The Trilogy


Outtakes 222

The Trilogy

by Cait Collins

 

 

Take a seer, an archeologist, a magician, a navigator, a sprite, and a warrior, add a legend and an exotic locale and you have Stars of Fortune, book one of the Guardians trilogy. Nora Roberts is a master in writing serial releases. Her fantasy/paranormal romances are among my favorite reads. I got hooked on this line of her works when I read the Three Sisters Island trilogy. I have not been disappointed. What makes the trilogies good reads? It’s in the essential elements of the books.

Characters are the key element of the stories. Each person possesses special skill sets. In many cases, the character knows his primary talent. For others it’s a learn-as-you-go revelation.

E ach character has flaws. Despite their gifts, each one must overcome his weakness in order for the group to fulfill its destiny.

 

Unity is primary. All skills are necessary for success, but trust is essential.

Good and evil are clearly defined.

Actions or lack thereof are the choices of the character.

Magic is a respected gift that should not be abused.

 

Locales are exotic. Islands, gardens, forests, Ireland, and country inns provide setting. Bold descriptions make the story realistic. Local lore and customs ground the reader and allows her or him to become part of the story.

Romance is an element of the story, but it is not the story. Some of my friends view romance novels as silly and stupid. In their minds, it all about sex, But if the story were only about sex, it would become unbelievable. There has to be more than the physical response. In good romance novels, it is committed love that permits the characters to keep going when the odds are not in their favor. Love is glue that holds them together.

Friendships are cemented by love. Knowing that the members of the team are willing to fight and die for a cause frees the protagonist to step up to defeat an enemy.

Love is magic. With love all things are possible.

In skillfully combining these elements, Ms. Roberts weaves stories of bold deeds, causes won, and life fulfilled. And it leaves the reader anticipating the next installment of the tale. Even though the second book will not be released until late next year, the author will release a contemporary romantic suspense in April of 2016. And that, my fellow readers, is just one more jewel in Nora Roberts’ long list of successful novels. I wish I had her backlist.

 

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The Wizard


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Wizard

A recent series of young adult books has reminded me how fun it is to believe in magic. Can you remember the first time you watched the movie The Wizard of Oz? How about Cinderella or Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Remember sitting in front of the television and not even being able to blink your eyes as magical things happened to make scarecrow talk and pumpkins turn into carriages and little orange people mix chocolate by waterfall? And how did you feel when the words “The End” scrolled up on the screen?

Writing is that way. You know the story because you’ve listened to the characters tell it in their own words. Your job is to take the story they told you and find the magic words that will weave a spell around your reader and keep them glued to your words.

Stephen King uses the term “telepathy,” and that’s a very good description. But J. K. Rowling goes a little further and alludes to “a book that casts a spell that won’t let the reader put it down.”

The magic comes from words spun like a spell, winding around the reader’s eyes and pulling their imagination to the page. They can’t put the book down until the story ends, and then they turn back to the beginning and start over.

Look for magic all around you and the words will appear.

Congratulations. You have received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

Abracadabra


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

Abracadabra

By Nandy Ekle

And now for a bit of magic. If you watch close, you’ll see it happen before your very eyes. So pay attention, don’t talk, no breathing or blinking. Ready?

I’m going to take this blank page and paint a picture using only my imagination.

We start with a pure white screen. Notice, no hint of color anywhere. Suddenly, a frisky yellow ball appears at the top of the page. Besides the bright contrast of color on the white page, you also notice the temperature around you is going up. The warmth is friendly and comforting.

You are also beginning to notice the smells of hundreds of roses. As you breathe in the distinct smell, you can see the reds, pinks, yellows, whites, and even some exotic rose colors such as blue and purple. You walk closer to a bush standing almost directly under the sun and reach out to touch a velvety petal. That’s when you feel a sharp pain in your fingertip. You didn’t realize I put thorns on my rose bushes, did you. No matter. They aren’t poisonous.

But how about the bee hiding in the center of the flower?

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

 

 

 

The Magic Words


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

The Magic Words

By Nandy Ekle

 

I was born a word person. I don’t remember the age I started reading, but I don’t know that I was a prodigy. But no matter what age I started reading, I’ve always loved stories.

The first stories I loved were bible stories, then the early readers from school. My parents were avid fans of the library and I grew up thinking the library was an enchanted place.

I always had lots of words to say, and said them as often as they came into my head, much to my dad’s dismay. I guess the thing I heard him say more than anything else was, “Don’t your jaws ever get tired of talking?” And of course, the words did slow down, except when I am able to let go and write. And in those moments, I really truly do visit the land of enchantment.

But as much as I love to talk and write my own words, I love reading others’ words just as much. I’ve only ever started about four books I simply could not finish. All the other book I’ve read are the most wonderful dessert in the world.

I said there were only about four books I simply could not finish. The opposite of that is there are about four writers who are the most powerful wizards on the earth.

All this introduction to say I am reading a book now by one of these very talented authors. I know I should not have been so surprised because nearly everything this writer does is pure genius. But I read the first paragraph of the prologue and immediately felt the air shimmer and electrify. The world around me disappeared and I felt like I was being sucked through a vortex to another world. All from the first paragraph.

That is talent.

Your assignment: get your favorite book by your favorite author and analyze it. When do you find yourself grabbed and pulled in to the world? How did they do it? Does the story you’re writing do that? Can you fix it?

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Music to Write By


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Music to Write By

By Nandy Ekle

 I love all kinds of music and this time of year is rich with tunes. There are hymns to God as well as love to fellow man. There are songs about the magic of the season and joy of children learning about Christmas. And there are always love songs because this time of seems to inspire romance.

For the past few mornings I have woken up with a certain song in my head that I’ve heard on the Christmas radio station. It’s not necessarily a happy song, and that’s why it continues to play through my brain. I know there’s a story in that song.

When I hear the words, its’ easy to slide into that zone and visualize the confusion and torment the singer feels. I hear, see, and feel the whole thing play out. I can even smell the scents in the room where the holiday party is taking place. The character in my head picks up a nibble from a tray and I taste the morsel as he/she pops it into his/her mouth.

My job now is to write down what my character tells me through the song. I need to let go of the reins and let the zone overtake me completely to get my own words on paper.

Listen to one of your favorite Christmas songs and let your senses take over. Let the magic of the season write the story for you.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Pantsin’ It


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Pantsin’ It

By Nandy Ekle

I have a cast of characters. I have a situation. I have a setting. I drop my characters with their situations into their setting and say, “Okay, go.” They begin to act and speak to each other and to me and the story appears.

I am a pantser, one who writes “by the seat of my pants.” Some of my best tales are those where I put my hands on the keyboard, or pick up a pen and paper, and just start to write. I usually have an opening sentence in mind, or at least an opening situation, and a vague idea of an ending. I try not to be too attached to an ending because I know that anything can happen.

And what usually does happen is magic. The zone comes down and blots out the rest of the world and I focus one hundred percent on the character. I see her face, her home, her clothes. I hear her voice and the way she speaks her words. I see through her eyes and feel everything she feels and hears. A lot of times I am as thrilled and surprised by the story as I hope my readers are.

The advantages to this are limitless. This brings an intimacy between me and my characters and I trust them when they want to go in a different direction from my plans. Also the story is more genuine than if I planned every single detail (intricate planning feels very clinical to me). My favorite aspect of “pantsing it” is the spontaneous fun and adventure I have when I write.

I had the story planned just the way it should have gone. I knew the theme of my story and I had the events in place to bring the characters to the ending I had planned. Everything was going like clockwork. As I type I watch the characters act and speak as I knew they would. Then, suddenly, one of them—the one I thought was neutral—turns to look at me with a glint in his eye. That’s when the true ending springs to life in my head. My skin prickles with goosebumps and my eyes tear up. I cry and giggle at the same time all day long.

That is why I write as a pantser.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

 

 

The Wizard


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Wizard

A recent series of young adult books has reminded me how fun it is to believe in magic. Can you remember the first time you watched the movie The Wizard of Oz? How about Cinderella or Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Remember sitting in front of the television and not even being able to blink your eyes as magical things happened to make scarecrow talk and pumpkins turn into carriages and little orange people mix chocolate by waterfall? And how did you feel when the words “The End” scrolled up on the screen?

Writing is that way. You know the story because you’ve listened to the characters tell it in their own words. Your job is to take the story they told you and find the magic words that will weave a spell around your reader and keep them glued to your words.

Stephen King uses the term “telepathy,” and that’s a very good description. But J. K. Rowling goes a little further and alludes to “a book that casts a spell that won’t let the reader put it down.”

The magic comes from words spun like a spell, winding around the reader’s eyes and pulling their imagination to the page. They can’t put the book down until the story ends, and then they turn back to the beginning and start over.

Look for magic all around you and the words will appear.

Congratulations. You have received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle