“Where do you get your inspiration from?”
I generally hate that question. Mostly because it feels like, “Where do you get your shoes from?” Inspiration isn’t like shoes. You can’t go to the shop and get inspiration on sale. Inspiration is the peculiar way your mind works. A non-creative and I could both look at the same thing and be affected in different ways. Take for example this painting by Allen Egan. It’s called 'The Architect’s Journey'. I have no idea where Allen ‘got his inspiration’ for it from. All I can tell you is that this is where I ‘got my inspiration’ for the short story I wrote that has been voted in as one of the finalists in the South African Horrorfest Bloody Parchment Short Story Competition for 2015. http://bookslive.co.za/blog/2015/02/27/winners-of-the-south-african-horrorfest-bloody-parchment-short-story-competition-announced/
Yay, me! The article says, “As always, the top stories contain all that is best in the “horror, dark fantasy and weird genres”. I’m not 100 percent sure which of those categories my story falls under but still, yay, me! It's going to appear along with the other finalists, winners and runner-up in the 2015 Horrorfest Anthology. I've never had anything printed in an anthology before. Yay, me!
But getting back to the place of inspiration and how my mind works.
I saw this painting and while I looked at it the forest grew thicker, the mist heavier, and the light darkened, the child in shorts became a man in long trousers and the architect’s model became something altogether different. But, this is where it started. So thank you Allen.
If you’d like to see more of Allen’s work: http://allenegan.blogspot.com/
I can’t give you the story in its entirety, otherwise there would be no point in it being printed in the Horrorfest Anthology, but I can give you a taste:
The Man With a House On His Back
The fog has arrived. Silently, like the breath of the Scythe Man, it has surrounded the cabin and muffled the dogs. The evening meal finished, we sit silently in a half circle, like subjugated felons around the hearth. Even the fire is sullen. The meagre amount of warmth from the pale blue flames is hardly enough to keep the shadows in the corners of the cabin where they belong. My grandfather, Old Jack, sits, clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth. It’s a night for stories. For dreams of the past. He stirs.
“When I was a child,” he begins…
The forest was thicker. You could walk for days, weeks, without seeing its end. The trees were older and darker. You stayed on the path or you lost your way. And no one would search for you. There were tales of wild beasts, evil spirits and the heads of the dead. It rained. Not like now, but nearly all the time. Even on those strange, dry days the mist hung low in the air, coiled and sliding around the roots of the trees, masking the trails. Hiding the way out. Very few strangers stopped in our village and we seldom went beyond its outskirts. It was a bad way to live. It made us silent, solitary and suspicious. But not, it appears, suspicious enough, because one day a man with a house on his back arrived.
WHOOHOOO! What a great way to start the week! This is what I, and I'm sure all writers, all storytellers live for - people liking your work! Despite the fact that currently everything is shall we say...challenging and I seem to be living the reality of the starving artist, today is a GOOD DAY!!!!!
We have no electricity at home, I have no food in the fridge, I'm still a little behind in my rent and no way of paying next month's, work is a mere illusion and I'm sitting in a cafe waiting for my scooter to get fixed and all I can afford is a ginger, lemon, honey hot water drink and it's going to take ALL DAY to fix the scooter. Thankfully it's still on warranty so I won't have to pay for that! I had to send work via email which is why I'm at the cafe - thanks to the load shedding at home. I've a feeling that the repair shop is using all my petrol testing the bike and I have only R10 to put petrol in - I may be pushing the bike home. The drink has now given me the worst stomach cramps ever!
However! It's a GOOD DAY! And you know why? I've got two more 5 star and one 4 reviews for Harcourt's Mountain! I really hope that this year the book breaks out and starts selling well! People seem to really enjoy it. If you've read it and you enjoyed it can I ask a favour? Could you post your review and the links on your Facebook page and your website?
Here are the links:
and my website is: www.elainedodge.weebly.com
So the three new reviews were from Christy Nichols, Angelica Kate and Sarah Jarrett! Thanks so much ladies! So glad you enjoyed the book!
Christy Nichols (5 stars) said, "I'm not a huge fan of romances, but this one kept my interest from the first chapter. The action, scenery and characters come alive. I'm very glad I got a chance to be part of this adventure!"
Angelica Kate (5 stars) said, "WOW! This book hooked you from the first and you feel compelled to continue reading to the very last. It is a wonderful complex story filled with twists and turns that keep you wanting to reach the next destination. This is a wonderful story for the romance, history or general reader with a little bit of something for everyone. One of the few books I can see myself returning to read again down the road. You will not regret investing the time in this read!"
And Sarah Jarrett (4 stars) said, "An easy read, great characters, lot's of action, a real page turner, yep, I enjoyed it."
I can't believe that it has been so long since I posted a blog! What was I thinking?
Hunting for a new job took some time, as well as tackling the second book - The Device Hunter. Although there were times when the combination left me feeling as if I was the one being rugby tackled.
I have just finished a stint on The Oscar Pistorius Trial - A Carte Blanche Channel, and that was dramatic and intense, leaving me with little energy to write fiction. Now, however, that time has come to an end ( the trouble with freelancing) and I am job hunting once again. One thing that the trial did do for me was make me desperate to write. So I have once more picked up my metaphorical quill and am back in the edits of my second book, which are going well. It was good to get away from it for a while and focus on something utterly different. I am now brimming over with good intentions, new plot lines and the desire to polish up the text. I have met one or two writers who loathe editing. I can't relate to them at all! I love it. All that tweaking and adjusting and challenging oneself to make it better, deciding to keep or lose things and finding the courage to "kill my darlings". Actually I don't find the massacre of the innocents all that hard. I simply ask myself if it sounds pretentious or not. If it does, out it goes and I try to find a better way of saying it or I discard the idea all together. I admit to a rather self-righteous glow after I've banished something I thought was rather clever to the bitter ends of the outer darkness. I feel like I should be getting a Noddy badge or something.
Speaking of different, if you have been following my author Face Book page you'll remember that Harcourt's Mountain has been nominated for the 2014 RONE awards! Which is excellent, thrilling in fact and I wish I didn't have to wait so long for the results. The book has continued to receive great reviews. My "likes" on Face Book continue to climb slowly but steadily and I hope (for hope read pray) that it is translating into book sales.
The prospect of finding a new job and altering The Device Hunter plot is both daunting and exciting. There are endless possibilities. And it's an adventure climbing the mountain to find them. I just hope I discover one before I run out of reserves! I feel a little like one of those Victorian women explorers standing on some remote peak, one hand on hip, the other shielding my eyes, as I try to find a way through the jungle below!
Here's to adventure, wherever we can find it!
Christmas morning arrived and I opened my pressies. Nothing unusual in that - except that this time I found, to my delight, a present that was exactly what I wanted! A great review accompanied by five stars!!!! Thanks Lorraine.
Here's what she had to say:
I loved reading Harcourt's Mountain. From the start Elaine Dodge grips the reader with her beautiful use of language. You are drawn into the story and empathise with Hope as she makes her way on the unexpected path her life has taken. I enjoyed the historical aspect and how the characters come alive and how they are not so different to us with their feelings, dreams and desires, despite living in another time. You'll not regret reading this captivating novel!
I also checked the Amazon UK site and there was another review - also five stars!!! This one was from Janette Chapman and she said:
I loved this book because it was so different from my usual reading and the people seemed so real you felt like you would like to know them. A sequel would be great. I could not put it down and was sad when I finished it only because I was enjoying it so much.
Thanks ladies, I'm so glad you'd enjoyed the book.
Last night, at about 8 pm, I wrote what I assumed was the last word in the new novel, The Device Hunter, only to wake up in the middle of the night and realize I'd left out one section. And small though it was, it made a lie of the boast that I had finished the book. Well, I can now categorically state that I have finished the book. Until, of course, I start the edits! I'm putting that on hold for at least two weeks. I should in fact take a month off so I can come to it completely fresh, but I don't know if I will be able to wait that long. I want to send it to my dear editor in the States in early January. So we'll see.
I'm now feeling a bit at a loose end and having had cheese, wine and chocolate to celebrate with the landlords, brushed the dog and washed the dishes am rattling around a little. There's not much point in attacking the job hunting - it's 4 pm on Friday afternoon after all. So I decided to footle around a little with book 3 - The Raging of Christopher Sly. I have to do a fair amount of research for this book, which I'm looking forward to, but I have at least written the first paragraph. So huzzah and raise a glass to having finished, for now, The Device Hunter, and huzzah and raise a glass to the start of The Raging of Christopher Sly!
I was very nervous when I was interviewed by Ginger for Book Talk, but it didn't go too badly. She was a great interviewer! It was certainly a novel (excuse the pun!) experience.
GINGER DAWN, BOOK TALK
"Today on Book Talk with Ginger Dawn, I interview author Elaine Dodge and talk about her novel Harcourt's Mountain. With music guest Admiral Bob and Elaine Dodge will reading the first chapter of Harcourt's Mountain."
Click this link! to hear the radio interview and the reading of Chapter 1 of Harcourt's Mountain by me!
Life is good. Despite still being unemployed and with no work on the horizon I can truly say life is good!
I've just received another great review and been voted as a reader's best book of the year in the comments of the O Magazine list. The new four star review comes from Ginger Dawn. Ginger, internet permitting - which in Africa is pretty much hit or miss sometimes, is also going to do a radio interview with me about Harcourt's Mountain later this afternoon.
Here's what she had to say about Harcourt's Mountain:
Elaine Dodge combines the elements of strong character development, authentic dialog, an optimistic message, and a plot which includes gripping suspense in her novel, Harcourt’s Mountain.
Set on the western frontier of British Columbia in spring of 1867, Elaine Dodge weaves a pleasurable and tender tale that will engage the reader. Young, innocent, and inexperienced Hope Booker has been attacked and given to a ‘bride’ ship as compensation for a debt. As Hope arrives in Silver Birch Landing, where nights are described as “rowdy, loud, and liquored up. Many a man who came into town rich after back breaking months on the gold claims woke the next day broke, with no memory of losing their fortunes to men who’d had the sense, or the cunning, to remain sober. Either that or the whores had stolen it.” Hope’s fate is questioned as the life of a new bride or slavery enforced labor in a brothel. The tension of Hope’s future will be further exposed through a cast of well-developed characters, dynamic interpersonal conflict, and anticipation of the novel's resolution.
The author’s use of language is not stilted but very well researched for the time frame of the novel. Word choice such as “abattoir” and “hoyden” are historically accurate and add much zest to the text. Furthermore the author provides the reader with beautiful imagery, for example, “The moon was a sliver of silver hanging like an upturned bowl out of which the stars had spilled, thick across the dark indigo sky.”
Elaine Dodge’s plot is driven by her characters. She is skilled at bringing them to life on the page as they grow in character throughout the novel. However, some of the characters have a mystery surround their past for instance a mysterious death of a spouse when one of the protagonists stated that they killed them and why family relationships have been filled with displeasure leaves the reader with a gap that can be further explored in a possible sequel. The relationship between Hope and her cruel mother do offer elements of conflict, and the reader is able to have sympathy and relate to Hope. Luke Harcourt is portrayed as the perfect gentleman, but I like how the author incorporates his temper and moderate drinking to establish a plausibility to the story.
Harcourt’s Mountain is a story of redemption and second chances in the midst of the old Wild West, of a forgotten past, and uncertain future. This book is a quick read and should provide satisfying inspiration to those who are looking for a romantic historical novel. I recommend not only this book but encourage the reader to visit the author’s websitehttp://elainedodge.weebly.com/
Two more five star reviews for Harcourt's Mountain! Huzzah!
Cynbot over on Amazon Kindle UK said," A compelling read - action packed and suspense filled, each chapter carries you along on a journey into the relationship of Hope and Luke - what will become of them in their now shared life on the frontier? From the very beginning I was drawn into the story.
A page turner that I could not put it down - one hopes there will be a sequel."
And on the USA site Sally said, "This was a great story, I just had to know what would come next. A fantastic hero complete with flaws and a huge sense of determination (a huge help when it takes days to go a few miles and months to cross a continent)."
Why the two sites; the UK and USA Amazon Kindle, don't have all the same reviews is very bizarre. About as bizarre as why my cat's fur smells of curry today. Weird.
Today - perfect writing weather! My cottage is marooned in a sea of white mist. I can barely see the valley below and my neighbours keep disappearing as the cloud moves and thickens between us. I have recently joined the Professional Editors Group and am hopefully that there will be work from this. Anything is possible when the world gives you a blank canvas to work on! I am always amazed at how many different stories there are in the world. Even if each writer only wrote one book, there would still be a need for more bookcases, more libraries and more couches to curl upon to read them.
I am delighted to introduce my second guest blogger, fellow Tirgearran and author Annette Drake. As we are coming up to Halloween, her debut novel, Celebration House seems highly appropriate. It premiered on August 1, 2013 with Tirgearr Publishing. Her work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences.
So let’s take a look at Celebration House by Annette Drake. What’s the book about?
Carrie Hansen spent her life caring for cardiac patients. Little did she know she would become a patient herself. After recovering from her own heart surgery, she realizes she has a special gift: the ability to see and talk with the dead.
Now, with her new heart failing, she leaves the bustle of Seattle behind and returns to Lexington, Missouri, the small town where she spent her childhood. Here, she sets out to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion and open it as a venue for celebrations.
Carrie’s work is cut out for her. The 150-year-old Greek revival house is in need of serious repair. Her sister, Melanie, tries to bully Carrie into returning to Seattle, predicting “her little project” is doomed to fail. Finally, Carrie’s health gives out on her, requiring emergency surgery.
But she will not give up. Carrie’s unique gift allows her to build relationships with the mansion’s original occupants, especially Maj. Tom Stewart, the handsome Civil War soldier who died a hundred years before Carrie was born. He encourages and comforts her, though not in the physical way they both desire.
Then there’s the builder of the house, Col. Bartholomew Stratton. If there’s one thing this 19th century horse trader cannot abide, it’s the living trespassing on his estate. He delights in scaring these intruders away, even if they are paying guests.
Will Carrie finish restoring Celebration House or will it finish her? And how can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?
And here to whet your appetite is an excerpt from the book:CELEBRATION HOUSE by Annette Drake
But there was something else. The house itself seemed strange to townsfolk. There were whispers of lights coming on and off and tales of unexplained accidents. A real-estate entrepreneur from Kansas City bought the house on the courthouse steps for delinquent taxes. When he inspected the property in person, he fell down the stairs and broke his leg. He told anyone who would listen that he’d been pushed. He put the house back on the market.
Teenagers gathered for drinking parties at the house. Or they did until the night when two boys dared each other to go sit on the front porch and drink there. With a few 12-ounce cans of courage already behind them, the two pimply-faced youths strode up the brick walk, jumped over the waist-high picket fence and made themselves at home on the front porch. Their friends shouted cheers of encouragement from outside the gate. The two boys sat there, grins on their faces, and clinked their cans together to toast one another. After a minute, they heard a loud whisper.
“Leave this place,” the voice said, like a mother scolding a naughty child in a church pew.
They looked at one another.
The wind whipped up, and the branches of the willow tree in the front yard beat against the wooden fence. One boy reached down for his beer can and felt something. He turned and saw an old man standing next to him. The man planted his leather boot on top of the teenager’s hand.
“Get off my porch!” he bellowed.
The two boys ran, stopping to unlatch the front gate, but it wouldn’t open. The wind whipped the willow branches through the air, striking the boys on their faces and shoulders. Finally one of the boys kicked the gate open, and they bolted for their pickups. They drove off as fast as Chevrolet could take them.
Annette is the mother of four children. The oldest just graduated from the University of Washington; the youngest just graduated from kindergarten. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Inland Northwest Writers Guild. She loves libraries, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.
You can follow her writing at www.Annettedrake.com. She welcomes correspondence at: Write2me@annettedrake.com.
The rains have started.
There's a thick, heavy, grey cloud lying from one end of the sky to the other. It feels like a an eiderdown up here on the mountain. Every now and then lightning sparks across the valley and thunder follows laughing behind it. The smell of wet dust is strong in my nostrils. It's darkened inside and I've put on the lights. The soft, gold glow illuminates the bunches of roses, baby's breath and Inca lilies that stand in milk jugs around the cottage. Huge, devastatingly beautiful bunches that I received for my birthday two days ago. The sound track to "Braveheart" is playing softly. An African thunderstorm to the lilting pipes, melting heartbreakingly in the afternoon dimness, creating an opening to the imagination and I could be anywhere in the world, in any era. Henry, the cat is curled up on the top of the sofa on his favourite blanket, the landlord's old, crusty retriever, Chandler, has strolled in to visit. He's lying near my feet watching the rain trickle down the stairs through the open door. Coffee is brewing and the aroma warms my heart.
And I write.
The words flow with an ease they haven't had for a few days. It doesn't take much for me to stand on that fictional wooden deck of the narrow-boat, Resin guns out and loaded, while we search for any sign of the assassin that's been hunting us for days. The trees curve over us, keeping the sun at bay. The horses in the hold are restless. The silence is deep. Birdsong has stopped. There are no small rustlings in the undergrowth along the tow -path. Something is out there. Something dark.
Stand back! I have an imagination and I'm not afraid to use it!