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Fantasy Friday! The Story Behind the Spark in My Writing

SparkLast year, my daughter was doing some alpha reading on The Bow of Destiny. She suggested adding a dog so Spark is what I came up with. In the book, Athson identifies this dog as a Mountain Hound but to you and me he’s a German Shepherd – or very much like one.

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Spark is a rather interesting addition to the book as well as a comparatively late one. You see, Spark is a dog but not just any dog. He’s a dog that only Athson sees while he’s not taking doses of his elven medicine, Soul-ease. You might wonder if Spark is real and so does Athson. However, Athson considers Spark as an old friend who watches out for him.

If you’ve read my bio you know we own two German Shepherds so you can guess on what I based this character. But there’s more to the characterization than just being like a common breed. Spark is actually based on both of my dogs, appearing more like our female, Chloe, while sometimes acting rather like our male, Sam.

GSDsWhile Chloe is all guard-dog, ready for action all the time, Sam is more of a friendly bloke with a nasty side when necessary. But the unique quality of Sam is his way of communicating with us – he wags his tail for “yes” and doesn’t for “no”. Don’t believe me? Here’s a sample of Sam (Spark)-talk which is through yes and no questions (and of course you have to catch Sam at a good time since he’s usually easily distracted like most dogs by things like food):

“Sam, is it cold outside?”

Sam wags his tail – and it is (or was when this happened).

“Sam, do you like the cold?”

Sam wag his tail because he really doesn’t like the hot Alabama summer but thrives in cold weather.

“Sam, do you want to sleep outside?”

Sam doesn’t wag his tail because, while he likes cold weather, he prefers to stay near his people like most GSDs do. This question is one that’s meant to ensure he’s really answering rather than just wagging his tail in distraction.

“Sam, do you like Chloe?”

No wag because Chloe can really pester him and bite him often since she’s rather feisty.

“Sam, did Chloe bite you today?”

Sam wags his tail. Funny thing about dogs is that, being like wolf puppies, the males often let females win. Sam is much larger but always lets Chloe win.

“Sam, do you want Chloe to sleep outside in the cold?”

Sam wags his tail. Yep that’s right, Sam wants Chloe to sleep outside.

We often can ascertain if Sam feels sick (he gets colitis) or achy (he’s getting a little older now and is starting to get stiff some). We even found out that Sam wants a pet cat though this is likely the fact that he actually misses the old cat, Becky, who was still alive when Sam came to live with us. The cat hated Sam but he loved her. But you get that idea – Sam talks in his own way. He’s rather intelligent that way and even plays tricks on Chloe to get her to do what he wants. Now don’t think that Chloe is dumb by any means. She recognizes aggression easily and can solve some puzzles that Sam just won’t bother with.

So guess who speaks Sam-talk? Spark! I have a number of instances where Spark reveals something to Athson about his surroundings that Athson just doesn’t get. But you, the reader, get to understand that Spark may just know more about what’s going on at times than Athson.

TBOD SF ContestAs announced on 11/2, the book cover is a semi-finalist entry in the Authorsdb 2015 Cover Contest and member voting ends tomorrow. To celebrate, I’ve extended the October sale until 11/7. If the cover makes it to the next round I’ll extend the sale again. But there’s no guarantee the sale will continue past Saturday so have a look today – it’s $2.99 (regular price is $4.99).

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. Sign up for my Archer’s Aim Digest mailing list to receive the forthcoming edition of my newsletter with announcements about upcoming releases and events. You’ll be the first to have news about my books, especially some free offers this summer related to the upcoming release of The Bow of Destiny, the first novel of The Bow of Hart Saga. Speaking of which, it is now available on Amazon – Kindle. Additionally, I have FREE book, What Is Needed is available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks and Smashwords & Amazon. 

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So Close It’s Almost Within Reach

Good evening everyone. I’m a little late getting the post out today since my weekend was busy. I wasn’t entirely sure how far I would get with my manuscript last week so I held off working on a post until I had a good idea how far along I was. There was also the matter of attending a writers conference online last Friday and Saturday which took up a large fraction of my time this week.

The good news is that I have made a lot of progress, but the bad news is the revision of Reformed Mage is still not finished. The writing conference put me further behind than I expected, however the progress is still significant. I have begun stitching together the various pieces of the manuscript. The structure of the book is organized so these parts fit together nicely once complete. As I finish each section it is added to the revised manuscript. My hope is to very quickly complete the main portion of the revision and send it to my editor within a few days. Of course, this also means I’m closer to releasing the prequel for this first novel, The Changeling Incident.

Being stuck on the revision means that my other projects remain on hold. However, I only expect them to be on hold for a few more days, after which I hope to quickly wrap those up. The pre-launch should be underway for Curses Dark and Foul within a matter of days. It will be a relief to be able to move on to my various other projects while my novel is being edited. I expect to work through quite a lot a the various books I have on tap, but also want to take time to relax more than I have and not expect so much from myself. Likewise, it’s also a chance to review aspects of my writing platform will like updating the website.

Overall, it should be a good time to make steady progress many different aspects of my writing. Just completing the revision helps clarify the way forward for the next two books in the Reformed Mage series. Completing this stage of the novel also provides time for planning the way forward three other series so I can begin dictating more books. This revision will be a big step forward and it’s my hope that I can get some feedback about the book from a few beta readers in addition to my editor’s observations. Knowing what I’m going to do with the next several books in the Reformed Mage series should make revision and editing a much faster prospect.

As soon as I have Curses Dark and Foul ready to upload and a link available, I’ll post the pre-release announcement. This is a chance to hone my release plans leading up to a robust release for the novel. The hope is to improve on what I’ve done in the past with The Bow of Hart Saga releases. I hope to update the next three release time-lines – Curses Dark and Foul, The Changeling Incident and The Feral Name (the working title for the first Reformed Mage book) in the near future as well as the more long-term releases.

Thanks for dropping by this evening and reading the updates. The more I have ready ahead of time, the more specific my release dates become. Please leave your comments and thoughts below and I’ll get back with you as I can.

Fantasy Friday! Cryptids Read Books Too – Sorta

Bigfoot CrossingI’m sure you’ve heard the stories about some well-meaning but unrealistic “researcher” who goes looking for a famous cryptid. What’s that? What’s a cryptid? Sorry – that’s a creature which is undiscovered but may “likely” exist. It’s your basic Lock Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Abominable Snowman (Yeti) and other such creatures reported to have been seen but always appearing in bad photography.

Well, apparently they read books so that’s where you can find them. No, not really. Actually, the rare creatures you’re seeking as an author are reviewers. The big question is where to find them, not whether they actually exist. So how do you find St. George’s Dragon or El Chupacabra? Here are 5 ways to find them.

Dragon Symbol1. Amazon – check your favorite books in the genre(s) in which you write for reviewers. This can be time-consuming, especially since many of these reviewers are back-logged or have guidelines.

2. Join a book club – I’m a VIP member of Rave Reviews Book Club by Nonnie Jules where I give and receive author support. Several members have given me helpful, honest reviews and I’ve handed out a few myself (I’m back-logged so be aware of my loooong time-table). Be aware when joining such a club that you may need to review a minimum number of books during a calendar year to remain an active member.

3. Facebook – yep, there are groups on Facebook where authors can meet reviewers. One such group is Reveiw Seekers. Take a look and be aware that there are requirements for such groups such as not plugging your book.

4. Goodreadscryptids reviewers are lurking all over the place here. The secret is to go out and interact with other readers before asking for reviews. It’s likely that you will attract one just by being in a group and joining discussions.

5. Twitter – it’s a bit more of a tall order but try these hashtags: #reviewers & #bookreviewers. Tweet that you are looking for a reviewer for your book as well as your genre. Someone may just notice and offer to review your work.

As always, when dealing with reviewers be willing to offer a copy of your book for free. Always remain polite and thank the reviewer whether the result is good or bad – the latter being part of life so don’t lose sleep over them.

Bonus Info: Here’s a list of 10 cryptids that turned out to be real. So don’t laugh, that hairy neighbor could be Bigfoot.

The Bow of DestinyHave you been cryptid reviewer hunting? Where have you gotten your books reviewed? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading.

P. H. Solomon

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

Bigfoot Crossing photo – Used by Permission of MorgueFile.com, taken by earl53