Category Archives: Guest Posts

Guest Post: How Far Do You Stretch It? by Raymond Bolton

Fantasy Ship

Raymond Bolton is an up and coming Fantasy Writer who has been gracious enough to grant No Wasted Ink an interview about his new book Awakenings. I’ve asked Raymond to return and give us his thoughts on writing in the fantasy genre.

One of the more important tasks of writing fantasy is that of world building, in other words, helping the reader see those elements of the story’s setting that have heretofore existed only in the author’s imagination. Dropping the reader into this world, if properly executed, becomes an immersion process and the reader soon finds himself at home in an unfamiliar universe. When the author fails at this—and there are many ways to fall short—she leaves the reader hovering outside the story, viewing everything as a spectator rather than as a participant.

Recently, I was talking to two individuals who were considering a maiden fantasy project. They were debating about how bizarre they should make their world. They wanted to create fantastic creatures doing unsettling things and speaking in an unearthly manner to the point nothing would remain recognizable. I disagreed with their intended approach.

Clearly, the point of fantasy is to remove the reader from his every day world and transport him to a place he’s never been. Whether the intent of the author is merely to provide an adventure into places unknown, or to provoke questions about the “reality” the reader confronts daily via contrast with this super normal world, the story’s other-worldly setting provides a dreamscape on which to hang the content. And while dreams are part of our everyday existence—the flip side of our waking life—I cautioned against crafting a world so far removed from what the reader is accustomed unless they possessed the story telling mastery of, say, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

They complained that I was suggesting they stifle the creative process and one of them cited an obscure work where he felt this had been done successfully. In turn, I argued it was probably one of the reasons the work he cited was obscure and suggested they consider how masters of the genre deal with this issue.
Anne McCafferey’s Dragonriders of Pern is a story of knights errant, familiar in most regards except for the fact that her knights ride dragons instead of horses. While J. R. R. Tolkien’s Gollum is far from human, the creature is the embodiment of all human failings and the world he inhabits, while very alien to the one we in which we abide, is nonetheless a land where men go to war and gather in inns to escape the night’s perils. When Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan emerge from the wardrobe into C. S. Lewis’s Narnia, they do step into a land dominated by animals and monsters, but the conflicts are nonetheless familiar. Even when Lewis Carol drops Alice through a rabbit hole into a world so surreal it is best depicted visually in a Disney cartoon, the royalty and other institutions he parodied are at once recognizable.

The question then becomes, for whom do you write? If it is only yourself or perhaps a few others, then discard convention to your heart’s content. If, on the other hand, you want to entice as many as possible into the world you create, then you will have to draw a balance between the unworldly and the familiar.
I am of the opinion that depicting the surreal is best handled by placing it in a recognizable context. The contrast thus created amplifies the difference. Paint the sky green and hang two suns in it, if you will—I do—but rather than labor to point out the incredible, handling the unbelievable as if it were to be expected is subtler and won’t alienate the audience. In fact, if the writer’s primary purpose is to entertain, he should endeavor to make the read as effortless as possible. Many readers balk when they have to work too hard to understand what the author has created.

The masters achieve their goal by relating the other-worldly as an everyday experience. Let the protagonist, rather than the reader, protest any departure from reality, as Richard Mayhew does, in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, when he demands to have his life back, or as Alice does when she argues with the Mad Hatter. After all, the fantastic is less the point of the tale than the context in which the underlying story is set.

Author Raymond BoltonRaymond’s goal is to craft gripping stories about the human condition, whether they are set here or another world. He has written award-winning poetry and four novels. Two are explorations in fantasy: Awakening, an epic, released in January, 2014, and Thought Gazer, an adventure and first volume of a prequel trilogy, which will be released on January 1, 2015. Under its working title, Renunciation, Awakening was one of eight finalists among 950 entries from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Europe and Australia in the Pacific Northwest Writers Associations Literary Contest. Hailed on BookViral.com as “a grand debut… [that] breathes originality into the genre”, Awakening has received almost all five star reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.

Awakening 4x6-seal-Amazon ThoughtGazer 4x6

Guest Post: Leslie Ann Moore

Leslie Ann Moore recently was interviewed here on No Wasted Ink, featuring her latest novel A Tangle of Fates. Her experience with gaining a new cover for her novel is an interesting tale and she offered to share it with us all on the blog. Welcome Leslie! It is good to have you back.

Author Leslie Ann MooreMost authors, unless they are self-published, have no say in the design of what is arguably the single most important factor in drawing the notice of a browsing, potential reader to a book.

A well-designed cover piques a potential reader’s interest and can entice him/her to pick up the book or click on the image in order to read the blurb or a sample chapter. A poorly designed cover will do just the opposite.

Even if an author is allowed by the publisher to have some input into the cover-creation process, many times the finished product bears little to no resemblance to what the author had envisioned. The cover is what it is. The author’s approval is of little consequence. If she hates it, she has no choice but to grit her teeth, accept it and hope the marketing people responsible for the design know what they’re doing.

The original cover for A Tangle of Fates, the first book in my new science fantasy series, did not turn out as I’d hoped, despite my having some say in the creative process. The story takes the Snow White fairytale and turns it on its head. What if Snow White was fated to be a revolutionary, instead of a pawn? I wanted a cover that depicted a young woman of action. At the same time, the image had to convey that this story takes place on an alien planet, no matter that the heroine wears 19th century Old West-style mens clothing and is brandishing a six-shooter.

With respect to the artist, he did capture my heroine’s face beautifully, exactly as I imagined. However, I felt the image was static, where I’d envisioned a more dynamic scene, one in which my heroine was depicted in motion. An illustration of a scene from the book, either faithfully or symbolically rendered, was more what I’d had in mind.

Deciding I had nothing to lose, I approached my publisher, Muse Harbor, and made a proposal. I offered to commission an alternate cover, paid for out of my own pocket. Fortunately, they were receptive to the idea. I found my own artist and art directed the cover until it was exactly as I wanted. The image now conveys motion, danger, and the alien-ness of the planet on which the story is set.

A Tangle of Fates Book CoverMuse Harbor accepted the new cover, for which I’m both grateful and relieved. They paid attention to the overwhelmingly positive response to the new image when

I posted it on FB and wisely conceded. I can’t thank them enough.

My experience is not common at all. I was only able to pull this off because of an especially friendly relationship with the owners/editors of Muse Harbor. However, I hope my success will encourage other authors at small presses to at least speak up if they have a strong negative reaction to a cover for their novel. Who knows? It might result in a new, better cover!

Guest Post: The Jewelry Project Part 2

Jeweler's Bench - Indigoskye Bead Fashions

I received a beautiful leather A5 Burde Binder that I am turning into a project binder. I will be writing a five part series about how I am turning this binder into a design journal for my artisan jeweley business. In this second edition, I explain what a design journal is and why they are useful to artisans like myself. Please, stop by This Bug’s Life and read part 2 of my post series.

Guest Post: The Jewelry Project Part 1

Burde A5 Binder - Exterior

I received a beautiful leather A5 Burde Binder that I am turning into a project binder for my artisan jeweler’s business. I will be writing a five part series about how I am turning this binder into a design journal for my artisan jeweler business. This first week, I show off the binder and explain a little about my jewelry business. I hope you’ll stop by This Bug’s Life and follow along my mini adventure.

Writing Space: Tesa W Colvin

Seeing how other authors work and organize their writing spaces often gives me new ideas on how to improve my own work environment. This is why I enjoy hosting guest posts on the subject. Poet and writer Tesa M Colvin has graciously consented to tell No Wasted Ink about how she creates in her home writing space.

Tesa Colvin - Writing SpaceMy love for writing began as a fondness for poetry. This soon led me to writing short stories and later on to fiction novels. While I still write poetry whenever the mood strikes, I absolutely love the novel writing process. The joy of weaving a world of words into an entire story is amazing. Ironically, when I began my first novel, Dark Princess, it was one of the most delightfully stressful and challenging writing processes that I had ever experienced. And because it was far more intricate than writing poetry, I learned a lot about myself, my techniques, strengths and weaknesses. But above all of the actual “in-writing” skills that I gained, the most valuable lesson was on the benefit and importance of “pre-writing” by outlining or story mapping.

Armed with info on “how” to write, I knew I needed to determine when to write. I knew I needed to get in the habit of making time to write as opposed to hoping for a minute to do so. And since I had adopted tasks and skills that improved my pre-writing practices, it was much easier to schedule time for my actual writing. So now frenzied pre-writing note taking can happen at any time, but my actual time to focus on significant or consistent writing is set for Tuesday & Thursday evenings (after tending to the rug rats and puppy) and early Saturday morning (before they are awake). This also allows me to read during specific days and times, because any good writer is a reader.

When it’s time to write, I hide away in my own little world…a magical place that gives life to words. And it doesn’t hurt that the doors to my office have very durable locks, making it the best place for me to write in my busy home. Knowing that this space is just for me allows me to be an “impassioned author”, without interruption.

Tesa M Colvin - Writing ToolsAnd when it came to furnishing my little haven, I decided on a comfy high back chair, since I would be spending a lot of time in it (not to mention that it made me feel like I was in control). I also needed a computer desk for my desktop PC as well as an actual desk. This combination would provide a little nook for me to work in and afford lots of space for organizing my notes and conducting other tasks.

Every time I go into my office to write it’s like a writers retreat. I can escape into a world that I am creating or just enjoy a little peace and quiet. And though I have noted several items that are needed in my writing process, I would be far less productive without my pre-writing notebooks AND my pink fuzzy writing socks! They are as important to me as Superman’s cape. I often stash my notebooks in different places (purse, car, truck, work etc.), just in case I am overcome by a need to record something before I forget. Then when I get to my office I can revisit those notes and get back on track or take my writing in an entirely new direction. And the socks, well, (Did I mention that they’re pink and fuzzy?) they are warm and comfortable and my own personal rendition of a “thinking cap”.

Tesa M Colvin - Author and PoetTesa W. Colvin (TWC) was born a southern girl, raised in Michigan and now calls the south home again. She is the President of VisionWise Creative Consulting, author of multiple collections of poetry and inspirational works for writers as well as the upcoming fiction novel “Dark Princess”. Noted by many as a passionate author and blogger of all things writing, despite wearing several hats TWC has completely embraced her gift and is more focused than ever on perfecting her craft and publishing her work.

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