A Question of Sanity

They say insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again and expecting different results.

Let’s take a look at this:

10232322_sAs an author, I never pick up my novel to read it. I know that sounds bad, like a negative opinion of the story. I assure you, that is not the case. Knightfall is the only book I have read four times (on top of the writing of the manuscript). I did it from start to finish, each time poring over every single word. There was no skimming. There was no speed reading.

Sometimes I took a week off before starting the next round of edits, but I went back, again and again…and again and again…poring over the same words. I changed a few of those words with every read, so I guess I achieved a different result, which doesn’t make it that crazy. But believe me, while you’re slaving away over the same words you just read not that long ago, you can feel the madness gnawing away at you.

And this process I will repeat many times over. I have more novels to come. I am in my second round of edits of Trials of the Chosen Book One: A Woman’s Scorn, while the first draft of Meeting the Dark is done and waiting its own set of rewrites. So here lies the insanity, for the repeated process will result in the same improvements. While my writing is getting better, so is my editing, so the margin of betterment remains pretty much the same.

And then there’s this:

Authors spend their time in unreal places, giving life to imaginary people. Our stories may occur in cities known to the world, or town known only to those that live nearby. That doesn’t make it real. Read the fine print at the beginning of the book. It clearly states we writers take creative license and twist whatever fact we want to make our story work. We distort reality.

DSC00270As for fantasy authors like myself, we go miles further than that. I play God, putting mountains where I want, directing the flow of rivers along courses to please my fancy. I plop villages wherever I want, create metropolises that span hundreds of miles (I actually haven’t done that, but I might someday). I do have an ocean in Kagendur (the fantasy world in which Knightfall is set) that continually churns as if in a storm, but without the winds and the clouds. And in the middle of that impossible sea lies a minuscule island, a slab of rock that somehow survives the crashing waves when the barrage of waves should sweep it away with ease.

Novelists create imaginary friends and treat them like real people. We need to do this, or they won’t be believable. You need to find the quirks that make the characters interesting, or funny, or down right despicable.

Then we write to make others believe. Of course, we all know what we read isn’t real, but while we pore through the pages, if properly written, the impossibilities sweep us along and make us feel something.


Let me recap:

  • Authors perform the same tasks over and over
  • Authors have imaginary friends and enemies
  • Authors live in their own world
  • Authors try to convince others their delusions are real

There can only be one way to describe us novelists:

We are insane.

Spread the word!

Questioning Ideas

In my as-yet limited fame, I still have the luxury of walking down the street without having every passer-by stopping me to drill me about every single detail of my life. All right, that is a pipe dream I know will never happen. Unless my books become blockbuster movies starring yours truly. But I’m sure the people in Hollywood have enough sense to see early on I’m no actor.

I know very little about the luxuriant life of established authors, but I doubt they have throngs of fans bothering them every second of every day. I have seen videos clips of conventions, where a panel of peers spend their time bestowing their knowledge on the avid listeners.

I have had some readers come up to me and ask a few of the expected questions. The recurring inquiry I wish to discuss in this post is probably the most-asked of them all:

Where do you get your ideas?

thinkingThis is a question I hate hearing, let alone answering. You might as well ask me why air is transparent. How do you decide what to eat for supper? How do you decide which item to buy as a birthday gift for a loved one? How do you choose a name for your pet fish?

Ideas come from the ether, not matter what they are for. Whether you’re in your office and you suddenly realize there’s a better way to perform a task, or you’re in your garage and you figure out how to squeeze more power out of your engine, you have just received inspiration from the same place we authors find the scene depicting the troll missing the knight and smashing his toe with the tree trunk he’s using as a club.

But I know this isn’t what you meant by the question. What you want to know is:

Where do you find your inspiration?

There are as many way to go about this as there are writers. I won’t go through the list, or this post will end up becoming my next novel. Feel free to visit author blogs or corner them at book signings and ask them. Just make sure to not use the word “idea.”

What I do is simple: I write and imagine. My mind is always working, whether I want it to or not. My brain likes to keep me awake at night. Every time I try to fall asleep, that’s when new ideas pop up to keep slumber away. I have forgotten more story plots than I have typed up or put on paper. But the good ones I replay in my mind so I don’t forget. Those will find their way in print or digital editions some day.

I don’t plot ahead, so my stories twist and curve and make u-turns as I write them. Another question I never answer is “what will happen next?”, because I honestly don’t know myself. As my characters dive into an argument, I get swept up in their emotions and before I know it, 500 words have somehow found their way onto my screen. And somewhere along the way, the story has told me where it needs go.

While I lay in my bed, staring out into the darkness, images of magic and dragons invade my thoughts. I envision different ways to portray these classic and stereotypical characters. This brings new plot ideas, which would don’t necessarily fit in the story I am writing, so they are shelves for future projects. I have enough basic ideas to sustain four distinct series of novels. The problem will be finding the time to write them.

What about outside influences?

DSC01343Taking nature walks may help some centre themselves and open their minds, but as far as I’m concerned, a tree is a tree. People watching helps one see the effects emotions have on our expressions and how different personalities react to differing situations. Though that does help, there are not that many brutes out there who would bludgeon you to death to make you their next meal, so finding examples to flesh out the aforementioned troll would prove difficult.

I do read, a lot. This is my equivalent to sitting on a bench in a mall or strolling down wooded trails. I see how other authors form their stories and characters. This is the only way one learns of wyverns and dracolisks, or how gods would act if they interacted with the mortals who worship them. And this is how you learn what other novelists are putting in their stories, so you can avoid repeating the same plot.

So, to answer the question, I don’t know where my ideas come from. Having the knight in Knightfall treat the elf as he did just came to me. It fit in the story. And the story dictated Ohliaman’s fate. I had envisioned it quite differently when I started writing the book. I think of basic plot lines, then let my fingers do the rest. Sometimes I’m as surprised when I finish writing as the reader will be when they read it.

Below would be a good place to tell the world where you’re inspiration comes from. Maybe I’ll even try some of them.

Spread the word!

Review – Nourished By That Which Consumes by Joseph Ephraim

Nourished By That Which Consumes by Joseph EphraimGenre: Thriller

59 pages

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Available at the following locations:

Visit Joseph Ephraim on the web:

Book Description

The author does not include a description of his novel. He opted to use his prologue and first chapter to entice potential readers instead. I will give you a brief description instead.

Zhang Yu-Lin is a young Singaporean woman. Her father is a gambler who racks a debt he cannot hope to repay. He wishes his daughter would help by becoming a call girl. She refuses, unwilling to degrade herself so. That is, until the loan sharks pay a visit to their house and botch their intimidation attempt. Zhang Yu-Lin loses her mother and two siblings in the fire that consumes their home.

Yu-Lin’s woes worsen when her father loses his composure when next faced by the loan sharks. In a sudden rage, he murders the gangster. Yu-Lin loses the last remaining member of her family to a prison sentence.

Yu-Lin vows vengeance on those who had taken her family from her. She uses all her attributes—intelligence, beauty, determination—to infiltrate the criminal organization so she may one day make those responsible for her anguish pay in kind.

My Review3-Star_rating

Nicely Written But Lacking Depth

Joseph’s writing style made this story quite easy to follow. This was an enjoyable read, and I found myself wanting more.

I read the entire thing in one sitting, but found myself unsatisfied despite the quality of the prose. Joseph could have easily doubled the length of the book if he had explored the sub-plots that were mentioned throughout the story. It seemed to me that Joseph was under a deadline and needed to get the project done as quickly as possible. He flew through the story, marvellously writing the necessary parts to still make things flow naturally. But this made his characters a little one-dimensional. He did mention some back stories, but never elaborated on them. This would have made the book even more enjoyable, in my opinion.

Spread the word!

Review – Kaylen’s Rising by Yves Robichaud

Kaylen's Rising by Yves RobichaudGenre: Young Adult Fantasy

ISBN: 978-0993974601
322 pages

Publisher: Water’s Edge Publishing

Available at the following locations:
Barnes & Noble

Visit Yves Robichaud on the web:
His Site

Book Description

Book 1 of the Tomes of Taria Series

Kaylen has been in the dark for fourteen years – in every sense. His people are hunted, so they must struggle to survive within underground caves. His community despises his family, taunting him constantly. His parents keep him housebound, forbidding him from wielding sword or wand.

When he is finally allowed to attend school, the harsh truth reveals he has much to learn – including a unique magical ability. Kaylen can summon and control skeletons!

With surface-dwellers threatening war, he will need every friend he can make, and to stay true to himself if he is to survive what is to come.

My Review3-Star_rating

A Fast-Paced Tale That Forces Readers To Keep Reading

Don’t let this average rating fool you. Kaylen’s Rising is an excellent story. It is fast-paced and full of action. There is always something happening, forcing the reader to keep flipping the pages to see what happens next.

What this book needs is a little more depth. The characters are a little flat and their relationships do not evolve much, save for a small few. There is a budding love story, but it goes no further than its inception. Future books will most likely elaborate on these romances (I will clarify nothing so as not to spoil the story), but this novel left me disappointed. Kaylen’s family history is revealed nicely throughout the book, however, so I was quite satisfied with his development.

The final confrontation is a little anticlimactic for me. The tension builds beautifully until the final moment, then it just deflates. The problem is resolved too easily in my view, so I was disappointed.

All in all, though, this novel was a good read. It is meant for an audience of children between ten and fourteen, and I believe most of them would enjoy this story.

Spread the word!

Review – Huntsman by Michael R. Wilson

Huntsman by Michael R. Wilson

Genre: Epic Fantasy

ISBN: 978-1478172352
378 pages

Available at the following locations:
Barnes & Noble

Visit Michael R. Wilson on the web:
His Blog


Book Description

~AD 1011 Ancient Finland~

Once upon a time…Words held more Power and dragons roamed the world.

For Eyulf, the youngest son of a minor lord, the opportunity to train with a Rune-Singer Mage was the chance of a lifetime. He is content…until he discovers a volume of Lost Words, powerful Runes forgotten through the ages. Corrupted by Magic he cannot control, things go wrong quickly.

Jaakko, a simple huntsman, returns to his home late one night to find his village destroyed by a creature out of legend. Obsessed with the monster and his desire for revenge, he spends fruitless years hunting the beast before he realizes that it toys with him and he lacks the Power to destroy it.

When Avitus, an officer aboard a Byzantine ship of war, learns that his captain’s orders are to sell their ship and abandon the crew in the far North, he finds himself a penniless outlander. When he finds work as Steward to a future king he feels all will be well…until the crippled Mage comes to court.

Aila, spurned by Eyulf in his quest for Power, has quite happily made a new life for herself without him. When he returns, and tries to claim her once more as his betrothed, her fear of the potent magic he wields keeps her from confiding in the few people she feels she can trust.

One by one, they are drawn into Eyulf’s treachery.

The Hunted Mage Trilogy incorporates a blend of History, Fantasy and Ancient Finnish folklore.

My Review4-Star_rating

A Tale Exceptionally Told

Michael did an excellent job weaving this tale. The characters are so well rounded and compelling they drag the reader along as they stumble through their troubles. I find myself unable to decide who to root for, but I desperately want to know what happens to all of them.

The book is divided into three parts, with many years passing by between acts. I found myself a bit confused with certain details at the beginning of new sections, which interrupted the easy flow of the story. But these were mere bumps in an otherwise smooth ride that is a fantastic tale.

Any fantasy enthusiast must add Huntsman to their collection. I know I have and will definitely buy the other titles to complete the set.

I simply can’t wait to see what happens next.

Spread the word!

Reviewing the Written Word

In today’s world, individuality is touted and thinking for oneself is encouraged in most cultures. But, when it comes to making a choice for ourselves, most still like to hear opinions from others. Or, in today’s age of cyberspace, they want to read about their options.

5-Star_rating_system_PCAR_01Very little people nowadays will visit a retail site and click on the “Proceed to Checkout” button without first reading the provided revues of said product. The amount of 5-star ratings more often than not makes the consumer’s decision for them. Let’s face it, when having to choose between two similar items, going with the one more people like just makes sense.

This is also true in the book industry. You’ll hear about the die-hard readers who go to book stores and read a few pages before opting for a volume. Most on-line book outlets give you that same option, letting you read a preview. I will proudly admit I am one of these. You can tell if the story will interest you with a quick scan of a paragraph or two.

But what if you’re picking up a novel for someone else? What if that person prefers to read in a genre you would rather not know even exists? Let’s face it. Some readers would prefer to forget there was ever a Twilight, while others will hunt me down to pay for this slander. Personally, I find Stephenie Meyer‘s plot twist illogical and detrimental to the story, no matter how well she writes.  But other members of my family love her books, so I would still buy her novels as gifts.

It’s in these situations when I would rely on revues. Not knowing which volume to pick, I would let the masses guide me. Many do this, as well, when they just want to read the latest best seller. Sometimes all you know is you want a thriller. You don’t care who wrote it or whether it contains vampires or not. In this case, it makes sense to go for the book liked by the most amount of readers.

And that’s why we have reviews!

2301723_sPart of my previous blog dealt with book reviews. I was always open to trading opinions. I know, many disapprove of authors swapping works for revues. A lot of novelists abused the system, using each other to boost their ratings. I never took part in that sort of scam. The authors I worked with knew exactly where I stood. I wanted an honest revue from them, and I would give them the same. I wasn’t looking for a perfect rating. If they didn’t like the story, I wanted them to say so. And they knew I would do the same.

I neglected my blog shortly after that, so I didn’t revue that many books. In the next few posts, I will share those reviews again. Most of these stories are worth the read and deserve the reminder they are still out there, available to the masses. I’m sure the authors won’t mind the extra exposure.

Before we get to those, however, I feel I should explain how I rate the stories. Many sites use different methods and scales, so a 4-star review from on site could mean something totally different than a 4 out of 5 rating somewhere else.

This is how I work:

First, I need to emphasize I rate novels on readability. The important thing is the story, the flow of events and how the author manages to keep my attention. Syntax and grammatical errors only register with me if they detract from the tale. I will not call out a writer for their use of the passive voice, unless it makes me put the book down. I won’t, like, you know, say anything about, well, using the totally unnecessary filler words that dramatically slows down the 10232322_salready languishing pace of the story, like in this sentence, unless it happens way too often. I do not teach the English language and will not pretend to know all the obscure rules nobody seems to follow any more. I’m looking for a narrative that captivates the reader, forcing them to turn one more page despite their need to put the book down.

On this blog, I use the expected 5-point system. Each score designates a specific opinion on the book, as follows:

  1. Did Not Finish — The novel was so bad I put it down without getting to the last page. I loath not finishing what I start, so it takes a lot for me to give up on a story. You should not see many 1’s, but if you do, I strongly suggest to keep away.
  2. Would Not Recommend — Though able to read the entire story, it did nothing to impress me. My copy of this book would be on the list to donate. It would have no place in my personal library. It would not be mentioned when someone asks me what I think they should read next.
  3. An Okay Story — I know a 3 out of 5 doesn’t look that good, but these stories still have some gems scattered through the pebbles. Novels in this categories are those I enjoyed reading, but would most likely not read again. There was something missing, and sometimes it will be so subtle I can’t put my finger on it. The novel may be interesting while I read it, but not enough that I will want to read it again. I might still suggest these books to someone I think would enjoy them.
  4. Excellent Book! — Captivating stories and exciting climaxes get you in this category. These are the tales I will talk about to like-minded readers. There will be minor glitches I dislike, but nothing too glaring to detract from the overall awesomeness of the narrative. These books will find their way onto my shelves, either physical or electronic.
  5. Oh My God! Perfection! — Rarely will I give this rating. When I say perfection, I mean perfection (in my opinion). There has to be nothing in the novel I wish to change. These are the stories you wish to pick up again, even if you just finished reading them a week ago. Not only will these books grace my shelves, I’ll be looking for a second, signed copy, to lock away in a display case.

That, in a nutshell, is how it works here. You will see the structure of my reviews when I post the first one in a few days. I have rambled on long enough to bore you with those details.

I will offer myself to authors out there who wish to have their books reviewed. Simply get in touch with me through my website, MarcLabelle.com. Or send me a private message using Facebook or Twitter.

Spread the word!


The hour was growing late, the day nearly at an end, when it happened. She…

Well, you’ll just have to read the novel once I publish it to find out what happened.

Camp-Winner-2015-Twitter-ProfileAs I mentioned in my previous post, Nearing the End, I participated in this month’s Camp NaNoWrimo. Challenged by a friend, I was to write 25,000 words in 31 days. A much easier task than the 50,000 words in 30 days I am used to attempting each November.

I do not say this to boast. I am so used to the gruelling schedule of Nanowrimo that having to push myself to write 2,000 words in a sitting is ingrained in me. Missing a day makes me nervous, because sometimes you fall short of your daily writing goal and you need to catch up. Just knowing I have a deadline puts me in a mindset where every minute counts. There is no time for writer’s block, or the nagging feeling what you just wrote just doesn’t feel right and needs to be fixed right away.

So I found myself writing more than I needed to this month. I wasn’t reaching the insane levels of my November output, but I gave myself enough leeway to take some extra days off. It has been much less draining. I won’t need to step away from the writing or editing process as I always do after completing Nanowrimo.

It was nearing midnight when I wrote the last sentence. I had reached my word count goal twenty minutes earlier, but I was so close to the end I needed to keep going. Only a few more words and the story was done.

10232322_sNow comes the truly tedious part: the editing. I wish I could skip this part, or have someone else do it for me. But I also don’t want anyone else making changes to my story. I’ll take suggestions, but the tale must be told as I want it to be. Which means I have to go through it, as much as it pains me.

Trials of the Chosen  Book One: A Woman’s Scorn must come first, however. Fans of Knightfall have been waiting for this novel for years. But don’t fret, Meeting the Dark will see its day on the virtual shelves of on-line book stores.

Spread the word!

Nearing the End

Here I was, playing with plugins and other widgets to enhance this new blog, when the unexpected happens.

I find some nice progress bars to show you just how far I am in the writing process of my various works. I was looking for these, because they were part of the old site and I liked them. So this is not the surprise I mentioned. These are a different style, which makes no difference to me. But I digress.

I enter the stats for the five projects I have on the go. I don’t know how other authors work, but I never envisioned myself having so many stories building around me at the same time. Not to mention, I also have ideas for three more series. I have no idea when I’ll be able to get to those, but it’s a good sign. I’ll have something to write for a long time yet, which I hope pleases a lot of people.

Get to the point!

Yes, well, all this to get to the realization that took me aback.

Filling in the numbers for those fancy progress bars, I notice the blue under Meeting the Dark almost reaches the right end. I am under 3,000 words away from my projected goal. The story is almost done, and I had no idea it was coming!

I mean, I knew where I was in the telling. I know what is coming, and I know roughly how many chapters I have left to write. I just didn’t realize the word count was already that close. Of course, the novel will have as many words as is needed, which now looks to be more than I envisioned.

How could you not know?

3326379_sAuthors use different tools to write their manuscripts. There is software that helps you organize your ideas, some to plot your story, others to get down to it and compose. Some use good ol’ word processors to do everything. I have no doubt some even stay away from keyboards and put pen or pencil to paper.

Personally, I use Scrivener. This tool puts everything at my finger tips in one convenient place. It even tells me just how far I am in my writing. It does that, if I do things like I’m supposed to.

I started writing Meeting the Dark in November 2013 for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I reached my goal of 50,000 words during those 30 days. But a writing stint like that is always draining, so the story took a back seat while I rested for a bit before working on other projects.

Along with their November writing frenzy, they have Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July. With a variable goal, it’s not so intense–unless you want it to be. I usually skip these, but this summer, a friend of mine challenged me to write 25,000 words.

I decided to work on Meeting the Dark. With my previous work in November and the little bit I did in the year and half following, 25,000 words would finish off the novel nicely. To make it easier on my to submit my word count to the site, I opened a new file for this part of the manuscript. So, the progress I was seeing on a daily basis was only for the last part of the book, not the entire thing. This is why I was surprised when I added the counts from both file together to see how far I was.

clockFor those of you who don’t write, reaching the end of a manuscript is like watching the clock in class on the last day of the school year. No matter how much you enjoy school, everyone wants that break where they don’t have to wake up, sometimes before the sun comes up, and get ready for the day. You just want to spend a week sleeping in.

I’m nearing the end of the first phase of a new novel. I love experiencing that accomplishment. I’m not the only one who feels this way, am I?

Spread the word!

A New Beginning

Back in the Saddle Again

I’ve been away from blogging for awhile. Too many things going on to distract me. That, and I’m a constant sucker who falls for the wiles of procrastination. But I have an urge, and I will indulge it. Let’s see how long that lasts.

This sudden resurgence came with my desire to update my website. The creative juices started flowing, now that I was focussing on something else. For the past few weeks, I have been mired in the editing process of my second novel. Add to that a challenge from a friend to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, it was a nice change to move away from the creation of a story.

The “Joys” of Simple Tasks 

So with renewed fervour, I finish polishing the new version of MarcLabelle.com, and that’s when the frustration starts. My hosting provider proved to be as unreliable as it’s ever been. The months since my last attempt to alter my site were not enough to temper my disappointment in their inadequacies. I did what any sensible disgruntled customer would do: I kicked them to the curb.

FrustratedOf course, they had to kick me in the shins as a last goodbye. They were courteous and  prompt with their replies, but I had to drag the work out of them. A simple transfer of a domain name turned into four days of me acting as the middle man between the two companies, getting the information for the new provider while demanding the needed information from the old one. All I wanted was one email stated everything was done. But that clearly was too much to ask.

I know my limitations, and I know what I am capable of. I am confident enough in my knowledge to create and upload my own websites. I’ve done it before. I also added my old blog without too much trouble. But it seems transferring said blog is beyond my skills. The old version somehow got lost in the shuffle. I know it’s out there somewhere, but I have already spent two days trying to get it done. I’m not attached enough to it to worry about it any longer. My last post was over a year ago. I’m sure no one will miss it.

So What Now?

Basically, here I am, starting over from scratch. I had a few pages and features I liked, so I will be adding them to this version. The rest will be new, however.

I geared my first blog toward the topic of writing. Despite not having a degree in English, or any formal training, I could convey what I have learned during my journey to publishing my first novel, Knightfall. I will still relay those nuggets I have unearthed, but they will not be the focus of Version 2.0. You will read about other trials and tribulations of mine, which may not necessarily have to do with the writing process. I might voice my opinion on how funny it is to see all these people reacting to what happened to Jon Snow (read the books and you won’t be so taken aback!). I might say something about wishing writers in Hollywood going back to actually writing a plot, instead of hashing out a movie that has already been done a couple of times. But if you’re looking for a theme, there will be one. I’m a fantasy and supernatural nut, so I will most likely gear my posts toward those genres.

I have also read a few articles on how these entries should be written. The content need to be engaging…it needs to be fairly short to more easily keep readers’ interest…and don’t forget to add pictures…and headings…and always ask the readers for their input…things like that.

I will turn this site into somewhat of a personal journal for me. I needed to vent my frustration regarding the transfer of my website, so I did.

Will the entries remain short so the readers can move on to something else fairly quickly? Just look at this post. I will write as long as I need to. If I feel like posting a novella, I will. Actually, I won’t. I’ll keep those for publication. But I won’t restrict my ranting to conform to proper blog etiquette, or mere guidelines. You can lift your chin up, though. Most of what I’ll post won’t be this long.

Will this be considered engaging content? Maybe. I’m sure someone out there has gone through a similar situation and will be gratified in knowing they’re not alone.

Will I keep adding pictures and headings? The pictures, probably, but the headings might be less of a staple. I won’t make either of them a focus, however. I reserve the right to not use any.

And asking for people’s comments, well, that might be something that falls to the wayside. I value the opinion of others, but I’m the type of person that doesn’t like asking for it. I will end my posts the way that feels right to me. That might mean there won’t be an invitation for you to weigh in. But know that I always accept comments, or even criticism. So, if I happen to not direct you to fill in those fields at the bottom of the post, do remember you are free to do so. Call me out on anything I say, or elaborate on a point I made. That’s what these blogs are for–to engage the reader.

Welcome Back!

So here is the beginning of the next stage of this site. I can’t promise when I’ll be seeing you again, but I have enough of an itch it won’t be too long.

Spread the word!