Category Archives: Inspiration

Words of Wisdom, etc., that inspire Christians to write fantasy.

Sacrifice – Authors and Characters

It’s Good Friday. The day we commemorate the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ whose shed blood covers our sins and provides salvation. Sacrifice is one of the theme archetypes in fantasy. Characters sacrifice comfort, home, family, friends, and sometimes themselves in order to achieve the quest and (more often than not) save the world. But is that sacrifice worthwhile?

In fantasy, the theme of sacrifice is very common, almost to the point of becoming a cliché. But it is also relatable. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NKJV). I have had a character who sacrificed himself because it was part of his character arc and I’ve seen some extremely well-written sacrifice arcs that cover everything from comfort and home to oneself. Because, let’s be honest, how boring would the Hobbit have been if Bilbo Baggins didn’t sacrifice comfort in order to go on an adventure? Or how differently would the Lord of the Rings have been if (Spoilers ahead!) Gandalf hadn’t sacrificed himself to provide the escape from the Balrog or Frodo sacrificing everything to carry the ring to Mordor or Boromir sacrificing himself in his final redemption as he tried to protect Merry and Pippin? And how much more do we love the characters who are willing and ready to lay down their lives for their faith or to protect another character?

But, what we authors need to be mindful of is whether the sacrifice truly fits into the character’s growth (this goes double for if he or she is a main character)? I won’t name any of the books or movies I felt had a contrived sacrifice because we all know that reader opinions vary when it comes to whether a sacrifice was fitting/moving or contrived. But, when considering having your hero or heroine make the ultimate sacrifice take into account whether or not they have to die or only be willing to die. Sacrifice does not always mean that the character making it must die. Willingness to die can be just as poignant. Or perhaps the ultimate sacrifice does not need to be made by your hero or heroine but by someone else. The plucky sidekick who has been the light, joyful reminder of all the good in the world. Or the previous traitor (willing or unwilling) who wants so badly to make amends and maybe protect his/her family or friends. When I try to decide whether a character makes the ultimate sacrifice, I look at his/her growth over the course of the story and whether a sacrificial death will (a) complete the character’s natural redemption/growth arc or (b) is just a way for me to make sure everyone in the world can see how sacrificial and great this character is even though I have other options for both sacrifice participant and type of sacrifice/plot resolution or (c) I have run out of ideas for this character and I’m not even going to consider the other options because they must die. Obviously, option a is the preferred one and leaves more satisfied (if emotionally crushed) readers.

I think part of the reason sacrifice is such a popular theme, in fantasy and especially in fantasy written by Christians is tied to Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. It is a vital part of our beliefs that Jesus Himself carried out the greatest sacrifice once for all the sins of every person in the world, past, present, and future. And our beliefs impact our writing. Look at Tolkien, he did not set out to write the Lord of the Rings as an allegory but his Christian beliefs left an imprint on  his characters and their story arcs. And many Christians feel that their fantasy should be allegorical at least to the extent of having a character mirror Christ’s sacrificial death even if it comes across as forced to readers. To each his own.

Another reason I think sacrifice is a popular theme is because authors can relate to it . . . a lot. Authors sacrifice many things ranging from spending all their free time off work working on their writing to cutting back extra pleasures such as going out to eat to save up for a professional editor or even choosing to turn down a high-grade contract due to the publisher wanting content that the author’s Christian conscience cannot agree to writing. Writing is not the career path to take if a person only wants to get rich quick and it will take a while (unless you happen to become an overnight sensation) before you build a big enough fan base and have enough books out to break even and even longer before you earn a profit. But these sacrifices are made because authors love to write.

What we need to remember and what Good Friday and Easter remind us of is the fact that the truest and best sacrifices are motivated out of love. Not the drive to be the best saintly character ever. Not for fame or impressive contracts. True sacrifice is made out of love, it is an expression of love. And the best sacrificial arcs in fantasy and in any fiction are those motivated by love, the truest and purest of love whether it is romantic, familial, philia, or agape.

 

*Note: Due to it being Easter weekend, which is a time for family, the next episode of The Stolen Jewel will be posted on the 12th.

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The Inspiration Behind The Stolen Jewel

My web serial, The Stolen Jewel, is a medieval-esque fantasy romance. However, it is based on a historical event. About six weeks ago, I was reading an article about Philip II of France who had three wives and one that got away. My curiosity was definitely engaged when I read that the woman who was originally meant to be Philip II’s third queen was “carried off in an ambush” by a count.

In 1195, the Count of Geneva sent his daughter by convoy to France for her wedding to Philip II. Count Thomas of Savoy ambushed the party and stole Margaret/Marguerite away. He married her and used the defense that Philip II had yet to be divorced form his second queen to keep from being taken to task. The marriage between Thomas and Marguerite resulted in fourteen or fifteen children so I assume the match was agreeable to the girl. It probably helped that Thomas was 17/18 when he carried her away from a marriage to 30-year-old Philip since she was probably about 16. Thomas was young, dashing, and both rash and cunning enough to get away with the stunt. 😉 Thomas and Marguerite became the grandparents of four queen consorts through one of their daughters, including the queens of France and England.

Naturally, I wished I could find more information about the count and his stolen bride, which wasn’t available. I also wondered what would have happened if Philip had been more invested in fetching his stolen bride or if he were actually the count’s  king. Ronan happily rose to the challenge although I decided it would take more than a count to defy his own king and made him a duke. The ambush needed gryphons because that was one of the coolest ways to ambush someone I could think of (yes, I will pick some factors based on the coolness). 😉 And I decided the king needed to be a true villain in order to make this more than a man scorned who doesn’t know how to lose gracefully. Mauger has the worst traits of the medieval kings, a true despot, and he is NOT going to let Etain go just because she’s now married to another man, especially when the man in question is Ronan.

Whether Ronan and Etain have a happy ending remains to be seen, of course. The tale of Thomas and Marguerite of Savoy has been an excellent reminder of how much story fodder can be found in history for more than the historical fiction genre. 😀 The Stolen Jewel will continue to explore what happens when a noble is bold enough to steal the king’s intended in the upcoming episodes posted every Sunday.

I Love It When . . .

I love it when a plan comes together. Or in this case, when a story comes together. I don’t know about the rest of you but the moment when a new character bursts into my imagination AND totes a nice plot with key point outline (deciding on major points is as detailed as this pantster gets lol) is simply magical.

The funny thing is that Baran, whose first story is in final edits, simply prowled out of the dark and mysterious forest intent on hunting the Fringe and keeping his people from being exposed to the outside world. He was also above providing me with more than his intense first chapter for several months. This from the general who holds honor as sacred. 😉 Characters are so fickle.

My latest hero is a bit of a scoundrel but he was the most considerate to the author, go figure. Of course, his story is already promising to be equal parts exasperating, charming, and nerve-wracking. The best part of his journey is that it promises to give me something other than edits to think about. Baran’s stories are ongoing and he too has his second full-length novel outlined but for ease of obtaining the necessary information for the story, the prize goes to Edmund. His story is certainly going to be different than that of Baran’s but I enjoy that about my heroes and the heroines as well. They’re not carbon copies placed in different settings. Each one comes with their own stories and motivations. Baran, whom you will meet first, is the stoic and honorable military man. I enjoy tormenting him with a girl who has absolutely no concept of proper military-appropriate rules and conducts herself with annoying flamboyancy (as Baran describes her). 😀

As for the other characters you are destined to meet as soon as I finish their stories . . .

Well, once you meet them, you’ll be able to see for yourselves just how unique they are.

What was the easiest story for you to come up with? Did the character bring you the whole kit and caboodle or did some parts come sooner than others? Any tips on how to coax stubborn characters into spilling the story?

Book Launch Tour – Thaw – DIY Wolf Fight

Book Launch Tour – Thaw – Part Two of Two

I am a huge fan of stories that retell classic fairy tales, especially when they incorporate elements that remain true to the source material while still being creatively original. E. Kaiser Writes has done this with her new series Thaw and today she is sharing a little more about the real life inspiration for the wolf fight in Prince of Demargen, the third installment in her series.

Thaw 3 BooksJan

What about the wolf fight? I’ve heard that is uniquely realistic, and inspired from experience?

Yes! That one makes me laugh, because of the story behind it. I wrote that scene in Prince of Demargen where the timber wolves play a pivotal role and it was one of the most intense scenes for me to write, (among many, because with this story I just didn’t include a scene unless it sucker-punched me a little some way or another.) But this wolf fight scene especially plays against the backdrop of some of childhood’s integral fears: the night, the snow flurries, nobody can see: and then there’s these wolves stalking the characters. In the back of these characters minds they fundamentally know that the pack is really after their horses, (in real life, wolves will go for horse meat above most other domestic animals) but these predators will take anybody they can get, of course. And the people aren’t going to abandon their horses in mountain forest; so the one character rushes out to bring the fight to them, and ends up in a dagger-vs-fang fight. Knock down drag out, very rough and tumble as you might expect, going hand to hand with a wild animal.  I wrote that as authentically as I could and then when I later received that piece back from my editor she commented that it felt so real. She said, and I quote: “Wow. This is so thrillingly scary. How did you imagine what a wolf fight would be like???!!”

Check out Prince of Demargen’s pinterest board for some scary wolf fight pictures!

It’d been some time since I’d written the scene, and so I had to think about it for a moment. And then I just laughed, because I could link that the memory of writing that scene directly with the memory of a certain dog I had as a teen. He was a magnificent animal, I’ve rarely seen anything more athletic than he was. He was a Karelian Bear Dog, so for anyone who knows that breed they’ll immediately understand. I raised him from a pup and worked hard to train him… he was incredibly smart but one of the most arrogant dogs I’ve ever experienced. He was just an “untamed spirit” kind of thing, and although he loved me, he didn’t want to do what he didn’t want to do. No matter how much I wanted him to do it!   And worming him was something he flat out didn’t want to participate in. I would literally have to wrestle him to the ground and fight with him physically until he finally surrendered enough to take his wormer and swallow it. After the first few times I left the wormer with a sibling, and got the wrestling fight over with first. He knew exactly what was about to happen so we’d roll all over the yard and he’d resist until he finally gave up. Then I’d get the wormer handed to me and then we’d have a few more struggles, and then I’d get him to swallow it.  All the other dogs took it fine. They didn’t like it, but it was just something you swallowed and then you were done with. But with him, it was always a point. Never ever just said “Okay, fine” from the get go. Always was a “I refuse!” tussle.   This was an extremely exhausting process for me, and I always emerged totally played out… we came to respect each other deeply, that dog and I, for he knew that I would refuse to give up longer than he would and so I always got the ‘last word in’ so to speak.  And I was really the only one he’d listen to, because I had proven to him that I wouldn’t give up, and so in most other things he’d do what I said. I never underestimated him; he wasn’t “obeying me”… he was just “siding with me”.   He was an amazing dog and an amazing experience, and I truly believe that any wolf would be fairly similar to what he presented. Possibly less ahtletic, ’cause that dog was super-powered and like a canine version of Spiderman. From what I’ve seen of wolves they are looser jointed, and so would be slightly less “quick twitch” muscle… but then dealing with a wild animal attacking would color the situation a little differently as well.   But I think the situation, while fictional of course, is feasible: wolves attack by slash and run, they don’t “close” with their prey (the way a bull dog is famous for, never letting go) So once you did close with them, they’d be pretty uncomfortable, and mostly trying to get some distance, while of course trying to slash with their fangs as they did it.  If you were able to get their head unable to reach you well, then you could conceivably defeat a wolf with only a dagger… so long as you weren’t worried about getting hurt yourself. You’d have to be all in, totally invested in the fight, or else you’d pull back and it’d surely escape you.

*guest post by E. Kaiser Writes

 

EKaiserWritesAuthorPicE. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mtns, the Smoky Mtns, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north.

She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence & fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and… authoress!

 

Use the rafflecopter code below to win prizes such as a copy of Thaw: Winter’s Child.

Thaw++WCh+promo

A barren king and queen pray for a child, and when in their loneliness, they make one out of snow, their prayers are answered in a special, and unusual way.
Sometimes, when we get what we wish for, we don’t know what to do with it.Combining elements from the Snow Maiden, Schneekind, Snegurochka tales with those of the Snow Queen; Winter’s Child introduces a new series: THAW.
Live on Amazon:
Or a copy of Thaw: Winter’s Queen.
Thaw++WQu+promo

A slightly pampered girl allows her avoidance behavior to isolate her from the world… and it’s only when she takes the final step that she realizes the wall she’s built in the name of safety is also the one that will hold her prisoner forever… unless she discovers how to destroy it.

The only one who can break a neurosis… is the one who has it.

Combining elements from the Snow Maiden, Schneekind, Snegurochka tales with those of the Snow Queen; Winter Queen continues a new series: THAW.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RWUVZQO/

Or a copy of Thaw: Prince of Demargen.
Thaw+PrD+promo

The whole world knows his guilt, and is absolutely correct about it, but how far can a man go to regain respect so swiftly lost?

Or is an honorable death the best a fallen star can hope for?

The only person who can help him… is the one he most deeply wronged.

Prince of Demargen is third in a new series: THAW.

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Book Launch Tour – Thaw – Ice Maidens in Real Life

Book Launch Tour – Thaw – Part One of Two

I am a huge fan of stories that retell classic fairy tales, especially when they incorporate elements that remain true to the source material while still being creatively original. E. Kaiser Writes has done this with her new series Thaw and today she is sharing a little more about the series and how ice maidens can exist in real life.

Thaw 3 BooksJan

Ice Maidens in Real Life

Okay! Yes! This is a subject that is very close to home for me, and one of the driving reasons why I couldn’t stop writing this new series even though I had lots of WIPs I was intending for work on. I’ve been really blown away with how much this has resonated with others, too, during this tour, and it’s the top asked question. I think that stories can be such powerful ways of identifying and addressing a truth that we have in our own lives, and they can really make a difference in how we’re able to handle problems in real life.
As I’ve said before, part of maturity of every kind is separating actions from feelings. Different personalities of course process life differently, but while some just keep reacting to everything they feel, others of us try to keep from reacting by quitting feeling.
I know this somewhat from personal experience, I was the kind of middle child that clammed up. The worse things got the further I retreated inside, telling myself that things couldn’t hurt me if I could just stop feeling them.
We show our greatest power when on a peak of emotion, and as kids that’s often when we behave the very worst. So not having the emotion seems like a good solution to some of us.
Which of course can only lead to problems.
Ilise is a special gift a la the Snow Maiden; when her barren parents build a baby out of snow, Thaw Ilise Head promo 2their many years of prayers are answered and they are given the child they have so long yearned for. But with her special origins comes the ability to freeze, (opposite the Snow Maiden tales, in which the poor child always melted away) Her parents have no idea how to deal with that; and soon all three of them are freaked out about her future and what her strange-ness could possibly end up in.  Thinking that she can use her strength to shut down her emotions, she goes about doing so; but emotions are not the problem. They are with us always.
Not being able to disconnect feeling from acting is the problem; and this is a lesson that Ilise takes a while to learn.
I wish someone would have told me about this as a child, it could have saved me a lot of anguish in my youth; where I struggled with black depression that I felt guilty for even feeling. For although we can choose to refuse joy, sorrow is not negotiable. It took me many years and some very highly educational books before I realized that we needed to always welcome joy in all its forms; for it was the raft to help us through the sad parts of life.
Becoming an “ice maiden”, a “cool cucumber”, or whatever other name there is for it, is an easy choice. It feels like you’re really getting somewhere… that you are truly protecting yourself from the sharp stings of everything around you. But it doesn’t. And it can lock you away in a place where you aren’t sure how to escape, and then all you have is the sorrowful parts of the world to keep you company… all of your days.
Those of us who have slipped down this path need to take heart, because we can reverse this process. We can “learn how to melt”… and for the most part, the damage we might have done in our pursuit of this goal is generally minor. Most of it is done to ourselves… and if we can stop gnawing on the past, assess the future realistically, but with hope, and then step out with determination, we can break the icy chains and open up to the happy side of life.
In some seasons there may not be much happiness around, but if we can just take each moment mindfully, there are little things in every path. We just have to be more open to noticing them and taking them into our hearts.
Gratitude is a huge part of this, as well; and there are a ton of “happiness experts” that extoll the virtues of simply being grateful. This is true, and can help a lot.
But most importantly we have to take that first step; quit keeping our hearts on ice, and quit “freezing” the people who are close to us, because it only makes ourselves chillier than before.

I feel like Disney has dominated the fairytale area with the message of “Do whatever you feel like”, but that is a detrimental message. Often we feel like doing very unkind things, if not sometimes downright bad. The Lord’s perspective isn’t “follow your heart”, it is “guard your heart”.
In the end we all feel bad impulses, but it is our actions that determine who we really are. By separating what we do from the way we feel at that moment, we can win out over our worser impulses, and become better, stronger people.

Characters all throughout this series find themselves in various fairytale situations, but instead of being hopeless, (which our girls in the first 2 Thaw books are unwisely tempted to do,) our characters learn that by sticking it out, and refusing to give up, triumph can be achieved. That good will win over evil every time. Even when it seems impossible.
Because, that’s what fairy-tales, (when properly told,) can do best!

The Thaw books are by no means allegorical or doctrinally-charged… but they are written from a deep perspective of hope in the Eternal, and so everything in them is laced with that; instead of the sometimes rather “dark art-y” view a lot of modern day fantasy has developed into.
In this way, I hope young and old alike can enjoy a fantasy world underpinned with wholesome morals, and maybe some of them can be encouraged to keep fighting the good fight within themselves as well.

*guest post by E. Kaiser Writes

 

EKaiserWritesAuthorPicE. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mtns, the Smoky Mtns, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north.

She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence & fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and… authoress!

 

Hit the rafflecopter link below to win prizes such as a copy of Thaw: Winter’s Child.

Thaw++WCh+promo

A barren king and queen pray for a child, and when in their loneliness, they make one out of snow, their prayers are answered in a special, and unusual way.
Sometimes, when we get what we wish for, we don’t know what to do with it.Combining elements from the Snow Maiden, Schneekind, Snegurochka tales with those of the Snow Queen; Winter’s Child introduces a new series: THAW.
Live on Amazon:
Or a copy of Thaw: Winter’s Queen.
Thaw++WQu+promo

A slightly pampered girl allows her avoidance behavior to isolate her from the world… and it’s only when she takes the final step that she realizes the wall she’s built in the name of safety is also the one that will hold her prisoner forever… unless she discovers how to destroy it.

The only one who can break a neurosis… is the one who has it.

Combining elements from the Snow Maiden, Schneekind, Snegurochka tales with those of the Snow Queen; Winter Queen continues a new series: THAW.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RWUVZQO/

Or a copy of Thaw: Prince of Demargen.
Thaw+PrD+promo

The whole world knows his guilt, and is absolutely correct about it, but how far can a man go to regain respect so swiftly lost?

Or is an honorable death the best a fallen star can hope for?

The only person who can help him… is the one he most deeply wronged.

Prince of Demargen is third in a new series: THAW.

<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1c7f78455/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”1c7f78455″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_xlxwih84″>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

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“Do You Have an Encyclopedia for Your Books?”

“Do you have an encyclopedia for your books?”

This is almost word for word the question that my brother, who is not a big fan of fiction, asked me rather out of the blue today. He then went on to expound on the question by asking about entries for character profiles, world background, history, names, and creatures. For fantasy writers in particular, this “world encyclopedia” can take the form of Bestiaries or The Monsters of “” or Inside/Exploring the World of Narnia/Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, etc. I normally see these extras published after a series is truly established, such as between books two and three in trilogies or later on for larger series, or when the series has ended.

As for myself, I have a ton of background and the folklore for my series established and written down but I never even thought about publishing my notes in a sort of Bestiary or Encyclopedia. Now thanks to my brother’s impromptu question, I will start to seriously consider putting together something for The Therian Way at least. I also happen to be a total geek when it comes to my favorite fantasy books so I LOVE the behind-the-scenes for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia and I have many world-building (ranging from weapons to creatures) books that let me continue gathering all this information that helped to form the literary magic of the books and also for the more faithful adaptations into single books. This is especially true with Tolkien’s books because he built the world of Middle-Earth from languages to creatures and cultures and I am of the belief that you can’t really appreciate his writing genius until you read all the background material. And yes, I have read The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales along with The History of Middle-Earth.

Ahem, okay, let me rein in my geeky-ness.

As a pantster who only outlines as much as I need to in order to get my initial framework, I can go off on tangents in my note taking when I’m figuring out my next story because I’m building the world for my fantasy and deciding what rules apply and why. This leaves me with a LOT of background and history that I know about but it will probably never make it into its own story. Especially with Urban Fantasy, because I’m writing about an alternate timeline where specific events haven’t taken place and I don’t have a close mirror to our world when it comes to politics so I have some historical presidents, such as Washington and Lincoln, who are specifically mentioned at least in passing but there are far more fictional presidents and vice presidents…especially in the modern era. I also have events that played out differently than they did in history. All of this makes it fun for me but I can only slip so much history into these stories without messing up my pacing or slipping into longwinded speeches. But while I will occasionally venture into Historical Fantasy by going back to specific important events in the history for the world of The Therian Way and its characters, I will still have a ton of material where I, as the author, can see how all the threads connect. This material will probably never be seen by any of my readers, except some pieces I share with my brainstorming buddies, but I don’t consider that a waste. I NEED to know how the dots connect even if I’m the only one who sees some of the lines.

However, I will probably put together and release my own bestiary. I’m enough of a mythology and cryptozoology enthusiast that I always have an interesting assortment of creatures who may share nothing more than a name with a beast of legend. 😀 And even an encyclopedia for the different worlds I create might be beneficiary to my readers because if you have that, then I can, theoretically mind, worry a tad less about how I’m going to rehash the events of past books without eating into the actual plot’s momentum. Because my series have strong interconnecting arcs from book to book, there will always be some recap but an encyclopedia would allow me to avoid inserting a long recap in the front of my books. The long recap can work but I know that sometimes you just want to get on with the story. An encyclopedia can be a happy medium.

Although I would caution authors about keeping an eye on the spoilers when you write entries for key characters or legends. For example, instead of writing something that reads “Character A – A marvelous person. Saves the day against these bad guys and that monster along with this monster in Books One, Two and Three,” have an entry more along the lines of this:

Oberon – Race: Fairy. Age: ?

The King of the Fairies. Husband to Titania. Ally to Humans. Appears in Books One, Three, and Five as well as in the novellas X, Y, and Z.

In other words, use your encyclopedia as a hook, especially when it comes to characters or key creatures/monsters. It should be like the book summary. You give just enough information to grab a reader’s interest in reading upcoming books and how “Oberon” will be involved in those books after they’re already familiar with his behavior in previously read books.

Have you written or considered writing and publishing an encyclopedia/bestiary for your series? Or do you prefer to keep your encyclopedic world-building entries for your eyes only? As readers, do you like knowing how all the dots connect? Or do you like to imagine your own lines?

 

Setting the Mood…

Setting the mood for your writing can be difficult. Maybe you work best in utter silence. Maybe you prefer the atmosphere of your local coffee shop. For myself, I prefer to work with my music. But it can’t be just any music. It must be intent and fast-paced because it’s difficult to write an intense battle scene when a slow song comes on or a love song, which usually wrecks the mood.

My favorite writing music includes soundtracks such as the official scores to all three Lord of the Rings movies along with The Hobbit movies. When I get tired of my own music, I use Pandora to rotate through soundtracks and trailer music. My other fallback is YouTube and the epic music mixes.

These are two of my favorite mixes (I used them throughout NaNoWriMo) –

The general mood setter for The Therian Way…

And my go-to inspiration for the atmosphere during an intense fight is…

So how do you set the mood for your writing? Do you have a specific place you like to use? Best music for fight scenes? For romantic scenes? What music is guaranteed to pull you out of the mood? Do you like music with lyrics or is it instrumentals and vocalizations only? ‘Tis the season for Christmas music. Does it help or distract you while writing? Maybe it puts you in the mood to write Christmas-themed stories instead of the thrilling adventure currently happening in your fantasy.