Tag Archives: A—Z Challenge

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.

Y is for Yggdrasil

The Ash Yggdrasil by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine.jpg
The Ash Yggdrasil by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine” by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine (1845-1921). – Wägner, Wilhelm (1886). Asgard and the gods.

Yggdrasil [ˈyɡːˌdrasilː] is a large tree from Norse mythology that connects nine different worlds. The etymology is unknown, however, it’s generally accepted to mean Odin’s horse. Though many say it means world tree, after askr (ash) Yggrasill. We will probably never learn the truth, but it doesn’t hinder the tree’s mystery and allure.

In mythology, the massive ash tree sits at the center of the cosmos, and it’s three roots extend to three locations, while it’s branches also travel to the nine worlds. If you count them all, including our world, there are actually more than nine. Nine came to be a continuous number because Odin created the nine worlds. However, three other worlds existed prior to them.

Urðarbrunnr, Hvergelmir, and Mímisbrunnr are all associated with water. The first is the home of the Norns and lies beneath the world tree. The second is a bubbling spring from which all waters rise, and it’s located in Niflheim. The last is Mirmir’s well, the place where Odin sacrificed his eye to gain knowledge, and it’s located in a special place within Jötunheimr, called Ginnungagap– this is where the universe formed in Norse Mythology.

Trees are often sacred in religion. Ash, in turn, became sacred to the Norse as Odin himself decreed it. Some scholars believe Yggdrasil is here on Midgard, but those of the revised Norse faith believe otherwise. Either way it’s a fascinating piece of lore for writers to study in world building or the historic aspect of the Norse.

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X is for X-Files

X is a difficult letter for me, so instead of pulling out some crazy word, I decided to share one of my favorites shows. I started watching X-Files when it first aired in 1993 with my parents. At the time, I was only 12, but the paranormal bug had already wiggled deep into my genetic makeup.

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However, the show sucked us in and introduced us to scientific and unexplained phenomenon. It taught me about government conspiracy and tinfoil hats, too. To this day one of my favorite episodes featured the men in black, and most of the show was “bleep.” I’ve even gone as far to pay homage to Fox Mulder in Special Agent Dorian Fox.

 

After all the years that X-Files has been off the air, I was positively thrilled to hear they were coming back.

 

Are you a fan of X-Files?

W is for Writer

Long before I was an author, I was a writer. Technically I was a ghost writer, which at times was fun. No longer do I slave away my days writing for others. Now I write for the readers and, of course, me.

 

But ghost writing did have its benefits. I was able to write about anything without worrying about my name being attached to it. From cookbooks to blog articles, I’ve written just about everything.

 

Writing books, even under a pen name, I have to be careful that every word I write is true not only to me, but to my story, too. Writing for yourself, whether it’s books, articles, or blog posts is a big step when you’re not used to the spotlight.

I’ve always had a way with words, and I’ll say that most writers do. But I don’t crave fame or recognition, not to say it’s wrong to; it’s just not for me. All I want to do is wake up, drink coffee, write and tell a story.

It’s that drive that makes us writers. The act of doing, the art of making. Weaving words until they paint pictures, instruct and educate others, or inspire.

 

Imagine a world without us. No poetry, no novels, no articles… What a sad world that would be. So while I started speaking about me, I really just wanted to thank the writers in our world. Without you, this would be a boring place.

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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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