Tethered Lives Updated

Hi All,

Chapters 1-16 of ‘Tethered Lives’ are now available to read. Click here to go to the page.

Hope you enjoy the story so far!

Bless and Keep,
Eric

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Orphan’s Blade Update: Three more tales.

 

I have released three more memories from Nithan Hall (read here) and writing them was quite the experience! Due to the nature of the collection, I find my mind wandering as much as he recounts times and troubles in his life. Occasionally, they are rather bleak or without much in the way of honor, but that is the character. I hope that I can stay true to his way, though he is not my typical main charater.

My thoughts are that I should give random glimpses of his life, but set them in some type of order as not to lose the reader. This is becoming more difficult as I go given how time, as Nithan experiences it, is not the typical Sunday through Saturday or even month by month life we have. Because of this, I am trying to set each memory on a timeline that we can relate to in hopes that the story is easier to follow. Though I originally intended to mark each chapter with a date in the story and bounce around, I think it would simply be too confusing.

I will need to keep this story on the novella side of word count simply due to time, but I do hope the tales are entertaining and, in the end, create a well-rounded read.

With that, I leave you to it. Drop me a message using the ‘Contact’ page or post thoughts on this blog. Always a joy to read reactions.

Bless and Keep,

Eric/Mac

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The Other Side of the Coin – A Case for Triss Merigold

A few days ago, my phone vibrated in my pocket signaling I had received an email, Facebook update or a Twitter message. Pulling the phone out of my pocket and viewing the message under the table (as I was in a meeting after all), I saw that I had been tagged by friend and fellow writer, Paul Davis. A few moments later, I was free of the conference room and able to take look at what I had been attached.

The post was on the Witcher site. The picture? A remake of Marvel’s ‘Civil War’ poster to include two of Andrzej Sapkowski’s beloved characters from his Witcher saga. The question? Which team would you choose, Team Yennifer or Team Triss? Neatly tucked in the myriad of comments was Paul’s reaction, “Eric E. McClure. I know you are for Team Yen.” Of course, he was right. So I voted, as he had guessed I would, for Yennifer of Vengerberg and smiled at his opposing vote for Triss Merigold.

Oddly enough, I found myself reading the thousand-plus reactions of others. The number of votes for Triss was amazing enough, but the comments were very heart-warming (negating the prepubescent statements of some, of course). The posts, though there were similar ones for the character of Yennifer, were everything from fondness of her personality to borderline marriage proposals. This is impressive as I love a good character as any reader does and was happy to see the appreciation of what the author had created. Still, I voted for the other candidate.

Today, quite randomly, I found myself reflecting on how a well-written character touches the thoughts and heartstrings of a reader. Ever the curious monkey, I decided to consider why this particular character has taken, from what I can tell, the majority vote. To make it a bit more entertaining, I ‘invited’ my friend to do the same given he was the one that tagged me on the post. Here is what I came up with, Paul Davis…you evil little man. 😉

For those who have played the PC/Console games of the Witcher series, Triss is probably the second most recognizable character apart from the protagonist, Geralt of Riva. It makes perfect sense to me why so many, through seeing her partnership with Geralt, would consider themselves ‘Team Triss’. However, due to the challenge of this post, I feel that I need to push aside the ‘game’ and go to the source, which in my humble opinion are the books. Spoilers ahead.

Of all the pro-Triss situations I can remember from Sapkowski’s novels, I will fixate on one that would sway my vote. In the shortest of terms, it was a part in ‘Blood of Elves’ when Triss comes to help Geralt when he is confused about Ciri and her training.

In the Witcher world, boys are basically brought to a keep in Kaer Morhen to be trained as hunters of monsters. Within this training, these lads are given potions to augment their senses and mutate their bodies. The result of this training and mutation either creates a talented monster hunter or kills them in the process. This works well enough for the witchers, but Ciri is not a boy.

Crillia (Ciri) is taken to the keep for training but starts to show signs that she’s not always up to snuff. Geralt, emotionally dulled by all the potions one takes to become a witcher, finds himself unable to comprehend what is going on. Well, the reader can figure it out before our hero does. Still it is when Geralt calls upon the aid of Triss that it is laid out before us. Triss recognizes Ciri is coming into womanhood and the “men’s only club” hasn’t a clue how to handle it. It’s priceless to read. So despite Triss’s desires to have Geralt as more than a friend-with-benefits, she focuses on setting ground rule for the “men” to follow and helps Ciri to understand the changes in her body and the emotions that come with it.

Now, I could point to how often Triss helps Geralt, her epic powers as a sorceress, her personal drive for set goals, or even the romance aspect between the pair, but it is this particular point in the book where Triss endears herself to me. As a parent, I understand well enough the struggles of this time. Though Triss is portrayed in the books as more like an older sister to Ciri, few could state that her actions in this short segment in a young girl’s life does not give her ‘parent status’ kudos. I certainly do.

So, there it is. The other side of the vote. Triss Merigold is an amazing character both in depth and talent. She is easily lovable and shows a compassion that we, as readers, can relate to even when dealing with a harsh world.

There, I have done my part Mr. Davis. I’m eager to read your post defending Yennifer.

Cheers!
Eric/Mac

P.S. If you have not read the novels of Andrej Sapkowski, I obviously recommend them.

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Tethered Lives – Update – Chapters 4,5&6

A bit late due to a lapse in health, but the next three chapters of ‘Tethered Lives’ is now available to read. Click here to go to the page.

Hope you enjoy the story so far!

Bless and Keep,
Eric

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Orphan’s Blade – Update

Hi All!

I have just added the next two chapters (Hepstone and The Odd Job) to the Orphan’s Blade story. Click here to read. (Sorry for delay. Have a lovely cold.)

In these two new chapters, I needed to give you an understanding of what Nithan Hall’s life was like after “the curse” of the first chapter. Since this is to be read like a journal entry dictated to a friend, I hope that the character solidifies in your mind as I attempt to randomly grab a scene and, true to my way of writing, write what I ‘see and hear’ in my own mind. I hope that the chapters are not so random that it becomes distracting and less interesting. With the understanding that Nithan is grasping at memories that are dimming in his mind, I will do my best to find threads that link them either in a time period or subject without missing a feeling of hurried tales told by a dying man. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

That being said, I intend to release two or three chapters of Tethered Lives tomorrow night.

Drop me a comment or an email to let me know what you think. I’m always curious.

Hope you are enjoying the stories!

Eric/Mac

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Tethered Lives Update

Hello!

Well, as promised, the first release of a new free-to-read book is now available. ‘Tethered Lives’ is just one example where I had a scene in my head and it just grew before my eyes. Setting the story along the Capik Mountain range, a set of four individuals find an inescapable common tie that will redirect their lives.

Today, I share the first three chapters of this story then turn my attention back to Orphan’s Blade for its next bi-weekly release. Good thing I’m a tangent thinker!

Please click here to read the released chapters of ‘Tethered Lives’ and let me know what you think.

Bless and Keep,

Eric/Mac

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Whew. Nothing like building a new site.

You know, as a programmer, it’s not the easiest thing to get excited about the actual building of a new website. Still, to have the opportunity to move with the times and make something new always has enough appeal to push you over the hump.

With this new site, I wanted to address a few things that have bothered me over the last few years. The first was the general look. Forgive me, but I found the old page too…um…busy? With a centerline blog like look with a forest background, it didn’t really do it for me. So, with the new site, I went with  the most unobtrusive look I could.

The second thing I wanted to do was to embrace the fact that people use their phones to read. With the old site, too many images and page buttons made the site less than welcoming for those who wanted to read the free stories. In addition, the site wasn’t of a “responsive” nature and didn’t conform well with smart phones, iPads or the like. With a growing number of readers downloading my previous work on Kindle rather than buying the print versions, not having a tech savvy website just seemed stupid.

Don’t you wish more author sites had short stories or books to read for free? I do. Given I write to support charities and to keep my inner child at bay, I truly wanted to focus on having a site where there were things to read for people who are killing time between bus transfers, classes to start or on lunch breaks. I began to do this with ‘Amelia’s Tale’ on the old site and found it a wonderful endeavor. With that in mind, I’m starting two new stories to update bi-weekly. Still, to do this well, I need to keep it clean and easy to scroll through. I will make changes as you give me feedback, but I think I’ve got the right plan in my head. As long as you enjoy the free stories, I’ll keep writing them.

The above were the most important to fix, but there was still one feature that I was missing. I didn’t realize it four years ago, but some people just prefer to email than to make comments on a blog post. I enjoy hearing from people and meeting new readers so I needed to make this method as easy as possible. With the hosting change, this site now has a Contact email (contact@ericemcclure.com) where my admins can filter website information, kill spamming, and get your questions to me.  All of this though a simple form on the “Contact” page. Love it! Feel free to drop us a line at any time.

So there it is! A clean, responsive site with a focus on reading. Who would have thought? Hope you like it!

Bless and Keep,

Eric/Mac

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Welcome! Sorry for the mess.

Someone needs to clean up this mess. 🙂

In an effort to support changes that I would like to make, we have changed our hosting site and are attempting to set things in order. The blog posts will need to reappear along with short links to published works.

One of the features I am adding, I’m most excited to share. In a small way of saying ‘thank you’ for all your support in the past, I will be adding a new “Free Stories” section that will enable you to read along as they are written. Two stories are in the making and I’m very anxious to share them with you.

In short, I’m terribly sorry for the mess and hope to have it all sorted out before April. Hope you enjoy the new site!

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Should I write? An email response

Mr. McClure,

I really enjoy your stories and am usually surprised by your candor when you share your opinions. I think that’s why I’m writing you.

I am (age withheld) and a mother of three. My youngest will start school this fall and I’m actually looking forward to having half of the day to myself. I used to write short stories in my teens and feel maybe I could use this future downtime to start writing again.

My question to you, and please give me your honest opinion, is if I should try and recapture this love of writing.

Thank you and please keep writing!

Xxxxxx

 

 

Thank you for your email, Xxxxxx!

Since you appreciate my candor, I will share my gut reaction. It is thus; you will write when you feel the NEED to. Once this desire strikes, you will not need my opinion or any other. You simply will do it.

As to the “recapturing” the love of writing, I believe it will be not unlike comparing a love you had for someone in the past compared to today. It may very well be different yet special. Please write to me later and tell me what you discover on this issue.

I want to point out something that you wrote that forced me to set down my fork and respond on my iPhone without hesitation. You used the word “should”. This raised a happy flag in my mind as you chose to begin with a question of “if” instead of “how”. Your question shows that you are being thoughtful of your time and an appreciation of writing. I wish you to know how much I respect that.

Having said all this, I firmly believe you are at a mature place to begin (far more than where I began) and the answer in your heart will lead you to write or to set it aside.

Xxxxxx, I offer this should you move forward. Write when the need arises. Write what entertains you. Write your dreams, opinions and desires. Write what brings joy or struggles to your heart. At the end of your work, if these things are done, you will be ready to grapple with the question of “should I share it”. I have a feeling you will and I will be happy to read it.

Thank you again for your email! Please keep in touch and let me know of the path you decided to follow.

Bless and Keep,
Eric/Mac

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No, writing is NOT hard.

*Warning: No editing has occurred for this post. 😉

What is a writer to do when he or she hears the statement ‘writing is hard’? Well, if you are me, you take a deep breath and do one of two things; a facepalm or take the time to work with the person. In this blog post, I hope that, should you be someone who believes writing is ‘hard’, I can offer another view. Here’s my spiel.

Wandering Thesis Statement: Writing is not hard.

First, let’s see if we can agree on one point. Writing is an action. If a physical or learning disability is not an issue for you, I think we can state that the phrase ‘writing is hard’ is not correct. What I believe people are stating is that attributes around creating a story is difficult. Do you agree this is the true meaning behind the statement? If so, continue on.

I stand before a class of fourth graders and tell them they are free to write whatever they wish for fifteen minutes. How many children would have a blank piece of paper at the end of that span of time? One or two? As one who has taught, I can tell you that these blank sheets are due to the child’s inability to select one of the many ideas coming into their heads, unsure where to start, or not feeling well. Given the project another day and these few would also be gleefully creating a story for themselves. So, ‘writing is hard’? Not to children. Then why would an adult say the opposite?

Fact. Many adult who are new to writing have taken in the lessons of self-critique only to create a wall of self-inadequacy, legendary ego, or fear. Compare this to children, who are concerned with their writing only after being critiqued, which are only too happy to create something from a single thought. Seriously. It is all about attitude. Want proof? Below is a typical conversation that I have had with both adults and children. Please note the attitude in the response after having given them the same answer.

Question from child or adult: “How do I start writing a book?”

My Answer: “Close your eyes and write what you see.”

Child reaction: “Cool!”

Adult reaction: “But stories must begin with an engaging action that both identifies setting and tells of the character’s proactive approach to problem solving while captivating the reader. The narrative of every story should be an invitation to readers to accept the world and its inhabitants while encouraging them to discover the ethos of the characters. To simply start with a random scene, as you suggest, would be an obstacle to creating a realistic plotline for my story and a waste of time.”

Yep. That’s generally what I hear. A child thinks the task is awesome while an adult wants to regurgitates the lesson of a ‘how to write’ book and begin a debate. Let me ask you this. Which of the two have the right attitude to be productive? And, if I may, which truly enjoys what they are doing?

Yes, there are aspects of writing a story that are challenging, but a child doesn’t spend hours on Facebook or Twitter stating the pains of writing. What gives? Attitude. The ‘I can’ and ‘this is fun’ attitude of a child allows them to forgo all the stifling crap adults have stuffed into their heads. Children quickly create stories that are unique, funny and poignant while adults sit and ponder which outlining technique is the best. In short, children can free-write, pants, or self-discover with very little prompting or care. The proverbial writing mantra of ‘what if’ is second nature to them. That’s how their minds work. That is how your mind used to work. If writing is ‘hard’ to you, perhaps you need to recapture that childlike mindset you once had.

The first thing to do is decide if you must write. I did not say want. I said, must. This is an important question and needs to be honestly answered. If you are thinking of stories while driving or doing other things, you may be onto the answer. If you turn off the tv and start writing something you wish you watching, another hint to the answer.  Perhaps you forget there are people in the house while writing. This is certainly a very good indicator that the answer is ‘yes’. However, if writing is defined in your mind as a means to be known as ‘a writer’, believe that it is a good way to get dates with fellow coffee shop customers, or, heaven forbid, think that it is the way to become rich, you can safely state the real answer is a ‘no’ and need to find another way to spend hours, days, weeks and years. For those that have selected ‘yes’ on their test sheet, please continue on.

At this point, we know you must write and are aware that the phrase ‘writing is hard’ is misleading. Should you have difficulties writing, let’s define your road blocks. We have already seen that a child can write, but perhaps recapturing your youth seems a bit out of touch. To make this more likely, I ask that you make a list of what is so insurmountable. Is it a problem of learning punctuation? Is it outlining or creating interesting characters? Perhaps it may be sentence structure. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so I ask that you list them as things you will learn. Despite what some may say, writers are not born with a pen and a pad of paper in their hands and novel in their head. There are things to be learned and it takes time. Writing “well” is a goal that continues before you with every step. Agree now that you will look at writing as pants you will grow into and set this list aside for the time being.

Now we are ready. Drift back to what you were really into as a child. Imagine the pictures you drew at the kitchen table or in your notebook in high school during study hall. What was it? Cars? Sunsets? Playgrounds? Castles and dragons? It could have been anything, but you chose to draw it. Hell, it might have been skull and crossbones or a picture of a tattoo you wanted to get when you were older. It doesn’t matter. You drew these things as an escape or a way to express what freedom meant to you. You may have shown someone, but that wasn’t why you drew or painted it. You, free from all the ‘how to draw’ books or art critiques let your mind wander. This is what you need to do when writing.

Next, let’s turn off our inner-editor for a moment and close our eyes. Randomly pick a character or scene and let it take center stage in your mind. Describe it out loud. This is, of course, prefaced with the act of telling everyone in earshot that you are ‘writing’. Now, what do you see? What do you hear? Who is talking? Stop. Open your eyes, and write it. Editing comes later, just write what you just told yourself. Stop. Repeat the step. Stop. Write. Repeat. Look at the ceiling or a blank wall and picture it if that helps. It’s all good.

Feel odd to do? Of course! You’re out of practice with dealing with no boarders. Ever hear a child sing while they draw or even have a conversation as they write? They are in the moment and enjoying it. You can too. Your child-you is still in there, it just hasn’t been let out to play and has been hushed by all the ‘You must write like this’ garbage that is practically everywhere you look. Taking a moment to have a playdate with your past will help, if you let it.

Take a look at what you wrote. Does it lend itself to a story idea you would enjoy writing? If not, take out another piece of paper and do it again. Now, what exactly was ‘hard’ about that? ‘But that’s not how so-and-so does it.’ Well, they don’t think writing is hard and you do. They have their own way of bringing out the wonder within them. So, until you can sit down and simply start writing, try my idea for a few writing sessions. I have a feeling you will be happy to see the child-you again and hear some amazing tales.

Conclusion: Writing is ‘hard’? No. Don’t believe me? Go ask your inner-child and don’t be surprised if he/she looks at you in an odd way.

 

Bless and Keep,

Mac

 

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