Tag Archives: fantasy

Character Crafting

Quandary

In my third book, When Kings Clash, I encountered a snag when re-writing the prologue from omniscient author to third person limited POV.

How do I introduce a new primary character (the Gor King) without revealing his identity/background?

The obvious answer was to tell his story through another person, but this too was a challenge. Books I & II are full of characters, so I had to make sure that a new voice was not only warranted but captivating.

In my noodling, I decided to take a people group I’d used previously, the Wurmlins, and develop them beyond what I’d established: nomadic tribe; hunt in groups of three; excellent trackers; ruthless thieves.

Now what?

Next, I needed a new character. Since my audience is YA, I opted for a 13-year old boy I named, Mälque.

How’d I come up with that name? I made sure I didn’t have too many other characters with the letter “M,” wanted it to be one syllable (I think short names sound strong and are easier for readers to grasp) and chose the umlaut because, well, it looked cool. Boring answer but there you have it.

But who is Mälque?

When I create a character, I have to visualize them first. I don’t use a character fact sheet (although I see the merit of doing this) but instead, mull over their psyche for quite some time. For me, this IS the nuts and bolts, the gumption, that drives them through the story. In other words, I’m more interested in my character’s home life than in his favorite color. In the case of Mälque, who is our example today, the fact that his mother was very superstitious had a huge impact on him. Although he denied her influence and even tried to navigate life by denouncing her beliefs, like gravity, he was unable to pull away from her power. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Borrowing From Another

Around this time, I watched a spooky-good Indie film called Winter’s Bone, based upon the chilling book by Danielle Woodrell. In his novel, Woodrell captured the Ozark language and family dysfunction and made his characters jump off the page.

What if Mälque and the Wurmlins were similar?

An image of Mälque popped into my mind…long, greasy, disheveled hair (perhaps in a mullet!) soot covered face, hardened personality (to avoid getting hurt again), a survivor instinct whose weakness, that only the reader sees, is that he’s very vulnerable.

Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

In regards to dialect, the rule of thumb is to infer it. For example, if your character is a Cajun, then you inform your readers he talks with this accent and let their imaginations do the rest.

I tossed this rule out the window. Why? The other rule of thumb per fantasy, and I would argue trumps (not Donald Trump!) the dialect rule is that you NEVER break the fantasy spell. So for me to let the readers know that Mälque talks with an Ozark accent would jettison them from the fantasy world. Besides, I was having way too much fun writing this way!

Next, I decided to give Mälque a key phrase, one he utters to reflect his cynical heart as well as to bolster his courage:”Ain’t nothin’ but dyin’ around here.” And like a chef using a strong spice, I used it sparingly so as to not overpower the story.

Proof Is In the Pudding

As I wrote and crafted Mälque, I became excited. My gut told me I was on to something; Mälque was taking on a life of his own. If you’ve ever experienced that as a writer, you know exactly what I mean. It’s WONDERFUL!

But would my readers like him?

The first test was my publisher, a former Green Beret, who is not one to shy away from brutal honesty. He too loved Mälque and felt he was a great addition.

So we published the book and I waited…

Although When Kings Clash has only been out a short time, the initial response for Mälque has been a big thumbs up. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant, but as a writer, it’s a great feeling to have your gut instinct confirmed.

I also received praises for another new character, Phinnton, as well as the Worms of Bal-Malin.

But that’s for another time!

 

 


Kings, Worms & Whispers

Book III is out!WhenKingsClash_6x9cover_revised02

Early reviews are good…

“Lowder has done it again-created a world for us to immerse ourselves-intensity, discovery and a pathway of epic portions into the ‘What ifs’ and the elusive hope.”

I’m Pumped!

What has me really excited are the readers who liked the Worms of Bal-Malin (dragon-like creatures) as well as Phinnton and Mälque: two boys of 13 summers.

Why?

Because as a writer, I was excited to create the Worms of Bal-Malin and the adventures of Phinnton &  Mälque; I just didn’t know if the readers would be as juiced. I know it’s still early in the polling, but it looks like my gut instinct was spot on.

Oh, and if you’re interested in purchasing or reading a tidbit, here’s the Amazon Link, or simply click on the book cover.


Love, Joy & Miracles…Conclusion

On the 9th day of Christmas: the conclusion of the short story, The Miracle Man. (Previous paragraphs can be found in “Past Posts” under “Love, Joy & Miracles.”)

“Yeah, go figure. For years we hardly talk and when we do, it’s on the phone and only about sports or work.” He pauses; bites his lower lip. “I didn’t see this day coming.” His voice quivers with emotion; he looks away. “It was as if Dad knew last night was his last.”

Dizzy, Wendell heads for the chair near the window. “I need to sit…just for a minute.” He plops down and runs fingers through his thinning hair.

“Do I need to get one of the nurses,” Cliff asks.

Wendell fans himself with the envelope. “I’m fine. So much has happened…so much I’m having a hard time explaining.”

“I know.” Cliff puts his palm over the pocket holding the letter. “It’s as if Dad wanted to set things right. But how did he know he was out of time?”

“Luck or coincidence, I guess.”

“Or a miracle.”

Wendell stares at the envelope, unable to wrap logic around the day’s events.

Cliff steps to the threshold and halts. He keeps his back to Wendell. “You must think I’m a pretty lousy son.” Voice cracks. “Never coming to visit…”

Cliff wags his head as self-contempt delivers jaw-shattering blows.

 “Don’t blame yourself,” Wendell counsels while fingering the envelope. “It’s not what Ira would have wanted. Didn’t his letter say as much? Besides, it takes two to tango.”

Cliff wipes his eyes. Then, without looking back, says: “It was nice to finally meet you, Mr. Bennett. He spoke very highly of you.”

“As he did you, Cliff.”

 Wendell runs a finger around the edge of the envelope. Time is a blur and he is oblivious to the woman standing in the doorway.

“Is everything all right,” Ruth asks. “Cliff told me you got dizzy.”

“I’m fine,” he sighs as he pushes up from the chair. “Just a lot to process in one morning.”

She spies the envelope. “What’s that?”

“Something from Ira.”

“Aren’t you going to open it?”

“Later.” He tucks it in his shirt pocket. “Besides, I’m pretty sure I know what it’s about.”

Her brow furrows and she tilts her head to study him.

Wendell stares at the empty wheelchair.

“Ruth, do you believe in miracles?”

 Her head rights and she perks up. “Yes. Do you?”

 He takes in her sapphire eyes. “So tell me again: what time is the Christmas service?”

 She smiles, stands on her toes, and kisses his cheek.

 


Back In The Game

I’m not sure what happened. I was blogging on a regular basis, picking up steam and then BAM!

Actually, I’m fully aware of what happened: LIFE!

All good stuff mind you, but I overextended myself and blogging got pushed to the back burner. Now that I’ve mastered life and all that’s being thrown my way, I thought I’d get something posted.

By the way,  if you’re interested in how you can MASTER LIFE and smack those hard balls out of the park, send me $50 and I’ll mail you my book (soon to be written…no, not really) that gives YOU the keys to unlocking your full potential and live life….(insert bombastic, redundant sales BS)

Back to reality. Below is the free post from Chapter 2 of Tears of Min Brock.

“Guess I showed them who is the boss,” Galadin said, his eyes twinkling with confidence. Elabea, however, wondered if her parchment was what had protected them. Almost like an invisible shield.

Galadin, like his father, was barrel chested and made strenuous tasks like chopping wood look leisurely. His eyes he got from his mother and shone like black pearls when hunting. However, when he became angry, they became more like thunderclouds, even sinister.

Yet, despite his strong physique and towering size, within him was a weakness. Mithe was correct: His father was going mad. Galadin had been successful in concealing this shame from everyone in the village. All, that is, except one.

She was glad Min Brock had forged them together, even if they were outcasts in their own village. They were identical in age, and even in their younger summers, sensed they were different from the other children. Neighbor’s foreign looks made them feel on edge. Huddled friends chilling whispers made them become even more isolated.

So they formed a secret pact, an unspoken allegiance, in order to weather the storm. At the heart of their friendship was a deep understanding that no one else in Hetherlinn could offer, not even their parents. Galadin understood why she needed to escape to the meadow and climb the oak, despite the Oracles, and he listened to her stories, even when they were wilder than anything he had ever hunted.

Likewise, Elabea comprehended why he fled cottage seven and explored the woods, and why she was the one he shared his hunting tales with. Simply put, they knew what it felt like to live in homes full of shame and more importantly, had learned how to survive despite it.

Nearing cottage number seven, Elabea asked,   “Did you see or hear anything odd last night?”

“No, just my father snoring. Why?”

“Well, last night, I saw an amazing creature.” Elabea became increasingly excited as she explained. “Only it wasn’t an animal.” Her speech became faster. “It, I mean he, looked more like a man—only not like us—so I gave him a name…the Moon King, and—”

“Slow down! What are you talking about?”

“Late last night,” she said, focusing on a slower delivery, “I saw a mysterious rider on a flying horse; they both glowed like the moon. I wish you could have seen them! I’m positive the Moon King is the one responsible for shooting the invitations into our doors.”

Galadin tried not to snicker, but this was not the first time he had heard one of her amazing stories. All were fashioned into fantastic proportions.

“Look,” he said, “I’ve hunted through every thicket and meadow the Oracles will allow. Let me assure you that there is no one like the Moon King. The only odd thing I’ve witnessed is a bald hermit. I’ve only gotten a glimpse of him, and I’ve nicknamed him the Wizard of the Wood. But trust me, he’s anything but mystical. Gone are the days of strange beings, magical creatures and mighty warriors.”

Flustered, Elabea snapped, “I know what I saw!”


I’ve Been Duped!

“Its Beauty is its Deception!”

Have you ever wanted something SO BADLY simply because it was attractive?

Maybe a new car? A relationship? The dream job?  And let’s say you get it only to discover that the car still breaks down, the relationship comes with baggage, or the perfect job is managed by crazy people?

Well, I have! As a writer, I draw upon these experiences to craft my stories. Sometimes I regurgitate it unfiltered through a character and let them deal with the consequences. Now THAT’S fun! Other times I become the magician, getting you to focus on the shiny, red scarf in my left hand while my right hand is preparing to WOW you with a rabbit. Well, not a real rabbit, unless of course that’s part of the plot, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make right now…or is it? 🙂

(For those following the “FREE Book” posts, here’s the conclusion to Chapter 01, Tears of Min Brock.)

Quinn lifted his throbbing head and glared at the women. “Why must you two be so loud?” he thundered.

Elabea remembered a time many summers ago when his eyes sparkled with life, but that was before he went off to fight in the Dark War. Now they were opaque and lifeless. Spying the parchment in the fire, he asked Elabea, “Where did you get that?”

His eyes became icy.

Backing away, she meekly answered, “It was attached to an arrow stuck in our door. What is it?”

It is from the land of lies!” he slurled.

Claire!” Elabea whispered, noting that despite the flames, the parchment was not burning.

“Don’t say the word!” Areall yelled, her placid expression now like churning rapids. Turning her fury on Quinn, she shouted, “Your night of drink is making you talk too much!”

“I’ll talk when and how I like!” he yelled back.

While they argued, Elabea knew this was her chance. Darting to the fireplace, she grabbed a small stick on the hearth and plunged it into the coals.

“Stop!” Quinn roared as he struggled to rise from his chair. “Leave it!” Becoming dizzy, he slumped back down.

“Amazing,” Elabea muttered as she dragged it onto the cool hearth. “It’s not burnt and is even free of soot. It’s so…beautiful.”

“Beautiful?” Areall replied derisively. She crept toward the parchment as if an evil spirit possessed it. “Its beauty is its deception!” she snarled. Unwilling to get any closer, she whispered,“Burn it! Destroy it or you will curse us. The Cauldron will know and see. They will come!”

Elabea calmly picked it up. “They’ve never come before! Besides, how can something so beautiful be evil?”

Areall reached for her but Elabea was too quick. She raced out the door.


Curse or Blessing?

Continuation of Tears of Min Brock

As a teen, have you ever questioned your parent’s way of life? Or wondered if rebellion would be your curse or your blessing? Read on to find out what our heroine, Elabea, decides. Need to catch up? Check out “Past Posts.”

The shaft was clear and glistened like dew while the fletchings were unique colors: the cock feather was yellow while the hen feathers were orange.

This isn’t an Ebonite arrow, she noted. Their shafts are wooden and the feathers black and white. More proof that the Moon King isn’t from Ebon.

Before her thoughts could fade, his mystical face flashed in her imagination. I never saw him shoot this, but who else could have done so?

The rustling paper stirred her curiosity.

Of course, if I take it, I risk violating the Oracles, but this wouldn’t be the first time.

Elabea glanced pensively back at her parents.

Besides, I’ve been going to the oak for most of my life. Nothing has ever happened to us, even when Galadin and I dared to ask to hear a whisper.

Stepping outside, she shut the door and stretched her fingers toward the shimmering shaft. Flesh touched parchment. Tingles raced up her arm. Startled, she jerked her hand away.

The Cauldron’s never known about us at the oak. How will it know now? What harm could come?

She yanked the arrow free.

Nothing happened.

She untied the leather and unrolled the parchment. Even as a simple girl from Allsbruth, she knew that the paper’s thickness and weight were proof it was an expensive quality. Exquisite black etchings were on one side, except for six that were gold.

I wish I could read! she bemoaned.

Drawn to the golden letters, she ran her finger across the marks. Suddenly, a whisper pierced the winds.

“Elabea!”

She shuddered and withdrew her finger.

“Galadin?” she demanded, looking this way and that for her best friend, who was noted for playing practical jokes. Only the wind answered.

Regaining her senses, she went back inside and closed the door.

“I told you I saw something last night!” Elabea boasted as she held the parchment and arrow high.

Areall’s eyes widened as if seeing a specter. She sprang and snatched them from Elabea’s hands.

“What have you done?” Areall scolded as she raced to the door. “What have you done!”

She heaved the arrow outside and slammed the door shut. “Your curiosity will bring death to us!” She darted to the fireplace.

Startled by her mother’s erratic behavior, Elabea asked, “What are you doing?”

“This is a curse!” she yelled as she crumpled the parchment. “It goes against the teachings of the Oracles!” She tossed it into the flames. “I must destroy it before…”

She let her sentence fade, as if satisfied that the fire would quell any uprising their daughter had instigated. Areall returned to her chores as if nothing had happened.


Night Mystery…more Free “Tears”

Here is today’s portion of Chapter 1, The Moon King from Tears of Min Brock…

Elabea rolled her eyes and began banging her bowl again. Areall gently stopped her drumming, and with a patronizing smile, returned to her chores.

The conversation was over.

After a moment of silence, Areall asked, “Would you like to continue learning how to knit?”

Elabea let out a dramatic sigh. “You know I hate to knit! And why aren’t you willing to discuss this? Why do you pretend all is well?   Do you really like the night raids and wearing this?”

Elabea yanked at her tunic.

Areall flashed her another belittling smile just as Elabea’s father, Quinn, stumbled out of the bedroom. Bumping his forehead against the low threshold, he muttered something unintelligible. Rubbing his sore head and mumbling angrily, he staggered toward the fireplace. There, he fell into a wooden chair to begin another day, sitting and staring into the glowing embers that held no answers to his misery. Like the days prior, Quinn would slip further into despair, an occasional grunt about Min Brock shattering the silence.

“Father,” Elabea said, knowing when he was hungover it was better to leave, “I’m going to the meadow.”

Like the other parents of Hetherlinn, Quinn and Areall had banned her from visiting or climbing the oak. Despite their threats and even subsequent punishment, Elabea continued to visit. Overcome with their own personal pains, they resigned themselves to defeat, hoping against hope that the Cauldron would not discover their wayward daughter.

Quinn waved a rubbery arm while Areall huffed disapprovingly.

Elabea threw the door open. The cold breeze took her breath away; she pulled her shawl closer. A rustling sound near her ear made her turn to inspect. Embedded in the door’s rough plank was an arrow. Wrapped about its shaft and secured with a leather strip was a parchment. It was twitching in the breeze.

The THUD I heard last night must have come from this arrow!


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