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Writing Tips

Pre-orders – Altered and Between the Fog and Shadows

altered_front_003Altered is book two in the Beyond the Brothel Wall series. It will release November 30th, and I’m excited to share the news and the cover.

This story still packs action, mystery, and steamy, erotic romance, but it’s also my first full M/M romance. Cain and Dorian are two of my favorite characters, and this won’t be the last of them.

Ah, still wondering about Korrigan and Petre from Constricted? They both make an appearance in Altered *winks*.

Grab the pre-order now at .99 cents. After release day, the price will change to $3.99.

 

Looking for something different?

My alter-ego, H.G. Rexon has a new release in October.

coverA historical fantasy, Between the Fog and Shadows is a chilling tale of murder and mayhem. Suitable for  YA audiences-contains mild violence. In time for Halloween, you can pre-order my short story on Amazon.

Z is for Zoro

Zoro is a character from Thundered Hearts. He isn’t like my usual characters, and the inspiration to write him came from a close source. Almost too close.

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This was Baby Kitty the fall before the wild dogs claimed her. Now, let me start by saying that technically she wasn’t my cat. We rescued her when she decided to give birth on our property and she never left–We didn’t complain either.She was a trip to watch play. And no butterscotch crimpet was safe in the house.

We tried to bring and keep her inside, but she would escape. I say this for anyone thinking she’d be alive today if we’d only kept her indoors. It’s easier said than done in a household of seven people opening and closing doors, three of them young children.

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I based Zoro, a reincarnated Spirit Walker, using Baby Kitty’s personality, changing the sex to male, and giving him the ability to speak to the MC, Beth. Zoro isn’t a shifter, though. He chose to stay a cat, which gives him the ability to guide Spirit Walkers.

To this day, he was the hardest character to write, and I almost didn’t have the heart to finish writing Thundered Hearts because Baby Kitty died before I finished the rough draft. But I kept her memory alive and bled into the pages.

It only feels fitting to say goodbye to both Zoro and the inspiration behind him, Baby Kitty. I even went as far to dedicate Thundered Hearts to her memory, but what I had originally planned as a series, screeched to a halt. Maybe one day I’ll write more about Zoro, but not in the near future. My heart can’t go there, not even a year later.

 

10252043_10202929840064636_724446703136211146_nThank you for following me on this A-Z journey. I will continue making rounds and visiting the participants. It was a blast.

V is for Vargr


Fenrir by Chaos-Draco on DeviantArt
Vargr is another name for a worg in Norse mythology, but I’ve always been partial to vargr. In the mythology it represents Fenrir, Skoll, and Haiti, but it isn’t applied to other wolves. They show up in The Saga of Hervör and Heidrek—said to be Tolkien’s inspiration for building Middle Earth.

Far_away_and_long_ago_by_Willy_PoganyFar away and long ago by Willy Pogany” by Willy Pogany (1882–1955)

What is that lamp which lights up men, but flame engulfs it, and wargs grasp after it always. Heidrek knows the answer is the Sun, explaining, She lights up every land and shines over all men, and Skoll and Hatti are called wargs. Those are wolves, one going before the sun, the other after the moon.The Saga of Hervör and Heidrek

 

U is for Upir/Upyr

 

I love mythology, history, and the undead. Hey, I’m a bit morbid. So you’re probably scratching your head, unless you happen to know your Russian folklore. Essentially the Upir/Upyr are vampires, undead, and they rise from the grave. In many ways they’re similar to other vampiric myths.

 

So what makes them special?

Aside from the history? Nothing much. But all around Russia different myths arose as well as other names for the undead. The same goes for their abilities, yet the only things they have in common are drinking blood, sensitivity to sunlight, and they were evil in life.

 

According to the Orthodox Church, a Upir arises when the person committed horrendous sins or denounced Christ. In doing so, the church banished them and forced them outside of the community. But when they died, they would rise again as Upir.

 

Because of this, the church would find the bodies and burn them. Otherwise, the sinner would return and torment the believers, slowly aging, and with the ability to possess the dying. The sick patient would become Upir, too, and feed off children and family.

 

The Upir is weakened and harmed by sunlight, but there’s a particularly interesting part of the myth. They used wooden stakes, made specifically from aspen, and they buried the Upir upside down. When one was suspected of coming back to life, they would dig up the coffin, open it, remove the body, stake the body, and then burn it.

So how old is this myth? It’s hard to say, but historians have traced the word Upir to a Novgorodain prince (Upir’ Lixyj) as early as 1047, and then it resurfaces as a peasant’s name (Makarenko Upir’) in Novgorod in 1495.

Could this Prince be the original vampire legend? Do you have a favorite vampire legend?

 

 

 

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T is for Tyr

Tyr is a god of war from the Norse pantheon. He’s associated with the Tîwaz rune—an arrow pointing upward. Warriors would often inscribe this rune on their weapons prior to battle, hoping to gain his favor. He also loses a hand to Fenrir, one of Loki’s children.

 

Prior to the Norse and their ancestors converting to Christianity, this would have been a God warriors and vikings would have honored. Some of these honors included blood, meat, and mead.

At this time, his importance in my writing is minimal, but he’s an interesting god where little is known of him outside the . In Tempest, this is the god William secretly prays to, even though he fights for the Holy Roman Empire. While he doesn’t play a large role, he would’ve been a popular god for those warriors still following the Norse religion of their ancestors.

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S is for Spirits

Ghosts, spectral beings, reverents, and spirits are common names for spooky beings we can neither prove or disprove the existence of yet. They show up in books, movies, and televisions shows. Some are dead, some are undead, and some are something else.

Spirits can be based on religion, people, elements, or anything with energy or energy absorption. Actually, The Paranormalistics created an awesome guide.

But writing about spirits isn’t the same as experiencing a spiritual encounter. Now, you’re probably thinking, “What could be hard about a ghost story?”

To which I reply, “I’m talking about writing a spirit as your MC.” For the sake of ease, I will refer to spirits in the ghostly sense here, like your average ghost haunting a house.

A normal spirit can’t have the ability to feel, taste, smell, or understand emotions like a human being. It’s a story that can still be shown, but you have to be careful of the senses and the reactions typical of spirits.

First, a spirit doesn’t have a flesh body controlled by a circulatory or nervous system. They can sometimes manifest energy, but it isn’t the same as mortal flesh. They have no heart, lungs, nose, taste buds, nerve endings, etc. Be aware of this when they react and move in the story.

Hearing and sight are another story. Without physical ears, how does the ghost hear? Without eyes, how does the spirit see? These are little more lenient. I mean, come on, if a spirit has no senses, you really can’t tell the story from their POV. For whatever reason, these are the most forgivable to use.

Of course, there are always exceptions, but the writer must support them well enough to suspend disbelief. Mythology comes in handy here as the various types of creatures are considered both spirits and members of the undead. The undead, like vampires, zombies, and draugr, are related to spirits, but they typically have… bodies.

So how do you write about spirits? Easy, you just do, but be aware of their limitations in your world. Support it, believe in it, and voila. Create reasons for them to break the rules and just have fun. I know I do.

Have you ever written a spirit as a main character or read one that stuck with you?

 

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R is for Religion Building in Fiction

I promise this isn’t a preachy post, but a post about creating a religion for characters to follow.

First, I’m not an expert, but I’ve studied multiple faiths in order to determine structure, beliefs, and how the religions have evolved over their lifetimes. I suggest anyone wanting to create a religious belief system for fiction do the same.

A writer has three options, and I can’t tell you which one to use. This is a personal decision for the writer to make and integrate into their story.

Religious Options in Fiction

  • Use an already established* religion system already in place.
  • Base a religious system off one already in place.
  • Create a new religion.

The depth of your religion will depend on the story. Will religion factor into your characters or plot? For many writers the answer is yes. But how much or little enters your story will vary. However, you’ll most likely find yourself creating more than you’ll actually need, and this is a good thing, especially if you’re writing a series based in the world.

The Key Factors of Religion.

Trust me; use a binder with tabbed sections.

These are only the basics. You can feel free to step outside of the box, but remember to support every aspect. Your religion is a world inside of your world, and it cannot have any plot holes.

Alternatively you can use a religion from history or build upon it. There is no right or wrong answer, but below will highlight starting from scratch. I personally build on other religions as they work in my stories, but I have works in progress where I’ve created new religions.

 

  1. Concept—What does this religion demand? What does it represent? Think of it as a mission statement for your religion, but create two if the religion is an antagonist. One to represent the original goal and another to represent what it truly is.
  2. Deity/Deities—Choosing names, profiles, and the amount of gods. Think of each as a character in your story. Give them backgrounds, traits, personalities, etc.
  3. Prayer—Create prayers or describe how followers will pray. Will they have a relationship with God? Will they perform rituals? Sacrifice?
  4. Artifact/Book**/Prophecy/Symbols— Think of the bible, artifacts with ancient writing, symbols and elements your deity/deities will represent.
  5. Rules—laws based on morality of your people, laws for the church itself, like priests can’t marry. The sky is the limit, but don’t forget about punishments.
  6. Place of worship—home based, temple, church, etc.
  7. Hierarchy of religious leaders—Give titles and order.

 

**Book

This really needed its own section. Remember I said religion is a world within a world? Well it is. If you’re starting from scratch you will want to document your world through its history. The bible and the Koran are excellent examples.

This holy book can be for you, or you can use it in your world. It can be a page long or it can be thousands. There is no right or wrong here when it comes to length. However, you want to document the birth of your religion and any important events (think holy days).

 

Weaving Religion into Plot

If religion becomes a motivator or an antagonist, it will play a central role in your plot. If your MC belongs to a religious order, it will take focus in building your character, but it’s easy to dump your religion on the reader. Don’t. Don’t dump it into a prologue either. Please… with sugar and a cherry on top.

So how do we give the information?

  • Let each element unfold as the reader requires it. Remember, I did say we’ll always build more than we share. This is why.
  • Use outlines and use them as extras on your website or as extras. Here’s an example of my creatures from Midgard. This one briefly talks about beings and the levels of hell, heaven, and purgatory in Beyond the Brothel Walls.

Building on *Existing Religion

Do not build on another writer’s world unless you’re writing fanfic. This doesn’t mean you can’t create a similar concept, but be aware there is a fine line between copying and creating.

Religions you can build a world on

  • Christianity—All denominations.
  • Judaism
  • Heathenism/Asatru
  • Wicca
  • Islam
  • Hinduism
  • and so many more. Here’s an interesting list, but it’s still incomplete.

I left a few off my list because they’re wrongly defined as religion. These include Native American spiritualism, spiritualism in general, and Buddhism. They’re ways of life, not a system of religious beliefs, and you can practice both with another religion. For example, you can practice Buddhism and Wicca.

Although often labeled as a religion, if you study Buddha’s teachings, even he said it was not a religion. He was also against the statues and claimed he was not to be revered as a God.

 

Q is for Questions

I often encourage fans to ask me questions. When I couldn’t come up with another Q post, I decided this would still fit the requirement because my original post would’ve had spoilers in them.

So here’s a bit about me, my writing, and my process. Feel free to leave me questions in the comments, and I’ll answer them—if I can.

Questions for Rae Z. Ryans

Q—When did you start writing?

A—I’ve written for years and started at a young age, but i didn’t start writing fiction until five years ago. It isn’t a long time, I know, but I spent years studying, going to school, and reading. I still wrote, but I wasn’t writing fiction. Instead, I wrote poetry, kept a daily journal, and worked as a non-fiction ghost writer.

Q—You write fast. How long does it take to finish a book?

A—I write fast first drafts, sometimes. They’re nowhere ready for publication. From there it can takes months to years to perfect. No two stories are the same, but each goes through revision, editing, alpha and beta readers, and then proofreading.

Valkyrie took me three years from final draft to publish. Constricted took me a few months. A short story might take a month or two. It all varies and depends on the complexity and the availability of my editors.

 

Q—Are you self published or traditionally published?

A—Does it matter? Not really, but I’m technically neither. That’s the beauty of writing under pen names. Elusive, I know, but if I told you…

Q—You write dark fantasy with romance. What exactly does that mean?

A—First, I write in multiple genres, but most of my stories have a dark fantasy element. It’s a broad term, but generally it means “to have a dark, gloomy atmosphere or a sense of horror and dread.”

As for romance, well, because I rarely sell my stories as romance, it means there’s no guarantee of a happily ever after in the romantic sense. There is love, often sex, and other elements, but the relationship isn’t the plot.

Q—So you don’t write clean romance?

A—Not under this pen name, although, I do have one. I don’t write sex for the sake of sex. It has to fit the story and characters.

Q—You write some M/M romance.

A—Not really a question, but yes. I write the characters as they present themselves to me. Some are gay, bi, or straight. Eventually I’m sure some will be other things. The same goes for race and religion. They are who they are.

But I believe love is love, so to stay true to my characters, I won’t change who they are, just as I wouldn’t try to change a human being.

Q—I want to start writing. What should I do first?

A—Two-fold… read everything—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Secondly, just write. Write for you, not publication. Bleed emotion onto the page.

Q—But what about the rules?

A—If you haven’t written anything how will you apply rules to it? Part of learning the rules is reading. Yes, there are grammar and style rules, too, and you will learn them, but the most important steps in writing are to read and write. Otherwise you might overwhelm yourself.

Q—Do you actually believe what you write?

A—There’s a reason we call it fiction. 😉

 

Thank you for joining me, and these are common questions people ask me. As I stated before, if you have a question for me you can drop it in the comments.

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P is for Petre

Nestled into the Northwestern corner of Acadia we’re gathered at the joint headquarters for the Arcadian Bureau of Demonic Affairs and the Council of Seven, which is located at the former University of Anchorage Research facility. Here budding agents train, redevelop old technology to work on steam, and build new advancements.

The massive, five-school, former campus once specialized in Aviation Technology. In the engineering quarter, we’ve caught up with one of the scientists. Today, we have a special guest, the one and only Petre von Baron—now a transportation engineer, who was born, raised, and died in Romania in the 1800’s at the young age of twenty.

Except he didn’t remain dead. Petre isn’t a normal vampire. After witnessing his brother murder another and covering it up, the servant girl’s father, Hestin, a warlock, curses them both.

For those who wish to know, his brother was sentenced to live as a demon horse, but Petre’s curse was immortality. Only a pure, true love can break the curse.

 

Rae: “So, Petre, whats it like being dead?”

Petre runs his hand through his long black hair and laughs. In his Romanian accent he replies,  “Of all the things you could possibly ask that’s what you lead with? You of all people should know.”

Rae: “Well, of course, I know, but readers might like to know more. Can you lighten up a bit?”

He takes a moment, staring over into the dark corner of the hangar where a group of agents have gathered to watch. “At first, it sucks. Then it gets better as you realize the freedoms. After the first hundred years, everyone I knew had died.”

Petre glances back to me. “When you have nothing to live for, life loses its vibrancy.” His pale hand waves in the air. “I was a monk, by choice, living a simple life before Hestin cursed me. All I knew was family and brotherly love and religion, but without them, I found myself tumbling into a dark abyss with my brother. For the next two hundred years, I fought to break the curse, so to answer your question, at first I feared it, but then I loved it before I despised it. After Kori, I had a reason to live again.”

Rae: “What about your faith?”

Special Agent Dorian Fox coughs into his hand and shakes his head off to the side.

Petre: “They say I’m not allowed to talk of that.”

Rae: “What? Who’s stopping you?”

Petre: “The Arcadian Bureau of Demonic Affairs…” He pointed toward a large airship and the agents surrounding it.  “Agent Fox and Gabe warned me earlier, so no spoilers.”

Rae: “Fine” I turned the page and shook my head. Wow. This is the thanks I get for creating the lot of them.  “How many women did you go through before you finally found Korri?”

Agent Westcott: “We can here you, Rae.” Korrigan’s brother tapped his head.

Petre: “More than the stars in the sky. And we’ll leave it at that.”

Rae: “That’s vague. Do you care to elaborate?”

Petre: “I care and therefore will not. You might have young eyes perusing pages, and they don’t need to know of my misdeeds, exploits, and misfortunes.” He leans forward. “I’m not a role model. I’m just a man, who was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and I’ve paid dearly for it.”

Rae: “Fair enough. Wow, I forget how humble you are for a vampire. So out of those you found, how many of them knew your secrets?”

“None.” He stares at Agent Fox again, but his rigid pose has relaxed.

Rae: “But you would have told Korri, right?”

Petre smirks before turning his steely gaze on me. “The thought had crossed my mind.”

Rae: “If there’s one thing you could do differently with Korri what would it be?”

Petre: “I can only choose one?” he asks, leaning backward.

Rae: “Yes, only one.”

Petre: “But I have two.”

Rae: “Fine. Give me two.”

Petre: “Knowing what I know now, I would’ve killed Jules sooner. I would’ve found a way to discover Korri earlier, right after Veric dropped her off. Oh, and I never would’ve left her alone.”

Rae: “That was three.”

Petre: “And?” His brow cocks.

Rae: I clear my throat. “About the letter. Jules Garland told you never to leave her alone, yet you did. Why?”

Petre: “I’m asked this a lot, and I’m more surprised people haven’t caught on. But the letter never stated that I had to be with her at all times. She was never alone. I left her to my trusted servants, so how was I supposed to know that Jules meant me when he wrote alone?”

Rae: “Fair enough. So, is there anything you really don’t want Korri to know about you?”

 

Petre: “She knows all about me, but I’d prefer she didn’t know about my less than scrupulous tactics of attaining information, know-how, and knowledge from humanity before the Sundering.”

Rae: “Care to elaborate?”

Petre: “No.” His gray eyes fleck with yellow.

Rae: “What was your favorite era to live in? (and you can’t say the one with Korri)”

Petre: “The best is yet to come. She taught me that.”

Rae: “Last we saw of you, Korrigan thought you were dead, but your eyes opened. So, what are your plans for the future?”

Agent Fox coughs and his steps echo in the hangar. “Excuse me,” he says and approaches Petre, handing him a slip of paper. The two converse in hushed tones as I tap my foot. Agent Fox turns and flashes a sheepish smile before tipping his hat. “Apologies.”

Rae: “Do I need to repeat the question?”

Petre: “No. The Arcadian Bureau of Demonic Affairs says that I have to be careful of spoilers, but I’m allowed to say my story unfolds behind the scenes of Altered, where I meet my future brother-in-law, Cain, and the Archangel of Death, Agent Dorian Fox. However,” he peeks at the paper, “the story isn’t for Korri or me to tell. We will make a reappearance soon in a companion novella titled, Afflicted.”

Rae: “Thank you for joining us, Petre.”

He flashes a dimpled smile and stands. Before leaving he says, “Don’t lose yourself in the battle of good or evil. You have to look deeper to understand what’s really going on. It’s more than lives at stake, bigger than you, the Angels, demons, or me.”

You can meet Petre in Constricted.

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O is for Order of the Nine Realms

Every story requires a villain. The Loki’s Chosen series has many, but aside from Odin, there is the Order of the Nine Realms. Each race takes a seat and dictates the laws to the supernatural community.

Order of the Nine Realms

*

Council President: Merric Mc Douglass

Faerie Liaison: Prince Duncan Graftfield

Elven Liaison: Princess Maeve Graftfield

Elementarist Liaison: Malinda Borne

Giant Liaison: Queen Aegir Brekke

Dwarven Liaison: King Norðri Goldsmith

Lycan Liaison: King Sköll Fenrir

Pooka Liaison: Grimmish Seedbearer

Draugr Liaison: Valentine De Luca

 

This is the same organization Auriel runs from after learning they will sacrifice her life to Odin. If that isn’t bad enough, she must live knowing her family, not only created the Order of Nine Realms and passed her death sentence, but they’ve allowed the corruption to carry on without interfering.

While the Order originally formed with good intentions, under the Faerie Queen Morgana, it shows in the story that even the supernaturals aren’t above humanity when it comes to greed and power. They write unjust laws and imprison innocents. In secret they conduct experiments and commit murder. This is my government, for my world, but the sky is the writer’s limit.

 

Have you ever built a government?

Building a government isn’t easy. There are layers to the process from creating rules to punishments. An author has a lot of freedom when working outside of humanity, but our world can still be an excellent guide if needed.

World building encouragement

  • If you’re building a world, start with the basics of law. Create rules knowing you will need to break them, and always be sure to support why they’re being broken.
  • Understand how the different types of governments work in our world and look to history to see why they failed or prospered.
  • Create punishments for crimes that fit your world and people. Realize that different races can have the same or varied laws.

    Most of all, remember that it is your world to build, shape, and destroy. Oh, and have fun.

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