Archive for August, 2013

 

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It was time.

A lone, dark figure sprinted from its shadow into the open. The hood quickly turned to each side before the figure resumed its usual pace. In the dark night, there was not a sound or trembling leaf that betrayed the presence of the figure.

The tall castle was suddenly lit alive with a terrible scream as the nurse found her ward lying dead on the floor. Unbeknownst to the royal family, a lone figure clutching a large parcel quietly made its way back to the edge of the forest and darted amongst the shadowy trees.

Chapter one

“This house is cold,” complained Raven. The daughter of the King stood with her arms wrapped tightly around her thin shoulders. A long, white nightgown trailed on the ground and cloaked her from shoulder to foot.

“Hush,” reprimanded a tall man. His pale face was made even paler by the small firelight that the candle had to offer. Impatiently, Raven waved her dark hand over the castle wall. Sheen of bright whiteness lit the torches along the walls and filled the halls with their light as they walked quickly down the corridors. A thin, pale girl appeared out of the shadow of her bedroom doorframe. Her dark hair was a startling contrast against her alabaster skin.

“I don’t see why we need an escort,” the girl said. Her voice was quiet yet held an unclassified, commanding presence.

“Our brother was just assassinated. The least you could do would be to silence your complaining and obey the king’s wishes.” replied the tall man.

“Kane,” began the younger girl. Her large eyes-much like her mother’s-darted down the hallway as if expecting the assassin to pop out. “How did it get in?”

“There was apparently a spy,” snarled Kane. Shadows danced across his haggard face as he strode.

“I thought Mother got rid of those,” whispered the younger girl. Raven glanced down at her younger sister. Gripping her sister’s hand, she smiled wanly.

“Wilea, there will always be enemies of the king,” she replied. The three siblings finally reached their destination.

A large oak door swung open to the touch. Silence filled the half-filled room. A woman with Wilea’s eyes turned her weathered face as her children filed inside the room solemnly. A large coffin lay open to reveal the face of their deceased brother.

“I think now is a good time as any to tell them, Jasper,” said the Queen. Her gentle touch seemed to awaken the king as he stared solemnly as if the bloody figure was still lying prostrate on the stone floor. One corner of the carpet was dyed a darker color than the rest.

“Yes, I believe so,” he murmured.

The children waited patiently, but their father never made a move to tell them. Just when they thought that they would explode with impatience, the Queen spoke.

“This is not your real brother,” began Queen Katie. Three shocked faces met hers.

“So the boy we’ve been mourning is not even our brother?” demanded Raven. Her voice was cold with contempt.

“No,” replied Katie simply. Her green irises evenly met her daughter’s disquieting gaze. The Queen had the same effect on people. It was where her daughters had learned it.

“Why?” choked Wilea. The siblings formed a comforting ring around their littlest sister. Now, the parents seemed like the outsiders.

“It was to protect him.”

“Protect him from what? Did you know this would happen?” demanded Raven.

“No, I did not know. But as a precaution since your brother was the keeper of the Dragon’s Heart, we thought it best to keep him protected. Kane was needed to rule the kingdom. He could not be replaced so easily. Raven and Wilea had already been chosen by the time they were born.” here Kane looked confused as he studied his sisters. He had no idea what they had been chosen for. Steeling her jaw, Raven pressed her lips firmly together. Apparently, they knew what they had been chosen for.

“So only Hero was replaced?” asked Wilea.

“That is correct.”

“What was so special about the Dragon’s Heart?” sneered Raven. A look between mother and daughter almost squashed her rebellious attitude-almost.

“It was a great source of energy. For now, that is not relevant.”

“I think we have the right to know,” began Kane. He almost seemed hesitant as he commanded this great secret from his parents. That was the problem with Kane, Raven thought almost savagely. He was entirely too soft.

“What happened to the real Hero?” Wilea asked quietly.

“He was put into a monastery to study and learn under their teaching. We did not want him to have the life of a royal member of the family. It is Kane’s duty as eldest but certainly not of his. He would be spoiled and pampered as the only child without a given purpose. We gave him one. He was educated and grew up without the hard life of royalty.” Jasper replied. The Queen slowly slipped her arm around her husband’s waist as she gazed at the face of the young man lying as if in a deep sleep inside the coffin.

“Well, if this Hero’s purpose was to guard the Dragon Heart, wouldn’t that make him-the other Hero- have a purpose?” asked Raven. Since her hand was trembling with her contained rage, she slipped it behind her back. She hated being seen as weak.

“We did not know that the Dragon Heart would be put in our care at the time,” Katie said. Even to Raven, her mother’s argument sounded fragile.

“What is the Dragon Heart?” asked Wilea.

“The Dragon Heart was given to Aethec in reward for saving the worlds from the Dark Time. It is a great source of energy and was to be used as a backup in case of emergency. Now, it seems as if the Dragon Heart is missing along with Hero’s life.” explained Katie.

“The Heart was used to spur the reproduction of the dragon race here in Aethec. It had extreme power. The dragons were able to feed off of its raw energy and therefore, repopulate their once almost-extinct race.” added Jasper.

The royal family stood in silence as they gazed down at the stranger with clasped hands over his chest.

“Will we go to the monastery and bring the real Hero back?” asked Wilea.

“What’s the point?” demanded Raven. “It’s not as if we can bring our brother back. Are you already trying to replace him?”

This cutting remark was even harsh for insensitive Raven, but her sister understood it as her anger speaking for her.

“Not replacing him, Raven,” replied Katie, softly. “No, bringing him back to his rightful place.”

 

So here is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel which I’ve been working on and hoping to improve. I have proofread it, but I still need to go back through and fill in holes of the plot and whatnot. This is not the whole first chapter, only half, but it seemed like a good place to end it. My book series Demon Days only has two in the series. This excerpt above is from the second book which follows the story of Hero, the child of the former protagonists in the first book. Demon Days: The Revelation takes place in Aethec, the thirteenth world. The Sextons are a race of protectors of the church but with a twist. They can manipulate light waves to protect their people from the demons that infest the deep Pit that resides on the outer limits of Aethec. In the first Demon Days, the Sextons are nearly wiped out, and it is only through the help of a girl from another world that they hope to conquer the demons and drive them back. The second in the series is a continuation of the demon infestation in the world and the constant battle of the light and the darkness that is threatening to overcome it.  If you see anything amiss, please do not hesitate to point it out! I love critique and hope one day that I can publish my stories and become a real author. 🙂

 

xoxo, Ella Douglas

 

 

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Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Worked on a deadline so much that your fingers begin to cramp from typing, your eyes begin to tire from staring too long at a bright screen, or your brain hurts from trying to fill in plot holes and how you are going to finish this novel? Maybe you worked on a deadline on a drawing. You could not get your pen or pencil to sketch what you wanted, but your brain kept telling you what you wanted the picture to end up like. Here’s a tip.

Just take a break.

It won’t kill you to leave off of a project for a little while and focus your attention on something fun. Maybe once you’ve goofed around with a few ideas that have been nagging you for a while, you’ll find your spark and style once again, and it will all come swimming back to you why you began an artist’s life in the beginning. If you are on a deadline, take a break for an hour and come back to it. You do not need to keep focused on one story plotline every waking moment. You will get sick of it after time.

Something fun I like to do every now and then is to write or draw without any guidelines. You heard me.

No guidelines. No rules. Free for all.

Draw with bad anatomy, wrong colors, bad shading; write without complete sentences, no plot, stupid characters that have no purpose and sometimes no personality.

I’ve done two books without any sort of intention on actually trying to make it good. It exercises my writing skills every day but it’s also enjoyable to write and create cliché characters that I otherwise wouldn’t dream of sticking into a serious novel. The novel November that I’m writing really does not have a very definite plot. It does not have terribly different side-characters either.

But that’s okay.

It’s like a game of Horse in basketball. It trains your shooting skills but it also does not improve all of your overall game and work you out like a normal practice or one-on-one might. It’s fun but also gives you shooting practice.

If you are dreading the next novel you write because you know that your plot and rough draft will get out of control and you will start getting annoyed all over again, then try writing a story just for fun. Try writing a story for yourself.

Xoxo, Ella Douglas

P.S. Next post, I’m going to post a preview of one of my stories 🙂

You only have five seconds to capture the reader’s attention.

Trust me on this one. Have you ever been to the library and began picking up books to only put them down moments later because a) the cover art looks like something you could slap together in photoshop in five minutes, or b) the excerpt said something cliché about prophecies and finding lost love, (and we all know that has been done one-too-many times) or c) you read a few sentences and nothing jumped out at you? That is it. You have only a set amount of time to capture the reader’s interest with everything you write. That does not mean that you should write every single sentence with mystery and intrigue just in case. It means that you need to reevaluate what you write and the impact that it gives.

Cover art plays a big part for me. If the writer does not take the time to hire a decent artist to do his/or her cover art, they get stuck with the photoshop king who enjoys making human faces shaded with dark colors and swirls of light. Something about that always struck me as cheap. It does not show any particular talent or a very inspiring picture to associate with the book. Harry Potter always struck my fancy since the artists chosen always had some key scene in the book drawn on the cover. It is not necessary to have an artist draw your cover, but just keep in mind, I, for one reader, enjoy that kind of cover more and I refuse to pick up certain books because of their lack of originally in their cover.

Be that original person who has something different besides love triangles, strong female characters, photoshop kings, and prophecies. Your work does not have to appeal to everyone; not everyone has the same tastes nor do they have to have interest in the genre that you are writing in. You want more readers? Make your book memorable. Make it so irresistible that the five seconds that they read a paragraph to check out whether or not your book is interesting, that they cannot put it down.  They should not be able to tear their eyes away. If Annie is being kidnapped by a rogue mercenary, make sure that they want to know if she gets captured, or falls in love with her captor, or in some cases, does not make it out alive. Make them read it. You have the power and the pen. Now write your ideas down and begin fleshing out that long awaited for book that has been screaming your name.

 

Xoxo, Ella Douglas

 

 

 

rainyday

“A tale as old as time…”

See? Even that little beginning to a song makes people want to write or draw. Inspiration takes many forms. It could be a song. It could be some random strand of words that you read on a billboard. It is that something that has been bothering you for a while and refuses to leave your brain alone until you put it down on paper. Every artist there is has inspiration at some point in their lives. I work only off of inspiration. It probably is a terrible habit that I have gotten into, but I wait until I have inspiration to write or do anything. Whenever my writing or drawing is cast into a funk, I stop and try to find my spark once again. There are some writers and artists who have a general idea and have the inspiration. Once that flame has burnt out, they keep plodding through like the patient people that they are until they hit their streak again. I have found that my writing never is enjoyable for me if I do that. My writing suffers and becomes riddled with strange sentences and random outbursts of bits and pieces that I can never explain when I read back over my work. I become disgusted and want to throw it all away. Sometimes, a book can lay forgotten for several months while I work out my inspiration of other things and experiment with ideas. I go through bouts of inspiration for drawing a picture and can draw several pages of sketches until I grow bored and the flame goes out.

You can take inspiration from everything. Situations around me shape what I write. Places that I go might inspire me to write about the surroundings or that just set the mood. Starbucks has a magical charm around it whenever I write. It helped me all through November during NaNoWriMo to get my creative juices flowing while I finished my 50,000 word novel. Rain and drinking tea in my cushy chair beside my window can also kick start my however-many-words I wish to write that day. Whatever you dream to do well in, just stop long enough to listen to what is going on around you. Some of the best stories ever told were inspired by real events that happened in the writer’s life. Simple things can inspire even the richest stories. Characters do not always have to come completely out of your mind. They can be modeled after real people that surround you.

So what is your inspiration?

Xoxo, Ella Douglas

Writers are often in denial. I believe that everyone takes pride in what they do and wants to believe that they are the best. If they know that they are bad at something, they try to fix it, but it’s natural for anyone to get defensive about what they love. It takes a very humble heart not to take direct criticism badly.

It first begins with a comment-whether asked for or not; it is memorized from running through their minds constantly. Sometimes, it is encouraging and makes the writer glow with pride. Other times, the comment, degrading or otherwise, makes the writer pause, think, and (if he/she wants to improve) rewrite to perfection. If not, which is the point of this piece, then it is taken badly and begins to fester until it begins to boil into resentment and, sometimes, even hate.

A writer’s worst fault is not creating characters and plots that differ terribly much. Whether conscious or not, most writers write their characters into a fantasy world that they themselves wish to be in. While they write, characters tend to reflect the writers themselves. Most characters turn out the same, are Mary-Sueish in quality, and become tedious after a while. Their plots never differ from other popular fandoms. While they may think that their ideas are original, everyone is influenced by the world around them. It’s easy to take ideas that you like and tweak them to your standards; but the problem is that it ceases to be your idea and becomes glorified fanficition instead.

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