Saturday, November 13, 2010

Writing Talk about Dark Forces & Heroes

The thing about writing imaginative fiction, whether it be any sub- class of science fiction or fantasy, is to create and maintain some very strong and solid templates for world and characters.  Evil must be strong and frightening-something to make your soul churn-not your stomach.  At least not too much.  I have never been one for the gross out factor.  Tubs of  blood is something easy for humans to spill, because they do it all the time.  Do not get precious.  Our species is flawed and barely evolved out of the primordial pits.  You do not even need to read history to verify this, simply watch the news or read the newspaper.  We are very violent-which is why heroes (real heroes) are important.    The conundrum is to create strong heroes that do not go all wimpy or stupid-or turn as evil as the forces they battle.
A person can be brave or willing to sacrifice.  A group not so much.  That is why we cling to our heroes and the myth of what they represent.  Hope.  Hope for us.  Hope for the world.  Hope for the little guy or girl down the street.  It serves a purpose.  Which is why real stories are important.  The ancients understood this, and it is why they revered the storyteller and bard.  Being a scholar is still a very much a minority and an ignored one at that.
Heroes fight evil.  Sometimes the fight them in the form of dark mortals or immortals, mythical beasts, wicked queens or bloody dictators-the list is endless.  Darkness is easy to imagine.  It lurks in every dream and shadow.  A strong hero is very hard to build.    There are complications.  They need to have flaws of course, a weakness or blemish which they struggle with.  I also firmly believe they should not be stupid or weak.  Their moral high stance should not makes things worse.  It's a fine line to battle dark forces when the bad guy has no real moral scope, and the hero must maintain his ground.
I am not saying they do not get their hands dirty (or bloody)  in the fight.   Battle of some sort is always about be it magic or swords or words-or rocket launcher.  It's keeping them smart enough to bring down the bad guy (or bad girl) and stay heroes and putting the adversary away in its appropriate place.   You have to make them clever and smart.  Sometimes they start out innocent.  That is tougher.
When I was writing about Runa in Gate of Souls, she was from the start the main heroine (among some other cool heroes) and she also had the handicap of her innocence.  She had to become strong and fight and yet maintain her core of goodness.   She had to use her wits and resources to achieve her goals.  She never hated.  She was driven and did what she did out of love, not bitterness.   Her familiar, Mellypip, must follow this same path.
Darcus, on the other hand, is a seasoned warrior, yet must balance killing and fighting to defend the innocent.  He is the world weary warrior and his code is of the highest honor.  He does what he does out of love too-his devotion is without question, as his the strength of his blade.
The adversaries, Panthara and her familiar Azmadu, were abused children with dominating parental figures that drove them to the dark on purpose.  You can hate Panthara, but her complexity is there.   You know why and also that she must pay for her sins. 
The main evil of course was Koll and his familiar, Xabral.  They are the most dangerous type of dark force-they embrace the darkness.  They love it!  They worship it and have no flicker of regret for anything they do in its name-and her name is Obsydia.  Her evil is left for another blog after book 2, Tree of Bones, comes out.  I do not which to spoil anything for my readers. 
How does Runa fight the dark forces?  She has her devoted friends of course, but she faces the battle with the strength she has at hand-her wits and knowledge, training with magic and staff, courage, and love.  Her love of family and friends are her rock.  She may hate the evil and it may scare the crap out of her, but she faces it with these weapons and wins.  This does not always work in this mortal world.  That is not the point.  This is a world that we want to believe in.
Now I must go back to writing book 3, Fires of Rapiveshta.  A writers work is never done.  Which is fine with me. 
   

   

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Scary Halloween!

I love Halloween.  My favorite holiday, since its rituals involve dressing up in costumes, parties, horror movies, eating candy and caramel apples.  How could you not love Halloween?  The origins of course, are in the Celtic New Year Eve's, when the veils between our world and the Otherworld are thin, and spirits and magic abound beneath the moon.   It's all good to me.
My whole weekend has been a celebration of Halloween fun movies.  Army of Darkness with Bruce Campbell (We love you Bruce!), the Underworld movies, old classics like Dracula and The Mummy, and Snow White a Tale of Terror.  Snow White is my favorite fairy tale.  I prefer the darker versions, and Sigourney Weaver's wicked stepmother rocks.  I love fairy tales and want to explore them in more depth, not just the truncated versions they do for kid's book or film.  There are levels in these old tales which have only been scratched, and I want to delve deeper into the mystery.
I also watched my favorite episode of Beauty and the Beast, "Masks,"  I loved that show.  Sigh.  I may indulge and watch some Moonlight episodes too.  There are some current fantasy/horror shows out there, but sadly they do not get my attention.  They have no heart.  These shows are more concerned with glossy imagery and sexy clothes, are far too grim and dark to point of wishing they would just end it all, or just being gross or having inconsistent mythology.  I long for the days of Buffy and Angel, and though they had flaws too, they also had heart and layers to their  stories, plus a consistent mythology for the dark fantasy/horror elements.  I an thankful for the option of DVDs, since I can watch them when I want and enjoy the fun and horror.   Oh, I still need to watch Resident Evil movies!
I have been working of course, and will keep you alert to when 'Tree of Bones, A Familiar's Tale Book 2," will be released, now that the final edits are done.  Also I am forming new stories ideas and drafts of dark fantasy nature for other things, though I must keep them quiet until they are fully formed and accepted for publication.   I am loving Seattle.  Now I must return to fun film fest.  Talk to you soon.      
 

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Short Story in Mystic Signals in Print!!

Hello!  My new short story, "The Forest Paradox," is in the new Mystic Signals magazine issue #7.  It is a print issue, so below are the links for ordering the magazine.  If you would like to order copies – please use one of these links:

https://www.createspace.com/3474380
or
http://www.amazon.com/Mystic-Signals-Issue-Carol-Hightshoe/dp/1453743014/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281236860&sr=8-5

I am loving Seattle and writing.  Looking forward to Steamcon this year, where I will be on some panels and promoting my novels.  Have a great weekend.  Talk to you soon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Desperate Barabrians Are Back!

Hello all. I just wanted to let you know that I have a new short story posted for your fun reading on my website. It is called Desperate Barbarians, a semi-comic fantasy adventure about two barbarian sisters. It was first published by Aberrant Dreams webzine in November 2006. I hope you enjoy the fun and mayhem. My other short story, "Dragon Toast," can still be read on my my website. It was first published in print by a magazine called Fantasy World Geographic in June 2005. But it lives on through the wonder of my website. So, sit back and enjoy the tale. More will be coming. I also have a brand new story coming out through Mystic Signals this August called "The Forest Paradox." I will update you with more details later. Have a great week and think of fantastic things!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Monsters and Moving

Hello Familiar's Tale fans. I am finally resettled in new home in Seattle. I love it here and am trying to find way around. Moving is chaos-full of horrid little monsters. I prefer the fantasy monsters-not the real ones that take forever to deliver your stuff. But that is over now.

I have a new short story that will be in the August issue of Mystic Signals. It is called the Forest Paradox. Have fun reading and let me know what you think. I will get more details on post them on blog.

My poor editor Joe has promised that he will get me the last chapters of "Tree of Bones" to me soon. I cannot wait for second novel to be in print.

Well, more soon, but now I am off to write more stories. I just wanted everyone to know I was not eaten by trolls.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sorrow, Seattle, and Rainy Days

Hi Familiar's Tale Followers!
These last few days have been chaotic. Moving to Seattle, which makes me happy. Packing up house for move, insanely not happy. And what is it with the dust bunnies? Are they mutating and breeding at an accelerated rate? They are everywhere. Plus oddly, it has been rainy here in Concord, California. Usually it is dry as a bone after February and growing quite hot by May. It has been cool and rainy-which I love, but still strange. Perhaps another global warming sign where the earth is trying to get our attention, but alas, no one is listening.
Also, one of my favorite artists, Frank Frazetta, died, which is very sad. Too many of my favorites are passing on. Sigh. He will be missed. I often dreamed he might do a cover for one of my books when I am a famous writer. I admired his skill and imagination and depth.
Anyway, I am writing stories and brewing new ideas. When this move is done I must focus. My publisher, poor Joe, will be in limbo until we are settled and can unpack the computers. Then those last couple chapters for polish can come my way so we can get Tree of Bones to the printer. I know I keep promising, but have faith my friends, it will be released soon. Well, I must sign off for now, but when I write my blog again, I shall be in wonderful Seattle. Oops, where did I pack my umbrella?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chaos and Chocolate and Seattle!

Okay I know I have not been around my peeps, but things have been very busy. Things are hopping in Familiar's Tale land. Down to polishing of last couple chapters with my editor and also finished final edit on my short stories that are included in the new Aberrant Dreams anthology-2 of my tales are in this collection of short stories which will be released very soon. The two short stories in the anthology are "The Wizard's Apprentice" and "The Trouble with Witches." Am excited. My poor exhausted publisher, Joe Dickerson, will get me the last pages for Tree of Bones soon. The book has been completed forever, but anyone in the publishing field knows there are periods of patience needed. My publisher does the work of ten men and we fight the good fight to keep small publishing house afloat in world of powerful big publishers. I know I have said book is coming soon and it is-I promise. You will love the new book Tree of Bones-full of our favorite heroes and evil doers, plus new heroic characters and bad guys-some with fur, some without. My publisher Joe says his favorite new character is Grimm Darkrunner. Oh I want my book to be released so I can talk about more of them. But it is coming soon. I promise.
Now, the other reason for my chaos is I am moving to Seattle at the end of May. I cannot wait! My husband and I are very enthusiastic about this new adventure. Also, we will both be at the Steamcon convention in Seattle later this year. We have been invited and are very excited. We do not know which panels we will be on yet, but we are looking forward to it. My husband and I are also working on 2 new Steampunk stories which I cannot talk about yet. They will be in both novel and short story format and will have a great cats of characters we have designed and created for these two different stories.
In the meantime, please check out the new addition to my website-my older short stories that have been published will now appear in in my website for my fans and friends to read-about one each month. Each story has been previously published in a magazine or webzine, but all rights have been returned to me. This month it is one of my favorites, "Dragon Toast." Enjoy the tale and I will return soon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Short Story News!

Hello there! Am thrilled to announce that I have a new short story coming to print soon. I have not written a short story in a while, so this is a good thing. I forgot the thrill of acceptance you get when a short story is accepted. The tale is called, "The Forest Paradox" and will appear in the print July 2010 edition of Mystic Signals. It is a story about a witch besieged with many personal problems, including helping a village with a cursed forest, her former lover, a warrior with commitment issues, and a younger brother witch-it is a comedy with darker edges. I cannot wait to see it in print.
Speaking of short stories, I am planning on posting my older short stories that have been previously published to my website soon on a rotating basis. My wonderful web designer, Sally Hoss, will be helping with this. Am planning just one or two at a time. More on that later.
My publisher has promised we will soon polish up the last few chapters on Tree of Bones, book two of a Familiar's Tale, now that the print anthology for Aberrant Dreams is almost ready to go. I have two short stories in that anthology so I am very excited about that too.
So, for now I am busy with new another new short story and writing more chapters of Fires of Rapiveshta. Life is busy. But I can handle it-especially if I have access to drobba.
And coffee....lots of coffee.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Good Riddance

After reading horrific article in which an actor I formerly admired brags about killing wolves-his movies are not only banned from my DVD collections now -but I shattered the DVDs into many pieces. Not even worth taking to used DVD store for trade. I am appalled and disgusted. I always find it strange that so-called outdoors men take such pleasure in killing wild animals. I also find it disturbing. We should respect nature and its wonders.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Demon Code

Here's my rule about creating supernatural creatures in a story-make up your own rules. Just stick to them.
It would be very easy to research some mythological data and use these monsters, gods or demons in a usual way. Use just those same old boring perspectives. But how much fun is that? You must free your writing mind to all kinds of possibilities. Go beyond your perspective of religion, the supernatural or demons of your own upbringing. Research other cultures and histories. Study different ancient religions and philosophies. Read other novels of the types of fantasy or horror or science fiction that interest you.
You need to do this to stretch your mind.
I like making up my own dark gods and demons, good gods, monsters, spirits. After all, I am the creator of my fiction fantasy universe, so I do what I feel works best for me and my story arcs. Remember these things are also part of the flesh that makes up the culture and society of the characters. It's all important.
But when it comes to the demons and scary stuff-that is where I have the most fun. I decided to make my goblins a mortal demon race, ugly and wiry with buggy eyes. They have little intelligence, but are vicious fighters. Just the sort of thing the bad guys would hire for their armies. My trolls are stinky and stupid, but a terror of strength and power. My wicked Obsydia, whom you shall soon see as the reigning evil in the soon to be released Tree of Bones novel, is the most classical of my dark creations. She is an evil goddess who can also be seen in my short story, The Bloodstone Queen, still available to be read at Aberrant Dreams webzine. Obsydia is half mortal and half god. She is stunning in her beauty-hair of living shadow, silver-eyed, pale of skin and red lips. Very fairy tale, but deadly. She will serve, along with Koll the Sorcerer, as the chief adversaries in my Familiar's Tale series.
Poor Runa and Mellypip will have their work cut our for them.
I create a template and stick to it when I make up my evil gods and demons. It's my own personal demon code. I name them, flush out what they look like, give them strengths and weaknesses, full background and relations, all the stuff that gives stability in my fiction world. I have used the images and ideas from my study of mythology and legends, and then I adapt them to something new. It is a kernal that grown from my imagination and polished with words. There is a wealth of material out there to be scavenged-so there is no excuse. But there is responsibility-a writer must be consistent. Once that is established you can let your imagination go wild.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wicked, Bothered, and Blue

Hello all. I am in the trenches of writing Fires of Rapiveshta. The third "Familiar's Tale" novel will have return of our favorite characters, and the addition of a few new characters-both good and evil. The second is very close to coming to book form once my editor Joe and I fine tune the last few chapters before he sends it to print. I long to revel in telling you about some of those characters in Tree of Bones, the second book. But we must be patient. It is a process that involves more than writing and proofing for boo boos. There is much back and forth communication between my editor and myself, though his points are more about tiny bits of editing that slip by and very minor corrections. But even he noted many times my wicked characters are the most fun and need the least the editing. The only exception to that is a new strong but good character added to the series in book 2 named Grimm Darkrunner, which I cannot wait for you to read. He is currently my editors new favorite character. But I must not say more for now. :)
It is strange that despite my objective of writing fantasy where good triumphs and even kicks ass, I always have more fun with my "wicked" characters and they are the easiest for me to write as well.
I hope that does not reflect something bad about my "character." I also hate it when the good guys are too passive. Heroes should never be wimps. What's your opinion?
Still, starting a novel is the toughest thing, even though the whole book is in your head- like mine often are. Whole chapters of my story flood through my mind complete with dialogue, technicolor with cool special effects and a stimulating soundtrack. But it is those first words, that portion in the genesis of the novel that will hopefully bind the reader to continue, is hardest for me to formulate to my satisfaction. I am never happy with it, no matter what. It can get depressing-and as a writer depression is always ever looming.
Still, I feel that once I can get through the first chapter, it gets easier, and past chapter three I am on a roll. Then I go into hyper drive for several chapters. I never start any book without knowing exactly how it will end, and once I know what the last dialogue or scene is in my head, it all flows like a river. With Familiar's Tale, I know how the entire series of four books will play out and the fate of almost all my characters. I find that a few are in flux, not fixed in the storyline's fates, but there is usually a reason for that. It will open to me when it is ready.
Back to work. It is raining outside and I have my third cup of coffee. Time to write.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Doctor Who-Farewell David Tennant

Alas a sad day, for I watched the final David Tennant Doctor Who episode tonight. I have been a great fan of Dr. Who since I stumbled across it on PBS long ago (The Tom Baker era) and have thoroughly enjoyed this new incarnation of Who, begun by the wonderful Christopher Eccelston in first season, then carried by the remarkable and energetic David Tennant (who needs to diet with Who-all that running from monsters and you get all the cardio in the galaxy following him around). The incredible writing and wonderful enthusiasm of David Tennant's Dr. Who has kept me enthralled and joyous, terrified and tearful. The show was a bit darker, but just enough to give it texture. Tennant's Who is a rare gem, not only in the Doctor Who universe, but should be a template for all science fiction and fantasy on television. Farewell David-I shall miss you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Hail New Year 2010 and fresh shiny new beginnings. I feel very perky, but then I did not drink last night. Despite my wild Irish/Scottish DNA -I did not drink on New Year's Eve. Alas, when I gave up smoking four years ago drinking has never been the same. I did salute the new year in with a champagne glass brimming with Perrier. My naughty indulgences were in form of chocolate yummies. But I am on diet as part of new resolutions, and am learning to make my treats low fat style.
But on to more productive endeavors-I hope my editor Joe views this-Happy New Year and please send more chapters for me to polish for Tree of Bones novel.
I am antsy to get my second book in Familiar's Tale series out to my eager readers. We are so very close to completion before it goes to print. I am brimming with revisions to perfect my novel too. It is very much like evolution, it never ceases, no matter how often you type "the end" at the bottom of the page. It can always be improved and tightened.
Am slaving away on book 3, Fires of Rapiveshta. It has dragons and I love dragons. I am hoping my interpretation is original too. I have added new characters, both good and evil.
I feel positive about this new year. Another reason I avoided drinking is that my mind was buzzing.
I planned and plotted instead, like an super villain after a fateful lab accident. But fear not, for my plans are benevolent. Well, most of them are. :)
Being a writer is very strange, you get sloth-like or lazy, or you are manic and chained to the computer typing at light speed. I'm working out some new stories away from Familiar's Tale. Not sure if it will be in novel or short story form. I am feeling very primal. I feel stoked by old style fantasy of pure imagination. I see images of barbarians with sharp swords on dusty plains, sultry witches walking in shadows, and monsters crunching bones in dank caves.
Well, cheers to all.