Home    Workshops    Members Only    Contests    Join    Contact us                       RWA Chapter

Thursday, June 30, 2011

World Creation

Please welcome guest blogger Rebecca Ryals Russell

For fourteen years I was a Middle School teacher. My favorite subjects were English/Reading and Social Studies. Although it was not a topic covered in the Social Studies books, I always did a section of Geography.

So when I started thinking about a world that Myrna would spend several years on, my love of Geography came into play. For the physical aspect, I took a globe, flattened it and slid the continents together to form Pangaea, the original single continent on Earth. From there I put mountain ranges where they would have naturally formed—along coastlines or where continents would have collided while forming landmasses. Deserts went on the backside of the mountains because rainfall is less, being stopped by the mountains. I had a ball placing swamps, and river deltas; forests and barrens. While doing this, the world itself began to grow and become real. I knew what monsters lurked within each forest or habitat. The Majikals revealed their hiding places.

If you become confused in the natural element placement while designing your world, look at a map of the world and study the placement of various physical elements. While you may not want a duplicate Earth, use Earth’s natural features, and scientific facts to design your world.
  • Gravity or not? How does it differ from Earth’s – remember it is based on the size of the planet or moon or whatever.
  • Where are the forests and what types of vegetation grow there? What’s the difference between a forest and woods?
  • Where are your mountains? How tall? Gentle sloping ends or abrupt? Plateaus or not?
  • Plains? Savannahs? Rainforest? Deserts?
  • Where are the rivers and in which direction do they run. Where do they begin and end?
  • Where are the lakes, oceans, seas? What’s the difference between a sea and an ocean?
  • How is a bay, inlet, or gulf formed? Where would ships most likely come for delivering goods on your world?
  • How about air or space travel?
  • What types of movement occur across your world? What road, train, air, shipping systems are there?
  • What is the climate like in the various parts of your world? Study how the climate on Earth varies according to the physical make-up of the land. Does yours mimick that or is it the opposite?

The one most important rule you MUST follow is this: Be consistent and logical.

Back to Dracwald: Because the number seven is holy, there are seven Vigorios (teen demon-hunter-warriors) in my series, seven Provinces on Dracwald and seven Guardian Seraphym (one per Province). Each Province provides something useful or significant for the world or story. The most interesting Province to create was Impirius. This is where the dragons live. There is a tall ridge of mountains running down the back of Impirius, like the spine of a dragon. The Lucimons Range keeps Impirius separate from the rest of the world. The demons live in the northern portion of these mountains, called Dracolupo. This is where they have established dragon dens. The entire northern section of Impirius is toxic, due to leaching evil from the demons. Not only is it inhabited by monsters, but the land itself has evolved toxically.

Once the physical environment was complete with the following, I moved on to Culture.
  • mining resources allocated,
  • farming area designated,
  • industries types and location,
  • cities and villages locations and sizes,
  • railways and roads locations and use,


I was ready to start planning the culture of the population. To keep it simple, I decided on a limited number of cultures:
  • Dragon-demons,
  • Majikals (elves, fae, dwarves, etc),
  • Villagers/Rural,
  • City Dwellers.
They each received a culture, habitat, history, appearance, language, religion, etc. All of this information was tracked on spreadsheets which I then keep in a notebook and several files in the computer. Always keep backups of your information.

Clothing was a major consideration for me. I wanted to include Steampunk elements in the book, but my characters couldn’t tromp through woods in Victorian finery. So I had to provide a solution. What I decided was the style of dress for the population as a whole is Victorian. Men wear top hats or bowler hats with suits or tuxedoes and walking canes. Women dress in full-length dresses with petticoats, small hoop skirts, hats from very fancy to simple. Our heroes, the Vigorios, wear military knit clothing, tunics with drawstring pants and boots—things they pick up at Military used supply stores in the cities. Michael is able to cast a glamour over them, so they appear to look like everyone else. Villagers’ dress is more simple; homespun or at least homemade clothing, rough and serviceable.


Although the Majikals originally lived all over the world, when the dragon-demons arrived it caused the Great Shuddering and most of the Majikals fled to an island at the opposite end of the world from Auriger. This island is located in Utgard, a chain of islands surrounding and enclosing a special sea called the Bluquor Sea. This is where the Sea Queen and her court of Merpeople live. On the island, called Caldelub, the Majikals have spread out and formed new settlements. With their majik combined in one location, it created a barrier around the island, preventing evil from entering. There are a few pockets around the world where Majikals manage to live, barely, but they refuse to leave; doing what they can to protect the land from the spreading evil.

Every world has a history, no matter how long or short the civilization’s life. It’s important that you, the author, know the history of every culture on your planet. But you don’t have to include it all in the story. Just knowing it will help when you tell the story because you’ll drop hints like cookie crumbs throughout the book and make the tale seem more real. Remember to make your history jibe with the physicality of your world.


Decide on what types of vehicles your world needs and provide travel routes for them. Be sure to keep your transportation consistent throughout the book.

I wanted the world to be primitive and dangerous. So, Narciss, the head demon, placed a limitation on movement by restricting development of roads, railroads, etc. All shipping by air freight, railroad or ships is done by demons. Humans cannot travel outside their Province. Within cities there are basic roads with Steampunked Hover Tricars for individuals and Skiibusses, huge egg-shaped, glass-enclosed mass transport that travels through the sky. But none of these leave the provinces. Otherwise, people ride bicycles, hover-scoots (scooter motorcycles without wheels), or walk.

Because the world is basically one giant landmass, shipping by sea is huge. There are several ports, but one major shipping port in Sinnuous with a rail system for spreading out the products to various cities. A lot of ocean means space for sea monsters, sea dragons. This provided a job for one of my characters. He is a Pistrologist; he studies the movement and habits of sea dragons for shipping companies.


The architecture varies by city. In Auriger, where the demons live and work, the city is sooty, dirty, run-down high-rises of apartment dwellings and offices. To go along with the Steampunk feel, lighting is provided by gaslight street lamps, and gas chandeliers or wall-mounted fixtures indoors. The further away from Auriger, the cities become more modern, clean, up-to-Earth standard, but still Steampunked. Self-sufficient villages, similar to Medieval times, are scattered everywhere.

There is a lot more I could share about Dracwald and its people, or you could read the book. If any of this intrigued you, then you won’t be disappointed. Odessa is the first of a five (maybe six) novel series called the Seraphym Wars. It is available as an eBook wherever eBooks are sold.

For more information about World Building, including spreadsheet examples and lists to help you remember what to include, visit my website at http://rryalsrussell.com.

Author of MG/YA Dark Fantasy among other things, Rebecca Ryals Russell has two series coming out: The Seraphym Wars Series for YA and Stardust Warriors for MG. She lives in a Victorian house on five acres in North Central Florida with her family. She also runs a Vacation Rental Log House on the property. It was in this cabin she wrote Odessa within 6 months, after thinking about it for 30 years, but never having the time to commit it to paper.

A fourth generation Floridian, she has lived all over the state except the Panhandle. The daughter of an Elementary school principal dad and school secretary mom, for fourteen years she taught Middle Grades, preferring English and Creative Writing. She had several students’ works published in anthologies as well as several of her own stories, poems and photographs.

Main interests include her four children, ages 22, 19, 16, 11 and Irish hubby of 35 years. She enjoys spending time writing, drawing, going to movies and reading. Her favorite pastimes are sitting on the wicker porch swing on a chilly Autumn evening with her husband and usually a kid or two, drinking a beer and eating mixed nuts while chatting about anything and everything, or discussing philosophy and religion with her 16-year-old son over pizza.


Myrna Ashlin Watts graduated from High School in Jacksonville, Fl just in time to find herself transported to a bizarre and primal planet corrupted by demon-dragons. And they want her DEAD. Her problem is she has been recruited to kill them, too.

18-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from a rape two years earlier, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets Michael, who becomes her guide and explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island.

Reluctantly, and knowing it is her only way to get back home, she agrees to lead, battling dragons and monsters while crossing swamps and mountains, forests and seas. She wrangles with the old inner demons when three very different men join her quest—a seasoned demon/dragon-slayer who irritates but beguiles her, a tender and sweet mentor in whom she trusts completely and a roguishly handsome Scientist who sets her senses aflame. How is she expected to lead the others and keep everyone safe with so much inner turmoil?

Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's in a Name?

Please welcome guest blogger Aliyah Burke

A lot, actually.

Names wield power. Immense power. They create impressions. Moreover, your choice of names can easily make or break the story.

Imagine a being powerful enough to take on the gods and win. One who inspires fear and/or desire wherever she goes. If people are calling her Fluffy--I don't know about y'all but I would think of some pampered pooch with ribbons in its hair who never walks on his/her own legs because someone feels the need to carry it, or…a stripper.

Names can tell us so much about the hero/heroine. I know a lot of my hero/heroines take on traits that are linked to their name's connotation. It helps to create them, make them from a mere thought to a 3-dimensional person, which hopefully, the readers can relate. Names help us in uncovering the characters heritage.

When picking names, we need to be mindful of the time period we're writing in and stay true to names which were used then. Yes, paranormal has an advantage (as do fantasy and sci-fi especially if creating one's own world). However, if you are writing a paranormal historical in which the heroine in human and from the 12th century, having her name to be Sparkle or Montana would be odd and very unlikely. These are the sorts of things which have a tendency to yank a reader from your story in a heartbeat. Time travel makes more things possible for there is always a way to explain the name.

Baby name books are also wonderful tools to utilize when looking. One of my favourites to use and is always beside my desk is Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Her book is amazing and so easy to use. There are many wonderful baby name sites on the web to peruse while searching for that perfect name for your hero and heroine. So you can search by meaning, gender, ethnicity, and more. Also going to a country's website, like a tourism site, and look at the articles written, it's a good way to see which names are being used now...or then.

No matter what process you use to discover the perfect name for your characters, I hope you have a fun and wonderful journey. Remember, some things work better for one person than another, so perhaps you will discover that using books will be better than the web.

There is absolutely no right or wrong way to search for the names to bring your characters to life.

Happy writing & happy reading!


Aliyah Burke is an avid reader and is never far from pen and paper (or the computer). She loves to hear from her readers and can be reached at aliyah@aliyah-burke.com, aliyah_burke@hotmail.com, or feel free to apply to join her yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aliyah_burke.

She is married to a career military man, they have a German Shepherd, a Borzoi, and a DSH cat. Her days are spent sharing her time between work, writing, and dog training.




Seducing Damian

Can a mortal man, without magic or coercion, bring a goddess to her knees just with the power of his love?

Damian Keith teaches Ancient Egyptian history but his love lies in the magic of mythology. An amateur collector of artefacts, he spends much time reading ancient books. Lately his dreams have been invaded by a woman whose touch leaves him breathless and wanting more. Much more. But she never reveals her face to him.

Amenitre Seini is really the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet. Mortal, Damian Keith has enthralled her like no one before. She visits him in his dreams until she can no longer resist the urge to touch him while he's awake and heads to Earth.

Do they stand a chance at a future together or will Damian push her away once he learns of her deception and who and what she truly is? Can she convince him her love is real and that only in the beginning was it about…

Seducing Damian

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Planny Pants

Please welcome guest blogger Dara Edmondson

An old friend of mine once called me a planny pants many years ago. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what she meant so I asked. She informed me that she gave me the label because I liked to orchestrate every detail of things ahead of time, even our girls’ nights out. I’d pick out a place to go, check the menu online and arrange designated drivers. I even had an idea what I’d wear a week ahead. I had to plan everything, which she said had something to do with my inner control freak.

I vaguely recall my halfhearted protest to the characterization but I knew she was completely on target. I do like to plan. I write books with a plan as well. I chart everything on a trifold board with Post-it index cards then I write the synopsis—all before I’ve written the first page of the actual manuscript. I like to have all my resources laid out or at least bookmarked on my computer. I have all my research sites saved—those I use for word usage and characterization, some sites specific to the book I am working on, like the DEA site if my hero is an agent or a website about firefighters if that’s what he does.

Nearly all of my romantic suspense books feature at least one character getting injured, sick or even dying. Even my erotic contemporary romances usually have some sort of scenario which requires some medical knowledge. My villains are often off balance emotionally rather than just plain bad.

In order to carry off any of those scenarios, I need to know my facts. That need was what led me to develop MedSpeak for writers with Joanie White, a nurse-practitioner friend. I figure if I was going to the trouble to research not only medical issues, but psychological and mental disorders, alternative medicine and medicine through history, there were other authors out there who could utilize that type of information as well.

So yeah, I’m a planny pants. And I’m proud of it. My friend knew me better than I knew myself. For all the writers out there, do you like to plan before you begin writing?

Medical Speak for Writers, presented by Dara Edmondson and Joanie White, runs from July 25,2011 to August 1, 2011

Dara Edmondson writes erotic romance and romantic suspense under the pen name Wynter Daniels. She lives in Central Florida with her husband of more than twenty years and their two nearly grown children. They are all the slaves of two very demanding cats. After careers in marketing and the salon industry, Wynter’s wicked prose begged to be set free. She writes for several publishers including Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id and Red Sage. Find Wynter on the web at http://www.wynterdaniels.com/

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My muse has a dirtier mind than I do…

Please welcome guest blogger Stacey Kennedy

When I first started out writing I wrote a nice urban fantasy romance with a bit of spice, yet it didn’t have explicit sex scenes, and I never used frank language. With eighteen books published now, I’ve come to discover that my muse is naughty!

I’m not sure what happened that made her decide to become so erotic, but I’m telling you she shocks me. There are times when I write a story, then come back to it a couple months later for edits, and I can hardly believe what I am reading.

So, I began to wonder the other day, what would happen if I had to read this in front of people? Would I be able to do it? The answer to that is, no way!! I would not make it through one sentence using some of those colorful words, nor could I read the passionate scenes the characters find themselves in. My face would be blushing and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t even form the words.

I’d love to hear what you all think—could you read your own work to a room full of people? And have any of you experienced a muse who loves gettin’ down and dirty, and seems to be getting more daring as time goes by?

Stacey Kennedy is an Amazon Kindle Bestseller for her story, Stolen Dreams, The Lingering Spirit Book One. She loves urban fantasy/paranormal and erotic romance genres. If she isn’t plugging away at her next novel, tending to her two little ones, she’s got her nose deep in a good book. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband. Be sure to drop her a line at www.staceykennedy.com, she loves to chat.

A Warrior’s Witch

Murder has brought Talon, Master of Guardians, as well as Zia, his witch and Master of Witches, to Chicago. The manner of death appears to be a suicide, but Talon is far from ready to close the case. To avenge the Guardian linked to his past, he agrees to take on the assignment, and find her killer.

As they dive deeper into the investigation, they find themselves entering a world where BDSM is the norm. A lifestyle that Zia is uncomfortable with and, rattled by this new development, she is more than ready to return to the Otherworld. But their investigation quickly takes an unexpected twist when they discover that they’re not only hunting a killer but also someone who is controlling supernaturals in Chicago.

Their mission not only brings danger, but also forces Talon to deal with decades old guilt that corrodes his soul. Every event that unfolds only deepens his fight and pushes him to face an ultimate choice—what is more important—his duty to the Otherworld or the witch he holds closest to his heart?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writing MYTHology into your novel? It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Please welcome guest blogger Jean Murray

Mythology can be a great source of inspiration, whether it Greek, Roman, Ancient Near East, Celtic, English, Icelandic or Ancient Egyptian ~ my personal favorite. They contain the magic and mystery of history, culture, art and war. It is the perfect playground for the imagination, and ripe with potential for a great novel. So how do you start using mythology in your writing (the abridged version)?

  1. Choosing your myth: This author’s recommendation is that you choose something that interests you, because you will become intimately involved in the subject over the weeks, months, or years you will be writing. It should become a familiar old friend or lover.
  1. Research, research, research: Know your subject and its nuisances. Readers with similar interests will be attracted to your book and have varying degrees of knowledge about the subject (sometimes more than you). The key is to stay true to the myth but also have some fun and creative license. Too much variation may disrupt the foundation of your myth. Too little variation will give the reader the “same old story.” Not only will the writer need to find the balance with which they are comfortable, but also still make it appealing to publishers and agents (never an easy task).
  1. Manipulating your myth: First identify the amount of variability or definition of your chosen myth. The vague myth is easier for the writer to manipulate to meet their needs. The readers will allow more latitude in this area. With more well established or defined myths, the writer should have some level of loyalty to its original form.
    • Be respectful to the cultural history behind the myth. Some have grand and lustrous histories that need to be honored as such (examples Celtic and Egyptian)
    • Try to maintain the historical accuracy of the myth or folklore.
    • Take advantage of vague or loosely defined themes, characters, and or storyline of the myth or legend. Use these to your advantage for your creative license.
    • Give alternative explanations to established myths (one of my favorites). Look outside the box.
    • Place the mythical elements in a variety of settings not normally seen or expected (western, futuristic) / genres (paranormal, urban fantasy) / timelines (bring mythos to life in present day or future).
    • Use the basic elements of the myth to build an entirely new world or recreate the mythological world.
    • Use the myth to generate conflict, build your character profiles and add depth to your character’s quest and romance.
  1. Building character: Mythological characters and creatures provide a richness and depth and can become pivotal players in your novel. How will they interact when provided the technology of present day? Unlikely lovers or interminable enemies?

My novel, Soul Reborn, is based on Ancient Egyptian mythos. I awoke the sleeping gods from their 5,000 year old slumber and threw them into modern day. To stay true to Ancient Egyptian lore, my heroine, Lilly, mistakenly opens a tomb of a malevolent goddess releasing a curse upon humankind. Asar, God of the Underworld and Afterlife, is left soulless by the goddess. His quest for vengeance wages war on earth.

Jean Murray’s novel, Soul Reborn, released in May 2011. She continues the Key to the Cursed series with Soul Awakened. Follow her journey at www.jean-murray.com and www.wickedromance.wordpress.com .

Look for future Mythological Writing Workshops by this author in October at Muse Online Writers Conference. The conference is FREE.

Jean Murray was born and raised in a small town on the east coast. In her pursuit of a nursing degree, she aspired to see the world and joined the Navy. One of the benefits of her membership in the Armed Forces, she has had the opportunity to travel and live in different parts of the world and the United States. Her travels abroad have given her the opportunity to experience different cultures. It inspired her to delve into Ancient Egyptian myths and legends for her debut novel, Soul Reborn, book 1 in the Key to the Cursed series from Crescent Moon Press, now available.
Blog, Face Book, Book Trailer, Email

Key to the Cursed Book 1: Soul Reborn


Asar, the Egyptian God of the Underworld, has been tortured and left soulless by a malevolent goddess, relegating him to consume the very thing he was commissioned to protect. Human souls. Now an empty shell of hatred, Asar vows to kill the goddess and anyone involved in her release, but fate crosses his path with a beautiful blonde huntress who has a soul too sweet to ignore.


Lilly, fearless commander of the Nehebkau huntresses, is the only thing standing in the way of the goddess' undead army unleashing hell on earth. But Lilly has a secret—one she is willing to sell her soul to keep. If the Underworld god discovers her role in the dig that released the goddess, she will lose everything, including his heart.

TAGLINE “Only the strongest love can unlock the souls of the Underworld.”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Are Those Characters Up To Now?

Please welcome guest blogger Linda Wisdom

Let’s talk flash fiction!

I love writing it and along the way I’ve discovered a lot more facets of my characters and even my books.

For me, flash fiction is short tales about my characters.

I started writing them after I sold the first Hex book, 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover.

I see it as something easy and fun to do since I have a pair of magickal bunny slippers that can get into more trouble than most creatures. Not to mention the witches and their guys.

My flash fiction pieces are short stories that wouldn’t make it into a book, usually outside the bounds for a book. Plus they give me a deeper look into their personalities. Some tales turn out more wild and twisted than others. There’s a reason why my friends call me evil and demented.

It takes a lot of pressure off a writer. You’re not worrying about deadlines, word counts, or what you’re doing to your characters. You’re just sitting there having fun with them and discovering little known facts about them along the way.

I have a lot of fun writing flash fiction. My internal editor takes a nap and I just let loose.

Thanksgiving dinner takes on a whole new persona when witchy Jazz tries to cook. Fangy bunny slippers, Fluff and Puff, get even with Jazz on Black Friday. Vampire Nick braves holiday shopping. Jazz and Nick put up a Christmas tree with hilarious results. The creatures go on vacation with me and even my agent took Fluff and Puff camping with her where the kids at the campground enjoyed participating in their adventures.

You can even incorporate ideas that you couldn’t use in your book. I have a character my editor never wants to see again. Yes, I see more flash fiction popping up.

Do the same. Have some wild out of the box fun with your characters. Throw them in a situation that your editor might say “you have got to be kidding!” and go for it. Use it as an additional outlet for your writing. Think about the enthusiasm you’ll drum up for your books.

If you’re curious about what I’ve written about my characters please visit my blog, http://linda-wisdom.blogspot.com.

Now, you didn’t think I’d let you sit there and just read this, did you? Tell me. Do you enjoy reading/writing flash fiction? Do you see it as another learning tool?


Understanding Your Characters Through Flash Fiction, presented by Linda Wisdom, runs from July 18, 2011 through July 31, 2011

Linda Wisdom has published more than 70 novels with 13 million copies sold worldwide including traditional, paranormal, humor, action/adventure romance and romantic suspense. Her bestselling books have been nominated for Romantic Times awards and the Romance Writers of America Rita Award, and recently won the 2009 RT Book Reviews Career Achievement award for Best Indie Press Contemporary Paranormal with Hex in High Heels. She lives with her husband in Murrieta, California.

Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend

A bewitching woman on a mission…

Feisty witch Maggie enjoys her work as a paranormal law enforcement officer—that is, until she’s assigned to protect a teenager with major attitude and plenty of Mayan enemies. Maggie’s never going to survive this assignment without the help of a half-fire demon who makes her smolder…

A hotter-than-sin hero with an agenda…

Declan is proprietor of an underground club and busy demon portal. No way he’ll allow his demon race to be blamed for the malicious acts of some crazy evil Mayans. But he’s already got his hands full when the sexy witch offers him a challenge he can’t refuse…