how everything was created to be.
The road meandered its way toward the trees, urging Rayad to ride faster. He glanced over his shoulder, just to be sure no one followed, and tried to shrug off the clinging claws of paranoia. A raised voice drifted through the air, and he whipped his head around.
worthless creatureteach you to defy me…do as you’re told…”
Rayad snorted and shot a glance at the stallion beside him. Probably another troublesome beast of burden. He rode past a tent and found the source of the shouting—a stout man dressed in flamboyant red linen and an ill-fitting leather doublet. The man raised a horsewhip, spitting out a string of curses, and brought it hissing down—not upon some hapless animal, but on another man kneeling in front of him with one arm chained to a stake. Rayad’s gut wrenched. It was the same young gladiator he’d seen in the arena. He pulled Aros to a halt.
The man beat the gladiator without mercy. Rayad cringed at every stinging impact, but the young man made no sound and barely flinched. Infuriated, the man with the whip took him by the hair and yanked his head up. Blood dripped from the gladiator’s chin.
“How many times do I have to tell you? You could be a sensation. You please the crowd, do you understand?”
To punctuate these words, he backhanded the gladiator across the chin. In a defiant move, the young man tried to rise, but he received a solid fist to the ribs and sank back to his knees, where the man with the whip proceeded to beat him again.
Rayad squeezed Aros’s reins, and the leather dug into his palm. Common sense told him to move on, that he could do nothing, yet every bone in his body willed him to act.
“Excuse me,” he called out before the man could strike again.
The man with the whip spun around, his face flushed nearly purple. Rayad slid off his horse and marched up to him. Another massive hulk of a man stood nearby next to a wagon with the faded and peeling red words Jasper’s Gladiators painted along the side.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Rayad demanded of the man with the whip.
His flaccid face knotted in an ugly scowl. “None of your business. He’s my slave.”
Rayad planted his fists on his hips and glared down at the man who stood a few inches shorter. “Slave or not, no man should be treated in such a manner.”
Jasper let out a cruel bark of laughter. “He’s no man.”
He reached for the gladiator’s hair again and yanked it up on the side. Rayad’s breath snagged halfway up his throat. The young slave’s ear came to a noticeable point.
Sneering, Jasper shoved the gladiator’s head away as if he were the most disgusting thing in Ilyon. “He’s half ryrik.”
The mixed blood slave looked up, and his sea-blue eyes almost glowed behind the strands of hair that fell in his face. His gaze locked with Rayad’s. Defiance and danger flashed in the cold, diamond-hard light, but deeper writhed the shadows of a tortured soul.

 
_________

Thank you, Jaye, for sharing with us today! It's exciting to learn of your work and your publishing adventures.

What do you think, imps? Ready to dive into some exciting fantasy? You can grab Resistance right away and, while waiting for book 2 to release, snatch up Jaye's other fantasy work written as Molly Evangeline. Lots of great reading to last you a while!

Jaye is generously offering an ebook giveaway for Resistance, so be certain to enter your name. And don't miss this opportunity to chat with Jaye about her writing, reading, jewelry-making . . . whatever you like! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 21, 2014

PRINCE OF MY DREAMS - An Animatic

Dear imps, have I ever got a treat for all of you! Just now Melanie J. Morgan sent me her completed animatic!

For those of you who don't know--an animatic is a storyboard of an animated sequence. It offers a visual demonstration of the layout, shots, dialogue, and pacing for a scene. It's not actually animated, but you get a great sense of what a final animation would look and feel like!

As you may recall, this beautiful piece of art was the secondary prize for the Goldstone Wood Music contest. Brittney Kenady's lovely song "Prince of Dreams" was selected for the honor, and the other winner, Camryn Lockhart, pitched in by providing a lively musical accompaniment.

This is a special work for many reasons . . . not least of which is the little sneak-peek glimpses Melanie has tucked into the animation. Watch those statues in the garden. Do you recognize them? There are characters in there from books that haven't even come out yet, including Draven (holding his candle aloft) from the upcoming Draven's Light. Also depicted are the hero and heroine of my current manuscript-in-progress, Untitled Book 8, and even two characters from the Super Secret Project (making a little crossover appearance). Can you name the rest of the statues around whom Princess Una dances and sings?

So, ladies, gentlemen, imps, and Faeriefolk . . . it is my great pleasure to introduce "Prince of Dreams."

video

I don't think I can possibly express how much I love this. I hope all of you have thoroughly enjoy it! Do take time to give Camryn, Brittney, and most especially Melanie a virtual round of applause. Melanie put in many, many hours of work to make this little gem happen.

I feel completely honored and blessed to see Princess Una's simple little story used to inspire other artists' creativity!

EDIT: If you can't get the video to work here, here's the link to the Youtube video!

A Post About Studying English Lit.

As many of you are aware already, I am opening up the floor to blog readers for them to ask me questions for which they would like to see me blog answers. Feel free to leave any questions of your own in the comments below, and I will add them to my list.

Do keep in mind that I do not presume to call myself an expert in any given field. I know a thing or two and have picked up another thing or three. So basically you're reading my opinions on these various topics, so take those opinions for what they are worth.

Now, on to today's post, which was inspired by this reader's request: "I would like to hear about how your journey as an author was influenced by becoming an English major."

 Like any good former English major, I know to begin a report with a thesis statement and go on from there to elaborate. So this is my thesis statement on this particular topic--My experience as an English Literature major had both everything and nothing to do with my journey as a novelist.

(Do note: I'm saying English Literature major, not just English major. There is a difference. I studied English Lit. specifically.)

I went into my English Literature degree with a slightly different mindset from that of my peers. In fact I do not know of a single other English Lit. student in any of the three colleges/universities I attended who shared it. Certainly not to the same level intensity. You see, I went into this degree with the mindset of becoming a novelist. This goal was my entire focus throughout my years of study; it influenced not only my approach to literature classes but also my approach to every other class I took.

As a novelist (and as a person!) I was relatively inexperienced when I set off to school. I had written a handful of manuscripts, which varied in their degrees of badness. I wasn't arrogant enough to think they were any better than they were. But I also knew what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to write. And I knew that a good writer is always taking in every experience, every educational opportunity . . . every moment. A good writer takes it all in, stores it all up, and lets it ruminate for years. Anything can become useful material down the road, even appallingly boring studies in macro-economics or algebra. That's not to say that everything will become useful; simply that everything can.

But the English literature major provides the most opportunity for literary growth. During hours of lectures and class reading and discussion, a student is thrown head-first into the great works which have survived throughout the ages. These are the authors who made it, not simply the popular authors of their day, no indeed! Many of them would have been considered complete washouts by their peers and publishers. But these are the authors who found something far deeper than popularity--they discovered universality. They discovered what it means to write lasting material that sticks in the minds of readers year after year after year. They discovered how to layer their work, how to open up and pour out their souls through the written word.

Much of their work is crude. Much of their work is deadly dull. Much of their work is obscure and difficult to ponder.

But it is all work that has lasted.

I wanted to learn about that lasting quality. I wanted to learn about universals and archetypes and what brings readers back for more, not just today but tomorrow, and next year, and next decade.

This is in no way to imply that I discovered the secret well of all literary insight. That I figured it all out, that I grasped the whole of the truth. This is in no way to imply that I think my work has (yet) achieved that same mark of timelessness.

My point is simply this: When I studied English literature, I studied the authors themselves. I learned what they did and much of how they did it. I learned that the truly lasting authors were those who were not afraid to be vulnerable. They put themselves into their work. Their narrative voices, their archetypal themes, their character depictions . . . ultimately, all of these things reflected the authors who wrote them.

I could not have become a novelist if I had not learned this truth. If I had not learned about authorial vulnerability. If I had not learned that having something to say in a work of fiction doesn't mean preaching a moral; having something to say in fiction means being real on the page.

My English literature studies were vital to my growth and development as a novelist. That being said, those same studies had absolutely nothing to do with me becoming a professional author. No degree can ever make that happen! That road took practice and study and hard work and networking. It continues to take practice and study and hard work and networking, not to mention a constant stream of production. There isn't a degree that covers all the work that I or any of the professional novelists of my acquaintance do.

But let me tell you, neither is there a degree that could have taught me more of what I truly needed to know. I would not trade those years of English literature study for crowns or kingdoms.