Baptism by Fire is Published in Shadows Express Magazine

I am delighted to announce that my short story memoir entitled Baptism by Fire is included in the Winter 2012 issue of Shadows Express Magazine. This is a small press literary magazine that promotes the writers from writing.com. The magazine is free to read online or to download and is published via ISSUE.

Baptism by Fire is a recounting of the first time that I directed a multi-camera live television program and what it was like to be an intern at a local cable company. This is a new revised version of the story and it is around 5000 words in length.

Author Interview: Christopher and Heather Dunbar

As an artisan jeweler, I often attend Renaissance Fairs and Highland Games to sell my wares. When I met Chris and Heather Dunbar via an online Writer’s Cabal, I was delighted to find two kindred souls that enjoy these venues much as I do. They’re genre is historical fantasy and their participation on the RenFaire circuit certainly helps them get into the spirit. I am delighted to feature them both here on No Wasted Ink.

Authors Heather and Chris DunbarI am Christopher Dunbar, and along with my wife Heather Poinsett Dunbar, I write the historical fantasy novels and other works of the Morrigan’s Brood Series. I also dabble in leatherwork and the playing of ancient musical instruments, such as the didgeridoo and the Djembe (from Ghana); lately, I have even taken up street performing during lunch outside of the building where I work in Downtown Houston.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing creatively, outside of school, after I met my wife-to-be. I wrote with her on a few projects, but she really drew me in when she needed help with her first book manuscript. I helped her revamp the plot, spice up the characters, and provide a masculine perspective for the men in the story. The funny thing is that the writing started before we got married, and we still write together. She really helped bring out lots of creativity in me that I did not know existed. Just look at my bio blurb…

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I don’t consider myself a writer. Rather, I am a storyteller. Some the stories I tell are expressed through the written word… or sometimes with the spoken or the sung word, sometimes with music (although this is my weakest medium thus far, but I work at it), and of course sometimes through the Celtic knotwork in my leatherwork. Heather, however, I consider to be a writer. I think I first considered myself a storyteller when I could first string together elaborate fibs, that were obviously made up lies, to my parents, but they apparently found them entertaining.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The most current release from our series is Dark Alliance: Morrigan’s Brood Book III, although it is really the fourth book, counting the novella between books 2 and 3. Book 3 takes place in 801 CE, the year after Pope Leo III crowns Karl der Große Imperator Romanorum. Heather and I felt that the era of Charlemagne would be an excellent backdrop for our historical fantasy series… in fact, novels 3 through 8 take place during Charlemagne’s lifetime and even include him and Pope Leo III as characters. An eruption of heinous murders all across the empire cause ripples in the delicate balance between emperor and pope, bringing each closer to their doom, but only through the intervention of beneficent races of blood-drinkers will they have any hope of saving themselves.

What inspired you to write this book?

Heather and I felt that history glosses over Charlemagne the man… What kind of man was he? What kind of leader was he? What drove him to conquer? Who did he love? We wanted to delve into him and into his world. He is such a dynamic person that six of our novels will occur during his reign.

Do you have a specific writing style?

From a construction perspective, Heather and I have developed a style that creates one voice, rather than two. We both work together on the first pass of the manuscript, without editing, until we get to the end of the story, and then we rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. From a content perspective, our stories are journeys that enable the reader to explore other times and places as well as characters we hope people find dynamic… not just one- or two-dimensional. We also strive for a level of historical plausibility, if not accuracy.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I think Heather came up with this one… In the story, two lines of blood-drinkers that were at war with one another in the previous two books find themselves with a common enemy. With that in mind, and considering that our blood-drinkers cannot come out at night, “Dark Alliance” seemed like a good title, especially considering the various meanings of ‘dark’, given the right context.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I am sure the novel contains several messages, both hidden and obvious… some intentional and some accidental. The fun is finding them, so I do not wish to cheat our readers out of their fun.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The premise of the series is that these ancient lines of blood-drinkers have formed secret societies that are the powers behind kings, emperors, and popes, but that these lines are also in conflict with one another… so to are their mortal pawns. One has to wonder, given our current (and previous) political strife whether blood-drinkers are the puppet masters behind the scenes today… one wonders.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I wouldn’t say that authors have influenced my life… perhaps my writing style or storytelling, but not my life. Some of my influences for storytelling include skits at the various powwows when I was in Indian Guides and reading about old Irish legends and tales. Influential authors include Jack London, Edgar Allen Poe, and H.G. Wells. I liked Wells. because he was far ahead of his time and could imagine worlds few others could fathom. Poe, I feel, can horrify with sweet words. I like London because he invented himself… he deliberately lived a tough life and wrote about it, I thought he wrote great adventure stories.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?

R.A. Salvatore. I met him at a book signing recently. He said to me that he started writing fantasy because he had read everything ‘fantasy’ out there and he wanted more. I told him I wrote historical fantasy because I don’t see a lot of good works from our ancient history out there. Some of our readers have compared our writing to his… I just smile. I have read most of his Forgotten Realms books, which I started reading in college, and I even got him to sign his first… my first of his. I think he would be a cool author to consider as a mentor.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Khanada Taylor is the brilliant artist behind the cover art for all of our books thus far and to come. She has a keen ability to gleam the physical realities of form, color, and texture from the written word and depict them in a manner that conveys meanings both shallow and deep. Just a few observations off the top of my head from book three’s cover… a man, Mandubratius, is sitting casually in Charlemagne’s throne, dangling the Emperor’s crown on his toe, hefting the Emperor’s sword in his left hand, and with his right he dangles marionettes of Charlemagne and Pope Leo III… oh, and there is a mysterious black cat. In the background is the triskel of Morrigan’s Brood, which I helped draw. The cover contains lots of symbolism, if you know where to look. Khanada is also an activist for many good causes, as well as a dear friend.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Work… hone your craft… learn, practice, do… and keep doing it. If you need something else to do for a bit, do something creative.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for delving into the universe Heather and I have created, and we hope you enjoy your visit.

MBDA-Front-CoverHeather Poinsett Dunbar and Christopher Dunbar
Houston, Texas

She, the librarian-author, who once sauntered through the picturesque Epping Forest, danced around the awe-inspiring standing stones of Avebury, and traipsed through the misty moors and vales of Scotland, not knowing that her experiences in those mystical places would spark creative passions within. He, the often kilt-clad disaster prognosticator, leather smith, author, and pseudo-musician who never thought he possessed a creative bone within him, yet one woman encouraged his creativity to flourish. Together, they write.

Dark Alliance: Morrigan’s Brood Book III (paperback: 978-1-937341-20-6, Kindle: 978-1-937341-21-3, Nook: 978-1-937341-22-0)
Triscelle Publishing

Khanada Taylor: Cover Artist

Free ePub of Morrigan’s Brood Book I on Goodreads

AMAZON for Dark Alliance: Morrigan’s Brood Book III

BARNES & NOBLE for Dark Alliance: Morrigan’s Brood Book III

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksAs we enter into this holiday season, I am still finding many interesting links about the writing process, marketing yourself as an author, and a nice tutorial on using dictation to write. Enjoy!


British English Vs American English

Getting a Traditional Book Deal After Self-Publishing

24 Writing Hashtags And A Mini Book Review

7 British English Writing Resources

Getting Started With Dictation

Cover Copy Primer

The Business Rusch: Writing Like It’s 2009

Scrivener: An Introduction to Novel Writing

Trusting Your Creative Self

7 Reasons To Write For Publications In Other Countries

Writing Space: Purple Closet Reborn

Purple Theme Closet Office

Designer Brian Patrick Flynn of Decor Demon offers this idea for a home office stashed away in a closet. When you are done writing, just pull the curtains and all your writing clutter is out of sight and out of mind. Not all of us have space for a full office, so this is a great idea to utilize a small space for your writing.

Book Review: A Christmas Carol

Book Name: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
First Published: 1843

Charles Dickens was thought of as the “literary colossus” of the Victorian age. He was an English writer and social critic who penned some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters and stories. During his lifetime his work enjoyed great popularity and fame and today his genius is recognized by critics and scholars everywhere.

Dickens began life by being forced to leave school to work in a factory pasting labels on pots of boot blacking for six shillings a week after his father was thrown into debtors’ prison. Soon after, his mother and younger siblings followed his father into the prison and young Charles was sent to live with an old woman that he later immortalized in one of his novels. Eventually, an inheritance was gained by his family and his father was able to be released from prison. The family all moved in with their friend Elizabeth Roylance and slowly regained a more normal life for themselves. However, his mother insisted that Charles continue to work in the factory. The boy was livid and it is thought that his views that men must be the master of their family and women keep their place in the household sphere was originated by this event. Dickens did gain a formal education of sorts, but most of his learning came by his own initiative.

As Dickens grew to adulthood, he found work as a clerk at the law office of Ellis and Blackmore. He taught himself shorthand in his spare time and soon after left the attorneys to become a freelance journalist. One of his relatives was also a reporter at Doctors’ Commons and offered to share his box so that Dickens could report on the legal proceedings there. Dickens remained for a period of four years. This hard knocks education was later incorporated into his novels such as Nicholas Nickleby, Dombey and Son and Bleak House, where the vivid portrayal of the bureaucracy of the English legal system did much to enlighten the general public of his time.

Dickens worked as a political reporter for many years until he landed the editors position at Bentley’s Miscellany where he wrote a serial known as the Pickwick Papers. During his time as editor, he also wrote his first novel, Oliver Twist, as a serial. He also wrote and oversaw four plays during this time period. Gradually, his success as a novelist began to grow and when he left Bentley’s Miscellany, he earned his income via his novels, all written in serial format for various publications and later converted into novel form, lectures and other philanthropic endeavors.

He met and married Catherine Hogarth and they had ten children together. Dickens edited a weekly journal for twenty years, wrote fifteen novels, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles. He lectured and campaigned for children’s rights, their education and other social reforms. He died at the age of 58 of a stroke and is buried in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abby in London, England.

Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, is considered one of the most influential stories ever written. It remains as popular in present day as it did in Victorian times. The well known classic tale has a simple plot about how a man becomes mean spirited over time due to age and lack of human interaction. He is Ebenezer Scrooge, who has lost the joy of living and cares only for earning the cold hard dollar. Enter three ghosts, one of the past, one of the present, and one of the future. Ebenezer travels through time and space, to alternate realities and revisits key points in his life. In the end, the man that views Christmas as “bah humbug” is redeemed via positive choices in his life.

Charles Dickens weaves a tale that was unique to his time. During the rise of industrialization in England, the old traditions of agricultural society were on the wane. A Christmas Carol helped to rescue the holiday and set a guideline to the modern world of what the spirit of this holiday should mean. There are wonderful contrasts built into the story of hot/cold, company/loneliness, wealth/poverty, or heaven/hell, and throughout the novel are detailed descriptions of Christmas and what it means to those that celebrate it. Since he was writing during Victorian times when the concepts of Christianity were well known and understood by the general population, he did not spend much time in explaining quotations from the bible or talk about how Jesus was a part of Christmas. English Victorians would have understood these concepts without being reminded and so he allows religion to become more of a backdrop of his tale. I sometimes wonder if this is what makes this tale more powerful to us today in this more secular time when Christian ideas are not as prevalent in our public society.

The ghostly visitors that change Ebenezer’s life forever are not particularly Christian in nature. They simply offer him information that allows him to understand what he has done and what the consequences of those choices are. The ghost of Christmas past is youthful and spring like. Christmas Present is a happy spirit that simply wishes to spread joy. Christmas Yet To Be is a somber spirit, perhaps hinting at the bitter end that awaits Ebenezer if he does not see the error of his ways. One of the main Christian tenants is that a sinner may be redeemed if he honestly repents. The ghosts allow Ebenezer to make that choice for himself.

Like many people of my generation, I saw the movie first and then later live plays of this classic work before I read the actual novel. Through the various media, this tale has woven into our culture and has defined what we consider the spirit of Christmas to be. I understand that many people like to read this novel either to themselves or share it out loud with their families during the holiday season. I believe that it is a tradition that I will join in the future.

A Christmas Carol Book CoverThis classic novel is one of the very first that was transcribed from the bound paper version into ebook form. A Christmas Carol is available for free download at Project Gutenberg. The original illustrations by John Leech are included in the download.

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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