Author Archives: solitaireparke

What do Favorite Books and Characters Give Us?

John Hemingway once said, “there is no friend as loyal as a book.”  I am a firm advocate of reading books.  I believe, as both an avid reader and writer, that knowledge is power and that there is always something to learn which will in some way make you a better person or perhaps a better writer.  Books can be motivational and inspiring or draw us into a magical world that takes us far from our often hectic and lackluster world.  Many of us have certain books that are like an old friend we can always rely on for encouragement or allow our minds to become creative.

Sci-fi author Ray Bradbury’s favorite books that most influenced his career were those in Edgar Rice Burroughs’s  “John Carter: Warlord of Mars series.  “They entered my life when I was 10 and caused me to go out on the lawns of summer, put up my hands, and ask for Mars to take me home,” Bradbury said. “Within a short time, I began to write and have continued that process ever since, all because of Mr. Burroughs.”

It’s interesting that Bradbury would be a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, since the same author is the one that started it all for me with the book “A Princess of Mars.”  I have a very old hard cover of it sitting in my office in a glass enclosed case, in addition to a large number of his earliest paperback books that are prized possessions.

 

My favorite character from his books that I’ve read would have to be John Carter from the Barsoom novels.  He was the most singularly minded person I’ve ever encountered.  He was always in control, never faltered, was open and honest and refused to give up no matter how hopeless the situation seemed.  He openly loved the heroine of the story and was willing to move heaven and earth to be with her.  He inspired me as a child and the books inspired me to become an author.  How much more could anyone ask out of a series of science fiction books?  Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to be more like him, but I cannot in good conscience say that I find myself in that person’s character.  It’s just someone that I desired to emulate.  He didn’t remind me of anyone in particular.  A character of his caliber was larger than life, and inadvertently caused me to raise the bar of expectation to an unhealthy degree, at least so I’m told.

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

Carl Sagan

Grab a book and Keep Reading!

Solitaire

www.solitaireparke.com

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Author Fair * Book Signing – Saturday, November 3, 2018

 

http://www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org/ServicesForYou/Pages/Just-Read-Local-Author-Fair.aspx

Saturday, November 3, 2018 from 11a.m. to 2p.m.

Burton Barr Central Library, 2nd Floor

1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ  85004

Join me for the Author Fair to meet authors from all over the state of Arizona and learn about our books, including children’s, teen, adult fiction and nonfiction.

   

 

Books will be available for purchase and signing. I hope to see you there!

Solitaire

www.solitaireparke.com

 

6 EXCEPTIONALLY USEFUL BLOG SITES

If you want to find information on anything concerning being an author or just writing in general, there are some outstanding and informative blogs out there to help with anything and everything you might need to know, including all the things you didn’t realize you needed to know.  So here are a few of them for you to check out.

The Log-Line:  Can You Pitch Your ENTIRE Story in ONE Sentence?

11 Ideas to Help You Write the Positively Perfect Blog Post

The Pros and Cons of Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity

10 Ridiculously Simple Steps for Writing a Book

A Writer’s Guide to Point of View

The Creative Penn

 

Have a great September – and Happy Reading!

Solitaire

www.solitaireparke.com

Labor Day – what’s that about?

In the United States it is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September honoring the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country – the “workingmen’s holiday.”   It is considered to the unofficial end of summer, and usually affords us a three-day weekend come September.

In the late 19th century, the trade union and labor movements grew, and it was proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.  The first parade was organized in New York City on September 5, 1882, and in 1887, Oregon was the first state to make it an official public holiday.  President Grover Cleveland made it an official federal holiday on June 28, 1894, with 30 states celebrating Labor Day.  Since then, all the U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and United States Virgin Islands) have made Labor Day a legal holiday.

Now that we know what it is, here are some surprising particulars about Labor Day:

  1. Americans during the time Labor Day was first created worked twelve hours a day, six days a week. When the Adamson Act was passed on September 3, 1916, the modern eight hour work day was established.
  2. There used to be an unspoken rule – wear no white after Labor Day. The practical idea was that since the summer season was over, lighter, more summery clothes were no longer needed.  Another theory was that the promotion of fall clothing in the fashion world began.  The fashion rule now is that wearing white is glamorous no matter what the season.
  3. Ironically, Labor Day causes some of the longest working hours for retail workers as it is notorious for having crazy sales. In fact, many other people are expected to work as well.
  4. Labor Day is the official end of the hot dog season, as recorded on the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council website. Americans consume about seven billion hot dogs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  5. Labor Day is one of the busiest travel days in America. It is the second most dangerous holiday weekend to drive on U.S. highways. People tend to be more reckless on the roads.
  6. It is also the beginning of the National Football League season – almost every NFL kick off game has started the weekend after Labor Day.
  7. It is the third most popular day of the year to have a cookout. It falls behind Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
  8. Labor Day used to be viewed as the unofficial last day of vacation before the start of the new school year. That may the case in some schools these days, but most schools have shortened the summer break and begin in August.  (Mourned by students, but cheered by parents)

As we all celebrate our Labor Day holiday parties, give a nod to all the hardworking men and women in our country and elsewhere.  Enjoy your family and friends and have a great weekend!

Solitaire

www.solitaireparke.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHY WRITE A PREQUEL?

A prequel is a work that forms part of a back-story to the preceding work.  Simply stated, it sets the stage for the existing novels and usually comes after the original work was written.

If you have followed my blog or perhaps seen my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or various other sites then you know I have authored a succession of books called the Dragomeir Series, an urban fantasy/sci-fi saga of dragons and their riders, along with some rather unusual creatures and captivating characters.

Some readers might ask, “Why write a prequel?”  I had originally planned to finish this series and then push on to other projects but began having second thoughts as I put a close on the third book in the Dragomeir Series, “Egg of the Amphitere.” One of the main characters known as Queen Mother needed to be expounded upon to give a better understanding and proper closure as to who she was and why.  I realized there was a fascinating back-story to be told, and the prequel was born.  The story, albeit told by Tanis Theatra (one of the dragon riders), was more about the life and times of Katherine Pendragon (Queen Mother) than anything else.

The only way to pursue that was to go back where it essentially started and tell her story as it began on the Provinces.  So, the prequel series, “Daughter of the Dark Lord” was created to give credence to Queen Mother’s life, why she was so passionate about family, and to clarify her dedication to stopping the Dark Lord from invading earth.  Last, but not least, it was to express how she eventually planned to liberate the Denizen people of the Provinces.  While telling her story, it would also give the reader a bird’s eye view into Tanis Theatra’s beginnings, and of course the amazing dragons.  To accomplish this there will also be one more installment to the original Dragomeir Series, entitled “Back from Oblivion.”  This book describes Queen Mother’s ultimate objective which is exclusively detailed in the “Daughter of the Dark Lord” prequel series.  There are two books available in this series now, and a third is currently being written.

All together it should delineate the complete story as first introduced by Tanis Theatra and recanted by me, Solitaire Parke.  Check out my website at

www.solitaireparke.com

to read sample chapters, discover exciting extras and purchase books at multiple locations in a variety of formats. I hope you enjoy!

Here is a question for my readers –  Do you enjoy reading a prequel to a novel?

Have you written a prequel? I’d love to hear about your writing experience.

Solitaire

10 Ways to Promote Happiness

Happiness – the often elusive thing that nearly everyone is searching for.  We all have different ideas, preferences, and desires for our lives.  But after years of scientific research, it has been suggested that certain things make the good majority of us happy.  To be more specific, happiness does not result from reaching “bigger and better” signs of success, but rather from looking for contentment from new and fresh experiences in our quest for a life that is considered well lived.  So, what kinds of experiences provide the best happiness benefits?  Well, scientific study has discovered that these 10 ways will increase your everyday overall happiness:

  1. Make little changes in your daily routine, such as getting more sleep, exercising, getting out into nature, and meditating.
  2. Read more books. Read books to learn—research suggests that lifelong learners remain healthy and engaged, and live long lives. Read books as an escape from your everyday life, Read books—it will make you happy.  (One of my personal favorites.  I have always loved to read, and write as well.  Check out my books at www.solitaireparke.com)
  3. Find your right fit or match, both personally and professionally. If you love what you do and who you are with, you’ll position yourself for personal happiness and professional success.
  4. Be grateful. Two specific activities help foster a greater sense of gratitude. First, keep a daily gratitude journal. Second, pay a “gratitude visit” to someone from your past that has had a significant impact on your life, and let them know how you feel.
  5. Smile more—even if you don’t feel like it. Research shows that the simple act of smiling can trick your brain into a happier state.
  6. Take pleasure in simple, everyday moments. Appreciating life’s small moments, such as a beautiful sunny day, plants sprouting from the ground, and skipping rocks at the beach, teaches you to be more grateful for what you have, especially during moments of stress and anxiety.
  7. Perform random acts of kindness. Do good deeds. Volunteer. Be charitable. Shop for someone else! Studies have shown that you can help yourself by doing good things for others.
  8. Spend money on experiences versus things. Studies have shown that buying an object—a car, handbag, or kitchen gadget—can quickly lead to buyer’s remorse. On the other hand, investing in experiences—a concert, a camping trip, music lessons—leads to greater happiness. Experiences create “happiness residue,” and our perceptions of them often get better over time.
  9. Avoid comparisons. Whatever you may think of someone else’s life, particularly as viewed through the phony, filtered lens of social media, it’s almost certainly messier than you imagine. It’s easier to embrace and learn to love your own imperfections, if you don’t conjure up myths about how perfect everyone else’s lives seem.
  10. Build and maintain close relationships. Having a small number of tight, meaningful relationships is one of the highest predictors of happiness.  (Pets are wonderful companions too!)

We all lose sight of some of the happiness priorities, so don’t feel bad if you do.  In this world we battle on a daily basis the relentless marketing and expectations of society that attempt to lead us down paths to happiness that lie somewhere else.   We don’t need to over-complicate things.  It’s the simple things in life that matter most.  Live each moment with purpose and intent – live each moment as if it were your last and enjoy the people around you.  You have one life – so live each minute to the fullest!

“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable.  Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain;  happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”

Solitaire

www.solitaireparke.com

 

 

 

 

 

Dragomeir Series – Prequel Book – Part Two is now Here!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the Prequel books to the Dragomeir Series –

  • Daughter of the Dark Lord – Part One – The Burning Sky

AND NOW AVAILABLE –

  • Daughter of the Dark Lord – Part Two – The Alberra Project

Follow the journey of  the daughter of the Dark Lord on the Provinces of Hell, Katherine Pendragon,  from a baby to a young adult as she struggles to discover who she really is and make a difference in the world around her.

In Part Two – The Alberra Project, she unwittingly learns the truth about her father, the Dark Lord of the Provinces, revealing the reality she has long dreaded.  With the beloved dragon, Exxa, by her side Katherine makes an incredible and frightening discovery that leads to an uncertain future, both for herself and those she would free from this vile world.  She must somehow survive, prove her worth and save the people of the Provinces before it is too late.

You will find this book and many others at solitaireparke.com.

If you love dragons and other amazing creatures check out the Dragomeir Series.

Solitaire

 

 

Forthcoming Novel – Daughter of the Dark Lord – Part Two – The Alberra Project

Daughter of the Dark Lord – Part Two – The Alberra Project is finished.  The last six months have been chaotic, as the holidays and life in general seemed to hijack my writing time.   But The Alberra Project has progressed into editing mode and will be available in eBook and paperback very soon. The first book, Daughter of the Dark Lord – Part One – The Burning Sky, has been out for a while now and is available at a variety of locations – all of which can be reached from my website www.solitaireparke.com.

The Daughter of the Dark Lord books are prequels to my previously published Dragomeir Series –  a must read for anyone who loves dragons and other wonderful creatures. I’ve always been intrigued by dragons.  They are magnificent creatures who interact in the most unique ways with their riders and fellow beings and have characteristics that are remarkably like humans at times.  They’re quite brilliant and good-natured, contrary to all the bad press they’ve been given over the centuries.

Part Two continues Katherine Pendragon’s journey as she comes of age on the Provinces of Hell, a dark and often unnerving place in which to grow up.  She unwittingly learns the truth about her father, a reality she has long dreaded.  With her beloved dragon by her side, Katherine faces her biggest challenge yet as she struggles with the knowledge of her father and an uncertain future, both for herself and those she would free from this vile world.

Stay tuned for the forthcoming endeavors of Katherine Pendragon in

Daughter of the Dark Lord – Part Two – The Alberra Project.

My other books are available, along with “Extras,” at –

www.solitaireparke.com

 Happy reading!

Solitaire

Have an Attitude of Gratitude – It Will Change Your Life

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks, to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.

 It Heightens Your Quality of Life

A practice of gratitude raises your “happiness set-point” so you can remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances.  Research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude.  To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.

Notice and Appreciate Each Day’s Gifts

We tend to take for granted the good things in our lives.  Imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. Start finding joy in the small things instead of the bigger things, like getting the promotion, having a comfortable savings, getting married, or having children, and so on – before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.  In the face of hard times ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”

Incorporate Gratitude into your life every day

If we increase our conscious awareness of gratitude it may require that we train ourselves to think differently. This can be done by incorporating some simple exercises into our lives. For example, you might begin to keep a gratitude journal. Gratitude journals can take many forms, but one way of doing this is to simply write down one thing that you are grateful for each day.It can be something that happened that day, something you felt, or someone in your life who has made a positive impact on you.

You can also speak your expressions of gratitude. You can engage someone in a daily discussion about what you are grateful for. This might take the form of questions like, “What was the best part of your day today?”, or “What is one thing that made you feel really happy today?” This kind of discussion not only helps to increase your own awareness of all that you have to be grateful for, but can also promote positive connection and experiences in your relationship with whomever you choose to have these exchanges. Focus on the positive things, which in turn help the stressors feel less significant, and help you feel happier. Basically, gratitude promotes gratitude.

You can train yourself to notice things that you are thankful for. They can be small things: maybe you notice that your bed is very comfortable, that your lunch is tasty, that a good friend said something nice to you, etc. It is easy to take these kinds of experiences for granted and not direct our conscious awareness to them. But training yourself to notice these kinds of things and really feel grateful for them can help increase your own experience of happiness.

Be Thankful –

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Solitaire

www.solitaireparke.com

33 Fiction Writing Tips

Writing fiction can be complex and multifaceted.  There are countless details to consider throughout the process.  There’s the initial brainstorming, the outlining, the countless hours of research, the actual writing, and the inevitable revising.  As if that wasn’t enough, you still have the editing process, a monumental task of its own.  All this to create what you hope will be an amazing work of fiction that readers will fall in love with.  Not much to ask, right?

In doing this research, I’ve gathered an immeasurable amount of ideas concerning fiction writing.  These writing tips, from countless sources, might be helpful to other writers tackling a novel by offering different viewpoints and by providing food for the creative process.

Hopefully, the tips below will help make writing that novel a little easier.

Writing Tips

  1. Read more fiction than you write.
  2. Don’t lock yourself into one genre (in reading or writing). Even if you have a favorite genre, step outside of it occasionally.
  3. Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
  4. Dissect and analyze stories you love from books, movies, and television to find out what works in storytelling and what doesn’t.
  5. Don’t write for the market. Tell the story that’s in your heart. You can make an outline before, during, or after you finish your rough draft. It will provide you with a road map, which is a powerful tool to have at your disposal.
  6. Some of the best fiction comes from real life. Jot down stories that interest you whether you hear them from a friend or read them in a news article.
  7. Real life is also a great source of inspiration for characters. Look around at your friends, family, and coworkers. Magnify and mix the strongest aspects of their personalities, and you’re on your way to crafting a cast of believable characters.
  8. Make your characters real through details rather than lengthy head-to-toe physical descriptions.
  9. The most realistic and relatable characters are flawed. Find something good about your villain and something dark in your hero’s past.
  10. Avoid telling readers too much about the characters. Instead, show the characters’ personalities through their actions and interactions.
  11. Give your characters difficult obstacles to overcome. Make them suffer. That way, when they triumph, it will be even more rewarding.
  12. Cultivate a distinct voice. Your narrator should not sound warm and friendly in the first few chapters and then objective and aloof in later chapters. The voice should be consistent, and its tone should complement the content of your book.
  13. Give careful consideration to the narrative point of view. Is the story best told in first person or third person? If you’re not sure, write a few pages in each narrative point of view to see what works best.
  14. Is your story moving too fast for readers or are they yawning through every paragraph? Are the love scenes too short? Are the fight scenes too long? Do you go into three pages of detail as your characters walk from point A to point B and then fly through an action sequence in a couple of short paragraphs? Pay attention to pacing!
  15. Infuse your story with rich themes to give it a humanistic quality. Examples of themes include sacrifice, redemption, rebirth, life and death, faith, destiny, etc. These are the big shadows that hover over your story.
  16. Make sure you understand that every story needs a beginning, middle, and an end.
  17. Use symbols and imagery to create continuity throughout your story. Think about how the White Rabbit kept popping up when Alice was adventuring through Wonderland or how the color red was used in the film American Beauty. These are subtle details that give your story great power.
  18. Every great story includes transformation. The characters change, the world changes, and hopefully, the reader will change too.
  19. Enrich your main plot with subplots. In real life, there’s a lot happening at once.
  20. There is a difference between a sub-plot and a tangent. Don’t go off on too many tangents.
  21. If you write in a genre, don’t be afraid to blur the lines. A horror story can have funny moments and a thriller can have a bit of romance.
  22. Make sure your setting is vivid and realistic even if you made it up.
  23. If you didn’t make up your setting, then do your best to get to the location and see it for yourself before you finish your manuscript. If that’s not possible, get busy researching.
  24. Give the readers room to think. You don’t have to tell your story in minute detail, including each minute of the plot’s timeline or all of the characters’ thoughts. Provide enough dots, and trust that the reader will be able to connect them when your story makes time jumps.
  25. Let the readers use their imaginations with your story’s descriptions as well. Provide a few choice details and let the readers fill in the rest of the canvas with their own colors.
  26. Don’t focus exclusively on storytelling at the expense of compelling language.
  27. Appeal to readers’ senses. Use descriptive words that engage the readers’ senses of taste, touch, sound, sight, and smell.
  28. Apply poetry techniques to breathe life into your prose. Use alliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphor, and other literary devices to make your sentences sing and dance.
  29. When rewriting, check for the following: plot holes, character inconsistencies, missing scenes, extraneous scenes, accuracy in research, and of course, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  30. As you revise, ask yourself whether every paragraph, sentence, and word is essential to your story. If it’s not, you know where the delete button is.
  31. Before your final revisions and before you send your manuscript out to any agents or editors, find your beta readers: join a writing group, take a fiction workshop, or hire a pro.
  32. Do not send out your rough draft. Go through the revision process at least three times before handing it out to your beta readers. The stronger it is when you bring in editors, the stronger those editors will be able to make it.
  33. Have fun. If you’re not enjoying writing, then maybe it’s not for you. If you’re not enjoying fiction writing, try something else, like poetry, blogging, or screenwriting. Be willing to experiment and you’ll find your way.

Were these writing tips helpful? Got any tips to add? Leave a comment!

Check on the website for my “Dragomeir Series” (for dragon lovers) and various other genres,

    And updates on my latest series – “Daughter of the Dark Lord.”  Interesting EXTRAS available too!

    Solitaire

    www.solitaireparke.com

    Daily (w)rite

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