How “Rumpelstiltskin” Influenced the Development of Cragdern’s Gnomes by M. B. Weston

Part of using familiar archetypes in any novel is making them your own. When I began developing my gnomes and their culture, I wanted to give them a few weaknesses we didn’t often read about in fairytales and folklore but would still make sense.

The perfect opportunity came when I reread the classic fairytale, “Rumpelstiltskin.” I always wondered why Rumpelstiltskin made such a big deal about keeping his name secret. I also wondered why someone discovering his name would cause him to basically stomp the earth so hard he killed himself (depending on which version of the fairytale you read).

Then it hit me: What if speaking a gnome/dwarf’s name aloud gave you complete power over him (or her). That could explain why Rumpelstiltskin would keep his name so secret. It would also introduce an idea that by saying his name, the Queen’s servant had complete control of Rumpelstiltskin’s actions and actually commanded him to kill himself.

I decided to give my gnomes that weakness: being under complete control of whoever learns (and uses) their birth names, which can throw quite a twist into a story. Here’s an example from The Elysian Chronicles: Out of the Shadows.

Lorne and Theo dragged Klous into the room. He had bloodshot eyes, torn clothes, and unkempt hair. Several cuts and scratches lined his arms, and his jewelry was missing.

Klous struggled against the soldiers, yelling. “Don’t let me near him! Keep me away from Seraph. I’m not safe!”

Boronan trotted behind Klous, saying, “I searched his memory Davian. He’s innocent. I have no idea what he thinks he did.”

Davian flew to Klous, who shrieked. “Stay away from me! I’m not safe! I’m not safe!”

Davian held Klous’s head so he could stare into his eyes. “Klous, what’s wrong? What happened?”

Klous struggled against Davian’s grip, muttering, “Stay away; stay away.” He looked in every direction but Davian’s eyes. “Don’t you understand? They know my name.” Klous sank to the floor. “I betrayed you. Betrayed…”


On The Spot – Lasagna, Curses, Rejection Letters

More video shorts from the writers at Dark Oak Press and Media. Subscribe today and don’t miss out on the fun. Check out their writing on

On The Spot Volume 3

  • Christmas Lasagna and an unhappy mom’s feedback. {Larry Hoy}
  • The curse of immortality. {Michael M. Sims}
  • Authors coping with rejection letters (not always bad news). {Barbara Christopher}

What’s the Difference in Writer’s Group, Critique Groups, and Beta Readers? by Kristi Bradley

A good writer’s group should inspire the craft of writing and encourage and assist each member toward the goal of publication through programming and member activities. These groups range in size from a handful of members to hundreds of members.

Critique groups are smaller than writer’s groups, usually four to five people maximum. They trade chapters and give comments and feedback about plot, characterization, lack of content, and violations of Point of View. Be willing to take criticism, but if you leave your group feeling defeated after every meet, you might be in the wrong group. When offering a critique, give two to three good points before dropping the bomb. Never make someone feel bad for what they’ve written. Always find ways to encourage and help them improve. If you don’t feel you’re getting this from your critique group, it might be time to move on.

Beta Readers usually read the finished story before sent to the publisher. They can indicate where chapters bog down, where they got confused and had to reread a section and indicate if something is unbelievable. They get to know the characters and advise if they are likable, or even acting out of ‘character.’ Be sure to choose a Beta Reader that reads the genre you write.

How to Distract a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writer in Ten Easy Steps by M. B. Weston

In case you are wondering how a science fiction/fantasy writer can sit down at a computer for an hour without producing anything of value, check out this list:

1. I am really annoyed with this chapter. It’s not flowing…
2. I wonder how my blog did today? Let me check…
3. Oh! I think need some chamomile tea. :::makes tea:::
4. I should check my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram notifications.
5. I am getting so distracted! I need someone standing behind me with a whip.
6. :::breaks into song::: “Where there’s a whip, [crack] there’s a way…”
7. Why didn’t Peter Jackson do The Hobbit like Bass and Rankin? #headdesk
8. I should update my social media status about my pathetic ability to stay on target.
9. “He’s too close!” “Stay on target.” “I can’t shake him!” “Stay on target.”
10. Why did George Lucas insist on directing Episodes 1-3 himself? #doubleheaddesk.

Hmmmm. I think I need some chamomile tea….Well, enough distractions. Time to get back to the writing. I think the monster is about to appear.

Writers Groups by Kristi Bradley

Writer’s groups can be an acquired taste. Some swear by them. Others swear at them.

I tried on several groups, had a few bad experiences, too, before I found a good fit with Malice in Memphis Mystery Writers. I didn’t consider myself a mystery writer at the time, but I was intrigued by the talent in the group and the temptation of a publication credit they offer their members by issuing anthologies.

So, don’t be afraid to try out a writers’ group. Walk away if it doesn’t feel right or doesn’t fit your needs, and try another. It might take some time to find what you’re looking for. You might even have to start your own. Some of our members drive an hour and a half to reach us.

It makes a world of difference to associate with like-minded people who understand the trials of the business and the voices in our heads.

Check out Malice at or find us on Facebook.