• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions

What is it about the new year that makes us want to create goals for ourselves?

For a long time I’ve been hesitant to create resolutions every time the year rolls over. If I really had something in my life that I wanted to change, or do better, then why wait until the new year? Why not do it now? Because of this I would generally avoid resolutions every year. Too often they get forgotten about, or you work really hard in January and slack off after that. To me the word resolve just doesn’t seem to have enough punch, enough measurement built-in to be worth using. For this reason I avoided new years’ resolutions for a long time.

I’ve changed my tune a little bit though. I still don’t do resolutions, but I do set goals.

Goals are things to reach for, I know fully well going into the year that there’s a solid chance I won’t complete all my goals, but they are there and at the end of the year, or other times when I feel I want some self-reflection, I can look over those goals and see how I am doing.

So what goals did I set for 2014, and did I achieve them?

Reading: I always set a reading goal, last year it was 100 books. According to my Goodreads profile, I read 71, which I think is fantastic. 2015 I again set a goal of 100 books and I will mostly likely set that as my goal for the foreseeable future. I am a bit of a fast reader, when I’m not sucked into some other media (cough video games cough), but two books a week for me seems pretty do-able.

Writing: My goal was to finish two books last year, and I “did”. Technically. Neither of them are edited, but I did at least complete them. Working on editing one of them now. I also wrote a few short stories last year. I’m currently toying with the idea of setting a goal for short stories this year, but for now I’ll leave it as-needed.

So there are my goals, at least when it comes to writing/reading. What goals do you set and why? Do you prefer resolutions or goals, or some other word, and why?

Above all, Happy New Year from the Evil Dwarves!

The Hobbit.

Greetings Earthlings!

I’m Tom Hansen. I’m the Dreary Dwarf and rather new here.

As an introduction of you to me and me to the blog, I wanted to share a thought about The Hobbit.

This is my third or fourth time reading the book and yes, I’m doing it mainly to get pumped up for the third movie coming out December 17th. (The trailer was just released yesterday.)

This time, I’m listening to the Hobbit rather than reading, and I’m learning a lot more about the world and the characters than I did the last few times I read it.

I attribute this mostly to my speed-reading habit. Epic Fantasy is my go-to genre for book reading and, because of their length, I’ve fallen into a habit of skimming certain parts when it’s just world building, or a long conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my epic fantasy book, particularly when they’re pushing those of epic proportions (cough Brandon Sanderson/Patrick Rothfuss/George RR Martin) but because of their length I find myself skimming sometimes.

Listening to the books forces me to slow down and I pick up things I didn’t before. I fully plan on picking up the Lord of the Rings trilogy in audio following this. After that we will have to see.

Who here has read/listened to the same book? Which do you prefer?

Library Fines and Trixie Belden

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So, as a writer of books it’s safe to assume that I’m also a reader of books. If a writer doesn’t love the written my word I personally don’t understand why they would want to write themselves. Most of us began our love of books at a young age. I remember both my parents reading to me and my siblings and I remember loving it. I also loved the library, still do, though I don’t frequent one anymore as I seem to have issues remembering to return books.

This got to the point that I spent one memorable weekend at The Mesa Public Library covering books in laminate. Essentially I couldn’t pay the tab so I was washing the dishes so to speak. There were many times I had to pay off debts and each time my library card was reinstated I would go nuts and check out books like it was going out of style. I think my problem was that I was a fast reader at that point and after finishing the books in a couple of days, would think that I still had plenty of time to return them. Of course then there was a trampoline to jump off the shed on to, trees to climb, and the boy’s fort to invade, and a month later I’d be like holy crap these were due last week.

Whereas I sadly no longer have a trampoline I still forget library books, it is a hard wired flaw at this point so I have decided to simply buy my books. After all, I am a writer and want to support other writers (I am in no way implying that if you check books out from the library that you aren’t helping writers, I am just flawed). So needless to say I have a lot of books. Many were donated this past May or sold at Bookman’s in Arizona because I was moving across country and didn’t want five bookshelves of books. My sister the English teacher appreciated this as the got the used bookstore credits as well as some critical editions from my own pursuit of higher education, so it was all for the best. I am trying to only buy ebooks at the moment because my plan is to end up back in Arizona and the lord knows I have no desire to carry boxes of books down the steep back stairs of my current domicile.

Library fees aside, I recall many joyous days with my nose in a book. I devoured numerous titles notably the Thoroughbred series, True Crime novels, and some discreetly ill begotten bodice rippers. My first love though was The Trixie Belden series. Most people aren’t familiar with the girl detective a series that ran from 1948-1986, they are more familiar with Nancy Drew. I myself never got into Nancy Drew, probably because my mom preferred Trixie and honestly I could relate far more to Trixie. She was a character who while a bit cookie cutter had issues I could relate to. She wasn’t always happy with her looks, she loathed chores, her brothers annoyed her, but at the end of the day she was an adventurer.

I still wander thrift stores and used bookstores and buy any copies they have of the series. If I already have that particular book I give it to my mom or sister as they are both fans as well. The series isn’t flawless, and given the time period it’s not always PC. I vaguely remember the group Trixie is part of The Bob-Whites collects books for a school library in Mexico…the kids may have appreciated it more if English was their language but whatever, their hearts were in the right place. Still, it is a wonderful series that I still read from time to time because who doesn’t fantasize about a simpler time where riding horses and fixing up an old gate house to be a club house is your daily existence? Oh, and of course along with the rural simplicity there are mysteries to solve and bad guys to catch.

So we all have that first book or series that really started our love for books. What is yours?  

Side Note: I thought yesterday was Monday…thinking that as I was still up this post counted as a Monday post. In actuality I obviously have lost my mind. Happy Wednesday!

Reading for Writers…

In surfing through the writer communities I am allowed to be in (yes, allowed is the correct term here, think of who’s writing this, peeps!), I’ve noticed a comment that seems to be uttered often.  It goes along the lines of this:

“Writers who read are better writers for it.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I kind of thought writers were avid readers. I mean, we create these worlds, give birth to characters that are more real than our family, and create plots that make spiders weep because we are storytellers.  How can one hone the cutting edge of their craft if they don’t constantly rub against the skilled whetstone of others around them?

Yes, writing can be a solitary art, but still…

If you don’t read, in your genre, in other genres, new and old authors, fiction and non-fiction, how on earth can you learn what works and what doesn’t?

Discovering new voices can spark the germ of a unique idea for you.  Perhaps after reading a first person point of view story told by the family pet, a germ of an idea on how you can create a unique POV for your own story will begin to take root.

Maybe the way one author’s turn of phrase captures your heart enough for you to dabble in the art of languages.

Perhaps some unique historical happening suddenly has you asking, “What if?” and viola! A story begins.

Writers find inspiration in a number of areas–music, TV, movies, society, newspapers, PEOPLE magazine, you name it, we’re good at finding creative sparks. Yet, maybe it’s just me, but I find some of my best ideas come about because I read EVERYTHING.  Fiction. Non-Fiction. Urban Fantasy. Erotic. Romance. Military Suspense. Mystery. Thriller. Horror. Exposes on old government groups. Reports on scientific trends and developments. You name it, I’ll read it. I go no where with out my Kindle or an actual book.

What makes your creative spark light?

Unfinished Books

In the past few months, I’ve stopped reading two novels, less than halfway through reading them.  These books were both well-rated on GoodReads and were books I’d heard good things about.  But from the moment I picked them up, I struggled with poor writing quality and boring plots.  This got me wondering whether putting a book down before finishing it is a good thing or not.

Sometimes it’s true that a book or a movie can be amazing, but might start out a little slow, so should we finish every book we start?  Or is there a certain point where we’ve been given all the warnings, and we’re choosing to simply continue wasting our time.

I never used to stop reading books partway through, but since my reading time has become more and more precious, I’ve become far more protective of this time.  If I get past the first five chapters or so, and I’m still not enjoying the book, I feel a strange resentment towards the author for the time I’ve already invested into reading the book, and I put it down.

Now, this isn’t to say that every book I’ve ever put down has been a terrible book.  Not every person is right for every other person, and every book is certainly not right for every person, so I really shouldn’t feel any animosity towards a writer if I didn’t enjoy their book.  And, this also brings me back to the question I’ve been considering, could these books be amazing, and I’ve missed out terribly by putting them down?

What do you think?  Do you ever stop reading a book partway through, and if so, do you ever wonder whether you missed out on something amazing?

Characters take on a life of their own

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Greetings and Salutations loyal readers of the blog,

I’m still hanging with the ghosts at the unconsecrated cemetery.  Mischievous Raven had to return to quell a Zombie uprising.  He’s taking the muses along for muscle because one raven, no matter how obnoxious, is no match for a bunch of disgruntled Zombies.  The Ghosts here, have been very hospitable if not the most uplifting group to hang with.  In truth melancholy is about the best I can hope for.  They have been entertaining though and their stories around the tombstones each night are a lot of fun.  If you define fun as having your spleen shrivel up and hide out of sheer fright.  When the sun rises they all go back to where ever they spend their days and I and my spleen get some rest.

If you’re a regular you know in the past week, we’ve talked about the characters that drive your story.  Red Dwarf mentioned the pattern for the Gang of Four and I went on about how to get to know your characters.  We’ve talked about a series bible so that your characters stay true to who they are as well as where they are.  Thanks Wicked.  Getting outside your comfort zone and writing something hard for you was Dreamer Dwarf.  She’s the one who brought this ugly little scar to light.  Of course we all want to write what makes us happy, because it’s easier.  Then Wicked brought up the dreaded Synopsis.  I don’t know if you noticed, but her moniker comes to her honestly, because a series bible and a synopsis are wicked hard to do well.

And now it’s Friday again.  Excuse me that’s the swamp line, I’ve got to take this.  Hey Molly what’s up?

I know I haven’t been submitting your book, but you know I’ve been busy and all.

Sure lunch would be great, where and when…  The Torture Room at The Four Demons.  Sounds rather ominous, I mean expensive… Okay then noon tomorrow.

Sorry about that, it would seem that I’ve been summoned by The Three Misfiteers to lunch tomorrow.  I don’t think this is a good omen for me, the last time they got inpatient with my progress on getting their story published they kidnapped my friend Mischievous Raven.  He’s still in therapy. I’m not sure if it’s because his doc is a leggy brunette, who looks good in tight jeans and boots or if he is still suffering from the trauma.

Taking a break from the writing routine today I’m going to talk about what I’ve been reading.  First of course I have to mention In The Tall Grass, a short story by the master, Stephen King and none other than Joe Hill.  You may remember Joe from my blog about A Heart Shaped Box, a novel the still chills my blood when I think back to the night I read it.  In the Tall Grass, surprised me (A constant reader as SK refers to his fans).  It takes a dark turn and just when I thought I had it figured out, well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I love the short fiction format.  After a day of work, nothing gives me more pleasure than starting a story when I crawl under the sheets and finishing it before my conscious brain clocks out for the day.  Then I can turn the light out and have pleasant dreams (or not so pleasant nightmares in this case) about getting lost In The Tall Grass.

Next I went on reread I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.  Mr. Matheson is a writer who, and I quote Stephen King here from an introduction from Nightmare At 20,000 Feet, “Asks no quarter and gives none.”  He is another master of short fiction.  I read this story when I was much younger and still remember how the end impacted me.  Reading it again as an adult was no different.  It is creepy.  I mean that in a good way.

Prior to these I stumbled onto Jonathan Maberry’s Pine Deep Trilogy, Ghost Road Blues, Dead Man’s Song, and Bad Moon Rising.  “What evil lurks in the hearts of man?”  Jonathan knows.  Jonathan’s telling, of the terrors that haunt the small rural town of Pine Deep kept me turning pages.  And the evil that lives beneath the surface is disquieting.  If you like Werewoves, Vampires, fathomless evil and courage.  This is a great series.  Jonathan will challenge your concepts of the afore-mentioned evil creatures, using folklore for his understanding rather than the modern-day Hollywood versions.  His current Zombie series is on my bookshelf, but I must complete my own zombie novel before I delve into it.  (I want my zombies to remain my zombies and not be influenced by Jonathan’s.

That’s all the time we have for this week.  If you like the content here at the 7evildwarves.wordpress.com click on the subscribe button or leave a comment. Your feedback is the only measure we have of knowing who’s out there.  Thanks again for stopping by.  As is the custom on Friday I shall leave you with a quotation.  This comes from the song Mr. Siegal by musician/poet Tom Waits.

“How do the Angels get to sleep  

When the Devil leaves the porch light on”

Write On,

Eerie

Are HEA’s Necessary?

With the release of Hunger Games, conversations have been perking up everywhere with friends and family.  They all start off the same…”So did you see the movie?” Umm…yes, because the Prankster Duo have been anxiously awaiting its arrival for months.  And with that answer an entire conversation is sparked.

What I’ve found to be the most interesting trend is that the conversation starts out with Hunger Games and evolves into spirited debates about how dark should a story really be?  There’s the “I read to escape” group who claim that HEA (happily ever afters) are vital since they’re reading to get away from reality’s unrelenting grasp.  Therefore, they feel that if a story doesn’t resolve itself with the HEA, why read it?

Then there’s the other side who feel that stories should have some reflection of reality, so HEA’s can actually be—kind of happily ever after because just like life, nothing is ever neatly tied into a pretty package.

I spoke to the Prankster Duo to figure out why they enjoyed the series, because yes, as a mom, I do read most of what my kids read.  How else will I sneak my way into their lives?  Since the Duo is male, the first reason is pretty simplistic—the fight scenes were “wicked awesome, mom!.  Okay, but I wanted to see if they picked up on the socio-political aspect of the story…my answer…not really.  For them, they enjoyed the books because they got to watch Katniss triumph over everything thrown her way, the fight scenes were intriguing, and they just liked it. 

Yet as an adult the reasons I enjoyed the first book, liked the second, but had issues with the third are varied.  And it wasn’t just me, even knight-in-slightly-muddy-armor hit some of the same points I did.  The idea isn’t new (Lord of the Flies, Survivor…) but the characters had enough depth to keep me turning the page.  The world was a grim alternate reality because as an adult I can see how close society skates against the edges of right and wrong.  Plus, I write Urban Fantasy so I tend to travel the twisting, offshoots of the main road where a sharp blade is needed to fend off the glowing red eyes.  I’m grateful my boys haven’t found these paths yet, I’d rather they get as much vitamin D as possible before they start checking out the shadows.

Still, the conversations on HEA’s has stuck with me and I took a look at some of the books I’ve been reading lately and found that even someone like me needs some sort of HEA in my stories.  One particular series I marvel at the complex plots and sub-plots the writer seems to effortlessly weave, but regardless of how intricate her characters lives become, by the end of her books I’m anxious to start the next story.  She may not tie up every line with a bow, but she makes them smooth enough that I’m not depressed when I’m done.   Then there was the first book in a new series that I finished yesterday.  It took me forever to figure out why I suddenly had the case of the blahs.  Then it hit me…the book I just finished hadn’t given me my normal time out, instead I was drained emotionally.  Not only that, but the ending, which was set up for the next book, hinted at the next bone-wearying trek through an emotional mountain range.  Man, I just couldn’t garner up the excitement necessary to even want to think about that journey.  Yes the main characters had a fairly solid HEA, but the surrounding characters that you just know are in the next story…man I feel so sorry for them.

So even with my own leanings to overall story arcs that web through each book, as a reader and a writer I’m starting to see just how important those HEA’s really are.  Reading is escapism, and the whole purpose is to step outside your box of stress and challenges and take a peek at someone else’s.  Plus, when they manage to vanquish the demons, it gives you hope that perhaps your own personal haunts aren’t so bad and perhaps this time, you too will conquer the big bads!

–Wicked

Don’t forget to check out my guest posts this week :

4/5/12               Mona Karel      with my post “The Importance of a Sidekick with Fur” as I ponder why furry friends are making star appearences in today’s Urban Fantasy.

4/7/12              Nanny Berry     with my post “You Never Really Grow Up…” as I try to get over the idea of my mom reading my sex scenes. (I’ll update blog link once I have it!)

4/8/12               Bri Clark              with my post ” All I Needed to Know About Being Bad, I Learned from Soap Operas…”  I think this title says it all!

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