Ripped from the headlines – Drug Cartels, Walls, Tunnels and Nike’s Wings

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Ripped from the headlines – Drug Cartels, Walls, Tunnels and Nike’s Wings

I started writing Nike’s Wings with an image in my mind of a woman with a tattoo of wings on her back. As a pantser – someone who writes from the seat of her pants – I had no idea what her story was. I just knew I wanted to know why she had had the tattoo, especially since a tattoo that size would have been pretty painful to apply.
When you write by the seat of your pants it does help if you have a pretty wide range of knowledge since you never know where a story will take you. I certainly didn’t expect it to take me on the edges of the fight with the drug cartels.
One thing I did know from my reading – walls never work, they rarely keep the people you want either out or in, and haven’t since time immemorial. The Great Wall of China didn’t keep out the people it was intended to keep out, despite attempts to extend it. In WWII prisoner of war camps, tunnels were dug. During the years of the Berlin Wall there were folks who also dug tunnels, flew balloons, etc.
The same is true of the border wall between the US and Mexico that was meant to deter drug trafficking and illegal immigration. There have been reports of tunnels built under the walls, of ultralights carrying drugs over the walls, etc. The drug cartels like Sinaloa have been digging tunnels to transport marijuana and other drugs for years, something I knew from reading newspapers. So why was it a surprise when a drug lord escaped from prison through one?

Nike’s Wings
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005GHE94K

Read More »

Why do I write fantasy?

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why do I write fantasy?

Why do I write fantasy? So that I can take the images in my mind like this –
Gossamer butterflies danced in the air, taking wing from where they sparkled among the leaves of the trees, their nearly transparent wings catching the sunlight and refracting it into rainbow twinkles of light. They spiraled upward as they swirled around each other. More and more took flight, rising in a glistening, ever-shifting, swirling cloud. That diaphanous cloud grew, billowed and blew, sparkling brilliant effervescent light,” – and share them with my readers so that they can see them, too. Because it’s not just my characters that make magic, but my imagination that does.
I write fantasy because I want to explore those worlds that haven’t been (maybe), and because I want to meet the characters that people them. I want my readers to get to know them, too, to know their hopes and fears, their joys and sadnesses.
I want to explore this world through that one, to look at it in different ways, and I want to take my readers with me.

Author of
The Coming Storm series
The Servant of the Gods series
and Song of the Fairy Queen

Amazon Author Page
http://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Douglas/e/B0036POJZI

Read More »

Weirdness…

Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s been a little weird lately. The other morning I had another flareup of my PTSD. Now don’t get me wrong, my PTSD isn’t as serious as that experienced by returning soldiers (I say this because I know I’ll be called out for it if I don’t.) Mine was brought on by the months I spent first as a domestic violence victim, and then the months when he stalked and hunted me until I found a place to hide where he couldn’t find me.
I had a nightmare – a common symptom of PTSD – reliving a moment when I woke because my then-and now ex-husband had pinned me face down on the bed. I couldn’t breathe with his weight on me. He wanted to make sure I knew he could control me, even kill me, at any time.
Waking from the nightmare, I was completely disoriented at first, and then the anxiety hit. God bless my husband. He’s my rock and my anchor.
The same day I saw a post on Facebook about a domestic violence group asking people not to go see 50 Shades of Grey and instead donate the money they would have spent to domestic violence shelters. I posted it because I thought people might find it interesting, but what shocked and appalled me was how many women reacted negatively to the post – one dismissing the domestic violence groups involved as ‘fluff’, while another dismissed it out of hand. There was a great deal of reaction and comments about how the heroine ‘consented.’
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fond of the story line of the novel/movie. And the consent everyone references is questionable on that basis. The lead female has serious self-esteem issues.
One of those who called me out hadn’t actually read the book but stated that they are a domestic violence survivor.
Apparently to this person, though, the movie was more important than the issue.
The same day the President gave a PSA about domestic violence during the Grammys. To all appearances it was ignored by the morning news shows.
Sadly, I’m not terribly surprised by any of it…

Read More »

Grammar matters

Posted by on Jan 21, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Okay, I have to admit I love Grammarly, so I’m a bit prejudiced. But then, I do love proper spelling and grammar. As I emphasize in the group I helped found – the Indie Author Group. It’s appalling to see how many writers don’t know how to do the basics.
It turns out that it matters, as the infographic that Grammarly posted shows and the Huffington post shared.
People with stronger writing skills are better at their jobs and get paid more! Imagine that! *grins*
A reviewer of one of my books was ecstatic that I used the word ‘sere’ in what was a novel of fairly light content. She was thrilled to find a writer who was actually literate in an unexpected context.
What amazes me sometimes is – despite statistics like these – the number of writers who insist they don’t have to follow the ‘rules’. My response? It helps to know the rules so you know what rule you’re breaking and why. More importantly, will your readers understand what you wanted to say?
I’m also sometimes astonished by the writers who also express themselves poorly in posts or comments (typos I get, text speak only so much). You are representing yourself, if a reader sees a writer post or comment using bad grammar or spelling, what are they going to think. (Unless it’s clearly deliberate, as I sometimes do.) Your poor grammar reflects on you. A recent post by a well-known politician in which he – a supposedly noted scholar – demonstrates that he doesn’t know the difference between your and you’re, and the subsequent Twitter and Facebook feedback, demonstrated this pretty clearly.
It makes even less sense when you can have Grammarly check your grammar and spelling as you go – for free!
http://www.grammarly.com/

Read More »

Buff – the three legged wonder dog

Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I don’t have any pictures of Buff,
but this comes close

The terror of the neighborhood dogs. The dog with the ‘tude. And Buff had ‘tude to spare. He was an unlikely hero.
You wouldn’t know it to look at him. He was a funny looking dog. A corgi, terrier, dachshund mix he was the runt of the litter, and as a puppy he’d had to push his way in to eat. He had monster ears, a narrow face and a long body. In color he was kind of dun brown (thus the name). And he didn’t actually have three legs, he had all four, but due to a birth defect he had a malformed back hip so he always carried that leg tucked up against his body. Until he needed to turn then he’d stick those toes down and run a circle around it. He could do a 180 at speed.
Buff was a character, a wanderer. People swore he could read street lights, that he would wait until the light was green to cross the street. They picked him up to give him a ride home. If he knew them, he’d hop right in.
The bane of my father’s existence, he was an escape artist. According to my father (German by extraction, a Gemini, and a mechanical engineer, he gave a new meaning to anal-retentive) dogs were supposed to stay in the yard. (There was also a law about stray dogs, we’ll get back to that later.) Buff, however, would not be caged. He was born to be free.
My father fenced in the yard. Buff still got out. For every hole my father filled, Buff dug another, or he squeezed through the gap between the gate and the fence. Dad filled it. Buff climbed the fence. True story.
So when the animal control man showed up, no one was surprised. Except the animal control man, when – after one look at the citation – my father said he would fight the charge.
He wasn’t the only one whose eyebrows were raised. The judge was more than a little startled. Until it came down to the description of the dog in question. All the ticket said was – a small brown dog. My father asked the animal control man how many small brown dogs there were. (Remember – he was an anal-retentive German mechanical engineer, so he knew!) He then asked whether the person making the complaint had mentioned any other distinguishing features. The answer was no. Dad put Buff down. That was all it took, the judge threw out the case.
Other dogs, the ones who thought they were tough, quickly learned better. Buff was quick. He was the terror of the neighborhood bullies, and absolutely unafraid. He’d come trotting home with tattered ears and a big doggy grin, so proud of himself!
One night my father let Buff out to do his business in the yard and there was this hullabaloo in the ivy that covered the back of the house. Dad opened the door, and this monster rat shot in, with Buff in hot pursuit. Both rat and dog scrambled up and over the couch – with my mother in it – then back outside. There was a horrific amount of snarling and barking, and suddenly there was silence. Buff appeared, covered in blood. My mother burst into tears and tenderly washed him off in the sink. There wasn’t a mark on him.
A wanderer, he led me on many an adventure, including to a farm run by an elderly man. He was lean and spare, but had a kind face, seamed with wrinkles, and thinning hair. The house smelled of age, but was well cared for. He clearly knew Buff, leaning down to ruffle his ears. And Buff knew him. He was also lonely. His wife had passed and his children were grown, so having an eight-year-old come to visit wasn’t an imposition. He let me and Buff play in his barn, and taught me how to hoe, to pick beans, and tried to teach me to grow plants. (I still kill more than I grow.) Then one day he was gone. That one summer, though, had been special.
I said that Buff was an unlikely hero. He was a tough dog, and brave. He was.
New people had moved into the neighborhood. No one ever saw them, but it quickly became obvious that they were different. The lawn was unmowed, except for where the doghouses were. Circles had been made in the thin grass by the big, vicious, mixed breed dogs – they were chained too close, with no room to run. You learned quickly to walk on the other side of the street.
Then one day one of the dogs got loose.
My mother was out working in the yard. She was hugely pregnant with my brother, who was due in a couple of weeks.
The strange dog charged across the yard, straight at my mother. She tried to run toward the house, but she couldn’t move quickly. Only her basket with the tools she’d been using in the yard kept the dog off her. Our neighbor, no spring chicken herself, came running out of the house with a broom.
Buff was faster, putting himself between my mother and the bigger dog. He was eight years old, then, and slower, but it didn’t stop him. He bought my mother time to reach the house as the neighbor whacked the dog with a broom to keep him from trying to get around Buff, even as Buff attacked to drive the dog off.
He died that day, as he had lived, fighting, feisty, and brave.

Read More »

Have tropes become too trite? Part 2

Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Even as a kid I can still remember groaning and changing the channel when the hero of the TV show, or one of them, would get the bang on the head, because I knew what was coming. Lame plot device – the amnesia story. Now that’s not exactly a trope. For those who didn’t read Part 1 – a trope is used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works. Used in place of creative storytelling, overuse by the author in too many books, though, they can be just as irritating.

Whatever you want to say about the 50 Shades books, which were based on Twilight fan fiction, E. L. James did something different. As did Stephanie Meyer with her emo vampires in Twilight itself. Both, however, are in danger of becoming the basis of tropes themselves.
I used the hero on a quest as a trope in the first installment, and was called to task for it, but what I was referring to was the young hero or heroine saving their world. Only Joan of Arc actually did that, sort of. 
Too many writers can get lazy, using the trope as an easy way to tell the story. In romance, the bad boy has been done – and he’s a trope.
Try something different. That’s the key to using a trope well. Create a character the reader will care about and a compelling reason for them to behave the way they do. Make their behavior understandable and something the reader can relate to and you’ll be well on your way to creating a book that your readers will recommend to others.
Read More »

Valerie Douglas, Author is Stephen Fry proof thanks to caching by WP Super Cache