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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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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

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

 

 

 

 

 

6 Ways to Improve Your Writing!

  1.  How often do you use the word “very” in your writing? It is often extremely overused and can make your sentences sound weak.  So check out this site.  It gives you 128 ways to avoid using this word by replacing it with stronger more vibrant ones.

http://writetodone.com/128-words-to-use-instead-of-very/

 

  1. Need some help with your grammar? Take the following quiz and find out how much you know.

http://writetodone.com/grammar-tips-for-writers/

 

  1. Book titles, blog headings, or other articles are sometimes difficult to come by. You might need a little help occasionally.  Here are 7 tools to provide that help.

http://writetodone.com/bestselling-book-titles-2/

  1. Do you love the television show “Game of Thrones” or the books? Here are 5 lessons to be learned from them.

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/04/08/writing-game-of-thrones/

  1. Do you know how to research a novel, and when to stop? This article could be helpful.

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/01/18/research-a-novel/

 

  1. Tips for finding those eye-catching images for your books, articles, or blogs.

http://bookmarketingmaven.typepad.com/book_marketing_maven/2015/02/ultimate-guide-to-finding-images-for-book-promotion.html

Which ones are your favorites?

If these were helpful to you, please pass them on!

Visit me at my website – sp@solitaireparke.com

Solitaire

 

Where Do Book Characters & Their Names Come From?

emoji_question

I’ve been asked many times how I get the characters that appear in my books. Funny, I’ve always been shy in the admission of their history because many of the characters that show up are people that I know, or am related to in some manner. I’ve always worried what some of the people would say if they knew, consequently, it isn’t generally the first thing I’d choose to reveal. Most people don’t see themselves as others do, and in that knowledge rests my courage to portray them as I see them – good, bad or indifferent. This is not a strict rule of thumb though, as there are exceptions – you will see as you continue to read.

The easy ones to use as examples are the characters that have enviable personas, like Princess Rhylana. She was patterned after my wife and mother to my children. In the book, Rhylana portrays the very essence of what I see in her, and have seen for years. She’s spunky, aggressive, and kind to small children and animals. She’s a fighter, and never gives up.

Queen Mother was given her persona from a very dear lady to me, and companion. She’s aggressive, prone to lead anyone who’ll follow, (you know just to keep them safe) and dedicates her life to promoting the underdog. She’d spit in the eye of a demon, but runs from cockroaches and can’t keep herself from rescuing any and all small mammals.

Tanis, a lead character and spokesman for a series of my books was patterned after me.

Two exceptions are characters that were designed by readers. They signed up for a character contest to have their creations entered into volume one of my Dragomeir Series, “The Emerald Dragon.” Helup Ironfold, a Blacksmith by trade and rider to the dragon Jilocasin Sybaris Cirfis, was created by Jacob Overton and played a significant role in the book.   He appears in later books as well. Sergei Rasputin Cosmonov, a Red Immortal Demon and rider to the dragon Volansa Spirandi Bellator, was created by Joe Russomanno and also played a significant role in the book. Sergei too, has a role reprisal in later books.

When it comes to naming my characters, there are a few things that come to mind.

  • Some of the names are compilations of people I know or maybe even names of pets. A particular character may bring someone to mind because of their personality or specific traits.
  • I Google English names or words to determine what they would be in another language. It’s wise to check origins of names to make sure you have the correct one for the location of your setting.
  • Checking the “root” meaning of a name might be important too. It needs to apply to your character to make sense, unless it’s done purposely for comedy or irony.
  • Google is a great resource for almost everything. Once a name is picked, I often Google it to make sure it isn’t a real person who might be offended by the usage of their name. If there is a question, then I change it somehow.
  • I might use a name from a book I have read or a movie that I particularly liked because it fits the character I have created in some way. I’m careful not to plagiarize someone else’s characters.
  • I don’t always use a middle name or initial, depending on the character. It isn’t always necessary unless you need a specific emphasis on a name.
  • It’s also good to choose names that fit the era you are writing about, unless an unusual name for that time frame is part of the story.
  • I have even used names that I liked from a certain place or map that just sounded right for my character.

How do you name the characters in your stories? It would be fun to know.

Solitaire

Visit me at solitaireparke.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Dialogue have you stumped?

confusion

Today I came across some great tips concerning dialogue from a regular contributor to CreateSpace.com, Maria Murnane. (www.mariamurnane.com) She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing.  So I thought I’d share what I thought were some  helpful pointers.

  • Look who’s talking.

 A common problem is that the characters all sound the same, so the readers have a hard time telling them apart. As a result, the readers get confused, annoyed, distracted, or all of the above – none of which you want to happen. If you want your readers to become invested in your characters, you need to bring those characters to life – and dialogue presents a wonderful opportunity to do just that! So when your characters speak, have them make an impression. Are they sarcastic? Jaded? Bitter? Happy? Sad? Pessimistic? Optimistic? Loyal? Funny? Do they use their hands a lot when they speak? Do they lower their voice when they gossip? Do they chew gum? Do they have a particular gesture or body tic that gives away what they’re feeling? You may have heard the expression “show, don’t tell,” and this is a great example of that. Don’t tell us what the characters are like, let them show us.

  •  Does your dialogue sound realistic?

 When I read a book with dialogue that doesn’t ring true, instead of getting sucked into the story I find myself thinking, “Who talks like that? No one would say that.” You want your readers focused on the story, not on the problems with your writing. A good way to avoid having unrealistic dialogue in your own writing is to read it out loud. This may sound a little crazy, but it works! After awhile you will be writing the way people actually talk and your dialogue will be realistic. You want to create strong, believable characters that your readers will care about, so take the time to give them lines that will allow that to happen. With every conversation you write, ask yourself “Does this sound believable?” That might seem daunting at first, but over time it will get easier. It will be well worth the effort. Your readers – and your characters – will be grateful.

  •  Turn the beat around.

 A “beat” is a description of the physical action a character makes while speaking, and good beats can bring your characters to life and make your dialogue pop right off the page. Beats can also help you show your readers instead of telling them. (Misuse of show, not tell is a common mistake many first-time authors make. Remember that readers don’t like to be told what to think

     Example #1

A) “I told you, I’m not going!” John shouted, furious.

B) John slammed his fist on the table, his nostrils flaring. “I told you, I’m not going!”

  John is clearly angry. But in example A, we know this because we are told so.   

In example B, we know this because we are shown it.

              Example #2:

A) “You’re really not going?” Karen said, incredulous.

B) Karen’s jaw dropped. “You’re really not going?”

 We know Karen is incredulous, but why do we know this?

In A, we’re told what to think, and in B, we’re left to decide on our own what to think.

Well-placed beats make your writing richer, fuller, and better. And good writing, like good teaching, engages your readers and lets them draw their own conclusions.

  • Use contractions in dialogue.

Well written dialogue draws you into the story and makes you feel like the people speaking are real. So to write good dialogue, use language that sounds the way people actually talk. And in English, that includes contractions. A lot of them. Without contractions, people sound more like              robots than real people. (Did not becomes didn’t; Is not becomes isn’t; Do not becomes don’t; I am becomes I’m; He is becomes he’s, etc.) Contractions aren’t often used in formal writing, but they are for informal conversation, especially in the United States. So perhaps you should review your  own dialogue to see if it passes the robot test.

  • Dialogue doesn’t necessarily impact the plot, but it impacts character development, which is just as important.

Once you have completed your novel, read it over again. You may need to tweak the dialogue a bit, especially in the early chapters. Your characters have probably evolved, and some of the early lines may no longer fit their personalities. Good stories do a wonderful job of creating characters who are like real people to the audience, and that’s what you want to do with your manuscript. So when you’re finished, go back and read that dialogue with fresh eyes. Do you think it rings true throughout for each of your characters? If it doesn’t, change it! That’s the fun thing about being the author – it’s all up to you.

Have any tips that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.

Solitaire

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location – Location – Location – THE SOUTHWEST DESERTS

The primary location of my book, “The Emerald Dragon”, is in the deserts of the Southwestern United States. So the following is a short description of those deserts for anyone that might find it interesting. My lead character, Tanis, finds it to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

The Sonoran Desert covers large parts of the Southwestern United States in Arizona and California, and of Northwestern Mexico in Sonora, Baja California and Baja California Sur. It is the hottest desert in North America, with an area of 280,000 square kilometers (110,000 sq mi). The western portion of the United States–Mexico border passes through the Sonoran Desert.   It is home to the cultures of over seventeen contemporary Native American tribes, with settlements at American Indian reservations in California and Arizona, as well as populations in Mexico.

The desert includes 60 mammal species, 350 bird species, 20 amphibian species, over 100 reptile species, 30 native fish species, over 1000 native bee species, and more than 2,000 native plant species. The area southwest of Tucson and near the Mexican border is a vital habitat for the only population of Jaguars living within the United States.

The Sonoran is the only place in the world where the famous saguaro cactus grows in the wild.  Cholla , beavertail, hedgehog, fishhook, prickly pear, nightblooming cereus, and organ pipe are other types of cacti found here. Shrubs include the creosote bush, bur sage, indigo bush, and Mormon tea. It also has wildflowers such as desert sunflowers, sand verbena, and evening primroses. There are also desert willows, palo verde trees, ocotillo, and desert ironwood.

The Mojave Desert includes both the infamous Death Valley and slightly less infamous Las Vegas Valley. An existence in the Mojave means coping with a range of extreme conditions.  It is considered a hot-cold desert, meaning it’s hot in the summer — but also extremely cold in the winter, dipping below freezing at night. These extremes have led to plant and animal species that are uniquely adapted to the Mojave. The desert averages about five inches of precipitation a year. Death Valley, which is about 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, and is in the Mojave Desert. It is also the hottest and the driest point in North America. In fact, it is the second hottest place on the Earth; 134 degrees Fahrenheit is the highest temperature ever recorded here. This region also consists of several high-rising mountain peaks, like the Telescopic peak, which is about 11,000 feet high.

The desert is home to numerous unique and interesting plant and animal species that have adapted to this arid landscape. Although the Mojave isn’t home to a large amount of plant life, it is home to numerous unique and interesting plant and animal species that have adapted to this arid landscape. It is home to mistletoe, a well-known Christmas decoration, and also to the slow-growing Joshua trees, which are actually not trees, but water-storing succulents. These plants grow to between 20 and 70 feet in height and live around 150 years.

The Mojave is home to the camel spider, the short-horned lizard, rattlesnakes, king snakes, a wide variety of lizards and the desert tortoise. Small desert mammals include the antelope squirrel, the kangaroo rat, jack rabbit, desert cottontail, the coyote, kit fox, and the bobcat. Large herbivores include big horn sheep, mule deer and wild burros. Predatory birds include the red-tailed hawk, barn owl, golden eagle and roadrunner. Scavengers include vultures and ravens. Herbivores include Gambel’s quail and the mourning dove.

cactusflowers   desert_flowers

1280px-Sonoran_Desert_33.081359_n112   Cougar on guard in the Sonoran Desert with a clear blue sky above.

USA 2004 (October 6th) California, Joshua Tree National Park  Sonora_Desert

You’ll discover a whole new world in the desert at Mt. Drago, the home of Tanis, and his dragon, Demios, in Book One of the Dragomeir Series, “The Emerald Dragon.”

Book Two, “Flight of the Aguiva” will be out very soon! The adventure continues . . .

 Find my books at http://www.solitaireparke.com

 

CREATURE FEATURE – Solitaire Parke – Inspiration – Where does it come from?

dreaming

I have had the most spectacular dreams since I was a kid.   These dreams were chronological, so every subsequent night’s sleep picked up where the previous one left off. I took notes on almost all of them and they ended up as poems, stories, and eventually full novels.   I dreamed about people, places and things complete with history and background. The creatures were plausible and could have existed during certain times in our history. The science was at least possible, depending on the physical environment as shown and described.

To say that I have an overactive imagination would be an understatement, and quite frankly, I have no idea why I began dreaming like that. I realize it fundamentally changed me very early on. I have enjoyed almost all of the dreams, even the ones that were nightmarish. I have a constant need to write this stuff down, and I don’t believe I’ll ever get to the end of the ideas (dreams) no matter how fast I write.

As a result of this unusual behavior I have decided to list myself as a part of the creature features on the blog. I only hope everyone enjoys reading my books as much as I do writing them. Check out my books HERE.

What inspires you? I’d love to hear about it, so send me a comment!

Solitaire

“Flight of the Aguiva” Update

FOTA Cover

Well, we’re almost there. “Flight of the Aguiva” has moved into the second wave of editing and beta reading. From the author’s point of view, that’s like beating it on a rock to see if it’ll break. Once it’s past that, we’re pretty much home free. A big shout out to the beta readers, you guys rock! I truly believe it’s harder to edit a book than it is to write one. Without the editing staff, no one’s book would ever make it to the light of day, so thanks again guys.

I’ll put up the release date just as soon as the editors tell me, so check back often. Thank you for the continued support of the Dragomeir Series.

Solitaire . . .

DRAGOMEIR SERIES – Creature Features – “Nata, the Grey Lunarian”

Nata was one of the first people Tanis met on his entrance to Mt. Drago. Nata had crash landed outside of Phoenix in the Arizona desert. Near death, he began hearing a voice calling him. Following the voice, Nata eventually found Mt. Drago and the dragon he calls Fellona, or Fe for short. His race is referred to by Tanis as having a tiny stature. Tanis went on to say that Nata’s voice sounded just like the Munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz,” and his body was roughly the same size. He had an enormous head, large black eyes, and the tiniest mouth he had ever seen on a living creature.

Nata’s technology is only surpassed by that of Tanis and his suit. The mountain regularly uses the little alien’s anti-gravity to carry larger objects and even dragons at times. The Lunarians are war- like, and have been space faring and nomadic since their home planet was attacked and stripped of its atmosphere.

Below you can see a portrait of Nata of the Lunarian race.

nata2

 Nata makes a second appearance in Book Two of the series, “Flight of the Aguiva.”

Daily (w)rite

Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.

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