Writing

Imagination and the Doorway to Reality

Writers often draw us into the worlds and characters that burst from their imaginations.  These “made-up” worlds are reason for some to shun this or that genre because they are imaginary. The truth, though, is that authors aren’t writing imaginary stories. Alister McGrath, in his biography of C.S. Lewis, explains:

Narnia is imaginative, not an imaginary, world. Lewis was quite clear that a distinction had to be drawn between those ideas. The “imaginary” is something that has been falsely imagined, having no counterpart in reality. Lewis regards such an invented reality as opening the way to delusion. The “imaginative” is something produced by the human mind as it tries to respond to something greater than itself…to “communicate more Reality to us.”

Lewis would use his imaginative world to explore serious themes like “origins of evil, nature of faith, and the human desire for God” — not unlike most writers have grand ideas of deep thoughts woven through their narrative.

Quite often their starting point to accomplish this is surprisingly very simple. Narnia started with “an image of a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels through a snowy wood.” Tolkien scrawled on a paper, “In a hole in he ground there lived a hobbit,” after the idea popped in his head and he “did not know why” it had. From these humble origins, grand tales came to life.

What lives in your imagination, ready to inspire, entertain and challenge?

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On the Air with The Writer’s Lens

J.C.L. Faltot, author of the The Road to Mars, interviewed me for the latest episode of his The Writer’s Lens podcast. Check it out here as we discuss writing, fantasy and the war Among the Shadows.

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Creating Your Author Brand (Pt. 2): Your Authentic Voice

Katie Phillips Creative Services

It’s my privilege to welcome Lisa to my blog today. I’ve known her for several years now and have watched her journey through difficult circumstances to find her bold, unique voice that is at once compassionate and compelling. Who better to share her story of discovering her authentic voice than this beautiful woman who has fought for it so hard? 

I spent ten years trying to brand myself.

If I wasn’t thinking about my personal brand as a writer, maker, and coach, I was working at digital agencies large and small that specialized in branding, reading up on the subject, teaching on it, and writing about it. For two and a half years I even ran a boutique branding agency that worked exclusively with creative entrepreneurs. I watched dozens of writers, artists, coaches, healers, and the like wrestle deeply with how to “show up” in their marketplace.

By the time…

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How to Create Your Author Brand (Pt. 1)

Katie Phillips Creative Services

Your author brand is nothing more than your authentic story. 

Let’s set aside all the fancy talk of platforms and networking, fonts and social media strategies, logos and websites, brand archetypes and all the “expert advice.” Because none of that matters until you know your story.

You probably think your story is your book. Your words on the page. And you’d be partially correct. But that’s not your whole story. 

Your story is the experiences and struggles that inspired you to write your book. Your story is all the late nights and early mornings typing away while your kids slept. Your story is the hidden wounds you work through with your characters and the message in your heart you’re desperate for people to know.

You’re living your story right now. 

And the story that you’re living is just as important – if not more – than the story you’re telling…

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Cult of PC

Adherents to the cult of political correctness continues to plague writers and filmmakers. Often, before a film or book even is released, trolls come out of the dark recesses of the internet to create fake outrage over films they often haven’t seen, or books they haven’t read.

When trailers were shown for The Great Wall, self-appointed diversity police immediately complained that the “white” star in a Chinese film, must have been indicative of a “white savior” story. In other words, the white man was going to save the poor Asian masses.

These claims were fishy from the start: This was a Chinese film, filmed in China, by a Chinese director, with a cast made up of nearly all Chinese actors. Additionally, the open-minded Chinese government is very picky on what is shown in its theaters. Perhaps, most importantly, is that it was clearly a fantasy film and didn’t pretend to be otherwise. Continue reading

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What if You Trip up Your Reader?

​What if a reader gets tripped up by some small part of your book?  Perhaps a sentence or a few words don’t make sense to them. Maybe one of your creative flourishes isn’t sitting well. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with what you wrote, and there may only be one reader or two that have commented. What do you do?

Do you just brush it off and say, “I’m an artist and people should accept all my amazing choices” or do you see it as an opportunity to possibly improve? If you are serious about your craft, I suggest the second choice. You may not end up changing the issue in question, and it could have been brought to your attention by only one soul, but you should seriously evaluate it.

You can’t hope to make everyone happy with your writing decisions, voice and style — nor should you attempt to. Telling your own story is paramount, but fine-tuning your ability to tell that story is not far behind.

I changed three or four sentences in Among the Shadows based on reader feedback. Ultimately, these things had little impact on the overall story, but I could see why some might not like how I worded them. The revisions do read better. Part of being a writer is deciding which creative choices to keep and which to modify.

 

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Show vs. Tell: Draw Your Reader into Your Story

Katie Phillips Creative Services

In my career as a full-time fiction book editor, I’m sometimes asked the most common problems plaguing manuscripts. And I always know exactly what to tell writers.

Show versus tell.

No matter how interesting the characters or unique the concept, telling instead of showing in your prose will kill your story everysingletime.

Most authors know showing is better than telling. They’ve read it in craft books and heard it discussed at conferences. But few people seem to know exactly what it is and how to fix the problem.

Don’t worry. I’m here to help.

How do I identify show vs. tell problems?

One way is to look for key words and phrases that can indicate the prose is telling the reader what is happening, instead of immersing the reader in the action. When I edit a manuscript, I always look for “telling” phrases like, “The woman had…

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Find Life Before it’s Lost Forever

This extended excerpt from Among the Shadows is from a chapter that serves as an interlude in the story. In the midst of the dire situation Milena found herself in, this was an opportunity to see more into her mind and her husband’s, and explore deeper themes relevant to all of us. Enjoy…

Continue reading

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Share Your Story, Be Authentic

The internet is a wild and woolly place and this can make it hard to truly connect with other people. Are there ways to make this easier so you can truly “friend” those who would like to hear or read what you have to say?

Melyssa Griffin explains 17 Things for optimizing your blog posts so people take notice of them.  What about your newsworthy Facebook posts? Here are tips on using those hashtags to put those posts in front of more readers.

But wait, there’s more…

Making connections, networking, “building your tribe,” or whatever you want to call it, all mean the same thing, but this is only half of the equation. Sure, you want people to read what you write, or buy what you have to sell — maybe you even want to make a living at it — but you have to show that you’re more than just the next guy or gal peddling this or that.

Show them why what you have to say is important to you, and them. Prove why your story is important to theirs. Creating a team, a tribe, or a movement, requires authenticity. Be a human, not a faceless voice.

 

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Join the War, Choose a Side on Facebook

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?

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