Research For ‘The Council Of Twelve’ Series

When I got the idea to my ‘Council Of Twelve’ series, I considered doing some research, start with finding ‘experts.’ I talked to two people I considered experts: a nun and a monk.

Unfortunately, both were not as good as experts as I had hoped. The nun is an amazing, wonderful personality with a huge golden heart, selfless, helpful, pious – and an avid reader and a big fan of fantasy books. I could not ask even one of the many questions I had; she didn’t stop talking, telling me about all the fantastic books she already read. By listening to her, I had the impression, in her imagination, she actually wrote my entire series. It was an enjoyable, interesting afternoon, but I got home with nothing than a headache.

The priest was a different kind of expert. He answered most of my questions with quotes directly out of the bible, and he was not at all a fan of my idea for that series. He found, the fight Good versus Evil should be left to our Lord. I can only agree with that, but I had not planned to single-handedly fight Hades and the entire Underworld! I was only planning to write a book, for Heaven’s sake, and we’re not talking about a non-fiction reality report. We’re talking about a fantasy book series. Towards the end of that conversation, I had the impression if I ever wrote that ‘Council Of Twelve’ series, my ‘expert’ would do anything to get me excommunicated and not only that; I would be going directly to the Catholic ‘jail’ and my soul would be grilling in the inferno for all eternity.

I cured that headache too and decided to write the series anyway, even without Father Thomas’ blessing.

The wonderful thing about fantasy books, as compared to history books (or all non-fiction, of course) is, that the creation of worlds, characters, and magic does not need as much research as the book that entwines around existing facts. The Council Of Twelve series bases on values, the Christian values I grew up with, and a few of the characters that cement my beliefs.

Since I now got the few already existing characters, I started adding up with more figures and creatures on the good side…

However, the evil side needed more of my attention. In my book, it exists, but it’s not like I’m an expert on that side. Therefore I went on a research crusade. I needed demons… I needed to ‘build’ a picture of the evil side. And I had to build antagonists…. not one, but uncountable ones.

An inexhaustible source of information in my case was ‘Wikipedia’. I got quite a few lists from them. Theological Demons and their classification, Demonology, a list of fictional demons, and a list of legendary creatures. Occasionally these lists helped me while writing.

But what helped me the most was the List of Demons in the Ars Goetia.

It not only gives the name of the respective demon but also its look, what kind of demon it is, what command it’s under, and the legions of minions under its control. Now…

I know that the evil side exists, just as I know the good side exists. That is rooted in the beliefs I grew up with. But I’m writing fantasy books for young adults. I have to keep it simple. This list is not a fact list… I, therefore, permit myself the freedom to use the respective creature I need – and I don’t feel very guilty adjusting the demons a bit in order to be useful for my current scene.

With a little bit of my own spicy humor, I allowed myself to object the common existing demon-name-lists by leaving the fallen Archangel Lucifer’s name as it was and positioning him on the top of the seven thrones of Hell. Experts on that might kick my butt for that, but no matter how many ‘bad guys’ there are, in the series, I’m working on fighting them. I figure, one more isn’t that much of a drama.

Also, I did not forget that Evil tempts with softness, with the illusion of love and with beauty… Demons in my books rarely look like leathery wings carrying, flying, and walking horror creatures…

Lucifer is a beautiful as a personified sin… and so are his minions in the form we humans can understand… But when they are home… where they live… in their place and their environment… that’s different. Then the entire extent of the evilness they hold becomes obvious – and visible.

 

 

Picture courtesy of Google.com

 

The Horrific History of St. Albans Bible – Written By Nicholas Rossis

Nicholas Rossis introduces us to the history of the St. Albans Bible which I found fascinating. Thanks so much for that post, Nicholas. I just HAD to share it.


You may remember Erik Kwakkel or Leiden University from earlier posts like A Fantasy Tip From History: Medieval Spam. Erik recently shared the incredible history of St. Albans Bible. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

A Horror Story

In 1964, the New York rare book dealer Philip Duschnes (d. 1970) bought and subsequently broke a splendid medieval Bible produced in early-fourteenth-century Paris.

Leaf from the St Albans Bible auctioned at Christie’s on 10 July 2019 (now part of the McCarthy Collection). Source

 

Continue Reading Here

The Story And The Cover – Finding The Right Model

While working on ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I built character by character, developed, considered their look, decided who they are and in what direction they would head within their story.

But also, I was ‘creating’ their look; dark hair, blue eyes, black hair, bronze eyes, tall, muscular, petite, almost ethereal. I will deliver many descriptions while ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series progresses.

In my head, the characters and their personality formed together with their look, and while creating them, I didn’t consider any consequences – like the book cover to the story.

Let me give you an example:
Katie is a breathtaking beauty with caramel colored hair and brown eyes; her cream skin makes her look almost fragile.

To find ‘Katie’ I was busy looking through hundreds of pictures on several websites. In a way, it was an exciting task, and my excitement grew with every picture. But after a while I got slightly bored, my hope slowly dying that I would find “THE” Katie… the woman I had created in my head.

I wish I could say, ‘suddenly’ I found her, just as she was in my fantasy… but the fact is, I didn’t. Katie was not one of the models, but the Model I found has caramel colored hair and is stunningly beautiful. I set the first mark on her picture. Whenever I discovered a model who got close to her beauty or my description, I tagged her. In the end, I compared all the models and by process of elimination, I ‘rejected’ one model after the next until I got ‘my Katie.’

I took some time to get used to ‘combine’ my fantasy with the model and then went through the different pictures of the model. Finally, I picked the one that’s on the cover now.

By now that’s ‘my Katie’ on the cover.

I was talking with my cover designer about the cover. I could deliver her Katie, but what about the rest of the cover? The man, the background, the font? I’m lucky to have a cover designer who knows her stuff. I informed her that I couldn’t go through the model search again. I wanted some mystery, some secret.

Soul Taker isn’t a love-story-romance where a man and a woman are kissing on the cover…


I wanted something different; a man every reader can connect to, and has the chance to create the character’s look in their own fantasy. And my cover designer found the solution. I’m very proud of the ‘Soul Taker’ cover.

Since the second book in the series is completed and only needs to return from the Copyright Lawyer, we had to get together and discuss the next cover.

Believe it or not – I was sitting on the monitor and dully clicked through hundreds of pictures.

Let me tell you – the thought of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series is planned to contain 13 books, scares me.

How are you designing your covers? At what point do you start considering what should be on the cover, and if you have cover models – how do you pick them? Let us know about it in the comments. We’re curious.


Buy Soul Taker here:


Amazon Ebook US
Amazon Ebook UK
Amazon Paperback US
Amazon Paperback UK
Amazon Kindle DE
Amazon Paperback DE
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
SCR|BD
Kobo
iTunes

Why Creativity Can’t Be Taught

“What is creativity?

During my research I found there are about as many definitions of ‘creativity’ as there are people. For example:

Henry Rollins says: “Starting with nothing and ending up with something. Interpreting something you saw or experienced and processing it so it comes out different than how it went in.”

Daniel Pink‘s definition is: “Giving the world something it didn’t know it was missing.”

The English Oxford Dictionary‘s definition is: “The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.”

*************************************

Now, according to ‘Psychology Today’ creativity cannot be taught. In 2011 they wrote, you can teach everyone how to use a hammer or knitting needles.

But knowing how to use a hammer or a knitting needle doesn’t make you creative. Visualizing, dimensionally manipulating or modeling the chairs you build in your mind’s eye won’t necessarily make you creative either. Whether material or mental, these tools just provide the techniques and materials that make creative outcomes possible.

Seven years ago many states started calling for tests to find out about the student’s creativity, Massachusetts and California ahead.

Psychology Today does believe that tools for imaginative and creative thinking can be exercised and that habits, behaviors and strategies within the creative process can be taught. But they don’t believe creativity itself can be taught.

Neither do I. Let’s take a look at the quote I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I found many more quotes like these and each one of them included words like “imagination”, “fantasy”, “ideas”, “invention”, and “mind-wandering”. None of these habits would go with a person uninterested in inventing a creative process, creative thinking or any creative mind.

Wharton University of Pennsylvania wrote an article in 2014, about 4 feet long, including tons of complicated words, unnecessary studies and quotes, and at the end came to the conclusion that creativity cannot be taught. I had to read the post twice to be sure of the result. (Source: Wharton)

Monica Malhotra, Managing Director of the MBD Group, an interior designer and decorator without a technical degree, clearly declared in 2016: “Creativity cannot be taught to anyone. It’s a quality which is god-gifted. People can help you polish this quality but no one can imbibe it into someone,”

Even Steve Jobbs said: “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

How do you teach fantasy, imagination, vision and painting pictures in your head to someone? I believe it’s as simple as that: “You can’t.” I’m with Steve Jobbs and Monica Malhotra on that. Creativity is a God given talent that cannot be taught nor learned.

Share your opinion about this conclusion in the comments, please. I’m curious.

7 Tips for Writing Fantasy – Written By Nicholas Rossis

On Nicholas Rossis’ blog I found an article by “Reedsy”, providing us with 7 tips for writing fantasy. Thanks a lot for your efforts to share this information, Nicholas! We really appreciate it!


Reedsy recently published some great tips for fantasy authors–tips which can be easily applied to any fiction writing. Here is my summary of a selection of these tips.

1. Identify your Market

If you think it’s enough to say, “oh, I write fantasy,” think again. With so many fantasy genres, readers tend to cluster around specific subgenres which can range from Harry Potter to steampunk and Young Adult.

2. Use Short Stories

This was a great tip, reminding us of the value of short stories to flesh out our world and characters. When you write these with the specific aim of excluding them from your novels, you will find that you have more creative freedom and can discover surprising things about your universe.

Continue reading the article on Nicholas Rossis’ blog here:

https://nicholasrossis.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/7-tips-for-writing-fantasy/

Tomte is now available for pre-order!

Jamie Fessenden’s TOMTE is now available for pre-order. Read the blurb and excerpt. That book seems really interesting. And I’m going to read it!

Jamie Fessenden's Blog

My newest Christmas story Tomte is now available on Amazon for pre-order!

It’s a very short pre-order period, mostly because I’ve never done one before, so I needed to figure out how they work. But the official release date is on Saturday, December 1st.

RYAN ANDERSON has known something was wrong since he was a teenager. He’s been tormented by a sense of emptiness and loss—but what did he lose? He has no idea. Then a mysterious man appears, calling himself Tomte, a Swedish word Ryan remembers hearing from his grandmother in his childhood.

It means “Christmas elf.”

With the help of his older brother and his nine-year-old niece, Ryan begins a journey to discover what happened fifteen years ago, when he disappeared during a winter storm and didn’t reappear until spring. Not only has he forgotten those months, he’s forgotten the faithful dog who failed to come…

View original post 593 more words

Elements of fantasy: Writing a more magical story – from Now Novel…

On The Story Reading Ape’s blog I found an interesting article about the elements of fantasy writing. Thanks so much for this link, Chris!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

What makes a fantasy story? Our first instinct might be to answer ‘magic’ – spells, mythical beasts, potions. Yet fantasy contains multiple key elements. Read the following simple breakdown of elements of the fantasy genre and tips to write magical, fantastical tales:

View original post 151 more words

Adding An Alien To The Story

From a very young age, I have been fascinated by owls. I love owls, as do many other people I meet. According to psychologists, these birds are sympathetic to us for having an ‘almost human face.’ Let’s see if they’re right:

Both pics were courtesy of http://www.google.com

And this isn’t a hint that Johnny Depp looks like an owl. I just picked someone most of us know. Two eyes, a nose, and a mustache. Compared to other birds owls have both eyes on the front of their head instead of the side. But this isn’t the subject of this blog post.

As I said, I’m fascinated by owls. There are many mysterious facts about them:

  • An owls’ eyes are immobile; they cannot ‘roll their eyes’ or move the eyeballs. They can focus on pray. But then, they can turn their heads about 270 degrees.
  • Their ears are asymmetric; one ear sits higher on the head than the other. Since they have excellent hearing, this way they can hear sound in different dimensions.
  • Lager owls eat small ones. And an owl can eat up to 1,000 mice a year. They swallow them entirely: tail, fur, feet – everything. Later they choke up what their body can’t digest. Occasionally these pellets can be found on the ground in the woods.
  • The smallest owl on Earth is the Elf Owl, which is 5 – 6 inches tall and weighs about 1 ½ ounces. The largest North American owl, in appearance, is the Great Gray Owl, which is up to 32 inches tall.
  • Superstitious people in certain parts of the world still believe owls are death omens. In wide parts of Europe owls have been killed by the hundreds because, in particular, farmers believed, owls are a bad sign of destruction. Until in the early 70’s these stupid people nailed owls to their sheds with their wings spread and left them to hang to die and believed this way they could protect their crop, animals, and house from disaster, accident and natural force.
  • For a very long time, owls have been a symbol of scholarliness and wisdom. It seems the origin of this habit goes back to the Ancient Greeks: In Greek mythology, a little owl (Athene noctua) traditionally represents or accompanies Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom, or Minerva, her syncretic incarnation in Roman mythology.[1] Because of such association, the bird — often referred to as the “owl of Athena” or the “owl of Minerva” — has been used as a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, perspicacity and erudition throughout the Western world.[2][3] (Source Wikipedia)

To me, they have a trace of magic about them.

The series of books I am currently writing is classified between paranormal romance and fantasy, and there is some magic involved. For a while now I have considered adding an owl to one of the stories. But I cannot place it.

No matter how much I think and try, no matter how fascinated I am by owls, that particular owl has no room in these books. It would feel like an alien within those stories. I even considered to build a story around the owl to add it, but it doesn’t make sense at all. It seems owls are not foreseen to be in this book series.

I then thought I might write another story about an owl. But I admit, I didn’t see a plot that does not make a children’s book. At this point, I never considered writing a children’s book. So, what am I doing with my owl?

Does anyone have an idea? And did anyone of you authors out there have an idea for a character and found out that it doesn’t fit into the book you’re writing? What did you do? How did it make you feel? I’d be happy to read from you in my comments.

picture courtesy of http://www.google.com

 

Author Spotlight Ari Meghlen

Welcome!

1. When did you start writing?

Firstly, thank you so much for having me on your blog.

I’ve been writing since I was given unsupervised access to pens. 🙂 I believe it was around the age of 8 years old. I loved making up stories and a teacher gave us an assignment to describe a friendly monster under the bed. I wrote not only a description but a story about him. And I haven’t stopped writing since 🙂

2. What motivates you to write?

I don’t really need motivation to write. It’s just what I was born to do. I am forever caught by scenes, character or plots that just fill my head until I need to get them down. It’s like writing relieves pressure in my mind and gives space to all the new ideas slipping in.

3. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre?

I write Preternatural Urban Fantasy, more traditional Fantasy though I’ve also written sci-fi and some crime as well as Police Procedural stories. I have always been drawn to fantasy and sci-fi. It’s what I love to read and watch as movies. But I never like being tied to just one genre. Mainly because the ideas I get stretch over multiple genres.

4. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you?

My dream is to write full-time. I don’t care for great success or wealth (the latter would be nice if it happened). I just want to do what I love full-time.

I would love to see my work published, but I have no interest in rushing that just to see something I wrote in print. I have a specific level I want to get my writing to before I publish.

I want someone to read my stories and escape within my worlds, to connect with my characters and the ultimate… would be for someone to love my characters the way I love my favourite author’s characters.

5. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it?

I call it Creative Constipation and yes, I’ve suffered badly. I will often take a step back from writing as it can come on due to burn-out. I will watch movies in the same genre I am currently writing and when I’m ready to go back, I will do writing exercises.

This usually involves trawling the internet for random photos or pictures and then writing about them. It can be something as simple as just literally writing out exactly what I see in the photo, to describing a mood, coming up with what happens next etc. I think of it like greasing the wheels in my head.

6. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors?

Advice? Let’s see:

1 – Never refer to yourself as “aspiring”. If you write, you’re a writer. Own it.

2 – Writing is hard but that’s okay. It’s awesome and worth it, but don’t think it’s a cake-walk because it’s not.

3 – Never stop writing – there will be a lot of people who want to tear you down. This can even include friends and family. If you want to write, then let nothing stop you.

4 – Work at it. Writing gets better with practice. Don’t just write something fast and publish. There is already too much rough, unedited, barely-polished stuff out there. Take pride in your work and make it the best it can be. Better that it takes time and be great, than you rush and it be lacking.

5 – Learn to take criticism. It’s hard and we all hate it. But suck it up, Buttercup it’s part of the process. Learn to distinguish between good, solid critiquing and random, unhelpful criticism. Don’t lash out when someone offers feedback. Take a breath, step back and see what they say. They might just help your story grow. And remember, in the end, you’re the writer – you don’t have to use the feedback if you really don’t want to.

6 – Lastly, understand that if you want to be a writer and sell your work, that there is a business side to it. So, start early and learn about things like networking, marketing, branding etc. The more you learn the better position you will be in.

7. Please, tell us about your work.

My Preternatural Urban Fantasy is in it’s 2nd draft and with my Alpha Reader at the moment.

I am currently working on a new, more traditional fantasy set in a world called Ly’rium. The first book focuses mostly on Thea, one of the long-living Imorie. Having been kept hidden in her family estate for years, she is finally reaching the age where she can take control of her own life.

However, that freedom is suddenly snatched away when she marked as a Potential. Now Thea is forced to fulfil a gruelling, mentally and physically-challenging trial to test her inner power. If she passes, she will become one of the Blessed. If not, her mind will broken in the maelstrom leaving her a shell of herself.

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!


Connect with Ari:

Website – https://arimeghlen.co.uk/
Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/writerarimeghlen/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AriMeghlen
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ari_meghlen/