I took an extra day off this past week to ‘finish’ the prequel to the Rython series. Although, the manuscript has ‘the end’ on it, this is the start of the editing and revising stage. However, it is always a great sense of achievement to get a story completed.
I hope that my readers will enjoy this part of the Rython series, which is now officially a trilogy. When I first wrote The Rython Kingdom, I had no intention of continuing the story of a traveling troubadour in medieval England. But as we all know we should ‘never say never’, and with numerous requests from readers for more story, I, of course, obliged and Rython Legacy was born. It follows the granddaughter of the first sorceress on her own journey and how she vanquishes an evil.
The idea of a prequel telling the story of the evil witch came to me unexpectedly, but then became an insistent ear worm, so to speak. So much so, I abandoned the final book in my crime trilogy, to quieten the voices. Of course, I will get back to that project once this prequel is published, sometime in the fall/autumn. I had so much fun tracing Malgraf’s character and the darkness within her soul. Watch this space for more on Malgraf’s Dawning in the months to come.
As for my current reading, I am 3/4 through The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler, which I am really enjoying and am also reading a short story collection called Insomnia by Kelly Covic.
This week’s literary birthday is: 2/22 – Edward Gorey – he wrote more than 100 books. (That is an exception number!) He was also a talented artist and illustrator.
1. How did the idea for the Thyrein’s Galactic Wall Series come about?
Thyrein’s Galactic Wall was born in my classroom. I taught 6th grade English language arts and social studies for 15 years. The curriculum in social studies was the study of world cultures, which presented me with a great way to thematically connect all my subjects. We learned about the influences of geographic features on the developments of people in social studies, and then created our own planets building in geographic features that would influence the stories we would write in language arts, while reading about survival adventure stories in book clubs for reading and exploring man v nature. Across the school year, we drafted myths and legends and all manner of stories that happened on our planets. Thus the intergalactic alliance of planets was born as I modeled in my own writing for the students.
2. What were your influences in creating these stories?
My biggest influence as a world builder is Tolkein, who created a vast world with so many people and cultures. I also love the world building in Star Wars and in Star Trek. I love the way that CS Lewis built in moral and allegorical elements into his stories and I love the way that fiction can bring us the exploration of so many themes about life, the human experience, cultures and diversity, socio and economic issues, and so much more. Fiction allows us to explore our own beliefs and those of others in nonthreatening spaces with make believe peoples. As an avid reader, I’ve enjoyed the influence of George R Martin, as well as Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and even the great Agatha Christie. Jane Austen also influenced my writing as I build the plot around the relationships of the characters and the societies they inhabit.
3. Do you write in other genres or forms – if so which ones?
I have written some dystopian short stories, as well as erotic romances. I write poetry as well and have several poems published. I like to work with illustrators to do some picture books around cute short stories, mostly about my dogs. However, my main writing passion is science fantasy as I love to blend elements of what could become scientifically possible with the fantastical creatures of my imagination… and dragons. Always dragons.
4. Have your life experiences affected your writing topics and themes?
I would say most definitely. There is a little of me in every story I write. Every character, even the darkest villains, hold seeds of parts of my own personality and life. Of course, some are modeled after people I’ve met and plot elements that mirror my own experiences appear here and there. I also love to integrate my view of what the world is right now, what it could be if everything turned out well, and what it could be if things don’t work out for the best. That last is probably the most fun to hypothesize in terms of creating compelling stories, but not so fun in terms of real life possibilities. Still, as a writer, I think we are in a way prophets, shedding light on what is and what could be for those who have the will to hear and see and to act.
5. How does writing graphic novels compare to novel writing?
When you are working on a collaborative project like a graphic novel, it is important to write the story keeping in mind that it is intended to be illustrated. On the one hand, you want to give your illustrator plenty of clues and descriptions, so the artist can visualize and capture your vision. On the other hand, you also need to give them space to bring in their own flavor to the work. In many ways, it is as much their story as it is yours. I love working with Rosamaria Garza on the Mr. Landen Series and I hope to have a second installment of it out soon, perhaps even later this year if everything works out.
6. You have many writing organizations you are part of – what benefits are there for you and other writers with these memberships?
I think writers should be part of the community as much as possible. For me, an organization like the Houston Writers Guild is a great first step and that was my first step in becoming a serious working author. They offer critique groups which help hone your skills as well as conferences and seminars, which allow you to learn about the industry. Too many authors jump into self publishing or get sucked into spending a ton of money with a vanity press because they don’t take the time to join organizations and attend conferences. You have to learn about the industry before you dive in to the deep end of the pool.
Organizations like Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, or Women in the Visual and Literary Arts are all wonderful because they focus more on specific genres and so you can glean about the more niche sections of the industry, as well as connect to authors that write within your own genres. There are Science Fiction and Fantasy organizations as well as, those for children’s book authors and illustrators.
More than anything else, the one thing that matters is to learn before just doing. Really understand the industry, what the standards are, and how to do things right. You get one chance to capture a reader and you have to make it count by putting forth a quality product.
7. Can you tell us a little about your latest release Love’s Call?
Love’s Call is set in the world of Thyrein’s Galactic Wall. It happens on planet Gelderant several years before the events of my first novel. President Nichamir is fighting to hold on to power while at the same time winning the heart of the woman he knows is destined to be his mate. Because they come from opposing nations, Denipia is reluctant to let her attraction and burgeoning feelings for Nichamir lead her into a relationship with him. Yet, it is their destiny. The question becomes, will their love be able to overcome all that stands between them?
Nichamir has a small moment of appearance in the opening chapters of United Vidden. As the story of Verena and Amiel on planet Jorn unfolds in the coming novels, Nichamir will have a key part to play. In order for readers to really understand the choices he makes in the main line series, I decided to give him his own series. Thus, Love’s Call is book one of The Dragon and His Kitten series.
8. Do you believe exploring all aspects and genres of writing is beneficial for writers?
Generally, I think it is a good thing for all artists to stretch their skill sets by delving into a variety of different genres and modalities. However, ultimately, each artist has the medium through which they speak. So it is with writers. Some are poets and it is the language of poetry that brings forth their voice. Others are fiction writers with specific genres that call to them and which flow more intuitively from their hands. I like to explore and push my comfort zones. I’m currently taking a poetry lab course with Max Regan of Hollowdeck Press. He is a great writing teacher and coach. I dabble in poetry and the skills and techniques of the genre show up in my fiction. But ultimately, I’m a science fantasy romance writer. World building comes as naturally to me as breathing.
9. Describe your writing space.
Oh my… well… messy. Haha. I am a discovery writer and tend to have just a general idea in my head of what the story will be when it begins. I don’t do a lot of plotting or diagramming or note taking in advance. BUT when it comes time to revise, then I like to get physical with my story. I like to use note cards or post its and put the story up on the wall to see what is already there and find what is missing… the pieces that need to be added. I like to print out chapters and cut them up and rearrange things to see if they work better. And I like to color code text with highlighters to show me where themes are already weaved in and where they need to be added. This is how I process my revisions so that the full flavors of the story, all its nuances, can be integrated fully.
Fern Brady is the founder and CEO of Inklings Publishing. She holds multiple Masters degrees and several certifications. She began her professional life as a foreign correspondent, and taught for 15 years in Alief ISD. She has published numerous short stories, two children’s picture books, and a couple of poems. Her debut novel, United Vidden,which is book one in her Thyrein’s Galactic Wall Series, was given a glowing review by Dr. Who Online, the official site of the fandom. Also available for purchase is volume one of her graphic novel/novella hybrid project, New Beginning. She has returned to the leadership of the Houston Writers Guild, with whom she served as CEO for four years previously. She co-hosts two podcasts – Author Talk and The Hot Mess Express. Besides being Municipal Liaison for Nanowrimo Houston, she is also a member of Blood Over Texas, Romance Writers of America, and American Booksellers Association. Fern lives in Houston TX with her parents and her talkative husky, Arya. Follow Fern’s writing at: www.fernbrady.com
As many of you know I love utilizing prompts to spark an idea for writing a story. This one is no exception, although it ran a little longer than I envisioned.
The hike started like any other, but certainly didn’t end that way. My discovery changed everything in my life. I am, however, getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.
As an avid hiker and explorer of new trails, most weekends see me driving to a new location. Fully equipped for every eventuality I can walk for a day – easily. My favorite time to walk is on vacation. These are better as they give me more time to explore and map out my routes to encompass as many trials as possible over a week or two. It is one vacation hike; I want to talk about –the one that started the mayhem.
With a ten-day vacation ahead, I’d researched, planned and mapped out my routes for each day. Invested in a new one-person tent, renewed supplies, and checked and double checked everything before packing it all in the most economical way possible in my rucksack. I walked with the fully loaded rucksack each evening to source any areas that might chafe or bruise. With several adjustments made and additional padding added, I was happy and comfortable with my survival pack.
On the first morning of my vacation, I woke up early, too excited to sleep in. I pulled on my trusty hiking boots, grabbed two large bottles of cold water, and carried my rucksack to the car. It was a glorious early summer morning, full of birdsong and too early for the commuters to drown out their song with the ever-present vehicle engine drone of rush hour. After a quick inventory, I locked the front door and settled into the driver’s seat. The GPS burst into life and announced the time my journey would take. After a short detour to pick up breakfast at the drive thru, I was on my way. New places, new adventures and sights were ahead of me.
Prior to starting my hike, there was a quick stop for the restroom, another high protein meal and water bottle refill. With my orientation map hanging in its clear plastic folder on my belt, I set off up a slight incline into the lush greenery of a forest in the foothills. There were few cars in the car park when I left, but I put my route, time of departure and estimated time of return and personal details on a piece of paper on my dashboard. It was a safety feature, I adopted many years earlier, after getting lost on my first solo hike. Three hours later, I arrived at my destination.
I breathed in the mountain air and took in the sights, sounds and smells of my environment. With any easy stride, I enjoyed the air being just warm enough to be pleasant rather than stifling hot. A breeze whispered through the branches carrying the pine aroma toward me. This was my happy place.
As the sun reached its zenith, I broke free of the tree line to be welcomed by a spectacular view of mountain peaks across a valley. The pine needle trail petered out underfoot and changed to a rocky plateau. Taking my map out, I orientated myself, and began the descent into the valley. This was my destination for the night. My plan to camp beside the river and make my way back to my vehicle the following day by an alternative route. An hour later, sitting on an outcrop drinking water, I displaced a collection of stones. They tumbled downward and I expected them to keep falling but they stopped. Curious I leaned over to see what obstacle had halted their descent. There was a ledge jutting out beneath the one I was sitting on. With measured steps I made way down the incline to discovery a small cave. Taking my flashlight out, I shone it into the interior to have a million reflected lights shine back. Blinking at the sudden illumination, I giggled in surprise. The rock face inside was filled with crystals. This was a first for me, a real discovery. I took several photos using my cell phone flash and the flashlight to capture the glint and shine of the cave interior. I called out and was answered by an echo.
I advanced into the cave depths, sweeping my light from side to side, enjoying the reflected light of the crystals. They became more brightly coloured the deeper I walked until I reached a hollow shape on the floor. I expected a pool of water but instead nestled inside was an egg. It was dark shelled with a cracked line zig-zagging along its length. It was unlike any bird’s or snake’s egg I’d ever seen. What was it? Slipping on a glove I picked it up. It was cold, so not viable to my way of thinking. It would be such a treasure to have so I slipped it into a pouch of my rucksack to examine later, once I made camp.
The trail meandered between rocky plateau and the tree line as it descended into the valley floor. The sun was hot, and the shelter of the pine trees was an intermittent relief as I weaved my way downward. As the light changed, I found a good spot to make camp, sheltered by an outcrop, a stream bubbling nearby and a supply of large rocks to make a campfire. I busied myself with the preparation of my camp, pitching the tent, making a circle of stones for the fire, collecting firewood and placing my sleeping bag and cushioned underlay within the tent’s interior. Satisfied with my camp site, I opened a couple of cans and popped the contents into a pot nestled in the fire. As the aroma of beans and sausages rose, my stomach growled. With only meager rations while walking, I was hungry.
I ate in silence, relishing the spicy sausage and bar-be-que flavoured beans. I followed my meal with two bananas and a multi-grain power bar. It was then I remembered the egg. I pulled it out of the rucksack and examined it closely. The dark charcoal shell was pitted, and the crack looked larger – which I put down to the jiggling in the rucksack it experienced as I walked. At that moment a loud howl echoed nearby and startled me. The egg slipped from my hand and landed in the flames. In a panic I grabbed a long stick and tried to roll it out of the heat. That’s when I saw it gradually change colour. No longer dark and dull but a golden hue emerged as the shell’s top layer peeled away as it got hotter. Transfixed I watched it change. What was this?
The hotter the egg got the more it shone, reflecting the flames orange and red. I heard a sizzle then the egg cracked wide open. What I saw was incomprehensible, my mind was bombarded with scenarios, my eyes blurred. I stumbled backwards, unsure what I should do. There curled up in the egg was some sort of creature. It’s scaled form motionless for an instant. Then it unfurled and opened its golden eyes to fix me with a look of such depth I could not move. My mind would not accept what I was seeing, tried to rationalize it as a dream, a hallucination – anything but what was clearly in front of me. A baby dragon!
My breath escaped me in a rush, I’d been holding my breath for a long time. The dragon rose upward, stretching and yawning. It’s eyes never leaving my face. Unsure how it would react I keep still and watched as it climbed from the shell, walked over the hot coals without a flinch and approached me.
I instinctively shuffled backwards on my hands and bottom. The dragon let out a snort and sniffed my boot. A guttural sound came from the creature and a puff of smoke issued from its mouth. It stumbled backwards, shocked by its own emission, then huffed again. Another small tendril of smoke left its nostrils. All my focus was on the little dragon now. Would it breath fire now? What should I do? I was miles away from civilization and in the presence of a mythical beast. Or one thought to be, anyway.
With tottering steps, the creature grew closer to me, sniffing at my clothes. My hand rested on the earth beside my thigh, and without thought I reached over to touch the little being. It tilted its head at my touch and uttered a burbling sound, almost a deep purring. I cupped my hands and it hopped into them. We were eye to eye, looking into each souls. We reached a non-verbal understanding through a melding of minds. I was the keeper; the protector and my loyalty would be repaid. The dragon shivered and snuggled under my sweater, drawing warmth from my body. I then realized the fire was reduced to embers and restocked it with sticks and logs until it blazed warmth once again. We sat together, a connection made and a future unknown.
Huddled together we slept and in the early morning light I began packing up my camp, taking care to keep my little friend warm with a well-stocked fire. Using a themo-blanket, I wrapped up the creature and nestled under it in my hoodie. With the fire doused with water and inspected to ensure any hot embers were extinguished, I began the trek back to my car. The dragon’s head popped out of the V-neck sniffing and looking side to side. Exploring its surroundings. How would it take to an urban setting after this? At least I had ten more days of vacation to plan what I needed to do.
As we approached the car park, I gently pushed the dragon’s head down, out of sight. With my rucksack thrown into the rear seat, I sat in the driver’s seat wondering what my next step should be. I could feel the creature’s body shifting and wriggling. Looking around to make sure there were no people close to my car, I let its head pop up. The sudden change in scenery was a puzzle to its senses and it blinked several times and inhaled deeply. I looked down and smiled. Then jumped as a hand slapped on my window.
A child of, maybe ten or eleven, was peering into the side window, thumping the glass and chattering excitedly. I turned away to hide the dragon, but the child’s parents were now wide-eyed standing behind their son. With no choice, I pushed down the door lock, turn the engine on and drove out of the car park. Giving a wave and shaking my head as I went. I hoped these witnesses dismissed the sighting.
I drove to my destination, parking with my license plate hidden in an overgrown bush and replaced my trek details on the dash with my new hike. Then I paused – should I really let them know my route. What if the authorities were notified of a strange creature and were in pursuit? I was gripped with a searing sense of protection for my new friend, so intense I discarded my usual safety feature, locked the vehicle door and set off into the wild.
Three hours later, I found a place to sit, drink and eat. Unsure what the dragon needed I cupped my hand and filled it with water. The creature sniffed, licked and then lapped at the liquid. It recoiled at the granary power bar but chewed happily at a pepperoni stick. As we sat looking out toward a broad swathe of forest, nagging thoughts came to mind. How would I get this creature home and keep it safe? Should I take it home or leave it in the forest? What should it eat? How big would it grow? Would it fly? Breath fire!
For four days and nights we traveled the hiking trails, avoiding people, walking and sleeping close together, skin to scale. The more time I spent with the dragon baby the more I became attached. We developed a telepathy between us, dragon would sense humans and make a low grumble sound to alert me. I’d hide and let them pass. I knew its moods; it’s wants and knew it was sensing mine too. Our connection grew stronger with each day.
I experimented with food to feed my little creature and found berries and pepperoni were relished. We stopped to admire a lake one evening and I was startled to witness the dragon leap into the water and catch a fish. So, then I knew the dragon was an omnivore and found sources of nourishment for it, such as berries, and edible plants and allowed it to hunt small mammals at night. I altered my hiking route to encompass a circular route around any large lake or river, so an evening meal of fish was enjoyed. By day ten, we were in total synchronicity.
I came up with a plan by day five and leaving the dragon hidden in my car went to a local toy store, found a dragon-like toy and charred it in a fire-pit. It looked similar to the real thing and was my explanation when needed. I would call it my lucky hiking charm if questioned. With our increased telepathy ability, I only had to think ‘hide’ and the creature withdrew into my hoodie. I had the toy snuggled to one side of my hoodie and the real thing to the other, so it was easy to switch them when we encountered anyone in a car park or public place.
Apart from buying food and water, I kept my visits to any public places to a minimum. I did, however, stick to my agenda with the hikes I set out for my vacation. Anything to avoid suspicion. As day ten approached I became anxious. My worry and tenseness, in turn, affected the dragon baby and it would bury its head into the crook of my neck. It comforted us both. Our last night in the forest, I tried hard to relay what would happen the next day to my companion. I only hoped the creature would understand.
I woke early and lay still for several minutes breathing in the forest aroma, listening to the birdsong and taking in my last moments of nature. I turned expecting to find the dragon curled up at my side, but it was not there. Sitting up and scanned the tent’s interior. No dragon! Rushing outside I surveyed the campsite, the riverbank, the rocky outcrop. No dragon. I called out “Come on then. Where are you?” Looking all around me, my panic increasing, I was frightened something had taken the baby during the night. Scenarios of the dragon going for a drink and a wild animal grabbing it flooded my mind. Running this way and that, my heart pounding, I began to cry. I searched the tent, the campsite, and surrounding area, again and again. There was no sign of the dragon. Defeated I sat down, with my head in my hands.
A sharp crack of a branch breaking, had my head swing around. I jumped up in surprise to be faced with the dragon. But not a small, compact dragon baby but a large, six-foot-tall dragon with blazing golden eyes. It looked straight at me. For the first time since finding the egg, I was afraid. I backed away, hands held out in front of me, which on second thought was ridiculous. A fire breathing dragon could reduce me to a pile of ash.
The dragon stepped closer, I stepped back, trembling in fear. It made a huffing sound and lowered and tilted its head, just like it used to. A feeling of calm washed over me. A voice inside my head told me I was not in danger. My companion would protect me. With a shaking hand, I reached out. The creature advanced to place its head beside me on the ground. It may have grown larger, but its dependency on me was evident. As we stood there together, I realized all my planning to get the baby dragon to my home was now irrelevant. There was no way I could hide this beast, even under the cover of darkness, there would be possible sightings. What was I going to do now!
A telepathic message popped into my head. ‘I am safe within the forest, do not fret. You have guarded me at my most venerable. I am grateful. You have shown me trails to avoid, places to hide and food to eat. You are free of your responsibility to me from this moment onward.’ I shook my head. I was attached to this being, loved it. I was more aware of the dangers of humans. A sighting would prompt a massive search with people, dogs and helicopters. I ‘voiced’ these thoughts in my mind, knowing the dragon could ‘hear’ them. The answer came after a pause. ‘I cannot ask you to give up your life to protect me.’ I shook my head refusing to acknowledge the message. “I can’t just leave you. I have to find a safe place for you to live.”
The dragon eyes focused on mine. ‘You will be missed. You must return home. These forests are large enough for me to hide, to live without detection. Maybe, if you wish, you could visit?’ I sat down feeling frustrated, angry and confused. “How would I ever find you? There are thousands of acres of forest, mountains, foothills, and lakes. It would be impossible. There must be something I can do?” Crouching down on its hide legs the dragon, shook its head. ‘I know your scent and can trace you over a thousand miles, I would find you, no matter where you were. It is as it should be. You have afforded me your friendship and I will forever be in your debt. Go home. Only return when it is possible. I will be safe here.’
I left a while later, despondent but resolved. I would return as many times I could. I would do as I was advised by this mythical creature – its very existence seemingly impossible to the entire human population. I was the only one, a special being myself. A secret I would keep forever.
I would live to know what you think of this story. Please leave a comment below.
There are a number of ways that stories come to me, one is using writing prompts because they always spark ideas or images in my mind. Some result in a short story or, occasionally a poem, but others have become full blown novels.
I recently responded to the prompt below and the character emerged complete in my mind. I could see him walking along the sidewalk, and the effect he had on the people he passed. He may appear in a future novel – who knows. Some characters stay with me and after a time begin to demand attention. This one is mysterious and I am keen to know his backstory and his future plans.
Heads turned, chatter ceased and whispers began as the tall, dark clothed man strode along the high street. His focused gaze ahead, never glancing at the store fronts, or the recoiling of other pedestrians as he passed by. The summer atmosphere cooled as an ominous air pervaded his very being. The holiday town was used to many visitors but this one was different and dangerous.
Would you like to ‘meet’ this character?
One prompt that resulted in a published book was my novella, The Rython Kingdom, which was actually a series of prompts that combined into the basis of the story. The prompts were – blue beads, a beast and a medieval town. You can read the full story (and its sequel if you want) here:
Another inspiration are dreams. And the reason, I have a small notebook on my bedside table. If I don’t write it down immediately, the dream dissipates never to be remembered again. The opening sequence of The Commodore’s Gift was a snippet of a dream that just needed to be used in a story. At the time, I had no idea that Owena, would become such a integral part of the story and evolve into it’s central character.
Do you have questions about my writing inspiration? Please ask on the comments, I will be happy to answer them all.
As writers and authors, we all daydream of the day our novel is made into a movie. The thrill of seeing our story come to life on the big screen (or even a smaller one!) is something we all crave at one point or another. When we are writing our stories, we get images of our characters in our heads, sometimes it is actors we already know or we create an inspiration board from photos found on the internet.
Forgetting for the moment the practicalities of actually getting the actor you want – who are your chosen ones? Who is on your wish list?
I am sharing a couple here and would be interested to know if you ‘saw’ them the same way I do, when you read the books.