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Guest post: Building Your Extreme Pantheon Characters by TJ Perkins

TJ PerkinsTonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of mythic characters, is brought to you by Y.A. fantasy, mystery novelist and interviewee TJ Perkins.

Building Your Extreme Pantheon Characters

Okay, so you’ve got this great fantasy with great Gods and Goddesses ruling, or maybe they’re hidden entities throughout your story slightly affecting the lives of your characters, but…what about them?  You can’t just say there’s this ocean God that sinks ships; you need to build on that entity’s powers, background, etc.  So, let’s break this down:

Celtic Gods & Goddesses:

Flidhais – Irish Goddess of wild things and she was a shape-shifter

Brigit – A Triple Goddess – a Fire Goddess, a Battle Goddess and a Goddess of Water.  Any body of water is a connection to Her.  Does she have a special sword?  Special Armor?  What other attributes does she have?

Morrighen – Goddess of War, battle and fury. She will appear in Her Battle Crow aspect so She does shape-shifting, too.

Manannan Mac Lir – Patron of sailor and merchants.  His famed possessions include the yellow shaft, the red javelin and horse called Splendid Mane, and three swards name Retaliator, Great Fury and Little Fury.  He had a suit of armor that made him invisible and has the gift of immortality.

Norse Gods & Goddesses:

Freya – Ruler of the Valkyries.  Has a cloak of falcon feathers and is pulled in her chariot by two large blue cats.

Aegir – God of the seashore and ocean.  Similar to Neptune and has power over sea serpents and water monsters of all kinds.

Hel – Goddess of the dead and underworld.

Loki – God of mischief, trickery and cunning.  A master magician and conjurer as well as a shape-shifter.

Odin – the prime deity who gave his right eye for all knowledge.  He possesses vast strength and will power.  He is followed by a pair of ravens or wolves, (do you know their names?) and rides upon an eight-legged horse name Slepnir who represents time itself.

Thor – God of thunder, possesses a mighty hammer named Mjolnir.  He is the working-man’s god and rewards hard work.

This is just a few I have named and I encourage all of you to do research and find out more about the Gods and Goddesses.  If you want a Goddess, Elemental or Sprite of a tree, body of water, mountain, etc. Google it – you’ll be surprised of what you find.  Or create your own pantheon and borrow bits and pieces of powers and abilities from other deities.

The point is to expand on what the seen and unseen deities in your story are all about, what do they do, what is their background, how do they feel about things, do the items they posses also represent something even deeper, etc.

That’s all for now, so get those creative juices flowing and happy writing.

Thank you, TJ. Great to have you back!

TJ will be back in January talking about villains. 🙂

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front cover smallAward-winning author TJ Perkins is a well-respected author in the mystery / suspense genre. Her writing style has been compared to that of Mildred Wirt Benson A.K.A. Carolyn Keen (Nancy Drew).  Mystery books for ages 8-14 are Mystery of the Attic, On Forbidden Ground, Wound Too Tight and the first 5 books in the Kim & Kelly Mystery Series.

TJ has recently expanded into the world of fantasy for teens. Publisher Silver Leaf Books has contracted to release Shadow Legacy, a 5-book series of fantasy.  The first installment of this new exciting series, Art of the Ninja: Earth, is an award-winner and has been classified by readers and reviewers as a cross-genre of fantasy / manga. TJ lives in Baltimore, MD with her 2 cats and an imagination that’s bursting at the seams.

You can read sample pages of TJ’s writing (www.authorsden.com/tjperkins), see the book trailer (www.silverleafbooks.com), check out TJ’s blog, follower her on Twitter, friend / like her on Facebook and find her books at GoodReads (all her books are available on Kindle, Nook, iPad – just look them up by TJ Perkins).

Wikipedia’s articles on Anime and Manga are also worth a visit (after TJ’s sites of course :)).

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If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with poet, short story author, scriptwriter and lyricist Ken Temple – the five hundred and seventy-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

***

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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2012 in childrens, ebooks, ideas, novels, tips, writing

 

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Author Spotlight no.110 – Richard M Vickers

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and tenth, is of mystery novelist, children’s and short story author Richard M Vickers.

Richard M Vickers was born in Manchester, England.  A keen interest in all things otherworldly goes back to his early childhood and remains with him to this day.  He still likes a good mystery and constantly finds himself in the centre of at least one on an almost daily basis.  Sadly, they’re usually of the “Why aren’t the car keys where I put them only five minutes ago?” or “How come there’s a large blue stain on the carpet when everyone in the house swears blind they weren’t responsible?” variety.

Richard has written numerous magazine articles and short stories on supernatural and historical themes. He is also the author of The Tiger’s Tale, a mystery book for young readers. He is currently working on Mystery Island, a collection of short works tying together Britain’s supernatural and historical heritage. On those occasions when he doesn’t have a pen in hand he often has a whistle instead – maintaining his life-long love of football as a referee.

And now from the author himself:

Write about what you know.  That’s the general advice often given to new writers.  So I did.  Of course, much of what I know wouldn’t ordinarily interest you, the reader.  A lot of it doesn’t even interest me – though it can come in handy when hit with a quiz question on a subject so obscure nobody could reasonably be expected to know the answer.  Better still, some of this seemingly irrelevant knowledge has found its way into the pages of my novel, Woodlife, where it does a more than respectable job of helping prop up the story.

Having rummaged around for some considerable time in that cluttered cranial basket marked “Things I Know”, I finally plucked out a few choice specimens I thought might provide suitably inspiring material.  While it’s obviously impossible to know everything about any given subject, I thought with my initial selection I was standing on fairly firm ground.

Football – or soccer to those of you from the western side of the big pond – has been a life long interest of mine.  I’ve played it, coached it, refereed it and supported it for more years than I care to admit.  I just had to find room for it somewhere.  Woodlife’s leading male character is Nick Wheaton, and I decided to make him an ex-footballer. He’s a pretty laid back sort of a bloke, not prone to overexcitement.  Dependable and solid, he just had to be a former goalkeeper, the last line of defence in any football team.  Nowadays, after a serious head injury ended his playing career, he designs and makes high-quality wooden furniture.  As a former interior designer, I’ve been able to furnish him with a little of my knowledge of that particular industry.  Please pardon the rather weak pun, those of you who noticed it.

Valerie Bain, Woodlife’s leading female character, is so spontaneously unpredictable it would scarcely have been fair to confine her within the limits of my own scant knowledge.  Even I didn’t know how she was going to behave half the time.  I cut her loose and we learnt together as the story progressed.  From time to time I fed her pertinent titbits of information from my own memory banks which she often used to her own advantage. On occasion I had to turn a blind eye.  She’s a little less fussy about adhering to the letter of the law than I am.

One aspect of novel writing where it makes perfect sense to rely on what you know, particularly in respect to contemporary stories set in the real world, is when choosing the locations in which your story will unfold.  After all, if you’re going to take your readers to a place they’ve never been, you need to paint them an accurate enough picture that they can visualize being there themselves.  You also want to convey an authentic atmosphere for the place, something that is extremely difficult if you’ve only ever visited via Google maps and street cam.  Some of the settings in Woodlife are real; others are fictitious, though they have their real-world equivalents.  I’ve visited them all at one time or another.  If I can make the readers believe they are strolling the same street as Nick or peering in the window of the same stately home as Valerie, then I’ve done at least part of my job as a writer.

Pre-conquest British history has always fascinated me and has provided the material for many of my magazine articles over the years. Although the few thousand years between the Bronze Age and the fall of the Saxons have long fascinated scholars and romantics, little of the day-to-day life of that period has been documented by reliable contemporary sources. Most of what we do know comes courtesy of the archaeologist’s trowel, which, naturally enough, leaves plenty of room for conjecture – perfect for exploitation by the imaginative writer.  I felt honour-bound to weave a good few strands of this mysterious past through the plot of Woodlife, though I did my best to ensure these tied in with the few known facts that are agreed upon by experts.

The largely rural English county of Wiltshire is the setting for much of the action in Woodlife.  As the home of Stonehenge, Amesbury and Silbury Hill, it is inherently steeped in ancient history; yet few places also exude such an air of deep, spine-tingling mystery.  If it isn’t its rolling fields peppered with mist-shrouded stone circles and Iron Age hill forts that leave visitors bewildered and bewitched, it’s the more contemporary enigmas of crop circles and UFOs. Probably that is why I’ve been drawn back so many times over the years.  It would have been remiss of me at this stage not to also toss an element of the supernatural (another of my pet interests and an excellent tool for helping to blur the boundaries between the real, physical world, and that which exists only in our minds) into the melting pot.  Of course, Nick with his psychic powers (a result of that head injury I mentioned earlier) might have a few things to say on the subject.

A couple of decades ago I spent some time working in a huge sports arena topped by an inflatable domed roof.  The job was, more often than not, monotonously boring.  At the time I would have been hard pushed to come up with an experience I thought less likely to provide key material for a suspense-packed mystery thriller.  How wrong I would have been. The insight I gained into the operation of this type of structure played a crucial part in making the dramatic conclusion to Woodlife all the more credible.  Proof indeed that even the most mundane knowledge can be transformed into something immensely useful with just a sprinkle of imagination.

And a little about ‘Woodlife:

Valerie Bain only ever plays by her own rather flexible rules.  Unfortunately, when the self-styled ‘private facilitator’ takes on a risky yet highly lucrative assignment, she soon finds her mysterious new employers haven’t bothered to read them.  Having to choose between life and death in order to collect her fee was one thing she never bargained on.

Nick Wheaton’s long football career was brought to an abrupt end by a serious head injury.  The former goalkeeper now runs a moderately successful furniture manufacturing business, but the injury left him with a curious psychic ability which is at once a gift and a curse.  It is only when the life of a former lover hangs in the balance that he discovers how powerful an asset it can be.

And deep in rural Wiltshire, the Edbury District Council is staging a pre-Christmas rock concert. Intended to help boost an ailing local economy, when event manager Ged Matheson does the maths nothing quite adds up. Strange townsfolk and an even stranger discovery soon have him yearning for a speedy return to the comparative normality of his London home, but fate has other ideas.  Nestled at the feet of an ancient and enigmatic hill figure, Edbury appears to be the focal point for sinister forces whose tentacles reach far beyond the sleepy country backwater.  When death appears to become an irrelevance, will Britain’s future be overtaken by her dim and distant past?

Woodlife is available from Amazon as a Kindle ebook.  Sample chapters are available for download from Amazon.

That was great! Thank you, Richard. You can find more about Richard, his books and his writing via… Goodreads, Authors Den and Amazon.

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The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with debut novelist Robert Ford – the four hundred and fifty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 

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Guest post: ‘Magick and Lore in writing your next novel’ by TJ Perkins

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of magick and lore, is brought to you by Y.A. fantasy, mystery novelist and former interviewee TJ Perkins. You can also read TJ’s previous guest posts here and here.

Using the magick and lore of the Celtic / Norse gods / goddesses in writing your next novel

Mythology is a symbolic way of looking at the world.  Myths use storytelling to put form to the unseen, so that the human mind can expand and begin to know the unknowable.  This type of mythology operates on a different plane from that of science, history, or even fiction.  A culture’s mythology is its pathway into the mysteries.  They use symbolic language to trigger our deepest levels of connection with existence.

The same myth can operate at different levels and can be interpreted in a variety of ways – all of which may be true, all at the same time.  The meaning of a myth is not literal, not history, but is poetry.

  • It’s not the original plot of the story that’s the important part, but the essence of the character which aligns the use of bits and pieces from lore and myths and rewrites it, expands it, alters it and changes it.
  • As you write about your characters you are actually making them more real, bringing them to life and offering them individuality.
  • Think of your self as a creator and you are molding these characters, breathing life into them and making them act out a life that you have put together for them.

When you begin to create your characters ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do the deities live – the Astral? – the Otherworld? – or do you have a place you’ve created?
  • Do they have laws?
  • How would the character react?
  • What is their true voice?  (Aggressive, haughty, shy, meek, etc.)
  • What is their true nature?
  • Do they even like each other?
  • Is there drama between many of them?
  • Is there past history that creates drama and affects how they act, how they speak, how they interact with each other and Earth characters?
  • Do different Gods and Goddesses have different degrees of power or ability?
  • Does morality vary among the deities just as it does among humans?
  • Is it true that no one deity is purely good or purely evil?

Keep in mind that the Gods and Goddesses personify forces within nature:

  • Brigit – fire
  • Manannan – the ocean
  • Anu – the air
  • Arawn – the earth
  • Artio – wildlife
  • Nechtan – water

Maybe there is conflict in what people in your story believe:

  • The Gods and Goddesses are symbolic rather than ‘real’
  • The Gods and Goddesses were originally humans whose extraordinary deeds came to be regarded as divine.

This is only the tip of what’s available to you, but hopefully it’ll be enough to get those creative juices flowing.  Think hard on what type of storyline you’re trying to build, what message you want to get across to the reader, and how best do you want to entertain them.

NEWS:  TJ Perkins will be conducting a full blown Workshop on this subject at Balticon May 26 & 27 at the Hunt Valley Marriott, Hunt Valley, Maryland USA.  She will be accompanied by award-winning author Maria Snyder.  Seating is limited so sign up early. They hope to see you there. 🙂

Thank you, TJ. Great to have you back!

Award-winning author TJ Perkins is a gifted and well-respected author in the mystery/suspense genre. Her writing style has been compared to that of Mildred Wirt Benson A.K.A. Carolyn Keen (Nancy Drew).  Mystery books for ages 8-14 are Mystery of the Attic, On Forbidden Ground, Wound Too Tight and the first 5 books in the Kim & Kelly Mystery Series. TJ has recently expanded into the world of fantasy for teens. Publisher Silver Leaf Books has contracted to release Shadow Legacy, a 5-book series of fantasy.  The first installment of this new exciting series, Art of the Ninja: Earth, is an award-winner and has been classified by readers and reviewers as a cross-genre of fantasy/manga. TJ lives in Baltimore, MD with her 2 cats and an imagination that’s bursting at the seams.

You can read sample pages of TJ’s writing (www.authorsden.com/tjperkins), see the book trailer (www.silverleafbooks.com), check out TJ’s blog, follower her on Twitter, friend / like her on Facebook and find her books at GoodReads (all her books are available on Kindle, Nook, iPad – just look them up by TJ Perkins).

Wikipedia’s articles on Anime and Manga are also worth a visit (after TJ’s sites of course :)).

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with historical non-fiction author Delin Colón – the three hundred and thirty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. My eBooks are also now on Amazon, with more to follow. I also have a quirky second-person viewpoint story in charity anthology Telling Tales.

I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s ‘Contact me’ page or plain and simple, email me.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in ebooks, events, novels, Twitter, writing

 

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Author Spotlight no.48 – Bob Frey

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-eighth, is of mystery novelist and short story author Bob Frey.

Bob Frey loves to entertain, make people laugh and think, and, perhaps, shake them up a little. He was a copywriter for several top Los Angeles advertising agencies and received several awards for his creative work. When he turned to writing fiction, he found it was a whole new ballgame and he had a lot to learn. He has since published a couple of mysteries, The DVD Murders and The Bashful Vampire Murder & Comic Book Murders, and Catawampus Tales, a book of short stories, a mixed bag of fast food for the mind.

Also an actor, he has appeared in some forty independent films and stage plays. Now retired, he lives in Sandy, Oregon, with his wife, Susan.

And now from the author himself:

Why I wrote a gay mystery

My wife, Susan, is a big mystery fan. In fact, she belongs to a mystery book club that reads a book a month and then meets to talk about it. After writing several novels without publishing success, I decided to take a crack at a mystery. It occurred to me that there were no mystery novels with a gay protagonist, so that’s what I did.

It took a lot of, well, different research. I went to a gay bathhouse, stripped down to a towel, and walked around to see what I could see. I’ll admit I was a little edgy, not knowing what to expect. My wife, of course, thought I was crazy. To my surprise, nothing troublesome happened. Oh, a couple of guys made eye contact, but nobody hit on me. I did see some unusual, ah, sights, but I was in a gay bathhouse, so what did I expect? I walked around and noted all the different rooms or venues. Later, I learned from research on the web that the layout of all bathhouses is pretty much the same and is more or less based on cruising. For example, there was a steam room and showers, which were like the old YMCAs, and a video room that aped an adult movie theater. Then there were glory hole booths similar the ones in public toilets, you know where someone has made a hole in one of the dividers, and there was even a maze that took the place of bushes and shrubs in public parks. All and all, pretty creative when you think about it.

I have a section in The DVD Murders, where Frank Callahan, the main character, and his sidekick, Detective Barry Jennings, visit a gay bathhouse in search of the DVD serial killer. Here’s where a writer’s imagination takes over. I decided to switch the POV to Barry, a good guy but straight arrow. The result, as seen through Barry’s eyes, is probably an exaggeration of what actually goes on, but, as I have been told by several readers, it is pretty funny and adds some humor to an integral part of the plot.

I also went to some gay bars and cruising grounds without getting into trouble. All in all, my experiences did give me some idea of the ebb and flow of what goes on and helped add some authenticity to my writing. Once I had a draft with which I was reasonably happy, I advertised on Craig’s list for a gay book editor. The guy I picked not only helped me with gay aspects of the book—for example, the fact that cruising in mainly done on the web these days and bathhouses are now mainly used by older gentlemen—he was a terrific editor and added a great deal to the overall narrative. He was also helpful in helping me better understand the gay lifestyle.

Thank you so much Bob, that was fascinating… something tells me I may see the park differently next time I’m there with my dog. 🙂

You can find more about Bob and his writing via his website is http://www.BobFreyBooks.com, and read his Flash Fiction Friday no.16 and guest blog on this blog, and Bob will be returning (definitely a glutton for punishment for the full interview on Thursday 19th January). 🙂

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with poet Rainbow Reed – the two hundred and forty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in ebooks, novels, short stories, writing

 

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