Tag Archives: coming of age

Interview with Daniel Rice

Welcome to my blog.  Let’s get rolling.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

You know the writing advice, write what you know? I followed that adage in several instances in my debut YA urban fantasy, Dragons Walk Among Us. Like Allison Lee, the novel’s protagonist, I’m an avid shutterbug. I mostly photograph nature scenes–my current obsession is photographing birds–and my son’s soccer games.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I’m defin itely a planner. I’m a member of a writing group called The Puget Sound Writers Guild (http://www.pugetsoundwritersguild.org), which puts a big emphasis on the planning process. My personal approach is to develop a concept for the novel–think of a one to two-page outline of the plot. I expand this into a scene-by-scene outline, which I try to keep reasonably high-level but it can get pretty detailed if I’m not careful. I find the advantage of this process is it allows me to write the rough draft fairly quickly. For example, I took Dragons Walk Among Us from concept to rough draft in about six months. For me, at least, that’s a pretty good clip.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

I have traveled to the locations and photographed them! Dragons Walk Among Us takes place in the Pacific Northwest, including wilderness locations such as beaches along the Olympic Peninsula and Mount Rainier National Park. Hopefully, readers who have visited these locations find my descriptions capture their essence.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

When I first started writing, I absolutely dreaded the idea of editing a rough draft. That’s probably because those early works were little better than chicken scratch. As a more experienced writer, I no longer fear the revision process. In fact, I enjoy it. It’s fulfilling to finish editing those tens of thousands of words and realize how much the story has improved.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

I’m a member of #5amwritersclub. The more writing I can get done in the wee hours of the morning before the boys wake up, the better. The little lads relish making their presence felt.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Gosh. I do enjoy traveling. I have family in Southeast Asia, so that destination is always high on the list. In fact, I plan to have a portion of the sequel to Dragons Walk Among Us take place there. The photographer in me, however, dreams of visiting Iceland’s primordial landscapes.

In what genre do you read?

I read all kinds of speculative fiction–fantasy, science fiction, and some horror. I’m a big believer in reading extensively in the genre you write, so I’m always looking to read young adult fantasy and science fiction. Thrillers, suspense, and popular science–I really enjoy Neil deGrasse Tyson’s books–round out most of my reading. I enjoy listening to audiobooks while taking walks, so I find the Libby app, which allows me to check out audiobooks from the local library, invaluable.

BLURB

Shutterbug Allison Lee is trying to survive high school while suffering the popular girl’s abuse. Her life is often abysmal, but at least her green hair is savage. Her talent for photography is recognized by the school paper and the judges of a photo contest.

While visiting her friend Joe, a homeless vet, Allison’s life irrevocably changes after an attack leaves her blind. All her dreams as a photojournalist are dashed as she realizes she’ll never see again. Despair sets in, until she is offered an experimental procedure to restore her vision. But there are side effects, or are they hallucinations? She now sees dragons accompanying some of the people she meets. Can she trust her eyes, or has the procedure affected her more than she can see?

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EXCERPT

I march across the dark swath of wet grass interspersed with towering Douglas fir toward the lamplight in the distance. Obscured by the surrounding shrubbery next to the base of a conifer is a blue tarp. I press my free hand against the brown bag, feeling the warmth radiating from the container of broth. Good. I’d hate for the soup to be cold.

A gust of wind pushes me sideways. From somewhere overhead comes a loud crack like the bone of some gargantuan creature snapping. A widowmaker thumps to the earth. Gasping, I nearly drop the soup and freeze in place. Overhead, the trees sway in the wind, branches creaking and groaning. I scamper toward the encampment.

About half a dozen tents surround the base of the tall conifer. A wide man with hunched shoulders moves around the camp. I smile. It’s Joe.

~**~

Dan has wanted to write novels since first reading Frank Herbert’s Dune at the age of eleven. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he often goes hiking with his family through mist-shrouded forests and along alpine trails with expansive views.

Dragons Walk Among Us is his debut novel. He plans to keep writing fantasy and science-fiction for many years.

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Blog: https://www.danscifi.com

 

Guest post–Progressing a Character through a Series by Jean Lamb

 

“In my end is my beginning”—Mary, Queen of Scots.

When working with a series character who changes and grows during the series, it would be well to keep in mind how he or she is going to die–or turn into an Immortal God, a saint, or other extreme change in the character that will keep you from using him or her for most of the time. We know that death isn’t always the end for some people.

Some writers do this progression very well; Tiffany Aching, in Terry Pratchett’s series that begins with WEE FREE MEN, grows from a child just discovering her powers to a fully-fledged witch stabilized in her Granny Aching’s hut on the Chalk—and at the same time gives another character, Granny Weatherwax, a proper send-off. Some writers freeze their series characters, and that’s their choice; but a lot of fans enjoy the first method better, because over time, they become invested more in the character’s progress through life than if the character never changes. Many love Rand al’ Thor better than say, Conan (though even Conan eventually becomes a king).

How many of us agonized with Raistlin during his long death-bed? I know I did. But fewer would have cared if he had not grown and changed during the Dragonlance Chronicles in which he played a part. How many of us cried when Granny Weatherwax cleaned her privy for the second time, because we knew why?

This is why I have planned out my series about Tameron dayn Sidian from his beginning in HATCHLING, through THE DRAGON’S PEARL, and to his eventual end. It will be a long journey, and the details will change along the way. I won’t be locked into a specific scene, though I can see it in my head. Characters do funny things when you’re not looking, and trying to force them into a mold they outgrew in book #5 is a mistake. But I know the flavor of his end, and that is as sure a guide as any writer needs.

hatchling_1017

BLURB

Tameron dayn Sidian is the only son of the Protector of Fiallyn Mor. All his relatives, and those of the ruling class of this country, have magic.

But he doesn’t. How can he be his father’s heir without the gifts that would make him worthy? How can he make sure the common people are heard?

Wait, there’s more. He finds out he does have one special gift, but it will mean he’ll live the rest of his life as a prisoner, with all his partners chosen for him.

What can he do now? Find out how he discovers what he must finally do. And someday he’ll know what all his dreams of dragons are about.

Hatchling is the first volume of a multi-volume series titled “Tameron and the Dragon.”

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EXCERPT

Stine attacked. Tameron barely blocked her sword in time and gasped for breath. Full armor was heavy, and he wasn’t used to it yet. The battle-hardened old woman facing him thrust again. Tam stepped to his right, and let the sharp-edged metal scrape along his shield.

He struck back. Stine beat his assault out of line, but he recovered quickly. He raised his blade again, only to falter when she whirled and punched his sword-arm with the top of her shield. The sword left his grip and clattered to the floor. Tameron desperately flung his own shield up and crouched down to retrieve his weapon under its cover, but a blow from her boot knocked him over and left him defenseless. He twisted over to grab at her ankles, but she easily evaded him.

“Not bad, not bad,” Stine said, letting the point of her blade droop towards the floor. She gave the sword to an assistant and offered him a hand up. “When you’re older and stronger, this won’t be so easy for me.”

Tameron dayn Sidian a’ Piran wished he was older and stronger now, as he struggled to his feet. He’d be fifteen in two months, but glumly knew it’d be years before he could dream of besting the Protector’s arms-mistress. It helped to have fine armor and a sword made at Diesa Tower, but not nearly as much as he hoped for on days like this in the high-ceilinged practice room. The only privilege he had as the Protector’s son was having a turn with her at every session.

Tam bowed in respect to Commander Stine, and stood in the back of the spacious room with the rest of the novice guards. He relaxed as Stine picked on someone else to humiliate.

Lorin, one of the other trainees, whispered in sympathy, “Just wait till your powers come in! Then you can get back at her, even if you’re not as strong a mage as your father.”

Tam smiled. “I know. If my Element is air, then I can read her mind and figure out what she’s going to do next. If it’s earth, then I’ll make her armor too heavy for her.” It was only fair, considering what a weight his armor was for him.

Lorin sighed. “But with your luck, it’ll be water and you’ll have to give up fighting!”

“On days like this I don’t know if I’d mind!” Tameron said. Healers were sacred. Not even Stine would dare strike at him then. Besides, everyone knew that the gift of healing could also bring death.

Lorin shrugged. “Of course, you could get lucky and end up with fire!”

They both smiled. Several other trainees sighed, the look in their eyes giving away their own wishes. Tameron could think of quite a few pranks to play when his magic finally emerged, and knew he wasn’t alone.

To be fair, Commander Stine was never cruel, but he knew he wasn’t the only one who would like to find a way to defeat her without having to work for years to get better. Most of the other novice guards were older than he was, and already knew they had too little of any one Element to give them magical powers.

Was he going to be like them? It was said that talents like his father’s showed themselves when the body changed from childhood. He was growing fast enough that he sometimes dreamed of what might happen during his first Festival next Midsummer, but he hadn’t seen any trace of wizardry in himself so far. Time was passing quickly. Soon everyone else would begin to wonder if he was going to have the powers that separated the rulers of Fiallyn Mor from the rest of the people.

After the practice session, he bathed and changed. Surely he’d learn which Element would rule his life soon. Some, like his father or the Guardian of the North, had the aid of two. His own silver hair and gray eyes marked him as the child of wizards, while high cheekbones told of a trace of Outsider blood. No foreigners were able to enter this land through Wizardwall without strong magic of their own. Surely that meant he had a strong potential as well. After all, his four brothers and sisters had had magic before their deaths.

As soon as he dressed, he decided he’d waited long enough. He had to know! Tameron received permission from his tutor to skip a study session. He presented himself to Coris Mimn, the Lord Protector’s dark-haired, dark-skinned friend, and requested an audience with his father as soon as it was convenient. He waited nearly an hour, but he was used to it. In fact, he was lucky the Protector was even in residence here in Kelemath, rather than on progress in some other city.

It was almost sunset when he was ushered into the small sitting-room behind the large audience chamber. Tameron was proud that he was allowed to bear a weapon into his father’s presence. Only favorites like Mimn and Commander Stine had that privilege as well.

Lord Sidian dayn Riallan a’ Piran, the Protector of Fiallyn Mor, was a tall, blue-eyed man with red hair turning white at the temples. His long, slim hands caressed his curlwood walking stick, which had a brilliant ruby inset at the top. His bright blue robes were trimmed with pale fur, though he rarely felt the cold.

Tameron bent his knee in brief homage, then asked, “Father…I will be fifteen this Midwinter. I wonder…how will I know when I get my powers? Will there be problems because I’m so late? And how will I know what element I’m going to be strong in?”

Jean Lamb

Jean Lamb is a 60-something woman with five novels on Amazon. Her story “Galley Slave” in MAN/KZIN WARS VIII was on the preliminary list for the Nebula in 1994, but she was seduced by the pretty songs of fantasy and romance in novel form. She’s been married for 44 years to a chemistry teacher and lives in a small town in Central Oregon. She has 30 books left to write.

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