Spark

3 Things I Learned from Spark

Spark is a character in The Bow of Hart Saga who is based on my two German Shepherds – mainly the male, Sam.  This dog has an oddity that I’ve previously shared in that he talks with his tail (click the link for an explanation). He will answer some basic questions by wagging his tail for yes and not wagging for no. Now Sam isn’t always too keen on having a conversation and, after all, he’s a dog and gets easily distracted with, say, things like food and treats. So, I don’t always get a good conversation with the dog but they sometimes turn out humorous and informative.

Sam understands quite a lot of conversation. In fact, I think I read in some recent studies that dogs can (not always) understand a lot more of what we’re saying than we think – they even process language the same way (again, feel free to check that if you like). Sam is a little older so he has some aching joints – a few questions and you can find out what ails Sam.

In fact, a few years back we were talking and asked Sam if he remembered our old cat, Becky, who died when he was just a few years old. Of course he did (tail wagged furiously). So we asked him if he wanted another cat – and he did! Sam likes cats and babies (really goes crazy about babies) almost as much as swimming!

Anyway, yesterday I was cooking in the kitchen and normally that’s not a good time to talk to Sam because he is interested in food. But, he was lying down and rather attentive so I started a conversation with him by asking a few questions. In hindsight, I really should have gotten this on video but my phone was handy and leaving probably would have meant missing the moment. Anyway, the dog was answering questions as expected, yes and no for the obvious things. Well, I some good questions popped into my head and I interviewed my real-life character. Here are three things Spark (Sam) told me yesterday:

After I asked him if he and the other dog are guard-dogs, he answered yes to both of these. Then I asked Sam if Chloe was a better guard-dog than him.

Answer: Yes!

Wow, that was an unusual answer but Sam really doesn’t have much guile so he was just answering truthfully.

After I asked the dog if he liked our new cat, Minou, and got the affirmative, I asked if he wanted the cat to go outside.

Answer: No!

Sam doesn’t want the cat to go outside? That was odd but then I suppose he would really worry about the cat.

Then I asked Sam if the cat was his pet.

Answer: Yes!

So, Sam doesn’t want his pet cat to go outside.

And there you have it, an impromptu interview with Spark about what he thinks about a few things that matter to him. These were really funny and surprising facts to learn – just like when we found out he even wanted a pet cat. Now we know our dog has a cat!

That’s all for today. Thanks for stopping by and reading about the humorous and informative little interview with the dog. Please leave your responses in the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Click here to read a fictional interview with Spark. And here’s a bit more about the character:

Spark appears throughout The Bow of Hart Saga. To find out more about the character, click the links for The Bow of DestinyAn Arrow Against the Wind or The White Arrow. The entire series is not available on Audible from Podium Publishing:

Amazon

 

About the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. His first novel, The Bow of Destiny was named 2016 Book of the Year by Fantasia Reviews and is the first book of The Bow of Hart Saga. The sequel novel, An Arrow Against the Wind, was released in April of 2017. The third book of the series, The White Arrow, is due to be released during the Fall of 2017. P. H. Solomon also authored the award winning short story, The Black Bag, which won best published short story at SCWC 2012. P. H. is also a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

Prequel short stories to The Bow of Hart Saga:

Trading Knives – Amazon

What Is Needed – Amazon

Download and listen to the prequels for free at AudFans

   Trading Knives 1   What Is Needed 4 

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.

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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