Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Is Fantasy More Work or More Fun?

Today's guest blogger, Wendy D. Walter, is on a blog tour and I'm happy to be one of her stops.  Wendy is the author of Ambril's Tale, The Return of the Dullaith.  today she discusses writing fantasy - oh, and there's an excerpt from her new novel and a great contest at the bottom.  Read on!

Some of my favorite people have never read a fantasy book. This became uncomfortably clear after I giddily announced that Ambril’s Tale, Return of the Dullaith had just been published. The expression on these friends’ faces veered from shock, to horror, to a quick recalibration of their impression of me…I watched as their regard for me instantly sank to unplumbed depths.

I was shocked. Didn’t everyone love to escape into a place where the good guys wielded magical tools, and the bad ones had breath that smelled like a train wreck of port-a-potties? Apparently not. Even my own mother confessed that she had never read a fantasy book. No Tolkien, not one Harry Potter…not even a Narnia book. After manually closing my mouth, I sat down to think about this.
Rippling Plots and Puzzle Pieces

I love fantasy. The bigger the world, the more ripples in the plot, the more I love it.  Because it allows me to go to that place in my mind that I call home, and make stuff up. Whether it’s in someone else’s world, or one of my own, it doesn’t seem to matter. I adore visualizing the entire puzzle at once, simultaneously trying as many puzzle pieces as I can manage, then working in one more. The challenge is exhilarating. But why doesn’t everyone feel this way?

It really gets down to which way you break. Is fantasy more fun, or more work  for you? I found that people are either  problem solvers, who love to try out a million options. Or they’re people who usually opt for the tried and true solution, the one with a proven track record.

Do Garden Gnomes and Quick Sand Annoy You?

My boxes don’t always fit. But the correlation is there. For some, it really is a grind to imagine garden gnomes coming alive and quick sand spreading out on a library floor. For them, a good story well told must be rooted in our reality, no nonsense allowed.

Fortunately for me, there are lots of people who eat nonsense for breakfast and dream up metallic tree monsters at lunch. Occasionally, some of these folks actually bring these thoughts into reality, and they become faster-cheaper-better kitchen gadgets, jazz music and the String Theory.

I love High-Octane Day Dreams, Do You?

I still quail after receiving glares of consternation when I mention what I do, but I’m getting better at defending my high octane day dreams. Fantasy isn’t for everyone, but if you break down the fun side, be proud. Port-a-potty breathed demons? Bring them on. Quick sand in the library…why not? Just watch your step while you dream big.

Excerpt Chapter Five

Chapter 5: Fowlclun to the Rescue

Ambril sighed as her thoughts brought her back to the present. So here she was, feeling safe and snug. Deep down though, she knew the chicken-legged monster had done her in.
Well, at least her death had been painless. It smelled nice in heaven too, kind of like cookies. But when she tried to turn her head, she realized that she hadn’t made it to heaven yet. Pain shot through her body, making her wince. She was definitely still alive. She gingerly explored the top of her head and found a throbbing lump. Someone had thoughtfully placed an ice-filled cloth on it, which almost helped. That was what covered her eyes. She thought about the chicken-legged monster again. Silhouetted against the sky, the thing had been as big as a house.
So why wasn’t she dead?
Her limited experience with monsters had been that they generally wanted to eat her, not tuck her into bed with an ice pack.
So just where was she? Then she became aware of the odd, rocking sensation again. Wherever she was, she seemed to be moving.
There were also sounds of movement nearby. She heard the whuffle of fabric, the crinkle of paper, and a grating ping, as if someone were hopping around on a metal-tipped pogo stick. There were whispers too. Perhaps the monsters were planning a dinner party–with her as the main course.
She had to find out. Slowly, Ambril reached up and moved the ice pack from her eyes. She was lying in a huge bed layered with patchwork quilts. The vaulted ceiling above her was covered with a fuzzy, warm fabric. Judging by the swinging lanterns hanging from the rafters, they were moving along at speed. She looked around with her eyes half closed. The spacious room was filled with comfortable furniture which had softened with age. As far as she could tell, she was alone. Where were the whispers coming from?
She took another look. There was an old-fashioned kitchen, a huge stone fireplace, and an umbrella hopping around all by itself.
She stopped and looked again.
As she watched, the umbrella flapped its fabric as it preened. The ornate bird’s head carved on the handle yawned and blinked. Ambril scanned the room quickly and swallowed hard when she saw a feather pen sweeping crumbs off a kitchen table.
What had happened to the world? Ambril’s body went rigid as she clamped her eyes shut and wished she could just reset the clock, go to sleep and wake up in her old familiar room with the sound of the streetcars outside.
But what was she thinking? They didn’t even live in San Francisco anymore. In fact, they didn’t live anywhere. Even if she managed to escape, how would she ever find her family? She imagined herself tacking up signs all over the forest:
One blonde mother - One grumpy brother
If found, send up a flare
She had to smile at that and smiling helped calm her. Her breathing evened out just as the whispers became loud enough for her to make out what was being said.
“–Such a slip of a thing and chilled to the bone. How she ever took on a Dullaith is beyond my thinking!” A young girl’s voice tisk-tisked from across the room.

About Ambril's Tale, The Return of the Dullaith
Fourteen-year-old, Ambril struggles with the mystery surrounding her father’s death when she moves back to the mysterious town where she was born. When she accidentally uncovers a secret which threatens to destroy her entire family, she continues her quest, against all odds, to clear her father’s name. But will she be able to claim her magic and and heal the rifts in her family?

Ambril’s Tale, The Return of the Dullaith has received great 4-5-star reviews. Readers are impatiently demanding Book Two, which will be out early Spring 2013.

Giveaway Info

At each blog stop on her tour, Wendy is giving away a prize, a copy of one of her books (paperback or e-book). You can also enter her 12-12-12 Grand Prize Giveaway of a sterling silver pendant of the Tree of Life, and an End-of-Tour Grand Prize Giveaway of a hand-painted gnome, hand-painted by Wendy herself! There will also be some surprise giveaways along the way! Stay tuned!

1)      To win a book: leave a comment on this blog post about who is your favorite hero/heroine to be entered to win a copy of Ambril's Tale: The Return of the Dullaith in paperback or e-book format. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments so we can contact you if you’re the lucky winner. This giveaway ends five days after the post goes live.
2)      To win one of the Grand Prizes: Click the link to go to Wendy's website and enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the page. A winner will be selected on Dec. 12th for the 12-12-12 for the sterling silver pendant of the Tree of Life. Here's Wendy's site:

About The Author: Wendy D. Walter
Writing was an early passion for Wendy. As a kid, she wrote lots of stories, but being shy, they usually ended up under the mattress. When she finally set out to tell Ambril’s Tale, she decided not to write a story but a world, full with her own marvelous illustrations. She considers The Return of the Dullaith as just the curly tip of the fairy boot. Wendy lives near San Francisco with her husband, daughters, cat and border collie. More information about Wendy's book and art, check her site:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

5 Tips on Writing Realistic Dialogue

Ken Myers is the founder & contributor for He frequently researches and writes about a variety of topics, and today he has a few words about writing dialog

     We have all read books where the dialogue was just pitiful. It was either an information dump or so fluffed up we could barely stand to read it. We, of course, do not want to be that writer. But how can you write realistic dialogue, especially in a story with a modern setting? Well, here are some tips: 

1.     Listen – The first thing you should do before ever writing dialogue is to listen to the people speaking around you. Eavesdrop on the people on the bus, listen in at the cafeteria, and incline your ear towards the people waiting behind you in line at the store. You can pick up lots of interesting information on how people really speak by just listening to authentic conversations.

2.     Incomplete – One thing you will notice about these conversations is that people do not speak in complete sentences. They often trail off, leave things unsaid, or are cut off by another person. In close friendships and family relationships it only takes a couple words for a whole idea that would be unintelligible to anyone not in the know to figure out. For realistic dialogue you can do the same thing. Just be careful to be clear in what the characters are communicating.

3.      Easy on the Accent – I know we all love to write characters with accents, but go easy on them please. It can become difficult for a reader to follow along with someone whose dialogue looks like a bunch of consonants. The best thing to do is mention the character’s accent once or twice and throw in an occasional reminder. Let the reader ‘hear’ the accent on their own.

4.      Slang –Everyone uses slang, even if they do not realize they are doing it. You don’t want to get too jargon friendly or your audience might not get everything, but you can throw in a phrase here and there to add authenticity. Just make sure the context explains the word.

5.      Read Aloud –The last thing you should do when you feel like you have your dialogue all ready to go is to read it aloud. If you can, have someone else read with you so you can hear the conversations. When you hear the dialogue read aloud you will get a better grasp of what works and what doesn’t.

These are just a few tips to get your dialogue writing on the right path. It is really up to you and your reader’s taste, but authentic dialogue is something that most people can pick up on, and pick apart, quickly, so it is definitely worth your time to do it right. Happy writing!