Friday, January 06, 2017

Setting a Mood

Decisions, decisions.

I'm almost to the halfway point in the first draft of Legends of the Forsaken Empire, and as I've been working today, I've been toying with the current scene's mood. Right now, the characters are regathering after a period of considerable turmoil and some serious soul-searching. There's chaos and heartache ahead. After all, this is a fantasy-realm family saga inspired by actual events from our own history during the high-middle ages--an era that isn't exactly known for endless frivolity.

Now is the time to make sweeping changes in characterizations and mood. But do I really want to change the story's mood when it's so close to the truth? Should I merely soften the edges a bit while my characters are sharpening their swords? Perhaps bring in a few characters akin to Shakespeare's clowns? Perhaps. Or should I fear that the clowns might suffer tragic fates, being so near to the chaos that's about to unfold?  Do we want the clowns to endure the chaos as well?

Lots to ponder, which is the perfect excuse to procrastinate and let the characters take the reins and drive the story within its preset boundaries.

Blessings, and rest!

I'm returning to the story to study those characters again.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Unexpected Obstacles

Not quite a walk in the park

Revising an old (OLD!) manuscript is like walking through an old park and finding a few snags along the way. (Okay, more than a few. Lots of little fiddly obstacles.) Forward progress is temporarily halted. Do we climb over or under the obstacle, or circle around it? (Nah, look at those rocks!) Is the road ahead filled with even more obstacles? (Undoubtedly.) Will the obstacles halt this writing adventure altogether? (No!)

However, at the end of a writing session full of similar detours, I have to lecture myself. "Progress is progress, even if it feels as if you've scraped yourself on the imaginary rocks."

Focus on the surrounding scenery, not just the obstacles. Ultimately, it's beautiful, and worth the journey.

Lacing up my boots!

Blessings, and onward,

R. J.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Blessed by Inspiration

Vintage Inspiration

I'm often asked, "Where do you find ideas for your books?"
I'd like to say that ideas strike my authorly imagination routinely and easily, leading to stories that practically write themselves. But that wouldn't be true. Recently, I finished a manuscript currently titled The Blessing. I drew inspiration for The Blessing from the old photograph inside this vintage locket. But inspiration didn't strike me during my first glance at this photo. Nor at the second, third, fourth, or fifth glance.

It's not that I wasn't interested in this old photo--I was and am. After all, that small shadowed face in the lower right corner is an image of my great-grandfather as a little boy, sitting for a rather solemn picture with his siblings. But I didn't sense a story brewing until I paused in front of my parents' piano to study the image for the umpteenth time, and Mama said, "Isn't that a sweet picture? This was taken not long before their parents died."

Wait. What? I stared at the picture again, at the serious brown-eyed baby in his white gown, with my equally serious great-grandfather seated just to his right. Obviously they'd been heartbreakingly young when they became orphans, and their older brother and sisters were teenagers. How did these five siblings cope with such tragedy? And what had happened to their parents?

While The Blessing isn't my great-grandfather's actual life story, this image, combined with my mother's comment, was enough to send my imagination down numerous paths and into the era that became the setting for The Blessing.

Sometimes inspiration takes more than a glance. It takes an emotional tug to pull an author's imagination into a new plotline, to cheer on beloved characters as their story unfolds.

I'm eager to share this story with you!



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Creating New Kingdoms Takes Time

This past summer, I've been working on The Blessing~~a historical I've been longing to finish since 2010. Wow. Where did the time go? I'm SO grateful to finish this cherished "Book-Baby" at last. Six years! In retrospect, it sounds like a formidable amount of time for an author to finally finish a story, never mind that The Blessing was interrupted by the equally cherished storyline that became the Infinite series.

However, six years is a tiny dot on my writing radar. Would you believe that I've been waiting for more than thirty years to rewrite the core storyline of Legends of the Forsaken Empire?

It's true. About thirty years ago, in my early twenties, I wrote the first two volumes as medieval fiction, set in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and the third volume is biding its time in an extensively detailed synopsis and chapter-by-chapter outline. The first two volumes alone are almost 400,000 words combined, and I'm eager to dig into them again, to revisit beloved characters and introduce them to their new realm--a fantasy world this time, while building upon thirty years of pondering my characters' historically inspired and intensively researched plights. 

I'm eager, nervous about reweaving these massive storylines in a fantasy realm, but looking forward to the reunion with those characters. Thirty swift-flying years are about to vanish. Soon!

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

R. J. Larson: Naming the Next Series

Now that The Blessing manuscript is nearing its finish--with proofing and editing planned--I'm beginning to kick around names for the next R. J. Larson series.

What? A new series? 


I'm envisioning a world, not unlike our own, finally stirring to life as it emerges from the terrors of its Dark Ages.

Legendary creatures have returned to stalk mortals. Words, long forgotten, are spoken for the first time in a thousand years, and the soul of an ancient forsaken empire is stirring to life. One family has been entrusted with a treasure that endangers all who possess and understand its mysteries.

No one is safe. 

Armed with the above information, naming the series seemed straightforward: Forsaken Empire.  However, a quick online search pointed out that nowadays, Forsaken Empire is the name of a rock band. Alas, there are no rock bands in this series, sorry, rock fans. 

Long story short (is such a thing possible?) I've landed upon a tentative name. 

Legends of the Forsaken Empire. 

Thoughts, brave readers?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Interrupting This Blog~~SALE!

I love sales! My first fantasy-realm book-baby, PROPHET, is on sale through July 2016! The ebook on Amazon is99¢! Spread the news!

"Tarnished snow sifted through the air, clinging to Ela Roch's skin the instant she stepped outside. Warm snow. Impossible. She rubbed at the flakes on her bare forearm and watched them smear across her brown flesh like menacing shadows. Ashes. What was burning?"

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Deadline and Tortoise Syndrome

I'm within the last ten chapters or so of finishing The Blessing--a story that I've loved and looked forward to writing ever since 2010.
Blessing Bunny Trail

I should be sprinting toward that finish line at a record-breaking pace, right?

Not so.

I'm plodding along like Aesop's proverbial Tortoise, mulling over each scene, leafing through research and idling at odd moments to check out all the bunny trails along the way. In other words, I'm procrastinating. Why?

I could plead "Spring fever". Today was a gorgeous day, offering fresh green grass, cerulean blue skies and cotton-puff clouds that enticed me to stare out the window at the end of each sentence. But I didn't walk outside to soak in all that beauty, so I can't blame the glorious spring weather. I dawdled today over cooking, making chicken curry stew and a coconut pie--my family does have to eat. True. However, the fridge is packed with leftovers. I could declare a weeklong cook's vacation and we wouldn't starve.

Social networking, answering emails, the day job, and household tasks are contributing to my Tortoisian slothfulness, but none of these are overwhelming tasks. Oh, and LOOKEE, I decided to blog this evening, rather than open Chapter 31 and dig in.

I can't blame The Blessing, because I struggle with this syndrome at the end of each story. As the characters in my imagination are cheering and chanting because the finish line is in sight, I linger and loiter through the last few chapters of each book.

Once the story is finished, it's essentially done.


I can't like that, because it means bidding beloved characters farewell.

Conclusion: I stink at saying "Goodbye."

But like the proverbial tortoise, I will reach that finish line and savor the victory. Soon.

After I watch another cooking show. Hehehe!

Blessings, Dear Everyone.