Researching Dragon Blood Trees

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The best part of writing for me is the research, I just love to learn new things!  I never know where my story, or my characters for that matter, are going to take me.  In Sea of Dreams, Brooke and Will traveled to a land called Wisteria by way of a magical portal they found in Maui. In my upcoming novel Winds of Change, Amie and Aleck find Wisteria as well, when they are swept into a portal by a windstorm at the Temple of Hera in Greece.

While none of the characters have traveled to the island of Socotra quite yet, I was fascinated by a picture I came across on the internet of a tree that grows there. The Dracaena cinnabari, commonly known as the Dragon Blood Tree, became an important part of my story when I found that the resin of the tree has been used since ancient times for medicinal purposes. It has also been used as currency in some cultures and to enhance protection, among other things, in Wiccan traditions. For more information, you can check out this site I found.

Just wanted to share the beauty of this odd and fascinating tree! Hope the image brings a little inspiration your way!

 

 

 

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Happy Spring!

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Happy Spring everyone! May all of your creative ideas find root and continue to grow!

#amwriting, #themusecrew, #inspiration

Breathe life into your Characters….then follow them on Facebook!

There comes a point, at least for me, when the characters I have drafted take on a life of their own. They become as real to me as some of my long-time friends or family members and often I find myself telling their stories in social settings. I have found that this is a sure-fire way to be banned from future gatherings, but more on that in another post. When you have developed a character that you find intriguing, that perhaps has more to say than the few pages of text that you allow them in your novel…maybe it’s time to give them access to social media.

Think about it, everything we do as writers is about creativity and sharing a message. The best way of doing that to the masses, is by tapping into any one of the social platforms available on the internet today. By posting as your character, you can really get to know them, and perhaps find out how they would react to a certain situation. In my mind, this is especially beneficial for characters who span a series of books.

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Facebook is one of the easiest platforms to use for this purpose, by way of the Create Page option they provide. This allows you to generate a page, tied to your privacy settings, for anything you are interested in. With a few photos from a royalty-free photo gallery, such as Pixaby.com, you can build your character’s platform and give your readers somewhere fun to visit between novels. The posts can be scheduled ahead, which is what I recommend, so messages can be generated when you have the time, and posted when you don’t. I have been having fun with one of the trouble makers from my series, you can find her Facebook Page here. This is also a great way to advertise future books!

I have also made great use of Pinterest. Not only have I found a ton of recipes I would love to try one day, but I have also built boards that allow me to visualize things for my books such as settings, props, attitudes, etc. I think of it as a visual mind map, one that I can share with my readers after my book is released. I think it is a fun way to give your readers a peek inside your head. You can see what I have brewing in mine on my Pinterest page here.

There is an overwhelming amount of software, apps and information on the internet, and finding the things that work for you and your schedule is key. Remember that tools are meant to help make what ever job you are performing easier, and what works for one writer may not work for another. With that being said, I have had pretty good luck using the tools I describe above, and hope you consider them for your character’s development. Most of all, have fun with your writing. Your characters will thank you…perhaps even on Facebook! DAH

Book Cover Reveal – Winds of Change

So excited to show you a sneak peek of the cover from Book 2

in the Power of Four series!  Release date in May 2017.

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Amie Petridis isn’t looking for love when it comes breezing into her life; her job as a full-time pilot leaves little time for dating.  But when a charming air marshal walks onto her plane and into her life, magical things start to happen. When Amie receives a tarot card reading from an ancient gypsy during a layover in England, her eyes are opened to a world of possibilities.

U.S. Air Marshal Aleck Eyres has always taken his job seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he hasn’t allowed himself to be tied down.  His occupation allows for the freedom to travel and to visit his friends, but the day he helps a captivating pilot with her persistent ex-boyfriend – everything changes. Love finds him quickly and affects him deeply. Will it be enough to overcome the painful secret that has kept him from sharing his heart for so long?

Fate has conjured the winds of change and blown them Amie’s way. These changes will not only affect Amie and Aleck, but also the magical beings in a land called Wisteria. Suddenly Amie’s world is filled with winged creatures and she learns that she is meant to harness the element of Air. As she discovers her power, the gypsy’s warning haunts her. Should she follow her head or her heart? And when she makes the choice, will it be the right one?

Soundtrack of my Life – Entry #7

Sometimes life can be so automatic, so much of a routine, that you can easily lose track of your purpose. At least I found this to be true. And nothing is more able to get you back on track with your purpose than a crisis. I have also found this to be true…sad to say more times than I’d like to think about.

Crisis can be presented in many ways, shapes and forms: the death of a family member, the crippling heartbreak of a love lost, or the phone call from your doctor that confirms your deepest fear. But what all of these heart wrenching experiences have in common, is the opportunity they give to those who can see it. Crisis, in many ways, is a good thing. It allows you to search within and really think long and hard about what makes you happy. In focusing on what truly matters, crisis can ultimately bring you personal fulfillment and joy. What crisis does most effectively is make you realize how precious every second of life is. It compels you to grab on with both hands and pull yourself toward things you could never imagine yourself doing. At least that was the case for me.

I never thought at this age I would be taking a detour on my journey and starting another path through undiscovered territory. That I would be trying on yet another version of myself, but here I am. This song by Sugarland came at a time of crisis, when I was feeling particularly bad about choices I had made at the time. No matter how dark things may seem, this song reminds me that there is always hope for those who strive to find it.

I may never change the world with what I write, it is fantasy romance after all, but it doesn’t matter since I have finally found something that I can connect to, something that makes me happy. As I try to sort out problems in my mind and make sense of the world through my writing, I realize that all of the experiences I’ve had throughout my life, have finally led me to my purpose. Now more than ever this song urges me to move forward. I realize now that there is something more…and I’m going to grab onto it with both hands.

Getting the most out of working with a Critique Partner

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Writing is an arduous journey, and it isn’t over when your story is complete, unless you are writing in a diary without the intent of anyone ever seeing it. In which case, this article isn’t for you. But if you are like me, and the hundreds of thousands of other authors out there, writing with the intent of publishing and selling, then I highly recommend finding at least one Critique Partner.

I am lucky, I have several Critique Partners by way of being part of the Muse Crew (a fabulous group by the way). But for those of you who aren’t so fortunate, here are some questions answered to get the most out of your critiquing experience:

  • So what is a Critique Partner (CP)? Basically, it is someone that you give your material to, who reads through it and provides their thoughts, suggestions and emotional responses to your story. This process can either be done in person, or via the internet by way of group chats, email or blogs.
  • What should I look for in a Critique Partner? First and foremost, they should be a writer. They don’t necessarily have to be published, but they do need to understand the process of taking a story from thoughts to paper. They must be someone you trust and respect and that can be honest with you. Let’s face it, they need to have no qualms about taking that novel you have slaved over for 6 months, and marking it with so much red ink that it looks like a crime scene. Just remember, every red mark makes you a better writer.
  • How does the process work? This can go a variety of ways, bottom line is you should do what works for you and your partner. The Muse Crew meets every 2 weeks, and we submit whatever we are working on to the group. It is typically limited to a chapter, but could also be a short story, blurb, or just about anything you need help on. The group then provides written comments in the margin, such as when a question arose in their mind, something that didn’t make sense to them in the plot, or the best…something they really connected to and liked. Those comments come back to you, which can then be included in the re-write/editing process.
  • What is the difference between a CP and a Beta Reader? Simply put, a Critique Partner is another writer, a Beta Reader is… well, a reader. Critique Partners generally get your material in it’s roughest form, giving you comments that allow you to mold the story. Beta Readers generally get your material when it is complete and ready for market. By the time a Beta Reader gets their hands on your story, the plot holes, content issues and punctuation should be squeaky clean.

Writing isn’t merely cutting open a vein and allowing yourself to bleed out on paper, although some authors would argue that is the easy part. It is about massaging a story until it is the best version of itself, and that my friends can be done beautifully with a Critique Partner (or group) that you respect and trust.

Originally posted by D.A. Henneman, contributing writer on: www.muse-crew.com