Stress-Free Holiday (and We Got Snow!)

IMG_20171208_162057I’ve was always one of those people who loved the hustle and bustle from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I didn’t even think about getting gifts before the turkey had been carved, eaten, and put away. I loved diving into the day after Thanksgiving, not so much for the deals but for the experience of it all.

I got over it.

Several years ago, I figured out that getting everything done in advance made the season much more enjoyable. I started getting the gifts early and had them ready to wrap as soon as the tree went up. I discovered, too, that this eased some of the financial burden, the one thing I really hated about the holidays.

This year is no different. Everything’s decorated and wrapped, and now I just have to bake the goodies as we want them and watch cartoons. I love it! I’ve also found that I have more time to write doing things this way. Being a winter junkie, I’m far more productive when the weather gets cold.

IMG_20171208_173610And to make things even better, we got snow. Now, I know some folks are from the northern climates that see lots of the white stuff, but where I live snow before January, and even then, is rare. Loving it! It’s a nice change of pace, and I was able to focus on writing and just watch the snow fall. It was awesome!

How do you prepare for the holidays? What are your secrets to getting things done without stress?

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

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Getting Ready for the Holidays

IMG_20171201_230859The holiday season is in full swing, and I think we’ve gotten everything ready at the homeplace. The tree’s up, the gifts are wrapped, and the stockings are hung. I think we’ve watched all the classic Christmas cartoons at least once and are starting on the second round.

There have been times in the past when the holiday season seemed to be far more work than it was worth, but this year feels a bit different. There isn’t as much running to do anymore, and my work schedule allows us to go out and participate in some of the community activities. For the first time in years, we were able to see the parade. It wasn’t a fancy thing like the Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it was nice to finally get to see a hometown parade again. Hopefully, there will be other activities to do over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, we’ll continue our tradition of watching movies and cartoons and picking from our advent box. This is something we started several years ago. We wrap a large box and cut a hole in the top. It’s filled with small gifts of nothing much–candy bars and gum, silly toys, stocking stuffers–and we reach in and take something each night from December 1 thru December 24. When the box is empty, it’s Christmas. Granted, my children are mostly grown now, but it’s still a fun thing to do together in the evenings. W

IMG_20171202_101256I hope everyone has a joyous season, regardless of which holiday you celebrate, and remember to do what you can for those less fortunate. Even the smallest gesture performed with pure intention can mean the world to someone else.

Have a wonderful season with family and friends, and feel free to share the traditions you value most.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

Getting Back on the Horse

I’ve always loved making things, whimsical bits of nothing much just to brighten the day a bit. But for the past few years, I haven’t done much crafting. I used to make dollhouse miniatures and intricate crochet pieces like the ones below. 

In more recent years, I haven’t had a lot of time or energy, but I’ve never lost my love of making things. 

I finally decided that enough was enough and pulled out a few small things to play with. I haven’t gone full-tilt back into it yet, but I’m making small things and contemplating what I want to do next. There’s a part of me that likes the simplicity of the pioneer rag dolls, and a part of me that wants to go out and clear the clay aisle at the craft store and get back to tiny donuts. 

We’ll see where it goes. 😊

As always, best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

Technology in Grevared

steam-train-512508_1920We live in a technological world full of smart phones, computers, and things some of us will probably never understand. For the most part, this technology has gone from point A to point B, not necessarily in a straight line, but moving forward nonetheless.

I was a kid during the reign of Atari and Commodore 64, and the only computer language I ever knew was Basic. Now, my phone has more capabilities than my first computer, and I’m lucky to figure out how to make a blog post. (And it only works half the time.)

Science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk all have their versions of technology, too. Some of it is beyond our wildest dreams, while other parts take us back to the middle ages. Regardless of which genre we’re reading, though, there are those who expect the technology to progress the same way it did in our world.

Grevared doesn’t really work that way, not entirely. For example, I had a reader ask me the other day why a tavern owner used oil lamps if the society had things like steam locomotives and Cold Boxes (refrigerators). There’s a simple answer for that. All electricity in Grevared is run on generators, which are expensive to own and operate. Families and business owners who use electricity must decide what they will use it on, and most choose a Cold Box or something similar rather than light, which can be obtained through other means. No one has installed power lines that carry electricity from place to place because they haven’t thought of it yet. Why not? When our world figured it out fairly quickly? Well…it isn’t our world.

GrevaredResources on Grevared are most definitely finite. The pieces of land exist in a void space, and you can walk off the edge of the world. These resources must be guarded carefully if the world is to survive, so, while they are willing to create some technological luxuries, there are many others that would destroy their world were they to come into being.

However, that isn’t to say that technology aided by magic doesn’t happen. There are creatures called animated corpses that are purely technological, at least in a sense. A small copper chip attached to wires is run through the nervous system and allows the creature to move and follow basic orders. The chip can be removed and read by a machine. Technological, right? Not entirely. There’s a good bit of magic that goes into making the process work. The same is true of the seventh hell demon prison, Brimstone Thunderwatch. There are technological aspects to the prison itself, but there’s just as much magic keeping these creatures confined. Even the mechanical bugs that deliver messages have a magical element to their operation.

So, while Grevared does have steam trains and bionic implants, their technology as we think about it isn’t on the same level with that in our world, and their needs and desires make it unlikely that it ever will be. Even in the Xaggarene Empire, the most technologically advanced of the lands, power lines aren’t likely to become popular. Too much of their technology is dependent on magic.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

Character Thoughts – Justin Harper

Justin Harper VintageJustin Harper is best friends with Timothy Hawkins and appears in Wolf in the Shadow.

Justin and Timothy attended school together and were known for getting into mischief. They spent more time harassing the Sisters than they did studying. After school, they would play games in the streets of Freywater, and they spent many an evening at each other’s home.

As late teens, Justin and Timothy were both granted weapons of the gods. While Timothy received the Spear of Lugh, Justin received the Seal of Solomon. Unfortunately, the Seal required practice to master, something Justin had no desire to do. Still, carrying the weapon allowed him to become a Shadow Walker, and he threw himself into it with all his heart. He came to love the chase and the slaughter, and he became one of the best the Shadow Walkers had at disposing of dangerous creatures. He was often paired with Timothy, who was the one person who could curb Justin’s more reckless behavior.

Justin is in his early twenties in Wolf in the Shadow. At this time, Justin’s favorite pastime is downing Nutty Fluffies and bedding as many women as possible. To him, these women are nothing more than playthings, and the idea that they are people with emotions and dreams escapes him. In his own mind, what he’s doing can’t possibly hurt anyone, and he’s found himself on the business end of numerous pistols and swords. Only Timothy’s connection with the Enforcers keeps Justin out of trouble.

In his more serious moments, though these are rare, Justin considers his life in the far future. While he can’t picture himself with a wife and children, he does see himself in a position of authority, something that gets a lot of attention and admiration. By his own admission, he has no idea what this position might be. He’s actually extremely insecure and uses his flamboyant persona to validate his existence to himself. He constantly struggles with feelings of inadequacy, and he would most likely be able to conquer these if he would give them voice instead of hiding them.

Justin loves to eat out at restaurants, and his favorite place in Freywater is a diner near the University. They serve foods fried in oil, and Justin is particularly fond of fried root vegetables. He covers them in a variety of sauces and uses them as a ‘pick me up’ after too many Nutty Fluffies or a night spent with too much company. He also enjoys going to the theater, though he avoids the burlesque shows because he feels they are indecent.

When he’s alone, he enjoys reading, and the ha’coin books that have become the rage in the Xaggarene Empire are his favorites. Many of these deal with murder and depravity, and Justin finds satisfaction in reading about these topics. He doesn’t care much for actual book-learning, though, so many of the topics Timothy mentions are lost on him.

Justin is one of those characters who is both loveable and despicable. His willingness to protect the weak is a laudable trait, but his selfishness is loathsome. There are redeeming qualities to him, but they’re hard to see for those who aren’t looking. He can be fun to be around, but no one should ever count on him. He’s loyal to those who serve his purposes, but he will turn away if he thinks he has the slightest reason. His love of the chase is carefully balanced by the need of the Shadow Walkers, but I wonder just what it would take to shift him from state-sanctioned Shadow Walker to cold-blooded killer. I don’t think it would take too much, and it’s an idea I may explore at some point. I haven’t decided. I have to admit, though, that, while Justin is one of my favorites to write, I don’t particularly like him. He’s just too loud and obnoxious to be someone I would enjoy being around.

What are your thoughts on Justin Harper? Is he someone you would call a friend? Do you agree with his actions in Wolf in the Shadow?

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

 

 

Book Cover…Grrrrr.

K'duktil and Cavern CoverOne of the things I like best about self-publishing is being able to take control of the process myself. For me, it’s fun to play around with new ideas and try to learn new skills. The operative word here is ‘try’. Damn me for wanting to learn stuff.

While the other covers took me some time and effort to work out, I’ve had a difficult time getting a cover made for Jerrung and the Kwaad Cavern, a children’s book that will be out when I can figure out its wrapping. Nothing I do seems to work and capture the story, and I think I’ve made thirty or forty of them.

That being the case, I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities, the best I can come up with for this particular story. I’ve added the two possibilities and the blurb. I’d appreciate any thoughts on the matter, positive or negative.

Yellow Ogre.jpgAs always, best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://lissadobbs.com

Blurb:

At almost eight years old, Jerrung is sure he’s old enough to be a warrior, to have a real sword. His parents disagree. They think he’s just a child.

But when Jerrung’s sister is kidnapped by the Kwaad, Jerrung knows his time has come. Jerrung isn’t going to wait for the rest of the village to make their plans. He and his friends head into the mountains to rescue the prisoners.

Can the dwarves find their way through the tunnels and back out before the Kwaad find them?

 

Writing Update

IMG_20160428_203226Things have been a little hectic lately. I started a new job with a weird schedule, so I haven’t kept up with things the way I should. I have been writing some, though, both stories in Grevared and some horror stuff.

I have two short stories completed and am doing revisions. One is the Muhulda Urswyk story that posts here every Wednesday, and the other is a horror tale.

I’ve been making progress on both the YA WIP and on ‘the story that never ends’. I finally like where the trilogy is going. I just hope I can keep it going in this direction. I’ll tell you, these guys LOVE to take off on their own.

I have a children’s story that’s in its editing phase. I’m almost through with what I hope will be the last of the edits. Now, I just have to decide on a cover for it. This story takes place in the Kingdom of Emerell, just to the west of Moirena. The village of Everstone is attacked by the Kwaad, and Jerrung’s sister is taken. Not willing to wait for the adults to go after them, Jerrung and his friends set off under the mountain. Finally, he gets to have a real adventure.

I’m hoping that I’ll settle into my new schedule and get back to being productive.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Dealing with Stories You Hate

landing-page-websiteThose who’ve followed along know that I’ve been posting a “The Little Mermaid” like tale for the past few Sundays. Obviously, I’ve pulled that tale, but there’s a reason for it.

I hate it. I mean I really, really hate the story. I don’t like the girl trying to change herself to get the guy, even though, let’s face it, most of us have done it at one time or another, especially when we were young. I hate the attitude of the dwarves, self-righteous little pricks that they are. I hate the fact that I have no idea where it’s going, and I hate the writing. I hate every single thing about the story.

As an author, sometimes we have to kill our babies, whether we want to or not. It can be painful sometimes, but, other times, it’s a justifiable homicide. That’s what it was with the tale that I pulled. Completely justifiable.

Does that mean I won’t revisit the story at some later date and see if it’s salvageable. Well…actually…I probably won’t. I have so many ideas going and so many projects in the works, that the likelihood of ever having time to go back and look at it is small. But I don’t mourn it. I don’t mourn letting the tale go.

Are there any of your stories that you decided just weren’t worth the time needed to turn them into something readable? Did you feel like you were letting yourself down when you let them go? Leave an answer in the comments.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Lethatu…Oops.

Ravyn's LetterI’m one of those people who loves to create worlds, and when I create a world, I want to create all of it. I want maps of everything, cultures to inhabit it, stories, history, religion, magic, and language. And I was well on my way to having all of that.

Then I moved.

Somehow, in the process of moving, the notebook I had written the grammar rules and such in disappeared. It’s a loss, I’ll agree, but it also gives me the opportunity to make some changes to the language and make it more in line with what I want it to be. To that effect, I’m not mourning the loss of the notebook. Instead, I’m going to begin at the beginning and make something that was better than the original. The only down side I can see is that the letter Ravyn Grimsbane left to her daughter Gwennyth will have to be a dialect not spoken anywhere else. But that’s okay, too.

What aspects of world-building are your favorite? Do you relish the opportunity to make changes? Feel free to comment.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Getting Settled Update

2017052295133200_2 (2)The last couple of months have been a bit nuts with my youngest graduating and us moving to another state, one we’d never even visited, but I think most of the craziness is finished, and we’re settling down. I’m hoping this will mean I can get back to writing and getting some kind of regular schedule for the blog.

One of the things I would like to do is work on a new story a bit at a time. This is a YA story with a plot similar to The Little Mermaid, or at least the general idea. You guys will get it in its raw, unvarnished form and are free to comment and make suggestions. I’m also thinking about tossing out a choose your own adventure kind of story. Would anyone be interested in that? Please comment if so.

Any other suggestions of what you would like to see here would be appreciated.

As always, best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com