Interview with Catherine Milos

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed today for my blog, Catherine!

My pleasure and thank you for having me, Leigh!

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been writing and editing professionally for over ten years. My passion for the creative pen began as a creative crayon scribbling stories in colored wax. I am Canadian and live with my husband and three rescue cats. I also have a basement troll I get along with relatively well. Occasionally, I take in strays. I hate brussels sprouts.

Leigh: How do you select the names for your characters?

Usually the characters appear in the story with a name, often spoken by another character. It isn’t uncommon, however, for me to use random name generators or find the right name for a character in the oddest places. As an example, for one story which is not published, I found the name carved into a public bathroom stall.

Leigh: What were you like in school? Were you always good at writing? When did you know you wanted to write professionally?

School and I have a love-hate relationship. I was a decent student, but I found school got in the way of real learning, and took to darn long.

Good is such a relative term. I guess I could say I was always good at writing; I did have some natural talent. However, I had to learn to be better, still have to. Good writing comes from practice and dedication. I also love editing, which I think helped keep me in the business.

I have wanted to be a professional writer for as long as I can remember, but since that wasn’t a ‘real’ job, I let other things get in the way. In spite of trying to be a million other things, I kept writing and even turned it into a business. The best thing about writing, I get to be in every job I’ve ever wanted. I hate the idea of having one career for the rest of my life, but I like a bit of security too. Writing allows me to research and do whatever I need to for a manuscript. If a character is an ecologist, like Madison in Demons and Destiny, I get to follow ecologists around, and, get to be an ecologist for a day or a week.

Leigh: Do you outline your books first or just see where the ideas take you?

As a discovery writer, most of my work is done letting the story take me where it needs to go, but to keep me focused, I do a high-level outline of the plot. Sometimes, when I’m really struggling with a character or chapter, I will outline more in-depth to get things right. While the creative process can be intensely rewarding with this discovery method, it’s not uncommon to have to re-write a lot of the book. Once, I had to rewrite 50,000 words (30,000 words in 4 days) of a book that was 65,000 words.

Leigh: Tell us a little bit about the series this book (Demons and Destiny) belongs to.

Angels and Avalon is a paranormal fantasy series set in present day Canadian prairies. Each book is divided into two parts. The first part of each book tells the tale of a past-life of the main character (MC). For Elizabeth, that’s Avalon, for Tyrel in Demons and Destiny that is a Viking settlement on a Celtic land. The past-life drives some of the motivations the MC’s present life which makes up part two. The series follows a group of friends as they battle their demons (literally and psychological). Meddling gods don’t help the situation. Nor does the fact that most of the characters used to be Angels or Nephilim. Each book focuses on one or two characters.

The next installment is slated for 2018, and I’m also working on a mini-series spin off.

Leigh: Who designed your book covers?

Streetlight Graphics designed the covers – I was actually referred by another amazing author Becca Andre.

Vivienne Gucwa, one of the most talented photographers I know, provided a background photo for Angels and Avalon.

You can learn more about them from their websites: http://www.streetlightgraphics.com/ and http://nythroughthelens.com/

Leigh: What’s your favorite motivational saying?

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.” James T. Kirk

Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Readers can visit any of the below sites, or contact me directly through my website or social media. My books are sold at most online book retailers and some select retail locations.

Website/ Blog: http://catherinemilos.com/ (author)

http://petrichor.catherinemilos.com/ (journal)

http://inglenook.catherinemilos.com/ (for writers and readers)

http://alchemy.catherinemilos.com/ (editing)

Shop: http://catherinemilos.com/shop

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineMilosOfficial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinemilos

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Catherine-Milos/e/B01509L1P8

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AuthorCM

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/

Patreon: https://patreon.com/Catherinemilos

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYhuShg0rUH-iDWRWQYvOBg

Book Links:

Angels and Avalon

CHAPTERS https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/angels-and-avalon/9780994762900-item.html?ref=isbn-search

AMAZON

Canada https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0994762909/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

US https://www.amazon.com/Angels-Avalon-Book-Catherine-Milos-ebook/dp/B014C4JL18/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1495809843&sr=8-2&keywords=angels+and+avalon

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angels-Avalon-Book-Catherine-Milos-ebook/dp/B014C4JL18/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1495809891&sr=8-3&keywords=angels+and+avalon

India http://www.amazon.in/Angels-Avalon-Book-Catherine-Milos-ebook/dp/B014C4JL18/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Demons and Destiny

CHAPTERS https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/demons-and-destiny/9780994762924-item.html?ikwid=Demons+and+Destiny&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0

AMAZON

Canada https://www.amazon.ca/Demons-Destiny-Catherine-Milos/dp/0994762925/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495809794&sr=1-1&keywords=demons+and+destiny

US https://www.amazon.com/Demons-Destiny-Angels-Avalon-Book-ebook/dp/B01MG61FCT/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Demons-Destiny-Angels-Avalon-Book-ebook/dp/B01MG61FCT/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

India http://www.amazon.in/Demons-Destiny-2-Angels-Avalon/dp/0994762925/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Thank you very much, Catherine, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

Thank you Leigh for having me!

ddaaaad

Whispers in the Alders by H. A. Callum

Powerfully Moving!

Whispers In The Alders by H. A. Callum, Kindle Edition, May 26th 2017, Genre: Coming of Age, LGBT Fiction. Warning: May Contain Spoilers. Note: I received an ARC copy in exchange for my honest review.

Whispers In The Alders is an emotionally evocative coming of age tale. H. A. Callum has proven himself to be a powerful storyteller. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading this book. As the story progressed, I began forming expectations, yet those were dashed as the unexpected occurred at each major point in the tale. Despite this, I was delighted and moved by this gem of a story.

Written in first person style, we relive the journey of tortured teen Aubrey Worthington, the only child of the man brought in to eventually lay everyone off and shut down the town’s factory. Most of the town despises Aubrey and her family. A functional alcoholic from a wealthy family, her mother is cold and distant. She wishes deep down she’d never become pregnant with Aubrey or been coerced into marrying Aubrey’s father. Aubrey’s father never would’ve landed his high status job had he not been married to Aubrey’s mother. He is a workaholic, more concerned with appearances than reality. Aubrey’s worst fear is falling prey to the cycle of broken dreams prevalent in the town and being trapped in Alder’s Ferry with her uncaring parents for the rest of her life. Aubrey’s life changes when she discovers the Alder Stand behind her new home and the boy Tommy who makes it his sanctuary. Neither of these children deserve the abuse they receive from the families who are supposed to love and support them. While most people could never imagine some of the things they must endure, these horrible events don’t turn them into jaded, hateful people. Tommy and Aubrey have each other to lean on and confide in. Their friendship is a beautiful expression of love, the “honest affection” they’d been “missing all their lives”. Although I hoped for the best for these characters, world-shattering events conspired against one of them in the end.

My favorite thing about this book is the way Callum gives each character, no matter how minor, a unique voice. The characters are complex. When Mrs. K does wrong, we wonder if we would’ve made the same choices. She’s not evil, merely frail and human. Although the tale begins with quite a bit of narration, once past this point the story’s pace picks up considerably and remains steady throughout. While character-driven, this novel provides numerous plot complications and a mystery for the reader to enjoy. Strongly moving, it tugs on the heartstrings.

I relished reading Whispers In The Alders. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys moving, coming of age stories. This book is now available on Amazon for $2.99 for the Kindle edition.

Starship Mine by Peter Cawdron

A Unique Lens

Starship Mine by Peter Cawdron, 115 pages, March 12th, 2016, Genre: Science Fiction/First Contact. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Starship Mine is the story of a human being making first contact with an alien civilization. It’s also the story of a gay couple living in the Bible Belt, raising two foster kids. Casey and James love each other, even though they’re temperamentally quite different. Their kids, Angela and Robbie, are also well-loved and return that love. In fact, one of their greatest fears is that someone will come along and take their children away from them.
One Friday evening, most of the inhabitants of Earth share the same dream. It’s a dream about a blue gaseous planet surrounded by rings, much like the rings of Saturn. At first, James is baffled by what people are talking about. He doesn’t believe it to be true. Instead, he tries to find a rational explanation for the phenomenon. While at the church awaiting the kids to finish rehearsing for a performance, James has the dream while awake. To the others, it appears he has a seizure. In his own perception, he has floated in a distant galaxy, viewing a blue planet with rings. After he recovers, James is checked out by a paramedic and released to go home, so long as he doesn’t drive. The Reverend agrees to drive them home. Once home, James and Casey watch the news, trying to learn more about these strange events. James’ consciousness is transported far away to the distant galaxy of the strange aliens and their blue planet. James is given the chance to remain with the aliens or to remain with his family. James makes the only choice he believes will lead to his fulfillment.
If you ask, “Would you like to have the opportunity to meet an alien if such a civilization existed?”, most people excitedly respond they would. It’s the adventure of a lifetime, meeting an alien, seeing a new planet! And yet, here on this lovely green and blue planet Earth, many people are shackled to certain perceptions of ‘normal’ that too often cause us to disrespect those who are different from us. If we can’t become comfortable and accepting of those who are different from us, how can we hope to ever peacefully interact with an alien civilization?
I enjoyed reading Starship Mine. This book can be read in roughly an hour, making it an ideal lunchtime companion. While I won’t give away the ending, I wish that the book had been longer and the story had continued further along. It presented the adventure of first contact through a unique lens. This won’t appeal to science fiction fans who are looking for a fully immersive alien experience, such as “Dune”. I’d recommend this to science-fiction fans who enjoy stories that allow the reader to see humanity in a new way.
You can find this book at Amazon at Starship Mine on Kindle.

A Merchant in Oria by David Wiley

Humorous Fantasy!

A Merchant in Oria by David Wiley, 42 pages, OWS Ink, LLC, April 27th, 2017, Genre: Fantasy/Short Reads/Epic. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
A Merchant in Oria is a novella set in a fantasy world populated by humans, dwarves, and lizard-men. It has the feel of a familiar, traditional fantasy setting, as found in Tolkein’s work. However, this story is more humorous and light-hearted.
Firion dreams of getting his first big contract as a merchant. Although his family warns him not to head to Oria, he is certain this is where he will find his fortune and establish himself as a great merchant. He travels there alone with his goods, satchel full of samples, and his horse and wagon. Upon his arrival, things seem out of sorts. Something is rotten in the state of Oria. Firion just can’t seem to put his finger on what it is. Meeting up with the lizard-man Salazar, the ‘new’ leader of the Dwarven merchant guild, Firion makes the contract of a lifetime and hauls home gobs of gold marks. However, Firion discovers what’s so wrong in Oria, and is pressed to return and meet an epic destiny.
My favorite character was Firion. He was naïve, good-natured, hilarious, sympathetic, and charmingly simple. Melody, the female dwarf, was a cute, well-shaved Dwarven female love interest for Firion. The themes were good versus evil and freedom from oppression. The plot was well-constructed and pacing steady.
I enjoyed reading this book. It is a short read; I read it over lunch. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy stories looking for a quick read. It can be found for $2.99 currently at Amazon.
You can find it at A Merchant in Oria by David Wiley.

Demons and Destiny by Catherine Milos

Adventure of Lifetimes!

Demons and Destiny (Angels and Avalon Volume 2) by Catherine Milos, 276 pages, October 26th, 2016, Genre: Paranormal and Urban/Dark Fantasy. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Demons and Destiny is a story about gods manipulating men who were formerly angels across multiple lifetimes. The second in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone novel, however I highly recommend reading them in order as I feel the experience would be more enjoyable by having more knowledge of the first book. Currently, the set is available at Amazon on Kindle for $3.98.

In his lifetime as a Viking translator and warrior, Tyr joins him mortal brethren on Celtic shores, conquering villages and taking thralls. Rarely one to ask for such spoils, Tyr sees Madigan, a beautiful blue-painted Celtic warrior woman. Realizing that the others may harm her should she be taken by one of them, he asks for her as his thrall. He promises to one day free her when it is appropriate if in return she answers his questions to assist him in negotiating trade with her people. Not only does he successfully do so with her help, but she ingratiates herself among the men with her herbal and cooking skills. Nuada, Madigan’s god, instructs Tyr to make her his wife. Tyr convinces her and they find wedded bliss for a time. Nuada has other tricks up his sleeve, resulting in her tragic death. Nuada strikes a deal with Tyr. Once Tyr removes all demons from Earth, Nuada will reunite him with Madigan.

The tale zips forward to modern day. Tyr is reborn as Tyrel, a security expert and P.I. Other characters from the first book, former angels reincarnated by choice as mortals with magical powers, join him in his feverish quest to dispose of all demons and regain his lady love. Tyr’s wife has been reborn without her memories as Madison, a biologist with no belief in demons or magic. Nuada continues to manipulate characters, especially Tyr, to further his own selfish ends. Most of these schemes lead to conflict and violence, providing obstacles for the characters to overcome. While some of the characters find happiness and resolution, others are left with their fates uncertain.

Demons and Destiny has many varying conflicts, such as man versus the supernatural, man versus man, man against himself, and man versus nature. Its themes include fate versus free will, the strength and nature of true love, the responsibilities and shackles of having power, and the bitterness of envy. The pace moved quickly through most of the book. The plot, world, and characters were interesting but I felt I would have enjoyed them more had I read the first book beforehand. My favorite character was Elizabeth. Although she lost a great deal, she didn’t allow it to swallow her whole. Instead, she moved forward, trying to use her knowledge to help her friends. I was also fond of Alan, Gabriel’s manservant. Alan was a font of loyalty and gentlemanly courage, even in the face of grave danger.

I enjoyed reading Demons and Destiny. I’d recommend this book to lovers of paranormal urban fiction. You can find it at Amazon at Demons and Destiny.

The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes

The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes, 196 pages, Oscar Press, May 31st, 2013, Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Adventure/Sword and Sorcery. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

The Birr Elixir is a Young Adult Fantasy novella that has wider appeal. Jo Sparkes masterfully draws together elements of action, adventure, sports, fantasy, and sorcery in a likeable, exotic world. The Birr Elixir is the first installment in “The Legend of the Gamesmen” series. It is the winner of the Silver Ippy award and the BRAG Medallion.

Marra’s mentor recently passed away, leaving her a book containing potion recipes. When the sportsman Drail spies the recipe for the Birr Elixir in the book, he must have it. Marra makes a batch for Drail and his team. They win the Comet game against the Skullan team, a feat which has never been accomplished.  The team takes Marra with them and they head to the main tournament at the port city. Marra awakens a stranger, Tryst, from an enchanted slumber. He, too, is anxious to get to the port city. As a master of the sport Comet, Tryst mentors the team. It will take more than magical elixirs to win the tournament: they’ll need skill, too. However, evil men offer Marra a rare herb she needs to make the Birr Elixir. In exchange, she must give another sleeping potion to Tryst and allow the men to recapture him. If she fails, they promise to harm her. What will Marra choose?

Jo Sparkes weaves timeless themes into this magical tale, such as good versus evil, the importance of loyalty, and refusing temptation for the greater good. My favorite character was Marra. She is quiet, keeping her thoughts and opinions to herself. Marra has lived a rough life, yet secretly dreams of being so much more. Marra feels affection for Drail; she regards him as the man who redeemed her from a life of near-slavery under a cruel shopkeeper. She is a genuinely good person at heart.

I enjoyed reading The Birr Elixir. I was whisked away to a land that was at once both imaginative and believable. The characters were interesting and unique.  The plot is well designed and unfolds quickly while creating an atmosphere of suspense. The fictional sport Comet is dynamic, fun, and energetic, much like a Quidditch match. The Gamesmen storyline creates a mood much like the Heath Ledger film “A Knight’s Tale”. I’d recommend The Birr Elixir to readers who enjoy Fantasy and Action Adventure genres.

This book can be found at The Birr Elixir.

View the amazing book trailer at Jo Sparkes’ site.

Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection by Jamie Le Fay

Epic, romantic fantasy!

Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection by Jamie Le Fay, 696 pages, March 8th, 2017, ISBN: 978-1370765775, Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Social Issues, Girls and Women. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

This is a story about true love between a star-crossed pair: Morgan Lua, a human champion for female rights, and Gabriel, a supernatural prince from a hidden, mystical realm. The scenes switch perspective between familiar Earth and the ethereal land of the Ahe’ey; the distant past and modern day; and between major characters. Le Fay weaves a magical tale with complex characters, hidden histories, political intrigue, and desperate desires yearning for fulfillment.

But this is no traditional fairy tale. We human beings vacillate between hope and despair, living in a world where simple deeds of loving kindness can move mountains, while simultaneously the worst acts of evil we can imagine are committed. We worry about which worldview and values will triumph and resonate throughout human history. In each generation, we stand at a crossroads, and we support those with power and influence whom we think can steer us in the best direction. Morgan Lua is not content to stand on the sidelines. As the leader of the Hope Foundation, she works to improve human rights for women and minorities around the globe. Morgan is opposed by the white supremacist, far-right wing politician Zanus, who is responsible for attempts on Morgan’s life. Enter Gabriel Warren, leader of the Ahe’ey Foundation, determined to stay by her side and ensure Zanus and his hateful agenda fails. Experiencing a natural chemistry and attraction they’ve never felt before; Gabriel and Morgan fall in love.

As the story progresses, Morgan learns that there’s more than meets the eye where Gabriel is concerned. After an attempt on her life that leaves them both at death’s door, Gabriel’s mother, Viviane Queen of Ange’el, brings them back to their hidden home realm to recuperate. At first, the land of the Ahe’ey seems like a blend of fairy and angelic realms, a celestial delight. Its people are beautiful, strong, swift, and magical, none more so than the pure blood royal family. The royals believe the power within their genes will one day save humankind. As a result, they intermarry to preserve their genetic purity. A matriarchal society, women appear to be in control, but lower ranking women are controlled by higher ranking women. The caste system limits the freedoms of both royals and non-royals, men and women, alike. Although the Ahe’ey traditionally guide humanity, we find they are every bit as much in need of saving.

          Ahe’ey presents many important themes and thought provoking ideas, such as nature versus nurture, the battle of the sexes, the meaning of sacrifice, the ethics of evil for the greater good, the loss of privacy in the modern age, and forging identity in a multi-cultural world. An epic, romantic, fantasy adventure, it nevertheless provokes deeper thinking on many issues facing us today.

           Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection was originally released in twelve separate episodes. Although the collection is formatted as a single novel, its episodic nature provides it with a slightly different structure and rhythm than a traditional novel. Currently, readers can find the first three episodes free at Amazon, with each subsequent episode at .99 cents. The entire collection is priced at $4.99 and can be found at Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection. I’d recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys romantic fantasy adventure with a social conscience.

Watching You by J.A. Schneider

High Stakes Thriller!

Watching You by J.A. Schneider, 281 pages, RGS Media, April 25th 2017, Genre: Psychological Thriller/Suspense, ISBN: 1544767927. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

“WATCHING YOU” says the text message each victim receives before their untimely demise. At first, it’s a mystery how the killer is choosing and tracking his prey. However, in this age of free-flowing information and cell phones, it’s much easier to stalk people than we like to think it is. A feeling of dread turns by degrees into horror as we realize how easy and plausible the killer’s methods are. Horror turns to panic as the reader realizes how difficult it would be to stop such a killer.  In this third installment of the Kerri Blasco series, J.A. Schneider takes us on a trip of terror we’re not likely to soon forget.

The first victim, Leda Winfield, was a treasure to society, a lovely young woman who volunteered at the local shelter, helping the homeless. She was coldly executed with a single shot to the back of the head, a note that says “Watching You” pinned into her back with a hatpin. Nearby, the cops discover the victim’s cell phone, with a message from a few days prior showing the same words as in the note. As the detectives interview family and friends, they discover that there were plenty of people who may have had reasons to kill Leda. The stakes increase as another unrelated victim is discovered. When our heroine, Kerri Blasco, becomes the next target, the cat and mouse game has the highest stakes of them all. The story turns into a race against time as they seek the killer’s identity before he or she can take Kerri’s life.

In this phenomenal third book of the series, we learn more about Kerri’s background and gain valuable insight into her character. The relationship between Kerri and Alex Brand, her boss and lover, deepens and intensifies. Kerri considers where the relationship is heading and how that may impact her career. This decision is not made by the end of the book, but it’s something Kerri won’t be able to put off forever. The characters presented in the book were believable and interesting. Most fascinating of all, J.A. Schneider allows us inside the terrifying mind of the killer as he stalks his victims.

The plot is woven ingeniously. Usually I have figured out the mystery by the time the answer is revealed, but in this amazing new book, I was stumped. It delighted me that I never saw it coming. Fast paced, heart pounding, and riveting, don’t miss out on this gripping psychological thriller. I deeply enjoyed reading Watching You. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves crime, mystery, or psychological thriller novels.

This book may be purchased at Amazon Watching You.

 

Hidden in The Dark by RaShell Lashbrook

Suspenseful, Tragic

Hidden in The Dark by RaShell Lashbrook, 268 pages, RaShell/Lashbrook, February 8th, 2017, Genre: Psychological Thriller. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

            Hidden in The Dark is a tragic, fierce psychological thriller, carefully woven to incrementally reveal the secrets that demolished a family. Genny and Randall have three adult daughters who no longer speak to Randall. Genny, tired of Randall’s abuse of several decades, decides to leave, sneaking out while Randall is passed out drunk. Her youngest daughter, Raine, whom she sees as the most reliable, picks her up and lets Genny stay with her. Her eldest daughter Lilly assists her in contacting an attorney, setting up her own bank account, and taking other steps necessary for Genny to establish her independence from Randall. Until Genny left Randall, the three sisters rarely spoke to each other or their parents, determined to leave the past behind and create better lives for themselves. Genny’s return to their lives draws them together once more, forcing them to confront each other, their mother, and their own personal demons about their own abuse at the hands of their father. Some will meet with more success than others, with catastrophic consequences.

RaShell Lashbrook portrays her characters realistically, each a victim of horrible and repeated trauma, using their individual, unique strategies they’ve developed to try to cope. The characters display an array of emotions, including guilt, sympathy, blame, self-shame, and rage. Genny was particularly authentic; over the years, the men she sought help from outside the family, such as policemen and pastors, told her the abuse was her fault for antagonizing her husband. When Genny’s friends stood up to Randall, Randall isolated her from them. Without support, Genny focused on keeping as much peace in the house as possible. The self-blame society taught her to feel for her predicament, she placed on her children. The psychological effects from abuse for each character were devastating and carried real world consequences.

I enjoyed Hidden in The Dark, a vivid suspense novel. It is an excellently executed tapestry depicting a family’s terror and tragedy. The subject matter is serious, disturbing, and grim. Domestic violence causes more injuries to women between the ages of 15 and 44 than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. There are 3,600 shelters for animals in the United States. There are only 1500 shelters for battered women. I couldn’t put this one down until I’d finished reading it. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime and suspense novels, and psychological thrillers. I look forward to reading more of RaShell Lashbrook’s work in the future.

Hidden in The Dark can be found on Amazon at here.

Writing Prompt: The Lust Boat

Writing Prompt: “The Lust Boat”

Wrath and Lust eloped without telling the other 5 deadly sins. They went on their honeymoon on a cruise. They’ve been taken hostage by pirates. Pride has also gone missing and now it’s up to Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth to save the day.

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Archetypes of the Hero’s Journey Series: #1: The Hero

Archetypes of the Hero’s Journey Series: #1: The Hero

Based on information from “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler and “The Ancient Greek Hero In 24 Hours” by Professor Gregory Nagy.

When following a Mythic Plot structure, there are 8 basic archetypes indispensable to the storyteller. These are:

Hero

Mentor

Threshold Guardian

Herald

Shapeshifter

Shadow

Ally

Trickster

In this series, we’re going to talk a little bit about each one. In today’s installment, we’re discussing the Hero.

Our earliest concept of the Hero comes from Greek epics such as The Iliad. In The Iliad, Achilles- the son of a goddess, yet not entirely ‘perfect’ due to his weakness in his tendon- is the “hero”. A prophecy tells Achilles that he can choose one of two fates: to sail home, survive, live long and prosper, have a family, grow old, and die in his warm bed yet forgotten down the centuries; or he can die here in Troy, but his name will live forever. He will have an eternal “kleos”, or glory, but only if he is willing to give up his life in battle. He chooses to be forever remembered in epic entertainment. Millennia later, Brad Pitt plays him in the movie Troy. He chooses to die at Troy but be remembered for as long as men have tongues to tell tales.

In fact, “hero” is a Greek word. The English word ‘hour’ comes from the Greek word “hora” meaning “season”. The goddess of the seasons and timing of events is Hera, whose name is related to this root word. Indeed, the greatest of the Greek heroes is Herakles, his name meaning “The glory of Hera”. What does Hera have to do with heroes? Timing. It is the timing, this critical convergence of events, the moment of the sacrifice of the hero, that immortalizes them as our ‘heroes’. Indeed, if Hera hadn’t placed complications and dangerous challenges in Herakles’ life, how could he have ever grown into the famous hero of legend?

Heroes are the ego, the self searching for identity, being tested to know where ‘the self’ stands. This is why heroes must be relatable. We must bond with the hero early on. We have to care about the hero, because the hero is part of us. We want the hero to be the sort of person who can share in our struggles and understand us, so it reasons we would be willing to share their journey with them, and through it, learn something about ourselves and who we are in the process. Every hero must have his achilles’ heel, his kryptonite. The Hero may be what’s best in us, but he or she must still be flawed and at times, vulnerable, because we are, too.

A hero is someone who is willing to sacrifice himself or risk sacrificing himself. Heroes face death, either literally or symbolically, along the mythic journey. If the hero doesn’t meet the moment of his death, he must encounter it symbolically in the form of an adventure where the stakes are high. Sometimes the hero experiences a loss, such as a friend or lover, along the way. Only through trials can the hero know who he is and can we discover more about who we are.

But the hero doesn’t have to strictly follow a self-sacrificing personality prototype. Our hero can be willing, or not. He can be tragic, crying out at the gods instead of working for them. He can be part of a larger group of heroes or a loner who takes on allies only reluctantly. She can refuse to change, becoming more resolute in her ways and beliefs, but change those around her. And of course, he can be a guy with some redeemable traits who does morally questionable things.

As the Hera to your Herakles, what challenges will you place in her way? Every story needs its hero. Who will your hero be?

George Orwell’s Writing Advice

Photo: Branch of the National Union of Journalists  Source for Photo

Eric Arthur Blair was born in 1903 in Motihari, British India. He is better known by his pen name “George Orwell”. Eric was the middle child, between his sisters Avril and Marjorie. His grandparents were wealthy absent plantation owners of Jamaican plantations; his grandmother being the daughter of the Earl of Westmoreland. His grandfather was a member of the clergy. Their wealth did not last and they descended into the lower middle class. His father Richard Blair worked in the Indian Civil Service. His mother Ida (Limouzin) Blair was of French birth, the daughter of a French businessman.

The family, sans father, relocated in 1904 to Oxfordshire, England, where Eric met Jacintha Laura May Buddicomm and developed a love of writing. A student at St. Cyprian School, Eric was later tutored in French by Aldous Huxley. He attended Eton as a King’s Scholar. His schooling ended when he was unable to get high enough test scores to obtain further scholarships.

Blair became an imperial policeman in Burma, later returning to London. In 1929 in Paris, he fell so ill he went to Hopital Cochin, where the trainees worked. It inspired him to write “How the Poor Die”. He took up a teaching career in England and spent time investigating the terrible conditions of the poor. A staunch opponent of Fascism, Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War, narrowly escaping with his life and wife.

His wife Eileen would later work at the Ministry of Information in the Department of Censorship during World War 2. Blair was deemed unfit for military service, but joined the Home Guard. In 1944, they adopted a son they named Richard Horatio Blair. Although he had many essays published before, Orwell did not realize fame until 1945 with the publication of “Animal Farm”. It was in this same year his wife died from a reaction to anesthesia. His best known work, “1984”, was published in 1949. In that same year, he married Sonia Brownell. He died in 1950.

Here are his tips:

“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:

  1. Could I put it more shortly?
  2. Have I said anything unavoidably ugly?”

60 Words We Frequently Confuse

stationary

stationery

Fixed in a spot

Materials, such as paper

affect

effect

To act upon or make a difference to

The result of an action

whether

weather

Expressing a choice between alternatives

The state of the atmosphere at a place and time

everyday

every day

Encountered routinely

The set time at which something occurs or is encountered

minor

miner

Inferior in importance or degree

One who digs in the ground

pedal

peddle

A foot lever by which a mechanism is activated

To travel with wares for sale

navel

naval

Bellybutton

Pertaining to ships or shipping

accept

except

To willingly receive

To omit or exclude

farther

further

Used to describe a measurable distance

Used to describe a broad generalized comparison

figuratively

literally

Metaphorically

This actually happened

few

less

Describes countable nouns

Describes uncounted nouns

may

might

Expresses permission

Implies possibility over permission

capitol

capital

A specific building where government officials meet

Wealth; or the most important city in a region

lightning

lightening

Flashes of electricity during a storm

To light up

complement

compliment

A thing that completes another thing

To communicate admiration

illusion

allusion

A mistaken belief

A reference

flaunt

flout

To show off

To communicate a dislike for someone or something

emigrate

immigrate

Leaving a place

Coming to a place

flare

flair

A sudden blaze of fire

Style, skill, talent

inflammable

flammable

Easily caught on fire

Easily caught on fire

ordinance

ordnance

A rule or law

Military artillery

spade

spayed

A tool for digging

Remove the ovaries of an animal

wither

whither

To fade away; shrivel

To what place? Where?

insight

incite

Capacity for gaining understanding

To stir up or encourage

allude

elude

To refer to casually or indirectly

To avoid or escape through cleverness

historic

historical

Famous or important in history

Having the character of history

counsel

council

Advice

Assembly

eminent

imminent

High in rank or importance

Likely to occur at any moment

click

clique

A sharp and short sound

A small group of people with shared interests

prostrate

prostate

To lie face down on the ground in submission or humility

Of or pertaining to the prostate gland

20 Misused Words

20 Misused Words (or “Susan and Tom Have a Very Bad Week”)

1. Irregardless– This is not a word, irregardless of what you’ve been told all your life.

2. Peruse– This means to review something in depth, although most people believe it means to skim an item quickly. Susan perused the tomb, certain that she’d find the answer to her strange dreams here.

3. Bemused– This means to be confused about a thing, not to be amused by a thing. When Tom kissed Susan passionately and told her he never wanted to see her again, Susan couldn’t help but be bemused.

4. Conversate– This is not a real word, so please don’t conversate with it.

5. Enormity– This means extremely evil. It does not mean “huge”. Only after Tom saw the death and mayhem his hasty act had brought about did he feel the enormity of his actions.

6. Compelled– Some people use this to mean “to willingly do a thing”. However, this word means “to be forced to do something”. The vampire compelled Susan to fall into his embrace against her wishes. Forgive me, Tom, Susan thought.

7. Redundant– This does not mean repeated. This means it is superfluous and can be cut out. The vampire Lefevre promised Tom that if he walked away from Susan, Lefevre wouldn’t harm her. Tom walked away. Tom walked away quickly. Tom walked a bit too quickly, come to think of it. Sort of more like a gallop than a walk; maybe Tom raced away. No, no, on second thought it was more like a saunter but with the rock in his shoe it just looked a bit faster. These last five sentences are redundant.

8. Nauseous– I don’t feel sick. If I’m nauseous, I’m making you feel sick. The fresh corpses of exsanguinated vampire victims were nauseous to all in their vicinity.

9. Refute– Many people think this merely means “rebuttal”, but it means to disprove with evidence. Indeed, the defense attorney refuted the prosecution’s case by having the defendant try on the glove to prove it was three sizes too small. Clearly, the milkman did not exsanguinate anyone.

10. Data– Did you know a single piece of information is a ‘datum’, while plural or multiple pieces are ‘data’? Tom knew just one datum: Tom was mad about Susan. Scratch that. He knew two data: Tom was mad about Susan, and Tom hated vampires.

11. Cliché– This is a noun. It is not an adjective. The adjective is “cliched”. Tom used the best cliché he could muster to tell Susan he needed her. “You’re so cliched!” She replied.

12. Disinterested– This word means “unbiased”. It does not mean not interested. Judge Forbes was disinterested regarding the fact that Lefevre was a vampire. What he needed to know was if Susan willingly said, “I do”.

13. Hone– Hone means “to sharpen”. It does not mean “to home in”. Tom honed his tracking skills so he could find Susan despite the vampire’s supernatural veiling technique.

14. Nonplussed– This means “stunned”. It doesn’t mean “unimpressed”. The courtroom was nonplussed when the vampire burst into flames as he took the oath on the stand.

15. Hung– This word means “suspended”, not “suspended from the neck until dead”. “Well,” Judge Forbes remarked, “at least now the sentence is hung. Otherwise, that vampire would’ve hanged for what he did to Susan.”

16. Beg the Question– When a statement ‘begs the question’ it assumes the truth of what it is proving. “I would say Count Lefevre is a bloodthirsty nocturnal marauder, but as he was a vampire, that’s begging the question.”

17. Enervate– This means to weaken, not to energize. As Lefevre’s secret vampire love child Maurice began draining Susan’s blood in an act of revenge, Maurice enervated Susan.

18. Fortuitous– This word means ‘unplanned’; it does not mean ‘lucky’. The scoundrel with a weak spot for damsels in distress happened upon Maurice and Susan quite fortuitously.

19. Intern– Intern means ‘imprison’, not ‘bury’. After saving Susan and returning her to Tom, the scoundrel alerted the police, who interned Maurice.

20. Ironic– Something is ironic if it contrary to what you’d expect. It’s not at all like rain on your wedding day. Although superstitious Susan believed her marriage to Tom would be doomed as it had rained on her wedding day, their marriage ironically turned out to be a glorious example of wedded bliss. Well, after a few normal marital problems.

Vampireman