Category Archives: monster

Genres of Literature – A Tall Tale


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We all tell the occasional tall tale and know of the old fisherman stories of the ‘big one that got away’ these are mainly verbal tales or stories told around a campfire or to impress our friends and family.

The definition of a tall tale is a story containing unbelievable elements, related as though they are true and factual. These exaggerations of actual events, are mainly told ‘tongue in cheek’ and cause amusement for the listeners. Other tall tales are completely fictional tales set in a familiar setting, such as the European countryside, the American frontier, or the Canadian Northwest. The line between legends and tall tales is distinguished primarily by age; legends exaggerate the exploits of their heroes, but tall tales exaggerate an event to such an extent it becomes the focus of the story.

American tall tales

Tall tales are a fundamental element of American folk literature. The origins were seen in bragging contests by rough men of the frontier lands when they gathered together. Characters include, Davy Crockett, Pecos Bill, Casey Jones, Old Stormalong and Sally Ann Thunder – Ann Whirlwind.

 

Toastmasters International public speaking clubs do sometimes hold Tall Tales contests. Each speaker is given three to five minutes in which to tell a tall tale and is then judged according to several factors. The winner proceeds to the next level of competition.

Australian tall tales

The Australian frontier (known as the bush or the outback) has similar tales of the characters who lived mainly in isolation. The Australian versions concern a mythical station called  The Speewah and the characters who lived there, such as Big Bill, Crooked Mike and folklore hero, Charlie McKeahnie.

Canadian tall tales

The Canadian frontier has also inspired tall tales, such as Big Joe Mufferaw, Johnny Chinook and Sam McGee.

European tall tales

One enduring tall tale concerns the columnar basalt that makes up the Giant’s Causeway, which is said to have been made by Fionn mac Cumhaill. Other tales include Toell the Great, the Babin Republic, and Baron Munchausen.

 

Have you incorporated a tall tale into a story or novel?

Which tall tale is passed down through your family?

Genres of Literature – Horror


horror-genre

Horror is a genre of fiction, of which, the defining trait is to provoke a response; either emotional, psychological or physical, within readers that causes them to react with fear, dread, disgust, or is frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting and even startles it’s readers with the text.

Horror: Ancient Greece and Rome

This genre has ancient origins with roots in folklore and religious traditions, which focused on death, the afterlife, evil, the demonic and also a ‘thing’ embodied in the person. This manifested as stories of witchcraft, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts.

Horror: Medieval Era

Much of horror fiction derived itself from the cruelest faces in world history, particularly those who lived in the fifteenth-century. “Dracula” can be traced to the Prince of Wallachia Vlad III, whose alleged war crimes were published in German pamphlets in the late Fifteenth Century and resulted in stories of horrifying detail.

Gothic horror: 18th century

Slowly the horror genre became traditional Gothic literature. 18th century Gothic horror drew on sources of seminal and controversial elements of the supernatural instead of pure realism.

Horror: 19th century

After the Gothic tradition blossomed the genre became the horror literature we now know in the 19th century. Influential works and characters still continue to resonate, such as Brother’s Grimm and Hansel & Gretel (1812) and of course Frankenstein (1818) and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (1820)

Horror:20th century

Cheap periodicals became prolific at the turn of the century, leading to a boom in horror writing. Horror writers of the time included H.P. Lovecraft pioneering cosmic horror and M.R. James redefining the ghost story. Also the serial murderer became a recurring theme.

Contemporary horror fiction

As most of you know Stephen King is my hero and it is the best-known contemporary horror writer. His stories have delighted and frightened many of us for decades, from Carrie to Sleeping Beauties and all those tales in-between.

I have to admit as a prolific reader of Mr. King, I am wary of ever writing a horror story because I don’t think I can measure up to his expertise.

Do you write horror? What theme do you favor?

What horror writers/books have you read and ‘enjoyed’?

 

 

Genres of Literature – Science Fiction


scifi-genre

Science Fiction is a story based on the impact of potential science, either actual or imagined. It is one of the genres of literature that is set in the future or on other planets. The title is often shortened to SF or sci-fi. This genre typically deals with imaginative concepts, such as futuristic science and technology, space and time travel, even faster than light travel but also parallel universes and extraterrestrial life. The narrative can explore the potential consequences of scientific and innovation ideas developed to extremes.

Science fiction elements can include:

  • A temporal setting in the future with alternative timelines or in a historical past that contradicts the known facts of actual history
  • A spatial setting or scenes in outer space, on other worlds or even subterranean earth.
  • Characters do included aliens, mutants, robots and other imagined or predicted beings.
  • Technology can be futuristic or plausible. Examples being teleportation, mind control, ray guns and super-intelligent computers.    
  • Scientific principles that contradict accepted physical laws, such as time travel.
  • New and different political or social systems. 
  • Imagined future history of humans on earth or other planets.
  • Characters with paranormal abilities, such as telekinesis or telepathy.  
  • Other universes or dimensions and travel between them.

Sub-genres include:

Space opera, which is an adventure science fiction set mainly or entirely in outer space or on sometimes distant planets.

Utopian fiction, which portrays a setting that agrees with an ethos believed by the author of another reality.

Dystopia fiction, a portrayal opposed by the authors ethos.

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Time Travel fiction where by utilizing a vehicle of some kind an operator can select a time period and purposefully travel there.

Military science fiction, where there is a conflict between national, interplanetary or interstellar armed forces.

Superhuman stories reflect the emergence of humans with abilities beyond the norm.

Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic 

Apocalyptic fiction covers the end of civilization through war, while post-apocalyptic deals with the near aftermath of such a war. 

Steampunk and dieselpunk, this genres are based on a futuristic technology existing in the past (usually the 19th century) and often set in the English Victorian era. They do contain prominent elements of science fiction through the use of fictional technological inventions.

Cyberpunk and biopunk. This is a reasonably ‘new’ genre emerging in the early 1980’s. It combines cybernetics and punk with a time frame usually in the near-future with dystopian settings. 

Have you written a science fiction story/novel? Care to share?

I have a YA novella, Clickety Click that deals with aliens living in secret on Earth. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/679515  https://www.amazon.ca/Clickety-Click-Mandy-Eve-Barnett/dp/1927510856

Clickety Click

And my latest YA novella, Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria is set on another planet. Launch early 2018.

I also have a steampunk inspired, The Toymaker (7K words) that may become a novella in the future. Time will tell. 

Do you try writing in different genres? What has been your experience?

 

Author Interview – V.J. Gage


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Vaun photo

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

When I write it is effortless and energizes me so much, I can write for hours at a time. I have always thought out my plot for months before I write, so when I do, it just rushes to my fingers and onto the paper.  I do not edit when I write, I get the story written as fast as I can, and then I go back once it is complete.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

I am not sure what you mean, but Kryptonite-weakened Superman.  The only thing that could slow me down was trying to write something without hours of thought.  I would have to think about something for hours, days, weeks or a month or so before I begin writing.  Then once I get going, I am a force to be reckoned with, and little will stop me.

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  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I am writing all of my novels under my maiden name.  VJ Gage for the Chicago Heat series and Vaunda Lynn Gage for the kid’s books.  The adult books are explicit, and I did not want to confuse the reader by using the same name.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have not stepped out into the world to know many other authors, but this year will be different. I need the support of others and to find out what has or has not worked for them.  I am just starting on marketing etc. and now is a great time to meet other authors.

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Yes, I have a seven book series called Chicago Heat.  I have published two with a third out this March.  The children’s book is seven novella’s about seven cousins who have adventures with mythical creatures in the Okanagan Valley.  I am working on a second series. 

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Linda at Dream Write Publishing, she has been great, and she has helped to make my children’s book educational as well as a fun read.  Her art for the book has been exactly as I imagined and she was priced right, and we met our deadline.

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

As a child, I never slept much, so I began to read early.  By the time I was ten or twelve, I could write a book report “likity split,” and, I could write several in a very short time.  So I began to sell extra book reports for those who did not read.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Anything that was written by  Janet Coldwell.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

My first thought is an Eagle, it sores high and has a great view of its landscape.  But in thinking further, I am more like a busy beaver.  When I get an Idea, I will go to work on it until I have completed my task, or I have figured out it is not worth my time.  I can be deadly when I get an idea into my head.

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  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have four in my “Chicago Heat” series.  One romance, and two for my children’s series.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

It would be that many thousands of people have read and enjoyed my books. I would want them to say they could not put my books down and that my plots are unique and clever, and that I have a great imagination.  Then I would like to make lots of money.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

What would we do without the internet?  When I am writing, I have my tablet close by, and I can look up any information I may need.  When I need some information, it is close at hand.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

I may not be able to write for days or weeks at a time.  I still have a full-time job, and I took care of my mother and dad full time for the past ten years.  Both have passed and now my time is open to many more hours to write.

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  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

My main characters in my “Chicago Heat” series are based on the personalities of my own family.  Dennis Kortovich is a profile of my husband.  Veronica, his wacky wife, is a profile of me.  Many other characters are based on the personalities of my family or friends.  The children’s novels are based on real children and adults. 

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

Sex. 

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I found out I am great at killing and that I have a unique ability to be in the mind of the killer.  I like exploring both sides of the crime.  I don’t like a soft “Who Done It”  I think fast and hit hard.

17. How long have you been writing?

 I started in earnest when I was fifty.

18. What inspires you? 

 Writers, like Dan Brown.

19. How do you find or make time to write?

I may not write every day or sometimes not for weeks.  When I do sit down to write, I can go at it for several hours, and I have done up to twelve thousand words in one season.

20. What projects are you working on at present?

I just finished the final edit of The Bible Killings, and this novel should be out by March.  I am trying to figure out how to market my books at this point, and I am putting most of my time and effort into this for the next while.

21. What do your plans for future projects include?

To edit and publish at least one more book next year.  They are all written, but I need to edit the other four.  I will also putter away at the children’s novel.  I am writing a second on for Mysteries at the Lake.

22. Share a link to your author website.

http://www.vjgage.com

Visiting family at the lake during the summer is a wonderful tradition for Canadian cousins: Wyatt, Kadence, Nyomi, Jack, Sophie, Cash, and Cruz. Join them as they share their vacation with you. Discover the secret of Lake Okanagan. Hike the trails and spend time in the amazing forests and cliffs as the seven cousins make friends and solve mysteries with mythical and magical neighbors.
Ride the waters and take in the sun—whatever story they share around the evening’s campfire with hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows, it’s sure to be a memorable one!
Front Cover Icon Mysteries at the Lake
Author Bio:

V.J. Gage has been writing for over three decades. “Celebrity Lunch,” her weekly column in the Sherwood Park News, featured mini biographies about members of her community. Her column “As I See It” commented on contemporary social issues. A successful businesswoman, with many diverse interests, Vaun is also a recording artist, an emcee, and a stand-up comic, all of which serves to fuel the fast-paced, action-packed, serpentine plots of the “Chicago Heat” series. Vaun has lived in Sherwood Park since 1956.  My father was the first fire chief for the county and my mother was one of the first women real estate agents. I have owned a business in Sherwood Park for over forty years.  I now have a home based salon and I work there with my daughter. At one point I owned five salons, a clothing store, restaurant, I recorded with R. Harlen Smith and did Stand-up-Comedy and was an emcee for hundreds of events.  I was also the first in Alberta to have my own Karaoke show. I went home-based almost twenty years ago.

Vaun is currently working on a series of seven novellas,  featuring seven cousins, who have adventures  with some of the most fantastic, creatures to ever catch the imaginations of children and adults alike.

 

 

Thank you Vaun for an enlightening glimpse of your writing life and it’s inspiration.

EVENT:

Join Vaun at Head Quarters, #101, 100 Granada Boulevard, Sherwood Park, AB T8A 4W2 this Sunday 14th January 2pm-4pm for the book launch of Mysteries at the Lake. Karaoke, stories, coloring books, cake, and refreshments. 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Apart from the freelance project, I did have time to write a Xmas themed short story for my writing group’s Xmas party, which was held yesterday.

WFSC Xmas Party

Letting my imagination take control and spin a story is always fun. I had thought the story would go in one direction but it veered off into another, again giving me a welcome surprise. I find this aspect of writing to be the most delightful and rewarding, as the characters or plot take control.

This was my story:

Joy’s Joy

The heavy snow slowly slid from the porch roof, Joy watched its gradual cascade and delighted at the thump it made on the frozen ground. Her thoughts turned to childhood memories of building snowmen and snowballs fights with her brother and sisters. As the youngest she was often the brunt of the jokes and teasing but no matter what she loved them but of course there were plenty of times when she was cuddled and coddled by her older siblings.

Now many decades later they were spread out across the country. The older they became the more infrequent were the visits even on special holidays. Joy was sad that this Christmas there would be no family to celebrate with. Again she felt she should have married again after Arthur, she had been young enough to have started a new family but her heart had been broken and as the years past, she became accustomed to her solitary life. But now she realized, she always looked forward to those special days each year with Frank, Gail and Bobbie-Jo, they were her hope for next month or next year, it kept her grounded and forward thinking. She would plan for months ahead of time – planning excursions, cooking cakes and biscuits and making gifts. With no visitors this year the house felt as despondent as Joy.

A knock on the door brought her out of her musings. A dark figure loomed on the other side of the frosted glass door. Joy made sure the security chain was in place before she opened the door cautiously.

                  “Hello, I have a delivery for Miss. Dashing.”

                  “Well that would be me.”

                  “Can you please sign here, the box is rather heavy so do you want me to carry it into the hallway?”

                  “That would be very kind, thank you.”

                  Joy unlatched the chain and the man picked up a large box from the porch floor. He set it down beside the entry table and then turned away, while arching his back.

                  “Thank you so much, you should take care of your back. Have a merry Christmas.”

                  “My pleasure, yes it’s not easy work. Have a good Christmas.”

                  Once the front door closed and the cold evening air shut out, Joy looked at the box. A label showed her name and address and the return address was one she was familiar with. It was from Frank. Excited to see what was inside she went to the kitchen to find a pair of scissors. With the packing tape cut, Joy pulled at the box to open it. Inside was a lot of packing and Christmas wrap. Her heart leapt – he sent me several gifts for Christmas!

                  The sight of the gifts made Joy happy. She was determined that now she would decorate so they could be placed under a Christmas tree. Two hours later the front room looked festive and Frank’s gifts were in pride of place under the small artificial tree, placed in the bay window. She ate a late light supper and went to bed. Her dreams were of frosty mornings and the four of them opening their gifts on Christmas morning, she smiled in her sleep.

                  In the morning she read her brother and sister’s letters again asking not to send gifts to them this year as they were spending time with their children and grandchildren and would be away from home. Joy had been disappointed as she had spent several months creating their gifts. ‘We will get together in the New Year and exchange gifts then’ – was the footnote on all three letters. Joy wrapped the gifts with extra care and placed them in a basket on top of her crafting shelf. Another knock on the door brought her to open it to the same deliveryman, his grey beard frosted with icicles

                  “Well hello again.”

                  “You must be very popular with all these parcels. I have two for you today, just in time for the big day. Shall I carry them in?”

                  “Oh yes please, that is kind.”

                  As the man turned to leave, she stopped him.

                  “Wait one moment I have something for you.”

                  “I’m not supposed to take gifts, I’m afraid.”

                  “Really that is not a very festive outlook and it is only a day to Christmas. It is some of my special cookies; surely you can have a few?”

                  “Well, I wouldn’t say no, I will be delivering until late tonight. It is a busy time of year as you can imagine and I don’t usually get time to stop and eat anywhere.”

                  “That’s settled then one moment.”

                  Joy placed several different kinds of cookies and sweet treats in a small tin and gave it to the driver.

                  “I hope you enjoy them and drive safely, there is a weather front coming in. It’s a good thing you don’t need to drive out to me again, that track can be treacherous.”

                  “I’ll be careful and thank you so much for these they smell incredible. I only have one run left and can go home, it is a favour to my old boss. He was short handed so I volunteered.”

                  “At least you have sustenance now. Take care.”

                  Joy excitedly opened the two boxes to find more gifts and took them to the tree. It would be nice to open them on Christmas morning but she really wanted to have her siblings with her even more. With the house locked and the Christmas lights twinkling she sat to watch a movie. As the clock struck midnight she yawned and rose to go to bed. A tapping sound stopped her steps on the stairs. What is that? She looked around the front room, the kitchen and the hallway but the tapping had stopped. Joy shook her head and went to bed. She could hear the blizzard thundering outside, lashing the roof and trees. As she drifted off to sleep a nagging feeling gripped her but she knew she was alone on the side of the mountain, her house surrounded by fir trees and knew the track would now be under a lot of snow. She told herself to stop being silly and snuggled under the covers.

                  A loud bang brought her from her slumber. Oh my goodness is that a tree fallen on the house? Wrapping her toweling robe around her and putting her soft plush slippers on, she walked to the window. There was a sheet of snow obscuring everything. One after the other she went into each room fearing a damaged window or wall but there was none. What banged so hard then? As she crossed the hallway to go back upstairs she heard a thud on the front door. Oh no is it my lovely porch that is damaged? Joy unlocked the door fearing the worse. What she saw was a huddled dark figure covered in snow and crystals of ice on eyelashes and beard, and a pair of pleading eyes.

                  The man crawled into the hallway his breathing laboured and his whole body shaking.

                  “Goodness, where have you come from? Can you walk come into the front room I’ll light the fire again it will still have hot embers hopefully.

                  The man tried to speak but his lips were blue and his teeth chattered. He stumbled to the front room and collapsed on the sofa.

                  “Cold, so cold. Crashed on the track. Crawled back on the track, it took hours.”

                  “You poor man. Let me get some blankets.”

                  With several blankets heaped on top of the man, Joy stoked the fire. There I will make a hot drink and then call for an ambulance.”

                  After giving the man a mug of steaming coffee with plenty of sugar, Joy picked up the telephone but there was no dial tone. Oh no the line has most certainly come down in the storm, what do I do now?

                  “I’m afraid the telephone line is down I can’t call anyone.”

                  “I don’t have a cell signal up here either otherwise I would have called someone. I need to get warm and then maybe walk back to the highway.”

                  “You shall do no such thing! The storm is in full force out there and you will certainly lose your way. No you must stay here, once you are missed they will come to find you. Your route is on a schedule I assume?”

                  “Yes, my routine is tracked. I feel so bad imposing on you like this but your place was the nearest.”

                  “Quite understandable and I am glad you made it here, you could have frozen to death out there. I am going to run a hot bath for you and dry those clothes.”

                  “Thank you, I am so grateful. I am feeling a little warmer now.”

                  Joy ran the bath and guided the man to the bathroom. He slipped his damp clothes through the door for her to put into the drier then sunk into the warm water with a sigh. He could feel his flesh warm.

                  After putting the clothes into the drier, Joy made herself a drink and yawned. It was the early hours of the morning, in fact Christmas morning. She went to her craft room and unwrapped two gifts she had made for Frank, then put them outside the bathroom door.

                  “Your clothes will take some time to dry so I have put a dressing gown, pyjamas and slippers outside the door. I hope they fit.”

                  She heard the man thank her and returned to the living room to build up the fire again. After few moments later the man came down the stairs looking flushed but happy.

                  “I feel much more human now not an iceberg. These fit perfectly – thank you, are they your husbands?”

                  “Actually no I made them for my brother as Christmas gifts but as we will not see each other until the New Year I thought your need was greater. I can always make more. Come and sit the fire is roaring. Can I get you some food now?”

                  “I think I have imposed more than enough.”

                  “If I can’t offer a stranger a hot meal on Christmas Day when can I?”

                  “Oh my I forgot it is Christmas Day isn’t it. Well then I accept your kind offer but please don’t go to much trouble.”

                  “Nonsense the dawn should be breaking any moment, if we see it through that white out of course. An early, hearty breakfast coming right up, then I think we should both rest.”

                  Joy busied herself in the kitchen, smiling to herself as she thought how nice it was to have company on this of all days. With breakfast cooked and served, they both sat in front of the fire eating contently in silence.

                  “That was a most enjoyable meal, thank you once again for helping me and showing such kindness. It has been a long time since I has such a meal with good company.”

                  “Well it is my pleasure. May I ask why you have not enjoyed good food? If I am prying please forgive me.”

                  “I think you are owed more than an explanation for your hospitality. I am a widower and to be honest find myself eating TV dinners most of the time. Rachel was the cook that was my wife. She has been gone now fourteen years and I never remarried. You become accustomed to being alone but it is still lonely.”

“I feel exactly the same I’m up here alone in my parents old house and like you I lost someone fourteen years ago. I delayed making a decision on his marriage proposal maybe a little too long and then he was gone. Working across the country and we lost touch. There have been moments of regret of course but you just get on with life – right?”

                  “Yes I agree, I could not sit at home alone all day. That’s when my old boss suggested the part time shifts as it turned out those shifts gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”

                  Joy stifled a yawn the heat from the fire and a good breakfast filled stomach made her tired. The man looked at her and smiled.

                  “I need to sleep too I am happy to sleep here on the couch.”

                  “Well maybe a couple of hours and then we can decide what to do about getting you home.”

                  Joy locked her bedroom door although she felt quite safe in the man’s company. It was odd but he had not offered his name and she had not asked, as she fell asleep she told herself to ask upon waking.

                  The smell of coffee and toast woke her, for a moment it disorientated her and then she remembered her visitor. She quickly dressed and went to the kitchen.

                  “Good morning, I hope you don’t mind I made coffee and toast. Let me pour you a cup.”

                  Joy sat at the kitchen table enjoying the attention.

                  “Thank you, you make good coffee. I forgot to ask your name all last night.”

                  “Oh that is funny yes I should have introduced myself properly, my name is Blyde, it means Joy. I’m always asked.”

                  “It is? Well what a coincidence my name is Joy.”

                  They laughed together and a chink in the clouds sent a ray of bright sunshine across the table.

                  “I think the storm has finally passed us by, I might be able to get a cell signal now.”

                  “Of course but please finish your coffee first, its nice to have company.”

                  “It is isn’t it? Yes there is no hurry. I’m sure the snow ploughs are busy clearing the main highway but I don’t suppose they come up here do they?”

                  “Actually my best friend’s husband drives a plough and he swings by after his shift so I can drive back and forth. He will be up later this afternoon I should think.”

                  “Well plenty of time to chat then.”

Epilogue:

A year later Joy and Blyde married, her brother and sisters attended the wedding and everyone joked about Joy’s Joy. To Joy she had met her joy in more ways than one. Blyde was kind, generous and loving and best of all was happy to live in her house rather than his small townhouse. Days were no longer empty, Blyde had been her very best Christmas gift.

Do your stories stay on track or do they morph into something else?

My hope is to finish my YA novella by mid January so I can send the manuscript to my illustrator with suggestions for the chapter header images. I will also submit it to my publisher for editing and review. This story is set on another planet with four friends discovering and battling an intruder. I’m not sure why this YA novella and my previous one, Clickety Click both have ‘aliens’ in them but that was where both stories took me. There are similarities but also totally different settings, one on earth and the other on another planet. Both narratives have a message to young people, which I hope will encourage them to accept and care for each other and their environments.

Books: I am enjoying this novel set in Edmonton and have come to know the characters easily in the first few chapters. I am looking forward to following their journeys.

Dreamland

Writing Tips:

Create a inspiration list and find images for your story’s setting and characters. Make up a board, either physical or digital that you can have in front of you as you write.

Don’t edit as you write – let the process flow. There is plenty of time to edit and revise later on. For now let your imagination take control and write without a filter.

Do you have a tip to share?