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Posts Tagged ‘Deby Fredericks’

Excuse me while my feminist side rears her lovely head. Things I’m encountering are prodding me to think about how female leadership is portrayed in the stories we tell.

In my current video game, Fallout ’76, America was destroyed in a nuclear war. After spending 25 years in a fallout shelter, my character is roaming what used to be West Virginia. There are no other humans left except vault dwellers like me (a. k. a. the other players). But I do encounter various factions of survivors — or what’s left of them.

For most of these factions, the leaders are/were women. Awesome! Female empowerment. But then, uh-oh — they’re all dead, along with every member of their group. You take on a quest line, hoping to connect with this woman and her organization, and at the end you find her body. With some loot, of course. Time for the next quest line!

Of the post-apocalyptic survivor groups I’ve encountered so far, seven of them were led by women. I have found three bodies, two have disappeared without a trace, one was replaced by a robot that thinks it’s her, and one I’m still searching for. (Not with much hope.)

On the masculine side, three groups were led by men. One was replaced by a robot and I haven’t found the other two’s bodies. There is another faction that I don’t know yet who led them.

Okay, it’s the post-apocalypse. It’s a given that almost everyone is dead. But the unbalanced ratio is telling.

So I alternate between happiness (Cool, women leaders are in the post-apocalypse) and depression (Oh, women can’t be leaders UNTIL the world ends). It’s good that women are shown to lead. But then all their leadership ends in failure.

As the title says, I’m conflicted. What is the message here? Are the game writers showing women as leaders, just to prove that women shouldn’t be allowed to lead? Maybe they didn’t want to show males communicating through the angsty audio recordings we get from the females. Maybe they wanted to be inclusive but didn’t think about the subtext.

Maybe, even they don’t know. But I kind of think they should.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I have a new word to ask you about. The word is envision. I’ve noticed in the past few months that people frequently are using envisage instead of envision. It’s been irritating.

Looking it up in online dictionaries, I do find that both words have similar meanings. Basically, they mean having a dream or “vision” and planning to bring this dream into reality. Envision seems to be the American version, while envisage is the British form.

The irritant for me is the root word of each. Envision contains “vision,” which is like a dream or goal you have in mind. This makes sense with the meaning of the word. For instance, businesses often issue “vision statements” that express their goals and dreams.

On the other hand, envisage contains “visage,” which means a face. You know, a face with two eyes, two ears, etc. When I hear envisage, I think “put a face on.” No credible business ever issues a “visage statement.”

Okay, maybe I’m being too picky. We’re talking about the English language here. Why would I expect it to make sense? But I am interested in what you think.

Which of these two words do you usually use?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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One thing you might not know about me, if you are new to my blog, is that I’m a crossover author. I write all fantasy, but some is for children and some is for adults. My stories often occupy a no-man’s-land between the two. Especially with shorter work, it can be really hard to place stories for publication. (I mean, it’s always hard, but still.)

Word count is one important distinguishing factor. Juvenile magazines typically want stories that are 700 or 800 words. Only a few will take work as long as 1,200 or 1,500 words. A typical short story of mine is between 2,000 and 3,000 words. So you can see that cuts me out of those markets, unless I make a case to serialize a story. (This has yet to happen.)

Even more important, though, is the story’s point of view. For a children’s story, the POV really must be a child, or someone with a childlike perspective. This is why lots of children’s stories have animals as the viewpoint characters. Conversely, a story that is intended for adults might include children, but the point of view will clearly reflect an adult’s perspective.

This distinction is in my mind because I’ve recently finished a story that — miracle of miracles! — came in at 600 words. That makes it ideal for juvenile markets, and there is an important child character, too. But, it is not a children’s story. The POV is an adult, and her thoughts reflect an adult’s concerns like taking care of a disabled child and growing enough food to feed them both. There’s also a dark twist at the end that no child POV would envision.

I often get caught in this bind with editors. Adult publications reject my stories because the tone is deceptively gentle and a child is present. They thus assume it is a juvenile story. But juvenile editors reject my stories because they are too long and the POV is an adult. What’s an author to do?

What I did was to self-publish my misfit stories into the collection, Aunt Ursula’s Atlas. It was my first self-published book, in 2016. You should take a look. And, what the heck! If anyone out there is curious about about children’s publishing, go ahead and toss your questions my way.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Writer’s block! One of the most dreaded experiences we writers face. Maybe you abruptly lose momentum, or you get the gloomy feeling that everything you put on the page is dumb. Maybe you don’t have a plan for what should happen next. Or you have a plan, but that plan no longer works.

All authors go through this. Of necessity, we develop techniques to break through writer’s block. I’m going to share a few, and maybe you have your own methods to share, too.

First of all, I consider what else is going on in my life. There might be a chore I have to do, or a spat that needs to be sorted out with my family. I give myself permission to step away from writing and take care of whatever that is. Then it won’t be standing in my way any more.

Second, I discipline myself to at least LOOK at the story. There’s always some little tweak that can get me involved with the telling. I read through the final page I did before the block and ask myself, “then what?” Any new words I add might be terrible, but I at least have something to work with later.

Another thing I try is to bring the story into my mind while doing something else. Driving to and from work. Washing dishes. Showering. These are all blank times that I can sometimes persuade my mind to fill up with story.

Lastly, when I lie down to sleep at night, I let my mind wander through the world of the story. Very often, it will spark an idea. I keep a journal near my bed, so I can hop up and write things down.

What about all of you? I’d love to hear your ways to break a writer’s block.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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The last thing I want to say about my work-in-progress, Prisoners of the Wailing Tower, is not so much a discovery to me, but I hope it will be to my readers. That has to do with the Larder itself — the actual building where the story events take place.

The Larder is a subject of many fearful rumors. It’s said that the most violent and insane mages are imprisoned there. It’s also said that after being imprisoned there, everyone becomes violent and insane. It’s said no mage ever escapes the Larder, because Dar-Gothull feeds off the souls of those imprisoned within it.

The Larder is one of many tower-like structures scattered around Skaythe. Most of the towers are abandoned and swallowed by forest or swamp. They are connected by bands of an unknown, silvery paving that resists every corruption of time. They are commonly referred to as highways, because people use them as such. However, no one now living understands their true purpose.

Two things set the Larder is set apart from other towers. First, that it’s occupied as a prison. Second, and more remarkable, the Larder has actually been damaged somehow. Pristine silvery paving is warped and blackened. The elegant tower leans slightly to one side. This ought to be impossible, yet so it is.

The Larder is no longer just a building. A wounded and ravaged structure, filled with generation after generation of mad mages, it has taken on its own life. When the wind moves around the Larder, most people hear simple echoes. Others hear screams and sobs.

I’m excited by this setting, you can probably tell. But I don’t want to spoil the story for future readers, so I’ll stop there. If you want to get more background on the world of Skaythe, please do check out my novellas, The Tower in the Mist and Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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One of my favorite techniques in my novels and novellas is to have two or more POV characters. Usually they are on opposite sides of the key question, or one of them is in a position to have information that the other character doesn’t have. In my current novella, Prisoners of the Wailing Tower, I’ve mentioned my main character, Alemin. The next thing I have to discover is who the other POV character will be.

One possibility is Ar-Lizelle, prison warden at the Larder. Behind her back, people call her The Lizard. Ar-Lizelle is an evil mage, as any who serve Dar-Gothull’s regime would have to be. She is in the same location as Alemin, and certainly is adversarial. I’m not sure she would be able to find out things he doesn’t know, though. At least, not in a way that would drive the plot.

I also could bring in another of the Minstrels who might try to rescue Alemin from the Larder. So far, two members of the original troupe haven’t featured in a novella yet. They are Berisan, Alemin’s brother and partner in their juggling act, and Lorah, who had unresolved feelings for Alemin. Berisan seems like the obvious rescuer. However, Lorah is related to Ar-Lizelle, and there’s some great potential for drama if Lorah unknowingly sneaks onto her sister’s ground.

When I’m feeling my way through these writing conundrums, I often make a list for myself of all the ideas that could be combined. The first few ideas will be really obvious ones, and therefore predictable. But if I keep pushing myself, the ideas will become more interesting and useful.

So as I bring Alemin into the Larder and introduce the people who live there, I have some pondering to do. It’s going to be fun!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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One thing about writing without a firm outline is that I discover a lot. Most discovery is good, fun, and keeps my stories fresh. I mentioned some of that last time with Alemin wanting to laugh in dire circumstances.

But sometimes, I discover things that just need a lot of work to be successful. That’s where I am with Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. I have a few character names, but I still have to working out everyone’s appearance, from facial features to their clothing. Their personalities are vaguely coming into focus.

The prison itself needs a lot of “construction,” as well. It’s called The Larder, as most people believe the tyrant Dar-Gothull will eventually devour the souls of the prisoners. In this setting many rules about what the prisoners can and (mostly) can’t do, and punishments if those rules are challenged. Or maybe just random punishments to keep them scared.

I’ve never been in prison myself, but I have an idea of what that must be like. I need to do some research, though, so I’m not relying on tired stereotypes.

You know what, though? Since I have you all here, maybe I’ll outline the rules for The Larder. Maybe some of you have had the unfortunate experience of prison yourselves. So these are the restrictions the warden, Ar-Lizelle, lays out out when Alemin arrives:

  1. No magic. These are dangerous and insane wizards, so that’s obvious.
  2. No talking. They don’t want the renegades plotting together.
  3. When spoken to, answer with the full truth. Playing clever word games will get you a beating at least.
  4. No fraternizing with the guards. Some mages can be incredibly persuasive and there have been escapes in the past.
  5. Remain in your cell unless ordered out for work. Again, this cuts down on opportunities for scheming.
  6. Keep your cell scrupulously clean. There should be nowhere to hide forbidden items, like books.
  7. Work if you want to eat. Work will be menial chores such as washing dishes, scrubbing floors, pitching out the stables.

Well, what do you think? Am I forgetting anything important?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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