Tuesday, October 25, 2011

OneWord/60 Seconds: Shephard

OneWord.com is a website for getting the muse warmed up. Each day you get one word and sixty seconds in which to write what it inspires. This was my entry today.

He gazed across the room and thought. Look at them all, sipping lattes, chatting about nothing important. Carefree, like sheep grazing in the field. One stray off to the side, head in her laptop working with diligence on a horror novel. Appropriate for this day, it was almost time The earthquake would come and he would be the shepherd of their souls.

More of my OneWord entries:

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Coach NaNo Novel 2011

The wait is almost over for November first and the beginning of NaNoWrimo. Thank goodness! My Sis and writing partner Rose Wade and I have our novel plotted, cover mocked and our muses are psyched to get started. We even took a big step in choosing the nom de plume we'll co-author under. M.L.Brogan.

This year we're putting our own mythology into an old legend. I'm really excited about what we've got sketched out for these mysterious creatures of the night. Wanna lil peek?

The Coach
M.L. Brogan

Two centuries have passed. It is time for the Coachman of Death to allow his hooved beasts, the Keres, to find new souls to take their place and end their enslavement to the Coach. To the living, the Keres appear as feared creatures of legend. To the condemned, they are the beginning of an inescapable nightmare.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

5 Ways to Boost Your Word Count Without Cheating

Happy NaNoWriMo Site Launch Day and Fellow Writers Blog Hop! *whew say that 5 times fast :) To celebrate the gear up for November let's talk about 5 ways to boost your word count.... without cheating.

The daily word count needed to reach is 1,667 words. That doesn't seem like an unreasonable amount of words to write in an entire day. (Are they crazy? )  But there are days that life will interfere with our lofty noveling goals. Try one of these when your fingers start to slow.

1. Sprinting
Meet up with other Wrimos i person or online and see who can write the most words in a set amount of time. Most sprints are 10-20 minutes long. This is great for a tweet-up. You'll be amazed at how many words you can get down with a couple hours of sprinting. Not to mention the fun! 

2. Long Lost Friend /Relative
If you feel your scene is dragging or you just can't get those words out. Try having your character run into an old friend or relative while their out and about. Or even a phone call from them. You can add tons of words as they reminisce about old times or that Thanksgiving when Aunt Mable's cat ate the stuffing. Even if it's something you may edit out in the next draft it will breath some new life into your muse and pad that count! 

3. Disaster Strikes
A hurricane heading in, a freak F5 tornado, earthquake, flood, a 3-10 car pile up. Any one of those can add at least a couple of pages worth of wordiness. You have the before, during, and effects after that might even bring out some qualities you didn't know your characters had. 

4. Kill'em
Let's face it. Death is wordy. Not matter how or who gets bumped off you've get at least 4 scenes off a corpse turning up. The death itself, the discovery, the aftermath, and the funeral, lots and lots of words. 

5. Use Your Senses
You have 5 senses taste, touch, scent, sight, sound. Every single environment your characters walk into, or crash into in some cases, holds each of these elements just waiting for you to detail them. A car crash could have the scent of smoke and gasoline in the air. They would see broken glass, dented and crushed cars, hear someone crying for help or a sirens approaching, maybe a car horn. Taste blood from a gash, or if gas is thick in the air it will leave a taste on your tongue. They may feel the ache of injury or the rough edges or the broken plastic of the dash. Talk about filling the pages, just let your nose guide you.... literally. 

Okay there you have it 5 ways to get wordy and pad that word count. Now who's ready for November?  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cóiste Bodhar The Black Coach

A wail cuts through the night, a warning, the black coach is coming for him. The dying man pulled himself from his bed. He fought with his weakened body to reach the door and lock it tight. He called his wife to push the dresser over, blockade them in. Maybe it would stop him.

The banshee’s wail called the Dullahan from slumber. The large chest took a deep waking breath; he could feel the moon high in the darkened sky. It was time once again to ride. He walked out to the barn hidden deep in the black forest. The nightmares that would pull him through the night stamped impatient to run.

No ordinary horses were these. Their coats shone black as oil, red eyes shaped like almonds, they were evil souls cursed to live eternity as demon spirits in his service. He fastened them in their harnesses and led the beasts to the coach.

His half-rotted flesh began to work the straps and buckles. The nightmares screamed into the night anxious to be on their way. Hooves dug at the earth impatient and sparked flame. He stroked the beat’s neck, he felt it too, the call of the dying.

The  Dullahan climbed aboard and took the reins. The nightmares reared and screamed as they took to the unseen road.

The living did not see him but felt the cold chill down their backs as he passed. The night became darker, thicker with dread as he road toward his destination. His arm drew back to crack his bone whip, the spine snapped and spurred the beasts into a full run.

Men woke and cried out with terrifying dreams, women wept in their sleep. Death was coming.

The dark coachman pulled the beasts to a stop, their destination before them. He stepped down to earth once more and it trembled beneath his boot.

The slowing beats of his soon to be passenger’s heart pulsed in the Dullahan’s veins. He was the harbinger, nothing could stand in his way. The gate opened at his approach. The front door on the modest cottage swung inward.

The dying man cried out for mercy as the candles snuffed leaving him and his wife in darkness. A loud scrape echoed in the room as the dresser moved aside, pulled by an invisible force. The locks he was so sure were strong enough to hold tumbled and turned, the final door opened with a creak of bone on bone.

The dying screamed as he watched the dark creature walk toward him. The barrel-sized chest taking deep breaths, beneath the cloak’s hood there was nothing but darkness. The wife looked into it and felt the emptiness there, as though she stared into the pits of hell itself. She covered her own mouth to hold back her horror.

The Dullahan reached into the dying man’s chest with its black hand and tore out his soul. The man’s corpse gave one last breath in life. The spirit struggled in the grip of death as he was escorted out to the black coach. The coach’s door opened beckoning the soul to enter and be taken to his fate. 

The wife cried out as her husband’s essence stepped inside. The dark coachmen growled low, her skin turned to gooseflesh, her hair stood on end. The Dullahan turned toward her, she screamed and begged him to not to take her.

The coachman dowsed the wife with the blood of the dead. A mark, she would live this night and maybe the next, but at the banshee’s next cry he would come for her first.

He mounted the coach and cracked his bone whip.  Cóiste Bodhar and its headless coachmen rode into the darkest part of night to carry their passenger to Death.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Author Chat with Mandi Casey

We have another special guest this week. Gladiator's Pen welcomes author Mandi Casey to the Ludus as she tells us a bit about herself and her new book Bizarre Life of Sydney Sedrick. So kick up your feet and visit a while.

Tell us three little known things about Mandi Casey 
Well, the obvious thing about me is that I love to write. I have 3 amazing dogs that act like naughty toddlers when they don’t get their way. And lastly, I play a lot of Frisbee golf. The courses in Wisconsin are very beautiful and full of wooded areas. I love the sunbeams coming through the tops of the leaf-filled branches.
Bizarre Life of Sydney Sedrick is your latest book. Was there a part of the book you found harder to write than the rest?
Probably the ending was the hardest for me. I didn’t want it to end, I was really enjoying this story.
Do you have a writing routine or ritual?
I try to write every day, but that doesn’t always happen. I tend to give myself a word-count goal to meet every week. That doesn’t always happen either, LOL.
What is your favorite coffee house drink?
I’d have to say the caramel high rise at Caribou Coffee. It’s Sydney’s favorite also ;)
Do you have a favorite scene from Bizarre Life of Sydney Sedrick you’d like to share?
 I love when Sydney meets Blake, the story’s hero. He’s a pureblood werewolf, the heir to the Midwestern Werewolf Pack, and he instantly thinks Sydney belongs to him as his mate.
What inspired you to write about Vampires and Werewolves?
 I’ve been a big fan almost my entire life. The paranormal genre is what I really enjoy reading.
 Are you a fan of the classic monsters?
 I am, I do prefer the classic monsters and how there was usually some mysterious, dark romantic element to the stories.

If you could live inside of your book for a day would you, and why?
I’d love to meet my character’s in real life. Sydney and I are a lot alike in our values, so I think we’d get along great. The dark romantic intrigue in the story and the war for power of the city between the vampires and werewolves would be very action packed, and I’d love to be in the thick of things.

 Where can we find you and your books?
I’m on Face Book, I also have a blog at www.whoareyoucallingavampire.blogpot.com. My book will be release in October 2011, and will be available through www.soulmatepublishing.com; www.amazon.com; and www.barnesandnoble.com 
Do you have any news or up coming events you would like to share? Or even just a message for your fans.
 I am currently working on the 2nd novel in the Sydney Sedrick series, this one will be a little hotter, have a bit more edge to it, and you’ll all find out what Sydney finally decides where Blake is concerned.

Thank you so much Mandi for sharing with us We're looking forward to Sydney's adventures. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Alberta Ross Talks About Not Following Rule One and Giveaway

Gladiator's Pen welcomes guest Alberta Ross to the ludus. Thanks to parents who gave her a love for reading, music, and a curiosity of the world around her she became a world traveler for the first part of her life. For the second stage of her life she found a thirst of knowledge, and  the time has come for Alberta to share all of that though her pen with prose.

Alberta has penned the first two books of The Sefuly Chronicles, Ellen's Tale and The Storyteller's Tale. Today she will be sharing some of the wisdom she has gleamed from her writing experience.

So pour a cuppa and enjoy your reading then be sure to comment for your chance to win one or both books of The Sefuly Chronicles. Details will follow Albert's post.

How I didn’t follow rule one
By Alberta Ross

Rule One
 There is a right way to plan a new world, whether on this planet or another, in this time or some other, making sure there is a logic which works for that world.  If it be magical, fantastical or horrific there must be an underlying logic to be able to suspend our reader’s belief.  Some plan it out for months, with complicated notes and graphs.  Having to plot not only the geography of a place but its history, customs and legends as well is hard work but done well is an amazing achievement.  Everything melds and connects and is satisfactory, no holes, no gaps, seamlessly created the right way.

The Wrong Way!! 
 I will tell you about the world I created and the numerous problems that arose, many self-inflicted.  The Sefuty Chronicles are not set in a fantasy world; there is no magic to contend with, no strange beasts to accommodate.  This world is not set on a strange planet that has evolved its own ways.  My world is Earth projected into the future.  The southern part of this world dried up and burnt, whole starving populations began to move north.

We all know about this world, Earth, so logic must be applied even more ruthlessly.  My lack of forward planning became apparent very quickly in the writing.  It wasn’t so much that I was building a world, I was destroying one.

I took away fossil fuel.  We think we know what that would mean: no petrol, so no cars, no gas/electricity for heating and cooling – very unpleasant.  For a short story I might just have got away with it!

Ellen Tale was, of course, meant to be a short story!

However, when we think it through then we can see that the world loses the ability, overnight, to feed the population, well the Western world anyway. 
No man-made fertilisers, no tractors, lorries, ships or planes, no refrigeration. 
How to sow, tend and harvest crops?  How to process foodstuffs?
What would happen then?

I had caused Earth to suffer catastrophic climate change.  My thinking was that very quickly there would be major wars over dwindling resources.  I made all the defenders of land and water make extensive use of landmines.  I was basing the Great Climate Change Wars of my invented world’s history on the wars I have witnessed in 60+ years and projecting them only a little further into the future.  2060 is not so far away!

So now I have a starving world, wrecked by war, and a decimated population.  Everything, as I said before, is connected.  I removed one aspect of our life, fossil fuel, and added one, climate change; but one thing cannot be changed without a cascading fall of domino-like consequences.

In Ellen’s Tale, Ellen was the link between the City and a village.  As the short story expanded I found I was in trouble again because I did not know what to expect in each place.  Back to drawing board big time.  I had to stop halfway through and have a major rethink.

Because of the back history, these two places had been separated by major warfare and isolated from each other for fifty years.  I then had to consider how each would have changed socially and culturally.  How much of what we know now would change by 2111?  Without the planning at the beginning I had painted myself into various corners which proved difficult to get away from. 

For instance
 A village is imprisoned within a ring of landmines and there is no escape for fifty years.  Food is grown but the harvests are completely reliant on external circumstance such as pests, weather and local expertise.
How would our present day social obligations and rules change? 
How would population numbers be controlled?
How would those who cannot contribute to survival be dealt with?
Without contact with any government (remember those dominos, there is no radio, no computer, no communications) who rules the roost? 
How do those in the cities manage?
 There is no fossil fuel to run the infrastructure.  Warmth, food, security at the moment all rely on fuel, and so the list of cascading dominoes goes on.
Food supplies to large urban areas rely on transport links.
Enormous populations crowded into small areas are a sneeze away from pandemics – our healthcare services rely on fossil fuel.

By the time The Storyteller’s Tale, the sequel, was started I had made my plans, organised my histories, started the different cultures and begun to really think through the consequences of my actions.  I know my world well now but I have had to untangle myself in the process. 

 Moral of this tale?  Think it through in great depth before you start and
 Apply rule 1) at all times!

Now for some Giveaway fun!
Here are the details for Alberta's Book Tour Give away
 Every comment to her blog tour gives you one chance to win, so find all her tour stops and make sure you say hello. You can get EXTRA entries by mentioning the tour on Twitter, Facebook or your own blog. Just let Alberta know where you've spread the word

At the end of the tour she'll draw 2 winners for the complete series so far and 3 runners up to pick the book of their choice.

Where can you find Alberta Ross and The Sefuty Chronicles?

Alberta’s official website 
where Alberta blogs about writing and self publishing
blogging about anything she fancies
Alberta can be followed on Twitter at