Snippet Time – Creator of Shadows!

I love reunions. Just saying. Especially when it’s a character from the past. Also, PSSST! I’m going to have the pre-order links hopefully up by end of the week, so watch out for them. 😉


Arianwen swallowed hard, her throat tightening with worry. They hadn’t expected the people here to know anything about the goings-on in the capital, but they seemed as informed—possibly more—as they were. Deron stepped out carefully from behind Inghard, offering up a tense smile to the two guards. “Both,” he answered easily. “I’m human, and I have friends who are part o’ the Human Resistance. But ‘dis lot,” he gestured with a thumb, “are part o’ the Immortal Resistance. The point is, we’re all Resistance.”

The older man narrowed his eyes at Deron for a moment, chewing at his lip. Seemingly satisfied with the answer, he gave a curt nod, replying, “Aye, we agree. But it’s all humans here, I don’t think I can let you in. We won’t attack you, but you’ve got to move on. Get going.”

As he and the younger man turned to leave, Arianwen was gripped by a sudden mad idea to run over to him, and her legs pumped forwards before she had a chance to think over her decision. “Nae, lass!” Aodhan cried out as she jogged towards them. Opening her mouth to shout for the older man, her heart leapt into her throat as two hot black barrels appeared in front of her face, the young man’s tense features at the other end.

“We said ‘get going’, immortal. Do as you’re told,” the young man hissed in a faint French accent, his hair blowing gently in the wind that had picked up, scattering dust particles through the air. As if to make his point further, he clicked the safety off on the weapon, and moved forwards enough to make her stagger backwards, her feet scraping against the loose gravel below.

Holding her hands up to show she meant no harm, she shook her head, gazing deep into the man’s eyes. She saw terror there, not the cold, steely gaze she expected of someone guarding an entire fort. Speaking softly, she urged, “Please listen to me. We’re really not here to harm you in any way, or anyone inside. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have to be, I promise you. There is only one thing we want, and that is to bring the Clan to their knees.” Arianwen bit out the last few words, venom from her emotions flavouring each syllable.

The older man spun on his heel and took in the sight of the demoness stood on her own, hands still raised in the air, before marching back across and lowering the younger man’s rifle. “Easy, Pierre, easy,” he soothed. “Let’s not lose our heads. They already said they mean no harm.”

Pierre gave an exasperated sigh, but he slung the gun over his shoulder as his companion asked, giving Arianwen a cold stare. “And you believe them?”

“Yes,” the other man replied, “I believe them. They haven’t tried to attack us in the last few seconds, have they?” Pulling his own rifle onto his back, he clasped his hands in front of his camouflage-covered torso and directed his attention at Arianwen, giving her hands a gentle nod. As she lowered them slowly to her sides, he continued, “My name is Franklin. We’re not making you stay out here because we don’t want you. But there are children inside there, and youngsters who have never been outside the walls of the Castle. Do you have any idea how it feels to be that human and terrified?”

Arianwen drew herself up smartly, smiling broadly. “I do,” she answered honestly. “I wasn’t always an immortal, you know. I was once human, like you all. And Deron here is human, and Psyche is…” She trailed off as she gestured towards her jet-haired friend, struggling to find the right words. “Well, she’s still half-human, anyway.” Turning back to Franklin, she added, “We know, believe me. I used to be a police officer before the war started. I know what people are capable of. And I also know what’s capable if we stand by and do nothing.”

Franklin gave a heavy sigh and squeezed his temples between his forefinger and thumb, before blinking and looking back up at Arianwen with tired eyes. “I’m sorry,” he retorted with a shrug, “there’s nothing I can do. Rules are rules.”

With that, he gestured to his companion, and they both turned to head back to the entrance. “No!” Arianwen begged, breathing heavily. “You have to listen, I—“

“Arianwen! Arianwen Harris?”

The male voice that called out her name from above the watchtower was familiar and hard to place all at once. Her mind buzzing with names of anyone and everyone she had known in her lifetime so far, she gazed up towards the tower and bright blue sky, squinting and using her hand as a shade. An elderly man was leaning over the side of the walls, waving frantically down to her. Narrowing her eyes further, she searched his face, flickering over every wrinkle and line around his shining eyes—it can’t be. It is! Waving excitedly back, she shouted up, “By the gods! Shiner! What the hell are you doing here?” Turning back to Aodhan with a face flushed with happiness, she grinned and cried out, “Aodhan! It’s Shiner!”

The rest of the group exchanged confused looks with each other, watching curiously as Aodhan’s jaw dropped and he raced over to Arianwen’s side. Gazing up with her, he let out a low gasp. “F**k me, it is. I never thought I would see that wee guy again.”

The elderly man disappeared from view, and unintelligible shouts came from the other side of the fort. Cries and yells could be heard making their way down from the air to the ground, and when they hit the bottom the screech of pulling wires echoed into the hazy afternoon air. With a groan, the metal entrance door scraped forwards, heaving up from the ground as the pulleys worked their magic in opening it wide. Arianwen nearly had to cover her ears from the metallic sound as it rose up into the air and revealed the inside of the fort, a crowd of people stood on the other side with wide eyes and frightened expressions.

As the dust cleared, Shiner came striding through the crowd, racing outside to meet his old friend. Arianwen’s lip wobbled before she felt the emotions bubbling up from her chest, and her eyes watered with tears. Holding her arms out wide, she sprinted across and wrapped them around the old man, sobbing with relief—relief that he hadn’t died, relief that she had found him again, and he was safe. She felt the warmth of Aodhan’s hand on her back, and he slapped a hand on Shiner’s shoulder. “Good to see you again, old man,” he said hoarsely, voice thick with feeling.

Breaking the bear-hug, Shiner stood back and smiled broadly at the two before him, wiping his tired eyes with the back of his sleeve. His features were etched with lines and worry, and his once thick hair was thin and grey, but it was definitely still him. “Come on,” he croaked in his Geordie accent. “Let’s get you inside, like. We can talk about why both of us are in the middle of nowhere in the fort.” Giving a wave to the two guards, he beckoned the group forwards.

After glancing nervously at one another, then over to the two demons, the others eventually trudged forwards. They stared forwards, ignoring the two guards in case they changed their minds, and they vanished into the fort as the heavy door slammed down again behind them with a cloud of muddy dust.

 

Taken from Creator of Shadows © Copyright Miranda Stork 2014

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Writer Tip Wednesday – Get Out There And Live It!

Good morning, everyone! 😀 Happy Hump Day to all – and only two days to the fabulous Friday. Today, the writer tips go out from the laptop and into the big bad world. LOL Well, in a manner of speaking. I know you’re comfy in that chair. 😀

 

About a week ago, the fabulous Trish Marie Dawson put up a post on her blog about a really vital part of being an author that is often forgotten – reading books! With all the other million-and-one things we have to do on a daily basis, it often gets pushed to one side. But it is so important that we don’t just read, but read EVERYTHING. Even if it’s that rushed few pages in the bathroom, or a quick read on the train to work, we need to keep ourselves – and our muses – fresh. You can read more of her brilliant post here. 🙂

But what’s the other important part of writing that often gets forgotten? LIVING IT. That’s right, I mean leaving the laptop altogether, and heading out into the Great Outdoors. Well, if you character is mainly inside, I guess it would be the Great…Indoors? Either way, it’s a necessity. How often do you read a book (providing you’re following the good advice above 😉 ) and realise that a situation or character doesn’t sound believable? Now, I’m not suggesting that thriller writers go out and commit a crime, or that romance authors throw themselves at a kilted man. (Although if you’re single, and a sexy kilted man walks by, I say go for it, writer or not. LOL )

 

But try to think about what your character would really feel, what they would experience. If your book is set in another country, can you pull off how that country’s culture is? The best way to get this right of course, is to either live in that country, or at least visit it. But don’t fear, you don’t need to book a flight to the middle of Romania right now, there is another way. Research, glorious research. The internet is always a good start, as it holds a valuable wealth of information. Learn all you can about a country. Not just the national costume and how many gold mines it has, but the little things. Is it primarily a religious country? How will this affect your character? Are they happy to go along with this, or do they rally against it? How does this shape them? The second part of this research can come from actual experiences though, even if you don’t go there. Try to find out if any of your friends or family have visited that country, or if they know anyone who has. Perhaps they even know a native of that country! Try to learn all you can from a person who has actually been there.

This same research can go for anything, especially landscapes. If you’re setting your book in a very real-and-here place, then you need to get the geography right. You can do some guesswork, but it takes away from your story when someone has been there, and they know it’s incorrect. Take my current WIP, Daughters Of Brigitania. (Don’t groan, there’s only one mention this time. 😛 ) It’s set in a place called Stanwick, near Darlington in the UK. It’s only twenty minutes drive from where I live, so I’m pretty lucky that I can visit it when I need to. But going to see the ruins of the Iron Age fortifications really gives you a – frankly, breath-taking – idea of just how enormous they were. The hills to one side let me know just what my characters would have seen every morning when they woke up, and being out in desolate country-side shows me just how isolated they would have been two-thousand years ago.

What about if your character is someone very different how your own personality? If you have to write about a crazed killer, (And I’m hoping you’re not a crazed killer here. If you are, thanks for reading my blog, and I live really, really far away from you. Like, really far away. LOL) then how do you manage to portray them? Sometimes, it helps to be a bit of an amateur psychologist. What are the worst things that they’ve done? Why did they do them? It’s no good simply saying, “Because they’re the bad guy”, or slapping some childhood trauma on it without understanding them. You need to build up a picture of them, just as you would for characters you understand much better. Think about what would make you do it. Yes, lovely, docile, sweet you. Your character, when they were born, were just like everyone else. (I suppose at this point, I should make a note of saying sometimes villains in books, depending on the book-iverse, are born as such. But it’s few and far between when this can be carried off, and it makes for a less believable character. Think of ‘The Omen’, with little Damien. He’s possibly the most evil character possible, and yet he’s a sweet, innocent little boy to start with.) So providing your character is just like everyone else, what warped them into who they are now? How did it build up? Do internal research, searching for the emotions that would drive you to change this way.

 

So I hope today’s writer tip inspires you to go and see more of the Great Outdoors – or the Great Inner You! And don’t forget to check out Trish Marie Dawson’s post either, it’s definitely another brilliant tip. 😉

Manic Monday – Here Again!

*Yawns* Is the weekend over already? No, I needed more sleeping-in time! *has to be prised away from quilt* Oh well, guess we all have to plough on and get Monday over with. As it’s Manic Monday again, (and I’m now caught up with work after being off), I thought today’s post could be about choosing characters in books – at least from a writer’s point of view.

How do our characters come to us? Is it in a coffee-addled haze? Is it in a dream? Or is it from someone we know? Characters can come from all these sources, but at some point, each one is going to need some extra tweaking and planning. So what’s the process of character creation?

The Coffee-Addled Haze Character

Otherwise known as, I’m-actually-writing-something-else-right-now-but-I’m-procrastinating-and-this-came-to-me. The coffee-addled character most often turns up when we’re supposed to be doing something else. Usually writing. This character is the least offensive, but the most certain one to bug you until you write it down. Somewhat whiny and hyper from the addition of caffeine, this character will push your story process aside and demand to be carefully noted down on a bit of paper, sure to be forgotten again. They have a short shelf-life, as most of them are forgotten once a writer gets back to the careful task of doing the story again. But bits of them may pop up in background characters of many books, breeding like rabbits, useful because of their barely-worked-out details beyond how they look.

Only 52 cups? *scoffs* Beginner.

Only 52 cups? *scoffs* Beginner.

The Dream/Nightmare Character

These characters are easily the most slippery, and yet can be the ones to make the biggest impression. Dream characters (otherwise known as the good guys) can turn up in the sweetest of dreams, and sometimes the sexiest. Often used as fodder for the heros and heroines of stories, they make a big impact with their presence, appearing realistic enough for noting down, but fuzzy enough to have bits added on to fit their book. Often they seem to come semi-naked, perhaps from having to squeeze through the membrane of dreamland. No one needs gooey bits on their nice clothes.

Nightmare characters are much the same, but are most prominently used for the villains of a piece. Depending on the attractiveness of the character, they can emerge to become a villain that is both hated and lusted after, quickly earning the inst-hatred of all other characters. Fond of dark rooms due to their inability to find light switches, they often hang about in corners, waiting for a moment where the writer is worrying about that book they can’t find in the spare room. An uglier villain will have the same impact, but will most usually be used as part of a ‘team’ of villains in anything but horror novels.

No more characters in dark rooms. Hell, no. I have to get some sleep!

No more characters in dark rooms. Hell, no. I have to get some sleep!

The Hey-Don’t-I-Know-That-Person Character

This is both the easiest and hardest character to make up. Being based on someone the writer may know, the overall character has a good grounding in realism, how they look, and how they react to events. However, the character must be tweaked to avoid absolute recognition, especially if said character is less than complimentary. (Beware, writers can and will take notes if you annoy them. Don’t blame me if you end up in Mr Nightmare’s dark room. *gulp* ) Not everything can be reversed, but usually the character becomes an exaggerated version of the real person, perhaps even to the point of becoming an annoying feature to the reader. They are then usually irritated by the character until said character finally perishes in a remarkably comic death.

Exactly, Tom, exactly. You can't have people you don't like just popping up and being eaten by a shark. Can you?

Exactly, Tom, exactly. You can’t have people you don’t like just popping up and being eaten by a shark. Can you?

The Mary-Sue Character

Arguably the character with the least development, and usually female, this character is like Marmite – either loved in the extreme, or hated in the extreme. The character will usually have a basic description of looks, but they tend to adapt easily to allow readers to ‘imprint’ themselves.  For example, “Her blond-black hair.” Or similar. The character will display little emotion to events happening around them, unless it’s to point out that the event is ALL about them and no one else, and possibly to stamp their feet until an equally drippy hero/heroine comes in to save them. Unable to do much for themselves, the poor Mary Sues must flap their arms and gasp a lot until someone turns up to move the story along for them, allowing the reader to finally move onto the next piece of self-centred action.

A typical reaction from a Mary-Sue. Beware, ladies and gentlemen, we may need mops.

A typical reaction from a Mary-Sue. Beware, ladies and gentlemen, we may need mops.

The Historical Character (usually just added to Historical Fiction, but can turn up anywhere)

These are the character based on actual figures. Much like the Hey-Don’t-I-Know-That-Person Character, they are covered in great detail, but unlike them, the Historical Character must be studied carefully to understand their inner thoughts. Easily one of the most exciting characters to discover, the writer can use actual events and decisions of the person to work out what they would have thought of a situation. Part-Encyclopaedia, part-psychic abilities, this character should have the earthy charm of the realistic person, but the otherworldly dreaminess that can only come from being pushy enough to decide the inner thoughts of one of history’s greats.

Cat and bubbles may not be included.

Cat and bubbles may not be included.

The Perfect Character

This character is as rare as blue mushrooms growing on your head, and twice as yummy. Usually the secondary character who becomes a hero or heroine in the second book, they tend to have a hefty back-story artfully woven into the novel in bits and pieces. They will be good-looking, but not too good-looking, and everything you want in a hero, but not too much. In a word, flawed. These tend to become the characters the writer will think of with most fondness, They are most commonly found in the most angsty situations, offering much-needed back-up to the main character, or giving worthy advice in the middle of the plot twist. As they enjoy being in the centre of any tension-charged situation, these characters can often end up dead by book three, simply to pull out the emotions in the reader to urge on getting rid of the villains. *sniff*

The usual reaction to a character of this calibre.

The usual reaction to a character of this calibre.

So what do you think? What other characters could go up here, what have I missed? I’m sure there’s plenty more. 🙂