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Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 31, 2018: Looking to the Poetic

     One of the things I wanted to do when I started writing seriously was republish a small book of poetry that I assembled when I still lived in Houston. I had been writing poetry for the pleasure of my friends and family since the early seventies, and back in the late nineties, I put them together and printed them at the print shop I managed. The cover had been simple, and the book was not very large, but it felt good back then to have them all assembled into one book that I could offer my friends. I only printed about thirty copies, and they went pretty fast, so there was a second printing of another twenty.
     Since I had published three short stories when I retired, and I had garnered a small following, I decided to do a reprint with a new cover, and a new poem to go with it. This would be my first attempt at a paperback, and I hoped that it would do well. It did not. Most of the people who followed my poetry years earlier weren't interested in buying the new version and those who did not know me showed no interest at all. It's still out there, for anyone looking for my earlier work, but so far there have been few takers.
     It is a compilation of my best poetry written between 1970 and 1997 with one new piece that I wrote about my mother, who passed away when I was 25. I originally planned to publish three poetry books, and this was the first one. I selected my most encouraging poems for this volume, but the idea of the other two volumes was eventually dropped for other projects.
     The cover shown above was the mock-up for the new printing. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March 13th, 2018: The Prequel no one Expected



     By the time that I got around to my third story, I had made some new author friends who were teaching me how they handled some of their stories. One thing that I heard from several writers is the idea of introducing characters for an upcoming novel by writing a short story featuring them. "Gretchen's Shoot" was that story. I had a novel that I wanted to write about a brilliant scientist who traveled back in time to fix some things in his life that he had messed up over the years. In that story, he had let the love of his life get away and ended up marrying someone else on the rebound. Because of his lack of real commitment to his "second fiddle" wife, the two of them were pretty miserable together.
     Gretchen was the wife that the scientist settled for, and as he buried himself in his work, she and her sister took up various sports before discovering wrestling. Learning that they were actually pretty good at it, they became one of the top tag teams in the league. Things were exciting, and they were at the top of their game until the managers of the league decided that it would be a huge draw to have the two sisters compete against each other. While the siblings let the idea roll around in their heads, Gretchen learned that her partner sister had seriously betrayed her trust in a way that deeply affected her personally. 
     Although this story is about the wrestling industry, I did not describe an actual wrestling match in the plot. The match between the two sisters plays an important part in demonstrating the relationship between the women, but it was not necessary to have a play by play of the contest.
     Why a wrestling story? It's hard to answer that because the saga pretty much wrote itself. It started as a prelude to "At Some Point in Time", but as I began making notes, the ideas flowed freely. I had an entirely different ending to the story when I started writing it, but it just didn't feel right to me. I needed this short story to mesh properly with the novel I was planning, so I shifted gears at the end to make it fit perfectly. It actually became more of a morality tale, which just made more sense. The whole plan was to create this crisis for Gretchen that she had to resolve before the meeting with her sister in the ring. She was at a crossroad, and the direction she took would determine how her life would progress.

Monday, February 19, 2018

February 19th, 2018: Reviving past efforts


After the publication of my unconventional ghost story (The Picture of the Ghost,) I decided to rework my first complete (unpublished) short story entitled "The Empath". I had an idea for a character who could read the emotions of others and interact with them on an internal level. That was James, the empath from a story I had written thirty years earlier about a young man who traveled around the country helping those with deep seated emotional problems.

Although James was the protagonist of the story, it was told from the perspective of an antagonist named Ann Harrison, an intern at a small country doctor's clinic. Having been mistreated by men most of her life, she trusted no one, so when the doctor called James in to help a young girl who had suffered the severe trauma of seeing her mother beheaded in a gruesome traffic accident, it was not surprising that Ann belittled the young man with his claims of some kind of paranormal ability to heal people by entering their minds.

Normally, James would not care whether anyone believed in his talent or not, but he saw a need in Ann that he thought he could help her with. The tale unfolds with James helping the young accident victim cope with her loss before turning his attention to Ann. He demonstrates his gift to her by allowing her to see what he experiences when he connects with a patient.

James has been a character that has been close to my heart because as is developed in the short story, his gift causes him a great deal of personal suffering, opening him up to some of the worst pain that the human race has to deal with. He takes that upon himself, allowing the destructive emotions to bleed off, bringing restoration to the patient. He sacrifices his own peace of mind to bring about the healing that is necessary.

If God grants me the days on this earth, it is my intention to write a full length novel about James, going into a great deal more detail about his activities. I already have a suspenseful tale worked out to some degree.

Monday, February 12, 2018

February 12, 2018: Going through the pages...

It has been four years since I began writing seriously now, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I look forward to the stories still to be written, and if God grants me the days, I will get them all down on paper for the pleasure of those who follow my work.

The first story that I published was "The Picture of the Ghost", and was not what I expected to be writing when I decided to make the effort. Rather than the science fiction that I planned to write, it was a gentle ghost story, not scary at all, and in some places funny. It came about from watching some of the reality shows on television where groups of paranormal investigators go into haunted buildings, and using sophisticated equipment, try to detect and communicate with the spirits of people who have passed on.

I felt that some of these investigators analyze the data they collect and jump to conclusions that I found hard to swallow. The question in my mind was, "How do they KNOW that the ghost is saying what they think he is saying? What if they have it all wrong, and something else is going on behind the scenes?"

That was where Jake came into the picture. A poor country boy who stumbles onto the wrong side of the law, Jake finds himself in prison, supposedly for only a few weeks. Poisoned by some bad food that he ate, he dies in his cell one day, but does not realize it. Time blurs for him as he continues to keep his normal routine every day, tracing the steps he made in life. He wonders why no one takes any notice of him, but it is not until an inmate swings a mop through his body that he understands that he is actually dead.

Years pass, and decades fly by as time progresses until one day, alone in the abandoned prison, he is visited by the crew of paranormal "scientists" who have heard of a solitary ghost who continues to walk the cell blocks and courtyard outside. Running through their usual processes, they discover Jake and interact with him in a most unfortunate manner, coming to some terribly wrong conclusions about him.

It was a fun story to write, but I almost did not publish it, considering it my first attempt at writing and most likely not worthy of public consumption. Through the encouragement of several friends and family, I did go ahead with it, to some positive results that helped me continue to write. I thought I might move on to the story that I really wanted to write, but there would be three more stories before I finally had the chance to write that one...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November 29th, 2017: Release of Missy Sheldrake's Call of Elespen


Missy Sheldrake

Once again, I am blessed to be able to announce another great novel by the very talented author and artist, Missy Sheldrake. I have been following her Wellsprings series for a couple of years now, and been delighted by the imagination and wit of her writing and the awesome artwork she produces to accompany her books. I have seen several of her standalone art pieces and loved every one of them. I have even been fortunate enough to have Ms. Sheldrake work on covers for a couple of my own books. She saw the vision I was trying to portray and provided art that exceeded my expectations every time. - Ray Holloway





About the Author


Missy Sheldrake is an author/illustrator who has been conjuring images of fairies in one form or another since she was very young. The wind in the trees and the rich scent of forest earth are her most treasured sources of inspiration, and on most mornings you will find her wandering the wooded paths, dreaming of the next adventure she hopes to put to the page.

Missy was born in Connecticut and attended Western Connecticut State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Art with a concentration in painting and illustration. Even then, in her free time, she was writing. She moved to Northern Virginia several years ago and lives there now, on the outskirts of Washington D.C., with her true love and their son. She published her first novel, Call of Kythshire, in March of 2015 and intends to keep writing as long as the fairies allow it.


 Ms. Sheldrake's series is completed in Call of Elespen, the fifth book of the series.


In the epic conclusion of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series…

Fairies and dragons, mages and muses, Dreamstalker and knight band together in the name of the Dawn. Their quest: To seek the final two offerings required to unite the Allsource, to unite all Wellsprings, and to bring forth the Age of Kinship in the Known Lands.

When word reaches our heroes of the mysterious silence in Elespen, the location of one of the final required Wellsprings’ offerings, they must take quick action to seek out its cause. Faced with the ruthless Muse of Earth and her partner, the Muse of Darkness, Tib and Saesa band with a new ally to plunge into the lush, mysterious jungles of Elespen. Will they reach the Wellspring in time, or will the indigenous people of Elespen fall victim to the forces of Dusk?

Azi, Rian, and Flitt, meantime, have an even more serious threat to deal with. The forces of Dusk are rallying, backed by the most ruthless Sorcerers our heroes have faced yet. Called to delve into the depths of Sixledge, the lair of Dusk, they must face their enemy head-on to prevent their world from plunging forever into darkness.
The Keepers of the Wellsprings series has been called “An enchanting read from start to finish.”  Find out why—start the series today!

What reviewers are saying about the Keepers of the Wellsprings series:
“…this book had nice readability and should appeal to a wide range of audiences. Too often fantasy is written far too mature, or too childish. The author does a good job of not talking down to her audience, which leads to this readability range.” Fatho, Amazon Reviewer
Azaeli is an awesome young lady; one to watch in the role model stakes.” -T.L. Clark, Author
“…an enchanting read from start to finish.” J. Ortiz, Amazon Reviewer
“Epic, Epic, Epic, wow what an incredible book, story and entry to a fantasy realm. This has movie possibilities written all over it. Magnificent writing, adventure with good and evil and some that are in between the two. Dark forces and forces of light. It simply doesn't get any better.” -Kindle Reviewer

Obviously, I am a huge fan of Missy Sheldrake's and enjoy following her work. This series of books indeed does appeal to a wide range of readers and would make an excellent gift for anyone! Check out the Keepers of the Wellsprings series today! Listed below are links to these books and Ms. Sheldrake's various sites. - Ray Holloway


LINKS

Call of Kythshire (Book One):
https://amzn.com/B00UVLQWGY

Call of Sunteri (Book Two):
https://amzn.com/B0187IG3HK

Call of Brindelier (Book Three):
https://amzn.com/B01FM8XR7W

Call of Hywilkin (Book Four)
https://amzn.com/B06WGNWLH9

Call of Elespen (Book Five)
https://amzn.com/B077MTB5KH

Snowberry Blossom (Perma-free holiday short story):
https://amzn.com/B0196P041O

Website:
www.missysheldrake.com