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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N is for Nephilim

autumn angel

Nephilim are half angel and half human, born to women from the fallen Grigori in the Beyond the Brothel Walls series.

But they’re apart of Biblical lore as well. They were called giants and according to the Books of Enoch, the great flood killed them all. For those who aren’t familiar with Enoch, these are in the later books, which aren’t cannon.

In my world, the Nephilim are mostly evil. But I still believe we have the choice, and if the angels fell for the same rights, why couldn’t their children also have the choice to be good rather than evil, even if they’ll never ascend to Heaven. Isn’t that what makes a good person truly good? Performing acts with no thought to reward but because we want to?

To me, however, it merely represents a race, a bloodline, which after diluted becomes something few have heard about, but that’s another letter.

Do you believe in Nephilim? How about Angels? Do you think they watch over us, guide, and protect us?

 

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M is for Midgard

Midgard in lore is Earth, but in the Loki’s Chosen series it’s a world within a world where the supernatural often hide from humanity.

While some choose to live among the humans, like the draugr and some lycans, many of my races can’t go unnoticed. With Odin forbidding humans from learning about magic, those living on Earth combined their resources and built magical shields in the wilderness.

As technology advanced, so did they. Like you and me, they have electricity and internet access; although Auriel believes it killed the art of penmanship and letter writing. Still, she owns a cell phone and haphazardly drives her cherry red Ram truck. Auriel loves everything about humanity and Midgard, except for the humans themselves—but then what’s an empath to do.

yggdrasil_vector

If you had the choice between living on Earth or within a Midgard bubble, which would you choose?

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L is for Loki

Loki is a god, sometimes a demi-god, and other times just an annoying gnat for the Norse gods to swat around. He’s a little different for me in the Loki’s Chosen series.

  • He’s good.
  • He’s evil.
  • Sometimes he’s a she, too.
  • He seldom tells the truth.
  • He loves his children.
  • He will do anything for his children, his chosen.
  • He hates when the history books call him a myth.
  • He despises being a scapegoat.
  • And after the world burns, his children will rise.

I’ll look forward to sharing Loki with everyone in the upcoming Anything Goes, Volume Two anthology. He’ll join William de Hauteville, a Norman mercenary, in an epic, historic journey of life and death.

Tempest_banner_002

K is for Kismet

Kismet is a common factor in my writing.  It doesn’t matter if it’s love between two lost souls or a warrior destined to lead an army.

I believe in kismet. I also believe we can’t control it. No matter how hard we try to deny or change our fate, it’s always there, guiding us back. The future may be delayed, or perhaps we’ll learn a lesson, but kismet wins.

Do you believe in kismet? Do you feel we can control it?

 

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J is for Jamison

Jamison “Jamie” Mc Douglass

Attractive young man sitting on old door's thresholdFrom the Loki’s Chosen series.

  • Phoenix Elementarist—Maelstrom Mage
  • Mother—Murdered. Stolen and raised by Draugr.
  • Brown hair
  • Gray eyes
  • 6’2″
  • Various tribal tattoos
  • Bisexual
  • Mated to Nicolai Fenrir since 18
  • Best Friend is his brother, Liam.
  • Age—25—Mortal

 

In Phoenix, within the secret supernatural community, there are two major laws which carry the death sentence: no hybrids or homosexuality.  So you can imagine what happens when the Council President’s son mates with another man.

It’s deeper than this with Jamie, though it’s a story I’m currently writing. Jamie isn’t your normal rebellious adult. He’s the opposite and always seeks to please his father, even if that means hiding his truth and living with his past deeds—killing the man he loved.

Or so he’d thought… Jamie receives a rare gift: a second chance.

You can read more about Jamie in Phoenix.

 

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