Category Archives: writing

Fire and Water

Fire & Water begins with Keagan, a fire elemental, betrothed to the princess of Fire Nation in unhappy, loveless engagement of convenience. Meanwhile, he’s involved in an illicit affair with Aedre, the beautiful and conning princesses of the Water Kingdom. Both lovers risk the death penalty if their love is discovered.

Court intrigue and espionage ensues as Fire Nation and Water Kingdom rush towards genocidal warfare. It’s up to Keagan and Aedre to bring peace to their people while remaining true to themselves and their love for each other. But is peace between fire and water even possible?

“Fire & Water” is now available on Kindle . Go ahead and click the link, a little steamy romance isn’t dangerous — unless you happen to be Keagan or Aedre.

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Smashwords — Fire and Water — A book by Douglas Ryan

My new short book Fire and Water is now officially available Smashwords in all formats.

In this tale of forbidden love and desire between Keagan, a fire elemental and Aedre, a water elemental; can they lovers remain true to each other and themselves and prevent mutual genocide of their races?

Fire and Water cover

 

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Does it run the family?

Last night I was eating Easter Dinner with my family when my little 10 year old nephew Michael announced that he wanted to be writer.  This was a little of a surprise, but not completely because he greatly enjoys the Captain Underpants series of children’s books. All writers start off as readers, and hopefully continue reading after they make that career choice. Needless to say, this is very exciting development.

Michael’s announcement got me wondering if the writing bug runs in the family? It seems very possible. Sidney Sheldon’s daughter ,Mary, became a novelist.  A better known example would be Christopher Rice, the son of Anne Rice. Christopher’s aunt,  Alice Borchardt, is a noted writer of historical fiction, fantasy and horror.

 

I know this list isn’t very extensive, and I’m sure is far from being all inclusive, however researching the children of all notable authors all night is sure to make me feel like somebody is drilling a hole through my skull and I’d  be crossed-eyed before task is completed. (I can’t be accused of being anything but honest here…) It does, however, begin to show that the writing blessing/curse may well run in families. Alice Borchardt said that a library card at the age of seven was the best gift she ever received. Perhaps a library card was the best gift will prove to be the best gift Michael received. Time will tell.

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Filed under Children, Uncategorized, writing

Writers, what was your first story?

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?  With me it was a cute little story called The Mouse House when I was in third or forth grade, written on a manual, non-electric typewriter my mom got me at a pawn shop.

 

I still remember a little of the story:

 

There was a house

In the house lived a mouse.

It was a mouse house!

 

I don’t remember the rest of the story word for word, premise was that the mouse owned the house. It wasn’t a house owned by humans and the mouse just lived between the walls. The basic plot was the this bad exterminator guy was trying to take over the house and mouse confronted him on the issue. The exterminator wasn’t moved by mouse’s arguments and attempted to catch the mouse. The rest of the story involved the mouse outwitting the exterminator, who eventually gave up.

 

Ah, memories. The story was simple, of course, but the reason for writing it was the same as with my new stories. There was something in my head and heart that had to come out, had to be shared.

 

I don’t remember the first story I ever read, but I was a big fan of Green Eggs and Ham at the time.

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Las Vegas Writer’s Group Meeting

The night before last I woke just barely in time to attend the Las Vegas Writer’s Group meeting, which as at 7 pm. Being about 5:40, it wasn’t too late to make it there on time, really, except one must take into account that somebody might choose to demonstrate the world-renowned Vegas sober intelligence by losing a box in the middle of the freeway (again..yes, seriously) or decide that his/her car loves another car and help it kiss the other car’s bumper or fender. I don’t feel like going into detail about my atrocious sense of direction, which often leads me to turn left when common sense should say to turn right, or vice/versa. For those reasons, a twenty-minute drive can easily turn into an hour. That left no time to cook dinner. So, I went Del Taco, figuring that meal would be less expensive than eating at the Tap House (the web address is supposed to be http://taphouselv.com/, but that’s not working.)

So, when I arrived at the Tap House, of course, I ordered more food, which was clearly not my fault since they left a menu at the table and made selections entirely too tempting. Since we live in an age of avoiding any personal responsibility, when I’m done with this post, I’ll be writing my Congressperson as well as Governor Sandoval and possibly the mayor with that complaint. But I digress. After the waitress too my order, she pointed out that my nametag was upside down. Luckily, a fellow attendee came to my defense, saying, “He’s only a writer…”

Our host began the meeting and encouraged everyone to join the critique group as well. He explained that we would never, ever humiliate a new member; merely abuse and embarrass him/her. OK, my sense of responsibility does lead me to point out that was said tongue firmly planted in his cheek, since some folks these days are entirely too sensitive.

Our speaker for the night was Maile Chapman. Instead of spamming up this post with info about her, I’ll provide this link. She was very good. She explained the history of American short story and explained that the early stories were often very didactic, touching on very serious social issues. While well written, those stories were often emotionally difficult to read. For example, she told us about a story about a young woman on a slave ship. The woman was left alone to give birth to her child, but was given no assistance. The slave traders were kind enough to undo her shackles so she could do this, but apparently forgot to reattach them after she gave birth. So she kissed her baby and then jumped overboard, baby in her arms to save the child from a life of slavery. Ouch. Not exactly light reading for a warm, sunny spring morning, is it? Such stories with abolitionist messages were often published anonymously for the author’s safety. Maile also explained that what makes short stories such a uniquely American art form is that they can more easily be published quickly to deal with such issues/ideas that are topical, such as slavery.

Now for my ideas on didactic stories. They’re fine, as long they’re not preachy. Also for the love of God, make them unique. For example, there seems to be millions of LGBT themed coming of age stories where the young gay guy gets kicked out of home and school, etc and all those stories wind up being the same, not only in plot but also the characters can easily be transported from one story to another without the reader being able to tell the difference. The same applies for other stories of these types. If one is inspired to write about about a domestic violence, go for it. I’ll agree with the theme, no real man beats his wife and he deserves his retribution. I’ll go so as say the Wiccan idea of the Third Fold Law can and should apply; the harm he causes by his cowardly and abusive behavior should come back on him three fold, at least. However, at least make the woman unique and do so by more than just having her have an unusual hobby (unless the hobby is relevant to the outcome.) Moving on, this was never meant to be a “how to write” blog and there are plenty of those, but I had to throw my two cents in.

Going back to Maile, she explained out writing became art for art’s sake. Poe was the first (or at least first famous person) to do this in short stories. (I’m not entirely sure this is correct, even though many, if not most of Poe’s contemporaries were still writing didactics.) Anyway, reading and writing for pleasure of it was a novel idea at the time. From Poe, the modern short story really took off. Of course, he was the one that wrote the famous essay Philosophy of Composition . In this post, I actually violated his Unity of Effect rule, though by starting light-hearted and then talking about very dark stories.

There is one piece of writing advice that Mailed gave, which I’d like to share. Make the resolution and outcome meaningful. She complained about what she calls the “MFA Ending” (Master of Fine Arts.) That’s the type of ending that goes something along the lines of “The lovers sat under the tree, pondering their decision.” In a way, I understand such an ending. It allows the readers to come up with their own ending, what they want the lovers to do. On the other end, it makes me say “Really? You took me through all the lovers’ ups and downs, had me experience their emotional and other conflict without a satisfactory conclusion?” Please don’t do that. Going back to our host’s comments, you’ll leave me no recourse but to abuse and humiliate you if you do that.

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Ophelia

What would a  modern girl do in Ophelia’s circumstances? That’s the idea behind my new story, told through the perspective of Ophelia. The rough draft is finally completed. Yes, it very rough and needs a shit-ton of work in fleshing out the characters and the settings; in addition, it needs to be made even more character driven. The plot is pretty much set in stone after I went through about a dozen of them. The plot adheres  closely to the Bard’s work, but with the premise that Horatio got many crucial details wrong.

 

The characters in this story are completely my own  even this early stage, bearing no more than a passing resemblance to those of Shakespeare’s. After all, when you read Hamlet in a high school and/or college , would Ophelia have attempted to drug Claudius? That’s just one small example of how the characters differ. Ophelia is no longer basically a helpless and naïve little girl, but I avoided making her a Charlie’s Angels-type total badass. No cliché’ characters allowed.

 

In the process of writing this story, I read Hamlet, along with many modern essays and critiques of the play. I did read about one novel  written in the 1970’s that retells Hamlet from Ophelia’s perspective. In that work, Ophelia and Hamlet manage to not only survive, but get married and live happily ever after. After briefly considering do something similar, I rejected that idea as being far too neat and tidy. After all, Hamlet is supposed to be dark tragedy.

 

That’s about all I can say about it right now, without giving too much away.

 

Oh, I’m trying an experiment.  I downloaded a plug-in for Windows Live Writer that also posts to Twitter. Let’s see if it works….

 

Douglas

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My new novel is progressing well

Yeah, I’ve been too busy writing for the past couple weeks to write about writing 😉 However, at this time I’ll be secretive about the subject matter…

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