Fiction

Why Does Every Story Have a Villain?

In Waking the Dead, John Eldredge writes:

Little Red Riding Hood is attacked by a wolf. Dorothy must face and bring down the Wicked Witch of the est…Frodo is hunted by the Black Riders…Beowulf kills the monster Grendel…Saint George kills the Dragon. The children who stumbled into Narnia are called upon by Aslan to battle the White Witch and her armies…

So why does every story have a villain?

“…Because yours does.”

What are the villains in your life, your Story? Addictions, vices, work, bad habits, crazy people… As Eldredge writes, we are “born into a world at war.” He is coming from the perspective of Evil that was long ago unleashed in the world and seeks to undermine all that is good.

Our stories have villains because our stories are inspired by life. Fiction is only fact in different clothes.

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8 Heroes of Krynn

Always on the lookout for a new fantasy series, I ran across Dragonlance a few weeks ago. It turns out the series isn’t new, but began way back in 1984 with Dragons of Autumn Twilight. This would spawn nearly 200 books in a shared universe. In the book world, a “shared universe” is a series of books written by multiple authors.

Dragonlance is set in the mythical land of Krynn. Like many “classic” fantasy tales, it is populated with races of humans and other creatures, battles between good and evil, and those who must rise up and decide the fate of the world. I know there are some who look down upon such stories as a “trope” — and I’m sure whatever they are reading is high-level, amazing literature — but the rise of heroes to battle evil is a timeless theme that crosses genres and speaks to our own existence.

What often makes or breaks a story is its characters. Dragons of Autumn Twilight introduces readers to Kyrnn’s most memorable band of friends, whom have already been trough much together before we drop in their world, only to be faced with far greater threats. Book 1 finds the heroes in one dangerous encounter after another — probably reflective of the authors being involved in creating Dungeons & Dragons games. As the series progresses, the epic scope expands across Krynn. Continue reading

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War Among The Shadows Begins Again

No class or book on writing ever skips the quintessential topic of beginnings. Few other things do writers lose as much sleep over. There are endless lists on how to start a story and how not to start a story. Yet, as with everything, this process becomes easier the more it is put into practice.

In Among the Shadows, the Prologue was rewritten three times — with the first two being recycled back into the book elsewhere. With Book 2, Awakening, the Prologue has come together much quicker and appears more set in stone. Of course, this doesn’t mean it won’t change as the book progresses. In any case, I will share it here, to give a taste of what is to come. This isn’t a final draft and more refinement of detail, pace and tone is in order.

This is also a good exercise in finding the right balance in detail. This Prologue is, to a large extent, pulled from history (some of the queen’s words verbatim). Enough detail to paint a picture in the reader’s mind of the scene and time, but not so much that it sounds like a history lesson. Sure, an Egyptologist might want more or quibble with changes, but most readers want a living scene in their mind.

So here is a little preview of the continuing War Among the Shadows:

Continue reading

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Black Friday AtS Sale!

Black Friday Special! Among the Shadows $2.99 on Kindle. Join the War Among the Shadows.

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Character Profile: Ethan

Ethan Since I was born, I could feel it. There, just out of reach, the pull reached through the veil. Our souls straddle the planes of existence and to be bound by this one was maddening. Most have learned to bury these cries emerging from our very essence.

Then, one day, I broke free.

While the world slept blissfully unaware, I walked among the shadows. Merging into the darkness, but not taken by it, I brought the Light that forced Malice to flee. In distant, forgotten lands, I brought justice to the wielders of hate.

Then I left, we both did, and we knew there was more. Our Story had not ended.

A different Darkness has now crept out of the abyss. Watchers of old had once driven it back. Now we must fight again or allow the world to crumble into ruin.

I am Ethan, the terrors from myth and legend wish to destroy me, but they fear destruction by the power that surges inside me.

They will wage their war and it will be their last.

Among the Shadows: Watchers of the Light Book 1 now available!

[Photo used under license from Shutterstock.com.]

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From Callisto to Deep Beneath the Earth

I have finally finished my review of the old-fashioned adventures of Lin Carter. First was the Conan-inspired Thongor. Then we flew to the Green Star, where a man trapped by his circumstances on Earth, founds himself in endless adventure in a distant star system. Now, in the Jandar of Callisto series, we follow Johnathan Dark to the moon of Jupiter, where rapid-fire, breathless adventures await.

This is one of Carter’s best, on par with Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars and Carson Napier of Venus epics. Escapist like the rest, but why do so many seek to escape into such books? Are the unhappy with reality? Perhaps, but some do so for fun or to relax. It’s no different then sports or television, though certainly more engaging then the latter. For others, it is more deeper (and maybe they don’t even realize this).

Maybe society, or jobs, or other people, have defined their lives or killed their souls. Carter’s books, and others like it, often start with some disaffected earthman being swept away to another world. There he finds his true self, his purpose, his Story.

Carter continues this thread in his Zanthodon books — his answer to Burroughs’ Pellucidar. In some ways, Carter’s is better — not as drawn out and more focused. The hero, Eric Carstairs finds himself in a lost world underneath the Sahara. There he also finds the beautiful Darya, woman of the bronze age. Darya is realized as a strong female character that stands above the stereotype of pulp fiction. Even she, though, is painted as a contrast to the controlling society miles above — free from what shifting winds there try to define women as.

So take the leap, fly to another world, or go deep below, and perhaps you’ll find that ember inside waiting to burst into fire and flame.

thon

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Barnes & Noble Fans: AtS has Arrived

Among the Shadows is finally on Barnes and Noble. I had mistakenly assumed it was there weeks ago, but due to some glitch or oversight, it was not. Book description still isn’t there (and the wrong publication date is), but this listing joins AtS on Amazon, Kindle and Createspace.

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Long Road to Mars

Mars has beckoned us since ancient times. The red orb traveling across the sky, stoking imaginations around the world. Then came the telescope and sightings of shifting dark areas and “canals.” Armadas of robots would reveal a desolate world, once wet and dynamic, laid waste by some cosmic catastrophe. Yet it was writers that kept us looking to the Red Planet.

From the epic John Carter adventures, to The Martian Chronicles, to the more recent The Martian, there has been a steady stream of visions of Mars. Now comes J.C.L. Faltot‘s The Road to Mars.

Decades from now, Mars has been colonized, but war came between the planets. Earth was left in a ruined state and its people blame Mars. Darion and his daughter Olivia travel through the ruined cities, looking for a way to leave. He believes life on Mars is better, like Earth once was. But there is more.

The Darklight is destroying Earth. Shadows lurk in the darkness. What is the Solfire? And do those who lived before the Pulse, know the truths of both worlds?

The Road to Mars, part one of a trilogy, begins differently than most Mars novels. Here we are in a dystopian landscape, and a father and daughter fight to survive, somewhat reminiscent of The Road. Elements of Light versus Darkness lurking in the background and simmering under the surface, remind me of Chris Walley‘s The Lamb Among the Stars series. Combined, these create a fresh new story of survival, choice and destiny.

Road is a compelling journey with well-realized characters, who don’t all end up quite as one would expect. All this before anyone reaches Mars, so you will be anticipating book two and what lies among the red sands.

RTM

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Awakening

I wrote a few weeks ago on the ease of revising/updating your Kindle book. After uploading a set of minor corrections and changes recently, I was surprised to learn that updates are not automatically pushed out to owners of the ebooks. Every other app or program on devices get auto updates, but Amazon doesn’t send updates unless the author requests them, and if the updates are significant in nature. They say they are working on this – even though it appears it already can be done – and in the process are missing out on an opportunity.

While I still prefer paper books myself, ebooks do allow more of an interactive experience between readers and authors. It’s not just about making fixes, but updating author info, new book releases, etc., not only get to the readers who want to know, but create more sales for Amazon (and, obviously, the author).

This is all an ultimately a minor point for writers, but it came up during what is planned to be the last update to my book. Why the last? Because I have to get going on book 2:

ATS2

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A Time to Rise

Nadine Brandes‘ third book in her dystopian Out of Time series, A Time to Rise is only days from release. If you haven’t been following the tale of Parvin Blackwater, read my reviews of book 1 and book 2. Sorry to see the series conclude, but can’t wait to see how it does end. Available for pre-order now.

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