Ideas in weird places

August 2, 2018

Writers are often asked where they get their ideas.

While I can’t speak for other writers, I know that generally something (anything) sparks a character to start speaking to me. The ones that stick are typically very loud and won’t leave me alone. They tell me their story.

But that’s how the stories get started. Sometimes the more important plot elements of the story come from different places. I never know where I will get inspired.

Here are some examples and a little bit about what they roused: Read the rest of this entry »

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Onesong – Chapter 34

March 14, 2018

This is another one of those rough chapters I mentioned. I’m not sure that all of it fits here in the story, but for now we will pretend that it does. When I’ve had a chance to work on this story, I’ve been trying to figure out more of Cirvel’s back story. I have some very big questions that I need answers to.

And in working on that backstory, I started contemplating the twin story to this one, the one I split off from this one. I have a feeling that it somehow wraps around with Cirvel’s story too.

So many stories, so little time. (grin) Read the rest of this entry »


Onesong – Chapter 33

March 7, 2018

Okay, I’m going to admit that it was in writing this chapter that I really started to enjoy Cirvel. He’s always been an interesting character, but he becomes so deliciously cunning here that I really started to adore him. He was good fun before, but now… now I really long to tell his story.

This chapter also came about because of working on the audiobook for Quest for the Three Books. I was at the part where Greytas is standing against Steigan at the Induction Ceremony where Steigan becomes Martias’ Sacred Knight and Greytas makes a comment about how the ceremony had become a circus show. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if this world had circuses. Obviously they must, right? It was said, therefore there must be a circus. So, I wrote a scene to add a circus. It was a completely dislodged scene and I had no idea where it would find a home. Then I started writing the rest of the scene in this chapter and I knew the circus would fit in here.

That’s when Cirvel started showing his true devious colors. Read the rest of this entry »


Onesong – Chapter 9

September 13, 2017

I’m currently working on the 5th book of the Sacred Knight story, which has been given the tentative title of The Missing Thread. I’m going deeper into the story about the reincarnation of Rivic. So I have that in my head while I’m trying to get caught up on the edits for Onesong, as well as reading it just slightly before you are getting this, and it’s amazing to see the two stories piecing together.

Can I say that they are “piecing together” since on Monday night I ripped book 5 down to the scenes and started rearranging? I don’t even know why I bother trying to write that book in chapters! I ought to just start writing it scene by scene and labeling those as I go along since I always seem to end up tearing it all apart and reconfiguring the story. So how does this happen? Well, I have a character (whisper: his name is Steigan) and won’t stop moving around. I kid you not! I have literally had him in New Lilinar, then to Dubinshire, then to New Lilinar, then to the centaur village, then to Whalston, then to Dubinshire, then to New Lilinar again in one book. When I start to see him all over the place like that, I know that I need to simplify. That’s when scenes get rearranged. It ALWAYS makes for a stronger book. I’ve never been sorry that I’ve told Steigan to stay put for a while. And while that means that The Missing Thread will have a lot of work to be done to straighten out the timeline and get the correct characters in position, it’ll so be worth it.

Fun fact: The scene with Jaxsen in the wardrobe (Manifest the Magic) happened because I told Steigan to stay put. In that book, he was bouncing between Searn’s fief, the Temple, and Lilinar. When I went to straighten out the timeline, I needed him to have more time at the Temple and to do that, I gave him a friend. In the end, Jaxsen helped me more than I realized he would at the time. I remember asking myself why I was writing filler, but in the end, Jaxsen shaped a major portion of the story both on and off the page. He is a major character who doesn’t get full credit for what he’s done.

Now, Steigan doesn’t fall far from his relation, Rivic, who also wanted to bounce around a lot. I had much the same issues going on in Onesong when I first started it. But I’ve run this rodeo enough times with Steigan that Rivic was simple to fix by comparison. There were times though. In fact, part of the scene that you will read this week is actually split off from the first fight with the Necroathelings when they were still inside the dragon pearl with Sontre’. Of course, that whole scene was different and originally the Necroathelings did what they do in this scene. No spoilers! Unfortunately, if I had left that as it was, Rivic would have had no reason to stay with Ellonia’s tribe and would’ve had more motivation to get to Gohaldinest. So, the fight got split into two. And yes, that’s what you have to look forward to reading this time.

Are you ready to begin this new chapter?

Onesong is an epic fantasy story filled with action, adventure, and sword and sorcery. Chapter 9 is available for 1 week only! Then, it will turn back into a pumpkin and a new chapter will appear! 

 

Onesong front cover2 small

Onesong

by Dawn Blair

Chapter 9

This chapter of Onesong was available for one week only and has now turned back into a pumpkin. If you missed it, click on the links below to find it or another great story to read. There’s also another free story or story excerpt somewhere around my blog – I try to post something new every Wednesday. Hunt the story down, read, and enjoy!

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If you enjoyed this, treat yourself to The Three Books – Legend 1 of the Sacred Knight series.

Onesong – copyright © 2017 Dawn Blair

Published by Morning Sky Studios
Cover and layout copyright © 2017 by Morning Sky Studios
Cover design by Dawn Blair/Morning Sky Studios
Cover art “Looking Toward Yesterday” copyright © Dawn Blair


The Art of Making Hay – Raking

May 7, 2015
Me (in the red hat) and a friend sitting in the hay. I told you in the last blog that I really did that. DId you believe me? Look at all the rows of hay.

Me (in the red hat) and a friend sitting in the hay. I told you in the last blog that I really did that. Did you believe me?
Look at all the rows of hay.

A couple of days after cutting the hay into neat rows comes the process of raking the hay. This basically means that you turn the hay over so that it can dry on the underside.

For this process, you start by going around the whole field to get those outer edge rows. Then you start on the nearest section and, dividing the number of rows the swather cut into two, begin in the middle row and work your way out. Once you’ve done one section, you move over to the next. The process continues all the way across the field, then move onto another field. To top it all off, you have to start early in the morning, usually before sunrise just as the light is starting to come into the sky, and you can only work until 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. before you start losing too many leaves. You need the morning dew on the hay to keep it flexible while you rake because the more leaves on the alfalfa the better the quality. Once it gets too hot and the morning dew has burned off, you’re done for the day. If you’re lucky, you won’t have afternoon rain. Rain is horrible for the downed hay because it causes the hay to mold. Too much rain, and you have to rake it again. Rake it again and you lose more leaves. Not good.

I can’t believe I missed Saturday morning cartoons for this!

I do wish I’d taken this job a bit more seriously, hustled a bit more than I did. Not only was my time short for raking, but I also ditched the job for about an hour each morning to go participate on the swimming team. I do have fond memories of early breakfast with my dad at Sturgeons and driving the tractor through town.

On to why it compares to writing…

As I mentioned in my Twitter reply, I said that raking was like the actual process of writing and turning the ideas over. Once I have my Hero’s Journey outline I mentioned in my last post, I begin to write. I’m taking the ideas I had and I’m turning them over. This is why I don’t build anything too structured. I need some room to work and to turn. I never know what’s lying beneath the initial idea. I let my characters run and hope they surprise me. I let myself get off course. As long as it feels right, I keep going. If it doesn’t I go back to when it did last feel right and start again.

When you’re raking, you start to see the moisture beneath the hay from the dew and the cut alfalfa as gravity pulls it down. It’s always so green. It looks just slightly different than the cut alfalfa that’s been growing in the sun for two days. I remember thinking back then about how a little bit of protection can help renew life.

Let’s just hope we don’t have an afternoon rain. It’s dreadful to watch the sky turn gray and the thunder roll in. In writers, it’s called depression. We all know the stories of talented writers who kill themselves all because they can’t cope in the world. Let me say that if you are depressed and you know it, get help. You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it. And your brain is awash in chemicals that you can’t fight. Not if you are depressed. Now everyone has mood swings, everyone gets down every now and then. The weather, an inciting incident, a snappy word, stubbing your toe, etc., each can put you in a bad mood where you then start to feel down. Don’t let the rain day stay because it will mold your ideas if you do. You won’t write; you’ll just think about it. You’ll start a cycle you can’t break out of. I have learned that one thing that picks me up is to go for a walk. Not just any walk, but one where I let hold my head high and I walk just a little bit faster than normal. It’s usually not long then before my characters start talking to me — they like it when I’m feeling confident, especially Loki.

This series will continue on Monday, so get back to writing. The time while you’re waiting for the hay to dry (again) after it rains is a waste; in short, don’t let the rain come. Your time is already too short and you don’t have long to work. Keep the sun shining and making hay.


The Art of Making Hay – Cutting

May 6, 2015

So if irrigating your field is like a writer’s life, then we must move to the next act of ranching which is cutting. I should mention that this process I’m writing about is for alfalfa. That’s the crop we always grew on the ranch in Nevada, so it’s what I know best.

Cutting the hay takes place a long time after irrigating, usually several weeks. The alfalfa has to have time to grow and the land time to dry out. Swathers are large pieces of equipment which you don’t want to get stuck in the mud. You start by cutting a row or two around the whole field. After you go around the field, you start near a levee and begin cutting the hay in the section. The rotating cylinder full of tines takes in the hay and pushes them toward the blades which cut the hay. A long row of hay is spit out neatly behind the swather. You go around and around in circles making your way into the center until all the hay in the section of the field is down and move onto the next.

A swather from behind.  You can see the row of hay it's spitting out as well as the alfalfa crop growing off to the right of the photo. That's my brother standing on the tractor tire. Kids, don't try this at home!  (why is it that I say that often when I see a photo with my brother in it?)

A swather from behind.
You can see the row of hay it’s spitting out as well as the alfalfa crop growing off to the right of the photo.
That’s my brother standing on the tractor tire. Kids, don’t try this at home! (why is it that I say that often when I see a photo with my brother in it?)

How is this like writing? This is like idea gathering. Your brain is the swather going through all the information it has ever been given, It takes it in and chops it down. What it’s spitting out at you is all sorts of ideas for writing. Themes, characters, plot scenarios, all these and more are laid down for you like a clear path. After I have an idea and I’ve played with it a bit, I usually try to come up with some sort of outline. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. I’ve made up a template of The Hero’s Journey and I usually write one or two sentences for each stage. Sometimes I move the stages around. Yes, I follow a formula. That’s my cutting phase.

There is nothing like the smell of fresh cut hay. I remember going and lying down in the cool rows of alfalfa. Okay, so it wasn’t so great if the spot you decided to rest in had aphids and little spiders, but you could end up with ladybugs crawling over you just as easily. Yeah, those were the days.


The Three Books – revised

May 1, 2015
The Three Books (Legend #1 of the Sacred Knight series) Book & painting by Dawn Blair ©2011

The Three Books
(Legend #1 of the Sacred Knight series)
Book & painting by Dawn Blair
©2011

A few weeks ago I updated and re-released The Three Books. Both print and Kindle editions now come with a map and character list. If you already have the third book in the series, To Birth a Destiny, you’ll find the format similar.

If you already own the Kindle version, you can contact Amazon’s customer service and ask them to update you to the newest version. The reason they don’t do this automatically is because they don’t want to delete anyone’s annotations or notes — a reason I can understand because I quite frequently make notes in my Kindle.

You can also get the maps by clicking the Sacred Knight tab above this post.

I hope you enjoy the updates!