Monthly Archives: November 2014

When Characters Mutiny: Guest Post by L.F. Falconer

Today I am pleased to introduce L. F. Falconer, author of the historical coming-of-age fiction novels Hope Rises from the Ashes and Hope Flies on Broken WingsHer latest book, a fantasy prequel entitled The Vagabond’s Son: Prelude to a Legacy was just released in September. You can find out more about Leanna on her website or on her author page on Amazon, where you can read an impressive array of book reviews for her work, most of which average 4.7 stars or higher!

Leanna’s guest post “When Characters Mutiny” is below, as is an excerpt from The Vagabond’s Son, but first I’d like to present this brief author interview. It took me a fair amount of thought to come up with these two questions, but I think Leanna’s answers provide a lot of insight into her and her work.

If you were throwing a party for the characters in your books, who among them would you refuse to invite and why?

If everyone showed up this would be a fairly good-sized party, but I doubt it’d be much fun. Other than a handful of characters who could actually let their hair down and have a good time, what I really picture here is a room full of people keeping to themselves, or at the most, only associating with those of the same social standing. One character I would definitely leave off the guest list is Harlo, Dugan’s father from Hope Flies on Broken Wings. Because of his profane nature and mob-style clout, his presence would put a damper upon any frivolity the party might be able to muster. For similar reasons, I would try to exclude Laramato, from The Vagabond’s Son, as well. I doubt anyone would want to deal with either one of those sadistic creeps at a party and they would not be missed.

Suppose that you were suddenly transported into the world of one of your books. Which character would you be and why?

There are a good many characters in my books who are well-adjusted, upstanding, personable folk that one might think would be fine to embody. However, as their creator, I’m privy to all their ugly little secrets. I’m well aware of any less than enviable life experiences as well as the ultimate fates that await them. This insider knowledge can make selecting a character I might like to become a genuine challenge! Yet one does stand out above all others—that being Gabriel Hunter from Exit Strategy. I’ve chosen Gabe because, unlike me, he is definitely a piece of eye-candy and can play a mean ocarina. He’s also well-traveled, can adapt to any situation, and even though his strong inner self-discipline makes him appear cold and unfeeling, underneath that façade beats the heart of an angel.

When Characters Mutiny

In literature, not all characters are created equal, and some just naturally emerge stronger than others. Such was the case with Adalanto.

A handsome young piskie with beautiful blue eyes, Adalanto began his life as a secondary character in a supporting role. Yet the more scenes he appeared in, the stronger he became until he finally usurped the entire plot and foisted himself into a position of high importance

I could have put an end to this uprising with a sweep of the pen, but instead, I decided to let him go, just to see where he might take things. After all, he and his friend Tulemar, had already come to my rescue when I was suffering a severe case of writer’s block. Much to my surprise, he brought about a wonderful turn of events which led to a more satisfactory conclusion than I had originally planned.

But, perhaps I should start at the beginning:

Twenty-six years ago I wrote a poem—a medieval ballad of a young warrior who sought a treasure upon a mountaintop. Along his trek, he defeated several mythical beings who sought to end his quest, losing all his weapons in the process. And when he finally reached the peak, he came to learn the treasure was simply lore. It did not exist. Left disheartened and unarmed, he still had to face the menace of a dragon that stood in his way of retreat.

The poem sparked the interested of a couple of magazine editors but, at over four pages, its length prohibited publication. Several years later I began to convert that poem into a story. That one story grew into two, then into four, and continued to grow exponentially until it finally reached the epic proportions it is today. Over half a million words in length, The Legacy of Skur is finally nearing the publication stage. And out of this work, Adalanto of The Vagabond’s Son was born.

As I previously stated, Adalanto began his life as a secondary character, but he was having none of that! He demanded the lead. In the full development of his character, it dawned upon me that instead of just a paragraph or two of background now and then, his entire story needed to be told, for it is definitely one of “courage under fire.”

A child reared in insolation by his abusive, drunken father, Adalanto escapes at age twelve and is taken in by a kindly, deeply religious family. Being suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar society, Adalanto struggles, often unsuccessfully, to fit in.

The Vagabond’s Son follows this journey into adulthood as Adalanto learns to build relationships with others while trying to overcome the ever-present burden of his childhood scars. For as strong as his character is, he does have many weaknesses and flaws, and will forever do battle within himself. Each chapter in the book begins a new chapter in his life, until his story finally merges with his entrance into [as yet, unpublished] The Legacy of Skur.

Much of the writing of The Vagabond’s Son was painful to do. Often, during my research into the psychological problems usually endured by children raised in (a) isolation, and (b) abusive homes, I was left enraged and in tears. I had to walk a fine line in presenting the types of abuse young Adalanto goes through. I had to deal out enough to cause him a number of issues to overcome, but not so much as to leave him broken. And while at times it may have seemed none existed, I had to consistently provide him a thread of hope as well as the strength of spirit to succeed.

The Vagabond’s Son is a psychological, character based story set in a realm of fantasy, and deals with some hard social issues, including scenes of abuse, sexual situations, and violence. While not necessary to read in order to delve into the upcoming The Legacy of Skur series, its purpose is to give the reader a deeper understanding of his character. As with most of my works, it is recommended for a mature audience.

For more information please visit http://www.lffalconer.com

LFFalconer

Now, please allow me to present a short excerpt from The Vagabond’s Son, Prelude to a Legacy. [From Chapter Three, where Adalanto, at age fifteen and employed in the palace kitchen, is unexpectedly summoned before the Piskitian king.]

The following morning Adalanto was carving the fresh venison Thegn Peppolin’s company had just delivered, when a young boy in a green tunic and cap entered the kitchen.

“King Jaspidian wishes an immediate audience with Adalanto,” the page announced.

Gondofor and Ashirina shared a look of surprise while Adalanto’s own face was stricken pale. What had he done that would cause the king to demand him? Did it have something to do with Donamara, who used to be a royal’s favorite?

“Right now?” he squeaked.

“I am to escort you,” the page informed him.

“But I’m a bloody mess.”

“It’s not wise to keep the king waiting,” Gondofor said grimly. “Go at once.”

Adalanto quickly cleansed the blood from his hands and face in the wash bucket, cursing himself for having chosen this morning to wash his other set of clothes. He’d been in the palace over two years now and had yet to lay eyes upon the king. His stomach began to constrict in tight knots. His father’s drunken voice rumbled through his memory, “Did I ever tell you ‘bout the time I met the king?” With a trepid heart, he followed the page out the door.

They stopped before the double doors of the throne room and a guard with a brown leather cap announced him before ushering Adalanto inside.

He tried to control his queasiness and followed the guard over the woven reed mat across the expansive room, approaching the throne. Upon reaching the dais, he and the guard both dropped to one knee and bowed in genuflection.

“Rise,” the king commanded.

Taking a deep breath, Adalanto rose to await whatever punishment he had unwittingly been deemed to merit and dared to look upon the face of his king. He was younger than Adalanto expected, older than he, but not as old as Markaset, probably closer in age to Leandervon, with eyes so dark they were nearly the same shade as the black of his hair. A shiny, spiked, silver crown gleamed brightly above similarly spiked ears. He was dressed in tall black boots, black pants, and a flouncy white linen shirt beneath a black beaver fur vest. Two silver chains adorned with gold and silver medallions encircled his neck.

“You are the boy who has been aiding my cook?” the king asked, idly fingering one of the medallions.

“Yes, Your Majesty.” His voice sounded as tiny as he felt.

King Jaspidian rose from his mahogany throne and stepped off the dais. He stood beside him and Adalanto noted he was not as tall as he appeared on the throne. Chin cupped in his hand, Jaspidian circled around him studiously.

How Adalanto wished he’d had some clean clothes available. Such a disgrace to be clad so unkempt before the king. His sweat gathered. His heart beat hard against his breast, and he wished nothing more than to just crawl away and hide.

The Vagabond’s Son, Prelude to a Legacy by L.F. Falconer, is available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Outskirts Press.

Past and Present

“It was lucky I forgot my keys,” her mother was saying, rubbing the raised scar between her daughter’s thumb and forefinger. “I came back and found you lying in a pool of blood.”

“I don’t remember that,” Gloria answered, astonished that such a noteworthy event had slipped from her mental grasp.

“Well, it was several years ago. You were only five then.”

“How did it happen?” the child inquired curiously, still struggling to picture herself prone in that gruesome pool.

“I don’t know exactly. I think you were playing with scissors. They were those rounded ones they let you use in kindergarten, but somehow you got them in there good.”

An image burst into her mind. The scissors in her right fist, attempting a difficult cut, snapping suddenly towards the web in the crook of her left hand. And then darkness.

“I found them afterwards on the floor. Your sister, of course, was nowhere to be found,” her mother continued bitterly.

Of course not. Her sister, eight years older, was often stuck babysitting her while their mom was at work, and was never very enthusiastic about the job. Gloria had numerous scars from lacerations that had probably needed stitches that her sister had merely slapped a band-aid over.

“An artery runs through there,” her mom was explaining. “That’s why it bled so much.”

She remembered now, what she had been doing. It was the homemade wrapping-paper. She’d taken some of her white lined school paper and drawn pictures on it. Pictures of what? She thought hard. What had the present been for?

Seasonal pictures, that was it. Pictures of Christmas, of fat gift-boxes and skinny stick-figure Santas and reindeer with glowing noses and Christmas trees rife with ornaments that glowed even brighter, crayon yellow and red and orange. Sloppily drawn but carefully colored, and then cut to fit, cut to fit the present itself.

“What was the present?” she asked abruptly.

“What present?” her mom replied, bewildered.

“I was making wrapping-paper. For a present. I think it was for you. I remember now.”

Her mother shook her head. “I don’t know, dear. I don’t remember seeing a package anywhere.”

What had the present been? Something childish, no doubt. A ceramic ashtray, maybe a milk carton with dirt and a single flower growing in it. Funny how she remembered the wrapping-paper but not the present. As if the paper were the more impressive part of the gift. Perhaps it had been.

What had happened to it? There must have been blood all over it. After she’d worked so hard to make it pretty, to make it nice, for it to get all bloody and then disappear without a trace. It was a darned shame.

“I really wish I knew what happened to it,” she said aloud.

“You nearly died, Gloria,” her mother said emphatically, as if her daughter was missing the point of the story.

“But I didn’t,” Gloria answered, equally certain that her mother was missing the point as well.

***

This story is based almost word for word on one of my own childhood memories. I discovered a strange scar between my thumb and forefinger when I was about eight and my mom told me how I had severed an artery with a pair of kindergarten scissors and nearly died. And at that point I realized that I did sort of remember that — that is, I remembered up until the moment of the cut. I was handmaking wrapping paper for a Christmas present — drawings on lined school paper — and somehow sliced my hand open. My mom had already left for work, but she’d forgotten something and came back upstairs to find me “lying in a pool of blood.” That mental image has really stuck with me all these years.

I tried in this piece to put a more positive spin on the memory. As an adult, I understand now that all a parent would see was the blood; the sight of your daughter dying in the kitchen. To the child, however, it was all about the present.

***

“Past and Present” originally appeared in The Avalon Literary Review in August 2013 as the 3rd place winner of their quarterly contest. It is one of the stories featured in my autobiographical short story and essay collection Stories from My Memory-Shelf: Fiction and Essays from My Past, now available in eBook ($2.99) and paperback ($6.99) at retailers worldwide. For more information, please visit the book’s webpage or subscribe to my newsletter.

Lori Schafer – On hearing of my mothers death six years after it happened..

Lovely review of On Hearing of My Mother’s Death by author Kat Green!

Time for a Kat Chat

BOOK REVIEW:

Rating: fivestar

Blurb:

It was the spring of 1989. I was sixteen years old, a junior in high school and an honors student. I had what every teenager wants: a stable family, a nice home in the suburbs, a great group of friends, big plans for my future, and no reason to believe that any of that would ever change.

Then came my mother’s psychosis.

I experienced first-hand the terror of watching someone I loved transform into a monster, the terror of discovering that I was to be her primary victim. For years I’ve lived with the sadness of knowing that she, too, was a helpless victim – a victim of a terrible disease that consumed and destroyed the strong and caring woman I had once called Mom.

My mother’s illness took everything. My family, my home, my friends, my future. A year and a half later I would…

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Guest Post with Lori Schafer

Thanks for having me, Elizabeth!

It is my honor to host Lori Schafer today. Her memoir, On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened, is being released today. I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy and will be posting a review next week. Lori writes about a subject close to my heart – the effect of mental illness of the family. My extended family has been touched by several different forms of mental illness so I appreciate the struggles that Lori endured. Well, without any further delay, here is Lori Schafer.


 Thank You: An Open Letter to Those Who Stood By Me During My Mom’s Mental Illness

Dear Friends from My Youth,

Next June will mark the twenty-fifth year since our graduation – the twenty-fifth anniversary of the day I left home.
Some of you I have not seen in those twenty-five years. Some, I fear, I won’t see…

View original post 1,348 more words

Your book is available for sale in Kindle Store!

That’s the email you get when your Kindle pre-order goes live. It happens at midnight, local time, all around the globe, at a different time in every market in which your book is being sold. It’s four o’clock right now where I live. This one was for the UK.

My book has been available in Australia for roughly ten hours. It will hit here in five or in eight – I don’t know what time zone Amazon uses in figuring twelve o’clock in the United States.

Only five to eight hours. I confess I’m not ready – not close to ready. Not only because I still have guest blog posts to write, not only because I have yet to make trailers or even my tweets, not only because I haven’t yet chosen what sites I am going to use for promotion. I’m simply not ready to know.

I’m not ready to know whether my book’s going to sell. I’m not ready to learn whether the months of pre-release preparation will have been worth it or a complete waste of my time; I’m not ready to see my book flop, flounder, or fail, or what is most likely, get lost in the shuffle of millions of others that no one will find.

It’s a great book, if you don’t mind my saying. Although, as always, there will probably be some who won’t like it, I expect, in general, that it will be well-read, well-received, and well-reviewed. That is, if anyone finds it, if anyone buys it, if it gets any reviews.

There’s a hollow in the pit of my stomach that visits me rarely; I have few occasions in my life that prompt this response that most people call nerves. My body is tired and my brain is exhausted but there’s still so much to do, so much to prepare, so much to research, so much to write.

I wish that so much of my future wasn’t dependent upon this. I wish that I could write books and not have to sell them; I wish more than anything not to have to rely upon selling them. I wish I were sitting on the beach in Oxnard and that it was warm and that there was sun and that I was writing a book and not trying to sell one.

If wishes were horses…

… I’d grab hold of the nearest stallion and let him run me all the way to Utah.

This ought to be fun, I think, not a day filled with dread, but it’s still better, still better than what tomorrow may bring, or the day after that, or the following week, or the month after next. Still better than knowing what I don’t want to know, still better than facing the fact that countless authors have faced in the opening moments of their potential careers – that it makes no difference if your work is good, if no one ever reads it.

But I’ve still got my rooftop: I’ve still got my greenhouse; I’ve still got my sunshine. And if I still have far too many blog posts to write, that’s all right, too, because at least I am writing. It feels good to be writing. Not good enough to de-tangle my nerves or de-jiggle my jitters or fill the hole in my heart where there ought not to be one. But close. Close enough to keep trying.