Spark

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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Fantasy Friday! 5 Additions to The Bow of Hart Saga Over the Years

It goes without saying that a fiction project morphs in many ways as it is written. However, The Bow of Hart Saga was a project that lasted several decades so the changes in it have been ongoing throughout that time. Here are 5 additions to the series:

1. Spark – this character was added very late in the writing process of The Bow of Destiny and then into the following two books, An Arrow Against the Wind and The White Arrow. Spark began as a suggestion from my daughter so the character would not have been in the series at all without her input. Interesting since I didn’t even know my wife when I started the series just out of high school, let alone have a daughter!

  1. A larger cadre of villainous characters – one of the characters added was Paugren, Corgren’s brother. He arrived before The Bow of Destiny was completed, but mainly in Trading Knives which is a prequel story that reveals Corgren’s past along with his brother who is an integral part. Paugren takes on a larger role as the series moves forward.

  1. A different writing style – in 2014, at the suggestion of several other people, I changed the essence of the writing style for The Bow of Destiny (and the series) to that of deep point-of-view. It’s a different technique that I had to learn but I think it helped the series tremendously because of the nature of Athson’s story.
  2. More back-story about Withlings – as I prepared The Bow of Destiny, I knew there would be lots of questions about Withlings and the mystery surrounding them. Sometimes wonder-workers, sometimes mystics, these characters are quite different in nature so their story needed to be developed. For that, I turned to a short story entitled, What Is Needed, which refers to the common saying among Withlings.

  1. Ralda’s deeper characterization – this giant of a character had a makeover – again at my daughter’s suggestion. Before her suggestions, I had added that Ralda used a supplemental sign-language common among his people. Also, Ralda’s back-story about his brother took on a deeper meaning as something which motivates him. But at my daughter’s suggestion some appearance changes were added. Ralda (and giants) use a set of tattoos on their hands and fingers to augment their signing was one of the main details that came from the make-over.

There are many other details that I added along with some that were removed. Check back next week to find out what I removed.

Thanks for reading today, please leave your thoughts in the comments section and I’ll reply as soon as I can. If you want to know more about The Bow of Hart Saga, please see the series page.

A Week of Progress & Looking Forward

Last week was busy but I was able get some useful work completed. RM is a challenging book/series for many reasons. It’s a big world with a complex plot. There are many characters, places and forms of magic to discover. Writing on the initial effort was so fast that I hardly stopped to consider everything necessary. That’s not how I want to work on a series but it’s what I have at the moment. Here are some details I’ve been working on this last week:

  • The villain: it may seem like a no-brainer to have a well-developed villain but mine currently isn’t. The reason are several. For one, I only really developed to two main characters. Next, the villain is very slippery and stays well-hidden – even from me. This means the villain had to be questioned at length to discover more of the character’s nature. This led to a lengthy fictional interview to draw out some of my thinking about this character. It’s still ongoing but I’m gaining more insight into this character and the motivations. Portraying this villain will be tricky since this character is slippery anyway but must share the load for the story to have solid balance. The focus is on the main characters but my villain needs to have some visible presence or risk being too vague.
  • The beginning: I envisioned a different beginning due to the original organization of the book. With changes to the order of the various chapters, I needed a new beginning and I think I’ve arrived at just what is needed. I’ve made notes on it and I’m going to begin work on it very soon.
  • Series vision: I needed a solid vision for the feel of the series. As I’ve settled on the beginning I’ve begun to settle on the feel of the series as well. This will be ongoing as I work through the content edit but adding a lot of details and description in the right way will capture just what I need.
  • Oddly, just this morning (Sunday), a few new situations to twist the main character into a few other notes came to mind. It will help me with a villain who’s unwilling to take center stage, preferring to work in the background and remain unknown. Adding a foil for the main character and a tragic background relationship the bites back can add some snap into the plot in several ways. I’m exploring how to include these into the story. This is not new to me since Spark was a late add in The Bow of Hart Saga and wasn’t even a thought when I first started the series at eighteen. That idea came from my daughter close to thirty years later. Hopefully, I’ll go much faster with this series and get moving forward.

That’s all I have for the week but it’s some solid progress. Now I just need to build some momentum and take this series to the next level. It’s a day by day focus to renovate the first book the way I want the series to read but a task worth completing in the end. More to come and in the near future, but for now, I head back to work on RM and this crazy business of writing a book series.