Choosing Weapons for Your Fantasy/Sci-Fi Character

Whether you write fantasy or science fiction, it’s not uncommon for weapons to make an appearance in your story. Choosing the type of weapon your character uses can be an important defining characteristic both for your character and for the world that the story is set in. Today we’re going to talk about different weapons you might find in fantasy/sci-fi worlds and things to consider when giving them to your character. 

Just as a note, some regional weapons will be divided up between fantasy and sci-fi based on how often they are used as stereotypes across these genres.

Fantasy Weapons: Many fantasy stories end up revolving around Medieval Europe/ Middle-Eastern weapons. Depending on your world, the weapons might be modified based on the race holding them (dwarves, elves, humans, halflings, etc), or if magic is involved. 

  • Medieval Europe Weapons 
    • Swords (short sword, longsword, bastard sword, claymore) 
    • Rapier 
    • Dagger
    • Crossbow
    • Bows
    • Pullarms (spears, pikes, halberd) 
    • Javelins 
    • Bolas
    • Sling 
    • Scythe
    • Scimitar 
    • Tulwar 
    • Dirk
    • Maces
    • Axes
    • Morningstars 
    • Staff

Science Fiction Weapons: Sci-fi weapons are often based on a mix of technology, integrating different cultures, and creating things from scratch. Writers can get really creative with these, (especially if they’re able to turn a medieval-like weapon into a gun, ie. RWBY). 

 

  • Blasters
  • Lazers
  • Phasers
  • Sonic Screwdrivers
  • Focused Radiation Beams
  • Lasso 
  • Katana 
  • Bokkan
  • Lightsabers 
  • Particle Beams
  • Gun

Resource: Coolest Science Fiction Weapons, Ranked

Characters and Weapons: When you create your character and decide they should use a weapon, there are a few things that you should ask yourself and remember. 

 

  • Why does your character carry a weapon? Is the weapon a reminder of a family member or friend? Is your character a warrior? Was it the only weapon they knew how to wield? Are they fighting a war or living in a dangerous place? Make sure you give a reason behind why your character has the weapon in the first place.
  • How did your character learn to use the weapon? Too often characters have weapons but there’s no explanation on how they learned how to use them…or they somehow master them unrealistically (*cough*LukeSkywalker*cough*). Schooling? Personal lesson? A prodigy? It’s more believable if the reader knows just how the character was trained. I think Game of Thrones does a pretty good job of this when it shows Arya learning how to master her sword Needle thanks to her “dancing” teacher. 
  • Does your character use the weapons to kill? There’s a big difference between using a weapon to defend oneself and using it to kill another person. Why would your character kill someone with it? Why wouldn’t they? Do they follow a code that causes them to act a certain way with the weapon? This brings to mind the character Morgan from The Walking Dead/ Fear The Walking Dead. After going through a bought of insanity, Morgan ends up meeting a man who teaches him how to use a staff to fight, but not to kill. Morgan starts to follow the ideology that he shouldn’t take a life because otherwise he’ll lose a part of himself. The staff becomes that constant reminder. 
  • Consistency: First of all, don’t forget that your character has the weapon. If she’s wearing a dagger or a blaster in chapter 3, she better be wearing it in chapter 8. Second, make sure the weapon itself stays consistent. Don’t have her using a dagger one moment that seems to be as long as a broadsword in the next. Or if she’s shooting a gun, make sure you know how many rounds she can actually fire and the damage it can do. Third, if the weapon is special in any way (size, color, weight, appearance), it needs to stay that way through the whole story. 
  • Know your facts: Once you choose a weapon for the character, make sure you know as much about it as possible. For example, you likely won’t have a short character wielding a claymore that can be up to 55 inches. If using a gun, know how many bullets it has, or its target range. The same goes for a blaster, phaser, etc. Sword lengths vary depending on the blade. If you’re trying to stick to a particular era, don’t have a gun show up in a medieval setting. 
  • Knighthood/Status: Does your character wear a weapon to signify knighthood or perhaps a higher social status? Is your character part of an army where they all use the same kinds of weapons? 
  • Magic: Is the weapon magical in someway? Can it burst into flames if a spell is cast on it? Can it hurt certain beings over others? Does magic fuel it to make it work? 

 

It’s easy enough to say your character picks up a sword and fights with it, but knowing the history behind that character and the weapon is vital. Some characters become very attached to their weapons and even name them (Jon Snow’s Longclaw, Ruby’s Crescent Rose, Bilbo’s Sting). Do your character, and their weapon, justice by making the weapon part of the story instead of just a meaningless item the character lugs around.

Imagine Other Worlds with Authors (I.O.W.A.) Signing

For the past three years, the incredible Dana Beatty and Terri M LeBlanc hosted an epic author signing event called Imagine Other Worlds with Authors (I.O.W.A). It moved from place to place, hosted tons of authors, and had a lot of success. In 2018, they asked if The Writers’ Rooms would like to take it on as part of the organization. We jumped at the opportunity, and after months of hard work, we’re excited to finally host the event on September 7th from 10am-4:30pm and 8th from 1:30pm-4:30pm at the Cedar Rapids Public Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

I.O.W.A is a multi-genre, multi-author two-day book signing event. This year features over 20 authors who are eager to share their books with you. You can meet the authors through literary panels, readings, signings, author speed dating, and special giveaways! Don’t forget to stop by the welcome table for a swag bag. The first 50 people on Saturday will receive a bag with a free book inside!

We have an incredible list of authors who delve into the worlds of fantasy, science fiction, romance, fiction, women’s literature, humor, memoir, children’s books, YA/NA, etc.:

Featured Authors of IOWA

We also provide a bunch of fun prizes that you can win both courtesy of The Writers’ Rooms and the CR Public Library. Who wouldn’t want a bag that makes your book look big?

The two-day event is divided up into several different activities that both patrons and authors can get excited about.

  • Author Signing: Come meet local Iowa authors to learn more about their books and pick up tantalizing tales for sale. Be sure to stop by every author table to have your Passport signed. Once you get as many signatures as possible, drop it off at the Welcome Table downstairs to the chance to get a prize.
  • The Writers’ Rooms Writing Prompts and Social: Stop in the Conference Room to learn more about The Writers’ Rooms, one of the hosts of I.O.W.A. Write with us using prompts provided by the Rooms and also get to know your fellow writers. 
  • Panels: Authors will sit on a panel to share knowledge of a chosen topic. Come listen and ask questions to learn more about the writing/publishing industry. Some topics included are, “Indie Author Publishing,” “The Writer Parent,” “So You Wanna Be a Writer 101” and more! 
  • Author Readings: Join the authors of I.O.W.A. as they read from their sections of their novels. Now’s the time to ask questions and get to know more about the author! 
  • Speed Dating: Authors will be seated at separate tables in Greyhound Cafe and interested readers will have a chance to talk with them in three-minute intervals. The author will begin with a short pitch of their book releases and answer questions the reader may have. When the bell rings, the readers change seats. A Saturday event only! 

One thing we tried to do is make sure that none of the events (ie. panels, readings, speed dating) overlapped with each other. I know how hard it can be to want to attend multiple author readings but have to choose between them.

Want to get a first look at when the different events are happening? Stop over at the facebook event to get the latest news and let us know you’re coming, check out the I.O.W.A. website page, or visit the Cedar Rapids Public Library calendar.

Today we were featured in The Little Village Magazine (thank you to Rob Cline for his kind words). We were also interviewed by the Press Citizen, which is so exciting!

The Writers’ Rooms is a community-driven organization, and we couldn’t exist without you. I.O.W.A. is a way for us to thank the many writers and authors who have helped us over the years and to give back to the creative community. This is a free, family-friendly, event, so be sure to bring your little ones along. We can’t wait to see you! #IOWAWrites19

To learn more about I.O.W.A., visit:

The Writers’ Rooms: I.O.W.A.

I.O.W.A. Facebook Group

Twitter

Instagram

 

Finding Writing Contests

Whether you’re a poet, short story writer, a novelist, etc, I’m sure most of you have submitted your work to a writing contest at some point in your life. Contests can come in many shapes and forms. They might be for large anthologies to help you get your name out there. Some may pay royalties to their authors. Others have big cash prizes. And some pay nothing, but at least you get the bragging rights. The things I hear most writers say is that they don’t know where to submit their work or where to start looking, or how to prepare their piece.

First off, here are few of the common places I visit to find writing contests/opportunities:

  • Submittable: This is a submission engine as well as a place where sites compile contests that are available. More and more sites are using submittable as a way for authors to send in their work. Once you enter your information once, it’s usually there for you to use again. What’s great is you can track what pieces you’ve sent in, where they are in the process, and which pieces have been accepted or rejected. There’s a messaging system too so you can contact the contest site if you have questions. Once you sign up and indicate your genre interests, it you can also look up available contests through the system.
  • Poets & WritersThis site is great because not only does it provide helpful writing tips, it also frequently updates contests or submission opportunities. You can filter it depending on entry fee, genre, deadline, etc. So if you’re only interested in poetry, you can just select the poetry category. Or if you don’t want to pay for an entry, you can filter out all of the contests that cost money.
  • Writer’s DigestWriter’s Digest hosts a lot of writing contests each year. They also list other contests/events that are going around, so keep checking in for the newest and greatest stuff. Like Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest provides helpful literary tips as you’re prepping to submit your material.
  • Jerry JenkinsJerry Jenkins lists contests that are going on throughout the year and it gets updated every year. What I like the most about it is that it’ll provide a link directly to the contest so you don’t have to go looking for it.
  • The Write LifeI like this website a lot. They provide 31 free writing contests that have cash prizes. So if you’re looking to make some money for your writing, this may be the route to go.

These are just a few sites to get you started. If you’re looking for a particular genre, you might have to dig a little deeper into the internet to find the right contest for you.

As you prep your piece for submission, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Read the Guidelines: Whatever contest you enter, it is vital you read their guidelines. They might have very particular ways that they want you to submit your piece (font, size, single vs double-spaced, etc). If you don’t do as they request, they may disqualify you without even reading your piece. Get it in on time, and if any of the directions are confusing, be sure to e-mail them and ask for clarification.
  • Stay on Topic: If you enter a contest that has a particular theme, make sure you’re submitting a piece that works. If the theme is “Aliens in Space,” don’t give them a contemporary romance or paranormal entry. Stay as close to the topic as possible.
  • Word Count: When contests give max and min word counts, you need to stick to them. Even if your entry is 5001 words and the max is 5000, that one word can still get you disqualified. Again, stick to the guidelines.
  • Review Other Published Pieces: Some sites will have previous anthologies available for your to peruse. If you have the opportunity, read through some of their pieces to see if your work seems to fit in. If the magazine/anthology is completely different from your realm of work, you might consider submitting somewhere else.
  • Make Sure the Contest is Legitimate: There are many contests out there that will gladly take an author’s money and not do anything with the contest or will scam the writer. Make sure they’ve published other pieces before, they have a history, and the information on their site is spelled correctly. I know that last one might sound odd, but a lot of scam sites will have misspellings, which would seem odd if they’re running a writing contest.
  • Don’t Harass the Judges: When you submit a piece, don’t e-mail the judges or the site owners repeatedly to find out the status of your piece (unless it’s to notify them that your work was published somewhere else). The more you pester, the more likely it is your piece will be dropped. It takes time to review the work, choose the right pieces, and prep them for publication on paper or on site. Be patient. Generally “no news” is good news because it means you haven’t been rejected yet.

I hope this helps you as you look for places to submit your work. If you have other tips or sites people should check out, feel free to post them below!

Happy Writing!

Zipacna Dragons Launch Party

On Saturday, July 20th, I entered a world of dragons and magic. Between hunting for dragon eggs, dining on Indian cuisine, and watching a young warrior find a dragon, I felt transported to another realm.

On Saturday, July 20th, I entered a world of dragons and magic. Between hunting for dragon eggs, dining on Indian cuisine, and watching a young warrior find a dragon, I felt transported to another realm.

Table.jpeg
Photography by Wayne Anderson

Author S.P. Jayaraj hosted a phenomenal launch party for his book The Secret of the Zipacna Dragons. He held the launch at Groundswell in Cedar Rapids, IA, a cafe that follows the mission of providing a place where everyone has access to fresh, healthy food, regardless of their ability to pay. From the first moment you walked through the door, you were greeted with origami dragons, riddles, prizes, and the smell of butter chicken.

Origami dragons
Photography by Wayne Anderson

The Hunt:

Three wooden walls positioned in a triangle in the center of the room bore riddles created by S.P. Each was a clue to finding one of the hand-made dragon eggs hidden throughout the room. Egg finders not only got to keep the eggs, they also received additional prizes.

Riddles
Photography by Wayne Anderson

The room exploded with people rushing around (both inside and out) trying to decipher the clues and be the first to find the eggs. It didn’t matter if you were an adult or a child, everyone got in on the action, myself included. And while I didn’t find one of the eggs, it was so much fun teaming up with people to try to figure out the riddles. You’d think all my time reading Redwall riddles would have prepared me!

Dragonhunt
Photography by Wayne Anderson

Some eggs were hidden in tables or high above us in the crevice of a wall. And one special egg teased us in the branches of a tree just outside of the building. When it was down to the last egg which challenged the hunters to find the “Winter Elf,” we were given one last clue. “She’s in this room.” I think every woman was approached and asked, “Are you the winter Elf?”

Winter elf2
Photography by Wayne Anderson

In the end, all of the eggs were recovered by these smiling faces.

Egg Winners
Photography by Wayne Anderson

The Reading: 

Now, you would expect there to be a reading at a book launch. What I didn’t expect was there to be two readers, a play, and scenery as well! Author Mindy Mejia,  keeping to the theme, read from her book The Dragon KeeperBehind her, a canvas wall painted to look like a story helped us get lost in her world.

Melinda
Photography by Wayne Anderson

And then it was S.P.’s turn to read an excerpt from his book, only, he did it in script style. Local actors picked up wooden weapons and battled in front of a castle scene then escaped into the woods where the main character, Gradni, was confronted by a roaring dragon. I think about half of the people in the room jumped when the actress unleashed her mighty cry.

The reading
Video by Wayne Anderson

It was delightful to watch the story come to life through the play. It definitely made me want to watch/read more.

You can check out the entire readings and play here.

The Cuisine: 

As if writing a book, making dragon eggs, and putting on a play and party weren’t enough, S.P. also cooked authentic Indian cuisine for everyone. We feasted on a mix of Dhal (yellow lentils), rice (basmati), potato curry, butter chicken, and Indian ice cream, and they were absolutely delicious! People went up multiple times to get additional servings and chatted with others, both familiar and new. There was such a great sense of camaraderie, and how can there not be when you’re sharing the love of books?

Foodstuff
Photography by Wayne Anderson

Overall, it was a fantastic night, and not even the storm outside attempting to break through the blistering heat put a dampener on the evening. It certainly gave me ideas for future launches, and made me excited for whatever S.P. Jayaraj has in store for his next book.

The hunt
Photography by Wayne Anderson

So if you’re looking for an epic fantasy to read all about elves, dragons, and more, check out The Secret of the Zipacna Dragons

About The Secret of the Zipacna Dragons

The young Gradni has always known that dragons were evil, a belief widely held by the four people of Adijari – his own elves who can summon the energy in the atmosphere, the devs who are empowered by light, the amesha who have a kinship with the earth, and the qui-lahk who share a bond with animals. When his father dies fighting the dragons of Zipacna, Gradni’s only goal is to follow in his footsteps and help destroy the dragons once and for all. But after being recruited by the manipulative Mogurn, Gradni must compete against Erdun, an amesha who has been imbued with the power of the Fire Spirit Ta’ar, and trained by the dev cult that has already eradicated one of the eight dragon species. In addition to being a pawn in a political game of conquest, Gradni starts to doubt if the dragons really are the villains he always thought they were. Alone and without guidance he wonders which side deserves his loyalty, his own people who are offering him everything he thought he wanted, or the misunderstood dragons whom he has hated his entire life.

_______

Photography: All photography and video was done by Wayne Anderson at wayne@wgamedia.com.

Fantasy and Society (OWS CyCon)

Introduction 

I’d like to offer you a warm welcome to my blog. I write what you want to read, so feel free to drop a topic below! I hope you enjoyed visiting Timothy Bateson’s blog. If you haven’t stopped by, make sure to check him out!

My name is Erin Casey, and I’m an urban fantasy/YA fantasy/medieval fantasy writer. My first book The Purple Door District came out December 2018, and the next book in the series, Wolf Pit, will be released in December 2019. To learn more about my series, and all the other projects I’m doing, find me on my website, twitter, instagram, and facebook.

If you’ve come here from OWS CyCon, you can find my booth here. If you’re new to OWS CyCon, CyCon is a weekend-long book online convention where you can meet authors, vote on book covers, check out interviews and readings… all without putting on pants! I’m also involved in cover wars, character wars, and several panels. Be sure to visit the CyCon website and Facebook events acting as the hub for all of our events. Sign up for our newsletter or RSVP to the event to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the bookish goodness we have to offer. Be sure to visit the Fantasy Sci-Fi Reader’s Lounge, especially on Sunday, May 19th from 11am-12pm when I’ll host an author takeover event. 

Now, with all the logistics out of the way, let’s get into the heart of the blog post!

Fantasy and Society 

Whether you write epic fantasy or urban fantasy, you have to find a way to integrate the fantastical world into “normal” society. How you do that depends on several factors of world building. We’re going to talk about a few of these in hopes that they’ll get you started in developing your fantasy world.

Who Knows? The first question to ask yourself is who knows about magic and your “not human” characters (we’ll call them parahuman in this case)? Are your parahumans just starting to come out in society or are they a secret hidden away from the government?

For example, in The Purple Door District, society is starting to learn about parahumans. There’s a government section that is specifically devoted to the parahumans, though they generally keep to themselves unless otherwise needed. The way parahumans can find each other is by going to Purple Door Districts, safe havens that are marked by purple-colored doors, or purple-colored items at the front of the building. In this case, some people know about the parahumans, and others don’t. They try not to announce themselves because Hunters lurk in the shadows, people who think parahumans are an abomination and want to kill them.

What about your world? Whether society knows about your parahumans or not can play a major factor in the danger your characters may endure.

Jobs/Economy: What kind of jobs do your parahumans have (whether they’re “out” or not in society)? Are werewolves more likely to take on heavy-lifting jobs like construction or maintenance work while suave vampires are more adapt to being lawyers? Do you have places that are run by magic (think of a coffee shop that’s powered by magic and produces drinks with potions that help with stress, anxiety, weight loss, etc.)? Or do their abilities not influence where they work or what they do? Note: If you find the idea of a fae-run coffee shop interesting, check out my story Coffee Chaos on wattpad.

Introducing Your Readers to Your World: Once you have your world established, how do you want to introduce the magic and society to your readers? Some writers will introduce a character who is human or not very aware of the parahuman world and slowly integrate them, and the readers, into the world. In other cases, you can use someone who knows about the world but has a very different view of it to help your readers adjust. Stick with some familiarity so that the readers don’t feel completely overwhelmed.

Government: As mentioned, The Purple Door District has a government faction that knows about the parahumans and keeps them in check. What about your world? How is the government involved? Do the parahumans have to watch their backs? Are they free to roam in society as they are? Does your world resemble X-Men where some government officials call for sanctions against them while others want to protect their rights? It’s good to figure this out ahead of time because it can help you know just how much trouble you can get your characters in with or without government involvement.

How Powerful Are Your Parahumans? Do they have abilities that could threaten all of humanity? Think of Professor Xavier and Cerebro and how his ability almost took out all humans/mutants in the 2nd X-men film. Are there fae who have their own world and government and could easily take over humankind? Or are your parahumans more like groups of vampires and werewolves who can be considered a threat but can’t take over the entire world? Knowing this allows you to figure out how society might either accept or fear the parahumans. You can also play around with the characters who have different power levels. How would an overpowered character react to a situation vs someone who is weaker? Figuring out how you can integrate the fantasy element into society will help you further develop your characters.

These are just a few elements to think about when you’re integrating fantasy into society. One thing to keep in mind is that you want it to be believable. Know why parahumans act the way they do, or why society treats parahumans a certain way. Be creative, and most importantly, have fun!

I hope that you found these tips helpful. If you want to learn more about integrating fantasy into society, take a look at Kayla Matt’s blog.

Happy writing!

 

2018 Wrap Up and 2019 Goals

I can’t believe that 2018 is finally over. It felt like the year that just would not die! I made resolutions last year, but most of them I don’t even  remember, except for wanting to start querying Dragon Steal, which I did manage to accomplish. For this post, I’d like to go over some of the awesome (and not-so-awesome) things that happened this year and cover my goals for 2019.

2018 in Review

  • Finished editing Dragon Steal and submitted it for publication.
    • I’ve received several rejection letters but recently got a full manuscript request. While the rejections have hurt, at least the book is out there!
  • I created my own website and started developing a branded persona on twitter, facebook, instagram, etc. I have over 1,000 followers both on twitter and on instagram.
    • Even better, I’ve met a ton of amazing authors and creators through these sites who I can’t wait to work with next year!
  • Wrote, edited, and published The Purple Door District.  I can’t believe I developed my own marketing and indiegogo campaigns, formatted the book, published it, and held a launch party all in the space of six months. The question is, can I do it for PDD2?
  • Had “Latte with a Shot of Poltergeist” and “Frozen Heart” published in anthologies.
  • Submitted more short stories and poetry than I ever have before. While I received a lot of rejections, I at least received a few publications.
  • Officially launched The Writers’ Rooms with my co-Director, Alexandra Penn. We also finished our Articles of Incorporation and got certified as a non-profit corporation.
  • Helped develop the concierge anthology through The Writers’ Rooms.
  • Returned to my college and taught a few classes about publishing and NaNoWriMo.
  • Wrote 50k words for The Purple Door District: Wolf Pit.
  • Lost about 45 lbs through exercise and healthy eating.
  • Attended my first book signing event with other authors and signed up for even more in 2019.
  • Hosted giveaways for my book and swag that was developed by local creators.
  • Started my patreon account to help raise money for my writing career.
  • Received honorable mention in Writers of the Future.
  • Truly started my profession as an author.

It’s been a really big year for me writing wise. I still can’t believe that six months ago I decided to publish The Purple Door District. It seems like ages since I made that decision. I’ve managed to publish a few pieces of work this year, including on wattpad and patreon.

Next year, I hope to do even more, but also find a way to take care of myself at the same time.

2019 Goals

  • Focus on my mental health and take better care of myself mentally and physically.
  • Find an agent and publisher for Dragon Steal.
  • Finish writing and publish The Purple Door District: Wolf Pit.
  • Work on Fates and Furies with my co-author, AE Kellar, and hopefully publish the first book, if not in 2019, then in early 2020.
  • Submit more short stories and poetry for publication.
  • Start working on The Purple Door District #3 and Dragon Steal #2
  • Return to working on Traitors of the Crown.
  • Lose more weight for health reasons and get healthier.
  • Attend multiple writing conventions to both sell my books and to meet other authors.
  • Start my path to becoming a full-time author.

These are pretty ambitious goals, but I think most of them are possible. I really do need to focus on my mental and physical health, though, because I managed to break myself a few times while working on PDD. If I can’t hold myself together, I won’t be able to accomplish any/all of this.

I’m really proud of what I did this year. It’s my biggest year as an author, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 holds. I’m also a little scared. What if next year doesn’t unfold as well? I guess that’s all part of growing up and making plans as a writer, though. Some years you’re going to make it big, and some years are going to be a lot slower. I hope 2019 is still a fantastic one.

What are your goals for 2019? Feel free to share them below! Also, let me know what topics you’d like me to cover this year!

Happy Writing!

Erin

The Purple Door District: Behind the Scenes

The world of The Purple Door District started out as the stubborn brainchild of AE Kellar and myself. We have spent years writing together, researching, brainstorming, and developing characters and rules governing our parahumans and worlds. Our main series, Fates and Furies, is still in production but occurs in the same urban fantasy setting.

But let me backtrack a little.

AE Kellar and I met each other on a Redwall roleplaying site when I was still in high school. We had a mutual interest in the book series by Brian Jacques, obviously, and the forums gave us the opportunity to create our own characters, be they cat in AE’s case, or a silver-striped red squirrel named SilverRose Brighteye. Some of you may recognize my NaNo name.

For those unfamiliar with roleplaying on forums, basically one person writes out a few paragraphs of a scene with their character, someone responds, and the two people (or more) write back and forth to create an adventure. Redwall provided the world for us; we just had to worry about the characters and plot.

We wrote together for years, developing characters and immersing ourselves in the world. Eventually, we sought after a change and started roleplaying on an urban fantasy website that has long since closed. That’s when we realized that we might have found our niche. We took our characters, built a world, and ran with it, rping back and forth most nights. We’d alternate taking point on a plotline and naturally switch to the next person.

Unless we both brainfarted, in which case we just started up a new plotline.

Years of writing produced thousands of pages of writing (I’m not joking, AE took a picture of the pile of paper). Eventually, we realized we wanted to do something with it, and thus Fates and Furies was born. But in order to fully create the series, we had to know more about our world.

When we started to design the District, I latched onto it and suddenly had ideas blossoming in my head about creating one in Chicago (I grew up around the area). Plus, as a birdmom of seven feathered kids, it gave me the chance to professionally write about a werebird, even if I still get the side eye. With AE’s blessing, I wrote The Purple Door District to introduce you to our insanity.

But what about the PDD struck a chord in me? It was the community. I loved this idea that people of different talents, appearances, and strengths could come together to protect one another. A lot of urban/paranormal fantasies focus on the battle between werewolves and vampires or different magical groups. It was nice to think that there was a neutral ground where everyone could get along under the direction of The Violet Marshall. With the way the country is going today, I felt it was important to show that it’s possible for a mixing pot of people to actually come together peacefully. I chose Chicago specifically because I knew I could create a diverse cast. Even more characters will appear in The Purple Door District Book 2.

Community plays a huge role in my life. I help bring writers together through The Writers’ Rooms, a non-profit corporation that focuses on providing a free, safe environment for writers no matter their background, income, experience, gender, etc. And I work with The Iowa Writers’ House which also supports writers through workshops, lectures, and bicultural fellowship. In the writing world, I firmly believe that the only way we can succeed is if we support one another. Rising Tide, as Brian K Morris calls it.

Even through the book production, I reached out to the community for help. I asked Oni Algarra and Gabriella Bujdoso to create art for the book, indie artists who post on deviantart and instagram respectively. My cover artist is a Fiverr creator named Les. Sara Cunningham used her marketing magic to create sand jars and postcards for my book. Amanda Bouma taught me how to make jewelry so I could develop Bianca’s necklace. Leona Bushman, a fellow urban fantasy writer, guided me through editing my book and polishing it for publication. Alexandra Penn helped me format the book and was one of my main supporters who gave me the courage to publish the book. And my wonderful proofreaders, Shakyra Dunn and AE made sure the book was ready to go. I couldn’t have done this without my community, and I’m excited to support them just as they supported me. That’s partially why I created the Indiegogo campaign. I wanted to help give back to them.

As of November 5th, The Purple Door District is available for pre-order on amazon. There are no words I can use to convey my pride, joy, and hint of terror at having my book out there (I think I used up all my words in the manuscript haha). I do know that, had it not been for AE, I never would have been able to create such an immersive world.

We jokingly say that AE is the brain and I’m the heart, but I think it’s very true. While AE fills our books with well-researched facts and logic, I add feeling, creativity, and literary flare. I couldn’t have done it without my walking encyclopedia. All you see in The Purple Door District exists because of our love for storytelling and our incessant need to get fewer than 8 hours of sleep a night.

Keep an eye out. Fates and Furies is on the horizon.

And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your support during this crazy and amazing journey.

Welcome to the District.

 

The Purple Door District

Bianca was supposed to attend art school in Chicago, not run for her life from Hunters. The only chance she has to survive is to find The Purple Door District, a safe haven for a parahuman like herself…

Long time no write! As many of you may or may not know, I started up a patreon page for my fantasy stories. Today marks the release of the very first chapter of The Purple Door District, an urban fantasy story full of parahumans, magic, and witty banter. This is set in a world created by myself and my co-author, AE Kellar. We’ve been working on this for the past 7 years or so, and we’re both excited and nervous to share it with our readers.

The main series, title pending, revolves around parahumans, such as lycans, witches, and fae, (oh my) of both the past and modern world. The stories focus on their daily lives, their government, and how the sins of the past don’t always stay buried. There will be something for everyone in this New Adult series we are hoping to launch by 2019.

The Purple Door District itself is a safe-zone for parahumans to be themselves without fear of exposure. The series of Purple Door District novellas and short stories posted on here will touch on different story arcs that are set within the world we have created, but are not necessarily connected with the main series’ story line. While the main series will be co-written by myself and AE, the novellas and short stories will be single-author unless otherwise noted.

So what is this first novella about? Here’s a little taste…

Bianca was supposed to attend art school in Chicago, not run for her life from Hunters. The only chance she has to survive is to find The Purple Door District, a safe haven for a parahuman like herself. When she stumbles upon a magus named Gladus and a fellow avian named Carlos, she thinks she’s found safety. But the Hunters are relentless, as is the dark force driving them. Vampire, werewolf, avian, magus…It’s up to the parahumans of the Purple Door District of Chicago to put their differences aside to save Bianca and stop a dark threat from destroying their peaceful community.  

To read the first chapter, become a patron here!

Creating God Systems

Long time no write! I’m sorry it’s taken so long for me to get back to the blog, but I’m hoping to post regularly now that I’m leading a Fantasy/Sci-Fi group in Iowa City. I’ll post more information about that later. For now, I would like to talk about the art of creating a God system.

Many fantasy/sci-fi stories present different forms of higher powers. But how do you make them? It’s really up to you, but I can give you some ideas on how to get started based on what I’ve done in my own writing and what I’ve seen.

Gods based on mythology

One way to introduce Gods into your book is to look into mythology. For example, what Gods appear in Norse mythology, Greek mythology, Celtic mythology, etc.? Each one of these Gods has a purpose, an appearance, a reason to be in the story. If you’re rewriting mythology, you can freely use these Gods to your own desire. Maybe Thor makes an appearance, or Odin, or Apollo and Athena. Perhaps you’re writing about vikings and you want to keep true to Norse mythology.

My advice to you is if you’re stumped, read different types of mythology and see if you can create Gods that way, or reinvent those Gods. It’s okay to take something that’s already known and apply it to your writing, just try to put an interesting twist to it!

Symbolic Gods

My favorite thing to do is to create Gods based on symbols or elements. For example, I have five Gods in one book. Each one is based on the seasons: Fall, Winter, Summer, Spring. The final God, however, is the Goddess of balance, neither light nor dark, life nor death. Each God represents a compass location, have particular colors, and are said to provide particular gifts to mortals.

One example is my Goddess Ren. She is the Goddess of Death and Night, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Her followers say that life cannot come without death and death can bring life (reincarnation/dead bodies bringing about new earth). She is celebrated during the Autumnal Equinox. Her avatar is a black serpent or a black dragon. And her governing colors are red, orange, and black for the changing leaves and fire. She is also the Goddess of the West (a call out to the Wicked Witch of the West).

Using symbols helped me understand my Goddess. It also made me realize that I needed other Gods to balance her, so I have one of fertility to counter her power of death. This is a really fun way to create Gods and mess with your characters’ lives.

Gods based on character needs

Sometimes the best way to build a God is determined by the needs of your characters. You may start writing and realize that your character believes in some higher power. What higher power should she follow? Well, what does she need? Is she looking for strength, guidance, answers to questions? In the Catholic faith there are patron saints that are meant to protect people in certain ways. Think of your character’s needs and decide, who is her patron saint, or her patron God? From there, ask yourself if one God is enough or if you need more Gods.

The funny thing that I didn’t realize about my book is that part of it revolved around my character losing her faith then finding it with the aid of a certain God. It helped give more depth to my character, and also made her more interesting. She was able to relate to me as well as to my readers. So, focus on the needs of the character and you might be able to figure out your God or Gods.

Gods who influence characters’ lives

To go along with character needs, you have to consider if the Gods get involved with mortal life. Are they intangible, or do they actually walk among mortals? Do they treat mortals as equals or beneath them? If you’re going to have Gods walk with them, then what should they look like? Is it hard to tell them apart from mortals? Or is it very obvious that they’re big, blue, and powerful? Perhaps they have a spell on them to make them look like mortals.

You need to ask yourself these questions and see how big of a role your Gods play in the world. How little or how much they appear will determine how in depth your God system needs to be. If they’re only there for the sake of basic beliefs, then you may only need names. But if you want them present, you must think how they’re going to influence the world.

A final piece of advice, don’t make Gods for the sake of making your story complicated. Make them have a purpose so they can move the characters and the story forward. If their presence slows down your writing, then consider cutting their appearance out.

How you make your Gods can be as complicated or simple as you want it to be. Just remember to have fun!

 

World Building

One of the most exciting and most frustrating tasks of starting a book series is world building. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this is something writers have to do when they write a book that’s set in their own world. They have to create everything about the world, from the appearance and agriculture to the politics and government. Maybe you have a race you want to create, or a brand new religion. Sounds simple, right? I’ve read on blogs before that non-fiction writers believe that fiction writers have it easier because we don’t have to look up historical facts to back up our literature or world. Quite honestly, I think fiction writers have it the hardest. At least non-fiction artists have a base point from which they can start. They have a timeline and a culture already created for them from which they can draw history. And in truth, many fiction/fantasy writers do a ton of research to create their books. Right now I’m looking at a huge shelf of books about medieval history including blacksmithing, herbal medicinal uses, the medieval city/castle/town, and even ship facts. Some of us writers do try to keep our stories somewhat historically accurate so that there is some truth in our craft.

Outside of researching, we also have both the pleasure and burden of creating our own world. When I was little, the facts that truly concerned me about world building were: what color is my sky? What color is the grass? What kind of creatures will I have? Will there be different food? And that was it. Today, I realize just how much more in depth you have to get to accurately create your own world. This will actually result in reconstructing an entire series I’ve been writing.

But I digress.

World building can be as simple and as complicated as you want to make it. For the medieval books I’m writing, I’ve tried to create a map of what my world looks like. Where are the provinces located? What kind of agriculture is in that area? What marketing can they do and what is their main import and export? What are their political standings? Do they have natural enemies and allies? What is the landscape like? What kind of powers do mages possess? Can they control water? Are there rivers, or streams, or oceans? It’s always fun when you have a character try to cross a river in one chapter, and then you have a group of characters jaunt merrily across the land without the fear of a river…because their belligerent author forgot all about it.

World building can get even more confusing and complicated when you take myths from around the world and try to bastardize them to your own liking. My friend and I have been writing a series that includes multiple mythologies included, but not limited to, Greek, Arthurian legends, and various other beliefs and cultures. Now, we could stick strictly to what we know is “historically” accurate, but we’ve twisted the tales to make them all match what we want our story to be. Of course doing this, we realize, we have to create a brand new timeline to make sure we stay somewhat true to the old myths, but so we can tie them together with our own stories. Likewise, something as simple as writing about werewolves and vampires can become even more tedious when you get into the questions of, “species vs race, what are they?” Follow this with what bites can do and how likely it is for hybrid children to be born followed by the percentage of whether a child would be more vampire or werewolf if the two were to mate, and you’ve got a headache waiting to happen.

Needless to say, I keep Tylenol, chocolate, and tissues close at hand. One of these days I think I’ll need to add a pillow to my arsenal so I stop putting dents in my wall with the Tylenol bottle.

As painful as world building can be, it’s exciting and entertaining at the same time. There’s something very special about watching this world come to life and realizing you created it, or twisted it in such a way that you can call it your own. You can add as much color and flare as you want, or make it as murky and dark as you please. It’s not as simple as saying the sky is green and the grass is yellow, it’s so much more than that. Some writers go even into the scientific possibilities of how their world could actually be possible. Honestly, some of the science fiction theories people have come up with during their world building experiences have actually lead to the possibility of “science fiction” technologies becoming real.

There are a plethora of templates out there that people follow to help themselves create their own worlds. I’ve used some myself, and I’ve gotten half-way through and realized I had no idea what in the world I was trying to write about. That’s what happened with the first series I wrote. Fortunately, I don’t seem to have the same dilemma with my current series otherwise I’d be chucking more than a Tylenol bottle at the wall.

The advice I give you is make your world your own. Make it as amazing or as simple as you want it to be and then let it grow. Sometimes if you confine the world you’re building to one set of laws, it will crash and burn and leave you with a smoldering pile of charred dreams. But if you allow yourself to question your world and let people throw more and more questions or ideas at you, you may create something beautiful and wonderful that you can be proud to call your own.

Start small and work your way up. Make sure you actually know your world to some degree before you write your book. It’ll help you to better describe what’s going on and will help make the readers feel at home in your world. Now, as you write, you’ll find parts of your world you’ll need to revise or take out. You may find halfway through that the world you’ve created has completely evolved to something new. This isn’t a bad thing; it just means that you’re becoming more familiar with your world. Some people ask, why create the world before I start writing if I’m going to change it anyway?

Well, you have to start somewhere. Walking blindly into a story is easy for some writers, but for a person like me, I need to know what to expect before I begin, otherwise I’ll get lost…and if a writer gets lost in her own universe, how can she expect her readers to keep up?

For those of you interested in some templates, here are a couple you can try out:

Template for Creating and Building a New Fantasy Race for your Fictional World or Story

5 Tips: World-Building Template

How to Create a Fictional World from Scratch

Worldbuilding

That’s all for today. If you have any questions or writing ideas you’d like me to address, let me know below.