Monday, April 30, 2012

The Odyssey Writing Workshop

Greetings Everyone!

Today my Post will be discussing a great resource, one which I wish I had known about when I was only one state away from it!

All information below is summarized from the information provided on the workshop's website. 
All rights reserved by the original author.
Click the link above for more detailed information on the Odyssey Writing Workshop
The Odyssey Writing Workshop, directed by Jeanne Cavelos and widely considered one of the best in the world since its inception in 1996, is an intensive, six-week workshop to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror develop and improve their talent and work.  It is held each summer in Manchester, New Hampshire on the campus of Saint Anselm College, intended for published writers who want to improve their work and for writers whose work is nearing publishing quality.

Aside from the summer workshop, several online courses are offered each winter and are focused on specific elements of fiction writing.  The courses are both rigorous and demanding and range in levels from beginners to advanced.

In addition, Odyssey offers a professional-level critiquing service that is thorough, specific, and in depth.  Critiquers are graduates of the Odyssey Writing Workshop who have gone on to successful careers as professional writers.

Lastly, Odyssey offers many free resources as well, including but not limited to the following:

  • Podcasts--audio excerpts of lectures by writers, editors, and agents posted every month or two.
  • LiveJournal--monthly posts include writing advice and interviews with writers about the craft and career of writing.
  • Writing & Publishing Tips--topics such as Punctuation, Outlining Plots and Characters, Standard Manuscript Format, and FAQs on Literary Agents posted directly on Odyssey's website.
  • E-Newsletter--Quarterly newsletter which provides the latest updates and information on Odyssey programs, events, and graduates... as well as writing and publishing advice and alerts about new markets, agents, and resources.
You can follow The Odyssey Workshop on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out the link above for more information!

Happy Scribing, 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Awesome Website: LegendFire

LegendFire is a great communtity!  I've only been a member of this site for a short time, but I am loving the reception and the interaction from not only the other members, but also its very active administrators!  Please check the site out and sign up.  It's 100% free.  

And 100% Bearded Scribe Approved!

I hope to see you all around the site!

Happy Scribing,

Friday, April 27, 2012

Query Letter Submissions -- Round Two

Unless you're a new reader to my blog, you probably know that I finally completed my first manuscript The Assassin of Aldarhaij (back in  the beginning of September, actually), but most of you may not know that right before I started this blog sometime in February, I sent out my first batch of Query Letters to potential agents--about twenty total, a mixture of snail-mail Queries (call me old fashioned, but I prefer this) and eQueries (which, because of the lack of a formal format, it lends itself to misinterpretation by the recipients).

Sadly, all of them came back as "Form Rejections."  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process, a "Form Rejection" isn't quite so much a "No" as a "Not right now."  To be honest: even though I knew deep down that my chances of getting a "Yes" my first go-a-round was very unlikely, the series of rejections appearing in both my mailbox and inbox was disheartening.

I was in the process of plotting out my new endeavor, Valkyrie, when the rejections were starting to come back.  It gave me a horrible case of insecurity mixed together with a heavy dose of the dreaded  Writer's Block.  I began to re-think my career as a writer altogether.

Lo and behold, however, it was my case of  Writer's Block  that birthed the idea of The Bearded Scribe, and as they say, the rest is history.

On Thursday I compiled yet another list of Twenty Agents to which I will send another round of Query Letters, so I am currently tweaking my Query a bit, hoping to catch the eye of an unsuspecting agent long enough to get one of these:

Wish me luck, Y'all!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

World Building Series: Characters -- Part I

Good Afternoon Everyone!

Although I could go on (and on) about Language Construction within my World Building Series, I've decided to break away from it momentarily to discuss the most important area of writing: Characters.

Some may argue that it is the plot of the story that is the most important, and while it is definitely high on the list, I feel that the characters drive the plot and engross readers more so than the plot itself.  As a writer, I can attest that my characters usually write the story for me.  Their personalities and idiosyncrasies catapult the plot from Chapter One until the book's conclusion in a way that scene-writing/plotting almost seems like a waste of time (this is absolutely not the case, of course, but more on that in a future post).  It is for this reason that having relatable characters is crucial to your story's likability and success.

When a story idea forms in my mind, I take the time to jot down the basics of it and store it safely in a place where it can... ferment, for the lack of a better word.  It is while it is fermenting that I do the other important processes in pre-writing--and at the top of the list is character sketching/mapping.

Character sketching for me is not actually what the name suggests.  Try as I may, I am no artist (in the sketching/painting sense) and cannot draw for the life of me.  Instead, I answer a series of questions about a character's general physical appearance (gender, height/weight/build, age, hair & eye color, any outstanding and notable features).  I usually will use the general descriptions I have created and search through Google Images for photos of actors/actresses that fit the profile.  For me, having a physical image in front of me makes it easier to refer to while writing.  (Check out my Post on Pinterest for an example on how to organize your images).

After I've done the afore-mentioned, I will also answer questions about my characters intellectual and emotional qualities (intelligence level, skills, occupation, family life, religious beliefs, relationship status, et cetera).  Lastly, I answer any questions that pertain specifically to the character's direct (or for minor characters, indirect) influence on the plot.

Once I have a handful of characters mapped out, I usually let those ferment as well as I move on to the other aspects of pre-writing.  By the time I come back to them, something has inevitably always changed--so I go ahead and complete the edits then and there while the thoughts are fresh (note: I almost always save the original sketches, however, just in case I need to go back to them for whatever reason).

Personally, I make my own template and print them out on index cards, but there are many great resources on the internet for Character Sheets--pre-made templates for the types of questions I mentioned above.

Here is one example:
Source Credit: redsoxrock01 @ deviantArt

Well that's all for now, kiddos :)  Stay tuned for the next post in this series!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Hello Everyone!

My wonderful mother was visiting this past week, so my sincerest apologies for the recent inactivity on the blog.  With a bit of research in the future for more great topics, I hope to add several posts in the upcoming days...  So keep checking back for more great posts.

Oh, and don't hesitate to give feedback for topics about which you would love to read.  I would love to hear from any or all of my readers!  Also, please spread the word to any and all of your friends you feel would enjoy or benefit from this blog! :)

Until next time,

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods | You think you know the story.

The Cabin in the Woods

Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods.  Bad things happen.

If you think you know this story, think again.  From fan favorites Joss Whedon and drew Goddard comes The Cabin in the Woods, a mind-blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out.

Produced by Whedon {Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel} and Directed by Goddard {Cloverfield, Alias, Lost} featuring a script written by both.  The film stars Kristen Connolly {The Happening, Mona Lisa Smile}, Chris Hemsworth {Thor, Snow White and the Huntsmen}, Anna Hutchison {Legend of the Seeker (TV Series)}, Fran Kranz {Donnie Darko, Training Day, The Village}, Jesse Williams {Grey's Anatomy, Brooklyn's Finest}, Richard Jenkins {Hall Pass, Let Me In}, and Bradley Whitford {The West Wing, Billy Madison}.

Now that you've seen the Official Trailer, see the Official Website.

Be Afraid.  I am.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

World Building Series: Language Construction -- Part III

Well kiddos,

As promised, here is the Third installment of the Language Construction Series, part of my larger World Building Series.

When creating written characters for your language, there are a few questions you must ask yourself:

  • What will the characters of your language look like (runic, script, hieroglyphic, or other)? 
  • Will there be more than one representation (i.e, a runic for one class [or a specific race/species] and a script form for another)?
  • Will your language resemble any known languages (Futhark, Arabic, Cyrillic, Mandarin, Korean, Egyptian, Irdu, et cetera)?
  • In what direction will your language be written (left to right, right to left, vertically)?
  • What will the punctuation look like—if any?
  • How will numbers be represented (digits, or symbols to represent specific quantities)?
  • Will you use a different character for each sound, or will diacritics be used?
There are obviously more questions that can be asked, but those are a few to ask yourself in the very beginning stages of planning.

I'm not going to mislead you in any way.  Creating the language was the easy part for me; creating the written form of it, however, was no easy task.  I struggled with it for years, even long after I had nearly finalized the actual language itself.  So many times I scrapped sketches, never happy with the way it turned out.  Believe it or not, I finished my first manuscript months before I finally sketched out a set of characters with which I was happy.  

Although, not completely.

It took a few more months of tweaking, but I finally completed it...

Copyright (C) Joshua Allen Mercier (The Bearded Scribe)
Unauthorized Reproduction Prohibited
Please feel free to leave comments with any feedback or questions you may have on Constructed Languages, and Good Luck with your own languages!

Happy Scribing,

Calling All Fantasy Fans and Writers!

Hello Readers :)

This post goes out to all of you... as a small plea for assistance if you will.

I am wanting to spread the word about my blog, and have been trying my best at reaching out across the world wide web--through various forums (fantasy and writing related) and other sources.  I am not having as great of luck as I was hoping.

I am posting to ask for your help.  Please share my blog with any of your colleagues, co-workers, family members, Facebook & Twitter (or other social network sites) friends.

The quickest and most simple way of sharing would be through Facebook, which can be done by simply posting on your own wall for all your friends to see.

You can use the quick blurb below, if you would like, to copy and paste into the "Text" field:

Calling All Fans and Writers of Speculative Fiction: {Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, and Horror}
Check out this new blog, The Bearded Scribe, which features book information (releases, signings, author spotlight, reviews), movie information (releases, awards, actor spotlights, reviews), as well as FREE writing tips and techniques for all!
You can also Follow The Bearded Scribe's on Facebook or Twitter!

Thank you for your support and for your help!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

World Building Series: Language Construction -- Part II

Welcome Back :)

When I left off in the World Building Series--in particular, Language Construction--I was discussing the use of combination forms of words to create other words.  In the last post I touched on how I used combination forms, like Tolkien, to create proper nouns in my language.

Just like we have obvious place names in English (and other languages, for that matter) that comprise of two or more smaller parts to create a larger concept, i.e., Pennsylvania [Penn (Welsh surname meaning "head"... here meaning Admiral William Penn, to be precise) + sylvania (woods, from the Latin sylvan meaning tree): therefore meaning "Penn's Woods"].  Other examples include Montréal [Mount Royal], Philadelphia [Love+Brother=City of Brotherly Love], Springfield [self-explanatory], Hartford ["deer crossing"], et cetera.

I used the same principles when naming the places in my language, as well. Here are three examples:

Aesira·nyn {pronounced AY-SEER-RAH-NIN} is the name of the land in which my story takes place; its name is comprised of the elements: aesira (majick or enchantment) + nyn (from nuynos, meaning land)... therefore meaning "Land of Enchantment."

Aijir·heleg {pronounced EYE-YEER-HELL-LEG} is the name of the capital of Aesira·nyn and the city in which the Garnet Throne is located.  Its name is comprised of the elements: aijir (meaning city) + heleg (meaning holy)... therefore "Holy City."

Shann·yhmn {pronounced SHAH-NIN (think of the name Shannon, but with is the name of the longest river, located in the central part of the main continent (called Selest·erem).  It flows from Tyr·shyr (meaning "Pool of Blessings"), from which its name derives: shann (meaning blessing) + yhmn (from rohmyn, meaning river)--itself meaning "River of Blessing."

Alright... please bear with me while I shift back to the first part of my first post on Language Creation for the next part of this one...
If you don't remember, I'll refresh all of your memories:  Using an existing language to create your Constructed Language (or Conlang, as it's colloquially known).

As I mentioned, I used several.  More specifically, I used the roots of words from various languages to create my own by attaching my own "SET" endings, which I worked out separately.  For example:

My own noun endings (one of a few possibilities) are -yn (singular) which changes to -un (plural).  Deryn or derun {pronounced DAIR-RIN or DAIR-ROON}, meaning pheasant, is borrowed from the Welsh word for bird, aderyn.  In this case, my SET noun ending happened to be the ending of the original word, though that is a rare case.  The Welsh pronunciation wasn't important to me, as I used my own set of characters, which come with a set pronunciation.  No exceptions.

Let's look at another:

By chance, this example uses the same noun endings as the previous.  Aeryn or aerun {pronounced AIR-RIN or AIR-ROON}, meaning copper, is borrowed from the Old English word for copper, ar.  Of course, the plural of copper is theoretical and rarely used, but that is for another discussion.

Now let's glance at verbs (always the most fun, in my opinion).  Verbs in most Latin-based languages comprise of a root and an ending, which has its own standardized conjugation for tenses and for the pronouns for which they are conjugated.  Being of French heritage and also a non-fluent speaker/writer/reader of the language, I decided to borrow this idea of verb endings with standardized conjugations.  In Teangriel, there are four (4) different verb endings.  I won't bother getting into all of them, but I will show you an example of a verb and its conjugation for the present tense (I have my own non-standard set of tenses, which might irritate some of you, but they are the tenses that suited the needs for my novel):

The pronoun suffixes are only used in formal speech.  In the rural parts, only the pronoun and the conjugated verb is used.  On a side note, there is only one irregular verb in Teangriel, and its present tense conjugation is  the origination of the pronoun endings you see above...

Well kiddos, I've probably bored your heads off!  I will end this post for now, but stay tuned for the next part in the series, in which I will discuss how I created the "TRUE" form of my language as it is written and seen by the native speakers.

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