roh morgon

~editing tools

Just came across this on a blog:

Autocrit.

This online editing software will check your manuscript for overused and repeated words, overused phrases, cliches, pacing, and a few other common writing mistakes.

I ran several pages through the free wizard and was pleasantly surprised at the results.

Autocrit’s checklist of overused words showed I was guilty of a few and highlighted them in my text. The highlights made it easy for me to spot the offenders and allowed me to choose whether to change the sentence or not. It also enabled me to spot passive or weak sentences by highlighting words such as ‘was’ and ‘it’.

The sentence variation tab provided a histogram of sentence lengths, as well as word count. This is a nice tool.

Cliches and redundancies were also revealed. My text contained one cliche and no redundancies.

A number of other diagnostic tools and reports are offered in the packages available for purchase, including the ability to customize the overused words list.

I like the idea and ease of checking for these common errors myself before sending a manuscript to a human editor. Autocrit may also turn out to be a good teaching tool, and I suspect my writing will improve with its use.

Autocrit is membership-based. In addition to the free wizard (which has limits in both tool options and word count), the membership packages range in price from $47 to $117 per year, depending mainly upon word count.

There are other editing software packages out there, including Serenity, Style Writer, EditMinion, and Cliche Cleaner. I’ve read where some writers will run their work through several editing applications to focus on specific issues.

I liked Autocrit’s simplicity and am planning to purchase a membership. I recommend you check it out.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 23 May 2012 11:10 pm
Comments (2)
category: editing, writing
tags: ,

~inspiration

The new year is almost upon us.

2012.

The year some say the world ends.

Others say 2012 will be the year of the writer.

I prefer to believe the latter.

Most writers write because they have stories in them yearning to get out – stories to be expressed, and shared, and maybe even loved. 

Inspiration is an important fuel for the fires of writing.

 

Sometimes the inspiration comes in the form of a dream or in a sudden flash sparked by an  image or a song. Other times it arrives in the words of another writer.

Several writers have written words lately that inspire me to write and keep writing. These are not words from a story. They are words of experience and encouragement, words explaining that my fears related to writing and publishing are normal, and that all writers have to move past their fears if they want to make a living on what they write.

Dean Wesley Smith has 30 years in the industry as a writer, editor, and publisher, and  is someone whose words I follow. I may not always do exactly what he says when he says it, but once the words have sunk in, I find his advice fits the path I’m on perfectly.

Last Friday he wrote a blog post titled New World of Publishing: Failure is an Option. Quitting is Not.

A quote from Dean’s post:

“To become a professional fiction writer, you must become a major risk-taker without fear of failure or a care in the world what anyone else thinks of you or your writing.”

Dean regularly writes words that I find inspirational. And the right ones always seem to come along just when I need them.

Another inspirational writer I follow is Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Kris is a no-nonsense successful writer whose 30+ years in the industry include editing and publishing. She’s also Dean’s wife.

Kris wrote a post not too long ago that really struck home. It came at a time when I was feeling a bit discouraged. The post was called Freelancer’s Survival Guide: Giving Up On Yourself.

In the second half of the post, Kris lists six steps to keep from giving up on yourself. Below are the six-step titles. Please go read the entire post - my summary does not do it justice.

1. Believe in yourself.

2. Stop the negative self-talk.

3. Perform a daily gut check.

4. Watch out for that evil phrase, “I can live with that.”

5. Watch out for “good enough.”

6. Be tenacious.

Kris’s closing words:

“Cling to your dream. Work for your goal. If you step off the path, climb back on the moment you realize you’ve veered in the wrong direction.

You will make mistakes. You will take the wrong path. The key is to come back to yourself, and come back to the right road for you.

I can’t tell you if you’re giving up on yourself. Only you can know that.

Dean has one other question, and it’s a big one: when you’re on your deathbed, what will you regret?

Will you regret not striving hard enough for your dream? Will you regret lost years while you were succeeding in a profession other than the one you love? Will you regret being “good enough?”

Only you can answer those questions.

And you should. Daily. To keep yourself on track.

To keep yourself from giving up.”

.

Now that’s inspirational.

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 27 December 2011 12:08 pm
Comments (0)
category: writing
tags:

~adventures in pubbing

First of all, I’d like to thank Deirde at A Storybook World for this cool blog award:

 

Wow – can’t believe how this summer is flying by – I mean, really fast, though maybe not this fast:

This is the US military’s new unmanned Falcon HTV-2 (Hyperonic Technology Vehicle 2), touted to be the fastest plane ever at a top speed of  Mach 20, or 13,000 miles per hour.

13,000 MILES PER HOUR!

That’s London to Sydney in less than an hour, according to this article in the UK’s Guardian.

That’s amazing. But what’s even more amazing is that the military lost the plane 36 minutes into its test flight.

That’s right.

Lost. The. Plane.

Millions of dollars in time, research, and materials, not to mention countless man-hours, literally vanished into thin air.

The Falcon HTV doesn’t have a great track record. There were only two built: Falcon HTV-1 and Falcon HTV-2.

Last year, the Falcon HTV-1 was 9 minutes into its test flight when, according the Guardian article, the computers detected a problem and sent it into the ocean for safety reasons.

One vanished into thin air, the other at the bottom of the deep blue sea.

How cliche.

So much for the human attempt to break its own record.

To see how nature does it, watch this video of a REAL falcon diving, in which her top speed is recorded at 242 mph.

Will the Real Falcon Please Stand Up?!

Now that’s more like it.

So, back to how fast the summer is flying by and what I’m working on.

I’ve got two projects right now – writing a novella set in the Watcher world, and publishing Watcher itself.

One of the things I’ve learned about self-publishing is that it means wearing many hats.  A lot more than I realized. In addition to writer, editor, publisher, distributor, and publicist, I’m learning to be a book designer.

If you’re new to the industry like I am, there are all sorts of things to consider when you want to get your book out for public consumption. Not only do your story and your words have to BE good, they have to LOOK good. Here’s an example of some of the challenges I’ve recently faced:

~ learning all of the details that go into designing a book…all the little details I’ve always taken for granted, such as what you want in the header and/or footer, where to place the page number, what to include on the copyright page, what font to use, acknowledgments, dedication, author bio…

~ deciding on a cool font to use for my title and chapter headings. OMG – there are thousands and thousands to choose from. But it’s critical – an attractive title font goes right along with the cover, and helps make the inside part of the book look professional.  

~ realizing that all the best designed books use the title font for the first letter of each chapter. I only had to replace 65 of them by hand.  

~ pushing the chapter headings down the page so the first page of the chapter starts about 1/3 to 1/2 way down, and of course, at the same level as all the other chapters. Styles makes this easy if you’ve used them correctly. I discovered I hadn’t. Doesn’t sound too bad, but I have a prologue, an epilogue, and 63 chapters…  

~ adding extra pages at the end of certain chapters so that all of the new chapters start on the odd (right-hand) page – and the heading placement is the same as all the others. This is where I discovered that section breaks can be a real pain in the ass.  

~ fighting with styles and section breaks so that the header doesn’t print on the new chapter pages (the ones with the chapter heading), but maintains the sequential numbering and the proper even- and odd-page header set-up on all the rest.  

~ discovering when I thought I was all done with the inside formatting that the first paragraph of a new chapter or a new section is NOT indented. Yeah, never realized that one. Not only do I have the  prologue, and epilogue, and 63 chapters, I have several section breaks PER CHAPTER. But not all is lost. I think I can fix this with <cringe> modifying the styles so that I don’t have to remove the indents by hand…without blowing up my whole document. I hope.  

Once the inside is finished (nearly there – I can almost taste it), then it’s time for the cover.

Which I am NOT doing the artwork for.

No way. No how. Don’t got that creative bent. Even my stick figures are lame.

But…I know peeps. And I got a peep working on my covers (notice I said covers with an ’s’ - Watcher is only the first of a trilogy).

In the meantime, I’m putting together a plain cover for a test run. I’m planning to print up a half-dozen proofs as review copies for some special readers I’ve been holding in reserve.

But what that means is that I still have to put together a temporary cover layout, which includes front, back, and spine.

When that’s done, I’ll convert it to PDF, hopefully maintaining all of my painfully-arranged formatting, and hand it off to my indie publisher, Dark Dreams Publishing (more on that later). 

So…that’s what I’ve been up to during this rapidly-passing summer. I just wish it would slow down to falcon speed and not try to be a Falcon HTV.

But it may a bit late for that – too soon I know I’ll look back and say, “Where did my summer go?”

Hopefully I’ll have more to show for my efforts than the memory of a vanished blip on a radar.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 24 August 2011 5:31 pm
Comments (5)

~in the zone

Yeah.

That’s where I’ve been.

Deep in the story.

So deep that this morning when I was driving to work, thinking of upcoming scenes and additions to those already written, I realized I was driving to the WRONG FRICKIN’ CITY.

On the wrong highway. In nearly the opposite direction.

Yeah.

That’s what it’s like to be in the zone.

Lost. Buried deep.

So wrapped up with the characters and their catastrophic lives that I have trouble extricating myself.

I can feel them in the background while I’m at work, or meeting social obligations, or with family.

Calling me. Begging me to get their story down and share with the world their angst and tragedies, their joys and loves.

The story I’m working on now is about Taz and how he became the unfeeling, distant bastard that he is. His music is mostly Coldplay (their more somber tunes), and his song is Amsterdam.

So…

My apologies to those of you waiting for workshop reports, or for me to read and give you feedback on your latest fiction.

I’ll get to you – I promise.

But right now I need to go.

Taz is calling me.

roh morgon @ Monday, 1 August 2011 9:50 am
Comments (4)
category: watcher, writing
tags:

~back from my workshop road trip marathon

Yeah, when I look back on the last month and a half, that’s what it was.

4 out-of-town workshops in 6 weeks.

1 work-related, 3 writerly.

Covered six states: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the Central Coast of California (I live in the middle of the state, several hours away).

Drove 3,500 miles in that time and logged over 65 hours behind the wheel. Loved every minute of it.

As for the writerly workshops themselves? Absolutely awesome.

The first one, June 6-11 in St. George, Utah, was the Professional Writers Workshop with sci-fi/fantasy writer David Farland. This workshop emphasized craft and storytelling and was phenomenal.

The second two were in Lincoln City, Oregon and given by Dean Wesley Smith (who’s also written a ton of sci-fi/fantasy). July 9-12 covered Pitches and Blurbs, and July 14-17 was on Self-Publishing. We had a 1-day break between them, so I drove to Portland and picked up my hubby from the airport, then we did a little bit of touristy stuff.

Was it worth it? The money? The time? The wear-and-tear on my car and on my ass?

Hell, yeah.

Those three workshops have given my budding writing career a shot of adrenaline that will propel me light-years ahead of where I was two months ago.

I’ll tell you all about them in my next several posts.

Stay tuned…

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 19 July 2011 2:58 pm
Comments (4)

~weekly e-Watch

e-Watch is on break while I’m attending David Farland’s Professional Writers Workshop.

We’ll return next week and catch everyone up on the latest in the publishing world.

Thanks!

roh morgon @ Friday, 10 June 2011 10:50 pm
Comments (0)

~writing and finding balance

Imagine walking barefoot on an I-beam at the top of a skyscraper undergoing construction. You’re walking out to the end, your attention fixed to that point where steel stops and sky starts.

You place one foot at a time on the cold metal, not daring to look away. Your entire focus is on that steel lifeline beneath your feet.  Electric fear raises the hairs on your skin and you hope neither dust nor dew turns the next step into a slip. 

The world floats in your peripheral vision, but you don’t dare look. The infinite sky expands above you — its weight presses down and around your fragile body.  The earth waits below, the city’s concrete and asphalt promising instant death. But sky and earth are not the source of your fear. 

It’s not falling that fuels the fear, either, though that seems the most obvious. 

It’s your balance, or lack thereof. Your balance is what determines whether you careen off the edge or reach your goal. You hope you’ve trained and schooled enough to maintain an even keel, instilled enough discipline in yourself to keep walking and not lose sight of the end.

But maintaining that focus is difficult – and exhausting. One moment you’re sweating and your foot trembles as it seeks a stable grip. The next is filled with elation at your success, giving you a boost of confidence that you are going to make it.

Something flies by and your eyes are drawn to it against your will. Your body wobbles and you take a sharp breath and stop.

But you can’t stop when you’re walking an I-beam, because to stop is to risk becoming frozen by fear – the fear of starting again and taking the next step. And so you stand there, the world spinning at your feet, and try to summon the courage to begin again. You will your leg to move, to relax the deathgrip your foot has on the steel and seek a new resting spot ahead. And it does, and the other foot follows, and you are once again on your way.

The end is in sight and you drive on toward it. You become aware of voices below, some shouting encouragement, others screaming that you’ll fall. But you can’t give them your attention, because you must keep it on the steel beneath your feet.

The end of the beam becomes everything. You hope that when you reach it, wings will sprout from your back and you can launch into a welcoming sky – a sky that will open up a whole new world and way of living.

The life of a writer seeking to become published is like walking that I-beam. Work and family vie for attention, and it must be given. The trick is to find the balance between the demands of others and the demands of self.

Balance.

How do you find it?

roh morgon @ Friday, 14 January 2011 10:43 am
Comments (6)
category: writing
tags: ,

~this week’s musical treat – 20 december 2010

Not too long ago, I posted about the trouble I was having starting a new WIP, and how hearing a song called Circadian Rhythm by Sun Volt triggered the opening scene I’d been searching for (see finding the spark ).

Circadian Rhythm is a plaintive, soul-searching kind of song that really describes Sullivan (the main character) and where he’s at in this part of his life. It’s his theme song, and has provided the background tone for much of the early part of the story.

But lately another song has come to my attention for Sullivan. I don’t know if I recently heard it on the radio or what, but it’s been playing non-stop in my head for weeks. I finally relented, downloaded it, and made it part of Sullivan’s playlist. Though the song is from the ’70s, its emotion is timeless.

It’s called I’m Eighteen by Alice Cooper. Let’s just say it’s a good one for the occasions when Sullivan’s feeling pissed off at the world.

For your listening pleasure…

What songs remind you of your characters?

Do you have songs for when they’re down, angry, in love?

Does music help you flesh out their emotions?

roh morgon @ Monday, 20 December 2010 12:52 am
Comments (3)

~Logline Blogfest!

Yesterday I attempted to participate in one of Miss Snark’s First Victim’s logline contests, but failed to get my entry in on time  :( – (entries were closed within 2 minutes!)

But today she posted about an ongoing logline blogfest being hosted by Steena at Chocolate Reality. It seems I may be a little too late for it as well (it actually started on Nov 1) but thought I’d throw my hat into the ring anyways.

And with that, here’s my logline #1 for my dark fantasy novel, Watcher:

No longer human and forced to live in isolation to protect her secret, Sunny Martin’s lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but as they’re swept into a whirlwind of passion, betrayal, and murder, Sunny faces an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or spend eternity alone.

~~~~~~~~~

Based on some of the feedback I’ve received on the above logline, here’s a completely different one. I’m thinking I might end up with a combination of the two.

Logline #2

Predator, killer, monster - these are all labels that Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was savaged and drained of her blood. Struggling to survive on the edge of a human world she no longer belongs to, she discovers a second world, a world of dangerous beings akin to her, yet not. Her journey to bridge the two is one that brings unexpected love and heartbreak, and true transformation.

~~~~~~~~~

Combination: Logline #3:

Predator, killer, monster - these are all labels that Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Struggling to survive on the edge of a human world she no longer belongs to, her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but as they’re swept into a whirlwind of passion, betrayal, and murder, Sunny faces an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or spend eternity alone.

~~~~~~~~~

Logline #4 – I think this might be the one:

Predator, killer, monster - these are all labels Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Struggling to survive on the edge of a human world she no longer belongs to, her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but soon their passion, tainted by betrayal and murder, drives Sunny toward an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or spend eternity alone.

~~~~~~~~~

And it’s too late for the contest, but here’s Logline #5:

Predator, killer, monster–these are all labels Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but soon their passion, tainted by betrayal and murder, drives Sunny toward an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or remain alone…forever.

~~~~~~~~~

A suggestion from someone near and dear to me is to rearrange a couple of the opening words. I think this works better…thanks, Tristain!

The latest incarnation, Logline #6:

Monster, predator, killer–these are all labels Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but soon their passion, tainted by betrayal and murder, drives Sunny toward an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or remain alone…forever.

~~~~~~~~~

Let me know what you think!

Be sure to go here to read the other logline entries in this ‘fest.

And thanks, Steena, for hosting such an awesome blogfest!

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 3 November 2010 2:44 pm
Comments (32)

~big day – my Critique This WIP interview and a new website

Wow – today is a monumental day in roh’s world.

First of all, I’m beyond excited to reveal my new website, courtesy of my son and a friend of his, Tony Brock, a very talented web developer. Tony did an awesome job with the site – visit www.rohmorgon.com and let me know what you think.

But the really thrilling news (at least for me!) is that Critique This WIP is featuring an interview with me this week as part of their Author Interview series! Critique This WIP is a group of writers who blog about the writing world. In their words:

We are a group of five women, brought together by one common goal—publication. Obviously, we each write some form of romance, whether it be paranormal, contemporary, or romantic suspense. Like all writers, our lives revolve around our stories (even if that pesky little thing called life gets in the way sometimes).
CritiqueThisWIP is our blog–a place for us to share our thoughts, tips, and feelings about writing.
Together, we make up Critique This, and together we critique our way to publication.

Stop by their site and check it out. They’ve done a number of Author Interviews and I’m jazzed to be included in their series.

And as a reminder, the Monster Mash is happening all week (monsters love to party!). Be sure to visit all the guests and see who they’ve brought to the Mash!

That’s it for now, so…

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

roh morgon @ Monday, 25 October 2010 9:52 pm
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~Monster Mash Blogfest!

Arrgghh…

It’s so not cool to be late to one’s own party. I tried to explain to the vampires, shifters, and werewolves with whom I’ve been partying the last two days that I needed to get home to the Monster Mash, and they finally relented and let me go.

Good thing the Mash is running all week. A number of partiers have posted their stories already, so be sure to see the guest list to see who they might’ve brought along with them.

Here are my special guests. They’re from a YA novel that I’m working on. Hope you enjoy hanging out with them!

~~~~~~~~~

Stupid werewolves. They drive me crazy with their idiotic howling at the moon. It sounds like a big pack in the woods tonight – think I’ll stay inside ‘til San gets here.

But I wish he’d hurry. The full moon jacks my nerves and I need to get out for awhile,  even though I promised my ‘parents’ I’d stay in tonight.

Yeah, fat chance. I’m just as big a liar in this life as I was in my other.

They’re not really my parents. They’re just who I was assigned to because the Elders said I was too immature to be on my own. Whatever. They can go suck a tree.

A soft tapping at the glass brings a smile to my face. I comb back the blond wisps that’ve worked loose from my ponytail and turn to open the window. Laughter escapes me at the sight of a ridiculous little bat doing flips in the air. I wrinkle my nose and stick out my teeth in imitation of his batface and raise the window a few inches. He swoops in, shifts to human form mid-air, and lands gracefully on his feet. He then bows with a sweeping gesture of his arm.

“Good evening, Madam,” San announces in a mock Bela Lugosi.

“Good evening, Count.” I play the shy lady, drop my gaze, and curtsy.

“Come here, my dahrling,” he continues in the silly accent. “I have a special gift for you.”

He opens his arms and tips his head. I walk into his embrace, then sink my fangs into his exposed throat.

“Ouch, Jade. Do you have to be so rough?” he says through gritted teeth, his voice his own again.

I take a couple more swallows and shove Sanders away. Pretend hugging’s one thing, but he was enjoying it a little too much, which is why I bit him so hard.

“Sorry. Those loony werewolves are giving me a case of the aggros.”

“Yeah, well, don’t take it out on me. And just for the record, they’re on my last nerve too.” He scowls and rubs his neck, then turns to the window and opens it wider. “You ready?”

I ignore his sulky tone, climb onto the sill, and jump the two stories to the ground. I look up in time to see Sanders launch from the window and shift into a falcon mid-air. As he nears the ground, he shifts again into his human body and lands on his feet.

The best shapeshifter at school, he really is quite smooth and graceful. My dead heart twinges as I watch him and guilt creeps in for being such a bitch.

Irritated at myself, I take off across the wide lawn for the woods. I glance back at the cheetah charging after me and smile. It’s one of the only forms in which he can keep up. I pour on the speed, laughing as we race across the grass and down the path to the trees.

~~~

We peer through the bushes at the circle of wolfmen gathered in the clearing. One of them is pacing back and forth in the center of the group, thumping his chest as he grunts and growls in their beastly language. I can only imagine what he’s going on about. It’s no doubt the same crap they spout when they’re in human form, about how they don’t have any rights and no one in the community respects them.

I dunno about the rights part, but seriously, who can respect a bunch of slobbering beastmen who go all psycho during the full moon?

Sanders touches my shoulder, grins, and shifts into a swallow. He takes off and lands on a tree branch above the snarling group.

I smile as he swoops down and grazes the top of the head belonging to a tall, thin wolfman. The beast growls and swats the air for the swift bird who is no longer there. Sanders lands in a tree and pauses a moment before picking a new target. After the third time, none of them are paying attention to the one in the center. The growls in his audience at the annoying little bird are beginning to drown out the grunts and snarls of the speaker.

Sanders launches again and this time his target is the nose of the werewolf on center stage. The beastman howls at the insult and the whole pack erupts in chorus with him. Their stupid meeting disintegrates into chaos as they whirl around seeking out the tiny flyer.

Stifling my laughter, I grin at Sanders as he lands beside me and give him a thumbs up.

Now it’s my turn.

I slip into the clearing and remain still while they scan the trees above them for the swallow. A new howl rips the air as one of them spots me. The whole pack whips around in a snarling frenzy, but the leader shoves his way to the front and, turning, growls at them in apparent warning to hold up.

As he faces me, I move in, fast, and tweak his nose.

He snaps at the air and I laugh at him from the edge of the clearing. He roars and leaps for me, but I’m gone. Giggling, I run through the woods with the now bloodthirsty pack on my heels. I stay just far enough ahead of them that they can see me, and even allow the leader to get within a few feet. But as he reaches for me, I lunge forward and we burst through the edge of the trees onto Main Street. I move into blur speed and dart behind the stable that’s across the road.

Sanders glides down in owl shape and shifts to human, then gives me a high-five. Snickering, we turn to watch the confused werewolves as they realize I’m gone and they’re in the middle of the street.

An approaching steamcar slams on its brakes and, tires screeching, slides toward the milling beastmen. It comes to a halt, narrowly missing one of them. The pack turns with a snarl and attacks the car.

“Uh-oh,” Sanders whispers.

“Aw, crap.” I watch in shock as parts begin flying off the car.

The driver gets out and the pack turns to him as he steps away.

“Stop!” he roars at the approaching werewolves. They don’t.

As the first one reaches him, he shifts – into a huge red dragon.

Flames erupt from his gaping jaws and shoot out over their heads. They yelp and scatter, then run back into the woods. But one stops at the edge of the trees, the leader. His eyes glow, reflecting the streetlamp, and he raises his snout as he scents the air, no doubt searching for me. With a glance at the dragon, he turns and follows the pack.

The dragon heaves a big sigh and shifts back to human form. We watch, breathless, as he walks around his car looking at the damage. Shaking his head, he starts picking up pieces and putting them in the back seat.

I have a feeling we’re gonna get in big trouble.

~~~~~~~~~

© Copyright 2010 Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Saturday, 23 October 2010 11:52 pm
Comments (14)

~finding the spark & this week’s musical treat

Due to interest from teachers and schools in Fur Before Feathers, I’ve decided to turn my writing efforts away from the world of Watcher for the time being and start on a new story in my YA Forbidden Doorways series.

I’ve been wanting to write Sullivan’s story for awhile now. Sullivan is Sander’s older brother and has a well-deserved reputation for being a troublemaker. His story, called In Search of Self, takes place after Sullivan’s left home and is trying to find his place in the world.

My ‘backbrain’ has been mulling over the opening, the events, and the other characters in his story for the last couple months, but several writing opportunities have gone by without that flash of inspiration that always sends me running to the keyboard.

Most of the time when I start a new project, I awaken in the morning with a character dancing in my head, nagging me with their very presence to write their story. But not Sullivan. Ever the rebel, he’s been strangely silent as he waited for me to find his story instead of shoving it in my face like all the others have.

And then the other day, I heard his song. His anger, his loneliness, his sense of isolation crashed over me like a tidal wave, and the flood of his story began.

The song is called Circadian Rhythm and is by the band Son Volt. And it was the spark that ignited Sullivan’s emotions.

The spark.

That elusive flash that opens the doors to other worlds and allows characters to step into our heads and tell their stories.

The spark is something that must be nourished with setting and dialog and a gentle breath so it will grow into a steady-burning flame, warming and lighting the way for the writer.

All good stories start with a spark. Good scenes do, too.

Music usually provides me the spark to write powerful scenes filled with emotion. Long warm showers irrigate the plot and bring new characters to life. Both are integral to my writing.

So tell me – how do you find your spark?

What sends you into another time, another place, another person?

What propels you to write?

roh morgon @ Monday, 18 October 2010 1:22 pm
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~Animal Writes Blogfest

I can’t believe I almost missed this blogfest! I’m such an animal person, and was so jazzed when I signed up for the ‘fest last month.

The Animal Writes Blogfest (what a clever name!) is hosted by Danyana at Writing from the Wrogan. Please be sure to visit her site so you can check out the other amazing entries.

Here’s mine. It’s a little something I just pounded out called Side by Side:

Side By Side

Rocky slams his shoulder into mine and I grunt and nearly go down. As I stagger from the impact, he turns and kicks out with both feet, just missing my head. As he prances away, shaking his mane, I tear after him. I bite into the crest of his neck and he slams his rump into my side and spins away. He turns back toward me and rears, striking out as I meet him in the air. Our chests slam together, then as his hooves meet the ground again, I drop to my knees and bite at his foreleg. He half-kneels, tucking it beneath him. We bite at each other’s legs while trying to guard our own, then Rocky stands and does a full-body shake, creating a flurry of dust and hair – his way of announcing game over.

I snort to clear the dirt from my nostrils and shake my body as well, making my own cloud. I snort again and Rocky echoes it, and together we walk down to the pond to get a drink. Tails swish at the flies that have moved in on our sweaty bodies and we drink side by side in long, deep swallows.

Rocky finishes first, and water draining from his muzzle, turns and heads over to the group of fillies grazing at the base of the hill. I gulp a few more mouthfuls, then trot after him. Several of them raise their heads as we approach, nickering. A rumbling answer booms from my chest and I arch my neck and tail and prance toward them. I listen as Rocky’s gait changes beside me, and lengthen my stride to get to the fillies first. Rocky whinnies a low greeting as they turn to watch us.

The pretty red one, Suzie, steps out to meet me, her neck coyly arched. We stop, necks bent nearly in half, and touch noses. She squeals and stamps a front foot, then we sniff each other’s noses again.

I want her. I need to have her. She needs to be mine.

She squeals again, then turns and races off. But before I can take after her, I realize why she left in such a hurry.

Pounding hooves and a roar of rage announce the arrival of Storm, the herd leader. I spin and hear the snap of teeth, and it’s not the snap of play. I leap into a run as his massive chest rams into my butt and I stumble and nearly go down.

He turns and I watch as he races after Rocky, weaving and snapping at him, his ears pinned and his head snaked low. Rocky’s fast, but not fast enough, and as Storm closes in, Rocky ducks to the left. Storm swings wide, then comes at Rocky again in a dead run. Rocky whinnies, his eyes wide, and veers toward me. I turn and join him, and together we race, side by side, with Storm right on our heels.

We cut and weave through the herd, and above the thunder of our hoofbeats I hear Mother call out. I spot her with the other mares, my new sister next to her, and head in that direction. But Storm charges in front of me and I find myself running alongside Rocky again.

We reach the edge of the herd, and I can see Storm out of the corner of my eye, and he’s not giving up. Rocky turns and tries to circle back to the others, but Storm cuts him off. He drives us further and further away, then drops back and returns to the herd.

I wind down into a trot, then stop and try to catch my breath. Rocky’s sides are heaving as well. We stand there for several minutes, side by side, until the panting slows. My whole body is drenched in sweat, and I can feel it running down my neck and legs. The sweat dripping from Rocky’s belly is more like mud, and his flanks and chest are caked in dirty froth.

As our breathing slows, we watch Storm gather the herd and drive them up the hill.

They’re leaving us! A whinny tears from my throat and I break into a trot, and I can hear Rocky following. But Storm turns and races down the hill, screaming, and it’s obvious he’s not going to let us rejoin the herd.

I slow to a walk, then stop. He turns and gallops up the hill, forcing the band into a run. I hear Mother whinny for me, and then they are over the hill and gone.

A bird circles above the hilltop and I realize we’re alone, with no others to protect us. I whinny, and whinny again, but hear nothing in response. Rocky whinnies, too, then after a moment of silence, he snorts and nudges me on the shoulder. He turns and starts walking in the opposite direction. I watch him go, then gaze back at the empty hilltop.

I whinny one more time, then snort and shake my mane, and trot after Rocky. I ease into a walk as I catch up to him, and side by side, we leave our home.

Copyright © 2010 by Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 13 October 2010 11:08 pm
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~Nathan Bransford, Central Coast Writers Conference & Book Festival – part II

So, where was I?

Oh, yeah. On a rant about an experience I had at the Central Coast Writers Conference in San Luis Obispo (see part I).

But that’s not what this report is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about the conference workshops, the cool industry people that were there, the awesome attendees, and the friendships that were formed.

So I almost deleted my previous post, since folk are likely more interested in the conference itself and not my own personal experience of it.

But then I thought about those people who’ve never been to a writers conference and have no idea what to expect. People similar to me. I attended my first one a year ago – this very conference, in fact.

People who might be unprepared for how vulnerable they’ll feel about their writing, how sensitive they’ll be to criticism – no matter how gently it’s given – when it’s delivered in person and face-to-face.

Those dashed hopes, the fear that our writing isn’t good enough, is a part of every conference.

And so is this part:

The part where a professional compliments you, or gives you encouragement, one-on-one, with a smile and a reassuring pat on the back.

Nathan Bransford did that for me. I spoke with him at lunch about my concerns with my novel written in present tense. He smiled and shook his head, then gave me this bit of uplifting advice:

He told me it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether it’s first person or third, whether it’s past tense or present. What matters is the story. What matters is the voice. That’s all. Tell the story and tell it well.

Even though I’ve read this on his blog, expressed in many different ways, I was still surprised by the rush of relief upon hearing his words. I smiled and nodded, and glowing, thanked him and left him to finish his lunch in peace.

So that’s my experience at the conference from a personal perspective.

The rest of the story?

There were some great workshops. Those on writing covered poetry, short stories, mystery, travel, nonfiction, children and young adult. There were a few on getting published as well.

One that I attended was called Poetry: The Heart of the Story and the Story of the Heart. It was  taught by Kevin Clark, a poetry and literature professor at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo. It was a wonderful examination on how to weave words that evoke thought and emotion, something that’s important for any storyteller, whether they write poetry or prose.

Another was Writing for Young Readers: Deep Stories in Small Words, given by Kathleen Duey. We ended up discussing MG and YA as well as children’s stories, and she offered advice based on her experiences as a writer of all three. Kathleen has the coolest website, too. This was a great workshop.

But my favorite of the weekend was given by Nathan Bransford. He is the most positive and upbeat guy, one who smiles and laughs – a lot. His workshop was called Getting Published: Let’s Play Query Mad Lib, and it was quite a hoot. He gave us his basic formula for a successful query letter, then divided us up into groups of 8-10. Our task: Write him a winning query – humor encouraged.

The results of this were hilarious. My group chose ‘historical sci-fi’ as the genre of the novel, with a hero named ‘Caesar Lightyear’ whose goal was to recover the Mayan calendar and save the world from the evil Brutus. It was ridiculous.

There were a number of silly queries with ludicrous plots and over-the-top heroes. The winning entry was a vampire story! Cracked me up (since that’s what I write!). Who says vampires are dead?!

One of the best things about a conference is meeting folk that are passionate about writing – on both sides of the publishing fence. I ran into a couple writers I’d met last year, and made the acquaintance of a few more. One of these was Anne Allen (hi Anne!) who told me that I’m on the right track to getting published by blogging and going to conferences. You can read her take on the conference here.

So overall, it was a great conference, and its moments of downs were vastly outnumbered by the ups. The only other thing I can say is…

Go to writers conferences, get a taste of the real world. Put them in your budget and at the top of your to-do list.  Think of it as an investment in your writing career – the payoff can be well-worth the expense.

roh morgon @ Saturday, 9 October 2010 2:21 pm
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~Nathan Bransford, Central Coast Writers Conference & Book Festival – part I

Wow. I can’t believe how time gets away from me. It’s already been over 2 weeks since I attended the Central Coast Writers Conference. I’m not going to rant about the passage of time – been there, done that, will probably do it again.

But not now. Now I’m going to give the report on the Conference that I promised.

It was my second year at the CCWC, and, like all conferences are for me, quite a roller-coaster ride.

This day-and-a-half conference is held in gorgeous San Luis Obispo, CA, which is a thriving university town and my old stomping grounds. Its community college, Cuesta College, provides just the right setting for the examination and promotion of the literary craft.

The keynote speaker this year was renowned blogger and uber-agent Nathan Bransford of the Curtis Brown Literary Agency. His positive message to the audience was upstaged only by his open and friendly manner. The Nathan I saw at the podium was the Nathan I’ve seen in his blog – helpful, caring, supportive – EXCEPT he was in 3-D!!

Couldn’t get any better.

The first session was Friday evening after the keynote. And that’s where my car on the rollercoaster dropped out from under me, leaving my stomach in my throat. When the industry professional read the opening from my unpublished novel, Watcher, she started out by complimenting me on my writing. But halfway through my piece, she derailed my elation when she commented that present tense doesn’t work, that no one likes to read it and no publisher will buy it, and that I should re-write my novel.

The audience protested on my behalf, shouting out, “What about The Hunger Games?” Her response was that she hadn’t heard of it, nor of any of the other recently-published titles that the audience continued to mutter.

All I could think about was the gargantuan task of re-writing a first-person present-tense novel (and its half-written sequel) in past-tense.

No way.

Yet the nausea continued to grip me as I thought about the last year-and-a-half of my life that I’ve dedicated to this story. A story that refused to be written in third person, or past-tense. A story with a character that insisted on telling it HER way, writer be damned.

And so I went home, deflated, angry that once again an industry professional had dashed my hopes against the hard rock of publishing reality.

The same thing happened at last year’s conference. Different professional, different reason. But I listened to her, and made her recommended changes, and improved my story.

But re-writing the whole thing?  That was going to take some deep thought.

(to be continued)

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 6 October 2010 4:22 pm
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~the bell rings…it’s the Back-to-School Daze Blogfest!

All right, class! It’s time to turn in your homework! You have until Saturday September 18 to get it in!

And if you’re looking to start handing out grades, go here to read everyone’s assignments.

Here’s mine. It’s the opening scene from Fur Before Feathers, a middle-grade short story from my YA Forbidden Doorways series currently under development. Fur is also appearing in the anthology I Dreamed a Crooked Dream by the Fresno Sci-Fi & Fantasy Writers in Winter 2010.

Enjoy!

~~~

“Class? Class! Quiet now. Give him a chance,” says tiny Miss Meeples, clapping her hands. The dozen other kids in Freshman Talent 101 giggle and snicker behind cupped palms.

“Sanders, you just have to concentrate. Try again.” Miss Meeples squints at me through her wrinkles and oversized glasses as she sits down behind her desk in the front of the classroom. The golden retriever strains at the leash tied to a leg of the teacher’s desk, his expression idiotic as he pants and waves his flag of a tail.

I close my eyes and try to think about the dog, but the image of the black panther at the zoo keeps invading my head. His fur was thick, plush, a light black with darker black spots that only showed when the sun hit it just right. His paws were big–bigger than my hands–and his toes were rounded. I think about his face and the way his whiskers poked out of the skin around his black nose. He had small round ears and a long black tail that swung back and forth as he paced. His walk was more of a glide, smooth and silent. One foot, two foot, three foot…

My skin begins to tingle and itch. My insides feel like they’re crawling–now everything is squirming, wiggling. I fall to my hands and knees, and pain shoots through my body as bones and joints begin to creak. The skin on my face pulls as my nose and jaw vibrate. Ow–my whole face hurts. It’s starting to swell. My gums are throbbing and even my teeth ache.

The world blurs as an electric charge shoots through me, starting at my nose and running through each part of my body. I hear, no–feel–a pop. Like a little bomb went off inside me and its shock wave slams through every cell.

I gasp, again and again, the air rushing in and out of my open mouth. When I close it, a million smells burn my nose, all kinds of smells, and then a chaos of sound explodes in my ears.

The other kids in the class are all round me, shouting and talking and breathing and making so much noise. The dog is a raging maniac, barking and growling as he lunges in my direction, hitting the end of the leash over and over. I turn my head to look at my buddy, Jenky, and as I do, I see the black fur of a panther standing behind me.

Shocked, I spin around and it goes with me, tail lashing. I can feel the muscles in my butt twitching in rhythm with each snap of the tail.

As I look behind me again, I sit down, stunned. And when I lift up my hand, what I see is a big, black paw.

Aw, no way!

I lift the other hand and it’s a paw, too. Rocking back, I look between them and down at black furry feet that match my hands.

Oh, cool! I did it!

“Uh, that’s, uh, very good, Sanders! But the assignment was the dog, remember?!” Miss Meeples tries to shout over the barking as she points at the hysterical golden retriever who is inching the desk in my direction with each frenzied leap.

Screw that. I don’t even like dogs. This is way more awesome.

I stand and turn to Jenky. He’s sitting at his desk with his jaw practically in his lap. He looks so funny it cracks me up.

But we both jump when a snarl comes out of my throat instead of laughter. Jenky’s eyes get even bigger as he scrambles out of his desk. He falls over his chair and I laugh–or snarl–again. He crawls away on all fours and the rest of the kids bail out of their seats. The girls scream, and even some of the guys as they rush to stand by Miss Meeples.

All the screaming and barking hurts my ears and I try to yell at them to shut up. The snarls that come out now are louder, rougher, more like roars.

The dog yelps and jams himself under the desk, everyone in the class shrieks, and they all run for the door. Except Miss Meeples, who reminds me of a pinball, bouncing from kid to kid as she tries to stop them from leaving.

“Boys and girls, stop! Stop!” Her shrill voice stabs through my head.

Aaah–I can’t take this anymore. I need to get out of here.

I look up at one of the open windows and, without another thought, leap through it.

The feel of the grass beneath my paws as I land surprises me. I’m more surprised when I fall on my face. Controlling four legs is trickier than it looks.

“That was graceful.”

The voice startles me, and as I jump up, I feel myself begin to vibrate. I concentrate on the panther–and the vibration fades away. I look around me and spot Sullivan leaning against the big elm tree that’s next to the classroom.

He smiles, then in a blur, shifts into a tiger. The tiger strolls over to me and with no warning bats me upside the head with one of his giant paws. He nearly knocks me over and I hiss at him. Standing there staring at me with his grey shifter’s eyes, he looks at the ground and whacks me again.

Oh, you’re gonna pay for that.

With a growl, I spring at him. He meets me with an open mouth and we go down in a flurry of teeth and claws. I can feel my skin ripping as he bites and scratches, but I don’t care because I’m too busy tearing and clawing him. Our fight ends when he pins me beneath his bigger and heavier body.

It’s no different than usual. I quit struggling and lie there, panting, my tail beating the ground in aggravation.

Sullivan whuffs and gets off of me. He shifts back to himself as I climb to my feet.

“Nice first shift, little brother.” Sullivan grins.

My chest swells with pride and a low purr slips from my throat.

“But I wouldn’t be expecting an ‘A’ for that shift, if I were you. Principal’s office is more likely what you’re gonna get. Not only is a panther a long way from a golden retriever, it’s also an illegal shape for minors – you know that.”

I feel my body sag as his words sink in.

Crap. My parents are gonna kill me.

~~~

© 2010 by Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 15 September 2010 12:06 am
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~tomorrow’s blogfest and upcoming writers’ conference!

OMG – it’s almost here!

I have been so slammed lately with real-world stuff that almost everything relating to writing (including this blog) has been rudely shoved into a gloomy corner.

And that’s how I feel when I can’t make the time to write or blog – GLOOMY! And pissy, cranky, crabby – you name it. I love to write and really enjoy blogging. Not being able to do either takes some of the purpose out of my days…

BUT – tomorrow is the BACK-TO-SCHOOL BLOGFEST!!!

I’m so excited – and I’m thrilled at the number of participants who’ve signed up! I can’t wait to read everyone’s entries. It’s a good thing I stretched the ‘fest over four days, because I want to read each and every story.

The other thing I’m excited about is that I’m attending the Central Coast Writers Conference this weekend, and guess who the keynote speaker is!

Nathan Bransford! Uber-agent for Curtis Brown, Ltd!

Nathan has the coolest blog full of great advice for writers – I encourage you to check it out if you’re not a regular reader.

He’s also presenting one workshop session called: Getting Published: Let’s Play Query Letter Mad Lib – and I was lucky enough to get a seat in this! The timing couldn’t be more perfect for me. I am beyond excited…

Hope to run into some other West Coast writers from the blogosphere while at the conference. I’ll give a full report when I get back.

Off to do my homework for school tomorrow…

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 14 September 2010 5:23 am
Comments (3)

~Fight! Fight! Fight! BLOGFEST!

Yay! It’s fight time! Thanks to J. C. over at The Fighter Writer who’s hosting the Fight! Fight! Fight! BLOGFEST! Be sure to visit her site and check out the other fighters in the ring.

I love fight scenes. I’ve been mulling over what to enter for this blogfest–I’d hoped to write something new, but just don’t have the time. Since I’ve featured a few excerpts/alternative scenes from Watcher lately, I’ve decided to give you all a taste of something a little different.

This is from the Forbidden Doorways young adult series I’m working on. The characters are Mason, a rather nasty vampire, and his reluctant partner, a shapeshifter named Crit.

Enjoy…

~~~~~~~~~

“Crit, they’ll be waking soon and we are completely unprepared. Keep a watch over them ‘til I get back.”

Groaning, I nod again. I hate being there when newborns first wake up, especially if Mason’s not. But I can generally tell when it’s useless to argue with him, and this is one of those times.

He walks to the door and looks back at me.

“Don’t leave them alone or they may turn on one another. You need to be in there, now, in case they wake early.” He pauses. “And stay out of their teeth.”

Giving him a mock salute, I head to the back room as he slips through the alley door.

~~~

The darkness of the small room has an eerie feel to it. I turn the lock on the outside of the door as I walk in, then close it behind me. My leg bumps the table. I grope its surface for the flashlight and, finding it, flip it on. The beam bounces around the room, coming to rest on the graves.

Good. There’s no sign of movement yet.

Turning, I kick the floor bolt closed at the bottom of door and set the flashlight back on the table.

I shift, tissues squirming, compressing, and the bones click into place. The inky feathers feel so weird as they burst through my skin, much weirder than fur. A big shudder settles them into place, all but one that’s poking me, and I reach under a black wing with my beak and smooth it out. A second shake and I push up into the air to hover at the top of the door next to the upper latch. Wrapping a foot around the knob, I tug it and it falls into place. I drift down, then circle back up to the perch anchored into the wall near the ceiling and settle onto it to wait.

Mason better get back here soon. He should’ve let me round up dinner, like I usually do. One vamp wakening I can handle, but I don’t know about two, especially a couple. I dunno why he decided to do this– a couple is always more difficult to deal with than two people who didn’t know each other.

Sounds from below interrupt my musings and I fix an eye on the graves. Bits of soil are starting to tumble down the mound closest to the wall. Brent.

Aww, crap.

A hand shoots through the earth, startling me, and waves around in the air, then is followed by the other. They drop, and feeling the soil around them, start clawing it away as fast as possible. Brent’s torso bursts through the surface and he sits up. A squawk escapes me as I nearly fall off my perch. This stuff still creeps me out, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. Blinking, he brushes the dirt from his face and looks down at the lower half of his body that is still buried.

“Uhhh…” Black eyes wide, he panics and launches himself out of the grave. He hits the door and starts pounding on it, still making the ‘uh’ sound. After several minutes he spots the doorknob, grabs it and pulls. He keeps pulling, jerking it back and forth, but isn’t thinking enough to try and turn it. He goes back to pounding, then switches to yanking.

Lame brain in life, he’s even lamer in death.

He finally stops and looks around the room, then starts circling it mindlessly, round and round, like an animal in a cage. Which basically he is. Wonder if his brain is going to kick in at all.

A sound from the middle of the floor snatches my attention away from Brent.

Uh oh.

The soil moves and goes still for a moment, then Kelly explodes out of the mound. Brent shrieks and tries to hide in a corner as Kelly hits the door, hard. She pounds twice, grabs the knob, and gives it a single tug before trying to turn it.

Oh, bad sign. They don’t usually remember how to work doorknobs right outta the hole.

She looks closer at it, then notices the latch at the bottom of the door and starts kicking it.

No problem with her mind, which could be a big problem for us. We count on them being zombied when they first wake–it’s easier to control them. It usually takes a few days before they start to think again.

Kelly stops kicking and looks around the room. She zeroes in on Brent, who’s nose-first in the corner stepping back and forth, still making that ‘uh’ sound. In a flash she crosses the room, grabs his hair and yanks his head back.

He screams and shoves off the wall against her just as she’s opening her mouth to bite him. They both go down into the dirt, and I’m on them, beating their faces with my wings in an effort to distract them from one another.

I squawk as one them gets hold of my tail feathers and barely manage to pull myself free. I fly back up to my perch as Brent, still lying in the dirt, examines the feathers. Kelly rolls away from him then turns, seizes his arm and sinks her fangs into it. I dive down into her face and she snarls and grabs at me as I flap away.

But I’m not fast enough. She catches my wingtip and yanks me down. I hit the ground shifting and she lets go. Her surprised expression is quickly replaced by that of bloodlust at the sight of my human form. I barely shift into the wolf in time to leap to the other side of the room.

But now I’ve got Brent’s attention as well, and as the bloodlust flares in his eyes, I realize I’m in big trouble. I double-shift back to the raven and hurl myself into the air just as they both launch at me. I feel the brush of fingertips as I push higher. With great relief I settle back onto the perch. Beak open, I pant from the efforts of the last several minutes as I watch them circle below me.

Kelly studies me a moment, then suddenly springs straight up and grabs the perch. It snaps off from the wall as I take wing and she smiles at me in triumph.

This sucks. I can only stay in the air in this small of an area for so long.

A tap from outside the door is the best thing I’ve heard in awhile and I start cawing up a storm. Mason unlocks the door, then slams into it. The latches I’d installed tear through the wood as the door bursts inward and I hightail it out into the warehouse and land.

“STOP!” Mason roars.

I listen with satisfaction as first one body hits a wall, then the other. Shifting into the wolf, I race back into the room.

:)

~~~~~~~~~

© 2010 Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Monday, 30 August 2010 10:03 pm
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~Word Paint Blogfest!

I had decided not to commit to this blogfest, especially in light of the fact that I missed the Weather Blogfest and barely made it to the Rainy Day Blogfest (you can check out my entry here if you missed it).

But then this scene came flooding into my head, and I had to write it.

When ya gotta write, ya gotta write.

So here’s my entry for Dawn Ember’s Word Paint Blogfest – be sure to visit her site to read the other entries.

This is an alternate scene from my WIP, Watcher, the story of Sunny Martin and her struggles to survive in a personal hell from which she cannot escape.

Hope it’s been a little while since you had breakfast (or lunch).

~~~~~~~~~

A red river tumbles over me, creating eddies around the angles of my body. I lift my head from the crimson flow, gasping, choking, as I struggle to escape its sticky clutches. My arms claw the air in vain, and when I open my eyes, all I can see is a wall of blood bearing down on me. As it crushes me, shoving me deeper and deeper into the thick torrent, I scream.

I’m still screaming as I climb from the coma-like sleep that the sun forces upon me every morning. The horror coursing through me is nothing compared to the hunger burning through my veins. It rips through my belly into my throat, its fiery need sending waves of agony into my very soul.

Nicolas appears next to the bed, concern etching his brow.

“Oh, Nicolas! What’s happening to me?!” I cry as I fling myself into his arms.

“Sshh, my sweet. It is just a blooddream.” He strokes my hair, as though calming a frightened horse. My body responds, as it always does to him, and begins to relax.

He eases me back, his eyes searching mine, and asks, “Haven’t you had them before?”

“No,” I whisper. “Never.”

His silence tells me this is unusual, and I can visualize the checklist in his head as he adds another item to the list of my oddities.

The hunger flashes through me, reminding me that it will never let me go. I press myself tight against his chest, and as he wraps his arms around me, I know he’ll never let me go, either.

It’s a heavy price for his love, and sometimes I wonder how long I can pay it.

~~~~~~~~~

© 2010 Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Friday, 27 August 2010 9:34 am
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~OMG! WATCHER TIED FOR 3RD PLACE!!

Yeah! You read that right!

But you might be asking, “Uh, third place in what?”

Miss Snark’s First Victim August Secret Agent Contest, that’s what!

The ’secret agent’ was revealed earlier this morning: Cameron McClure, of the Donald Maass Literary Agency!

I’m stunned – she is at the top of my intended submission list! I had actually planned to start querying by the end of the month.

Entrants for the contest were to submit the first 250 words of a completed novel. Submission windows were limited in both time and number of entries. A total of forty-four entries were submitted.

There were a number of great ones. I’m hoping the other winners will announce soon who they were – I’d love to visit their sites to see more of their writing!

In the meantime, I’m off to do my happy dance!

roh morgon @ Monday, 23 August 2010 12:17 pm
Comments (10)

~announcing: Back-to-School Daze Blogfest!

Blogfests!

I’ve decided that I really like them.

They give me a chance to visit other blogs and discover new writers that I enjoy.

And they force me to write–something short and sweet, something without the emotional investment and time commitment of a novel.

Blogfests allow me to play in my WIP if I’m in the mood, by either reprinting a scene already written, or creating a side story for a minor character.

But they also give me the freedom to write about something completely different, a way to step foot into another world. And if it’s a world I find intriguing once I’m in it, I may explore it more fully in future works.

So in honor of the blogfest, which in reality is a form of writing exercise, I’m going to host my first one.

In fact, I’m not only hosting one, I’m going to jump in with both feet and host TWO.

The first one is in honor of the month of September, the month when the heat of summer fades and the cool, crisp air of fall begins to creep in.

It’s also the month many schools start their year after summer break (although some jump the gun and start in August).

I’m calling it:

September’s Back-to-School Daze Blogfest

Your assignment?

Write a scene that takes place on a campus. It can be in a classroom, on the football field, in a locker room… (grin – but nothing explicit, please!) – just as long as the setting is on school grounds.

That’s it. Keep it short – 999 words is a nice length, but if you go a LITTLE over, I won’t slap your knuckles with a ruler. :)

AND – if you’re late to class, I won’t send you to the principal’s office. In honor of those of us who are always tardy, I’m running the blogfest through Saturday, September 18 to give everyone a chance to contribute and time to visit all the blogs. However, you must sign up on or before the blogfest date of September 15.

Oh, and please spread the wordcopy the banner at the top to paste on your blog and link back to this page so that visitors can read the other entries. I’m sure there are some GREAT school stories out there!

I also ask that you leave comments on the blogs you visit. Let the writers know their works are being read – they’ll appreciate the time you take to acknowledge their efforts.

September’s Back-to-School Daze Blogfest date: Wednesday, September 15, 2010.

You can sign up with the Mr. Linky thingy below.

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But – before you go any further, make note of my second blogfest.

It’s taking place on October 23, 2010, and is called:

October’s Monster Mash Blogfest

The title should tell you all you need to know for now, so mark your calendar – I’ll announce more about it as we get a little closer to the date.

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That said, here’s the sign-up for September’s Back to School Daze Blogfest:

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 18 August 2010 10:50 pm
Comments (44)

~bloghopper

Tessa’s got another fun blog event going on! It’s a bloghop to help readers and writers introduce themselves. This is what Tessa says about it:

The Life Fantastic

Do you write fantasy stories/novels (any subgenre welcome)? Do you read/review fantasy books?  Maybe you create fantasy art?  Join the list (at the bottom of this post) and meet other like-minded creatures of the web!
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Here’s my bit:

Paranormal. Dark Fantasy. Swords and Sorcerers. Dragons and Mythical Lands. With a sprinkling of Aliens and Other Worlds.

That’s what I love to read, and what I love to write.

I just finished reading NYT bestseller Shiver and its sequel, Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater. OMG – Stephanie Meyer, move over. New werewolves have come to town, and they’re…disturbing. Heartbreaking. Wonderful in that wolfish sort of way.  How good is all this? Linger was just released in the US. It hit NUMBER 1 on the NYT bestseller list its first week!

Check out Maggie’s website. She has two cool book trailer videos that she created and wrote the music for. They make me all shivery, just like the books. I’ll be doing a more extensive review of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series in the near future, but for now, I only have 3 words: Go. Read. Them.

OK – this blog is supposed to be about visitors getting acquainted with me. Hmm…I hate to reinvent the wheel, so if you want to know a bit about me, hit these two links:

bio

11 things about me (skip past the award stuff to get to the list)

And if you want to know what I write, here’s a taste:

The Monster’s Growl (this is a piece about a minor character from my main WIP, Watcher. He was also recently featured in Tessa’s Blogfest of Death).

I have several excerpts from Watcher posted, as well as one from my MG short story, Fur Before Feathers. You can check them out in the links at the left under “this site.”

That’s it for now. See ya around in the blogosphere.
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Also – I just discovered I’m signed up for Lisa’s blog hop as well. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but I do recall Mr. Linky and I having a knock-down drag-out fight when I signed up on Tessa’s…so without further ado, here’s Lisa’s bloghop info:

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 27 July 2010 2:24 pm
Comments (13)

~Blogfest of Death

Well, due to some unusual circumstances, I was unable to post my contribution to Tessa’s Blogfest of Death yesterday. But it was too cool of a ‘fest to pass up, so here’s my entry, albeit just a tad late. This is an alternate scene to one in my current WIP:

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“Are you ready?” Janos lifts a corner of his lip, a sneer accenting the demonic hunger shining through crimson eyes. His thick blond ponytail drags across the back of his broad shoulders as he turns his head to look at me. The trembling young woman hugs herself as she settles deeper into the couch, away from where he stands over her, like a golden lion looming above his prey.

Standing between the two burly bouncers, I try to wrench free, but the steel fists trapping my arms only grow tighter. I pause, panting in fury, then lunge at the shorter guard, my teeth bared and reaching for his throat. A hand clamps around the back of my neck and lifts me off the ground. Cold breath against my ear sends icicles of fear down my spine.

“Ahh-ahh-ahh, Steven. Not too rough. We can’t damage our little traitor–remember?” Janos warns in his silky growl.

“Traitor?!” I spat as my feet meet the ground. “Me, the traitor? You’re the traitor, you and Éva and the others. Nicolas is–”

“Nicolas is no longer here, or haven’t you noticed?” Janos snarls. “And that’s your fault, you ball-busting bitch. Someone had to step in to run things when you left him unmanned and holed-up in his estate. But then, that was your plan all along, wasn’t it? Seduce and distract him to keep him from noticing the enemy incursions into our territory.”

He steps toward me, hatred blazing out of those red eyes. His expression shifts as he reaches out to smooth back my hair and I tense, still immobilized by the hand gripping my neck. The lust blossoming on Janos’ face is far more frightening than the hate, and I cringe as his hand moves down my cheek. It lingers a moment, tracing the silvery scars it finds there, then trails down to caress my breasts. I fight the impulse to struggle, knowing it will trigger him, but I can’t help myself. He growls and moves, lighting-quick, and as his icy lips touch my jaw, a roar rips from my throat. My teeth snap on empty air as he jerks back and grins.

“Oh, little kitten. You would be so much fun. Perhaps I can persuade Éva to let me have you for awhile before she rips off your head.” He turns and saunters back over to the terrified woman on the couch.

“Now, where were we? Oh, yes…dinner. Come, my sweet. I have something special for you.” Janos reaches out to brush her dark hair back from a face that looks disturbingly like my own. Her blue eyes glance at mine, unable to disguise her fear, as his hand drifts down to wait, empty, for hers. Quivering, she places her hand in his and he guides her to a stand.

“Unfortunately, sweet thing, I’m all out of Nicolas’ special ‘liqueur’, so I’m afraid this will be much more pleasant for me than for you.” A soft whimper escapes her lips as he draws her close. The hunger flaring anew in his eyes, he tips his head and smiles at me. His eyes stay locked on mine as he slowly turns her around, and with her back to him now, he wraps one arm around her waist. He yanks her tight against him and she cries out again, louder this time. Her ineffective thrashing to escape only intensifies the excitement animating his face as he breathes into her hair and growls. The thugs, momentarily distracted by the macabre performance, tighten their grip on me when I take advantage and try to squirm free.

“You son-of-a-bitch…is this really necessary?” I snarl as numbing pain spreads up and down my arms from the vise-like holds.

“Don’t tell me you have Nicolas’ weakness for such as this.” Janos leans back and combs his fingers through the dark strands. “I’ve always thought his efforts to make it pleasurable for them were a waste. I mean, what’s the point? And his edict against killing them? That’s against our very nature. We are, after all, the superior species, you and I.”

“We are nothing alike. What you are is despicable, worse than any animal. There’s nothing superior about cruelty and murder.”

Janos laughs, the rumble in his chest ominous, then one-handed, gathers the woman’s hair and drapes it over her shoulder. I swallow at the sight of her bared throat, and Janos laughs again at my discomfort as I meet his gaze once more. Still staring at me, he lowers his face to that porcelain flesh and nuzzles the softness there. He groans, then wraps his free arm around the woman’s breasts and crushes her to him. Unable to look away, I watch, the crimson veil dropping over my vision and hunger beginning to boil in my veins. He opens his mouth and slowly sinks his fangs into her throat.

She shrieks, but he only clamps her tighter to him as he begins to draw, one mouthful after another. Disgust with his brutality rivals the desire in me to feast alongside him, and again I attempt to break free, to leave this room, to do anything but be a witness to the horror unfolding in front of me. But I might as well try to bend iron. Her screams fade to low moans as he drains the life from her, one swallow at a time. I shut my eyes to the sight of her blood trailing down from his lips, blood that is fueling my own raging hunger, but I can’t block the smell, nor the sounds of his feeding.

She gasps, and gasps again. My eyes fly open of their own accord to see her limp body hanging from his teeth and arms. Her final sigh is accompanied by his groan of triumph, and the air in the room electrifies as he drops her, throws his head back and looses a roar that shakes the very walls. He roars again, then snaps his head around to stare at me. The crimson in his irises and pupils is gone, replaced by a white so bright it nearly glows.

A shockwave of power batters me and my knees weaken as I nearly collapse from it. The bouncers waver as well, their grips relaxing as they take in their maker’s energy overflow. Reeling, I slip free of their grasps to turn and dive headfirst through the window, accompanied by shards of glass. I twist to land on my feet and hear a sound at the broken third-story window. As I leap into a run, Janos’ words drift out above me.

“Let her go. We’ve delivered our message.”

Outrage at their Game-playing fuels my feet, and as I blur towards my car, a snarl tears from my throat.

I will pay you back, you bastard, for betraying Nicolas, and for this poor girl’s unnecessary death, hers and the countless others before and after. And when I’m done with you, you’ll wish you were mortal and will beg me for a mortal’s end.

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© 2010 by Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Monday, 19 July 2010 10:15 pm
Comments (8)

~characters that shine and Character Contest #1

REMINDER – Character Contest #1 ends TOMORROW (Saturday July 17) at midnight! Don’t miss out on a chance to win cool book stuff!

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Characters. They literally make or break a story. You can have plot up the bazoo, but if you don’t have characters that entrap the readers, that suck them in and make their hearts race, you have nothing but black marks on a page.

I just finished critiquing nine stories ranging in length from 3,000 to 14,000 words (more than half of them were 10k+). These stories will be published by the Fresno Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers in our first annual anthology this fall.

So I’ve been paying extra attention to character development lately, not only in our anthology stories, but others as well.

Some stories contain dynamic characters that screech up to the reader, slam open the door, and say, “Jump in!” Then they careen down the road at madcap speed, the reader hanging on for dear life, giggling or sobbing at every turn.

In others, sedate characters stroll by, politely asking the reader if they’d like to go for a walk as they pass. The journey can be pleasant and relaxing, or a boring sedative to fall asleep with.

And sometimes the characters are confined by the writer to a park bench, only watching the events unfold around them and not even noticing when the reader asks to join them. Emotionless, unable to interact with their environment, their apathy quickly drives the reader away.

So how do you turn those wallflowers at the prom into the dancing stars that everyone admires and wants to be with? What can you do to turn them from a drab grey to vivid splashes of red, blue, and yellow?

Let ‘em speak. Give them a voice. Allow them to cringe in pain, to frown in annoyance, to grin and shout their joy. Every word, every gesture, should be used to lure the reader in and ensnare them in the web of the story. And if it’s done right – if the writer has given their characters the freedom to express themselves – the reader will be thrilled to be caught up in the silken threads of another world, far beyond the reach of their own reality.

I’d like to hear from other writers how you bring your characters to life and what advice you might have to offer for those that are learning the craft.

roh morgon @ Friday, 16 July 2010 3:52 pm
Comments (0)

~awards and stuff about me

I recently received the Journey Support award (my very first blog award!) from Tara at Feel of Something New. Being somewhat new to the blogosphere, I wasn’t sure what the award was for, so I googled it.

The Journey Support Award is given to bloggers in recognition for their support in this crazy world of writing and trying to get published – which is really cool (thanks, Tara!). So with that in mind, I’d like to pass it along to a few folks who’ve helped me:

Chris at C. Michael Fontes, Ryan at R. Garrett Wilson, Paula at P D Wright, Roni at *Fiction Groupie*, and Janet at Janet Sumner Johnson. Thank you all for your support and encouragement.

It just so happens that Janet also gave me an award today. It’s called the Honest Scrap Award, and has a few strings attached (they’re fun ones, though!).

First of all, I just want you to say “Honest Scrap” three times out loud, real fast. Yeah, I think that’s pretty funny.

So one of the requirements of this award is that you list ten *true* things about yourself  (you know, honest crap).

The second is that you pass it along to either five or ten other bloggers (google seemed a bit confused on this).

Well, being the renegade rule-breaker that I am, I’ve listed not ten, but eleven true things about me. Typical writer – can’t cut anything.

The other rule I’m going to bend (not break) is that I’m going to wait a little while before I bestow this award on my fellow bloggers (some of who I just gave the Journey Support award to).

So, in the meantime, here is my list of Honest Scrap:

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1)  Once drove an Amtrak train for over 100 miles – with passengers on it. No, really. Operated the accelerator, the brake, the horn – the whole shebang. The poor engineer probably lost his job (someone snapped a picture).

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2)  Lived for two years on the base of Pike’s Peak. Only made it to the top once – on the back of a Harley.

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3)  Love cars. Absolutely adore cars. One of my favorite things to do? Drive my little black Genesis coupe, Nine Inch Nails blaring from the stereo, windows down, no holds barred. Love curvy roads and pedal-to-the-metal. Once raced a…well, never mind. My dad reads my blog :)

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4)  Another favorite thing to do? Hauling butt on my jet ski across the lake, wind ripping through my hair as the water sprays up to kiss my skin. And doing doughnuts on the ski, round and round, faster and faster, ’til I’m hysterically dizzy and nearly flung off the darn thing.

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5)  Collector of knives and swords  – and can use them. Really. I prefer to fight with rapier and dagger.  You know, like in The Three Musketeers or The Mask of Zorro.

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6)  Been known to fly across the country for fan-related activities. And wear costumes that my husband and I made to said gatherings (yeah, I’m a true geek).

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7)  Owned by three mustang horses that I gentled and trained (with a little help).

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8)  Two crazy working dogs live with me – one bred to work cattle, the other to work sheep. Own neither cattle nor sheep, but have lots of tennis balls and frisbees.

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9)  The area surrounding my home in the Sierra Nevada foothills is so quiet at night your ears ring. Except when the owls call or the coyotes howl.  I hate the concrete and madness of cities.

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10)  One of only a few hundred people who attended the final two shows of Nine Inch Nails last September. And yeah, I was in the pit.

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Bonus factoid – My two kids are probably older than most of you reading this post.

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Oh, and one last thing. Don’t forget to enter my Character Contest #1 – the deadline is Saturday, July 17.

roh morgon @ Thursday, 8 July 2010 11:43 pm
Comments (4)

~Character Contest #1 (again)

Blogging contests.

I recently held one, and it didn’t do so well.

Truthfully? It was an epic FAIL. And that blame lies entirely with me.

Being new at this whole blogging thing, I’m still learning the ropes (like many of you).  In my recent post on successful blogging, I examined a few elements that I’ve observed in popular blogs, limiting my analysis to those by writers (we know why agent blogs are popular). This helped me to discover areas to focus on in order to improve my blogging.

Back to the contest. I contacted Roni over at *Fiction Groupie* (her blog is one I consider successful, with over 500 followers gained in less than a year), and asked her a few questions about holding contests and how to promote them. She gave me great advice and encouraged me to try again.  Janet Sumner Johnson also offered suggestions on how to spread news of the contest.

So, after consulting with the previous entrants (whose entries still count), I’ve decided to extend the Character Contest #1 deadline by two weeks.

Below is a re-post of the contest guidelines. So without further ado, read on:

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Don’t you love it when a special character in a story refuses to leave your thoughts, even after the story is done?

I recently met one named Weyland in a short story titled “Unicorn Tapestry” by Suzy McKee Charnas.

We get to know Weyland through his therapist, Floria as she begins treatment on who she assumes is a delusional patient. A staid, aging college-professor, he maintains his distance from Floria with a cold formality. But as this spare and intense man reveals the chilling details of his life, Floria begins to question her initial diagnosis. She becomes more and more unsettled by her mysterious patient as he nimbly lays waste to her attempts to unravel his delusions. Their dance with words eventually leads to a dance with death in a spine-tingling conclusion. The end is not quite what we anticipate and leaves the reader (at least this one) thinking about it long after it’s over.

Weyland and his ‘outsider’ existence haunted me enough that I read the story twice. I visited the website of author Suzy McKee Charnas, then wrote to her to tell her of Weyland’s impact on me, and how I have a similar character (Nicolas from Watcher) who haunts me as well. She was kind enough to answer and discuss Weyland, and encouraged me with my writing.

Characters are what keep us reading. There are millions of readers out there who fell in love with Edward and Bella and went on to devour the rest of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. There are millions of others who couldn’t wait to for the next J.K. Rowling to learn what was going to happen to Harry Potter and his friends.

Well-developed characters are what I love, and what I strive for in my writing. Character development is an ongoing topic among writers and lately has been a subject of discussion on several blogs by friends in the Fresno SciFi and Fantasy Writers (FSFW) group.

Something else my friends have been doing in the blogosphere is holding contests in which the winner receives a copy of a recommended book.

I’ve been thinking about this.

And here’s what I’ve decided to do:

I’m going to hold a series of contests based on characters. Each contest will be slightly different, but they’ll all revolve around characters. I’ll be holding them periodically, so stay tuned to this blog.

Here’s the guidelines for Roh’s Character Contest #1:

Most readers have a list of favorite characters from stories they love. I know who mine are — I want to hear about yours.

So first of all, become a follower of my blog – after all, the more people participating, the more fun it is for everyone. And if you post a link on your blog to the contest, you’ll earn an extra entry!

Then comment about one or more of your favorite characters and what books they are from. Each person commenting will receive one entry. The winner will be determined by a random drawing. That’s it – that’s all you have to do.

But, there’s a SECOND chance to win as well! It’s also an opportunity to stretch your literary muscles.

Describe your favorite character in your own words and what impact this character has had on your writing, or even on your life. You must include the title of the story, book, or series, along with the author’s name.

Word limit: 198 words or less (1+9+8=18, 1+8=9. I’m a nine freak, remember?).

Check out my three paragraphs above on Weyland for an example (and yes, they total exactly 198 words).

Your entry will be judged on both word craft and strength of argument. In other words, CONVINCE us. Tell us what it is about this character and its effect on you in a way that will compel me (and others) to go buy the book and read it.

Bonus points: If your word count total is a ‘nine’ (the digits add up to nine or a multiple of nine), you will receive a second entry into the random drawing.

PRIZES:

For the random drawing, the prize will be a gift certificate from Fictionwise for an e-book of the Nebula award-winning Unicorn Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas.

For the character description, the prize is a brand-new softcover copy of Suzy McKee Charnas’ book, The Vampire Tapestries AND a $10 gift card for Borders or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice). The prizes for this portion of the contest are restricted to residents of the continental U.S. only.

CONTEST ENDS:

The last day to enter is Saturday July 17, 2010 (a nine-day, of course). The random winner will be drawn the following day and notified via email. The character descriptions will be judged during the remainder of the week. The winner will be selected and notified via email by Monday July 26, 2010.

roh morgon @ Friday, 2 July 2010 7:53 am
Comments (6)

~what are agents really looking for?

Check out this post by Veronica Roth over at GotYA on agent responses to queries at the Backspace Writers Conference.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 2 June 2010 11:41 am
Comments (1)
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