A to Z Blogging Challenge: Giving Up
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 8, 2016

One of my favorite movies in all the world is Galaxy Quest. I mean, what’s not to love? Spoofing Star Trek, spoofing cons, and still making a great movie… it’s a no-brainer. In the movie, Tim Allen’s character has a recurring line: “Never give up, never surrender!” In real life– or even Figment life– it’s not so easy. Yes, I have it easier than most Writers. I’m a Figment. I get to just run away when my limited exposure to Reality gets to be too much. Most Writers, though, have to deal with Reality in the form of children, spouses, jobs, parents, school, blah blah blah. It’s enough to make you want to quit. Here’s my tip: listen to Tim Allen. Don’t give up. If you give up, you might never put out the book that would make you famous, beloved, or at least be-liked.  If you give up, you might not release a character on the world that will get someone through a hard time. If you give up… you learn to give up. Instead, when you feel like giving up, set yourself up for a break. Figure out how long the break will be and then make it…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Figments
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 7, 2016

Although I have other series, either published or in the works, the Figments will always be my first and, to a degree, my favorite. I am, after all, a Figment myself. Figments are those Characters that get created but never fully finished. Every Writer has at least one. This Figment wasn’t likeable enough. That Figment didn’t fit the storyline. That other Figment insisted on taking the story in a direction the Writer didn’t want it to go. Sometimes Figments are in stories that were completed but didn’t come to light. That WIP that sits in a desk drawer (or in a file folder on the computer) and never gets revised is full of Figments. The story you sent out to publishers that got rejected until you stopped trying? Figments. My Figments are a little different. They’re still trapped in the Figments world because I wrote them there, but they are published. So they get to be real without being Characters (okay, Eric and Shiv are still Characters). If you’ve never read my worlds, you might not understand this, and that’s okay. You still understand the concept of Figments because you have one. Here’s my challenge to you: set your Figments…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Endings
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 6, 2016

Endings are the hardest thing in all the world. Beginnings are easy. One cute hook or interesting premise and off you go! Middles can be rough, but you’re still moving, heading somewhere. Endings are the thing Readers will remember most. Endings are your last chance to make a good impression. Endings are your signature on a letter. Endings suck sausages. I struggle with endings. I’m a planner who then lets the story do its own thing. Unfortunately, you can only plan the ending so far. I know what happens at the end, but… how to do it? I haven’t yet come to a satisfactory conclusion, but I do know an ending needs to do a few things: An ending needs to wrap up all the loose ends. Even if you’re writing a series, you need to close up the story of the book itself. You can leave the main theme open (does the hero beat the Big Bad?), but you need to shut every door that is specific to that book (does the hero beat this level?). An ending needs to restate the theme of the book. Even if your theme is just “writing is hard and funny”, that needs…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Death
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 5, 2016

In writing, you must kill all your darlings. William Faulkner Maybe, as writers, we take the quote above a little too seriously. If you’re George R. R. Martin, don’t even think about it. You do. I do it, too. I kill off characters. I’m not quite sure what the appeal is. I mean, for one thing, you now have an angry Character who will forever resent you for forcing them through a death scene. Angry Characters don’t like Writers. I can attest to this. For a second thing, you now have angry Readers who will forever resent you for forcing them through a death scene. Angry Readers may, oddly enough, love Writers. I haven’t figured that one out. There are good reasons and bad reasons for killing off your characters. I agree with most of them in the infographic below, but maybe for different reasons. It advances the plot or It fulfills the doomed character’s personal goal. To me, this is the one inarguable reason to kill off a character. If the plot says you must, you must. If the character’s identity says you must, you must. It motivates other characters. I’m iffy on this. Yes, it gets used, but…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Cover Art
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 4, 2016

“You can’t judge a book by its cover”. Maybe not, but we do. Really, we have to do this. Books are an investment of time, money, and energy. You can read reviews and do a quick peek inside to guess if you’ll like it, but most of us look at covers and try to figure it out just from pictures. Pretty funny, really, for a “literate” group of people. A book’s cover should tell you several things right off the bat: The title. Someday I might write a book with a mystery title, just to see if anyone buys it. Mostly, though, we count on that title to pique our interest. As a writer, I hope the hours I spend agonizing over this are worth it. The author’s name. Sometimes authors get to have their names bigger than the title, but you have to be Serious Business for this. As long as someone manages to squeeze my entire name on the cover, I’m pretty happy. As a reader, this helps you binge read your favorite author. The genre. While this isn’t a perfect science, there are still things you expect from different genres. Romance: half-dressed Characters. SF: something spacey or…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: (The) Bobian
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 2, 2016

When I first created the Figments universe, I was sure this was where I was going to spend the majority of my time. I mean, other writers had done it: Xanth. Stephanie Plum. Honor Harrington. Create a world big enough and you can play in it for decades. Then I discovered The Bobian. The Bobian is (currently) a twelve-year-old boy with no other desire than to eat ice cream. He’s got a good imagination and, really, a far better sense of focus than I do. He knows what he wants and he’s going to get it, come broken bones, broken friendships, or angry Queen Mothers. Okay, maybe not angry Queen Mothers. Some things are just insurmountable. Nevertheless, when I discovered The Bobian, I realized I had found something just as special as my Figments. In fact, The Bobian may be better, overall, because I like the kid better than I like Christopher (no offense, Christopher, just in case you’re reading). The Bobian is really what I want my books to be: easy to read, easy to laugh at, and hard to put down. What are your goals as a Writer? Are you out to change (or at least educate) the…

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Alice in Wonderland
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 1, 2016

You may have noticed I have a fascination with Alice in Wonderland. There’s something about Lewis Carroll’s crazy world that appeals to me. It may be the rabbits. It may be the Mad Hatter. (It’s probably not Alice.) Whatever it is, I love it. My first book, Veneri Verbum, made use of the same craziness as the original Alice in Wonderland. My next Figments book, however, takes this a step further. I took Alice Through the Looking Glass and used it as a rough guideline for what would happen in my story.  Not exactly, but just enough to get the wheels turning. Of course, my characters never do what they are supposed to. There’s something about Figments that makes them think they get to have opinions. Still, the guidelines was there. So what is the appeal? Lewis Carroll creates a zany cast of characters. In fact, the supposed main character, Alice, is really the most boring of the lot. I’m not saying Christopher is boring, but… well, it’s a good thing for him there are more interesting characters to help carry the story. My goal was to have the same draw with my non-main characters. Carroll also breaks structure rules,…

A to Z Blogging Challenge
A to Z Blog Challenge / March 31, 2016

I was wandering around the internet (no, not browsing; I actually wander the sites on foot) and found a site called The A to Z Blogging Challenge. Since I’ve been trying to remember to blog, I thought, I can do that. So I signed up. Then I realized it starts tomorrow. Apparently I have some work to do. I’ll see you all on my blog for the next thirty days.