NO PHOENIX FEATHERS REQUIRED
Welcome Beth Daniels, aka Beth Henderson, J.B. Dane.
Writers have it hard.
There is no Diagon Alley with shops selling magic wands, quills, or scrolls that would most definitely come in handy when we are stuck for an idea or short of time. We have to make everything up with only a sometimes overworked, sometimes procrastinating, sometimes vacationing muse to help us out.
My muse is this hero looking type who likes to lounge in the doorway of the mental room where he supposedly works. He smirks a lot and occasionally comes up with ideas that leave me gaping at him. Some are good, some are…okay, clichéd. He’s a lazy sort some days.
He has had to work harder of late. His job description changed a bit. You see, while I’ve been reading fantasy for years, I always thought of it a mental cleanser. Something that would be so removed from what I was writing that nothing would inadvertently leak over from someone else’s book onto my in-progress page.
Imagine my surprise when fantasy ideas began occurring to me!
At first it was Steampunk because, well, I already wrote historical romantic adventure that took place in the 19th century so it was an easy bleed over. Then an idea that kicked off in the present and bounced around a lot of the 19th century without really being a historical or Steampunk but leaned more toward Gaslamp Fantasy appeared. That morphed into a trilogy, and then the Steampunk story decided a trilogy would be fun and stretched its wings as well.
I’ve never consciously written a trilogy which means my subconscious needed a new learning curve. It needed to begin thinking about a three book story arc plus three standalone stories, each growing out of the previous one while also coming full circle within one heck of a lot of words, AND incorporating part of that story arc.
It was like starting over!
I certainly started reading differently. Consuming giant fantasy epics became fodder rather than frolic. Rather than merely enjoy stories by Kate Elliott, George R.R. Martin, Brent Weeks, Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Kate Griffin and Kevin Hearne, I was now studying them and evaluating what I liked most, looking for things that surfaced in the urban fantasies and the political conflict epics.
And I started writing the stories that were attempting to push each other aside in my mind. “Pick me!” I fancied I heard one call before another drew a sword and began a stare down contest.
Okay, I lied about the sword. I love stories where characters have swords in hand but not one of my characters has turned up with one. The heroes have turned up with quips and the heroines have come with long suffering sighs (after listening to the quips) and a list of things they want to do or be involved in.
Damn pushy characters.
We had a meeting. I pointed out that we had no stage, no map, no destination, no goals. For a while there were no villains, then they arrived en mass with minions and things began to fall together. Everyone had demands. I waved a list of my own demands. While they perused them, I went off and watched a couple seasons worth of DOCTOR WHO, then shoved in DVDs of SHERLOCK HOLMES, IRON MAN, some fairytale remakes/remixes. I surfed the Net for pictures and whenever someone on Twitter or Facebook posted something that suddenly spilled a bit of world construction magic in my lap, I copied it and printed it off. Oddly enough, VOGUE fashion magazine featured some very imaginative outfits that also headed for the world creation folder I was building.
Then I headed back to my muse’s office (short trip since it’s located in my head) and had each of the characters waiting there tell me their life stories. If they didn’t have some mysterious tragedy in their background, I thanked them for showing up and waved them to the door. The characters left squared off. Anyone who said “what is my motivation?” got the boot. They were there to tell me what their motivation was, and I grilled them ‘til they were well done and ready to work.
And I began thinking about that magic wand again and how handy it would be. But you know, I don’t need another one. I’ve already got ten. They pose in curved readiness over my keyboard when I sit down and they spin magic. Far better magic than a wand toting fairy godmother. And they do so without the aid of a drop of dragon’s blood, a sliver of unicorn horn or a lone feather from a phoenix.
Beth Daniels (aka Beth Henderson, J.B. Dane, and a few other names) has been a workshop presenting fixture in a number of RWA Chapter online classrooms for a number of years now.
Her career as a published writer is entering its 24rd year and there’s an accumulation of published material cluttering up her home (28 novels, 5 non-fiction books, a novella, short stories, articles, and far more research books than she’ll ever use). She’s worked with editors at seven different publishing houses (Berkley, Harlequin, Kensington, Dorchester, Simon and Schuster/Aladdin Paperbacks, M. Evans, and an e-book publisher that sadly closed its doors before the real e-book boom appeared). She’s gone the Independent publishing route in getting backlist titles in circulation once more and has numerous projects in process from romantic-comedy to historical adventure to mystery to Steampunk, urban fantasy and Gaslamp Fantasy.
She hated teaching English Composition in the college system, though did so for 12 years, and loves connecting online with people who WANT TO WRITE Fiction.
Beth also has an FF&P workshop beginning soon!
Title: Gaslamp Fantasy
Scheduled: FEBRUARY 3 – March 1, 2014 Cost: $25 for FFNP Members $30 for Non-FFNP Members
Here’s the link to sign up http://www.romance-ffp.com/gaslamp-fantasy/