Sunday, August 31, 2014

My 500 Words -- Week 2

Nothing like a holiday weekend to throw you out of your groove. Uggh! I started the week off strong but tapered off to a big fat zero on Saturday. On the positive side, I made good progress on a couple stories and wrote some blog posts. I took Friday off work and spent the morning with the family touring replicas of the Pinta and Nina docked in Muskegon. Those ships aren't very big. It was research for future writing projects. I'm not making that up. No sense in crying over Saturday's lack of production. Time to remount and get back on the trail. See you next time. How was your week?

This post is part of the My 500 Words Challenge. The idea is to develop a sustainable habit by writing 500 words every day. Want to join in or learn more? Visit the My 500 Words community.

8/21Maidens of the Dance551
8/22Maidens of the Dance275
8/22Book Review: The Word Changers396
8/23Maidens of the Dance500
8/24Maidens of the Dance500
8/26Maidens of the Dance100
8/27Give Me Your Teeth228
8/28Give Me Your Teeth58
8/29Give Me Your Teeth321
Total for the Challenge4041

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Word of the Week: Headrail

Detail of the Virgin Mary
(wearing a headrail) 966
If you're familiar with sailing, snooker (billiards), or window blinds, you've probably heard the term headrail. On a sailing vessel, it's the railing extending from behind the bow to behind the figurehead. In billiards, it denotes the end of the table from which play begins. For window blinds, it's the case at the top that covers all the mechanical stuff that operates the blinds. But I'm thinking of something quite different.

The headrail I'm talking about is a garment worn by Anglo-Saxon women. No, they didn't walk about balancing a rail on top of their heads, although that's the first image that came to my mind. A headrail is a piece of cloth that women draped losely over their head and sometimes the shoulders to cover their hair. A ribbon or circlet about the head might hold it in place. Headrails became common after the introduction of Christianity when all women, except for young girls and some slaves, wore a head covering. Headrails are the ancestor of the wimple, a more elaborate garment that might be starched, creased, and folded to create a specific shape. Some wimples require the support of wire or wicker framing.

So why the strange name? Head makes sense, but rail? The problem lies in the translation of the Old English word to modern English. The Old English word for headrail is hēafodhrægl, a combination of hēafod, meaning head, with hrægl, meaning garment. The modern English word head derives from hēafod, but hrægl fell out of usage. The rail—a horizontal bar—with which modern English speakers are familiar derives from the Old French reille, meaning a bolt or bar. Such are the hazards of mashing various languages together.

Monday, August 25, 2014

CSFF Blog Tour: Merlin's Nightmare

Merlin's NightmareMerlin's Nightmare is the third installment in Robert Treskillard's Merlin Spiral series. (Click here to read my commentary on the other books in the series.) I've enjoyed these novels, as much for the story as for the atmosphere and setting. I'm no expert on Britain between the Romans and the Anglo-Saxons, but Treskillard appears to have done some homework and he provides enough physical details to give us a sense of a strange and different place without overwhelming us. Merlin is Tas and not father to his children. They use Roman coins. They live in roundhouses called crennigs.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My 500 Words -- Week 1

As readers of this blog likely know (I've been whining about it enough), I've been having trouble with consistent productivity for a few months. I can't seem to churn out new words on a consistent basis, and that means I'm not finishing anything. That makes me depressed and the negative feedback loop gorges itself. Inspired by Dean Wesley Smith's Writing in Public and Lyn Perry's 21 Day Sprint, I decided to give "writing in public" a shot to see if having everyone watching me can kick start my creativity. Yes, I'm getting desperate. But how to go about it? And then came Jeff Goins' webinar on building a successful writing habit. It showed up in my email box just when I needed it. Kind of freaky when I think about it in retrospect.

Goins has some great commonsense ideas and he's also set up the My 500 Words community. The idea is to set aside some time every day for 31 days to write at least 500 words a day. Write fiction, blog posts, whatever, just write a significant amount every day. The idea is that after a month, you'll develop a habit that's sustainable.

I started on Thursday. So far, so good. Every week I'll post my progress. Hopefully, I'll have something to cheer about.

8/21Maidens of the Dance551
8/22Maidens of the Dance275
8/22Book Review: The Word Changers396
8/23Maidens of the Dance500
Total for the Week1941

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ashlee Willis Takes Us Inside The Word Changers

The Word ChangersToday I welcome Ashlee Willis, author of The Word Changers, a fascinating fantasy about falling into a book. The Word Changers is currently on sale for 99 cents. Ashlee is also running a giveaway with some super cool prizes. Check it out here to enter.

Chapman: Do you have a new perspective on characters and the role they play in the creative process after writing The Word Changers?

Willis: Yes, I definitely do. The theme of the book was one that was intriguing to me at first, but when I actually began to write it, so many aspects of things came to the surface that I hadn’t consciously thought about before. It was both enlightening and humbling.

The most "powerful" characters in your story are birds: Falak, the owl, and the Author, who appears as a giant swan. Why birds?

Haha. Hmm ... to tell you the truth, I didn’t choose a bird theme purposefully. I had already decided on the owls from the beginning, just because I like owls so much (though, yes, they don’t end up being the pleasantest of characters!). The Author took me some time to decide on, and while he shows up in a few different forms in the book, the swan was his main form. To me, swans have always had such grace and power and myster ... all things I wanted the Author to portray.

Kyran and Posy undergo three trials in the Glooming. What's the purpose of the tests?

Mainly they were meant to represent the path to truth. It’s hard to get at truth without realizing you have to see beyond the surface, as the first test showed them. Seeing the truth within yourself (part of the second test) is also crucial to seeing the truth around you. And the last test, of course, was learning to understand what truly matters, and get beyond the shallow trappings that can slowly eat away at what you should know to be true, but can so easily forget.

Did any of your favorite fantasy books or series inspire The Word Changers?

Oh, I’m sure many of them have, very subconsciously! More consciously, though, the Chronicles of Narnia have been an inspiration not only to my writing, but to my life, ever since I was a young child. The way Lewis wrote stories that gave such enjoyment, yet with a theme that went so incredibly far beyond entertainment ... well, I knew I had to do that myself one day.... Or at least give it a try. :)

Some of the characters in The Word Changers have evil intentions. Others, such as the King, seem to be led toward evil. Did the Author write evil into the hearts of some characters or did the evil come from somewhere else?

Great question! It basically came down to choices. As many authors do, the Author in The Word Changers gave his characters choices, watched to see what they would do within the story he gave them. Some of them chose wrongly, and did evil things. And while the Author wanted them to stay on the right track to the story he had written, and save them from bad choices, he refused to choose for them and thus rob them of the treasure of finding (and fighting for) their own true story. Some of them found that story. Other chose evil. That’s the cost of free will, I guess, in both stories and real life.

The villain Falak is still at large at the end of The Word Changers. Is a sequel in the works?

No, I’m not actively planning one. And I’m even trying to keep myself from thinking of it at all, because once I begin doing that I’m afraid of where it would lead! I’ve got so many other stories I want to tell right now—I just don’t have time for a sequel. Even so, I’m not saying there will never be one. Even if it was just for my sake alone, I think I may someday like to re-explore the world of The Word Changers.

Ashlee Willis is the author of The Word Changers, a Christian fantasy for young adults. She lives with her family in the heart of Missouri. While most of her days are balanced between writing, reading and homeschooling, she also loves gardening, forest walks, piano playing, and catching frogs with her young son.

Twitter: @BookishAshlee
Amazon (book):

Friday, August 15, 2014

Celebrate The Small Things - 15 August #CTST

It's Friday and time to Celebrate The Small Things (or big things) that happened this week.

I'm celebrating a productive week of greenfield writing. I've been in a funk for a couple of months, not able to get in a rhythm of producing new content on a regular basis. I've been editing but to finish something you need a steady stream of new words. I'm hoping it continues.

I received some great news from Amazon yesterday. Amazon has opened up preorders to anyone using KDP. Preorders used to be restricted to a select group of publishers. Preorders are great because they give your book a boost on release day. Click here to check out the details.

Keep writing and keep hoping. What are you celebrating this week?

Want to join in the fun that is Celebrate The Small Things, sign up here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Faith in Fantasy: Guest Post from Tyrean Martinson

Today I'm excited to welcome fellow fantasy voyager Tyrean Martinson to the blog. Tyrean is the author of Champion in the Darkness and Champion in Flight, the first two installments in The Champion Trilogy.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
—Hebrews 11:1

When Jeff Chapman kindly asked if I would write a guest post for his blog, I was thrilled and a little nervous. Guest posts are tricky business. I might randomly generate a post at my own blog, but for someone else’s blog? No way. I have to look professional, together, and “cool.” Um, I’m not sure I can pull that off, but here goes.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Here, There, and Everywhere

Well, everywhere is probably an overstatement, but I am appearing on two different blogs today.

First, I have a guest post on crime and horror writer Sara Jayne Townsend's blog. I'm talking about visualizing your plot, using one of my WIPs as an example. Click here.

Second, fantasy author Ashlee Willis is interviewing me on her blog. Click here for the interview. Ashlee's recent novel The Word Changers is on sale for a limited time and she's also running a giveaway with some cool prizes, so check that out too.

Keep a look out for my interviews with Sara and Ashlee coming soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Post #5

It's the first Wednesday of the month again. Time for another IWSG post.

I saw a presentation a few days ago on how authors can get the most out of Goodreads. One of the suggestions is to get involved in Goodreads groups. The idea is that you'll become known among readers who share an interest in your genre. You should be a member first, ie don't barge into the room with a megaphone announcing your book. Sound advice, but who has the time to get involved in more groups? I barely have time to write. I used to think I'm pretty good at time management, but lately, I'm wondering if my management skills are poor or if I just need more time to manage.

How about you? Any one had success with Goodreads groups?

Until next month, keep writing.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Celebrate The Small Things - 1 August #CTST

It's Friday and time to Celebrate The Small Things (or big things) that happened this week.

I'm celebrating no longer being sick. (cough, cough) My family has suffered through a nasty cold or colds that lasted up to two weeks, leaving us drained of energy, mere wisps of our healthy selves. For some of us, the nasty microbes morphed into new illnesses: bronchitis and sinus infections. Thankfully that's all over now and I can get back to writing on some sort of regular schedule.

As I was celebrating my returning health this week, I learned the very sad news that Lawrence Santoro, a writer of dark fiction and the voice of the Tales to Terrify podcast, had died. His voice was comforting and terrifying, reminiscent of Vincent Price. Santoro not only hosted the show but also did some of the readings. I don't know how many times I've listened to Santoro's performance of H. P. Lovecraft's “The Colour out of Space.” Check it out if you've never experienced Santoro's verbal magic. I can't imagine the show without him.

Keep writing and keep hoping. What are you celebrating this week?

Want to join in the fun that is Celebrate The Small Things, sign up here.