Monday, 19 November 2018

World Building by Fantasy Author Chris Pavesic...

Hobbit Food
“The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question ‘How can we eat?’ the second by the question ‘Why do we eat?’ and the third by the question ‘Where shall we have lunch?’” –Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
In elementary school children learn that the basic needs are air, water, food, and shelter in that order of importance. The need for other things, like love, security, and meaning, are lower on the level of significance. Anthropologists study the eating habits of a society in both basic forms and elaborate ritual purposes in order to gain cultural insights. The acts of obtaining, preparing, distribution, and eating of food are a fundamental part of a culture’s infrastructure. Is it any wonder, then, that food plays a principal role in the world-building of fiction realms and that some of the most famous and successful speculative fiction authors like Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Suzanne Collins devote a extraordinary amount of narrative time to the central questions of how, why, and where their characters eat?

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit begins with an unexpected dinner party. Bilbo, the reluctant host, is not expecting guests and empties his pantry to accommodate their arrival:

“Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink! What’s that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think for me.”
“And for me,” said Thorin.
“And raspberry jam and apple-tart,” said Bifur.
“And mince-pies and cheese,” said Bofur.
“And pork-pie and salad,” said Bombur.
 “And more cakes—and ale—and coffee, if you don’t mind,” called the other dwarves through the door.
 “Put on a few eggs, there’s a good fellow!” Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. “And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!”

As the host, Bilbo knows his duty and is willing to go without food to make certain his guests have enough. He is careful not to offend those he has welcomed into his home. This is an adventure story that Tolkien wrote for his children, after all, and the tone is lighthearted at the start, although it does not end with the typical “happy ever after.” The epic adventure that follows in The Lord of the Rings is a different type of story altogether, and the subtle change in both language and tone at the start gives the reader fair warning of the darkness and intrigue that will develop throughout the novels.

Screen Shot 2017-12-24 at 3.25.06 PMThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ringbegins in a similar manner to The Hobbit with a birthday party for Bilbo (shared with Frodo of course). There is an overabundance of food, even by the standards of hobbits, and yet the host’s courtesy is gone. Bilbo concludes the evening by making an insulting speech and playing a trick on his guests. This breech of civility is in its own way foreshadowing the negative effect of the ring on Bilbo. It has eaten away at him, as he later confesses to Gandalf, leaving him feeling thin, “like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” The fact that Tolkien describes the effect of the ring in terms of food highlights this connection.

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One of the most successful speculative fiction series of recent times, The Hunger Games, focuses on food as a way to explain the power dynamics in a culture. Almost every scene in the series of novels revolves around food in some way, from the starvation in the districts, Katniss’s hunting and foraging in the forest near her home and in the arena, the meals on the trains, the heavily controlled food portions in District 13, and the excess in the capital. Characters are associated with food: Peeta and bread; his father and cookies; the Mayor and strawberries; Greasy Sae and questionable beef; Rue and grooslings. The control over and distribution of food equates to power. This even occurs at the familial level when, at the start of the first book, Katniss is at odds with her mother because of the older woman’s mental collapse and the following exchange occurs:
One time, my mother told me that I always eat like I’ll never see food again. And I said, “I won’t unless I bring it home.” That shut her up.
The balance of power in the relationship is established by which person literally “puts food on the table” and Katniss seems to revel in the fact that she wins that battle. It’s one of the moments in the series when Katniss’s anger is not directed toward the capital, although their policies are the base cause of her tension with her mother.

There is more to a story than wonderful characters, evocative prose, stirring adventures, and exciting battles. World building by authors is far more than creating descriptive passages about landscapes, villages, or towns. Meanings are encoded in the texts and some symbols—like Tolkien’s One Ring or Collins’s Mockingjay Pin—will grab a reader’s immediate attention. They are too obvious to be overlooked. Others, like the ideas behind “how, why, and where” food fits into the society, are subtle: they add meaning to the story without waving a red flag in the narrative itself and pointing at the symbol as being particularly significant. * Yet their inclusion influences the meaning of the story and creates a richer story world experience for the reader.

*Writers do give us hints of course! Just look at the titles of the works, or at the chapter titles.

Take a peek at the Unquiet Dead, the first book in Chris Pavesic's newest series, the Chiaroscuro Chronicles. Blogcatherine

In Chiaroscuro it’s important to keep the faith.


When the Temples north of Chiaroscuro are burned and followers of the Sun Goddess are murdered, Catherine, a bard of the Ealdoth Temple, sets out to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. With only the help of a traveling group of minstrels and a retired fae investigator, Catherine must solve the mystery before more people are killed. So saddle up your clockwork mount, buckle on your electro-dagger, and join Catherine as she finds herself pitted against members of her own Temple, rogue members of the Seelie Court, and a seemingly unstoppable army of undead.

Purchase Your Copy from Amazon 


IMG_0886About the Author Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, fairy tales, steampunk, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends. Learn more about her at chrispavesic.com References
  • Adams, D. (2010). The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. [Kindle Edition.] Random House, Inc.
  • Collins, S. (2009). The Hunger Games. [Kindle Edition.] Scholastic Books.
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. (2009). The Hobbit. [Kindle Edition.] Harper Collins, Inc.

Monday, 12 November 2018

6 Tips to Revise Your Writing by C.D. Hersh...


While we have been working in our (my wife’s) garden, between rainy days, cleaning up weeds, volunteer trees and leaves, we have been talking about cleaning up the two years’ worth of bird droppings and green mold from the railings and edges of our Trek decking. Our deck is a three-level beauty, designed by Catherine. The deck is a joy to sit on and a great place to entertain, but it’s a bear to clean. We have noticed the birds’ ‘gifts’ deposited on the railings and the mold creeping across the banisters, and meant to get out and take care of them, but other things got in the way. We got too busy, worked too hard, it got too hot to work on the deck, and we were just too lazy.

In retrospect, we should have paid more attention to what was happening, because we have let a minor job turn into a major one, once again. Oh, yes, we’ve faced this challenge before.

Last time we cleaned, we spent about five hours cleaning the railings and about two feet around the lower two decks, scrubbing, rubbing, and rinsing. We even cleaned some spots with a toothbrush! Then we cleaned the center of the two lower decks, the steps, and the balcony.

This cleaning exercise, that we have to do again, is a lot like revising a book—you have to take the time to get rid of all the crap you let accumulate. That’s every time you write.

We’re not saying our books, or even your books, are crap. We all write well, right? But it’s so easy to get lazy and let a lot of stuff slip in like passive voice, adjectives, groaning dialogue tags, purple prose, slow pacing, and way too much back story, until, like the railings of our deck covered in bird droppings, you can no longer see the beauty of your original creation. We don’t know about you, but we hate revisions and would rather do everything we can to get our books as clean as possible the first go around.

So, here are six tips we use to get the bird droppings out of our writing.

• Reread the previous days’ work. This not only gives a fresh look at your writing but also helps get back in the groove. If you’ve been away from a WIP more than few days you might even go back to the previous chapter. By revisiting each chapter, you get a head start on the small revision stuff.

• Write with grammar check turned on. You can set grammar check to highlight a lot of things, but the most important use we have found is to highlight passive writing. Having attuned yourself to those squiggle grammar check lines, the passive verbs are very clear to see. A glance tells where you need improvement in this area. Not every passive sentence can be revised into an active one, but many can and doing so will make your writing stronger.

• Do a search for “LY” on each chapter as you complete it. It’s amazing how many of those sneaky adjectives creep in.

• Look for long paragraphs. Too little white space on a page can often be a warning sign of heavy narrative, back story, or too much description.

• Check every page for tension. Donald Maas says we should have tension on every page. It doesn’t have to be bang ‘em up, slam ‘em up tension, but there needs to be something that keeps the story humming along.

• Do a check of dialogue. Are there too many “he saids” or “she saids.” Or are there too many lines with no dialogue or action tags? Have you gritted or laughed the dialogue? Teeth are gritted not words, and how in the world do you laugh words? We know we can’t.

These six items may seem like little steps toward revision, but sweating the small stuff now can make your major revisions easier. And who doesn’t want that?

What do you do as you write to help your revisions go faster?

Now here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.


Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in the series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

The Promised One, book one: When homicide detective Alexi Jordan is forced to use her shape shifting powers to catch a paranormal killer, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Blood Brothers, book two: Shape shifter Delaney Ramsey’s daughter is missing, and she is bound by honor to protect the man she suspects of the deed. To bring him to justice, she must go against her code, the leader of the secret shifter society, and the police captain she is falling for.

Son of the Moonless Night, book three: Thrust back into the world of paranormal huntress, Deputy Coroner Katrina Romanovski must unravel a string of murders she believes are vampire attacks. When she discovers the shape shifter she’s in love with is the murderer, she must reconcile her feelings for him, examine her life of violence against paranormals, and justify deceiving him in order to bring him to justice.

The Mercenary and the Shifters, book four: A desperate call from an ex-military buddy lands a mercenary soldier in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient shape shifter war, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing ... him.

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a standalone novella, Can’t Stop The Music, in a collection with thirteen other authors.

They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their website and their Amazon Author Page. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Get Ahead of Holiday Baking and Shopping with this Sweet Treat and YA Read...

This wonderful peanut brittle has a WOW factor that adds to any celebration or holiday. Give as gifts (tie a bag of brittle to a bottle of wine, or fill a decorated mason jar for party favors) or just enjoy with family and friends. This recipe is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser! Make sure you have all the ingredients measured and ready to go, as it requires you to react quickly between steps.

FATHER (CHRISTMAS) KNOWS BEST PEANUT BRITTLE


1 cup white sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup water
1 cup peanuts
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp. baking soda
Candy thermometer

GREASE a large cookie sheet. Set aside.

BRING sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water to a boil in a heavy 2 quart saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

STIR in peanuts.

SET candy thermometer in place, and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300° F (150° C).

REMOVE heat. Immediately stir in butter and baking soda. Pour at once onto cookie sheet. With two forks, lift and pull peanut mixture into rectangle about 14x12 inches. Allow to cool.

SNAP candy into pieces and enjoy while you take a glimpse at my latest novel that will whisk your avid reader away to a supernatural adventure in the mysterious town of Fairy Falls.

Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking... 

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

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