Welcome to Our World-Building blog

Welcome! We weave dreams, some dark, some not, but all fantastic.

We are authors of Fantasy, Romance, and much more. Enter our infinite worlds....

On this blog, our visitors will find advice and opinion from published authors on much more than just world-building. We'll tell you in Craft and Opinion posts what we do, how we do it, and what we think works for us.

Authors with A-names post on the 1st of each month, B-names post on the 2nd, C-names on the 3rd etc.
The 29th, 30th, and 31st are free-for-all days.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I recommend a quickie, when it comes to research

Research may be seductive, but it can take too long!

With my very first draft of Forced Mate, I got carried away by the fact that there is (or was, in 1993) still a type of plane just big enough to carry a stretch limousine across the Atlantic, but small enough to take off from an abandoned World War II airbase near Cambridge, and fly below radar all the way to Las Vegas, Nevada.

An amateur pilot mapped out the route for me.

Eventually, I came to see that there was no logical reason why a space alien would abduct his heroine from Cambridge in the UK and take her (kicking and screaming) to Nevada. No! He'd take her to his mothership with the least possible delay.

Another researcher told me that the most plausible place for a spaceship (a smallish shuttle) to land in the UK would be on Salisbury Ridge, close to Salisbury Plain (and Stonehenge). I've lost touch with that researcher, unfortunately.

So, now I'm on my own, trying to find Salisbury Ridge. I'm using Google Earth. There's a place called Ridge at Chilmark. Another possible place to hide and lose a spacecraft appears to be in the Nile Clumps... I hate to make things up, if I don't have to do so!

I took a spin on Google Earth. My first destination was Ridge, Chilmark, which does look possible, but is a bit far from Stonehenge. I can zoom and bank to view the terrain with a hawk's eye view or with the perspective of a galloping sauropod... one with poor eyesight.

Seriously, I can see hills, trees, fields, crop circles, overgrown gun emplacements, drone launch pads (circular). If I wish to, I can see churches, pharmacies, ATMs, Holiday Inns, roads, fire hydrants... and more. I can also view photographs taken by tourists.

Sadly, some of the really cool things, such as "pimples" (of the anti-tank kind) that were posted on the Google Earth 3 version, are not on Google Earth 5, but GE5 has more whizz bang stuff and links to Wikipedia.

While virtually scouring the surroundings, looking for places to hide a star-fighter, and enjoying images of stormclouds over Stonehenge --and very useful photos of forks in minor British roads--, I found a fitting backstory for my latest hero. Now to check it out.

There's a Google Earth Community with forums and chats and groups, not to mention a Search function that is everything you'd expect from Google. It's possible to meet a potential source in whatever part of the world interests you. This is too cool! Moreover, it is free.

Google Earth doesn't stop there. You can look at Mars. It's a separate download. I haven't done that. I doubt I'd find men there, anyway. You can look at the stars, which is a great way to finally get a handle on astronomy and the placement and shapes of the constellations. Finally, there's the Moon and it has flags and icons denoting info dumps, and all sorts of good and useful stuff on its surface.

Enjoy it.

Rowena Cherry
Space Snark TM

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cowboy Up!!!

Who doesn't enjoy a sexy cowboy story? I know I do!

My writing over the last few years has been mostly experimental. I have been genre hopping. Hoping eventually to settle on a favorite kind of storytelling. When it works--great! When it doesn't--it's time to try try again.

One thing I keep coming back to is westerns. I must have a love for cowboys, but there is something more that calls me to write these kinds of stories. The code of the west, wide open spaces, realizing the dream of making a home and starting a family. It's all just a small part of why I go all sweet on a good cowboy story.

I started writing westerns with a historical called Gold Fever. As much as I enjoyed writing it, I thought it would be my last. I foolishly thought writing about one cowboy would be enough to get it out of my system. Foolish girl! Once is never enough!

I had to have another cowboy come into my life. Jesse Burke is a gentleman, but he is a cowboy first. He gave years of his life to the rodeo and when he came home to the ranch, he put down roots. Angela always loved him, but he treated her like a baby sister. Her last chance to win the cowboy's heart would be to teach him the dance of desire.

Cowboys Don't Dance will be releasing from Siren Publishing December 2009! You can check out my website for more info: www.missylyons.com

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Writing the villain-hero or the likable bad guy!

By Brenna Lyons

Turning good guys to bad and vice versa or writing characters that are a hearty mix of both has always been a favorite pastime of mine. People were convinced Ty was the hero of TYGERS until about 4 scenes in, when I turned the tables and showed them a 4 y/o boy's best friend was a psychopath instead of his hero, which completely freaked one reviewer for a few chapters. OTOH, Mik, Jorg/Veriel, and Jurel all started out as villains, but when you got to see from their POVs...well, how about that? Not villains anymore...or at least villainous heroes, in Jorg's case. At the beginning of PROPHECY, people were convinced Joe was a stalker. Perception is a fun game to play.

So, how do you do it? How do you make a villainous character engaging and appealing to the readers?

First of all, the character has to be three-dimensional. A two-dimensional villain will automatically be disliked by readers. That's the point of a villain. To be three-dimensional, a villain has to have a backstory and reasons for what he/she does. Those reasons have to have a logic, even if that logic is skewed.

You have to make the reader empathize with the character's position...not necessarily sympathize with or agree with or even approve of the choices morally, but empathize with and understand why and how this happened. One way to do that is with sympathy. People who are seriously wronged and seek revenge is a good way to invoke the knee-jerk support or sympathy of readers, but it's the cheap seats of doing the job.

What else works?

Alien or non-human sensibilities. Write a were or animal-type paranormal creature, and you have instincts in the mix. You can also have instincts for creatures like vampires. Write someone from a culture not our own, and you have cultural mores, ethics, and laws that call for things we wouldn't engage in and might find horrific. Write a creature driven by hunger, and everything will be flavored (pardon the pun) by that driving need.

World situation. Men will commit atrocities in a war that they never would otherwise. I'm not saying war corrupts absolutely. It doesn't, but... A friend of mine (the wonderful author Teel James Glenn) once gave me an old quote that applies here: "The rules of engagement only apply until the first attack." After that, it's fight or die, and any dirty trick that lets you live is fair game, in the heat of the moment. I can't recall the movie, but there is a great scene of Russian soldiers being sent out (WWII, I believe). There were only enough firearms to supply one in ten of the men, so you'd stay close to another soldier and try to stay alive long enough for him to be shot, so you could grab his rifle. Whatever you did to stay alive was what you did. Was that ENEMY AT THE GATES? Maybe?

Likewise, people who are starving will choose the lesser of two evils, steal or die. Ethics are often situational, and the spirit of the law is not black and white. In a severe enough situation, people will rethink their ethics and are much more likely to slide toward neutral from lawful.

Politics. Closely linked to world situation. If you see something happening or coming that you feel is ethically bankrupt, what would you do to stop it? From the Declaration of Independence... "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." It is often seen as a duty to right the wrongs, and if the despot is abusing his power, violence may call for violence. THAT is your Robin Hood character, in a nutshell. No, he wasn't a murderer, but he didn't shy from killing a few soldiers, when he had to. That bow and arrow or long sword or staff weren't for show, after all.

Protection of the innocent. This is another lesser of two evils moment. If you had a choice to stand by silently and allow innocent children to be hurt...whether they were your children or not...you may be spurred to do something extreme in their protection.

Madness. Pure and simple. This takes the idea of revenge a step beyond. What if the abuse was so severe, the character went mad from it? What if, in his grief and pain, he does things that are horrible? It could happen, and I've found readers very receptive to the mounting madness in a character.

The mind of an innocent. What if the person doing wrong has a very childlike understanding of right and wrong? What if, in order to protect another, he does things that most people would consider the very WRONG choices, because he doesn't understand what the right choices are? What if the wrong is all he's seen? Or he's so sheltered, he's never faced the situation to know the right answer? Think SLING BLADE. Think DOMINICK AND EUGENE.

The horrific justice-bringer. There is a reason Hannibal Lecter is so popular with readers (including myself). "I only eat the rude." Look at who he preys on: pedophiles, serial killers, officious types, thieves, corrupt or abusive officials in positions of power... In short, all of the people many feel, deep down inside, the world is better off without. The people who are nice don't need to fear him.

However you do it, it's a rare and challenging writing feat to write the villain-hero or the likable bad guy.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Book Fair in Bellevue, Washinton -

The Greater Seattle RWA is sponsoring a Book Fair on October 10, 2009 at the Bellevue Hilton. The event runs from 4:00-6:00 pm in the Skyview Ballroom and includes signing opportunities with more than fifty authors. This is a free event and open to the public. The Bellevue Hilton is located at 300 112th Avenue SE in Bellevue, Washington. Their phone number is 425-455-1300. Visit www.gsrwa.org for more information.

Yes, I will be there signing books, postcards, bookmarks - so drop by and say hello! - Phoebe

Deja Vu Lover, Vintage Rose, TWRP