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Give Books for Christmas!

Books make amazing gifts. They’re the kind of thing that keeps on giving since your loved one can return to them again and again. E-books make a marvelous last minute present. Below, I’ve gathered the websites of several of my author friends for you to visit and (I hope) purchase from. Other author friends, please put your links below in the comments.

My book, “Indian Summer”, is an historical romance set in St Augustine, Florida in 1739. It’s available at http://www.secondwindpublishing.com and http://www.amazon.com The novel is available in E-book and Kindle form as well as printed form. My new sci-fi novel, “The Lone Wolf”, is coming soon form Second Wind. ~ Dellani

For William Beck’s great spy thrillers:
http://www.booksbybeck.com/

For the beautiful & moving Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey by Jon Magee
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paradise-Island-Heavenly-Journey/133686193356313
And Jon’s other amazing book, From Barren Rocks to Living Stones
http://www.facebook.com/pages/From-Barren-Rocks-to-Living-Stones/283465875540

For books by Bethany Warner
bkwriter.blogspot.com

For the work of Olwyn Conrau
http://www.olwynconrau.com/books.html

Visit Karen Vaughn here
http://www.karenvaughan.info/ Karen Vaughn
Find her book, Dead Comic Standing at http://www.amazon.com

For the books & artwork of Mickey Hoffman
http://www.mickeyhoffman.com/

For the funny and poignant, My Bad Tequila by Rico Austin
http://www.amazon.com/My-Bad-Tequila-Rico-Austin/dp/0981978916/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1291941988&sr=1-1

For your copy of Activate Intuition by Jim Wawro
http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.activateintuition.com%2F&h=f0ed31wfI6BqSkTJ8l_Yv-1xBaQ

To find the work of Mark David Gerson
http://www.amazon.com/Mark-David Gerson/e/B002CQXFPM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

“From a Child’s Perception” is available at www.authorsden.com/annalfowler Anna Fowler

Susie Schecter http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=lifetimes+ago&x=14&y=1
Susie’s website is http://www/. lifetimesago.com

Research, A Writer’s Lifeline

I’ve got research on my mind because I’m writing a sequel to my historical romance, “Indian Summer”.  Although fairly conversant with the time period, new things pop up.  I needed a timeline for the battle I’m going to include in my story.  I could find a few basic facts, but it wasn’t until I came across a website that was of important dates in Georgia history, that I got what I needed.  Strange, since I’m writing something set in Florida.  However, since the attack was led by General Oglethorpe and his troops were stationed in Georgia at the time, I suppose it makes sense.
 
Another fact that presented itself (from the Georgia timeline) was the name of an obscure fort that was attacked prior to the siege of St. Augustine.  Fort Diego?  Where’s that?  Obviously, this led to more questions than I had answers for.  Initial web searches gave me a lot of information on Fort Diego in California (now San Diego), but didn’t help the Florida research at all.  I did a serach for ‘forts in Florida’ and got a list.  Eventually, with a bit of digging, I found it’s location – well, sort of.  It’s now a golf course, but at least I found it! 
 
Each little tidbit made me so proud, I had to read it all to my husband and eldest son this morning.  They were both interested, which was nice.  There’s nothing like sharing these little gems with someone who couldn’t care less.
 
The main problem I have with research is that I have a tendency to get off subject really easily.  I have to force myself to focus and it’s not always easy.  I find some juicy tidbits which are fascinating, though unrelated to my subject.  I often am tempted to follow these leads. 
 
However odious you might find research, being accurate is so very necessary.  Even something not fully related with the story, like the Fort Diego problem, can be necessary background material that I, as the writer, need.

Editing, the Writer’s Nightmare

indian summer scanned cover 500 x 750So, you’ve finished that four hundred and sixty page novel. You sit proudly and pat the cover page tenderly, smoothing the white surface when much to your horror, you see a mistake! Cold sweat breaks out on your brow, fingers tremble, mouth suddenly goes dry. As your eye wanders down the page, more and more errors jump out at you! Fear grips your heart as you stumble from the desk, desperate for a calming cool drink. It’s a nightmare, but you can’t wake up. It’s real. Your brainchild, the fruit of your creative efforts, is flawed and it’s up to you to fix it.

This is a scenario each of us faces. Sometimes it’s as minor as a misplaced comma or a dangling modifier. Other times an entire scene, or even half the novel is so bad it has to be scrapped and retooled. I started an historical novel about ten years ago, set it aside since it wasn’t going anywhere, picked it up a few years later and realized the reason it hadn’t gone anywhere was that it was garbage! No other word for it. After careful review, I threw away all but ten handwritten pages. Of those ten pages, perhaps parts of seven survive in the retooled version.

Several things were problematic that I didn’t realize until much later. First, and most important, the point of view and style were all wrong. Set in St. Augustine in the Florida territory in the late 1700’s, it was told in first person by a young Spanish woman. I had chosen to do it like a diary (not really sure why) and it was far too limiting to my story.

Second, after doing some more research, I found that the time period would have to be moved from the 1780’s to 1739 or I could not incorporate certain facets of the novel. It would have been grossly inaccurate.

Third, and most difficult, the man I had intended to be the bad guy simply wasn’t working. No matter what I did, even in the retooled version, he wouldn’t be villainous. The heroine refused to fall in love with anyone else. Even the good guy couldn’t be relied upon to behave. He became the villain, the villain became the hero, the heroine didn’t succumb to another man’s charms, and they all lived happily ever after. (Except for the villain, because he, of course, was dead.)

It got terribly out of hand. After lots of time and effort reading and re-reading, honing, changing, and fine tuning, it is a really solid piece of literature that I am proud to put my name on. Five years ago, when I started re-writing it, I wouldn’t have given ten cents for it. It was the catalyst that started me writing in earnest and made me realize I had stories inside me to tell. None of the rest are historical in nature, the rest are sci-fi, because with that novel I learned something else important. You can’t do too much research if you want to be historically accurate. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d rather spend my time bleeding profusely from multiple wounds that tracking down that evasive, all important fact.

Sci-fi is far easier for me to write. Once I have a believable setting, the lone wolf cover scanned 500 x 750rest is easy. Don’t ignore the laws of science, throw in some really good fight scenes, add a few interesting aliens and voila! Creating my own world is far easier than working within the confines of someone else’s, but that old adage “write what you know,” is nonsense. What I know is boring! Who wants to know about raising kids, doing endless errands, making phone calls and taking out the garbage? No one.

Writing is the ultimate escapism. For that short span of time, things work out; the hero and heroine fall in love and live happily ever after. The bad guy gets his just desserts, the good guy wins, and there is always a happy ending. It’s far more interesting than washing the dirty dishes, cooking dinner or sorting laundry.

But I digress. Despite the thrill of putting words on paper, the hard part is making sure that everything is right. We can live with the small stuff like ending a sentence with a preposition. Frankly, it sounds odd if it’s correct. However, misplaced modifiers, sentence fragments and subject – verb agreement are very important. Even if a writer can’t name the errors, wrong is wrong!

One solution is to read and re-read your own work, honing and perfecting it. It’s easy to miss simple errors that way. Sometimes running off a hard copy helps, but it’s still hard to catch it all. Better yet, get people who are gifted in grammar to help you. They might not be able to name the error, but they can spot one and may be able to offer suggestions on how to correct it. If you can afford it, have an editor review it. Few of us can, so it’s up to us to read and re-read our own work until it is smooth and as error free as it can possibly be.

For goodness sake, don’t rely on the grammar check in Word! It’s garbage and will cause for more problems than it solves. I don’t care if it’s the primary word processing program used world wide, the grammar check is terrible. Spell check, on the other hand, is a Godsend, but won’t help you if you simply type in the wrong word. I once finished typing out a test for my 11th grade class only to find that I had one very important little word wrong and the spell check hadn’t caught it. Instead of saying, “What is the theme of this story?” I had, “Shat is the theme of this story?” (For those of you who don’t know, that’s the past tense of the verb ‘to shit’. — 11th graders knew that!)

There is no easy way to get through the editing process. It is tedious and time consuming, but if it makes the difference between selling a book and having it gather dust, it’s well worth it.

© Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

amazon page for books

Name That Character!

This post was inspired by a post on the Second Wind Word Press page, by Pat Bertram.  In it, she talks about how a character name shows a lot about the character.  I started this as a comment to her, but it got too long, so I moved it here.  Dellani

I believe a name tells a lot about a character.  One can be as obvious as “Young Goodman Brown” or as subtle as Duncan Chandler.  The reason I cite the latter as an example is because he is one of my characters whose name represents two distinct facets of his personality.  Duncan means “Dark Warrior”.  He is the son of the protagonist, himself a dark warrior (both in aspect and action).  Duncan is looked upon as a warrior, the next generation.  Chandler means “Light Bringer”.  The reason I chose this name is because he is also looked upon as the new hope, the one to fight the darkness and evil that threaten.

That got me interested in other names that I’ve used in the same series:

Matilda (Duncan’s mother) “Fierce in Battle”

Wilhelm (his father) “Determined Protector”

Marcus (his paternal uncle) “Of Mars – Warlike”

Rebbecca (Marc’s wife) “Enchantingly Beautiful”

Benjamin (his older brother) “Of the Right Hand”

Emmelia (Ben’s wife and Chairman of the Board of the Mining Guild) “Work”

Except for Duncan’s name, which I looked up and chose carefully, all these names were given by chance.  But looking at their personalities, the names fit them incredibly well.  Matilda, his mother, is a warrior and as fierce as her husband in a battle.  Wil protects his family, friends, and those who fight with him.  Marc is also a true warrior and his wife, Rebbecca, is beautiful.  Ben is his father’s right hand, his wife Emmelia is one of the hardest working women in the galaxy.

My readers will probably never know the meanings behind the names, nor why I find them significant, but I found it an interesting way of fleshing them out.

Character Interview with Gabriella Deza of “Indian Summer”

 

 

 

Second Wind: What is your story?

Gabriella: I haven’t much of one yet, I’m only just 15, but what there is of it is told in “Indian Summer.”

SW: Who are you?

G: I am Gabriella Deza, youngest daughter of Governor Ferdinand Deza.

SW: Where and when do you live?

G: I live in the village of St. Augustine, Florida territory. The year is 1739.

SW: Are you the hero of your own story?

G: Me a hero? Heavens, no! That would be Manuel Enriques, my father’s aid du camp and the love of my life.

SW: What is your problem in the story?

G:Quite by chance, I found out a terrible secret. A British spy is trying to overthrow my father, capture the fort and take over the town!

SW: Do you embrace conflict or do you run from it?

G: I’ve never wanted to embrace conflict, but one must face it bravely. Troubles are sent by God to test us. Am I going to argue with Him? I never run when I can fight.

SW: How does the author see you?

G: Headstrong, demure, capable, passionate, honest, loving. I am these things and ever so much more.

SW: Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

G: Oh, yes, Dellani Oakes portrayed me very accurately. She seems to have seen into my heart with great alacrity.

SW: What do you think of yourself?

G: I think I am all those things and more. For one so young, my life suddenly became rather complicated.

SW: Do you have a hero?

G: My father, Manuel and Sailfish are my heroes. They are all so brave and noble. Though, in their own way, all men are heroes, don’t you think?

SW: Do you have a goal and why that particular one?

G: My goal is to marry Manuel as soon as possible. I love him more than I can possibly express. I want to be with him forever. He is my own, true love.

SW: What are your achievements?

G: I’m too young to really have many of those. Although I have made Manuel love me and I have done everything I can to help him and my father keep their secrets and save the town.

SW: Do you talk about your achievements or do you keep them to yourself?

G: What need have I to brag? God sees what I have done. If He deems it worthy, than others will hear of it in time. Manual and Papa know what I have achieved. For now, that is all that is important.

SW: Do you have any special strengths?

G: My faith in God is my greatest strength. My faith has seen me through very trying times. I would not be the woman I am without it.

SW: Do you have any special weaknesses?

G: My passion for Manuel is nearly my undoing. All he need do is look at me and I go weak in the knees.

SW: Do you have any skills?

G: I speak English and French in addition to my native Spanish. I ride a horse very well and also drive a buggy as well as any man.

SW: What do you need most in life?

G: I need the wretched spy disposed of so that our town will be saved and I may marry the man I love.

SW: What do you want to be?

G: I want to be a wife and mother, what greater purpose is there for a woman save to go into holy orders?

SW: What do you believe?

G: I believe in God and I believe in the love of Manuel and my family. I also believe in my own abilities to cope with any situation life presents.

SW: What makes you happy?

G: Many things make me happy, but when Manuel kisses me, I can’t think of anything but how happy I am. There is only one thing which would make me happier, and that would be to marry him.

SW: What are you afraid of?

G: I’m terrified of losing Manuel. If he were to die, what would become of us? Papa says only he can save us in this troubled time. If I lost him, I would have no reason to live.

SW: What makes you angry?

G: The fact that wretched spy is trying to kill us all! He is someone we know, a person who pretends to be our friend. He has all but ruined my life. If I had the skills, I would find and slay him myself.

SW: What makes you sad?

G: The loss of my mother makes me sad, as does the death of Manuel’s beloved aunt. Though they are in a better place, I miss them both very much.

SW: What do you regret?

G: That I with all my education, I never learned how to shoot a pistol.

SW: Has anyone ever betrayed you?

G: Yes, the man who spies on us, using our friendship against us. He betrays me, my family and my home. I hope I have a hand in bringing him to justice.

SW: Have you ever failed anyone?

G: I hope not. I will only have failed them if I do not find the spy and send him to God early for judgement.

SW: What was your childhood like?

G: Delightful in so many ways, but also sad because we lost Mama when I was five and Grandmama not long after. However, Papa and his new wife, Clara, have provided a loving home for the four of us. My older sisters, little brother and I have lived in relative comfort our entire lives.

SW: Do you like remembering your childhood?

G: Oh, yes, very much! I have wonderful memories of my childhood.

SW: Who was your first love?

G: My first and only love is Manuel. I never realized how much he loves me nor I him, until he declared his love for me on my birthday. He is the most magnificent man alive and I love him more than my own life.

SW: What is your most prized possession? Why?

G: My peso necklace, because Manuel gave it to me. Though my parents gave me pearls for my birthday, the peso shows Manuel’s love for me. He can’t ask me to marry him, it wouldn’t be proper, but that shows each of us our promise to wed.

SW: What is your favorite scent? Why?

G: Sandalwood., because that is the scent of Manuel’s soap.

SW: What is your favorite color? Why?

G: Apple green, because it was Mama’s favorite as well, and I am most like her of all three of us girls.

SW: What is your favorite music?

G: The flamenco I danced with Manuel.

SW: What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?

G: The apple green dress I wore to my party. It is the first dress I wore that showed everyone I am now a woman. And because Manuel and I danced the entire night together when I wore it.

SW: If you had the power to change one thing in the world that didn’t affect you personally, what would it be?

G: I think I’d like the Spanish and the English not to hate one another so much.

SW: What makes you think that change would be for the better?

G: There would be less fighting and conflict in the world.

SW: If you were stranded on a desert island, would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

G: Do not think badly of me of saying this, but I would want to be stranded only with Manuel. I can think of no one else with whom I have enough in common to spend any period of time. Only if we were married, of course. Anything else would be scandalous!

SW: How do you envision your future?

G: I see my future happily married to Manuel, having his children and loving him for the rest of my life.

Character Interview with Manuel Enriques of “Indian Summer”

Second Wind: What is your story?

Manuel: My story is still being written, but a portion of it is chronicled in “Indian Summer” by Dellani Oakes.

SW: Who are you?

M: My name is Manuel Hermida Enriques Orejan Sanchez and I am confidential aid to Governor Ferdinand Deza.

SW: Where do you live?

M: I live in the beautiful town of St. Augustine in the Florida territory.

SW: Are you the hero of your own story?

M: What is a hero? A man who does what he must to protect that which he holds dear. I am such a man. If that makes me a hero, then I accept this role gladly.

SW: What is your problem in the story?
M: The problem is that there is a pesky British spy wandering around causing trouble. The beast is wily and sly, but I’ll catch him, have no doubt.

SW: Do you embrace conflict?

M: Conflict is in many forms. If it is in the form of a beautiful woman, I embrace and make love to it. If it is in the form of this annoying little fly speck of a spy, then I spit on it and grind it to dust beneath my heel.

SW: Do you run from conflict?

M: Never! Face conflict proudly and fight it to the death.

SW: How do you see yourself?

M: In my life, I have done many bad things. However, I am trying to change to be worthy of my darling Gabriella.

SW: How do your friends see you?

M: I haven’t many friends, but those are very close. They see me as strong, intelligent, passionate with women, stubborn and capable. How do you see me, cariña?

SW: How do your enemies see you?

M: My enemies never see me. They are dead long before that. If by chance they do catch a glimpse, it is as of the face of death.

SW: How does the author see you?

M: Ah, my beautiful Dellani. If it were not for Gabriella, such stories we would write together! She sees me as romantic, passionate, handsome, slightly dangerous, and very well appointed.

SW: Well appointed?

M: You will have to read my tale to find out what I mean by that.

SW: Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

M: As accurately as any woman may know a man’s heart, yes.

SW: What do you think of yourself?

M: I am not a modest man, but even I do not like to brag. I am all that is said of me and more.

SW: Do you have a hero?

M: Yes, my blood brother, Sailfish of the River People. He is the greatest warrior I know and even more brave than I.

SW: Do you have a goal?

M: Indeed I do! I want to catch the spy so that I can marry my beloved Gabriella.

SW: What are your achievements?

M: That is perhaps not a question I should answer here, eh, cariña?

SW: Do you talk about your achievements?

M: As I said, I am not one to brag. What I have achieved is a matter of history. There are things I have done that I would rather forget.

SW: Do you keep your achievements to yourself?

M: Many of them, yes.

SW: But why? Surely your accomplishments are wide ranging and very nearly stuff of

legend.

M: Not all legends have a happy ending. Some things are better left unsaid.

SW: Do you have any special strengths?

M: I am swift, strong, I speak many languages fluently. I can track prey like an Indian and shoot a bow as well as a gun.

SW: Do you have any special weaknesses?

M: Only my love of Gabriella. She makes me weak.

SW: Do you have money troubles?

M: No. Although I like to gamble, I rarely lose. Besides, my parents and aunt left me a great deal of money.

SW: What do you want?

M: I want to marry Gabriella more than anything in the world. Well, there is perhaps one thing I want more than that, but it’s not polite to discuss.

SW: What do you need?

M: I need to catch that wretched spy!

SW: What do you want to be?

M: I am what I want to be. An honorable man who loves a beautiful woman. One day I shall also be a father, that is my greatest ambition.

SW: What do you believe?

M: I believe in God and my strength and abilities.

SW: What makes you happy?

M: Would you like to me say something poetic like a beautiful sunset or the seagulls above the water? I am not poetic man. What makes me happy is very simple, my love for Gabriella. It drives me, moves me to be the best I may be.

SW: What are you afraid of?

M: I am afraid that what I am capable of will one day consume me. And I am terrified that I will lose Gabriella.

SW: What makes you angry?

M: The snake of a spy.

SW: What makes you sad?

M: The loss of my sweet aunt. May she rest in God’s peace.

SW: What do you regret?

M: I regret how I have behaved in my past. That is behind me now.

SW: What is your biggest disappointment?

M: I am most disappointed that I cannot wed Gabriella right away.

SW: What, if anything, haunts you?

M: In a soldiers life, are there not many things to haunt him? What haunts me, cariña, is better left forgotten.

SW: You look sad, have I touched on a painful subject?

M: Among the most painful. I am not proud of many things I had to do. It is between me, God and the dead.

SW: Have you ever failed at anything?

M: So many things, how can I even count them?

SW: Have you ever failed anyone?

M: Not something I wish to discuss. But yes.

SW: Have you ever betrayed anyone?

M: Never on purpose, but accidents happen.

SW: Do you keep your promises?

M: Always. It is a point of honor.

SW: Are you honorable?

M: As much as I am able to be given circumstances.

SW: That sounds like a very cagey answer.

M: And it is the only one you shall get.

SW: Do you have any distinguishing marks?

M: Oh, yes. I am very well appointed.

SW: You would love for me to ask what that means, wouldn’t you?

M: No, I would like you to read the book and find out.

SW: Have you ever killed anyone?

M: I was a soldier, of course I have killed. And nearly been killed more than once.

SW: Who was your first love?

M: My first love was a girl whose father was a garrison soldier. We ran away together, but I deserted her soon after.

SW: Why did you do that?

M: Because I was headstrong and stubborn and scared to death of her father.

SW: Who is your true love?

M: Ah, my beautiful Gabriella is my own true love.

SW: What is the most important thing that ever happened to you? Why?

M: Getting this job with the Governor is the most important. It got me out of my old life and onto a straight path to redemption. It also brought me Gabriella.

SW: Was there a major turning point in your life?

M: The day I realized how much I love Gabriella.

SW: Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

M: The day that Gabriella said she loved me. It was the most important day of my life.

SW: What is your most prized possession? Why?

M: My most prized possession? Must I have just one? Perhaps my pistol. Or my best pair of boots? No, not really, although I am rather fond of these pants.

SW: Oh? Why is that?

(All I get is a sly grin and a slow, wicked wink.)

SW: What is your favorite color? Why?

M: Sapphire blue, because it is the exact shade of Gabriella’s eyes.

SW: If you had the power to change one thing in the world that didn’t affect you personally, what would it be?

M: I would change how much we hate and distrust the British. It would be great for us and the rest of the world to trust one another.

SW: What makes you think that change would be for the better?

M: There would be no wars or conflicts. I would never have to leave Gabriella’s side again.

SW: If you were stranded on a desert island, would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

M: Can you really see me stranded with a man? I’ll only go if Gabriella does.

SW: How do you envision your future?

M: Happily married to my beloved.

“Indian Summer” excerpt from first chapter

The following is an excerpt from “Indian Summer” now available at Second Wind Publishing.


The first rays of sun rose above the ocean, setting the waves afire. I gazed out my window, watching the town of St. Augustine awake. Sounds from the kitchen below blended with the calling of the men on the docks and the soldiers at the fort.
Tradesmen opened shops as women called to one another from their houses. Carpenters and stonecutters continued repairing the walls and buildings after the latest British attack. Seagulls called raucously along the shore waiting for whatever scraps got thrown to them, fighting over the merest, insignificant crumb. All these were comfortable sounds, mingling together into a familiar morning melody.
As my bedroom faces the ocean and hence the rising sun, I wake early, before any of my family, enjoying these last quiet moments. Yawning and stretching deliciously, I dressed and sat at my desk to compose a letter to my grandmother in England. I had not written anything but the date, 15 February, 1739, when the door to my room flew back connecting sharply with the wall, thus announcing the arrival of my little brother, the pest.