DebisZoo

Fantasy worlds. Magical inhabitants. Timeless battles between Good and Evil.

The Computer Formerly Known as Sami

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I had a nice laptop, it was silver, with nice silver and gray keys, and that should have been my first warning. It was slick, with lots of bells and whistles (yes, the second warning), and it hated me. That should always be a signal. We as writers develop relationships with our computers and get to know them fairly well. They have good days and bad days, but if it’s a nice, well-working system. most of those days are good. Not so my late, departed lappie. Yes, she was a 2-year-old lappie, a sweet little–well, never mind.

The Warnings. The first one I mentioned was the keypad, gray on silver. Within a week, I couldn’t read those backlit little–um, keys, to save me. So I bought a nice, pink keyboard skin and that helped until the keys started sticking. I swear I could pound on them before they’d magically advance–8 keys at a time. The second issue–it was simply too much computer for me. I didn’t need all that memory and speed, there wasn’t even a game on it that I used. I wrote on it. That’s it. So when it started kicking me off the Internet, or completely off the thing, I didn’t know where to turn. I took it to a popular store with a popular “Squad” and they mulled it over a while, and finally told me something to the effect that there was a conflict with the network manager. So each time I started the computer, I would right mouse click the main button down there in the lower left corner, go to Device Manager, down to Network Connections, and delete a whole bunch of drivers, then restart the system so it could find my WiFi. You can’t make this stuff up. That’s how I knew it hated me.  So, sadly, I began looking for another system.  I found a basic one that Google assures me is good for writers. I sent my old faithful to my brother for him to happily take apart and revamp. I don’t care what he does with it, as long as he doesn’t sleep in the same room with it.

As I write this, I am having to resave everything at least three times. Nothing works. But earlier today, we decided that our current Internet company was to blame for a lot of our problems and next week we’re changing companies, after over 15 years with the current one. I don’t know what they changed, but it was a BAD decision.

So, if not for the sticky keys, the fact that I couldn’t see the keyboard, and that it kicked me off for no reason, I guess I could have kept the other one and saved myself $350. Or maybe it was cursed. The gods know I cursed at it enough for it to get an attitude.

 

Writing – It’s More than a Pursuit

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​Fantasy writers are unique in that they take a flat piece of paper, build a world on it, then populate that world all the way down to the size of the points on an elf’s ears. Swear words, pets, fashion, politics, and what’s for dinner–we create it all. It’s a true work of love! 

My favorite task in starting a new book or series is the naming of characters. That involves a series of steps (for me, anyway). First of all, I must decide where my world will be based, e.g., language, customs, mythology, etc. Usually I use the Celtic world, followed by Germanic or Japanese. The latter surprises some people, but I lived in Japan twice in my life, for several years. In my “Ring-Witch of Nesht” series, the codes the dragons live by are based on bushido, the codes of morals developed by the samurai. I tweaked the Eight Virtues of the Samurai until they were dragon-centric, and became the Eight Virtues of the Great White Dragon. Such fun! They are like a religion to the dragons, and the dominant dragon, Gaulte, has realized that his Clan might not be able to live by those rules and live with witches, as well. How will the others of his Clan handle that?

Once I’ve placed my characters into a suitable culture I get to start developing them, including what they look like, their strengths and weaknesses, are they rich, do they fight, do magic, or something else, and so on. And then their names. I’ve been accused of trying to make them hard to say, impossible to remember, and just plain weird. A character’s name may change several times before I find a fit. I say them aloud, talk to them, give them a voice…in short, they’re now a person. More fun! 

Now each major character is ready to climb into my head and take over. Seriously, sometimes it’s difficult to make them behave. So, we start working on the story. And that’s a story for another day!

Editing and Killing off Characters. . .

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“Summerbird’s Quest” is undergoing edit now (by me–eek!), and what an undertaking it is! I admit it’s difficult to take a knife blade to one’s own work, but every time I find something to fix, I seem to come up with another thing to fix that I think will make it better. And…you guessed it, I return still later and put it back the way it was! Has anyone come up with suggestions for developing a way to pretend that what you’re reading isn’t yours? How do you untangle yourself from your own characters and plots?

I know Faulkner is credited with saying, “In writing, you must kill your darlings,” but these guys are hitting back! I admit I’ve never brought anyone back to life (or unexpectedly killed them) after deciding their fate, but some of these characters are making me pull out my hair!

Ooh—I just told a fib! In “Dragon Rings” I went back and killed off someone after making them a minor character and had to make some major revisions for a couple of chapters to address her loss. She was a kid. It was kinda sad. Well, back to the editing grindstone.

If anyone out there wants to help—you get your name in the acknowledgments and a free e-book. And you get to make suggestions!

Summerbird Rises – Book 1 of An Act of Entreaty by Debi Ennis Binder

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“Summerbird Rises” by Debi Ennis Binder

“Summerbird Rises” begins the tale of Summerbird Asii, an inept young seer, who has spent her young life hiding her fractured magic. In a land where laws strictly prohibit magic, she has a flair for dull, common-sense and useless futures—unless her client is going to die very soon. Unless she wants is to be jailed or even executed, she is forced to let destiny continue on. When a tiny griffin appears in Summerbird’s home, needing a favor, things will never be the same for her. His request is simple—rescue several highborn Fey—the inhabitants of mystical Emythor—whose magic has been compromised. How? Perhaps by an evil mage who really doesn’t want her to interfere with his plans. Has Summerbird a choice? You don’t…but first, do you want to learn your magic? Follow the young seer as she learns who–and what–she really is, and why her Grandfather left her in a non-magical world with a well-used green-crystal ball, and the words, “This is your legacy. Forget anything you see in it.”

$2.99

Dragon Rings – Book 1 of The Ring-Witches of Nesht by Debi Ennis Binder

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Dragon Rings – Book 1 of the Ring-Witches of Nesht

Something dark and terrible is attacking the peaceable lands of Nesht, bringing death and ruin in the night and then vanishing back into the cold mists of the surrounding mountains. Two powerful Ring-Witches, Mayra and Wolfe, join uneasy forces to investigate the ongoing—and very puzzling—destruction. How can something be formidable and vile enough to incinerate entire villages and tracts of forests, slaughter people and animals, yet leave behind massive amounts of valuable gold and jewels, and do so unseen? What do these savage invaders want? As their investigation continues, the two young warriors begin feeling, and then hearing something, seeking them out. The presence refuses to identify itself. But it is large and powerful, and capable of bringing scorching, mind-rending pain to the two Witches, and then despairingly apologizing for it. When Mayra finds a huge, bloodstained talon, she finally knows what is trying to connect with them…a Dragon. Once upon a time, Dragons were treasured allies of the Witches. But now, they are monsters, bringing death and ruin to everything they touch. Mayra and Wolfe must discover what has changed the beasts, once considered noble and altruistic. They will have to face down unknown enemies and betrayal from within to save a great black Dragon and his Clan from an ancient evil and savage enchantment. How can they stop a war the humans cannot possibly win, knowing that no matter what the outcome, the Ring-Witches have no hope of resurrecting their alliance with the mighty beasts that were once their companions. Mayra, Wolfe, and their small, fierce assembly of Witches travel far and hard to learn that there are some things worth more than a life, and causes that even Dragons will willingly die for.

$3.99

Christmas Shopping

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I’m done shopping! So happy, however, my fingers are so tired from all that Christmas shopping! Yes, I am an impersonal, lazy, online shopper. In the last few years, I have found it quite difficult to handle the crowds in stores. I get all shaky and nervous, then all sweaty and nasty. I finally have to cut it short and get out. Nothing leisurely or happy there.  Once in a while, I’ll try to sneak back into Walmart or Toys-R-Us…but this past holiday season, and the one last year, was beyond description. I won’t ever so into a large store at this time of year again.

So I discovered Amazon (among others), and everyone is happy again! Ok, some people might find that impersonal or lazy, but I spend just as much time shopping online, actually more, than the average frenzied shopper. I do more comparison shopping. I am a happier person and enjoy the holidays so much more.

Before I go, I want to let you know why I wrote this. I am a fairly honest person, and I do miss the smell of the cold and the old nip on the nose when out and about, but I don’t miss the awful crowds of loud people, no where to park, fighting over the last newest high-tech robot-killer, the endless lines at the checkouts. I miss hearing children laughing and seeing new toys, but not the ones screaming abuse at their parents and each other. I guess my point is Christmas was starting to be one long, horrible shopping trip in hell. By going online, in my jammies, with my coffee and cats, I search and pick and hunt. I think of the expressions on the faces of my loved ones when they open their weird gift, or their funny one, or the one they’ve wanted for many years. It was such a joy to finally find it.

My laptop is my new Santa.

Fantasy – Never Call it Dull

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In a recent post from Doctor MC, an author whom I follow, he says, “Lastly, fantasy means a simplified story. To explain what I mean by this, I have to tell you what a “story” is.” And he goes on to define the term story. If you follow me or my blog, you know that my books are primarily of the fantasy genre. Therefore, I felt compelled to write back to the good doctor, and gently correct some of his misconceptions.

You can find his article here: https://doctormcmadscientist.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/on-writing-fiction-and-writing-fantasy/

Here is my response.

Dear, dear Doctor,

I thought you were going to give us your thoughts about writing fiction and fantasy, but I see only your opinions on defining the two genres.

In the dry sense of defining fantasy it can mean a classification of fiction, indeed, but most who read the once-defined “swords and sorcery” kind of fantasy have a much grander of definition, where they know they will see a variety of creatures—non-familiar and not, doing magical things, fighting bad guys, triumphant good guys, all in a world that might be similar to ours, but might also be as different as orange skies and seas, blue people, and dragons soaring across the skies.

But in the sense of writing fantasy, you must first start with world-building. Your fantasy world must be developed and be a place where people can live, work, have families, and do what people do everywhere-exist. You must then create jobs, governments, laws, communities, houses, in fact, everything you would use to describe a city, town, or village anywhere in the world.

Once you have decided where and how your people will live, you must define them. Their appearance, kinds of people, their wants and dreams, what they aspire to and how they plan to get there.

In other words, fantasy must include a place where the reader can find themselves, and live the adventures alongside the characters. Because there must be adventures, that aren’t limited to our world’s rules and confines.

I don’t see a fantasy as a simplified story by any means. If anything, they are more complicated than your average work of fiction, because most of those writers are working with a civilization that already exists. They have only to decide where they will place their characters and plunk ‘em down. Half the work is already done.

You define a story quite well, but you certainly can’t be serious when you imply that fantasy doesn’t meet your definition of a story. How can you say it has no crisis, that it “goes nowhere,” that it is mundane, tedious, or relies solely on some central element that plods along (sex and violence, especially) dragging the poor reader with it.

If the writer’s story consists only of the elements you list, then no matter what the genre, it will not be an interesting story. It won’t take the reader anywhere; that reader will not get the opportunity to take a wonderful journey to a place that exists on pages and in their mind. How boring! I did note that you said ‘simplified story,’ but your sad elements could apply to any poorly written book.

I, too, would read my own books, and love the world-building and characters. Our versions of fantasies, as defined and written, are very different. But the world of books would be boring if they were the same, wouldn’t it?

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