#MondayBlog – Mapping Out Your Novel’s #Fantasy #World

When reading fantasy novels, the world created needs to make sense.  The reader needs to be able to picture where the action takes place.  Here are examples from my favorite books.

Hogwarts – J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series

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Camp Half-Blood – Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series

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A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin’s series

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Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien’s series

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Vita Post Mortem Academy – my (after)life lessons series

Map of Vita Post Mortem Academy

To vote for Vita Post Mortem Academy to be published by Amazon, click on The Light of Supremazia Kindle Scout page book #1 in the (after)life lessons series.

How do you map out your novel’s #fantasy world? See what author @alanasiegel thinks (Click to tweet)

Maps from your favorite #fantasy #books – check out @alanasiegel ‘s post (Click to tweet)

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Made Up Words, the #Language of a #Fiction #Novel

Creative Terms for Fiction

How great are the inventive words used to describe a new thing, event, or action in fiction? There are tons of examples.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • An animagus is a person who can morph into an animal – from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
  • Similarly, a warg is a person who can enter the minds of animals – from George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones series.
  • The reaping is an event when a boy and a girl are chosen from each district to participate in the Hunger Games – from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series.
  • Buggers are insect-like aliens – from Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series
  • A mudblood is a magical person born to non-magical parents – from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
  • A half-blood is a person born from one parent who is a mythological god and one who is not – from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series.
  • Quidditch is a professional sport in the wizarding world – from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

How do you invent a new term?

For my new series, (after)life lessons, I tried to be thoughtful about new terms. You can’t rename everything or your reader will get lost.  However, it is fun to imagine your new term catching on and being used in casual conversation!

My series is based on the premise that spirits exist in our world and certain people have the ability to see them.  Simply put, some people are spirit-seers and called visumaries, while others who can not see spirits are ableptic.

Visumary and Ableptic Definitions

Why do you choose the terms?

Sometimes authors choose the word because of the phonetic appeal – it sounds similar to another word that conveys a certain meaning. Other authors perform deep research on Latin roots or Greek mythology.

I felt the word visumary sounded similar to visionary, like they have the ability to see things others can’t.

Ableptic has a harsher sound – “bleh.” It is less musical, similar to J.K. Rowling’s choice of squib for a person born into a magical family, but has no magical abilities. Also, in English, “ablepsia” means lack of sight or blindness.

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Twitter-Sized Bites

How do you invent new terms for a #fiction #novel ? Author @alanasiegel has some thoughts (Click to tweet)

What are your favorite #fictional terms – #quidditch #halfblood #warg ? Writer @alanasiegel has a few (Click to tweet)

When You Believe in Fantasy Worlds

There is something exhilarating about happening upon a blip of a fantasy world in everyday life. For a fraction of a second you believe you have actually been transported to an alternative universe, or the secret world was there all along, and miraculously, you managed to get a glimpse of it. Are talented authors taking everyday experiences and making you believe it’s special? Or is life imitating art? I don’t know the answer to that, but I love stepping into my favorite fantasy realm, and I try to do it as often as possible.

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I looked for Percy Jackson in front of the St. Louis Arch!

 

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I attempted to get into the Ministry of Magic from a phone booth!

 

 

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I fought the mist at the Lotus Room so I could get back to Camp Half-Blood!

 

Finding fantasy in everyday life is a thrill. That’s what I hope to create in my next series (after)life lessons! Check the first beta review I received from an 8th grader!  Comment if you would like to be a beta reader!

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Check out the pinterest page: http://www.pinterest.com/alanasiegel/afterlife-lessons/

 

 

Dedicated to the Girls Who Used to Stand in the Back Row in Dance Class

Don’t be mad. I just googled the band, Mötley Crüe. I know its a heavy metal band formed some time in the 80s, but why were they a “motley crew?” One picture solved the mystery for me:

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Don’t be surprised, but this is where I relate Mötley Crüe to young adult fantasy books.

I’ve been doing lots of research on character introductions and came to the realization that most of my favorite books have some sort of motley crew – a group of underdogs who beat all odds and save the day.

The obvious one is Harry Potter.  Wasn’t Luna a little looney?  Neville Longbottom accident-prone? And Ginny Weasley just a little girl? But you loved the ragtag bunch.

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Percy Jackson wasn’t any better – his best friend was a satyr and his brother was a cyclops.

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Don’t even get me started on Lord of the Rings.

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How about the New Directions in Glee?  Definitely your standard geeky bunch.

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Well, my next book series starts the same way – a mismatched gaggle of kids, looking for a brave leader, getting into trouble, and of course, attending a school taught by famous ghosts.  Look for it soon, called (after)life lessons.

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I feel like real life isn’t so different.  Didn’t everyone in San Francisco cheer for the 49ers?

I take jazz classes with a talented teacher named Ann twice a week.  There are a group of us who joined about a year ago.  We started in the back of the class, our own version of a motley crew, tripping through combinations and embarrassing ourselves.  Through dedication and hard work, we improved.  Most recently, the teacher suggested we stand in the front of the room.  I felt like my own personal underdog, able to keep up with her challenging routines and perform next to beautiful dancers without missing a beat.   [Perhaps I’ll attache a video soon!]

Traveling Superheroes

Four plane rides, five diligence meetings, four states, six coffee catch-ups, and one Bat Mitzvah.  That’s how I spent my first week of December.  I was impressed.  Okay, so I wasn’t attacked by monsters, I wasn’t gallivanting around Rome, and I wasn’t traveling on a trireme, but we can’t all be demigods searching for the House of Hades like Percy Jackson’s friends aboard the Argo II.

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I did manage to find time to write a few more chapters of my next book series, Bone-Chilling.  As I approached the last few chapters, I noticed the characters suffer from time travel whiplash.  If you were able to see ghosts, like the main character, Juliandra Winklevoss, you would also have a hard time keeping track of which time period your teachers were from.

She knows one thing for certain, if they teach at Vida Post Mortem Academy, they must be superheroes.  President John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Eleanor Roosevelt, are just a few of the spirits that make a translucent appearance.

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Dead or alive, historic or unknown, traveling or stationary, there are many different types of superheroes.  They can make sweeping changes or simply bring a smile to your face.  My mom forwarded this picture of one of my favorite dancers from So You Think You Can Dance, Twitch.  He is the king of optimistic superheroes.

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At the end of the day, one of my favorite reasons to travel is to see my rag-a-muffin cat, Zeus.  Named after a Greek God, he too, likes to dress the part.  Happy Holidays!

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Is Optimism My Fatal Flaw?

I know, I sound crazy. It’s like saying being able to do magic like Harry Potter, or compel people with your mind like Olivia Hart, is a fatal flaw. Let me explain.
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When I watched the episode of Glee that was a tribute to Cory Monteith, I was crying before the episode even started. Okay, I’m not helping to prove my point.
I’m really good at being optimistic. No, I mean really good. Maybe, too good. I have an extraordinary ability to look at the bright side. I compartmentalize things in my brain so that the unpleasant experiences are rarely remembered, and the positive occurrences are front and center.
I often tell my friends, ‘I don’t do sad.’ In fact, I make my friends read books and movies before me, because if it doesn’t have a happy ending, I’ll just skip the hassle altogether.
So what’s the problem, you ask? Glee was the problem. The episode memorializing Finn Hudson went against every grain in my body. The show that usually added song and dance to everyday life suddenly was indescribably sad. There was no happy ending. I couldn’t compartmentalize the heartache. I couldn’t pretend everything was going to be okay. In real life, he was dead.
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As I read through my favorite novels, I realize many fatal flaws can be considered virtues. Some would argue Harry Potter’s fatal flaw is honor. His integrity and innate need to do the right thing ultimately causes him to die. However, the key point was that without accepting inevitable death to protect the one’s he loved, he wouldn’t have been able to survive the curse.
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Another example is Percy Jackson. His fatal flaw is loyalty. He would sacrifice the world to save someone he really cares about. Is that really a bad thing?
Athena teaches Percy that some fatal flaws can be good in moderation. I thought about this for awhile, and I decided I’m not going to submit to this decision that optimism is a flaw. I don’t care if I have a slightly twisted view of reality because I wear rose colored glasses. I would rather see the glass half full. When moments of sadness make their way through the cracks of my optimistic armor, I’ll have a crying jag, but then I’ll take out my magic wand, shout,”EXPECTO PATRONUM,” and cast a patronus of sunshine, rainbows, and ragamuffin kittens, and blast that gloomy dementor into oblivion.

Mom, My Personal Superhero

I’ve been thinking about Moms as superheroes for awhile now, but I took it as a sign when one of my best friends from NYU gave birth to a baby boy last night.  Pregnancy, labor, and birth…now that takes superpowers. Congrats, Lovecakes!

I find most motherly superpowers (other than giving birth) to be behind the scenes.  Rather than being the person, sword in hand, fighting the dragon, mothers are the unsung heroes in the background. Without their support, the protagonist would never have the courage to stand up to the dragon at all.

That is of course, unless your protagonist IS a mother. [I’m picturing Claire Dunphy from Modern Family who doesn’t take crap from anyone and still finds time to take her kids to mathlete competitions. Or perhaps Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones?] But in most of the fantasy books I read, the mother is there to support the lead. This blog is a tribute to all the Supermoms.

Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series is, hands down, a supermom. From cooking dinner for a family of eight, to joining the Order of Pheonix, to killing Bellatrix Lestrange, she is heroic.

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Another superb example is Sally Jackson from the Percy Jackson series.  She lived (and died and came back to life) in terrible circumstances with an abusive husband, just to protect her son from the wrath of the gods.

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Even grandmas can be superheroes.  Remember Gran from the True Blood series?  Fighting and loving vampires and fairies.  That’s hardcore.

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However, no superhero compares to my own mom. Brave, smart, thoughtful…as my Aunt Iris would say, she is the whole package! Her love and support makes me the women I am today.  And trust me, I can take on any dragon!

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And just because Olivia Hart tends to think like me, I leave you with a quote from the Olivia Hart and the Gifted Program Series:

She said exactly what I needed to hear. “Thanks, Mom. I love you. I’ll call you,” I said and hung up the phone. Something about a mother’s guarantee did wonders for self-confidence. I felt hopeful because Mom said I could do it. I was going to save my friends. –OLIVIA HART, THE RESCUE