Monday, 3 November 2014

Author Promo -- Angela Carina Barry -- Guest-post

Hi there!  This is A. Carina Barry, author of the Lost Heroes series and the soon to be released "Love at the End of all Things" dark romance.  I've been invited to give you charming people a blog post.  I don't do many "official" ones so I hope you enjoy it, usually I'm sharing cat videos and the like.

Okay!  One of the most interesting questions I've had a chance to ponder as a new author is "Where do you get your ideas from?"

I think this question usually gets asked of people who've been in the craft for a long time and they have a different perspective than new authors do.  So for me, I answer:  "You're asking the wrong question.  What you really want to ask is:  Do I only have one story in me?" 

The answer for most of you will be:  No, you have MANY stories inside of you!  The problem is that because we all use language every day of our lives, we fail to realize that writing is utilizing a different set of skills than just reading or jotting down a shopping list.  It is more akin to the difference between walking and horse-back riding.  You wind up using different muscles and learn different skills to ride a horse than to go from point A to point B on your own two legs. 

This being the case, be gentle with yourself if you decide to start writing.  It takes time to get the words to flow onto the page.  It also takes time to train your brain to use different pathways for the process of writing stories as opposed to reports, notes, or even signs.  I would say it took me at least 3 months for it to be less of a struggle.  Your learning process might be faster or slower, but realize there is one and cut yourself some slack.  Write still, because you aren't going to get the hang of it by doing anything other than writing, but don't be angry if it isn't perfect right out the gate.

Also realize that even if you think it is perfect now, you'll probably look back on it and think you could have done better.  So, save your special story for a little later.  Do some writing exercises and do some writing prompts so you can get past the awkward stage.  Go ahead and make notes for it and character descriptions, all that, but wait a bit on that really brilliant idea.  It will be worth it.

Other lessons I've learned:  Horror writing is very therapeutic.  I have met a good number of horror authors these days and I have to say, they are usually pretty cheery and mellow!  Being able to dump some troubles into a story can help make your day better.  It doesn't work on all ills, but it does work on a lot of them.  Try it, you might discover it's fun.

Also:  Learning to write romance is hard.  The first chapter of Lost Heroes 2:  Firefly's Tale (the actual chapter, not the prologue) has been seen by authors, beta readers, and editors no less than thirteen times.  THIRTEEN!  My early attempts at writing romance were atrocious!  I thought it matched up to Craig Ferguson's description of sex with English people.  Except his was funny, mine made me want to throw my entire computer out the window. 

I am very grateful to a lot of people for helping me to turn my efforts into a decent story.  You'll see most of them credited at the front of the book, that's why it is so long!  Writing romance is easily as hard or harder than just learning to write a story at all.  You have to look inward at yourself as well as outward at society.  Romantic scenes are idealized just as action films are idealized.  Anyone who has had "windswept hair" knows that only 1 out of 100 times will it look surprisingly well-styled instead of a rats nest or completely flat, but that one time is what gets captured on the page and in film.  So first you have to figure out all the troubles of bringing people together and then what is worth keeping and what to discard in description.  As another author once told me, "There's only so many ways to fit tab A into slot B", so just realize it's not about the sex-it's about the investment of the characters and their emotions.  Romance makes us want to see the couple overcome the odds.  The rest is the icing on the cake. 

Currently I'm finally getting to play in my favorite genre of all:  Fantasy.  For some reason I couldn't write in it.  I love it, I read lots of it, but when I sat down to write it, nothing.  My story ideas kept turning to horror.  I met another fellow who said he wanted to write about fairies and elves and kept winding up with werewolves and decapitations.  I think it must be some special writer's malady!

However, coming at it via romance, I'm finally having a blast and am about one chapter away from finishing "Paladin's Honor".  This is the first book of a trilogy and I see so many possibilities in this pool that I expect to be here for a very long time.  I did include a sample to show how horror creeps into all of my stories.  So much fun writing battle scenes!  However, maybe you would like a taste of what an unconventional romance can offer?  Sure you do!  Try it, I'd love the feedback.  This is the crux of the story, so spoiler alert!!

Turning around to face him, she saw the burgeoning packs with him riding out in full armor and knew he was leaving.

“I suppose I should wish you a safe journey,” she said, knowing she should say something.

He tipped his head at her a bit as he reigned in his mount.  “But you do not actually wish to?”

Her hands balled up into fists, his words were too close to the mark.  “Of course I do, you help keep my brother safe,” she said instead.

“Ah.  I have put some thought into the matter of safety and come to the conclusion that there is a way to provide more protection to you and your family than Theovald is able to give alone,” Devon said to her, his dark brown eyes unreadable.

This piqued her interest.  “So what plan or scheme did you come up with?”

“I offer myself to you in marriage,” Devon said.

“What?” Mirabelle replied, shocked.  “Just like that?  You don’t even know me.  You haven’t asked me or my parents or anything.”

His horse danced a bit, shying away from her loud outburst.   He reined he animal in gently and calmed her.  “I am asking you now.  If you agree, then I shall make my intentions known to your parents.  But you are clearly not one to listen to them, so if I am to have your hand, then I needs must ask you for it.  You surely would not have it be otherwise.”

Mirabelle considered his words, he was right, if he approached her parents first, she’d never have listened to them.  But this was no kind of proposal, either.  “Why do you even want me?  You’ve seen for yourself that I’m a soiled woman.  I’ve been with other men and you’re a follower of the Divine of Innocence.”

Devon looked into her eyes, his brown ones holding something unfathomable to her.  “Naivety is never knowing what is bad.  Innocence is knowing what is bad and choosing what is good.  I’ve seen you, Mirabelle.  You are choosing the path of innocence.”

Somehow his pious words, spoken gently made her blush as if she were a maid.  No one at the Temple ever spoke about Rhys or innocence like this.  He continued, “Mirabelle, I know you as a woman who is high-spirited and strong-minded.  You are someone who truly knows what she wants and can gain what she desires without needing the help of anyone.  I need someone with that independent spirit, for I will be away for long periods of time.”  He frowned a bit, pausing for a moment as if to gather his thoughts.  “Any wife I have must be able to care for herself and our household; indeed, I would have to have a woman I could entrust with the full running of it.  The wives of paladins are no fainting flowers.  You have the traits I require in a wife and if you wed me, your family will gain double protection since your brother will often be home when I am not and others will still check in on you.  It is a good arrangement for all concerned.”

Arrangements, conditions, qualities, had this man no passion in his soul?  If she agreed, the town would never speak ill of her behind her back no matter what she did while with the Thieves Guild, but would she be consigning herself to a lack-luster marriage and some dull marriage bed?  Would it be worth it, to have the freedom to do as she desired when he wasn’t around?  Was she seriously even considering this?!  This cold-hearted thinking must be contagious.

“Well, I don’t know, I can’t make such an important decision on a moment’s notice.  I need some time and some space to think it over fully,” Mirabelle said, sounding nearly bored with it all.

“I am going on circuit for the next 6 months I will expect your answer upon my return,” Devon told her, his voice gravely serious, as his eyes bored into hers while he steadied his mount.

This was a turn.  “What?  No jewelry, or flowers at least?  Most men would try to actually court the girl they were wanting to propose to,” Mirabelle retorted a bit sharply.

“I am no gardener to give you flowers.  I am no jeweler to bring you wrought gold and gems.  I am a paladin.  What I offer you is faithfulness, for paladins know how to keep vows.  I offer you steadfastness; when I am not on circuit or performing services for my Order, I will be at your side.  I would give you my strength; there is no trouble you can face that these shoulders could not bear.  I offer you my protection; you need fear no one nor any thing if you accept me.  And I pledge that neither you nor any children we have shall ever want.  I cannot make you rich, but even were I to die in battle, the church will provide for you and for our children.  It is part of their pledge to us who serve as paladins.”

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