Interview with Scott Keen, author of Scar of the Downers

I’d like to welcome back Scott Keen to Writing Room 101 today. Scott kindly agreed to answer a few questions. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Scott better; his background, writing techniques, and current projects. I’m certain you will too.

Interview with Scott Keen

IMG_6555Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Script & Screenwriting back in 2006. Currently, I am a stay-at-home dad of four daughters, ages 2, 4, 7, and 10. I homeschool my two older girls, and just play blocks and baby dolls with the little ones.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

Frankly, I write in the genre that I found the most interesting, which is fantasy. I didn’t necessarily set out to write a “young adult” book. It’s just that some of my characters happened to be teenagers, and with marketing, you must categorize it. I find YA books more appealing sometimes because of the lack of cynicism and interesting and innovative world-building.

What is your first memory of writing?

When I was younger, if I called my brother or sister a name, my parents would make me write lines as punishment. That was the earliest form of writing I can truly remember.

Now my earliest form of creative writing took place when I was in high school. I would usually write songs and poems. I spent a lot of my high school and college years in a band, so I spent a considerable amount of time writing lyrics. That was my first foray into creative writing.

How did you come up with the title?

The title was originally called Child of the Downers. Child was the name of my main character. Through the editing process, however, I changed the name of Child to Crik, who was actually a character I used to have in the story. The original character of Crik was written out, and I took his name.

As the story continued to develop, I realized the story was, in a way, bigger than Crik. It was about the scar that every Downer has branded on the arm. How do you escape something like that? Can you escape something like that? So, it almost seemed inevitable that the story would be called Scar of the Downers.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

I have two books that I’m currently working on. One, called The Cry of Kilhaven, is finished, and I’ve put it aside before I go back and start editing it. It follows a young man who lives in an idyllic village in the middle of a post-apocalyptic world. He finds himself involved in a mystery that could shatter everything around him.

The other book is the 2nd novel in the Downer series. The working title is called Rise of the Branded (or Rise of the Downers). Not sure which one yet. This sequel will follow the main characters from Scar of the Downers, and some of the creatures that were more side characters in the first book will play a more prominent role. What I can say about this book is that you see more of the world outside of Ungstah in which the Downers used to live.

I’m also working on a musical that I plan on putting up locally. I have a portion of the script and two songs completed, so we’ll see where that goes.

Is there any advice you’d like to share?

Don’t give up! If you want to write, you are going to have to ignore a lot of people’s whispers. And frankly, you may find you are your own worst enemy.

The reason people are successful in life is because they didn’t give up. In my opinion, perseverance has always trumped talent. You always have to keep going, keep pressing on. As soon as you stop, you fail.

Do you start with character or plot?

I usually start with plot, or at least a situation, and then I build from there. Sometimes I have a clear idea who I want the character to be, while other times, I discover the character’s true personality as I write and as the character makes their decisions.

Do you use an outline or just write?

When I begin writing, I usually form some type of outline, but it’s typically brief. I just wrote the first version of Scar of the Downers with no outline. I made it up as I wrote with no real plan or idea where I was going.  Writing like that, however, forced me to do extreme editing. It took a long time.

For book two, I just wrote out the major points for the plots and subplots. That way, I have room for something to “spontaneously” grow as I write, while still having a map for the storyline. Sometimes, I will just write out a brief step outline, hitting all the major points I want to hit. It really just depends on the story and how much I’ve developed it in my mind before I actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

In your words, what defines a good story?

While there are many ideas out there about what makes a story great, in my opinion, it all centers on plot. You can have the most unique voice, the strongest character, the best writing, but if you don’t have an interesting plot, you don’t have a story. Dull voice and characters are far easier for me to tolerate. But if the plot is stagnant or all over the place it is difficult for me to get into the story.

What book are you reading now?

Currently, I am reading The Night Eternal by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro, finishing up The Strain series. After that, I plan on reading The Enemy by Charlie Higson.

Click on the image to be redirected to Amazon, and get your copy of Scar of the Downers
Click on the image to be redirected to Amazon, and get your copy of Scar of the Downers

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

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Review – Zadekiel (Book 2) Path of Angels Series by Patricia Josephine

Zadekiel – Book 2 in the Path of Angels Series

Review

ZadekielPoACoverI enjoyed the conflict which lives within Zade. The desire to do the right thing, even though he is forced into a role he did not want or expect. His brother’s absence hits him hard, but it is the guilt, which weighs heavily in his heart, that makes him question his loyalties. Their final conversation haunts his dreams, signifying his regret.

But Zade is an archangel, and he never backs down without a fight. He’s strong, and tough and fiercely protective. His sense of responsibility, and love for his brothers is one of my favourite things about him.

With Michael gone, the trio continue their mission, though they are clearly lost and falter more than once. They return to the streets night after night, determined to follow the path. I loved the humour, the brotherly affection, and the sense of camaraderie. Even when they disagree, there is a bond which shines through. Zade manages to hold them together, if only by the sheer force of his will!

Zaphyr is a complex woman who I instantly loved. She has a hard exterior, and finds it difficult to trust. This has a lot to do with her unique gift, something which makes her an outsider. When her path collides with Zade and his brothers, she is forced to re-examine everything she believes in. Her wit shines through, and it was fun watching her interact with Zade, Joe and Gabe. She is an atheist, which makes for an interesting dynamic and sparks some delightful tension within the group. Zaphyr challenges Zade in many ways, thought he isn’t daunted by her scepticism. He might not know how to deal with the emotions she evokes in him, but he refuses to give in. 

Zadekiel ends on a cliff-hanger, one which makes you hungry for more. The writing flows and is full of expression, with delightful descriptions that bring the world to life and keep you on the edge of your seat.

***

You can purchase a copy of Zadekiel here. If you would like to learn more about Patricia’s work, why not stop by her blog. You will find it here.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Introducing Zadekiel – Book 2 in the Path of Angels Series by Patricia Josephine

I’m excited to announce that Zadekiel, Book 2 in the Path of Angles Series is now available. The cover is just fantastic, I’m sure you’ll agree.

ZadekielPoACoverThe path is lost.

With Michael gone, the mantle of leadership falls to Zadekiel. In this time of darkness, with tempers running short, Zade struggles to guide his brothers. Hope comes in the form of a green haired woman with a unique gift. She represents a way back to the path they lost when Michael disappeared.

Zephyr fills books with cryptic poetry, a powerful compulsion, which is more a curse than a blessing. With no control over her ability, she struggles to live a normal life. When she meets Zade, he insists her ability is a gift from God. Reluctantly, she agrees to join the cause–it’s hard to dispute a man with wings.

Now the path is found, but one question remains. Will it lead to further darkness?

Purchase Links

Amazon

Michael – Path of Angels Book 1

Zadekiel – Path of Angels Book 2

PatriciaLynneAuthorPic2Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn’t regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

Here’s a message from Patricia about her decision to include poetry in Zadekiel’s story:

You know what’s crazy? I’m not a poet. I don’t even care to read it much, but I will for a friend. And yet, Zadekiel, I gave Zephyr a gift that makes her write poetry. Funny thing to do to a favorite character. I feel like I should have been kinder.

I guess, what I wanted was something that was short and snappy, that held a lot in a few words. It also had to mesh well with Zephyr’s character. Poetry fit the bill perfectly. A great poem can tell a whole story if done well. Could the style used also tell a lot about the writer? Here’s one of Zephyr’s poems and judge for yourself.

They left behind their home

In you they seek the truth

With dark eyes the path lies

Truth revealed when he speaks

Listen please

Thy breath to keep

Less you sleep eternal sleep

Links:

Tomorrow I will be reviewing Book 2 in the Path of Angels series, so come back then to hear my thoughts on Zadekiel.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Guest post by Scott Keen, author of Scar of the Downers

I have a special treat for you today, a guest post by Scott Keen, author of Scar of the Downers. I have included information about his novel at the bottom of the post so you can learn more about the work.

How Writing Screenplays Teach Novelists Discipline

By Scott Keen

A few years ago, I went to a writer’s conference where one of the speakers said that he advised his students to learn scriptwriting before novel writing. I think that his reasoning for this is because in script writing you have to focus on the bare bones of a story. In it, you find its skeletal structure. I would add to that reasoning this: You also have to show the action rather than tell your audience about it. Screenplays are completely visual. I think in some ways, novelists can have a tendency to have less action and more exposition, both of which are the death knell of a good screenplay.

In a typical screenplay, you start with the basic three-act structure (of course there are exceptions to this. Some would say most Hollywood scripts follow a four or five-act structure.) I would challenge you to watch a movie and see if you can point out some of the following structural points:

  1. The Inciting Incident
  2. The First Act Climax
  3. The Complication
  4. The Turning Point
  5. The Second Act Climax
  6. The Resolution

Knowing the structure of the screenplay is the framing of the house. If you want to build a house, you have to know how to frame it. There’s nothing worse than reading a book and realize that there’s no story to it. It’s a series of events with no discernible direction or connection with one another. While some people may like that type of story, I find it rather hard to get through.

There is more rigidity in screenplay writing, which can be both good and bad. It’s bad if you want to tell a bigger story than you can fit in a typical length movie. In a screenplay, any description only tells what you want the audience to see. In some ways you can paint a more vivid, detailed, and wider picture in a novel. Think of the depth of the world in the Lord of the Rings books that you could never get in the movies. On the other hand, doesn’t everyone want to see that scene with Gandalf coming down the hill at the end of The Two Towers? That’s why the director is considered the artistic force behind a movie. He or she gives flesh to what the writer wrote.

After all, that is the sole purpose of a screenplay: to be made into a movie. The purpose of a novel is to be read – the author is the director, using words to paint a picture. You have to take that into consideration when you have a story that you want to tell. If you have a story with the grandeur and breadth of Star Wars and you have no connections in Hollywood, it’s a better idea to write that as a novel. You have a much better chance of it getting noticed. I can write about far off planets or about the neighbor next door. The words alone can take you wherever you want to go. I’m not bound by money or technology. It is the reader’s imagination that provides the visuals, and with that, there’s a sense of freedom.

So, learning to write a screenplay can be a good discipline for a novelist. In my opinion, having a strong plot and telling a story well is paramount to character, style, voice, etc. Writing a screenplay will force you to focus on that aspect of storytelling.

As the director Sam Mendes once said, “I think movies are a director’s medium in the end. Theater is the actor’s medium.” I would add that novels are a writer’s medium. And that is why I, as a writer, am so drawn to it.


About the Author: 

IMG_6555Scott Keen grew up in Black River, NY, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn’t want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing–he became a writer. Now, many years later with an MFA in script and screenwriting, he is married with four daughters, two of whom he homeschools. He blogs at www.scottkeenbooks.com.

About Scar of the Downers:

ScarDowners_CVR_LRGBranded on the slaves in the Northern Reaches beyond Ungstah, the scar marks each one as a Downer. It is who they are. There is no escaping this world. Still, strange things are stirring.

Two foreigners ride through the Northern Reaches on a secret mission. An unknown cloaked figure wanders the streets of the dark city of Ungstah. What they want no one can be sure, but it all centers around a Downer named Crik.

Crik, too scared to seek freedom, spends his days working in his master’s store, avoiding the spirit-eating Ash Kings while scavenging food for himself and his best friend, Jak. Until he steals from the wrong person. When Jak is sold to satisfy the debt, Crik burns down his master’s house and is sentenced to death.

To survive, Crik and his friends must leave behind their life of slavery to do what no other Downer has ever done before–escape from the city of Ungstah.


I would like to thank Scott for sharing his experience with us, and for agreeing to be a guest on the blog. I’m sure he would be thrilled to answer any questions you have.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Introducing the Shadow Stalker Bundle: Part 1 by Renee Scattergood

shadow-stalker-1-6-paperback-coverThis weekend Renee Scattergood is launching the Shadow Stalker Part 1 Bundle – the first six episodes in both e-book and print. As a special treat she has written a new scene for us; taken from the series, but from the point of view of Drevin’s son – Makari.

Shadow Stalker Episode 6: Chapter 5
Written from Makari’s point of view (Drevin’s son)

I stood, my arms folded over my chest as I watched Selyn, the head of the Council of Elders on the Dark Isle, question Kado. I had been sent to collect Kado’s foster daughter, the delohi-saqu, and bring her to my father. It was proving more difficult than anticipated, since the elders had chased her off. They had managed to lure Kado back, but not before he’d secured Auren. I had already done a sweep of the village, and found no clue to her whereabouts. My patience was wearing thin.

“This would go so much easier for you, if you’d just tell us where the traitor is. Kado, you of all people should understand we are only trying to protect our people from her. She is a danger to the shadow stalkers and to the people of the Serpent Isles. Our future Foramar should not be protecting our enemy,” Selyn said.

“He is our enemy,” Cathnor said, tilting his head towards me.

It was the same story, one I’d heard a dozen times. I hadn’t known when my father gave the order to invade, that these people; the shadow stalkers and the members of the Coalition, had been taken in by the innocence of the delohi-saqu. Some were ignorant to her very existence. A fact which no doubt made it easier for her to take control of their minds. Ignorance is a man’s worst enemy after all.

“They are stalling for time,” Selyn whispered in my ear.

“I’ve already told you I left Auren in the forest. I told her if I didn’t return she should leave. She could be anywhere on the Dark Isle by now,” Kado said.

I gazed at him. His eyes told me he was telling the truth, but there was more to it. He was leaving out vital information to throw us off. The elders might be fooled, but I knew the delohi-saqu was close. I could almost feel her.

“You can use your connection to find her,” another of the elders said smugly.

“I could,” Kado said, lifting his chin. “But I won’t.”

Selyn shook his head, slowly. “You know what will happen if she leaves this island. She will enslave the Serpent Isle.”

Cathnor snorted. “Hasn’t Drevin already done that?”

I glared at him. I didn’t always agree with my father’s decisions, but I believed in his cause. “My father has been freeing the people of the Serpent Isles, not enslaving them.”

“Freeing them by separating them from their children and torturing them into submission?”

The shadow stalker, Cathnor, looked repulsed, but Kado’s expression hadn’t changed. The future Foramar was dangerous. That was clear. He’d be a formidable enemy, and I was not entirely convinced he was as helpless a prisoner as the elders had led me to believe.

My father had warned me these people would challenge my beliefs and he was right. I could feel the ache in my hands; the tightly balled fists a sure sign I was close to losing control. “The cleansing is not torture. It purifies the mind, so it is no longer susceptible to mind control,” I explained calmly.

Cathnor started to speak again, but Kado silenced him with a nudge. “Tell me, Makari. Is that how it felt to you when you were an innocent child being beaten on a daily basis? Do you truly feel free?”

“My mind is free,” I said. It irritated me, this need to defend myself. Kado was dangerous, and I needed to remember that.

“Is it?”

I didn’t owe him an answer. He was the prisoner here. Yet I wanted to respond, or I did until my gaze was drawn to a lizard lurking near the window. There was something odd about it, and when I looked into its glassy eyes, for a moment it felt as though I had joined with the animal. It was an odd kind of recognition I struggled to understand.

“I can see your father’s ways confuse you. You were sure of him until he started this war. Now that you have witnessed the death and destruction at his hand, you question his motives. Don’t you?”

“No.”

Kado was trying to distract me from the lizard, and it dawned on me that he knew what it was. Was it possible that this was the delohi-saqu? It meant she had abilities other shadow stalkers didn’t. But it made sense. I almost smiled. In this form she would be easy to capture.

“I will find her,” I said. “I don’t need him.”

Kado regarded me, eyebrows raised. “You will never find her. I’ve made sure of it.”

His bluff held no weight because I already knew where she was. Now that we were connected in a tangible way, I felt her presence. I felt drawn to her, and the connection would lead me right to her – wherever she scurried off to.

***
Shadow Stalker Episode Guide

The Hidden Truth (Episode 1)

A young shadow stalker is destined to enslave the people of the Serpent Isles, and the Galvadi Empire want this child of prophecy dead. Auren Trasks perfectly normal life is disrupted when the Galvadi invade, and she learns a startling secret about her past. A secret that will change her life forever.

The Delohi-Saqu’s Fate (Episode 2)

Auren is being targeted by the Council of Elders, and the only one who could put an end to their corruption is her father. But leaving the Dark Isle would turn Kado against her.

Shadows’ Betrayal (Episode 3)

After seeing the monster she will become, Auren swears not to leave the Dark Isle. Despite that, the elders are conspiring against her. To escape their scheming, she and Kado decide to explore the Dark Isle. But worse things await them in the forests.

Forbidden Love (Episode 4)

Kado and Auren survive a deadly storm, but when Auren is forbidden from pursuing love with another young shadow stalker, will it be enough to drive a wedge between her and her foster father?

Destiny Reconciled Part 1 (Episode 5)

Auren and Kado accept that they may not be able to avoid her leaving the Dark Isle. Now they have to prepare for that eventuality. Will the training be more than Auren can handle?

Destiny Reconciled Part 2 (Episode 6)

Cathnor has been arrested and is facing a death sentence. The Dark Isle is out of control, and Kado is the only one who can help his people. So he prepares Auren for the possibility that she may have to leave the Dark Isle without him and face her destiny alone, but can she leave him and do what must be done?

Purchase Links:

Amazon

Smashwords


Renee Scattergood

Renee Scattergood, author of the fantasy series, Shadow Stalker, and novella, Demon Hunt, lives in Australia with her husband and daughter. Aside from writing, she loves reading (Fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her daughter. Find out more about her, and sign up for her newsletter on her blog: http://reneescattergood.com

Author Pages:

Social Media:

Interview with P.S. Bartlett, Author of Demons & Pearls

Demons_&_Pearls_Cover_for_Kindle

Welcome back. I’m pleased to share P.S. Bartlett’s interview with you, and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

An Interview with P.S. Bartlett

Pirate meHow old were you when you wrote your first piece?

I honestly don’t remember but I started very early writing poems. I used to make my own greeting cards as a child, complete with illustrations. I thought I would grow up to work for Hallmark.

What made you write it?

Lack of money I suppose and having plenty of ideas and art supplies.

What have you written since then?

Poetry, short stories, plays and in recent years, novels. I am about to publish my fourth novel in two years.

What was the inspiration for your current book?

My favorite inspiration; PIRATES!

Tell us a little about it, and where it’s available.

I’ve developed a pattern of what I call writing backwards. It sounds a little crazy I know but twice now, I’ve written a novel and instead of moving forward in time, I want to go back to the beginning and find out what makes my characters tick and why they became who they are.

This story is the beginning of Ivory Shepard. Ivory is a fictional character but the things she goes through and the life she lives as she is becoming the woman she ends up being, is authentically pirate based. Ivory and her cousins are orphaned at a young age during a Spanish raid on Charles Towne, South Carolina and left to fend for themselves. They end up surviving and doing well for themselves until one night, the pirates show up.

This book chronicles the lives of the four cousins as they embark on a journey to Port Royal aboard a pirate ship and what comes after. The next book in the series, Jaded Tides, will follow them even further into their lives as pirates.

Is there a particular place or setting where you get your writing ideas?

The easy answer is no. I can get ideas anywhere from sitting and watching television, reading or driving in my truck. It’s storing it all in my memory until I can get to my computer that is the challenge.

What made you choose either traditional or independent publishing?

I tried to go traditional but I was rejected so many times I can’t even remember. The only book I submitted to agents was my first novel, Fireflies. Fireflies went on to win awards, including the silver medal in paranormal fiction from Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Awards. I guess agents don’t always get it right.

If you had to choose the most important element in an author’s platform, what would it be?

Good relationships with other authors and peers in the industry. I have made friendships and connections with people that I believe will be life-long. We support each other through ideas, suggestions and encouragement, as well as advertising and social media.

What mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?

I’m not sure if I’ve made any mistakes other than paying a good deal for certain types of advertising on book web sites. Other than that, my mistakes have all been learning experiences and we all have to make them in order to find our way.

Do you have an idea for your next book?

I actually have two books in the works right now. The first is jaded Tides, which is the second book in the Razor’s Adventures series and it is almost half written. The second is collaboration with another writer on another book that will be a part of the series but will focus on a different main character. I don’t want to give any more away on that one though!


Thanks for stopping by. If you have any further questions for P.S. Bartlett, please leave them in the comments. I’m sure she would love to hear from you.

Mel

Introducing Demons & Pearls by P.S. Bartlett

This is the first of two posts focusing on P.S. Bartlett and her new release – Demons & Pearls. Later this afternoon I will be sharing an interview with you, but for now – here is information about the exciting new novel, which includes a sneak peak. Enjoy!

Title: DEMONS & PEARLS
Author: P.S. Bartlett
Release Day: April 14th, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure/Romance

Demons_&_Pearls_Cover_for_KindleBlurb-
Had I known the repercussions of murdering the captain of a pirate ship, I may have taken the time necessary to rethink the act. As if I’ve ever had a choice that didn’t involve a fight or at the very least, defending myself against some man, hell bent on destroying me or my kin.
All we wanted was our freedom. All we found were demons disguised as men.
A woman pirate needs friends, big strong male friends, to survive in this unforgiving land of thieves and murderers—at least until she gets on her feet. Of course, trying to find one person you can trust is like finding an oyster with a perfect pearl in it—you have to break a few shells and get your hands dirty. We were lucky. I found the biggest, baddest and most honorable man in the Caribbean and he just happened to be in the pearl business.

Author PhotoAuthor Bio:
I was born on Valentine’s Day a long, long time ago in South Baltimore, Maryland, less than a mile from Fort McHenry and Federal Hill. I’m a very simple person. I love my life and am always striving to make it better for myself and my family.
I write, I draw and I still work full-time. I’ve been married for 20 years and together we have two sons, a daughter, three beautiful granddaughters and a ten year old Maine Coon cat named Columbus.

Links:

Web Site: http://psbartlett.me/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PSBartlett

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PSBartlett

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7012732.P_S_Bartlett

Instagram: Author_P.S.Bartlett

Amazon

Thunderclap

Sneak Peak

Caught in the middle of the Golden Age of Piracy, four young women, led by their eldest cousin, Ivory Shepard, have escaped a pirate raid and bought passage aboard a pirate ship to Port Royal, Jamaica.
With no more than their smarts and their will to carry them, they end up caught in a battle for their lives. They have been betrayed by the ship’s captain and unfortunately realize that as women, they are worse off in this new world than they were in the old one.

This is their story as told by Ivory Shepard, also known as…The Razor.

Chapter One
~No Quarter~

Had I known the repercussions of murdering the captain of a pirate ship, I may have taken the time necessary to rethink the act. However, as I stood over the bloody, lifeless body of Captain Christopher Barclay, as well as no less than seven of his crew, as usual it was too late to change my mind. Change my mind, indeed. As if I had a choice.

As if I’ve ever had a choice that didn’t involve a fight, or at the very least, defending myself against someone hell-bent on destroying me or my kin. I must always follow my instincts, regardless of the fallout of my actions. Had I not done so, I most certainly would not have lived to see the rest of this unspeakable day.

I pleaded with the Captain not to kill them all. If he’d have only been more of a man and less a murderous monster, perhaps this day may have ended for him as he lay down at last, safe and whole in his bunk. Alas, this was not to be. Instead, the surge of the battle within him overtook his senses, and he snatched me by the back of my neck.

“Miss Shepard, take your ladies below. And should these swabs be foolish enough to fight back, and God forbid we lose this fight, kill your cousins… and then yourself. Trust me, you’ll not wish to draw breath should that pack of dogs board us.”

“I’ll send them below, but I’ll not pass up the chance at last to show your own pack of dogs who I am.” What the hell was I thinking?

“It’s your pretty head. If the first sight of a sail dropped you to your knees, let’s hope you can stay on your feet when they bare their fangs and lunge at your throat.”

“I’ll live, Captain. And perhaps you haven’t noticed, but they’re not ladies anymore. Today shall prove that.” We’d spent weeks in rags, cleaning up after pirates, listening to their vile comments, and working as virtual slaves in order to secure our passage to Jamaica. I wondered constantly why we hadn’t been violated yet, but I held onto the hope that a pirate could in fact, keep his word.

Perhaps I’d had enough and was ready for a fight. Considering I had fallen to my knees when I heard the call of “Sail!” and had shaken like a leaf at the sight of these men scrambling about, loading guns and making preparations for a fight, one would have thought I’d have run and hidden with my cousins. But, no; as usual, I had something to prove.

“Such a shame to waste such charms. Look at you,” he said, taking me roughly by the jaw with his filthy paw, from which I jerked free instantly. “You’ve lost your youthful glow to the harsh wind and sun, and if you ever had a tender inch, you’ve buried it beneath the vines of bitterness you’ve wrapped yourself in. Tell me, Ivory, who did this to you? Who plucked the rose and left the thorns?”

“Those who would step over that gunnel will meet my blade before another unwanted and indecent hand breaches my striking distance. I’ll remove that hand and take his arm as well, and if that doesn’t stop him, his head.”

“Such a tragedy you are, and since I’ve my own tragic story to write, it’s time to give back to the world what she’s bestowed upon us, my dear. Ready the guns! Do not fire until I give the order! She’s no fucking good in a million pieces!” Barclay roared over our heads as he raced, broadsword in hand, to the stern and stood at her highest point.

“Shepard, get your skinny ass up here! You want to be free?”

“I will be free!” I shouted at him. There was no turning back now.

“Bring her around! We’ll rake her from the bow and then take her from the starboard side!” He barked to the helmsman. I’d never heard this voice before. It wasn’t a voice. It was the roar of a mighty lion, and the mere sound of it vibrated through my skin.

As his call to arms passed through me, a deafening hum pierced my brain and I sheathed my sword and cupped the sides of my head, in an attempt to silence it. When I let go, the only sound I heard was my own heartbeat, which I imagined was well over one hundred beats per minute. In the background, strangled beneath the thumping drumbeats that felt as if they were about to split my chest, were the thunderous cries of the crew. The muffled screams and fearsome bellows of men in search of blood and fortune were barely audible behind the wall of my excruciating terror.

I glanced up and over the side, watching as the panicked crew of our prey scrambled wildly about, dodging the incoming gunfire, obviously unprepared in both arms and numbers for such an assault. Unable to believe what I was seeing, I lowered my hands for a moment and swallowed hard. I watched in horror as the first man at the rail of our prize lost the left side of his skull in a spatter of bone and bloodied skin. The gun flew from his hands, and his feet left the deck simultaneously, sending him bouncing backwards out of this life and unnaturally into the next, as nothing more than a heap of dead flesh.

I think I screamed and then felt a pop deep within my eardrums. All at once, the echoes of deadly battle at last bashed their way in. Gunfire and the thumps and clinks of grappling hooks dropping to the deck in preparation to make capture were sharp, and what I could clearly see and hear was matched sight for sound at last.

“Fire!” Barclay ordered. All five guns kicked back with a deafening boom, shaking the Demon Sea. I lost my footing from the jolt and coughed hard repeatedly as gunpowder and choking smoke filled the air. As we came about to the starboard side of what was obviously no more than a merchant ship, the smoke cleared in the windy spray, and Barclay called to hold fire. I looked across the water to find all those left standing shoulder to shoulder on their deck. Their arms were raised and their meager weapons lay at their feet. The damage done by what I knew to be chain shot—Barclay’s preferred method of maximum devastation—left blood, flesh, and splintered wood as far as my eyes could see.

“Take her lads; she’s all ours!” Barclay shouted as he sheathed his sword and snatched me by the back of my neck again. “Look, girl! Do you see those twenty or so swabs with their tails tucked in their asses? I’m about to give the order of no quarter. Do you know what that means?”

“No quarter?” I asked, shaking free of his grip and pushing him off as I backed away in horror. “Why? They surrendered, and yet you’d…”

“That’s right, lass. Kill them all,” he growled with a smile.

“That’s a coward’s maneuver, Barclay. Those aren’t pirates; they’re sailors trying to make a living.”

“We’re about to take their living. What will they have to live for, once it’s ours?”

Barclay’s eyes shined, and at last I could see the monster he truly was. I pulled my sword and pointed it at him as I lowered my head and looked up into his cold, dead eyes. “Call them off. Take the loot and let the living go,” I commanded. Once again, I had no idea what I was thinking. This was none of my affair, and yet something in me couldn’t bear the thought of what he planned to do.

Barclay burst into laughter. “Hold your claws, little kitty, before I rip them out and feed you to the dogs!”

“We’ve been here before, remember? This time, I won’t stop when I pierce your yellow hide.”

“Oh, but you will,” Barclay said with a smooth purr. Then, a thick forearm clamped around my neck from behind and pulled me off my feet. I dropped my sword and dug my nails into my assailant’s hard flesh, and I kicked him again and again. The more I resisted, the more his grip tightened against my throat. The man twisted and turned, causing me to swing from the neck down like a clock’s pendulum. With a loud pop and a violent jerk, his arm pulled free, and I was sent flying hard against the boards, flat on my face and struggling for air.


Don’t forget to stop by this afternoon when I will be interviewing P.S. Bartlett.

Mel

Interview with Karen Mann – Author of The Woman of La Mancha

Karen Mann, author of The Woman of La Mancha and The Saved Man, kindly agreed to an interview. Here is what Karen has to say about her writing process.

karenmannphoto-2Interview with Karen Mann

What is your first memory of writing?

In third grade, my best friend got in trouble with the teacher, and I thought my friend was treated unfairly. I wrote a play, like a court-room scene, that explained the incident as I thought it really happened. I can’t remember now if I had the courage to even show the teacher, but I do remember writing made me feel as if I had some power and had control over the situation, even though that situation didn’t have anything to do with me.

When and why did you begin writing?

I loved to read as a child, and I believed I could create stories, just as the authors I read did. But I had a feeling I wasn’t any good at it, and I didn’t know how to get better. I don’t think I even realized there were classes for creative writing when I went to college. I was in my late thirties when I decided that I had to find a class that would teach me how to write because I wanted to write.

Do you have a specific writing style?

All of my ideas for my manuscripts come to me in connection with some experience I have. My mind leaps from the experience to an idea for a novel. When I begin writing, I hear the characters talking and I see scenes and events in the novel. I have ideas that seem unrelated to anything I have written before, so I think my writing style changes from manuscript to manuscript.

How did you come up with the title?

The Woman of La Mancha is a companion book to Don Quixote, which has been brought to stage and screen under the title of The Man of La Mancha. My title seemed a natural for the woman’s story of Don Quixote.

Are your characters or scenes based on someone you know or events in your own life?

All of my characters have parts of me or parts of someone I know. Sometimes I take physical characteristics from someone I know but the character’s personality might be completely different or pieces of other people I know or characters I’ve met in other books. What has been interesting to me is that the tiniest experience in real life might find its way in a book and that’s helpful because you can flesh out characters or scenes based on your experiences but the story comes from your imagination. Using your own experiences is time-saving because you don’t have to make up everything about the book. The experiences get woven in.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Sena Jeter Naslund, award-winning author of the modern classic Ahab’s Wife and eight other books, is my mentor and colleague. My first creative writing class was taught by Sena. She challenged me from the beginning to improve my writing. Even after I was no longer her student, she would give me writing assignments that I took very seriously. I’ve been to dozens of her talks about her books and every time I hear something new about how to be writer or how to be a good friend to writers. Dozens, maybe hundreds of people, would say Sena was their mentor because she has taught hundreds of students. She is warm, intelligent, and generous, and there is much to learn from her and from her writing.

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

If you like historical fiction, I think you’ll like The Woman of La Mancha, which is set solidly in sixteenth-century Spain, the time of the end of chivalry, Cervantes and Shakespeare, and the settling of the New World. There is a knight who quests after his maiden. And a maiden who is lost and needs to be reunited with her family and her knight. It explores the contemporary questions of how we treat one another and how we take ownership of our own lives. The book is tongue-in-cheek and serious at the same time. There is romance and sadness. The story is mysterious and true-to-life.

Do you suffer from writers block?

I don’t really believe in writer’s block. If I sit down to write, I can write. It might not be very good, but I can write until it gets better or I can go back and revise. Although I make this statement, and I have to say, I’m stuck on a manuscript that I am writing right now, but it doesn’t feel the same as writer’s block. I can’t write on it because I haven’t figured out the story all the way through and I’m not sure how to proceed. This has never happened to me. With all my other manuscripts the story came to me as I wrote it. The story is a dystopian sci-fi set 70 years in the future. There has to be a world war or something; maybe I just can’t write about that.

What was your favourite chapter to write?

Chapter 24 “in which Guido is challenged by Honor” was my favorite chapter to write in The Woman of La Mancha. One of the scenes came to me totally unplanned and unexpected. It wrote itself as smooth as butter (much of it coming in iambic pentameter which has mostly been edited out). When you are writing like that it’s the best high in the world. The chapter expresses the core of several themes of the book: the roles of the sexes, equality of women, and honor. It a chapter that I love but cannot read from at a reading because it gives away too much of the plot and needs a lot of set up for it to make sense.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by another writer?

There is a difference between true to life and true to fiction. The funniest, saddest, most outrageous things—the things we think will be the most interesting in our novels—that happen in real life often do not work in fiction. We have to be able to let go of the intersection of our life and our story in order to write the best fiction.

Is there any advice you’d like to share?

Do not shy away from revision. Take advice from your readers if they say something is confusing or doesn’t make sense, fix it. Be willing to delete your most favorite scenes for the sake of your writing. Avoid didacticism and sentimentality, which is easy to do if you avoid abstractions and write scenes, dialogue, and characters that are fresh and evoke honest emotions and vivid scenes.


Karen Mann is the author of The Woman of La Mancha and The Saved Man. She is the co-founder and Administrative Director of the low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at Spalding University (www.spalding.edu/mfa). She is also the managing editor of The Louisville Review, a national literary magazine since 1976 (www.louisvillereview.org). Having lived in Indiana most of her life, she now lives in San Jose, California. See more about her books at www.karenmannwrites.com.


coverauthorbuzz-2The Woman of La Mancha, a companion book to Don Quixote, tells the woman’s story of Don Quixote by recounting the story of the girl he called Dulcinea, the woman he loved from afar.

It’s 1583. An eleven-year-old girl wakes in the back of a cart. She has lost her memory and is taken in by a kindly farm family in La Mancha. She adopts the name Aldonza. She doesn’t speak for quite some time. Once she speaks, there is a family member who is jealous of her and causes a good deal of trouble, even causing her to be forced to leave La Mancha in tragic circumstances. Having to create a new life in a new location and still unaware of her birth family, she adopts the name Dulcinea and moves in the circles of nobility. While seeking her identity, she becomes the consort of wealthy men, finds reason to disguise herself as a man, and learns herbal healing to help others.

There is a parallel story of a young man, Don Christopher, a knight of King Philip and the betrothed of the girl, who sets off on with a young squire, Sancho, to find the girl. Christopher’s adventures take them across Spain and force him to grow up. Does he continue the quest to find his betrothed or marry another and break the contract with the king?

Both young people have many experiences and grow up before the readers’ eyes. Floating in and out of each other’s paths as they travel around Spain, will they eventually find each other and be together?

Author Spotlight: New Release by Charles E Yallowitz – Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue

LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE:
SLEEPER OF THE WILDWOOD FUGUE
LIVE on Amazon Kindle!

Art by Jason Pedersen
Art by Jason Pedersen

The final champion stirs and reaches out to any who can hear her voice. Yet all who heed her call will disappear into the misty fugue.

Awakening their new ally is only the beginning as Luke, Nyx, and their friends head south to the desert city of Bor’daruk. Hunting for another temple once used to seal Baron Kernaghan, they are unaware that the game of destiny has changed. Out for blood and pain, Stephen is determined to make Luke wish he’d never set out to become a hero.

By the time the sun sets on Bor’daruk, minds will be shattered and the champions’ lives will be changed forever.

Don’t forget to mark it as ‘To Read’ on Goodreads too!

Charles E. Yallowitz
Charles E. Yallowitz

About the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: Legends of Windemere
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

Read the Previous Volumes of Legends of Windemere!!!

BEGINNING OF A HERO

PRODIGY OF RAINBOW TOWER

ALLURE OF THE GYPSIES

FAMILY OF THE TRI-RUNE

THE COMPASS KEY

CURSE OF THE DARK WIND