What Is An Augur?

What is an augur? Map of ancient rome background.

Augurs feature predominately in my upcoming fantasy series of short stories. Unless you’re knowledgeable about certain strands of history, you might be wondering what is an augur? Well, it all ties into ancient Rome.  Continue reading

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Acceptance Cover And Blurb Revealed

Acceptance by S.M. Wright Cover

Acceptance arrives Friday, Nov. 24, on the Kindle. Link to Amazon coming soon.

 

After much blood, sweat, and tears (so many tears), I’m pleased to reveal the cover of Acceptance, the first story in The Augur’s Rose Series. I drew and painted it in Photoshop CS4 using my Wacom Bamboo tablet. The process included many layers,  various reference photos for the lovely hooded crow (Vidar), and a copious number of Bob Ross photos for encouragement — particularly when it came to capturing the “happy” grass. Continue reading

In Need of a Fun Read? Give ‘The Wizard’s Gambit’ a Read

The Wizard's Gambit

The Wizard’s Gambit by Kylie Betzner

I may be a little biased — having had a window-of-sorts to see this novel grow into its finished product and being friends with the writer — but I think I can safely say many readers will find “The Wizard’s Gambit” to be a hilarious, enjoyable read, plus it has Littlehammer in it!

With feuding kingdoms — they’ve been, in some cases literally, carrying axes against each other for 1,001 years — terrorizing the land, Wizard White Beard comes up with a hare-brain idea to bring everyone together: a harmless scavenger hunt. But when war has become first nature, the friendly scavenger hunt quickly morphs into something that resembles The Hunger Games. During it, misfits are brought — sometimes kicking and screaming — under the mantel of Mongrel who genuinely wants heal the wounds between the kingdom and find the wizard’s hidden trinket to win the competition.

The characters that populate this novel, truly make it worth the read. There are many common fantasy races, including ogres, elves, and dwarves; however, there is also a diverse human cast that is not just limited to those of Western Europe origin. They each come to the table with their own goals and quirks.

The main cast will provide a favorite character for any reader. Whether it is simple Mongrel who is eventually forced to remove his rosy sunglasses; feisty and completely adorable Littlehammer; the ogre of few words and lover of birds, Grrargh; Tikaani who must face her fear, which threatens to overwhelm her; and so on, there will be someone to relate to. Personally, I adore Littlehammer: her practicality, accent, and right amount of distrust and cynicism (plus a slight violent streak) wormed its way into my heart. But I have to also give a shout out to Empress Eiko who is one badass senior citizen.

The Wizard’s Gambit pokes fun at several fantasy tropes in a loving manner, resembling in someways Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. Featuring clever dialogue, hilarious scenarios, and tight prose, it will keep you entertained.

So if you are a fan of the genre and are in need of a good laugh, this book is the one for you. The Wizard’s Gambit can be purchased on Amazon, in either digital format or print. It is also available at Barnes & Noble. Also be sure to visit Kylie’s blog.

The logistics of war

Americans

American soldiers during WWI.

This post is in honor of Memorial Day. Thank you to all who have served, including
those who paid the ultimate price.

Writing a novel containing a war is perhaps one of the most challenging things to do, particularly if you, due to your characters, are in the thick of the conflict, which is very different than writing about the home front. Most don’t really think about all that goes into moving an army from Point A to Point B … At least, you don’t think about it until you actually have to write about it.

Of all the conflicts that I have worked into a novel, wars have perhaps ran me the most ragged, and despite that, they continually appear in my pieces. I don’t really know why, they just grip me — perhaps it is just the history buff in me who read all-things pertaining to the Civil War and WWI. And each time I delve into the waters, I have characters who are in the thick of the action, forcing me to take the effort to make the conflict believable. And trust me, that is no simple task.

This post is intended to get you to think of the logistics needed to successfully write about a war. And really, this post is just the tip of the iceberg! Continue reading

World-building Series: Diversity

Diversity is the spice of life and has brought humanity several great things from tasty foods, fun festivals and a variety of sports to different arts and music. However, diversity can serve as a double-edged sword, resulting in conflicts, because — let’s face — it humans often have a fear of “otherness.” Whether that “otherness” is another race, culture, sex or sex orientation, sometimes it brings out the worse in other people, which is sad to see.

No matter what diversity is being used to describe — race, culture, sex or sexual orientation — it has become a buzzword in today’s world. Movies and books might very well find themselves criticized for not having enough diversity. Perhaps fearing this criticism, diversity is introduced just for its sake in a variety of creative projects, including in the adaptations of books — where not much diversity could be found — to the big or small screen. Diversity is something that is almost being pressed on writers nowadays.

Now don’t take me the wrong way, diversity is a good thing; however, writers should not feel forced to tackle this topic or even address it unless their works call for it and they as a writer feel confident to enter those waters. With that said, diversity can add flavor into a book or a completely crafted world in a work of speculative fiction. Particularly in a completely crafted world, diversity should appear in whatever form a writer chooses because it adds realism to a piece, even if that diversity is only briefly featured.

This entry will be largely geared toward those speculative fiction writers; however, writers in other writing disciplines might find some helpful seeds to take away and plant in their own works. Continue reading

You know what’s fun? Euphemisms

“Where’s Ol’Daisy, Joe Bob?” asked Bobby Ray upon entering the milking parlor.
“She kicked her last bucket.” Joe Bob continued to squirt milk into the milk pan as he sat next to Ol’Trixie.
“EH?”
“You know, she exited the barn for the last time… is eating in a greener pasture on a farm upstate.”
 

Euphemisms are a lot fun and tackle a wide variety of topics from hangovers and sex to death and even visiting the toilet — topics that are not always socially acceptable or are sensitive in nature. Euphemism usually take three forms (though there are hybrids): phonetic modification, e.g., “frak” from the original Battlestar Galactica, which was used to escape the late-70s censors, “oh my gosh,” “h.e. double hockey sticks,” etc.; figures of speech, e.g., “passed away,” “riding the crimson pony,” etc.; and finally, slang, e.g., “couch potato” instead of calling someone lazy or “waste (them)” meaning to kill them.

I have a character who is quite fond of euphemisms or old sayings, many of which are cliche, but I keep them because it is just his character: He is purposely grabbing the cliches, mainly because those are the tidbits of euphemisms he has heard. Why? Because time after time real people turn to the cliche in everyday conversation. Other characters, however, are a bit more creative with their euphemisms and slang. And it is good to have that variety of old vs. new.

Let’s face it euphemisms offer an endless variety that can add flavor to a manuscript or character, especially when you consider that each culture, from countries to different military branches, each have their own sayings and slang. In some cases, particularly the military example, it can bring added realism. Euphemisms can can be humorous, they can be endearing: The possibilities are endless really. Just like they are not limited to certain writing situations or genres.

Historical fiction has some perks as there are a lot of colorful slang and euphemism roaming through the curtains of history; you merely have to pick a time period and start digging. Did you know basket-making has a very different meaning in 19th century England vocabulary? Or that in China “the bitten peach” or “the passion of the cut sleeve” were both terms referring to homosexuality?

SciFi and fantasy writers can have bonus fun with euphemisms and slang because they can make their own to reflect the cultures and societies that live in their worlds; however, they have to be careful because the euphemisms still has to be translatable to their readers … of course, this can often be managed by providing context.

And of course with all things, use slang and euphemisms in moderation and with purpose!

Want to explore more euphemisms? Visit these links:

And of course there is this fun skit from Robot Chicken, which uses several euphemisms (WARNING: Some swearing and violence, albeit cartoon violence):

Partial Review: Attempting to use Evernote

evernote_ipad_wallpaper

So what do you have to offer me Evernote?

I had downloaded Evernote several months ago, but had never really messed around with it until this week. So far, I’m seeing a lot of potential for this program and its nifty Firefox add-on — I have yet to use the Android app — as a writer. I’ve set up separate notebooks for each of my current novel projects, and for my SciFi project, I’ve created notes that keep track of my cast of characters and their bios. I have also created a note with each setting/place that my characters stop at, which is a huge help due to some of the locations having strange names. Additionally, there are a lot of locations, some just mentioned by the characters, and they all need to be tracked.

I can see endless time savings with the Evernote Web Clipper internet Web browser add-on for writers of all genres, but perhaps more particularly for those who focus on historical fictional. While researching on the internet, all you have to do is click the little elephant icon — get it, elephants never forget, cha! — and it instantly saves the page to your notes, while giving you the option of which notebook to put it in and which tags you would like to use.

Evernote also uses tags, meaning you can attach tags to each note. Tags I have used so far include characters, settings, places. I assume as my number of notes begin to grow these tags will prove to be life and time savers.

Once I play more with Evernote, I will post more of my thoughts and opinion on this software, plus eventually the Android app.

Do you use Evernote? What are your favorite features or tips for a person, particularly a writer, just starting out with the program.