D. Lambert, author
Enter a new world. Stay for a while.
I'm not going to say 'look on the brightside.' I'm not going to mention the big C. Nope. I want to leave this year on a positive note, looking ahead gladly and back gratefully. So I put together the top 7 GOOD things to come out of 2020.
1. Second Best in the world.
Canada was officially declared the second-best country in the world by USNews. I'm fond of the fact we were #1 for quality of life and #2 in citizenship (which is "cares about human rights, cares about the environment, gender equality, progressive, religious freedom, respects property rights, trustworthy, well-distributed political power.") Also, they ranked Canada as the most trustworthy country in another report, which makes me proud.
See the entire list here:
2. CO2 emissions went DOWN.
Although we plateaued in 2019, 2020 saw a decrease in Co2 emissions globally. One part due to lockdown measures, but who knows? Maybe the global interest in renewable resources is hitting its stride too. I like the idea of a better future due to using smarter energy resources. It's becoming affordable to be green!
They checked in April, so here's the article:
3. 15 minutes of fame for David Ayres
It was just a nice story: David Ayres was the 42-year-old Zamboni driver emergency goalie who came to the rescue of the Carolina Hurricanes as they battled the Toronto Maple Leafs in February. Although it happened in Toronto, and David was from Toronto, and he was recruited to play against the Leafs, he was good as gold and made eight saves on ten shots. Thanks to his honest efforts, the Hurricanes beat the Leafs 6-3. He was a sensation afterward and truly embodied the spirit of the game and being Canadian.
He's in wikipedia now...
4. Speaking moistly
In another moment of levity, watch Justin Trudeau's speech when he made the error of saying "speaking moistly," a phrase that you could see he instantly regretted. Of course, Canadians ran with it. It became a song and a lip balm!
The… lip balm?
5. The Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building.
NASA recognized the work of a hidden historical contributor to the space program: Mary W. Jackson. Jackson was the first African American female engineer at NASA in 1958 and was instrumental in getting the USA into space as one of their 'human computers' But, like many of the time, she was given no recognition until now. This was the latest move in NASA's attempt at reconciliation with their past, where 'Hidden Figures' went unrecognized for decades because they were female or of a minority. It's a good thing to see.
Check out the press release here:
6. Mutant Enzyme Heralds Breakthrough in Recycling
An enzyme was discovered in 2012 that could breakdown plastic faster than expected degradation (which is freakily slow). So what does humanity do? Optimize it.
Now we can use it to break down plastics in a matter of hours, and the products can be reused for new products! Score another one for science.
Click here for the news!
7. Big finale? Dec 7th 2020.
Marcus Andrew Ronald Lambert, our little rainbow baby, made our family into a family of four. If you're unfamiliar with a 'rainbow baby,' it's the one born after a loss (miscarriage or stillborn). I experienced two miscarriages on our journey to have Marcus. Welcoming him into the family has been a long time coming.
I hope you have other things to be grateful for in 2020. It's those silver linings that I hold to as we advance into 2021. May the New Year bring great prospects and opportunities for us all.
I didn’t think I had time for Newsletters. I also didn’t think I had the interest. But it's part of being an author these days, so I started (little scientist me) to research it. I signed up for several to see what others were doing. I read articles. I investigated platforms and programs. I asked around.
Maybe someone else is thinking about it. Here is what I learned about Newsletters:
1. It’s a connection.
Right now, connecting with people is hard. So maybe a little email sent to you monthly is a bright spot, a new idea, or a thought to share. It’s one more point of contact for people to remember that people are still out there, doing stuff. I liked having that moment of connection.
2. Newsletters are powerful
Newsletters are direct, from-the-source material, unlike many other platforms with filters or algorithms that continuously change and challenge our ability to connect. The message is going right to the person who wants to hear it. That in itself makes it potent.
3. Yes, it’s a way to advertise.
But is that all bad? From the other side, it’s a way to keep up with current developments, maybe even get ahead with pre-release information or covers before publication. It’s a way of generating momentum for a new book or helping people see older ones in a new light. Or maybe there is an event that needs to be shared. It’s all right there. I can be kept in the loop instead of counting on coming across something I may not even know to search for online.
4. Broadening my horizons, or at least my booklist.
Finding a new author, or a new song, or a new idea. By connecting with authors, we learn about their journeys. We get access to resources we never knew. Maybe we can be inspired! And with cross-promotion, we may find another book to read. Not that I have time for more of those… but I can dream.
5. Feedback from the readers!
What do you think of the new cover? What’s the interest in the fantasy world? Should more books follow, or is it time to move on? What do they love? Not love? Who do they root for? All of that is a vital part of getting to know the most important person in the writing field; the reader. A Newsletter is a way of hearing back.
So I'm going ahead.
In setting up my newsletter, I had to decide on some basic things (like the platform, frequency), but the hurdle became the content. I love music so expect some listening recommendations. A fun quote. Sure. But the content, the meat of it. What was I going to do?
I don’t want to be another newsletter about how to write. I am learning, and no doubt there will be some bits about the journey, new covers, release dates, but why would people open MY newsletter?
I decided I want to be a bright spot. I want to be that happy thought for the day or the funny quote. I promise to keep my newsletter upbeat and fun. We all need an excuse to smile.
If you’re interested, sign up here. The first one goes out Dec 1st. And yes, I’ll send you a short story as a bonus on sign up!
It's a tradition, although one I almost skipped this year because of the different set up for the conference. Still, there were gems to be had. Thus, here are ...
Things I learned from SiWC online
1. Video and audio are on the rise!
I knew Audiobooks were on the up and up. I had no idea how powerful video was becoming! With Google now indexing video and audio content, Podcast content shows up on searches and adds to an author's searchability. And now we can link videos to Amazon and websites. YouTube videos show up and bump your ranking up.
I guess this means people will be seeing a bit more of my bedraggled haircut in the weeks to come! I'm hoping to do a 'launch' for Dragon's Talon and a bit of a reading. I already have a reading of 'Someone,' a new short story!. Let's be honest; going audiovisual is an exciting new adventure: a terrifying one, but an exciting one. With modern technology, it's not as tricky as it once was.
I'll see you out there soon!
2. Blogs can tie to Amazon and Goodreads.
Now that I'm present on Goodreads (yay!), I had to do up the author profile. But it took a lecturer pointing out that it was possible to link the blog to the profiles for me to look at it again. I had seen the spot to put the link but failed to make it work. Now I've figured it out! Ok, small victories, but hey, I'll take what I can get.
Want to see more of me on Amazon? Follow here: DLambertauthor
Goodreads? Follow me as the author here: Author page
Or just friend me as a person (but know I'm not great at keeping my lists up to date!)
3. Taking a more in-depth look at the worlds we write, fictional or not
One talk I thoroughly enjoyed was "Decolonizing Fiction" with Erin Roberts. It challenged authors to look at many layers of their writing, even when we were not making a conscious effort towards a statement. Sometimes, even NOT making a statement may be making a statement we are unaware of. We don't see the scaffolding of the world we are accustomed to. It takes effort to see beyond that and make conscious choices about what we are putting out there.
It doesn't have to be big things. It can be simple as the type of stockings someone wears (Nude stockings: are they really nude for everyone? Clearly not!). But we can be active in our writing. We have to be deliberate in the choices we make.
4. Be afraid and do it anyway.
Eileen Cook's final speech spoke right to my heart. I'm getting doubts about the Sands of Nanterac series. It features so many new ideas and concepts, so far removed from the World of Espar and the familiar. I love it, but I don't know how to pitch it. I fear it's not good enough. It doesn't belong.
The thing is, the characters are black. Sort of, at least. They are more alien than just that, but it's based in a desert, and the people are pitch-black skinned. I researched lots of African themes and cultures to build the world and the peoples. I had to; building the world in the environment drove the culture. It makes sense.
What do I do with it? Shelve it? It has a place, I'm sure, in reaching broader adult audiences.
Even with a blue pencil last year with the lovely Cat Rambo, I haven't gotten any requests. Probably because I stopped querying it in 2019 though!! I lost my nerve.
So it's time to face the fear and, as Eileen said, do it anyway.
And that, my friends, is the final motto for SiWC. Be afraid, and do it anyway. Push the limits. You never know what will come of it.
So what project have you held back on?
I have just closed the Zoom window on the closing event of SiWC, and I need to unload.
This conference has been a massive help over the years, starting me on my way as an author instead of just a hobbyist. It is a strange mix of the experienced and the amateurs that fosters inclusivity and support when others would be elitist. It was the push to get me querying and taking my writing more seriously. Many workshops and talks inspired me or taught me how to improve my craft.
So it's a bit strange to say that I leave this conference with mixed feelings. Did I learn things? Absolutely! And I intend to go back over the online content available still to watch talks I could not attend. But I think my trepidation comes from looking ahead and seeing a fog. I'm not sure what I can use or what I can't. I'm at the point where I've learned enough to be on my way, but not enough to know where I am going.
I have two books self-published. The last one fell during COVID shut down, and I fumbled on the release so now I have to backtrack a bit.
I've got one book I passionately feel would work in the traditional publishing industry, and so I'm back to querying it.
So what am I doing? Honestly, I am coming to terms with the idea that I cannot do everything. I am accepting that books will continue to be my passion and outlet for stress. It will be fun. It will not be a career, but that doesn't mean I won't release good solid fun and adventure. And if I make you think a bit, excites you, or scares you a little, then good. Let's have an adventure!
I'm keen to hear from you! In these times of distancing, reach out! There's lots of good to come.
With SoulBurner (Weapons of Espar, Book 2) now in the hands of beta readers, I can finally hunker down to other things. And there's a lot going on!
I expanded my horizons and went to add the books to Goodreads, only to discover I already exist! Come follow me as an author at this LINK! I'm tickled pink that someone added the books but could use some more reviews to keep it alive. If you have a second and use Goodreads, tell me what you thought of Dragon's Voice or Dragon's Talon!
I'm starting up a Newsletter, once monthly, that will include various topics, promos, advanced reader intel, and the occasional snippet. For the first one (which will go out Dec 1st 2020 depending on baby #2 being due) I will be including a free short story in the World of Espar! Sign up HERE for free and get content!
More good stuff!
I got word that SoulBurner's cover is on its way! Stay tuned!
This week's plan:
If anyone is over at SiWC this week, look for me there as well! I will be attending the talks and social events whenever I can squeeze it in around daily life October 23rd to the 25th. Although the conference is pared down quite a bit, there's still lots of good stuff to come out of it online. I'm looking forwards to spending a few days in the world of writing! I hope to see you all there!
Of course, I will have my usual helpers... Levi and Corsair.
It's been a while…
For official news, I have accepted that I will not be making the Nov 2020 release for SoulBurner (Book 2 in Weapons of Espar). One part, that was because I lost two months when things were in lockdown. You would think I would have MORE time, but there was a sharp difference between those who had lockdown without a small child and those who went through lockdown with a small child. I have a small child.
The other part of the decision is that I am due with baby # 2 on Dec 6th, 2020. Thus, I decided SoulBurner will have to wait. Dragon's Talon is still available! Grab book one while you wait!
This blog was inspired by a sewing project and a legacy.
Legacy in a sewing box.
I am first to admit I am no expert seamstress, but one of the first things I got when I moved out was a sewing machine. I know the basics. I can put together a pattern, hem a skirt, and patch the knees of my son's torn pants. All you need for that is thread, a bit of cloth, and the machine.
However, when the kid's stuffed bunny lost his eyes, I had buttons I could sew back on (repeatedly). When I needed red thread, I had it. Elastic? Yep. Donated that to mask-making efforts. Ribbon? Sure. Even had a zipper, a pincushion with industrial pins, and a folded felt heart full of needles of all shapes and descriptions.
For a beginner, I have a ridiculous number of bits and pieces. That is because of Grandma Joan.
She was my grandmother-in-law, and I didn't get to know her for many years before she passed, but she has a legacy in my sewing box. Upon her death, my husband came home with her sewing box, an inheritance that I had never expected.
That golden tin is full, to the brim, with buttons of all shapes and sizes. I have a random assortment of coloured threads. I have more needles than I will ever need, from tiny beading needles to enormous knitting needles. They may be from 1950, but they do the job well. It is a treasure box filled with scraps of just what we need, when we need it.
Beads for an art project on a rainy day; a clasp for a bracelet made of shiny buttons; a sheet of felt for valentine hearts. These little things connect my son to his great-grandmother.
And every time I pull something out to use, I'm reminded of her too. A little bit of her effort and love goes into every project.
I hope I leave a legacy, whatever its form, as heartwarming as that sewing box.
Music is unique. It directly affects our brains, changing the release of chemicals and controlling mood, learning, behaviour. It's strangely universal.
And it makes writing better. Here are 3 ways music can be used in narration!
1. Character development:
Your favourite song tells a lot about you. Look at the huge spectrum music runs; from the hard core metal to melancholic, to classical to blues. A jazz fan might be more laid back, or more willing to improvise. An old school rock and roller might be stuck in the past. A teenager is more likely to go for hard rock, something with lots of screaming (unless he's actually head of the local marching band…)
The type of music a character prefers or listens to in the course of the story is another characteristic to expand on their personality. Don't dismiss it, or you'll miss the opportunity for depth with a few lines of text.
Consider the difference between a club filled with head-banging rock versus a country song.
Music sets the stage, lending details you now don't have to specify. Even the little details, like the elevator music being bland or the hold music being an outdated radio station no one actually voluntarily listens to, tells you about the building you are in or the company you are calling.
So, choose your music deliberately, and remember our world is filled with music. We must not forget the sense of hearing when making descriptions. But when is your world completely silent? How many songs do you hear in a day? Coffee shops, malls, dentists, car radio, at home, headphones when waiting for a bus, or riding a bus, or walking, or running, church, on websites/computer…
Even in other eras, consider the music. Folk songs, working songs, hymns…
3. Set the Mood:
Even if you're not showing a setting, music sets a mood. Who can forget the ominous organ music playing in the storm! Mystery! Intrigue! Suspense!
Don't be overt, but you can alter the mindset of your reader my choosing an appropriate song. It's more powerful if it's specific. Avoid 'a sad song'. Say George Jones singing with a harmonica background "He stopped loving her today." It gives you a kick to the gizzard!
But it's not just in the writing that music can make an appearance. I use music all the time to drive my writing as well!
Everyone is different, but if you have not tried these yet, I highly recommend them! They are great tricks to combat writer's block too!
Here are 6 ideas on how to use music to help YOU write better and more often!
1. Take a song and write new lyrics. This is a very traditional thing to do, to repurpose music to new lyrics. It's a tool for poetry, since you'll find it guiding the structure for you.
2. Listen to different things while writing: with lyrics, without, familiar, unfamiliar. If you match the music to the mood you are trying to put into the scene, you may find something that drives the scene (and the story) onwards.
3. Try to sing your work: If you think of your prose AS a song, you'll hear the beats and flow of it. If it's jarring, then find something that smooths it out.
4. Block out noise: Using music can keep focus on the page and not in the surroundings. Headphones may help make a coffee shop a prime writing environment (unless you want to listen to the people chatting nearby for inspiration too!)
5. Playlists for each story. I do this. They are in order. Since the characters develop, I will find a song that seems to match them in a moment, and I put that song there in the list. I also write out the lyrics to solidify my ideas. Sometimes the song adds depth I didn't know I had. I listen to these songs when writing, but also in between since it kick-starts my thinking about stories.
6. As a prompt: Use an instrumental piece or just use the title as a prompt, then listen, and write. Piano music is another great prompt for the emotion it evokes!
Second book blues? Maybe a little. It’s hard in COVID-19. We’re so lucky on Vancouver Island to have so little of the disease, but the precautions are still in place, and we’re still abiding by them so there will be no gathering, no library launch, no celebratory cake (not even my homemade version!) This release is going to be like a dud firework; a bit of spark, but not as much as excitement.
So let’s have a fun list of small things that changed the course of history. Many of these are just legends, but still amusing!
A crack in history
Safety glass was invented by accident; the French chemist dropped his flask containing cellulose nitrate and discovered that, while the flask did break, it didn’t shatter. Thus followed a staple of our automatic industry.
Waterloo and the pain in the a**
It’s rumoured that Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo due to acute hemorrhoids. He couldn’t ride to supervise the soldiers, and since the doctors had lost his leeches, he ended up on an overdose instead. So much for such a small (but so incredibly painful) thing!
Didn’t see it coming
A last-minute roster change meant the lookout on the Titanic ended up without binoculars as he was missing the key for the locker where they were stored! Some believe that the iceberg could have been seen at a greater distance if the lookout had had access to those binoculars. The ship might not have crashed at all!
Happy B-day… or D-Day?
Supposedly, German commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel left France to attend his wife’s birthday, smoothing the path for the Allies on D-Day. One birthday someone regretted attending!
A Mars Rover once went MIA on NASA because (as they discovered) the two teams working on it were using different units. Suddenly, the tiny difference between centimetres and inches mattered way too much.
When one door opens…
In ancient times, the Ottoman Empire was founded after the Turks took Constantinople. How? Someone left a gate open. Whoops.
On a roll…
The modern stethoscope was invented by a male physician who, because of current societal expectation, could not press his ear to a woman patient’s chest to check her heart. He rolled up paper and used it to listen, diagnosing her heart disease! Now it’s a vital tool for all physicians.
Finding the right direction
Albert Einstein was inspired by a compass he was given when ill in bed. It fascinated him and instilled in him a deep curiousity as to the working things. That worked out for the best!
So, no matter how small a thing feels, there is always great potential!
It's available now; the newest installment in the world of Espar! Join the next generation of DragonKeepers!
The ebooks are up at the below links. Thanks to the deals by Island Blue Print, I should have the print copies for locals mid-June. And as a bonus, we now have an amazing map of the World of Taint courtesy of Astra Crompton. Espar's only one corner of it, but it's exciting to see it finally put together!
If you'd like a copy directly from me, send me a note (Contact page is HERE) and I'll put one aside! Otherwise, the links are below. For a universal ebook link click HERE
A promise that brings war...
When the king was killed by his advisor, only the DragonKeeper knew the truth. She was exiled and, without her support, the Kingdom of Espar fell to the Lionian Sovereignty.
Fifty years later, Cairon Mirk is the DragonKeeper, and he has little sympathy for the Esparans who abandoned his grandmother. But an oath remains, that he will defend the line of the Kings of Espar. When he stumbles across Danoron Galanth and his sister Gensiana, helping the Heirs of Espar enrages the Sovereignty and brings a bounty onto the heads of dragons. To save his dragon family, Cairon must abandon his isolated life and do battle with the invincible Lionian Sovereignty.
But the Sovereignty does not act alone. Traitors hide among the Esparan rebels. New weapons are raised against the dragons, able to burn even a silver's scale. And an enemy of the past has come to end both Cairon's reign as Dragonkeeper and his life.
I admit; I am a bit obsessed with dragons. Right now, everyone's talking about unicorns, and I don't care. Where are the dragons? That's what interests me!
I find it fascinating that almost every culture the world-over has myths about dragons. Many are huge snakes only, but you can go back through ancient written history and find these stories all over the globe and call it a dragon. Off the top of my head, there's been Apep (Egyptian), Ladon, Python, Typhon (all Greek, plus unnamed ones…), Lindworm (Germanic), Fafnir (Scandinavian), Wyrms and Wyverns (English), Long (Chinese, possibly also Vietnamese), the Leviathan (Biblical-Jewish), Naga (Indonesian), Tiamat (Babylonian), Bahamut (Arabian), Tarasque (French)… And those are just the ones I know! There are thousands out there, named or unnamed, that share the giant reptilian /dragon style.
Why does the world have myths about dragons? Perhaps that would be a good topic for a short story. The 2002 movie 'Reign of Fire' supposed that dragons existed and hibernated between killing sprees! But the main two theories I have heard are 1. We're scared of snakes, so big snakes make a lot of sense as monsters or 2. Ancients saw fossils and drew conclusions.
I think the former is more likely. We, like monkeys, have a reasonably instinctual fear of snakes. Kids often have a fear of snakes even if they live in areas without many snakes. Monkeys who have never seen a snake before, never been exposed to another monkey's reaction to a snake, will still react with fear when they see one. It's a strange genetic memory we do not understand.
Not everyone is scared of snakes (about 40%), but it's enough to make snakes great monsters. And then imagine the thing could fly! Many eastern dragons have no wings but fly.
I'm less convinced that a dinosaur (or other) fossil would universally make dragon myths. Some parts of the world are very fossil-poor. And even if they found a bone or two, they would lack the skills to dig up enough to have any idea what the creature was. There's not enough in those bones for me to believe the whole world would create a myth.
The neatest thing about dragons is how they differ. Some have wings. Some blow fire. Some have many heads. Some have horns. Some have magic teeth or bones.
And the 'rules' for dragons are profoundly malleable. Sacrifice a damsel. Cut off its head. Steal its hoard. Brainless monster. Sophisticated riddler.
Dungeons and Dragons were best known for codifying the dragons by colour, and in doing so combined the myths of many cultures. They even have a monster called Tiamat and one Behemoth. They separated the different archetypes into different beasts, even expanding into dragonkin.
Were the dragons of Espar in the World of Taint inspired by D&D? Strangely, no. While I have played D&D, Espar was born before that, and I wanted the dragons to be more animal, less magical. I figured out how they flew and their dragon breath. And I made the colours different breeds, not species, and created an origin for the various breeds. They had more in common with dogs (if dogs had been bred by magical beings).
But that's the wonderful thing about dragons. No matter how you change a dragon, it's probably somewhere in the mythology of the world, and everyone will recognize it as a dragon. It's a myth everyone knows.
D. Lambert, author
Fantasy novels that entice, inspire, and entertain.