Explore the prequel stories to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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Discover why L. Frank Baum was only half-correct when he devised "a modern fairy tale...where the heartaches and nightmares are left out."

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Sneak Preview, Book Three: Emerald Spectacles

Emerald Spectacles, image courtesy oz.wikia.com.

In the recent republishing of Book Two: Crown of the Dreamer, a sneak preview was included. This is presented here on this blog for your reading pleasure. Spoilers after the jump. Don’t jump if you don’t want to be excited for the upcoming continuation of the epic prequel story, The Hidden History of Oz, Book Three: Crown of the Dreamer. Really, this is the last warning. There are a few spoilers if you haven’t read Book Two yet.

Read the rest of this page »

Update to published novels

With the recent republishing of Books One and Two in The Hidden History of Oz series, I want to share a few things that have been added to each title.

Each book contains an Appendix, which contains several important pieces of information for the dedicated reader.

  • The Characters (referred to as The Players, a nod to Shakespeare). I have received comments on this addition. When a reader can’t keep all of the characters straight in her head, it is helpful to have a reference list.
  • Timeline. There is a lot of history referenced in each story. The timeline section details the events that happened and those referred to in the context of the novel.
  • Maps (where applicable). I like epic fantasy novels that include maps. It gives me a sense of wonder at the fantasy world.
  • Locations. There are some new places mentioned and visited in the context of each story. Just like the character list, having a list of the locations helps the reader remember. Plus, it will help when the inevitable wiki appears.
  • Sneak Preview. Including a glimpse at the next story does two things: One, it lets the reader know that there is another story coming, and Two, it creates a teaser for the reader to look forward to the next story. (This is very helpful in the case of cliffhangers, as I have learned.)
  • Guide for Parents. What makes my stories different? I claim that they are good for ages 10 and up. How does the parent know what is in the book, and if he or she wants their child reading this story? What can the parent talk about with the child? (This would work for reading groups also.) The Guide for Parents is also available on this website, for on-screen viewing or as a downloadable PDF. See the menu bar above.

Then there are the standard pages with the Author Bio, On the Web, Other Books by Author, but those are pretty standard in published novels anymore.

This Appendix is a labor of love from me, the author, to you, the reader. I want to show you that each story means something special in the greater world. I’m not going to give you the moral of the story, or tell you what to believe, but I am giving you the facts, and you can dream as you may.

Enjoy.

Some Great Site Updates – September 2014

Cover for The Witch Queens

I have some great site updates to share with you. As you will notice in the sidebar, there are two new covers for the published novels. I think they look much better.

If you navigate through the buttons on the menu bar, you’ll see some new entries. There is a Media Kit for each published book, including author bio, author interview, reviews, and more.

Now, for the piece that I am most pleased with. With each book there is a Guide for Parents.

As the Hidden History novels are intended for ages 10 and up, I felt it was important to provide a guide for the parents so that they are aware of what is in the novel.

Lions, and tigers, and bears…or at least tigers and bears (Kalidah)

Illustration of Kalidahs.

Kalidahs, illustrated by W.W. Denslow, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz novel.

The Kalidah is the most ferocious and feared predator in the Land of Oz. We first read about Kalidahs in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz novel. The Kalidah has the head of a tiger, the front paws and body of a bear, and the rear legs of a tiger. But what would a Kalidah look like in real life? How would the features of these two fearsome predators look? Read the rest of this page »

Who needs heroes? (I do)

Picture from Prince Caspian

In previous posts, we discussed villains and heroes. Now we come to a more personal question. Who needs heroes?

This question drives my writing and my explorations into character.

I am flawed. I struggle. I move forward a little bit, and then I fall. I get tired. It’s hard to get up and continue. What do I need to go on? Pretty much, I just need a hero to look to. Read the rest of this page »

What makes a Hero?

 

Aslan, from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Aslan, from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

A hero is someone that inspires hope. A hero stands in contrast to a villain, who inspires hopelessness. Villains are explored in a previous post.

Based on this simple definition, the hero type can be broken down into several categories. This post contains short videos that I believe demonstrate the aspects of heroism that I look for in my characters.

There are many real-life examples of heroes. This post is limited to fictional heroes and heroic qualities that I find inspiring.

Everyday hero

These everyday heroes may not change the world, but they can change your world.

Consider Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie (1978). Read the rest of this page »

What makes a villain?

Alien xenomorph vs. Darth Vader

Alien vs. Darth Vader. Image courtesy TheForce.net discussion boards.

A good villain is the embodiment of that which makes you feel helpless. 
With that in mind, three types of villains emerge:

Inhuman forces of nature

Shadows and hordes

Inhuman forces of nature that run rampant are always scary. A few examples include: Read the rest of this page »

The Colors of the Writing Rainbow

Tarl:

On the topic of writing, there are countless ways to do it right. There are lessons that speak to the individual, and there are lessons that guide the individual to become one of the faceless many. There are mythic lessons, and there are contemporary lessons. One of my favorite types of writing lessons is the acronym lesson. Where ROYGBIV denotes the colors of the rainbow, it also outlines the characteristics that a writer should embody. This remembered lesson from high school is a testament to the enduring power of a teacher’s passion.

Originally posted on Eye-Dancers:

As time pushes on, as the months and years pass by and life navigates its twists and turns, the things we learned in school sometimes blur into the trees and promontories of the background.

windingpath

We might remember our first date, our best friend from school, we may recall, painfully, feelings of rejection and loneliness, moments of ridicule.

But how many in-class lessons do we remember?  Can we remember anything pertinent our 8th-grade algebra teacher taught us?  (Well, surely, Marc Kuslanski can!)  How about 10th-grade history or chemistry?  Sadly, so much is lost, often irretrievably so.  But some lessons endure.  Some remain vibrant and alive, decades later.

lessonslearned

For me, one such lesson occurred one sunny spring day in English class when I was a freshman in high school.  The teacher, a large, balding man with a soft voice, was a writer at heart, and sometimes, seemingly at random, he would…

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Booktrack – a new way to listen to eBooks

I recently discovered a neat app that allows for audio tracks to be placed into the text of ebooks. This opened a new opportunity for me to share The Hidden History of Oz. The first two chapters of Book One: The Witch Queens are available to read free on booktrack.com, or jump directly to The Witch Queens.

These are just the first two chapters of this book. I may go as high as six chapters if there is good feedback (positive and constructive). I am enjoying the new toolset for bringing this story to life. Adding a little bit of sound makes a big difference in the feel and pacing of the story. Jump over to booktrack and listen for yourself.

 

Six-word Oz-capades

Can you tell a story in six words? This super-short storytelling has a history dating back to Ernest Hemmingway when he shared the following with a friend:

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

iO9 has a couple of super-short science fiction writing contests here, and here. This got me thinking about how to tell a story in six words. You see it many times in newspaper and magazine headlines. The story needs to pull you in so that you buy their product – their product being both a magazine and a message. If you buy their message, you will most likely come back. You become their audience.

So how do you build an audience in six words? You find common beliefs that allow you to use shorthand to tell your story. You find double-meanings in words that give you more mileage. And you find a way to look at events or attitudes that allow people to think they know what is happening, and then surprise them.

The power of each word is multiplied when you can only use six of them. Here are three of my favorites from my six-word sci-fi brainstorming session:

  • Substitute time traveler wanted. Provide references.
  • Successfully removed cancerous microchip. Now lonely.
  • Vegetable uprising. Time travel. Primordial soup.

I thought even further – could this work for Oz stories?

Given only the limit of six words to tell an Oz story, can you do it? Can you rely on your audience’s understanding of Oz to share an entire story in scarcely a handful of words? I’m going to give it a try. 

Some of these may be actual story ideas for The Hidden History of Oz series. Time will tell. Distilling the essence of a story down to six words is quite an interesting exercise.

Why don’t you give it a try? In the comments below, leave your six-word Oz story.

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