Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Today is the seventeenth Father’s Day since Dad died in October 1999.

Dad in Uniform

My father.

Fiftieth Anniversary

(Yeah, that’s me with my eyes closed. It’s really hard to get a picture of me with my eyes open for some reason. That was my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary, btw. Yes, they were married in December, hence the wreaths in the background. And, yeah, if a couple of my stories have tall male protagonists with short, fiery love interests, well, you might be looking at part of the reason for that right there. 🙂 )

I was outside earlier (despite the heat wave) using a gardening tool of Dad’s–one he adapted for the purpose. I’m pretty sure it started out as a hoe, but Dad straightened it out and turned it into a long-handled scraper. It’s the perfect tool for scraping weeds out of my decomposed granite driveway (where they’re impossible to pull out because the ground is too compacted). Which is what Dad used it for. (It also makes a pretty decent lever for lifting stepping stones that have gotten well set into my adobe clay soil.)

His generation did a lot of that. If you needed a tool, you didn’t just run down and buy a new one. First you looked around at what you already had to see if there was something you could use or adapt to the purpose. I need to think like that more often.

Thinking of you today, Dad.

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All authors suffer from this disorder to one degree or another. Other people wonder how we get the ideas for our stories. The truth is: When you’re a writer–and actually writing–ideas fall all around you like rain. It’s more an issue of sorting out the good ones.

And, usually, when that happens, we’re able to just jot down the idea, file it away, and keep going. Those ideas aren’t quite ripe yet, anyway. They’re just the seeds of stories. But, then, sometimes–and usually without warning–two or three of those ideas come together. And that’s something else altogether. That’s a story.

And a new story is always more exciting than an old one. It’s a New Shiny Object and we’re all, every one of us, magpies.

That happened to me this week. The story in question is a new sub-genre for me–a fairy tale retelling. Specifically, Cinderella. But with an entirely different motivation for the stepmother. What collided with this germ was the idea of a thriller-ish twist to what happens–or is supposed to happen–at midnight. And the half-ripe idea I already had that this story could fit into the same world as DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING,


although with different protagonists, and continue the greater arc of the jeopardy facing Far Terra. I always thought that story had the potential for a weird sort of series featuring different protagonists in each book, with the previous heroes turning up as side characters or mentors.

I’ve only just started a new epic fantasy series with BECOME: BROTHERS


and I really, really need to keep my head in that story. But, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m having some motivation issues with that. Plus, I need to be working on research for taking my books wide over the next month or two.

And then along comes this New Shiny Object. I’ve jotted down the ideas, but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to beat this one off with a stick.


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Become: Brothers is now available for pre-order at only $0.99. Release date May 12.


Two half-brothers born a day apart.

First born, Gaian is the son of the king and a goddess. His more-than-human strength seems a poor exchange for the support of a flesh-and-blood mother as he struggles to be worthy of Becoming a god himself. Or just struggles to rise above the machinations of the queen.

A single day younger, Benar is the son of the king and queen. Like his mother, he refuses to believe the story of Gaian’s birth. He struggles to fulfill his mother’s wishes by proving himself to be his father’s true heir. But frustration and guile prove to be poor weapons against Gaian’s unnatural strength.

Until a coming-of-age trial forces them either to cooperate—and become brothers in truth—or else one of them may not survive the trial.

Inspired the legend of Hercules.

Now, back to Become: To Catch the Lightning.


(See how those covers go together. 🙂 )


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Not mine. 😉

If you’ve read this blog recently, you know the story I’m currently writing, BECOME, is based, loosely, on the Hercules myth/legend.


Now, in Greek mythology (not what Disney did with it), Hercules had a half-brother, Iphicles.  Hercules was the son of Zeus, King of the Gods, but Iphicles was the son of a mortal king, Amphitrion. The legend doesn’t say much about Iphicles except that he was the father of Herc’s charioteer.

But there’s a lot of story material to be mined in that relationship. Imagine being Hercules’s brother. He could be a great athlete or warrior or whatever–hero material in his own right–but he’d never get out of Herc’s shadow. It’s just not possible. He could try to be a rival to Herc, but that’s doomed to fail and if he’s at all intelligent he’s bound to figure that out eventually. So, he’s pretty much relegated to the role of sidekick. Unless . . . .

So I’ve given my main character a brother, too. Actually, more than one, but one in particular who is almost the same age. It’s not that brother’s story, but he’s an important character. His actions and reactions as various opportunities open up, only to fall to his brother–again–will play a pretty major role in the story.

Only, as I’m going along with this story, I’ve decided that I don’t want him to be the instigator of trouble. He’s got a younger full brother (also half-brother to the main character) who was always part of the story. And now I think that kid brother needs to be amped up to play a larger role in stoking his older brothers half-buried resentments.

Eventually, that’ll mean making some revisions in the part of the story I’ve already written to give that third brother a larger role. But that’s for the revisions. For now, I’ll just make a note and keep on writing.

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The governments of the five different realms of BECOME


are not as diverse as the ones in my DUAL MAGICS series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed SetThat would be a tall order. But they do have different ways of passing power from one ruler to the next.

Some use the familiar inheritance by the nearest male relative of the old king. Some use something more like the Holy Roman Empire–a council of prince-electors chose the successor, often from among themselves. In my story, the council is empowered to choose the new king from the old king’s extended family.

And, one kingdom uses a system somewhat related to Frazer’s (See, THE GOLDEN BOUGH) sacred king. In my case, a Great Combat is held at intervals in which two men must fight for the right to rule. The Combat is controlled by the Goddess’s priestesses and serves to reinforce that the right to rule comes from her–only. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always guarantee a good or even a competent king.

There are those who want to end this system, for that reason as well as for dynastic ones. And, of course, those who want to continue it. The conflict between those two groups is part of the background of this story.

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There’s a lot of world building that goes into a second-world fantasy like BECOME.

Become 5

There’s the physical world and the creatures that inhabit it. The systems of government and the economies. The magic system. And more.

Sometimes, not always, it helps to start with a map.


(Admittedly, I don’t do the very best maps you’ve ever seen.)

See all that forest area? That’s a really important part of this world and it’s not your typical fantasy-setting forest. It’s a temperate rain forest, like this.

Princess Louisa Inlet

(That photo was taken, by me, in Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia.)

But, because this is my world and I can make it however I want (as long as I can make it believable), I’ve included a different kind of tree in the Heart of the Forest. This tree is something of a composite. Mostly, it’s based on the Giant Sequoias that grow at around the 6,000-foot level on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Like this one:


I think this picture was taken in Calaveras Big Trees State Park (North Grove), but it could have been in another grove. That’s my mother in the pinkish outfit in the foreground. Could be Dad ahead of her, but I can’t swear to that from that angle. The hat’s right, anyway.

Here’s another view that shows the bark better.


This one I know was taken in Calaveras Big Trees.

These trees are not just tall, they’re massive, literally big enough around that the trunk would not fit in most average-sized rooms. Or, if it fit, would fill the room completely. They can grow to almost 300 feet tall and more than 50 feet in diameter (though most are not quite that big). They’re so impressive that many of them have names, like General Grant, General Sherman, or The President. (The names reflect the time period in which these trees were first discovered by non-Native Americans.)

But, since it’s my story and I can make up what I want, I combined these giants with a related tree. Thought they don’t–quite–grow in temperate rain forests, the Coast Redwoods would be more comfortable in that environment. (These are the ones redwood lumber at your hardware store comes from. The wood of Giant Sequoia’s is not actually useful–too fibrous.)

The Coast Redwoods actually grow taller than the Giant Sequoias, but not nearly as massive and they don’t have the distinctive cinnamon-colored bark. But the main thing I included in this story is the incredible quality of the light filtering through a grove of Coast Redwoods. It’s probably due in part to the fact that they grow so much closer to the coast, in an area prone to fog. And it’s not something an amateur photographer could ever hope to capture. Hopefully, I can capture it in words.

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Now that WAR OF MAGIC is launched into the world,


it’s time to move on to the new series I’ve been working on.

I haven’t settled on a series title yet, but the first book in the series will be BECOME.

Become 5

It’s loosely based on the Greek legend of Hercules (not Disney’s version) turned on its head (son of the earth goddess rather than the sky god, etc.). What fascinated me most about Hercules’s story is that while he was very good at dealing with monsters and certain other sticky situations, his personal life was a shambles. That was Hera’s fault, true. But when Hercules becomes a god at the end of the legendary cycle, what exactly about his life prepared him for that? And that’s the central problem of my series.

But, like Hercules, my hero has a half brother born at nearly the same time. And, unlike Hercules, their relationship as sometime rivals turned trusted friends (but maybe that early rivalry isn’t completely forgotten–on one side, anyway) is going to be a big part of the story. Which requires that some of what would normally be backstory–stuff that happened in their childhoods that affects that relationship–has to be shown.

Starting with the childhood history doesn’t work, though. It takes too long to get to the main story that way. So this will be an interesting experiment in telling a non-linear story. A story that sometimes (hopefully not too often) has to take a detour into the past.

In order not to interrupt the main story too often, I need to be careful in choosing which events really are important. I just deleted one entire chapter earlier this week.

Maybe I’ll use it on the blog when it comes closer to time to release this story.

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