Posts Tagged ‘falconer’

Since the dawn of my cognizance, I’ve heard the phrase uttered over and over “write what you know”. (To be fair, I’ve read it often enough too.) I’m here to tell you today that if you write, don’t just write what you know. I doubt many people would want to read an chapter-long exposition on how to repair the air-conditioning and pressurization systems of Naval aircraft, with all the nuts and bolts (literally). Instead, I implore you to write what you love. That passion will sneak its way into your work, and the words on the page (electrons on the screen, if you’ve gone digital) exude it in visceral ways the reader unconsciously picks up on. Insert your own fears into your work, and the reader can’t help but feel that anxiety.

Anyone who has read my anthologies and my longer works may be able to pick up on things I’ve inserted because I love them, or am fascinated by them. Animals are a near constant, either as main characters, sidekicks, pets or just there as local flavor. Casey, K’zirra, the wolf, Sharza* and a few others. I am also intensely interested in classical Roman History, the ethics of cloning, eschatology, mixed martial arts and, of course, nearly anything post-apocalyptic. People who love these things may be attracted to my work, if not for the storyline (initially) then for the inclusion of those elements in fiction they love to see and read about. In that same vein, writing my own fears into my work us in some ways very cathartic, as I can help myself by using the process of figuring how the character is going to cope or overcome. (Dear Lord , are they ever so much more courageous than I am! But I’m glad I don’t have half the problems I throw at my poor characters.)

So, don’t worry about being a hack, don’t try to copy someone else’s style, don’t just write “what you know” or you’ll come out as a dreaded expositor. Write what you love and the passion will flow.

* Who is Sharza, you wonder? She’s in The Opal Necklace, a novel which should be complete and released sometime early next year. What is she? Well, you’ll have to wait and read.

I often admit how nerdy I am. I used to read dictionaries for fun, and pored over the long list of definitions. Sometimes the words I found inspired an idea, and I simply had to find a way to work “limn” into a scene*.

In a rush to get into writing mode, however, I have to remind myself that some words bring to light the baggage all of us carry.

To illustrate: I’ve got lots of friends over for a party, and I happen to say “I gotta fix this table” loud enough for everyone to hear. My accountant friend’s brain jumps immediately to Excel and he starts thinking of different formulae and conditional formatting. My geologist friend concocts his argument over what part of the ecological niche we need to look at first. My woodworking enthusiast bud runs to his truck and grabs his toolbox and promptly returns to solve the problem of the wobbly furniture. Three people, same word evoking three different ideas.

The right word can make or break the tone of the scene, such as creating humor in what should be horror. No writer can predict very reader’s reaction, and it’s not worth the writing paralysis to analyze every word, but it’s worth an extra moment DURING REVISION to consider just the right word. And consult a dictionary.

*For your convenience, “limn” isn’t an appendage attached to the human body or a tree. That’s “limb”. The word I found is an outline in sharp detail. I used it in The Falconer and the Wolf, in case you were wondering, and I’m sure to use it again.

I made the top of Amazon’s Daily Deals in Science Fiction & Fantasy!

At first I thought it some kind of double notification that my work has been made available, since the title of the email itself is The Falconer and The Wolf, but was ecstatic to see what the content actually was. Although, come to think of it, it’s kinda funny that Amazon is trying to sell my own book back to me…

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And the actual link to purchase the story online!

I live not far from a parcel of land that hosts a Renaissance Faire, and on several occasions have visited with family members. Years ago, while attending, I encountered a young man in period dress toting about an owl on his wrist. He talked about his raptor, named Ulysses, and informed us about an exhibition that afternoon. I was already fascinated and since I brought my mother, who has loved the owl decades before they became trendy, we decided to attend.

Crowds gathered as the young falconer displayed the rudiments of the falconry discipline and the hunting prowess of his birds. Everyone watched in rapt (pun intended) wonder as these feathered predators spread what seemed to be massive wings and swooped from seemingly impossible heights to dive down accurately on a minuscule target. At one point, a lucky volunteer (unfortunately, not me) was presented with the opportunity to snap a photograph from beneath the bird’s takeoff just as it’s wings stretched the furthest.

I hadn’t gone back to the Ren Faire since then, but that exhibition and the idea of falconry sparked a few ideas that didn’t quite get the flames rolling. In my mind’s eye I could see a young falconer, living in the woods alone with his bird. Questions arose – why was he living out there all alone? Falconry is the sport of nobles, and it’s unlikely some woodsman in the middle of nowhere would just have the bird and know-how. And a falconer in the woods… interesting concept, but concepts do not a story make. Some other ideas floating around in my head eventually coalesced (a wolf who was more than an ordinary wolf but not the tired idea of a werewolf), and I found the right conflicts and plugged them in. I’d liked to say it was a “voila” but that’s rarely how it works. The story didn’t simply write itself, and as I struggle with “Perfect Never Finishes,” kicking the story out of the nest at all is a small accomplishment.

The Falconer and The Wolf is available on Amazon.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Very soon (NOW!) the two anthologies you’ve been anxiously awaiting will be available via Amazon.

Melange: A Microfiction Anthology

Morsels: A Flash Fiction Anthology

In addition, February should see “The Falconer and The Wolf” on the virtual bookshelves, and an update on Umbra: A Post-Apocalyptic Mystery will be forthcoming. Check back for more details!