Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Mythikas Island: A Message of Hope

 

When I began writing the Mythikas Island series in 2006, I could not have imagined life in the United States as it is today.

I began the story as a gift to my daughter and her friends who were tired of romance triangles in YA books. Why can't girls save the day, they asked? And so the idea was born: a book about girl power and how they can not only save themselves but be a force for change in their world. There were so many Band of Brothers stories. I wanted a Band of Sisters story.

I made an unusual choice. The series is about people who might have inspired the Greek gods. They do not have magical powers. I received criticism for that. It was also suggested that the parents should have been present to meddle. But that didn't interest me. I was also told by an agent that girls didn't read adventure.

I sent four girls, Diana, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Athena on a survival exercise on a deserted island to earn a seat on the ruling council of Mt. Olympus. The island isn't what they expect. It is a haunted self-destructive place. The journey requires them to overcome their differences and work together to survive. That was the primary message I wanted to send. Though they start out as adversaries, together they could accomplish anything.They would be responsible for their future and the future of their world.

Along the way, they learn ugly truths about their world and the people they once respected. Corruption is uncovered. Betrayals revealed. Ghosts from the past are confronted.

Though the journey is primarily four characters, the panoply make an appearance by reference and in backstory: Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Ares, Dionysus, Adonis, Pan, Hades, Poseidon, Ceres, and others. I crafted Gaia as Persephone's grandmother, a healer and the wise-woman leader of the natives of Helios before the Titans arrived and conquered.

In the final book in the saga, a shipwrecked crew shows up to further reveal secrets and create challenges to their survival. Some said I should have introduced them sooner. You can't please everyone.

I made another unique choice, creating a "relay" series. Each book is from a different character's point of view. Each character's personal arc is completed by the end of their book, but the four books form a complete journey. They are not stand alone.

As a self-published author, I was surprised to not only sell thousands of copies but to find that it still sells today, though not in huge numbers. I received feedback from adults, male and female, on how much they enjoyed the story. The story never became a movie, though that was a fantasy of mine.

I recently created an omnibus edition with all four stories combined. After twelve years, I still love the characters, the story world, and the theme.

I am content with my publishing journey. Crafting the series spurred my non-fiction series on writing, Story Building Blocks, which is now three books and sixteen workbooks. The series and the companion blog continue to help other writers on their journey.

I have yet to find another idea to tempt me to invest the thousands of man hours of research, drafting, revision, editing, proofreading, etc. but my muses still make an appearance. They are not finished with me. Or maybe I will be a one hit wonder like Harper Lee. Time will tell.

I made the series Mythikas Island available free as a PDF during the pandemic because the message and journey are so relevant to our current reality. I hope it inspires everyone to be part of the change. You can download it here.

You can read more about the story creation and the myths that inspired the series here.

Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Murder Déjà Vu

A few years back I heard a newstory about a man who had spent half his life in prison for murder before DNA set him free. Since then, thousands of prisoners have been exonerated because of the improvement in DNA testing. The story gave me the idea for my book, Murder Déjà Vu, in which a man spends fifteen years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He's released not on DNA evidence but on a botched crime scene technicality. A TV story about an artisan who created rock fireplaces filled out my character's profile.

Wealthy Harvard-educated architect, Reese Daughtry, has spent the last six years living an almost hermit-like existence in the mountains of North Carolina after his release from prison, building artistic rock fireplaces for a waiting list of clients. When author Dana Minette, newly divorced from her abusive husband, the county prosecutor, sees photos of Daughtry's creations in a magazine, she contracts him to build a fireplace in her new home. There’s a romance, a murder that mirrors the one for which Daughtry went to prison, and a jealous ex-husband who sees a path to higher office by prosecuting Daughtry, not only for the present murder but to prove he was guilty of the murder in Boston.

After the book’s publication, I received an email from a woman who lives with a man who spent ten years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He was exonerated when DNA incriminated another man. She told me I had portrayed my character’s PTSD exactly right. It was the best “review” I ever received. 

 

Polly Iyer is the author of nine novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and Indiscretion, and four books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, Backlash and The Scent of Murder. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

What Are You Afraid Of?

Unless you were already living in a war zone, a global pandemic is the probably scariest thing you have experienced in a very long time. If you were already prone to depression and anxiety, there is nothing like a plague to ramp up the tension setting to high.

It is okay to feel scared and frozen. To wonder why you should bother to write a book when the world feels like it is ending. What's the point? Who can afford to buy it? How could you possibly launch it? Are publishers even accepting new works?

The fact is books are getting many of us through this difficult time. Book sales are up. 

Some are reading dystopian books for reassurance. Fictional worlds survived. People carried on. In many countries, dictators are in power and authoritarianism is on the rise. We may be inspired by heroes who fought to overturn corruption.

The same applies to historical books set in war time and disaster thrillers. There is comfort in knowing someone somewhere managed to survive natural disasters, famine, pandemics, world wars, regime changes, and genocide.

Fantasy has been a great distraction. Fictional worlds where the problems aren't real allow us to escape for a while. Times like these make us wish more than ever that we had magic wands.

Mysteries are a way to tap into the desire for vengeance and justice. We may not be able to control our own environment, but the bad guy always gets caught and punished in a good murder mystery. 

For some, Romance novels make us feel hopeful about the world. Finding love and connection are important parts of life.

Uplifting literary novels remind us that loving our neighbor is a good thing. We are inspired by people pulling together to overcome adversity. We are reminded of the power of love, the need for forgiveness and tolerance, the value of friendships, and the importance of community.

So, when it comes to being uncertain about whether you should continue to write, my answer is yes, please do.

There have been so many great memes about writing this year, but this is my favorite, "I wonder how many incredible book series are out there that I'll never get to read because the author gave up on their dream. I bet my favorite book in the world was never even published. Finish what you started." Caleb Robinson.





Further reading:

Best Writing Year Ever



Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Year End Q & A

How do you feel about 2020?

Without a doubt, this year will go down in history as one we never want to revisit. Certainly, we've read (and lived through) challenges we never imagined we'd endure. News folks, other commentators, and journalists have beaten us nearly to death with negativity from virtually all fronts—and understandably so. 

We are writers of fiction and nonfiction. We are editors, journalists, and so on. Among our talents is the ability to look at any given situation from a variety of perspectives. Let's put the kaleidoscope of 2020 up to our eye and turn the image wheel slowly. 

Bright colors of rebirth we expected in the spring lost their brilliance, their beauty, their appeal. Instead, we faced a pandemic, something most of us have never experienced. Schools closed. Restaurants and a host of other businesses shut their doors. Store shelves emptied faster than they could be restocked, and many necessities could not be found because warehouses ran out of supplies. Friends, neighbors, relatives, loved ones, and strangers got sick. We lost some of them—too many of them. We saw the best of people and the worst of people. It was and still is a frightening and unstable time. 

What else did we lose? Freedom to travel. Family get-togethers. Safe work environments. Visiting friends and relatives. Eating out. Quality time with adult children and grandchildren. Hugs. And much, much more. 

As though this were not enough, we rolled through the punches of a troubled summer into hurricane season. Families and towns impacted by the virus now face destruction at the hands of an angry Mother Nature. Wildfires continue to rage through the western United States, destroying millions of acres, numerous homes, and taking a toll in human and animal lives. Loss of income meant loss of homes to too many families. Some elected leaders around the world minimized the problem or chose to battle each other rather than battle the virus, fires, and other issues that led to these catastrophes. Sadly, the end to all this distress and much more does not appear to be in sight.

Bleak as all this is, has there been a bright side? True, it's a challenge to find anything good in this most forgettable year in modern times. Any stretch of the imagination about a bright side comes with a significant amount of tarnish. Still . . . 

We've had time to reflect on what's truly valuable to us. Hectic lifestyles often keep reflections at bay. Those lifestyles fell by the wayside as businesses closed and social distancing significantly diminished face-to-face meetings of any sort.

Many of us learned how to use Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, and other apps to keep in touch, often with people we've lost contact with over the busy years. Religious institutions resumed services through Zoom to reach homebound parishioners. Cuddles with grandchildren gave way to virtual hugs and conversations over digital communication devices. However, those who didn't have either the devices or the know-how to use the ones they possessed were shut out of this vital stay-in-touch method.

Many more examples could be cited, but the ones above make the point. The silver lining on the black cloud is so thin it can barely be seen. The tarnish on the bright side still resists efforts to remove it. 

As we enter the final quarter of this year, how are you coping?

Are you able to transfer our present reality into grist for your writing mill?

Have you renewed old friendships and drawn closer to family via Zoom, etc.?

What has helped you get through the past dark months?

Do people in your area comply with safety precautions to protect others?

How have people's attitudes affected you?

What has made it most difficult to adjust to our current situations?

Please share your feelings with our BRP community. Sharing unites us. It lends us support. It can change casual acquaintanceship into lasting friendship. Perhaps we can help one another travel this rocky, uninvited path to a better time. 

What do you think?


Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love—writing—while maintaining her editing work. Her novels fall into the literary category because they are character driven rather than plot driven, but their quick pace reminds the reader of genre fiction. You can contact her through her websites: LSLaneBooks.com and DenverEditor.com.