Monday, September 23, 2013

How does your story grow? Guest Post by J.Drew Brumbaugh

Gladiator's Pen welcomes guest author J. Drew Brumbaugh to the Ludis. He is the author of  the thrillers War Party and Shepherds and here to talk about his writing process. So pour a cuppa and enjoy the post. Don't forget to leave some comment love!

How Does Your Story Grow? 
by J. Drew Brumbaugh

As a guest here, I suppose I should introduce myself.  I am J Drew Brumbaugh.  The J being for James and so most people call me Jim.  I write suspense novels of various types.  I have two novels available in both print and ebook formats, a third one on the way, and a collection of three short stories that is available only as an ebook.  More info is available at my website at

For me, novels take a long time to write.  I envy those who can sit down and churn out a finished novel almost from the first draft.  I don’t know how they do it.  My novels grow and change as they are written.  I start with a basic plot in mind and at least an idea for a few of the main characters.  But it’s sketchy at best, more like an overriding theme.  Still, I have to start somewhere so I write some and then write some more and somehow the story keeps going, though not necessarily exactly as I’d planned.  Characters try to change things.  They’ll say I’m not that kind of person, I’m smarter than that.  Or I just wouldn’t do that.  And of course I listen because who knows more about a character than the character them self? 

And that isn’t all.  Plot changes and additions crop up at the oddest times and places.  Often as the novel writing proceeds a new idea pops into my head, something I hadn’t thought of before that adds to the story, or complicates things, or changes the level of challenges for the main characters.  Again, the only thing to do is fix it, add it or change it so that the idea is incorporated into the story.

I’m not sure how these things happen.  I wish I could see everything down to the last detail up front and then maybe I could finish a novel in one or two drafts instead of ten.  I am convinced that somewhere in the deep recesses of the unconscious mind, the creative ideas keep percolating even as the book is unfolding.  I’ve started novels without being able to see the ending.  I begin with an idea for the initial challenge, the original conflict that starts the story in motion, but I don’t know how it will be resolved, or whether the main character(s) will even succeed.  I trust that somehow, some way, the conclusion will materialize as I go along.  I don’t know how to tell you what happens along the way it just happens.   

My novel Shepherds is a perfect example.  Over about three years the story grew, had chapters added, new Pacific Ocean, there would be storms.  So, a storm became an important part of the novel.  Then I thought of rustlers, fishermen who would steal the factory tuna since they couldn’t find wild fish.  Another problem found space in the novel.  How about killer whales?  They would eat tuna and dolphins too.  So, killer whales.  Add to that the personal issues that haunt individual characters, like Olga’s angst over possibly meeting her mother, whom she’s never seen having spent her life in an orphanage for mutated “shepherds.” 
conflicts for the characters to deal with, dangers that I hadn’t thought of when I began writing.  The original premise was simple.  As the oceans were depleted of wild fish, the larger seafood companies to avoid bankruptcy would figure out how to “farm” tuna.  I used tuna because they get big and individual fish can be worth a lot of money.  How would they farm these fish?  Floating pens like salmon didn’t seem to be a good approach for tuna who like to swim, all the time.  So, the seafood giants created genetically modified people who could use trained “herd dolphins” to manage the tuna in the open ocean.  This meant that vast tracts of the ocean would be claimed for “ranches” and suddenly there were conflicts between the “shepherds” and independent fisherman who were trying to eek out a living on what wild fish remained.  As the story grew, various conflicts came to mind and were added.  What about a storm?  Certainly in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there would be storms.  So, a storm became an important part of the novel.  Then I thought of rustlers, fishermen who would steal the factory tuna since they couldn’t find wild fish.  Another problem found space in the novel.  How about killer whales?  They would eat tuna and dolphins too.  So, killer whales.  Add to that the personal issues that haunt individual characters, like Olga’s angst over possibly meeting her mother, whom she’s never seen having spent her life in an orphanage for mutated “shepherds.”

And even with all that I realized I needed a nastier antagonist.  Who?  Ah, some of the fishermen work for drug cartels making and shipping drugs.  Some of the shepherds got in their way and were killed.  Enter Toivo, an independent fisherman who has dolphin friends who help him find wild tuna.  He too gets embroiled in a fight for survival with the drug cartel and ends up meeting Olga, a shepherd.  How could a couple of nearly defenseless people defeat such a powerful group of ruthless killers?  I didn’t know.  It seemed hopeless, which is the point of a good suspense novel.  And yet, as I neared the end of the book the answer was there.  Like magic.  Where did it come from?  I don’t know.  Maybe the writer’s muse?  So I write fervently hoping the muse does not desert me.  How about you?

Find J. Drew Brumbaugh's books on Amazon
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Be a book rebel read banned books!

Banning books is not a thing of the past. Every day books are challenged, or removed from libraries or schools. No book is safe from the possibility. At one point the children’s fairytale, Alice in Wonderland was on the banned list.

For a while, my own county libraries banned the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy from their shelves. Library patrons wouldn’t hear of it, they continued to request, and demand their right to read about Christian and his red room. Now the books are available on library shelves and ereaders.

What would the world be like if readers didn’t rebel and just let someone choose what books were suitable for the public. What if the words of To Kill a Mockingbird, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, or even Harry Potter had never touched our lives?

If there weren’t book rebels we wouldn’t have seen Vivian Lee as Scarlet O’Hara in her curtain dress. Get to be frightened of  saint bernards named Cujo, or see Leonardo DiCaprio become Gatsby. The stories these memorable characters all came from books that were challenged or banned at some point.

What’s the difference between banned or challenged books? According to the ALA a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of challenged materials from public or school libraries, possibly bookstore shelves.

Books could be challenged for various reasons. The top three are explicit sexual content, offensive language, or ‘unsuited’ to any age group. The last meaning any theme or topic deemed unsuitable for viewing. Books that fell into this category were The Hunger Games, The Catcher in the Rye, and Blood and Chocolate. Thanks to awesome librarians, teachers, students, and concerned citizens most challenges are unsuccessful.

What makes the list from year to year can be surprising. Tomes of every genre and age range can be found there. Chances are you’ve got a few of them on your bookshelf or to be read pile already. You can find out more on ALA or Band Books Week websites. To see this years list go to Books Challenged or Banned  2012-2013.

Don’t let someone tell you your books are ‘unsuited’. Be a book rebel read some banned books this week.

This week I’m reading Blood and Chocolate and my son is reading The Hunger Games We’re book rebels, how about you? What are you reading? Do you have a favorite banned book?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Author Chat with Lisa Day about her Love and Betrayal on the Santa Fe

The lovely Lisa Day is in the ludis today for a chat. We're going to be chatting about her latest release Love & Betrayal on the Santa Fe. So pour a cuppa and get comfy as we get to know more about Lisa and her novel. 

Tell us three little known facts about Lisa Day: 
Lisa would have been the weird ole lady next door with the zillion cats, except her husband turned her into a dog lover as well. She's still weird, but her dog chases the cat away. 

I've had lived in over 100 homes in my life time. 

When adversity struck I decide to became a drunk. When, I realize just how much money that entailed I decide I was too cheap to do that. Leaving me no choice, but to face life straight on. 

We’re celebrating your book Love & Betrayal on the Santa Fe today. Can you tell us about it? 
Calico showed up one day and wanted her adventure told. I started to tell it when she springs it on me she had other women traveling with her. Each had a story of their own. SO six women head west after committing to be a mail-order bride.  

Did you have a part of the story you most enjoyed writing? Why? 
Calico's and Tasa's first love scene. I don't usually do sweet and gentle. This one was that and more. I hoped I was to bring Tasa's tenderness toward her to the full. 

Would you share a bit of it with us?
This woman and the feelings she seemed to evoke in him was healing him. For the first time in years he wanted to see tomorrow. All because she stirred his heart, mind, and body as no one else ever had. 
Calico’s sigh pulled Tasa from his thoughts He re-situated himself and turned toward her. He stroked her arm. There were tears. 
“Calico, I hurt you?” he asked. 
Looking at him she grinned, “No.” 
“No. Then why do you cry?” He continued to run his fingers up and down her arm. 
She twisted her whole body onto her side. Looking straight at him, she said, “Because you didn’t” 
A very confused man stared speechlessly back at her. Calico slid closer and rested her head against his chest. Before another second passed, his arms wrapped tightly around her. 
Then Tasa understood that she accepted him, and she was pleased with his gentle manner toward her. His heart beat faster and desire within him flared as his craving for her returned in earnest. 

 What drew you to write historic fiction? 
An easy question, I always like the genre but found the Historical Fiction from the American frontier became an all time favorite.. 

If you could spend a day inside one of your novels which one would it be and what would you do
and who would you spend the time with? 
I thought this would be easy to answer than discovered-no, it's not. It's like asking which of your children do you love more. I can only answer this way. It depends which book fills my thoughts for the day. 

Right now I'm working on a new story so Talon Eagle is who I'd be spending my time with, and I 
never will say how we're spending that time. 

Did you learn something about yourself or your writing while penning Love & Betrayal on the Santa Fe? 
Yes, Seeing the remains of the Santa Fe trail and New Mexico is now on my bucket list. I learned they didn't always circle the wagons like in the movies. And I learned many forts were not built with the famous stockade and gates around it.( Again with the movies.) 

Tell us about three things on your writing desk (computer, notebook, pencil doesn’t count :) 
Haha , it's billing paying day. Want to share some? So there is a mountain of papers sitting right next to the monitor. 

The paperback book from 1988 that I  intend to review next for my “Oldies but Goodies Review.” 

A fashion mail order catalog with the dress I want inside. The one I wanted for months and they just won't put on sale. Still deciding “should I.' I usually wait until their out of my size or the color I want, while waiting for them to drop the price. Did I save the full price, or did I save the sale price when I can't get the dress I want? Oh the dilemma. 

Do you have a favorite historic resource? 
I begin on the internet with Wikipedia and expand from there. 

What would you like to say to readers and fellow writers? 
To my fellow writers: 
I was totally blown away be to number of people doing the same things I wanted to do. To those of you who have became my friend. I value that friendship more than you know. 
I encourage my fellow writers to share other author writings. Not only does it help them, 
but you will feel better about the kind of person you are. 

To readers: 
Thank you. For without you we'd have no one to write for. If you liked a book please review it or tell the writer. If you disliked it don't tear it to shreds if you review it. One man's treasure is another mans' trash. 

Where can we find Lisa Day? 
Here's where I hang out: 
 Facebook author page 
 Facebook- friend me 
Thank you! Elise for letting slip in among all the wonderful happenings at the Gladiator's Pen 
About Love & Betrayal on the Santa Fe 
In 1859 the opportunities for women are scant unless one wishes to take a chance. Calico Benson, a gently-bred woman who wants the security of marriage and family, answers an ad in the “Matrimonial News,” where men advertise for wives. Along with five other women, Calico sets out on the Santa Fe Trail hoping to find love at the end of the trip. What they all find is nothing short of a hellish nightmare of a journey. 

Follow Calico and the others while they seek safe haven at the end of the Santa Fe Trail. Join them as they meet both the civil and the savage on their passage. 

Thank you Lisa for stopping by Gladiator's Pen :) You're always welcome :) 

Have you read Love & Betrayal on the Santa Fe or one of Lisa's other books? 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Getting Edumacated

This last week I crossed a major goal off my ROW80 list. I finished my degree. I am now Hospitality Management graduate, with a 4.0 g.p.a. to boot.  It’s such a relief to have that under my belt, but it also made me think.

Thinking about our characters and their education, could their level of education have an impact? Yes, it could.

We gain more than just knowledge on a certain subject from our education. In our early education, we learn the basics reading, writing, and arithmetic. We join clubs or get involved in sports or music programs. All those things shape who we are from elementary school through higher education.

Right now, I’m working on a historic western. Ben was a cattleman before he became a Civil War officer. He didn’t have a formal education so how did he learn to read and write. How far did his education go? Did learning really impact his life for the better or not make much difference at all?

Education is something we take for granted today I believe. Public education is available to everyone now, in the days when my character lived education was a privilege. Most often schooling was done at home when it was available. Even then, for some education was minimal.

People could read or write but going to a university or higher learning was out of reach. Either by their location or most often by means of income, even in those days college was an expense. It was more common to find a person to learn under as an apprenticeship.

Tradesmen were most often apprenticed but so were attorneys, doctors, nurses, accountants and others. Today they couldn’t get a position unless they had the training of a degree and internship. These men and sometimes women learned their jobs by working with experienced mentors. Sometimes those mentors sponsored their higher education.

Today anyone can open a book or go to a school and learn something. There are grants and sponsorships that offer us choices that Ben and his family don’t have in 1864. Aren’t you glad for modern times?

I certainly am, a full degree offers more opportunities to better my life and my family’s It makes me a better writer by broadening my base of knowledge as well. I’m thankful for my Sis Rose, for encouraging me to jump in and do it and I’m really thankful for no more homework :D tee hee.

So my goals for this week are to hunker down harder on Ben and his exploits in the wild west, publish 2 articles and 2 blog posts, and finally load the car up with the boxes of clutter that have been waiting for exile from my house and get them to the Goodwill.

How has education influenced or impacted your life? Have you made any big accomplishments on your goal list for this quarter?

ROW80 Round of Words in 80 Days is a challenge that understands life can interfere with our writing life and goals. This flexable format gives you the opportunity to adjust your goals on a weekly basis with a wonderful encouraging group of people so you can accomplish your dreams. Join us for the new quarter starting October 7th. for more info go here: ROW80