I have relaunched my author page on Facebook. Originally, I had it set up under my book series name, but it makes more sense to be under my name as the series grows (which is how most authors set up their author FB — today’s free social media tip). You’ll see some shared posts from this site, but new content as well. More coming soon, so be sure to join the War Among the Shadows on Facebook right now. Are you ready?
Some great articles around the web for writers this week:
Author Nadine Brandes writes on how marketing is no longer just about running ads, but connecting with your readers and building a tribe. If it’s hard for you to find time to write, Honorée Corder explains how to make writing second nature. Trying to figure out the ever-changing publishing landscape? Turns out that the mass market paperback market just won’t die — not completely anyway.
Why do people read? Why do writers tell stories? in Epic, John Eldredge writes:
It goes far deeper than entertainment…Stories nourish us…we hope to find in someone else’s story something that will help us understand our own…Stories shed light on our lives. As Daniel Taylor has written, “Our stories tell us who we are, why we are here, and what we are to do…” That is why, if you want to know someone, you need to know their story. “But in order to make you understand,” explained novelist Virginia Woolf, “to give you my life, I must tell you a story.”
Tell yours, read that of others. Find your place in the Story.
Why are so many stories about people banding together in small, close-knit groups (or ones that become that way)? Even the brooding loners eventually join a team — Logan joins the X-Men, Ironman goes with the Avengers. This theme permeates writing, film and history, as John Eldredge writes in Waking the Dead:
When Neo is set free from the Matrix, he joins the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar…[and] the small fellowship [is] called to set the captives free…a family bound together in a single fate. Together, they train for battle. Together, they plan their path…each has a role, a gifting, a glory…You see this sort of thing at the center of every great story. Dorothy takes her journey with the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Lion, and of course, Toto. When he left Rivendell, Frodo didn’t head out with a thousand Elves. He had eight companions. When Captain John Miller is sent deep behind enemy lines to save Private Ryan, he goes in with a squad of eight rangers…[even] Jesus had the Twelve.
It is in our nature, our very design, to not go at it alone. This is why our art, our writings, and our history, so often remind us of this. Eldredge concludes:
Though we are part of a great company, we are meant to live in little platoons. The little companies we form must be small enough for each of the members to know one another as friends and allies. Is it possible for five thousand people who gather…to really and truly know one another? …how about five hundred? One hundred and eight? It can’t be done…It can be inspiring and encouraging to celebrate with a big ol’ crowd of people, but who will fight for your heart?
Our stories are reflections of who we are and remind us not to forsake our nature.
The answer is no.
The mantra to pump out stories as fast as you can is doomed to fail. Readers will tire of repetition and lack of originality (and quality). Anne R. Allen goes into more detail in Are Slow Writers Doomed to Fail in the Digital Age?.
Write your story, your best story, and not someone else’s.
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.
Is it just me, or is there a large slice of the population who no longer recognizes censorship when they see it? Read more here. Between banning books and revising history, seems to be a lot of this going around.
Maybe we’re all busy with our causes, activism and politics, that we are blowing right by the fundamentals?
Being offended doesn’t give one the right to censor. Censorship itself is what everyone should find offensive.
Want a free Kindle copy of Among the Shadows? Of course you do! But you have to answer these three questions from classic sci-fi:
- What is the name of the Princess of Mars?
- Where is Thongor from?
- What planet did
Use the Contact form to send the answers, and I’ll send the first person who answers all three correctly a copy of my book for your Kindle (Hint: All the answers can be found on this website).
Update: We have a winner! TeacherofYA answered all three correctly:
1. Dejah Thoris is the Princess of Mars, from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom tales.
2. Thongor is from Valkarth (or I would have accepted Lemuria) from Lin Carter’s Thongor of Lemuria fantasy series.
3. While John Carter was on Mars, Carson Napier was on Venus in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Carson of Venus adventures.
Congrats to our winner, and watch for more contests coming soon!
One of the main goals of any novel is sending readers to locations real or imagined. What of the real ones, though? Does a writer have to travel to those places before writing an authentic story?
Many writers love traveling the world for research, and this certainly not a bad idea. Fusing your novelist career with that of a world travel would be fun, but isn’t always a feasible option. Especially if you’re writing about some dangerous region or perhaps a real, yet inaccessible place, such as Mars.
The truth is that a writer needs to be able to make a reader believe he or she is somewhere they have never been — whether or not the writer theirself has. In the Information Age where you can learn of any place — though I have learned that other books are often just as, if not more, valuable — any writer should be able to quickly drop a reader into another world.
You always run the risk of a reader who has been to your chosen locales finding a inaccuracy or omission. While a writer should strive for realism, part of writing well is picking the right, and enough, details to paint the mental picture. Going to a historic location in a novel shouldn’t read like a history lesson. Nor should it be a simple laundry list of descriptors.
Stonehenge and Glastonbury Tor are among the places that figure into Among the Shadows, anchoring the fantasy adventure in the real world. One of the opening scenes in Book 2, Awakening, unfolds on Nan Madol, a mysterious and ancient, ruined city in the Western Pacific. While visiting these places would be a fun way to write, not visiting them is a welcome challenge in creation, as much as is the world-building that fantasy and sci-fi genres are known for.
A writer explores to write, a reader reads to explore. Or is it a writer writes what he wants to read, and a reader reads what she wants to write? In either case, a great book should be like that looking glass or wardrobe and send you to another place and time.