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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Friday Focus

Fury saw a ghostly man dressed as a pirate captain enter the cave, using the same entrance they had. Four others – who appeared to be his crew – followed him. Each of the ghosts carried a small chest on their shoulders and they ignored Fury and Eion as they passed by.

Oops – wrong type of pirates.

Ebook pirates are undermining authors ability to earn money which then enables them to continue writing books for avid readers to read.

Have you ever been given a copy of an ebook by a friend and thought, well it's free because it's on the net? Not so! Ebooks have the same copyright restrictions as printed books. How would you feel if you had worked hard producing for instance a painting or a quilt and someone copied the painting and gave it away as a poster, or gave away the quilt pattern? You'd probably feel upset. Well contrary to belief Ebook authors are not rolling in money and their hard earned work is protected by copyright. So Beware! If you buy an Ebook, or you win an Ebook in a competition, check the publishers blurb and you'll see you only have the right to read. You do NOT have the right to copy the book and pass it on.
Regarding copyright infringement the FBI says the following:
"FBI Anti-Piracy Warning: Unauthorized Copying Is Punishable Under Federal Law."

So help the authors and don't accept free copies from these pirates. If you do the authors won't make the small amount of money they get from each sale which in turn means they may give up writing all together. Then where will you find books to read?

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Friday Focus

This week's Friday Focus has Marva Dasef answering questions on her writing. Marva writes fantasy books and other young adult books. I'm afraid I can't put all of her many book covers up but I've put up the ones I've read. Here we go.

 Do you ever sit down with your baby (book) months after it's published, read it for pleasure and think, "I could have done that better"? What was it and what would you have done? OR... did you read it and think "Oh, this is great!" What was it you loved?
 I wouldn’t have published unless I thought the book was great. That said, there’s always room for improvement. I just don’t dwell on that. “What’s done cannot be undone.”—Lady McBeth
What I have done is rearrange and combine other stuff to create a new book, which I put out under a different title. For example, “Tales of Abu Nuwas – Setara’s Genie” started as a few short stories about a girl named Cadida. It occurred to me that these fantastical Arabian-set stories would work as a continuous story as narrated by an old story teller, Abu Nuwas.
This is a frame story similar to the “1001 Arabian Nights” concept. Scheherazade tells stories to her new (murderous) husband, stopping at a crucial point in the story to buy herself another day of life.
I did the same thing, with the framing subplot being Abu Nuwas telling a young woman about Setara’s adventures with her fantastic gang of magical beings. While telling the stories, he’s also asking the young woman a few questions. When he discovers she’s committed to marriage to man she doesn’t love in order to save her mother’s life, Abu works the arranged marriage idea into one of Setara’s tales. He also knows a doctor who could treat the woman’s mother, thus freeing her from the marriage.
That’s what I did better. I reworked a set of short stories into a continuous novel-length book using a centuries’ old framing technique.
Are you a full-out plotter? Are you a "let's see what happens" pantser? Or do you think you fall somewhere in between? Describe your process in coming up with and executing a story idea.
I’m a plotter. I have a complete outline of the book chapter by chapter. Then I proceed to writing and change the outline, add new chapters, take out ones that don’t work, shuffle everything around, tweak the ending, add some characters, remove some characters. Yup, everything is completed plotted before I start to write, at which point my pants take over.
How old were you when you finished your first novel? Is that novel published today?
Carry the 2, take away 6, add the number of ells are in a mile... Let’s just say I was finished with my mundane career before I wrote any novels. Matter of fact, I only have a couple of books long enough to be considered short novels. I started my fiction writing with short stories. As my bio brags, I’ve published over 40 short stories and written a bunch more.
It’s not too weird to not have the 70K plus novels. Most of my books are for a middle-grade audience, so tend to be shorter.
Do you work any reality from your own life into your novels? If so, do you change it to make it more or less dramatic? How and why?
Yes indeed. In some situations, you only have your own experience to make it realistic. I’ve written about drowning in cold water. Yup, did that, but survived. Most of what I write about animals are from my own experience. One of my cats has a minor, yet important role as a witch’s familiar. I used the real cat’s name and character for the fictional one. Cornelius the Siamese with a wicked sense of humor. Of all the characters you've created, who is your favorite and why? Yes, we know you aren't supposed to have favorite children, but it's okay to have a favorite character. Be sure to tell us what book they are in.
Without a doubt, I love Kat, my inept teenage witch from the Witches of Galdorheim series. I definitely wrote from real experience (not the ability to do magic part) on her frustrations, joys, loves, and sense of observing others. She’s a better person than I am because I can write her character and remove my less desirable features.
She’s no goody-two-shoes and can certainly have a temper, but when it comes down to it, she always finds sympathy for even the worst character she’s facing unless that meanie is threatening her family and friends. That includes her all of her animal friends. Since her special power as a witch is the ability to communicate with animals, she’s an enforced vegetarian (not vegan). You can’t eat somebody with whom you just had a nice conversation.

How do you choose the names of your characters?
Quite a few of my characters had name changes while a work was in progress, and a lot of them in my middle-eastern fantasy stories. I had made up silly, meaningless names for most of the characters. They weren’t bad names, but just didn’t resonate. I completely revamped the two books giving all the characters names suitable to their culture and situation. So, Cadida (made that up) became Setara – meaning star; Bascoda (made that up) the Djinn became Basit – meaning one who enlarges; Gravella and Poltrice the demons became Azizah and Petros. Every character was renamed to a more meaningful name.
As for my big series (Galdorheim), Kat changed her name a couple of times. Katya, Katrina, maybe another. Anyway, at a writers’ workshop, an “agent” read a couple of pages of the first chapter and said something like, “The main character has a dull name while her brother is named Rune. That doesn’t make sense.” My answer was only in my mind as I said, “Thank you.” In my head, I was saying, “Look, you stupid twat, of course her name is mundane. Didn’t you even get that she’s a klutzy witch with bullying problems at school and part of that is her heritage?” And so on. The point I made with the mundane name is that she was different from the other witches. Duh. I wouldn’t have wanted that agent even if she was interested. Anyway, I changed the Kat’s name again, then went back to Katrina, and mostly referred to as Kat. I might have selected something different, but the name Katrina fit. People can read the series to figure out why Rune has a cool name, but his sister does not.
How does it make you feel when people who have read your books talk to you about them? Are you self-conscious, or does it inspire you?
I’m essentially an introvert, so self-conscious doesn’t even begin to describe it. Besides, people never want to talk about my books unless they’re also involved in the creation process, such as my fabulous Alpha and Beta readers, volunteer nit-pickers, and enthusiastic idea suggesters. The ones who ask me about my books are mystified as to what the heck I’m writing about. A witch with an Orca friend, a smart-aleck, half-vampire brother, a frozen between life and death Sami father, an aunt in love with the Troll King, an old sorceress who’s not really a sorceress, but has secrets. Yeah, that’s just the first book. And don’t forget the cultural reference Easter eggs for the adult readers, and puns flying all over the place. Good times.
Did you ever write a novel with a message to the readers, or at least, a message you hope your readers garnered from it? What was the book, and what was the message. Why did you want to express it?
Every book I write has a message underlying the story. Sometimes people pick up on it, sometimes not. I hope to write an entertaining story in either case.
An Example:
“Eagle Quest” is pretty obviously about bullying and being the odd kid out in school. The book is about a half-Native American boy who wants to delve into his roots. He decides to go on a spirit quest to gain insight. He’s joined by three unlikely school friends who go along expecting to just be back up without actually interfering in the quest. That gets shunted aside when the kids discover eagle poachers. The setting is Bear Valley Wildlife Preserve in southern Oregon. It just happens to be an eagle breeding area, so finding an eagle isn’t hard to do.
Has being a writer affected how you read other books?
Absolutely. I’ve been beat over the head about the proper way of doing things like story arcs, consistent tense, keeping your character names straight! When I read a book by someone famous or not so famous, I’m editing along the way, writing notes and spelling corrections. If the flaws in the book are too numerous, sometimes I just can’t go on. Hey, Writer! I work hard at this stuff. You have no excuse not to do the same.
Did you write stories or make up stories as a child? Do you remember what any of them were about? Tell us...
Made up stories, but I didn’t write them down. Are you kidding? My parents would have put me in a mental ward. I had an on-going story where I was Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. She had all sorts of adventures, all in my head, of course.

Marva is offering a free book of her Galdhoreim series to go with this article. For Friday 5th and Saturday 6th only. Get it now before it's too late!


Marva was born in Eugene, Oregon and after a few years wandering, has return to her hometown. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Technical Communications. She spent the next umpteen years working as a technical writer and programmer/analyst. In 2005, she gave up all that glamour for the solitary life of a fiction writer.
She has published more than forty stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with several included in Best of anthologies. She has several already published print and ebooks, and has produced seven audio books.
See descriptions of her published work at

Books in Ebook, Print, and Audio

Tales of a Texas Boy  :  Missing, Assumed Dead

The Witches of Galdorheim Series

Spellslinger :Bad Spelling
Midnight Oil : Scotch Broom
Blood Ties Tested

Books in Ebook and Print

Eagle Quest

First Duty : Ultimate Duty
Mixed Bag : Mixed Bag II: Supersized
Tales of Abu Nuwas 1 - Setara’s Genie

Tales of Abu Nuwas 2 - Faizah’s Destiny


Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday Focus

I'm sorry this week's Friday Focus is late but it's mainly due to the festive season. As many writers are taking this opportunity to work on short story entries I thought I'd give a few tips for making sure you get things right before you send the story off.

This article is not going to tell you what to write – that's up to you. I hope to point out some of the pitfalls for you to avoid. First and foremost, make sure the type of story you wish to write is acceptable for the competition. For instance if the request is for romance stories, you are not going to get anywhere if you enter a murder mystery story.

So you've written your story, what next? Don't stop at the first draft. A short story is in many ways harder than writing a novel. This is mainly due to putting life into the number of words for the story. It's best to write the story, read it through to change any errors that jump out at you, then put it away for several days. When you take another look after a break you will be surprised how different the story looks and no doubt will decide to alter certain aspects.

Make sure your story flows and the continuity is correct. This means if your hero starts with green eyes, he should have green eyes throughout the story. If he's a grumpy person, then there must be a real reason for him to suddenly turn into a happy person.

The most important thing when entering a competition is to adhere to the rules. Read the rules carefully before writing your story, then read them again as the last thing you do before sending in your entry. If it restricts the words to 2000 then 2010 could automatically have you disqualified (and in many cases you could lose your entry fee). Exact spacing, specific font and many other rules are not there for your interpretation. They are there to make sure your entry and all others are equal so the quality of your story is what makes it a winner, not the presentation.

When the organisers request a SSAE (Stamped Self Addressed Envelope) of a specific size, make sure you send that size, not one that you think will do. Entering as a digital file means it is especially important to use the software as per the rules (this is usually MS Word). Sending your entry off in your favourite software might mean the judges are unable to open your document. One other thing, don't forget to send in your entry fee – or transfer the funds to the competition's account. You'd be surprised how many contestants overlook this important part of entering.

So to finish off the most important thing is to – READ AND FOLLOW THE RULES.  Good Luck!