Guest Post: Survival… or Why I Write Fiction

Today brings us a guest post from author RS Emeline whose new book, Purrfect Storm, has just been released on Amazon.  Today, she’s speaking with us about the connections between life and fiction, something many writers–and readers–can understand.

Survival… or Why I Write Fiction

by RS Emeline

As a teenager growing up in the soggy Pacific Northwest, I kept myself sane wallowed in my misery by writing really depressing and dark poetry. When I got older and moved away from the constant gloom of my familial ‘homeland’, I no longer needed to write about death and darkness.

Who am I kidding?

I still write doom and gloom, but now it has a happier ending.

When I married my Marine seven years ago, I didn’t think anything of my former desire to publish novels. In the constant hustle of everyday life I didn’t have time to remember dreams of the naive drunk crazy young girl I’d been.

Until I got pregnant.

Suddenly my desire for blood and vengeance a record of what was happening in my life and how I dealt with the constant urge to kill people hormones of pregnancy had the old dreams gearing up for a comeback tour.

Since murder is  messy against the law and nobody should do it, fiction seemed a better way to go.

Some of my best stories have been written while my Marine has been deployed. Purrfect Storm, my first published work, isn’t like most of what I’ve written. Mostly because during the original phase of the writing proces,s my Marine was home. If he’d been deployed, there would have been more dismemberment blood and gore  angst.

It still would have had a happy ending though.

I chose to write fiction because it allows me to step away from what is legally right, and still believe in fairy tales. It keeps me sane for the months at a time when my Marine is away, and I’m balancing the roles of mother, father, taxi driver, dispute fixer, and student.

Otherwise, I’d probably be writing this from prison.

About Purrfect Storm: Tavin Chauncy thinks he has his work cut out for him when a fellow Marine gets arrested for assault. He soon realizes that it’s nothing compared to the way his life gets flipped upside down when a mysterious woman appears in the middle of his living room during a rare desert storm.


About the Author: R.S. Emeline grew up in the sogginess of Washington State where she nurtured her love of writing with dark teenage poetry. Today she spends her time in the perpetual dryness and sun of the California desert. She lives there with her husband, the Marine; her niece, the Artist; her daughter,the Munchkin; and two animals–King Furry and Mistress Meow– who are the true rulers of the roost.



To Follow RS Emeline, visit her at:



Before and After: Jack Lewis Baillot

Jack Lewis Baillot is the focus of today’s “Before and After,” a feature on this blog. In “Before and After,” we hear from new authors before the publication of their novel and then follow up after the book’s publication to find out how the experience went.

Jack is planning on self-publishing her first novel, Haphazardly Implausible, and is talking a little bit about the beginning of that process as well as the book itself.

Gwen:  Hi, Jack.  Thank you for coming on the blog today.  First, I’d like to invite you to tell our readers a little more about the book that you’ve written.

Jack:  Howdy! And thank you for having me!

My book is titled Haphazardly Implausible. It is a Steampunk book, filled with airships, Air Pirates, Pilots, and a dog who thinks he’s a man.

1906 photograph of the Eagle Airship. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The story is centered around three young men, all from different parts of the world who are trying to fulfill different missions. They have no way of knowing that their paths are about to cross.

Peter Jones is a Scot who was left at the Scottish Royal Air Force Base a week before his parents were killed. It is the only life he has ever known, and now he is forced to flee for his life when he learns that the general, a man he has always looked up to as a father, now wishes him dead.

Isidore Thaddeus Reichmann is hiding from his past. Bitter and alone, he spends his days solving mysteries, and has earned the reputation as being the  best detective the world has ever seen. However, his world is forever changed when he leaves Germany for England to find a missing young man. In England he meets a girl named Jack, a girl who is going to change his life.

Singur is the smartest person on earth, but no one is allowed to know it, or to know his real name or he is a dead man. However, when his long guarded secret is found out Singur is forced to leave Italy, and finds safety with a man who might be nothing more then a Sea Pirate.

The world is on the edge of war,  and it might just be up to these three to end it.

 Gwen:  Wow!  The book sounds fantastic from what you just told me.  So let’s chat a little more about what it was like to come up with the concepts.  What new ideas did you uncover as you started working on Haphazardly Implausible? Did you learn any lessons from your own characters?

Jack: Ideas I uncovered. Hm, well, I guess I wished the main idea to be in not hiding who you really are. To be accepted now these days, one has to change, to fit into a mold, and I want people to see it is more wonderful to be themselves. And I believe this is the same lessons I learned from my characters. Even starting this book, I had to take a risk in being picked on for what I was writing. But, the more I wrote, the more they showed me, if a friend will only be your friend if you change then they are not a true friend.

Gwen:  I understand that you’re considering self-publishing as an option.  Why have you decided to go this route?  Do you see this as the way of the future for authors?

Jack: This was hard for me at first. I spent weeks pondering self-publishing and researching it. I have sent out query letters, and have always said I would trditional publish, but that was before ebooks and the change publishing has taken. According to my research and authors I’ve been in contact with, self-publishing is no longer the “Publishing for those who’s books weren’t good enough for trditional.”

However, my reasons for it. One of the reasons was that, before, triditional publishers would do most of the marketing. Sure, you had to do promoting and such as well, but they did most of it. Now, before an agent will consider you, not to mention a publisher, you have to have a following. You have to have readers interested before the book you even have an agent.

Also, you have more rights with your book if you self-publish. With triditional publishing they have rights over it. If the book doesn’t sale as much as they think it should they can put it on a back shelf for later. And it can take years to trditional publish, and by that time the book I have written (Steampunk) might no longer be a “fad”.

After all my research I decided self-publishing was the right thing for me to do. Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but it is for some.

As for seeing it as the future, yes, I do. Other authors have said the same. With ereaders being in almost every home in American ebooks are becoming more and more popular. I don’t think they will replace hard copies, mine will be coming in both forms, but I think they are starting to become more common.

And, with the publishing world changing, I think many authors are going to go with self-publishing. Going through an agent is becoming harder, and there is also the risk you will not find one. This doesn’t mean the book is bad, but that it “just isn’t what they are looking for.”

Gwen:  Have you found there to be any special challenges  that you’ve encountered in trying to publish this novel on your own?  Tell us a little bit about your process.

Jack: Editing. Once the first book is published and I’ve made money on it I will be able to hire an editor. But, with this one, I don’t have the money. I’ve been working on it on my own. It has been painstaking, all the more so as I’m dyslexic, but I’ve been going at it slowly, carefully, and recruiting all the help I’m able.

The other challenges I’ve encountered is lots of research. There are many self-publishers out there but I wanted one with a good reputation, one known for publishing good books. I’m, as of right now, going to go with Lulu Publishing. I’ve also, as said before, contacted other authors who are self-publishing to get advice from them. This has been my best move so far. If anyone plans on self-publishing, my biggest suggestion would be email other authors. Ask them all the do’s and don’t’s.

Gwen:  I know one of the things that was really important to me when I released my novel, The Universal Mirror, through Hydra Publications was the art on the cover.  I must have spent hours looking at different artists before we settled on Enggar Adirasa.  Have you reached this point for your own book yet?  

Jack: I’ve not found an artist yet. I have, however, looked at other Steampunk books. I’ve looked at the newest books coming out, I’ve studied covers. One of the authors I talked to said that it is important that the cover looks professional, like other covers out there, and draws readers in. Contrary to that old saying, readers do judge a book by its cover.

I hope to find an artist just starting out, and one who is willing to do the covers for all four books – so they will look alike. I’m contacting two artists right now, but if neither of them can do it, I will continue my search elsewhere.

The things influencing me right now as far as cover designs are airships. They are popular on Steampunk novels and since my novel is set on an airship, it seems fitting there should be one on the cover. I’m even working on designing it so my artist, whoever it will be, will have some idea of what the Zeppelin looks like.

Gwen:  Do you have any expectations about what will happen once the book comes out? Any special plans for other projects?

Jack: I would be delighted if it sold well and left readers begging for more, but I try not to set my hopes too high. I plan to, once it is out, continue my work of getting it out there. I’m also working on a series of short stories that will be released once the book is out. These will be about some of the side characters that didn’t have much time in the books.

My other projects will consit of editing the other three books, working on getting them published – hopefully book two will be out six months after the first – and continue writing. I have many more series planned, so I will, hopefully, always be writing.

Gwen: What has been the most rewarding part of your experience thus far?

Jack: Finishing the series. And writing Steampunk. This was my first Steampunk book and though I had no clue what I was doing, I’ve come to love and plan to write many more Steampunk stories.

Gwen: If readers want to follow your work or find out more about you as an author, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Jack: The best way would be by blog. I also have a twitter and facebook page, both links to these can be found on my blog.

A little bit more about Jack Lewis Baillot:
Jack is, above all else, a Christian. She started following God at the age of sixteen when He called her out of her sins and since that time her greatest desire is to serve Him.

Secondly, Jack is an author. It is somewhat of a mystery exactly how old she was when she penned her first story – one involving four siblings, a goat, a grandmother, and a flood – but she has been writing for at least ten years. Since that time she has written about twenty books, and thankfully her writing has improved. She plans to publish most of these twenty books, after some re-writes and editing.

Wonderful Option for Book Covers

Now, I don’t know if I’m the only one who struggles when someone asks for cover art for a book but I’m sure there must be others out there.  Stock photographs are often not my thing and art can be expensive (though I note, worth it).

A museum colleague pointed out to me the other day the Washington State Historical Society’s pricing for licensing e-book covers.  When he told me how much it was, I said “Excuse me?  That’s IT?”  And so  I thought that I’d mention this.  Presently (though this may change), it’s around $50 per image for e-book covers (print licensing costs more but is still really reasonable).

Now, you might be thinking “why would I want to use a historic image?”  Well, the Society’s collections currently number over half a million images.  That’s a lot to choose from and while I’m sure not all are available, there is art, photographs, ephemera…  (Plus it helps support history education.  Yep, I’m biased here.)  You can view many, many items at their online collections website.  Ordering can even be done online here.

As a disclaimer: do remember to check with the Society for current pricing.  You may also be able to find great historic images through your local historical societies or museums.

Also, if you search the collections, make sure to click the little box under the search bar that says “display only items with multimedia records” so that you can see thumbnail pictures.

Below are a couple of images that I like (your mileage may vary).  If you find something good, let us know!

Hodet by Virna Haffer. Washington State Historical Society Collections, ID# 1974.35.52.4.

1943 Army Recruiting Poster. Washington State Historical Society Collections, ID# 2005.0.390.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 as depicted by artist Ronald Debs Ginther. Washington State Historical Society Collections, ID# 1969.31.13.

Hey, Authors…

Courtesy of

I was asked to pass this along so here it is:

A brand-new website, That Book Place, has opened up.  This site was designed for authors and readers to connect with one another and they’re looking for both readers and writers to be a part of the community.

If you’re an author who’d like to be interviewed, they’d love to talk to you.  Check out their interview submission form here:

Please spread the word!  More communities for readers can only be a wonderful thing.

Socialpunk: Excerpt from Monica Leonelle

I’m pleased to share with you an excerpt from the new novel, Socialpunk, by Monica Leonelle.  

A little more about it:

Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

From the Novel:

After playing God for six years with the world he created, he couldn’t control any of his subjects, none at all. Over the years, he had watched them evolve and become the sum of their own choices rather than the sum of his; and for that, he regretted ever giving them life.

A small, blinking red light from just inside his eyelid reminded him of the news they sent him earlier that morning. The company had cancelled his funding and would shut down his project within three months. According to them, the project cost too much and took up too much space, and the inconclusive results couldn’t be published reputably, now or in the future.

Six years of his work, tens of thousands of lives at stake—and he could do nothing to save any of it. He bowed his head, letting his chin rest on the rim of his breakfast smoothie. The smoothie reeked of powder—crushed pills—but he supposed he had better get used to it. He wouldn’t be able to afford the luxury of real food after they canned him.

He closed his eyes and called up the camera view of one of his favorites, number 3281. She fascinated him; he couldn’t deny it. When he had designed her, her pre-teen rebelliousness lit fire in her eyes. A survivor, he’d thought. He’d meant for her to have it all—to grow up, to get married to the love of her life, and to have a beautiful family of her own someday.

But he had only given her sadness so far. Instead of creating a strict father, he had given her an abusive one. Instead of creating a loving boyfriend, he had given her a friend who could never love her. And instead of creating a strong, proud mother, he had given her a meek one, who watched the whole thing unfold and did nothing about it.

He looked at his last and final creation sitting in the chair across from him—his own son, not awakened yet. The law forbade him to have any children of his own, so this boy would substitute.

But he had done the unthinkable with this creation—he had bestowed on it his own thoughts, emotions, and decision-making processes. He’d given the boy his own mind, his own physical characteristics, his own wants and desires.

He had never done so with any of the others because of the dangers of investing too heavily in any one of his subjects. But who could he kid? He had not stayed objective thus far, watching some of his subjects more closely than others, wishing for the happiness of some at the expense of others. He had become an abomination, a monster of his own doing, who had created subjects only to watch them suffer.

He couldn’t forgive himself; not now, not ever. His eyes lingered on the vial that sat next to his breakfast smoothie, that he’d stowed away for the day when they destroyed all his work, his entire world. He would save it, tuck it away for now, for as long as he could protect them. When things spun out of his control, he would drink it and end himself the way he had ended them.

In the ancient stories, gods frequently gave their sons as gifts. Now, he would give his son as a gift to her, number 3281. So she could be happy in her last months on earth, before they destroyed her with the rest of them.

Monica Leonelle is a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit.

Socialpunk is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

Behind the Villain: Ellette of Morning Star

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview Desiree Finkbeiner, author of the recently released Morning Star, the first volume in the Ethos series.  Ethos is a great new YA fantasy series that has inspired a lot of conversation between Desiree and I over recent weeks.  Among the things that I find so intriguing about Desiree’s work are the many facets of her characters, particularly the villain Ellette.  Because I had so many questions about the character, I asked Desiree to allow me to “interview” first her villain and then herself to learn more about the concepts behind Morning Star and the world that she has created.

First, I present the interview with Ellette, the fallen warrior of the Ethos series.

Gwen:  Ellette, what is the strongest emotion that drives your actions?

Ellette:  Fairness. Life is cruel and unfair to those who try to do the right thing. I did everything I was told to do; gave up my chance at happiness so that others could be happy, and look where it got me. What’s the point in sacrifice if it carries no reward? The universe is unfair to those who sacrifice, giving the spoils of their labor to schmuck who stands in line behind them with their hands out.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to be the great mediator, the one who makes it fair for everyone. Rather than a select few carrying the weight of the universe on their shoulders, why not force everyone to do their share? No one gets off without contributing to the greater good. Since life will be unfair to everyone, therein lies the fairness. No rich, no poor. Thus, no one will be special and no one will be left behind. I’ve a plan that will be the great equalizer of the people. In my name, all will be fair, unlike the balance of the so-called universe, which is really nothing more than the illusion of fairness.

Gwen:  Creating a fair world, by any definition, is not an easy task and requires making hard decisions.  I imagine that you’ve had to make quite a few in your life.  If there is one thing that you regret, what is it?

Ellette: I regret the time I wasted in the service of others who didn’t appreciate the sacrifice I was giving for them. All the wasted time and life energy I could have used on pursuing my own dreams, wasted on ungrateful souls could who could care less.

Portrait of Ellette by Desiree Finkbeiner.

Gwen:  As you think about all of those that you spent your time on,  was there someone who affected your life profoundly?

Ellette:  Aziza. Her name meant, cherished, beloved. And love her I did, as if she were my own. I met her in Africa while I was on post to watch over the mushroom. Aziza was the daughter of a very rich man, from the tribe of the small village where I traded for supplies. He had six daughters, and she was the fairest, the youngest. Perhaps about four of your human years in age. Never had I met a soul so filled with life and adventure before Aziza. She had given me so much, and filled my heart with love, something I had never experienced before. Because she had given me the gift of trust and friendship, I responded to her love with a gift of my own.

One night, on a full moon, I came to her as the village slept, so she could see me in my true form. I took her for a night fly, soaring high into the sky so she could feel the wind in her face. It was to be our secret, something we shared between us. Each time the full moon came, we did this until her family grew suspicious. She had spoken of my magic to her sisters and made them promise not to tell, but she had broken my trust by breaking her promise to keep it secret.

It broke my heart, so to teach her a lesson about loyalty, I told her I would not be visiting on next full moon. But she came seeking me, snuck out in the night all alone. I told her never to seek me because the land had been plagued with cobras and jackals. She didn’t listen, and it cost her life. Of course, I was blamed for her death and they rounded up a posse of their best warriors to hunt me, calling me the white winged demon.

I was heart broken and I regret ever loving her… had I not loved her, she’d have grown into a beautiful woman.

Gwen:  A tragic story.  Have you kept anything of her–even something that remains secret?

Ellette: I still have a lock of Aziza’s hair, taken from her corpse, as a reminder why love is dangerous.

After hearing Ellette’s story, I asked Desiree to expound upon what her creation was like from an author’s perspective.

Illustration from the forthcoming print edition of Ethos: Morning Star.

Gwen:  One of the most difficult challenges a writer faces is creating a great villain. What was your greatest struggle as you developed her character?

Desiree: The hardest thing was looking back into my past at who I was when I was younger. I absolutely loathe who I was from about age 17 to 20, I was a terrible person and made some poor decisions (wrote a book about it in high school but deleted the file later on, now I wish I could go back and read it). I really do feel that I was a wicked young woman at that time in my life; manipulative, controlling, prideful, stuck-up, attracted to darkness, seduced by the occult and dark arts. I based my villain off of myself. It was a time in my life where I was estranged from God and sought after worldly aspirations. I was spiritually dead to light, lost in a very dark place. But it’s because I have experienced falling and losing my path, that I’m able to craft a dark character from a realistic perspective.

I know Ellette’s demons all too well, for I had created my own hell and it took a miracle (and a lot of prayers) to free me from the prison I had built for myself. And though those experiences are very personal, let’s just say, I’m grateful for those who didn’t give up on me. Ellette is my flipside… So the hardest part was revisiting my past to allow that character to live once more in my fantasy world.

Gwen: Did you find it easy or difficult to relate to the choices that Ellette made?

Desiree: Obviously, I relate completely. I understand heartbreak and what it’s like to desire power over others. I also understand how easy it is to let hatred and bitterness canker the soul. Luckily, I also know what it’s like to embrace light and let forgiveness heal the wounds of past transgression.

Gwen: How do you, as a writer, reconcile yourself to writing “evil” or “dark” characters?

Desiree: Evil is a part of us all. Some of us embrace it, and some of us seek to cast off works of darkness to embrace light. Unfortunately, sometimes life requires embracing darkness before we can appreciate light. One cannot know love and joy without first having passed through loss and sadness. So those two ancient enemies (good and evil) are necessary for us understand the universal question “Why?”. Without evil, there could be no good, and vice versa… so in order for there to be balance in the universe, the two must constantly oppose one another and stand for their cause.

I like to look at it this way. Wherever there is light shining its rays to illuminate an object, there is also a shadow cast by the object where light cannot pass through. In order for something to be completely filled with light, it must first become transparent. But when something is transparent, it no longer has visible form to be considered beautiful by the naked eye. So the shadows cast by light actually create beauty in the world around us. One simply cannot exist without the other. So in order for there to be a hero, there must a villain of equal power to oppose the goodness and light, otherwise, there’d be no adventure… and no point for anything to exist.

Desiree Finkbeiner, author of Ethos: Morning Star

Desiree Finkbeiner attained a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Missouri Southern State University (2006) with a heavy background in business, marketing, music and fine art– She was heavily involved in campus affairs and served actively in several committees focusing on campus entertainment and events. She performed with musical acts/bands in rock and electronic genres, released seven studio albums, performed in 11 states and has written hundreds of songs. Her band, Carbon Star, was a finalist for VH1’s “Bands on the Run” reality TV show in 2000. Then she performed with Pointy Teeth until finally leaving the music industry for the quiet life.

Continuing education is a constant adventure for Desiree with topics of interest ranging from civil and corporate law, history, political conspiracy, homeopathic medicine and spiritual healing. She prefers to read non-fiction, especially on topics that educate and broaden her perspectives on controversial issues.

With thousands of completed art works in her archives, most of which appear in private collections worldwide, Desiree hopes to focus more on publishing, marketing and licensing her work so she can leave a legacy behind.

To find her work, visit her author page at Hydra Publications.  Ethos: Morning Star is currently available on Amazon.

Guest Post: Sam Hossler

As part of his recent blog tour, Sam Hossler has joined us to tell us a little bit about his new novel:

Silversmith Chronicles was originally designed for the young adult crowd, however, people that have read the first two episodes tell me it is a fun read for all ages. It is not meant to be a factual story but a fantasy with a moral. Perhaps I have missed that mark but it is still enjoyable for all ages.

Werewolves have been in various cultures for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. The younger readers today have embraced these and other fanciful beasts. That was the basis of my writing about werewolves. I picked a period of time and a place I am familiar with for the setting. The nineteenth century is a favorite of mine as is western Pennsylvania. This is where and when my story takes place.

Researching the Read – The Theoretical Backdrop to ‘Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle’

Today’s guest post comes via Marie Harbon, author of Seven Point Eight. The beginning of this five-part epic is available in Kindle format for free today (4.16.12) at Amazon.

Researching the Read – The Theoretical Backdrop to ‘Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle’

by Marie Harbon

Seven Point Eight is a new sci-fi/paranormal series, uniting quantum physics, mysticism, fringe science, psychic powers, folklore, consciousness, complicated love, conspiracy and nostalgia. With such an array of ingredients, it was vital the underpinning theory remained accurate.

In a series of drafts, I laid the research down in layers. Prior to writing, a number of ideas floated around in my head, as I love to read non-fiction, the geekier the better. In particular, I already had the basic gist of some quantum physics concepts and knew the urban myth of The Philadelphia Experiment, which makes an appearance at the beginning and end of the book. (It returns in The Second Chronicle!)

The main layer included the scientific concepts, such as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and the basics of Einstein’s work, plus facts about the size of atoms, the ether wind experiment and the nature of the brain operating at beta, alpha, theta and delta waves. I presented these concepts as clearly as possible, without hindering the plot.

There are also a number of alternate history concepts in there, such as the quality of resonance inside the Great Pyramid and its acoustical properties. Mystical concepts unite with quantum physics, with a theosophical and Eastern twist.

Additionally, I unite consciousness research, looking at the nature of reality through mystical eyes and those of psychedelic substances. It draws together hallucinogenic substance use with the history of visionary experiences through the ages, seeing the Gods and Goddesses of folklore through new eyes.

Much of the inspiration for the alternate dimensions came from experiences of the brain on DMT, my own imagination and science fiction. We meet them in the first book, and revisit them throughout the series.

The last layer of research I laid down included the tidbits; historical events that were concurrent with the story, culture and music highlights, daily news, cars of the time and the general feel of the decade the scenes were set in. The First Chronicle begins in the 1940s, moves through the 50s and steams through the 60s, linking to two young characters in the modern day.

All my sources are listed in a bibliography at the end.

Yet, this is not written at the expense of the human story, for it’s very much a tale of community. The drama of love, betrayal, bitterness and above all, courage are closely interwoven throughout the story through the lives of five principal characters.

Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle is currently available through Amazon in paperback and in the Kindle store.

It’s FREE from Mon 16th April through to Thurs 19th April, so grab it while you can! (Amazon) (Amazon UK)

Seven Point Eight: The Second Chronicle is due for release in August 2012.

And for a special treat, here’s an excerpt from Marie’s novel.

Continue reading

Guest Post: Once Upon A Keyboard

One thing that fascinates me is how the digital age is changing how we perceive authorship.  Author Cynthia Ravinski is here to talk about her own experiences with a new type of novel, the EmotoBook.  What is an EmotoBook?  Grit City Publications explains: 

“The term emotobook was conceived by GCP founder, Ron Gavalik, in 2011 to label our first exclusive tablet fiction medium, which heightens emotional awareness in stories.

Emotobooks have a unique style and structure, unlike any other entertainment form. Abstract, emotionally provocative illustrations are tied into each story to depict what characters feel during peak moments of tension. These expressionistic elements provide both a cerebral and visual stimulation, which enhance the impact of the experience.”

Cynthia is here to talk about her experience with this new art form as an author.  Read on!

Once Upon A Keyboard

by Cynthia Ravinski

I’m a part of the EmotoBook Revolution at Grit City Publications. Let me tell you how that happened (I’m a story teller, that’s what I do). Writing an EmotoBook changed the way I look at writing. So let’s start there.

For me, a story starts with a dream–vivid color and poignant action streaking across the movie screen of my resting mind with abstract gravitas. I think the strangest thing is that there are never any words.

If I decide an Idea is worth turning into a story, it’s usually because it has haunted me for days and I’m thoroughly mad like the Hatter about the thing. And then, I only face the task of crafting it into something intelligible to other humans. Let me step aside here to say that without an Idea no writing can be done, there is only that familiar blank, white screen with a blinking black cursor. With an Idea, I at least have something to hang some words on, from which I will shape my story.

Crafting a story is a very technical thing, and is separate from the story Idea. Simply relating events is not truly Telling a story, it misses a lot of resonance. A writer’s job is to craft a story so that black and white text creates an internal cinematic dreamscape for a reader. There are many tools a writer uses to do this. One of the most important, I think, is visual imagery. When readers look at text, all they see are black lines on white. I’ve always been completely seduced by a brief chain of words that can slip a ravishing scene into my head.

The idea of EmotoBooks as a literary form lodged in my mind and haunted me for days after I’d first heard of it. Using abstract imagery to enhance the reading experience tackles multiple areas of the brain, and appeals to my vivid dreamscapes that have no words. Louis Sullivan, an American architect, put it perfectly, “form ever follows function.” EmotoBooks have a unique style and structure. They are all fast-paced, imagery-heavy short stories or serial novels containing abstract, emotionally provocative illustrations to depict what characters feel during peak moments of tension. These expressionistic elements provide both a cerebral and visual stimulation, which enhances the experience.

When I began the editing process for my EmotoSingle, Lingering in the Woods, it was glaringly obvious that my instinctive dream-like use of imagery was not as effective as I would have hoped. I’ve always tried to keep my stories visually balanced, but it became apparent that in doing so, I reduced the impact of important scenes. Encouraged by the editors at Grit City, I intensified the imagery in the most powerful parts of the story as a seat for the abstract artwork going into the story. This added a texture to the story I wouldn’t have found before, visually highlighting the peaks and valleys of the plot.

Writing is a grand puzzle with no absolute solution, but there is a science to discovering how it works. Trial and error is the best way thorough that maze. And I only hope that now, my work’s images burn lively in the minds of any who read it.

Cynthia Ravinski writes, among other things. From her coastal northern setting, she crafts stories in impossible worlds and dreams up crafty characters to occupy them. She’s been an athlete, a co-pilot, and a world traveler. She’s basked in the light of great poets, and has been educated to high degrees at UMaine Farmington and Seton Hill University. To say she is obsessed with drinking tea is an understatement.

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Guest Post: Creating a World by Creating a Language

It’s an exciting weekend for guest posts!  The first guest post for this coming weekend comes to us courtesy of Matthew Arnold Stern, author of Doria.  Matthew’s talking about a subject that I personally find fascinating–creating language in fiction.   (For my take on this in my own writing, visit this entry in fantasy author Kody Boye’s blog.)

Without further ado…

Creating a World by Creating a Language

By Matthew Arnold Stern

Picture the last time you traveled to a different place. It probably had its own local language with idioms particular to that region. You may have been asked if you want a bottle of pop to go with your hero or offered a soda for your sub. Language like this gives a place local color and a sense of its history and culture.

We can do the same for our stories. Creating a language makes our fictional world more realistic and engaging. As readers become accustomed to the lingo, they feel like they’re “insiders” and become more invested in our story. Local language also gives us a tool for characterization. The words our characters use and how they use them tell readers who they are.

These are the reasons why I invented a local language for the fictional country in my novel Doria. It also addressed a couple of other challenges: Telling a story in English that takes place in a Spanish-speaking South American country, and revealing the history and geography of this country without relying on exposition.

I started with the first words people typically pick up in a language, the insults.

The first thing to know about South America is that those countries are not alike, and they often don’t like each other. For example, Chile hasn’t gotten along well with its neighbors. It fought a war with Peru and Bolivia in the 1870s that is still a source of conflict, and it almost came to blows with Argentina in 1978.

My fictional country of Doria is an archipelago off the coast of Chile, giving those poor Chileans yet another neighbor to annoy them. I use insults to show the tension between the two nations. The Dorians use an epithet I found in my research that has been used by Chile’s enemies. They call Chileans “rotos.” It’s the Spanish word for “broken,” referring to the seemingly shabby appearance of the Chilean army. I wanted to give Chileans an insult they can give Dorians in return. I came up with “isleño,” the Spanish word for “islander.” The term not only shows the contempt the Chileans have for the Dorians, it reminds the reader that Doria is an island country.

Spanish words give me a way to show that Doria is a Spanish-speaking country, even though I wrote my novel in English. I was going to include more Spanish dialogue, but my beta reader felt I would need to add a translation so she could understand what was happening. She felt the same way most of us do when listening to people talk in a language we don’t know. We feel left out and wonder if they’re talking about us. By using a few select words, I can still give that cultural flavor without making the reader feel excluded.

I also needed to create a language for Doria’s indigenous people. One of the conflicts in my book is between Felipe Sérigo, who rejected his Native Dorian heritage to become a communist rebel, and his father Ramón, who is fighting to preserve the country’s native culture after years of repression. As with the Spanish terms, I used a few words to give people a sense of this different culture without excluding the reader. I also wanted this language to tie with my theme of people setting aside their differences for the good of their country.

The story of the Native Dorian language is revealed in a scene where Ramón asks Felipe to tell a visiting film crew about their ancestors’ history. Felipe explains that ancient Doria was in a state of war between people who migrated there millennia ago, refugees from the Nazca Empire that recently fell, and Polynesians invading from the West. A sailor, who was cast adrift after his ship got lost and destroyed at sea, washed up on this country’s shores and was rescued by a native woman. When he recovered, he became determined to bring peace to his new home. He brought these peoples together and created a new religion and language.

I included a combination of Quechua and Polynesian words with words I created for the indigenous people. I wouldn’t expect the reader to know words in those languages, but observant readers may notice words that sound a lot like Hebrew and Arabic, like “rabe’ya” and “nakaba.” I wanted to create a mystery about the sailor who brought those words to the Americas centuries before Columbus. Who is he? Where did he come from? How did he get all the way across the Pacific? What does this mean for this country’s future? These are questions I can answer in later books of this series.

Even though I created a number of words, I did not add a glossary to my novel. The problem I see with a glossary is that it stops readers. It leaves them asking, “Why do I need to know all these words before I can read this book? Will I remember their definitions when I see them?” Instead, I used the words in context and trust the reader to understand their meaning. This is the way the Harry Potter books present the language of their wizard world.

By creating a local language, I can make my story world more vivid and engaging for my readers. It also helped me address a number of storytelling challenges. If you would like to learn more about the language of Doria, you can view the glossary at

To find out how to get your copy of Doria, visit

I wish you the best in your writing efforts.

Matthew Arnold Stern is an award-winning writer and public speaker. He has written professionally since 1983 as a technical writer, journalist, playwright, and novelist. He has published two novels, Offline and Doria. To read more of his writing, visit his Web site at