Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It’s so Easy When You’re Evil...

 If you aren’t humming Voltair’s “When You’re Evil” yet, I hope you will be once you watch the video because it’s the perfect tune to hum as you read my answers to June’s Beautiful People: Evil Edition! Mua ha ha ha ha he :}

For June’s edition I thought I’d take on Whowlaski’s left hand man, since I used the Good General for April’s Beautiful People.  Chester would be Whoalwski’s right hand man, however, it’s his twin, York, who gets that honor. Thankfully, York isn’t nearly as evil. He’s just the better assassin. Chester, on the other hand, is a slime ball who likes Wholwaski’s methods.

1. What is their motive?
Revenge against all those whom Chester feels caused him and his twin, York, to be abandoned at birth. This list includes the Gods, as he feels it's their fault that twins are looked upon as 'bad news'.

2. What are they prepared to do to get what they want?
Anything except be kind and considerate (which I'm not sure he's capable of) or harm his twin.

3. Are they evil to the core, or simply misunderstood?
Originally it annoyance at being misunderstanding, which soon turned to grudge because no one saw his true potential. Then, after some cunning words from Wholwaski, his grudge has turned to hatred against the world.

Ted Raimi is my pick to play
Chester and York
4. What was their past like? What about their childhood? Was there one defining moment that made them embrace their evil ways?
Chester and York were abandoned at birth (due to the stigma of having twins). They were found by the Nigiri (Gods’ assassin) who wanted to retire, so he brought the newborns to the Gods to be raised to take his position. York was supposed to be The replacement assassin, but he refused to exclude his twin. Though they learned side by side Chester’s was never as good as York. This means Chester always got the easier jobs. When he’s tries for the harder ones, York ends up having to fix his debacles. His pivotal moment was when, York switched assignments with him. That was the day Chester tried to assassinate Wholawski and found himself facing an equal, who didn't even believe in the Gods. It was then that Chester switched sides.

5. Now that they’re evil, have they turned their back on everyone, or is there still someone in their life that they care for? (Brother? Daughter? Love interest? Mother? Someone who is just as evil as they are?)
Wholawski may have replaced the Gods in Chester's heart, but the General couldn't replace his twin. York and Chester share that mysterious twin bond and even if Chester could take out York, he wouldn’t.

6. Do they like hugs?
No. Definitely not. (York says he'll take them for his brother, though he prefers high fives)

7. Are they plagued by something? (Nightmares, terrible thoughts?)
Chester is definitely plagued by the ever present threat that his actions, especially his failures, could be the one that angers Wholawski enough to hurt York.

8. Who are they more similar to: Gollum or Maleficent?
Good question, I’m going to with Gollum, because he’s not the sharpest sword of the bunch.

9. If your villain could have their choice of transportation what would it be?
Willow transport. Ever since he stopped working for the Gods he hasn’t been able to use Willow trees to teleport from one location to another. Now he has to use horses like normal ‘mortal’ men, which really irks him.

10. If you met your villain in the street, how afraid would you be? Are they evil enough to kill their creator?
No, Chester wouldn’t kill me, York won't let him. He's more likely to kidnap me and take me to  Wholawski, which would be a fate worse than death. So yes, I'd be afraid and hope York, Sarah or Hason would show up to save me.

And for the Bonus Question!

Does the dark side really have cookies?
No, not in this world. Baking cookies is as foreign to them as guns are.

(The web has amazing things - you can actually purchase gun cookie cutters. - How cookie is that? *snickers*)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Dog, a Pageant and a Play?

Oh, my word, this week has felt crazy!
  • I finished reading this months novel
  • I had a short story published
  • I spent the day at the Zoo with my daughter’s kindergarten class
  • I’ve participated in an afternoon of dance rehearsal
  • We’ve adopted a puppy

And that’s on top of taking care of the kids, the husband, the house, going to work and all that. Yeah, I’m feeling a bit exhausted. Somehow, I will survive. I have before. It’s just one of those deep breath nights. Now, let me expand on the first two topics. *grins*

ReviewThe Best Revenge by Anne R. Allen

I purchased this book on my Kindle as part of the Camilla Randall Mystery Box Set. Having just gotten used to figuring out how to judge where I was in a book, reading a book in a set threw me off. Somewhere around 25% of the way through I had to put the book down because I wasn’t certain I could handle it if Camilla’s life got any lower. Once I started it again, I quickly finished The Best Revenge (at 33% through the set).

What a relief.

Anne's writing pulled me in so deep that every time I came out of the book I’d be shaking from the emotional ride. Poor Camilla, debutant of the high society, thrust from her innocent world into one of sex and drama. Is she a darling in need of protection as playwright Plantagenet Smith believes? Or is she a spit fire young woman who can take on the world as reporter Jonathan Kahn believes? Oh and did I mention there’s the mystery of who killed the rocks star and some other sneaky mysteries lurking in the background ? Like I said, Camilla is put through a lot, but I’ll let you read to find out how she gets through it all.

Okay, so this is the last topic for the night. (I need some sleep before I have to wake up and tend to the potty needs of puppy and son.) That’s right, I’m an officially published author! After submitting a short story to Mark Williams, a few months ago, he took it and ran... Okay not quite. He did surprise me with an e-mail that included this link. And there is was, “The Harvest Pageant” by Cathryn Leigh a MWiDP single! (Can I also squee because they are the same people who published that box set above? *giggles*) It’s up on Amazon UK too.

Saffina Desforges wrote the intro (which is also posted on the Amazon page) I like the last paragraph best:
“Traditional fairy tales can sometimes be dark and brooding, and overly-stretched, while modern day fairy tales are often written in a modern style that ill-fits the setting. In The Harvest Pageant Cathryn Leigh achieves a delightful balance, with exotic settings and names, classic fairy tale themes, and a sound moral base, all told in a single short story that’s just right for bed-time reading.”

Wow, I would have never have thought about that story as kids bedtime story. After all, it’s the same setting as my Phoenix Trilogy, which isn’t a children’s book at all. Maybe I can write kids tales. I don’t know, but I’ll be trying my hand at more short stories. Now that my name is out there, I feel the need to write and polish more!

*GINORMOUS HUGGLES* Saffina and Mark – You made my day! (and potentially my week, maybe month, not likely year though, that’ll come when I finally get a novel out *giggles*)

:} Cathryn Leigh

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

You Don’t Need Money to be a God...

...You just need to be (no not a doctor, it costs a lot of money to earn that degree); a writer. You read me right. It doesn’t take any money at all to start writing. A walk to the local library, plop yourself down at the public computers and start typing. There are free writing sites out there (my favorite is Protagonize, of course). Or you could sign up for free e-mail and send the story out to the ones you love. But, either way, it’s totally free to dish out agony and pain on the characters you create.

Of course being a writer comes with its own pit falls. If you’re doing it like I do, your characters start to live inside your head and you’ll find yourself talking to them at odd moments. Worse yet they could take over you words and you might blurt something out. I’m serious. Charley’s characters took over her blog once to plead for help.

I haven’t had anything so drastic happen. I prefer to be a benevolent Goddess and love dishing out happy endings. Not ever afters mind you, those are simply unrealistic, but what they call in the Romance industry ‘happily for now’ – my life is full of those moments so I share with my characters, the good guys at least. They in turn protect me from the evil nasties I’ve begun to create.

It’s quite fun, actually, to see my character come to life and grow into their own persons. Plus, it’s a lot less stressful than raising my kids.  No one will accuse me of child abuse if I stuff a character into a bunker only to fill it with rotting vegetable stew. Not to mention those great character conversations that happen between me and Charley.

Of course, she’s like me so she doesn’t think I’m crazy for it. In fact I blame her for my characters becoming so vocal and active. Now I find them watching through my eyes and making observations about the world I live in. Sometimes keeping those thoughts to myself hard because... well, here’re two examples from Rachael.

Example 1
My hubby and I were watching Firefly, I can’t remember the episode now, but Rachel grins at me from inside my skull.
“I like him,” she comments as Captain Reynolds kicks the bad guy into the running engine because he won’t take the Captain’s message back to his nefarious boss.
Of course, she would like Mal. Though I created her before I ever say Firefly or Serenity, Rachael is a female version of him. She runs her ship without a crew, though... Or, she did until I decided to reunite her with her hodge podge family. Don’t let her grumbling fool you, she loves them and woe to anyone who tries to mess with them.

Example 2 (links in this example are 'not safe for work')
My hubby and I got cozy and started watching Diary of a Nymphomaniac and Rachael saunters into my brain.
“That’s what I am,” she states, indicating the main character with a smirk.
I think my jaw must have dropped, even if I didn’t say what I wanted to. I mean,
I’d known she was an adrenal junkie. And sure, she was a saucy minx and liked sex, but a nymphomaniac? That threw a wrench into the works on the loving romance I was hoping to write in there. Michael might never get over his depression now!

Yes, us writers may be the Gods of our creations, but our characters will assert their individuality. Of course if they annoy us too much we can alter their stories to add more physical or mental anguish. However, these are probably thoughts best not said out loud because, as Miriam so nicely blogged about, you might have to tell the police: “I’m Not a Psychopath. Honest!

Have you had any moments like that? I told my hubby about a couple and decided not to tell him anymore. I love the dear man and don’t want him to think I‘m crazier than he already does. Not to mention he’s currently my best editor... when I can get him to edit my stuff!

*Giggles and Grins*
:} Elo / Cathryn

P.S. I’d like to thank Tammy J. Patton, whose comment on Anne’s blog about Writer Myths for the inspiration of this post – even if it took me a month to write and post it. {:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Map is All You Need!

No fantasy book is complete without a Map. It’s your invitation to go places, and explore. Not to mention it is very handy for making sure it takes the proper amount of time to get from point A to point B... something I am a little, erm, obsessive about.

So how does one go about making a Map? Good question! I suspect I might enroll myself in some cartography classes (or hire a cartographer) eventually, but for now, this is how I'm going about making the map for my Phoenix Trilogy.

Rough Sketch
It all started with an idea. I wrote the very first book with no map at all, but when I got to revising for posting on Protagonize I needed a map to figure out timing. So, I made this rough sketch of what I thought Vervell and part of Azure looked like.

When I got to revising the second book, I needed something more. My map had no scale, and I needed more detail. Thus this, my second, and more detailed, version was born!

Detailed Sketch
Then I got into these whole world building exercises and found a link to some web pages about building a planet, which emphasizes there really aren’t planets of sand or forests or ice (Bonus 1).

One of the other points in the world building was that maps don’t have to be free handed. One way is to trace old maps, so I bought myself a World Atlas. I wish I could have the one I used to pour over when growing up, but the one I bought isn’t bad. It’s on the environmental side, but that means it has useful world maps, that show currents and climates.

Then I got to talking with Charley. We’ve always had a sense that our Phoenix and Aeserion trilogies take place on the same world. Both trilogies are set in a similar era of human evolution. And then there was the character invasions of each other’s plots in the third books, without thought to continuity! Anyway, I offered to layout her world of Cumnor and my world of Videra on one map.

Charley's Sketch
So this April, after Charley sent me this lovely sketch, and a barrage of email exchanges, I got out my tracing paper and atlas. Using one of the world maps, I began tracing land boarders and country boarders, mixing and matching, reversing and inverting, until I was relatively happy with the result.

After some more e-mails and some reconsiderations of the amount of water necessary, I finally have... The Map!

I’m still figuring it out – I’ve got the currents (dark blue lines in the ocean), mountain ranges (the grey/silver lines on the land), and major lakes and rivers (landlocked blue obviously). Now I need to work on climates and vegetation cover.

The Map!
Cumnor is solely Charley’s territory. She is the overlord supreme and is tackling at least four countries with, I don’t know how many, deities. (Bonus 2)

Videra is mine. Since Sarah’s from the USA Midwest, I felt the need to turn her world even more upside down, so Vervell,  Azure and the Areni Plains are actually located in the southern hemisphere and a mirror image from before. I, however, have stuck with two Gods for the entire continent. (Bonus 3)

The Pontus Isles, and Draconia are collaborative territories. They may or may not feature in our novels. Yet, they are there, just waiting for a mischievous Demi-God (or two) to set things in motion. The lonely Apanati Islands, however, are mine. I have a lament to write, which I intend to set there. (Bonus 4)

Now if you’ve been wondering what those Bonuses are... Well they are questions for you to answer.
  1. What is the names of the ‘planets’ I reference and what universe do they belong to? – 4 possible points
  2. Where is the Errion and Skatha Peninsula located, and what parts of the world did I use for this continent – 2+ possible points
  3. Where is Azure, Vervell and the Areni Plains located and what parts of the world did I use for this continent? – 2+ possible points
  4. What parts of the world did I use for these Island groups? – 4 possible points

E-mail me your answers (elorithryn at gmail dot com) by June 1st. The person with the most points gets to choose one prize from the list below. I’ll let you know the results in my June 6th post, though I'll e-mail the winner asking for their preference.
  • A scaled sketch of your map
  • Editing on up to 2,000 words of prose
  • A guest blog post on you blog (you pick the topic)
  • Post as a guest on my blog
  • Pick a topic for me to blog about

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Villains Can be Beautiful Too

I know I just answered some questions for Sarah and Hasón, my Phoenix Trilogy protagonists. But what about the antagonist? A tale can fall just as flat if the villain isn’t believable as it can when the hero isn’t. So for April’s edition of Beautiful People, posted last Sunday, I’m picking on General Jackobus Wholawski.

"Come into my fortress," said the General to the innocent lass.

Tim Curry– Read his Trade Mark.
He’s the perfect choice for playing Wholawski.
Wholawski's name was derived from Jack A. Hole, only he’s turned into a sadistic psychopath, which is reflected in his answers. Read them at your own risk!
  1. What is their favorite type of shoes?
    Fur lined, leather, knee high boots, no questions about that. It gets cold up in the mountains of Azure and Wholawski likes to stay warm. Not to mention they are good armor on the practice field. Woe to anyone who manages to slice them; there’s a fine line between showing your skill and ending up on the rack when you spar the General.
  2. Do they journal?
  3. Even if he could write fluently, he wouldn’t. A journal would only give his enemies fuel to their fire and he would have been ousted sooner. No, for Whoalwski it is better to read theirs than to keep one of his own.
  4. What’s their favorite animal?
  5. A well seasoned and cooked one; particularly Vervellean steer. The man keeps no pets; hates cats and hunting dogs. The only reason he has a horse is because the beast is useful.
  6. What does their average day look like?
    A typical day at his strong hold starts with Wholawski rising at the crack of dawn to practice sword play. After that, he eats breakfast and then spends some time in the dungeons. Usually, at least one new recruit from that morning practice will require racking. Then from late morning to late afternoon he pulls together all the information he’s gleaned from the past day to continue his quest for domination of Videra. When the sun starts setting, he goes back out for more sparring before picking one of the servant girls. If the girl is lucky, she’ll get to dine with him in the Great Hall, otherwise she’ll be a prisoner in his bedroom. If he’s had a really bad day, she may end up in the torture chamber.
    Wholwaski’s routine when traveling is much the same only the practice sessions are shorter and he does a lot of thinking while moving. He also forgoes the woman, unless they happen to be in town and one suits his purpose. Wenching is a reward for good performance on the road. Bad performance results in flogging; or worse.
  7. Night owl or morning person? (Optional: What time do they usually wake up? Go to bed?)
    Up by dawn and in bed (but not asleep) by dark is his way of life. Then again, when your only other source of light is through candles and the rare oil lamp, it’s not hard to see why. Plus, Whoalwski is not a lazy man; he has a continent to conquer.
  8. Do they have a sweet tooth?
    Yes, he does, though probably not as sweet as what we think of as sweet. Sugar and honey are high commodity items. Still, Wholwaski has developed a refined palette and likes savory food.
  9. What colors are their bedroom?
    The anteroom is predominately the grey of stone, with yellowed parchment maps hung upon the walls. Separating this room from the bedroom is a red curtain. Made of woven wool, blood stains seem to disappear in it. In the bedroom the walls are hung with threadbare tapestries keeping the grey at bay. More red wool curtains hang over the windows and around the bed. All the better to hide his violent tendencies.
  10. Can they cook?
    By the Gods’ Graces No! His mother did that for him and after he killed her, his sister took over the job. Now his sister just runs the kitchen whose wenches try to satisfy Wholawski’s many appetites.
  11. What is their favorite household chore?
    Torturing ‘guests’ for information and slicing up sparring partners, if you want to count those. He’s rather fond of being mean to a fellow human beings and causing them to cower in fear. In his youth his favorite chose was chopping wood. While his ax sliced through the logs, he imagined they were someone’s body part.
  12. Favorite kind of tea?
    Whoalwski doesn’t drink tea – not if he can help it – but if he has to present a facade to some Nobel or upper classman, he prefers Checkerberry (think wintergreen).
So what do you think? Is he a diabolical villain? I hope so, since that’s what he’s wants to be. There will be no redemption for him, though the Gods have their use for his ghost. Just as I have a use for BeautifulPeople. I think it shall become a regular monthly occurrence.

:} Cathryn