When the Muse Strikes…

Nagrand in Outland screenshot by JulieAnn Corbin

This is where my new stories begin…

Many moons ago I was prolific fantasy novel writer. I’d spend hours writing away to create my fantasy characters, world and stories. Then life threw me one curveball after another and as I’ve never been good at sports, I threw in the towel and my muse went poof!

I’ve tried several times over the past few years to start writing again and I’ve had minimal success. It just didn’t come easy anymore and I became frustrated. Well I’m happy to report that the muse has finally struck again and she’s struck hard! The source of my muse surprised me somewhat and might not be the traditional inspiration method, but I’m not going to question it.

The inspiration for my latest bout of writing is the online game called World of Warcraft. I’ve been playing Warcraft on and off since The Burning Crusade expansion and the first time I played it, I was hooked. What hooked me were the beautiful settings, interesting quest stories, character appearances and of course, the ability to kick butt as a hunter, paladin, warrior, warlock, mage, druid, rogue, etc. I never played dungeons and dragons so this type of game playing was new to me and in many ways I’m still a “newb” but playing WoW is a great escape from reality at the end of a long workday.

A few months ago, I started wondering more about the characters I created and thinking up backstories for them in my head. I thought what if my blood elf paladin, warlock or hunter did this? What if they met up with this different race? What if this happened to them? Before I knew it, I had thought up several chapters’ worth of stories and I began writing the outline so I didn’t forget the details. My first story revolves around my paladin, my second around my warlock and my third around my hunter and as they’re all sisters, they’ll eventually all meet up and combine into a single storyline.

Warcraft hunter with moose pet by JulieAnn Corbin

My hunter and her moose pet.

 

Paladin warcraft by JulieAnn Corbin

My paladin looking fierce.

 

warlock with demon by JulieAnn corbin

My warlock, her demon and her floating skull “weapon.” You know there’s a story here!

Although some writers may see writing fanfiction about an online game “cheating” because all of the settings and history already exist, I don’t see it that way. I still plan on describing my scenes for those who don’t know Warcraft and giving background information on races. I want this to feel like a truly flushed out story with relatable characters so that even those who don’t play the game will understand. I’ve been playing these female characters in the game for years and as soon as I thought of the stories that involved male characters, I made some male characters for the first time ever. I must admit that playing a male character in the game is somewhat empowering as only I and very few others know that I’m a woman.

Warcraft hunters by JulieAnn Corbin

Some of my characters chatting it up.

 

Dk and and Pally by JulieAnn Corbin

A pair of my characters.

As with all my stories, these Warcraft based stories are filled with action, adventure, drama and romance. Best of all, whenever I need a bit more inspiration, I can hop on the game for a bit and have a new adventure the fuels future stories. The ability to actually step into the world of a book character is truly unique and apparently, exactly what I needed to get my muse back. Only Warcraft players will get this but…for Azeroth! 😉

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Return of the Muse

Me in the Boston Public Garden 6/27/14. See that glint in my eye? That's my muse ;)

Me in the Boston Public Garden 6/27/14. See that glint in my eye? That’s my muse 😉

Yes, the blog title is an homage to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi because I love the original Star Wars movies. More important than that though is that my writing muse has returned!!! She’s been MIA and AWOL for quite some time now. She’s been lost in the Land of Shadowed Sorrows, navigated the Seas of Shattered Dreams, fought amid the Wars of Unrequited Love and vanquished the Demons of Heartbroken Hopes. She survived all that and has come out stronger and more determined than ever!

I was still able to write freelance in her absence because I can write that stuff in my sleep by now. Freelance does use my creative writing skills, my cleverness and my imagination but it barely touches the surface of my Creator-given talent and passion. That talent and passion inspired me to start writing fantasy novels at 12 and continue writing them into my 20’s until I had completed 10 manuscripts based in the same world of Aindar.

I still wrote off and on into my 30’s but with nowhere near the proficiency and desire I’d possessed in my younger days. A marriage that ended in divorce, several bad experiences with men and an overall distaste with the ridiculous lack of good men left my heart bitter, jaded and mistrustful. I don’t really blame my muse for leaving amid that. How could she possibly hope to inspire me to continue to write about romance between kick-butt women heroes and the good men that fought beside them and for them when the last good man I knew was my father? She left me to fight through her own trenches while I battled my own demons and now we’re ready to work together again.

Maybe it’s my most recent trip to New England or my most recent bad experience involving a man or just the phase of the moon, but something finally snapped inside me. I’m a beautiful, kick-butt hero chick, I love myself, I’m blessed with two amazing daughters, I have a great life and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the dishonest, manipulative, controlling and overall “evil” men of this world determine my feelings about all of them.

My father was a good man with an amazingly loving heart and he loved me unconditionally. I deserve a man I love and who loves me back and who treats me like he did. Even though I haven’t found that man in real life, I can write about him in my books…along with the less than stellar males I’ve dealt with. You know what they say, never anger a writer or you’ll end up in their next novel *wink.*

So my fantasy writing voice has returned and I’m going to use it to speak out for all the powerful, strong, beautiful women like me who deserve only the best and should never settle for “he might do” because they’re lonely. Look out world, JulieAnn’s muse has returned and she’s kicking rear, taking names and writing them down!

Goddess of Fire?

Photo by Ed Merritt

Photo by Ed Merritt

I had no idea what I was going to blog about tonight. Thankfully, the fates intervened! Friends of mine posted a photo of a large bonfire on Facebook and said, “This one’s for JulieAnn, goddess of fire!” It was in reference to me barely helping tend a bonfire at their home last winter but marveling at its warmth and dancing flames. Goddess of Fire? I rather like the sound of that and if I was such a fiery creature, I’d certainly be warm! Have I mentioned how much I miss being warm? I really do…

I do consider myself a queen but a goddess might be pushing things a bit too far. Then again, aren’t all women goddesses? When they discover their own inner beauty and strength, doesn’t that make them feisty, undeniable sources of power? I’ve lost track of how many things I’ve read and seen that say a woman with confidence is considered highly attractive. I am confident in many aspects of myself but not quite all of them. I am always a work in progress and I’m okay with that. I do know that I’m the best I can be every day and am grateful for every dawn that gives me the opportunity to explore my full potential.

The whole goddess of fire idea coincides nicely with my recent resumption of writing in Unbroken Flames. The story revolves around a woman who wields fire but fears that her excessive emotions will make it impossible to control the flames should she ever fully unleash them. Fire wielders are easily turned to darkness and evil in her world and she refuses to risk such a fate upon herself. What she doesn’t realize is that it’s far more dangerous for her to suppress her emotions, withhold her magic and ignore her true self.

Unbroken Flames, its story and its characters are close to my heart and perhaps that’s why it’s taking me so long to write it. Revealing so much of my inner working and feelings, even in a fantasy story, is a daunting prospect. I shall take a lesson from my heroine Vihresa though by being true to myself and unleashing my goddess-of-fire-like magic.

Unbroken Flames – Dracani rescue teaser

Vihresa followed the glow of the light as she made her way through the trees. As she stumbled over roots and got snagged by thorn bushes, she keenly missed Quilla’s ability to guide her safely even in utter darkness. The cowards that had taken her pup from her would pay dearly for their thievery.

The light grew in intensity telling Vihresa that she was getting closer to some sort of camp. She slowed her pace as the trees thinned out. When the trees opened up to reveal a large clearing in the forest, she ducked behind the closest tree as she examined the scene.

There were several large campfires burning throughout the clearing and the flicker of those flames danced across shadows of men and the metallic shine of cages. Vihresa took no notice of what the men looked like; her wide-eyed gaze was sweeping across all the cages. In each cage there were three to four dracani pups crammed in so tight some of them could barely move. Their beautiful eyes were filled with fear and sorrow and many of their wings were at such odd angles Vih was certain they must be broken. “Bastards,” she hissed as a trace of flames lit her hands.

A strong hand suddenly yanked Vihresa further back into the shadows of the trees and another hand over her mouth stopped her from crying out. “Relax, Vih, it’s me,” came the harsh whisper of Dvar’s voice.

Vihresa relaxed her body and the man released his hold. She whirled on him angrily. “You followed me?!” she demanded in an irate whisper. Seeing Aros standing loyally at Dvar’s side, the woman managed a brief smile at the handsome dracani beast. Aros’s large golden ears were perked up and his dark eyes focused on his master.

Dvar looked from Vih to Aros and back again in confusion. She was pissed at him for following her while visibly happy to see his dracani? Her lack of trust in humans was worse than he’d realized. “Vih, what do you think you’re going to do?”

Vih’s anger returned as her gaze shifted back to Dvar. “Rescue Quilla and the rest of those pups. I’d think that would be obvious.”

“By yourself?! There’s over thirty men in that camp, Vih!”

“They stole my pup, Dvar and they’re probably selling all of them to battle trainers! You expect me to just walk away?”

Dvar scowled. “No, I expect you to wait while I gather my friends from the city guard and-”

Vihresa clenched her hands into fists and stepped away from the man so swiftly he couldn’t stop her. Ignoring Dvar’s curse-filled demands that she come back, she strode out of the safety of the trees. The woman’s whole body suddenly lit with flames drawing the attention of most of the camp. “Release those dracani!” she demanded welcoming the burn of the fire through her very essence. She was answered with unimpressed laughter. Vih grinned evilly in pleasure. “You were warned.”

The men’s laughter turned to screams of terror as every fire in the camp exploded upward and outward catching clothes and skin on fire…