Writing

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.

Categories: Books, Fiction, Writing | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Publishers Hire “sensitivity readers” to Censor – I Mean Edit – Books

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.

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Win AtS for your Kindle

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:

  1. What is the name of the Princess of Mars?
  2. Where is Thongor from?
  3. What planet did Carson Napier travel to?

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).

Good luck!

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!

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Distant Lands and Fantastic Places

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.

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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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Darkness vs. Light

The new trailer for Among the Shadows is here. Check it out and share away:

[Video clips licensed from Shutterstock.com, music from MelodyLoops.com and voiceover by Ricky Whelan.]

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12 Things for Writers and Much More

Novelist Maria Murnane has posted a couple of useful posts for writers: Twelve things you can do to help promote your book, Marketing tip: Keep your email signature clean and Feeling discouraged about your book sales? Read this!. Check out Maria’s site for even more useful tips.

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Peter Falk Can Help Sell More Books

Getting your book in front of people is only half the battle. That’s the easy part. Grabbing their interest among the thousands of other things vying for their attention — that’s the hard part. Author Jaimie Engle discusses here how Peter Falk — in The Princess Bride no less — helped her crack the case.

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Goodreads Ad Campaigns: Marketing Part 3

I have been experimenting with advertising on Goodreads for a few weeks. It is a simple system that allows targeting advertising for a reasonable cost. In an attempt to figure out in maximizing exposure, I periodically adjust different settings. Every time I think I cracked the system, I see huge fluctuations in the number of ad placements on any given day. Part of that, I think, is having to go in and make adjustments whenever funds are spent. However, there are three fundamentals that a Goodreads campaign must have:

1. Eye-catching cover with interesting text.
2. Targeting main audiences interested in your genre.
3. Keeping your “Daily Cap” and “Click Through Rates” as high as you can to help maximize views.

I have an ad campaign on Amazon as well (more on that later) and soon to launch one on Facebook. How effective is Goodreads advertising? In spite of a large audience, and one that is made up of dedicated readers and authors, I don’t think it is the primary social media platform for most people. In other words, people go to their Facebook first, or the posts sent to their e-mails. Yet Goodreads is still an important platform for authors and readers networking with each other. It’s also serves as a portal to an author’s primary website. It shouldn’t be an author’s main tool, but one of many in his or her toolbox.

For more on Goodreads advertising, see Lindsay Buroker’s article here.

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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.

Categories: Books, Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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