Posts Tagged ‘Sequence 00: Guest Posts’

Oct
8
2015

Weaving Between the Lines

A Guest Post by: Miranda Nading

When I began playing with Extinction, I had one character in mind. One story. The first three novels were written entirely from the point of view of a young girl trying to survive the end of the world. I've never liked shallow secondary characters, so everyone that popped up there little head received a backstory, a history and, if they were lucky enough, strong enough—a future.

The problem with that? I wanted more. I wanted depth, substance, and I really wanted to know why my redneck, alcoholic hit man was such a pain in my ass (sorry Nathan). To understand him better, I had to let him come out to play. Unfortunately, this gave the other characters ideas and they were soon climbing out of the box and running rough-shod over my word-monkey.

Re-writing Eve's plot line out of first-person wasn't a big deal. In the natural course of one of my novels, re-writes are a standard part of the lifecycle. The problem was each character didn't just want to follow Eve's story, they didn't have the same problems, or the same agendas. Many came in contact with her, changed the course of her journey and had a deep impact on who she was as a young woman, but they were had their own course to travel. And then there is Eve's mother. In Eve's words, she was not part of the equation. Never was, never would be. Yet she was there, whispering in my ear, insistent that Eve learn why she made the choices she made, did the things she did. Insistent that Eve know her. How could I say no to that?

This was no longer a simple re-write.

They still had the common string; their struggle to survive the end of the world. There was that. And I had Eve's story—the main highway that traveled through the story. Just going through and plugging in chapters here and there would have been catastrophic to the story line. No matter how much skill I used to get them in there.

My solution? Write a prequel. It worked for Star Wars so why couldn't it work for Extinction. It would become my springboard, my roadmap. This created a whole new problem for me. I'm a firm believer in starting a story as close to the end as possible. I like my stories fast paced with very little breathing room for my characters as they struggle to keep up, but they are never bored, or boring. I hope.

Thus, the birth of Genesis—a new first book for the series. A novella really, that introduces the world and characters of Extinction before it tips over the edge and plummets into the abyss. Each set of characters gets a glimpse of the storm that's coming, a look into the darkness. They were all there. Everyone who was climbing out of the box to pester me now had a voice.

But with this new story, I was able to develop the plot lines, map them out and then line them up with Eve, following the arc of her story so that each character is in the right place at the right time, allowing them to merge with Eve's story naturally.

*  *  *

Author Miranda Nading lives in Southern Nevada with her husband. When not writing, she enjoys diving, exploring, and generally getting up to mischief. Author of thrillers Echoes of Harmony, Caliban, Canyon Echoes, Miranda is excited to announce her new SF Apocalyptic series, Extinction.

Sep
11
2015

Publishing’s Dark Side: They Don’t Have Cookies

A Guest Post by Sue Ranscht

“Hey, Mom! You gotta check this out. Nerdist and Inkshares are having a contest to publish a scifi novel.

How my son plucked Chris Hardwick’s tweet from that unending stream is a mystery. But my writing partner Robb Beus and I are doing the “final” editing on a YA scifi novel, ENHANCED, so I checked it out.

I knew about Hardwick. I’d attended events he hosted at San Diego’s ComicCon last year, and hey, he’s Chris Hardwick. I trust his integrity.

I’d never heard of Inkshares. Well, writers research, so soon I knew as much about Inkshares as anyone with the internet could.

It’s KickStarter for books, but if you reach your pre-order goal, Inkshares uses the funds to publish, promote, market, and distribute your book. Without going into detail, this WSJ article sealed the deal. The Prize: Inkshares will publish the Top 5 as of 9/30/15, goals met or not. (Rankings count unique Readers: 1 person, 1 pre-order.)

The contest began two days before. A sense of urgency, the need to hit the ground running, now, inflamed me.

I want this.

Unlike my extroverted son, I’m an introvert. People say writing is a hard, lonely pursuit. I love it. Alone at my laptop till the wee hours, I capture ideas and visions in words. Writing with Robb has helped both of us become better writers, but promoting my work?

Like I said, I’m an introvert.

And a single mom. I know how to do what has to be done simply because it has to be done.

For three weeks now, I’ve done what has to be done, and learned things about myself I never imagined.

For instance, for more than 20 years, Robb and I have collaborated creatively on many successful theatrical productions. We’re friends. We’ve been through some personally dark and unforgiving times together and have never had a falling out. This contest? It’s testing us. We’ve tripped over more than one disagreement, miscommunication, and hurtful barb. We’ve had it out twice.

Honestly? I think… I hope it’s the stress of this roller coaster ride. And him finding a new apartment and moving over the last two weeks. And my business being inexplicably slow all year.

I’m forcing myself to self-promote. I hate it. I don’t want to be that person who talks endlessly about their book, oblivious to everyone else’s boredom. In my mind, even though we promote diverse role models not normally seen in literature, ENHANCED has become The-Book-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. “Pre-order” is now a euphemism for something nasty.

Every time I ask someone to click on the link, read the excerpt, pre-order a book, and spread the word, I swear I can feel little bits of my soul crumbling away. I just know they’re rolling around looking for some meaningful little objects to hide in till this is over. Then I’ll have to hunt them down like Horcruxes just to become a whole person again.

But I want this. So I’m gonna leave this riiiiight here:

Please:

Click on this link.

Read the excerpt.

Pre-order 1 book.

Spread the word.

You can find Bonus Materials on our Facebook Page (please Like us), and follow us on Twitter @EnhancedYASyFy.

Thanks very much.

*  *  *

Sue was 12 when her first published work, a review of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness appeared in Quest Magazine. She’s now pursuing a career as a published author with a childrens’ book Space, Time, and Raspberries, Enhanced, the first part of The Second Earth Trilogy which is a YA SciFi series, and a secret project, totally counter to her personality. On Facebook at Space, Time, and Raspberries and Enhanced. On Twitter @SueStarlight

Jun
25
2015

Flinging Poo

A Guest Post by Sam Knight

It's the punchline to my children's book Chunky Monkey Pupu. Kids love it. Why? Well, it's a poop joke. Everyone likes scatological humor if done correctly. Well, almost everyone. My 87 year old grandmother doesn't care for it at all. But you can't please everyone, and, unlike most of the rest of my life, she wasn't the one I was trying to please.

When I wrote Chunky Monkey Pupu, I had a specific audience in mind: my five year-old son (and his 9 year-old sister). But when I realized how well it worked on them, I realized it would work well on other beginner readers.

The whole thing started at the dinner table. We were discussing a book I could write to help him learn to read. (I still haven't gotten around to writing one using all of the 'sight words' he was supposed to learn. I will probably get around to that for his son. Probably.) I needed something to get the attention of a kid who had told his teacher that his father said he didn't have to learn how to read.

Take a second to savor that last sentence. I am a writer. My son told the teacher I said he didn't have to learn how to read. That's like a dentist saying their kid doesn't have to brush.

Anyway, I can't tell you the exact way the turn of phrase Chunky Monkey Pupu came up, but I can tell you we were all giggling and teasing each other. Then, the five year-old did what five year-olds do. He brought up the poop joke. How could he not? I mean we were talking about pupus (as in the pupu platter—which is why Chunky Monkey Pupu is chunky). But in his young mind, my son was hearing poo-poo.

So, of course, when it was suggested that I write the book, my son wanted me to put in it that Chunky Monkey Pupu flings poo. We had just seen the movie Madagascar, and the line "If you have any poo, fling it now," was high on the five year-old priority list.

That's when Mom shut him down. No poo-poo at the dinner table. It was inappropriate.

I followed suit and told him it would be inappropriate in a children's book, too.

That's why the joke worked so well when he read it. It was unexpected.

When I read the story to children, they all snicker at the name, then I tell them "Come on. You know what pupus are. Right?"

They all laugh. They know.

Then I tell them, "You eat them!"

Jaws hit the floor. Little kids lose it. Of course, then I explain it is another word for appetizers and they get it. Pupus are snacks, not poo-poo.

Kids believe adults. I don't know why.

Now they don't expect the poop joke anymore. So when they get the poop joke at the end of the story, it's a double whammy. Works every time.

Why?

Because everyone likes scatological humor if done correctly.

Everyone except my 87 year-old grandmother, that is.

*  *  *

As well as being part of the WordFire Press Production Team, Sam Knight is the Senior Editor for Villainous Press and author of four children's books, three short story collections, two novels, and more than a dozen short stories, including a Novella co-authored with Kevin J. Anderson.

He can be found at SamKnight.com and contacted at Sam@samknight.com

Apr
30
2015

 I’m No Expert

A Guest Post by Maureen O. Betita

Yes, it's true. I'm more a "Jill" of all trades, master of none. I've never claimed expert status, though I've often been a bit envious of those who display this talent. I've never been that taken by any particular trade or topic to put out that much energy. I'm scattered.

I've often felt like I was missing something. But again...even that thought didn't stick. I'm not really ADD, drawn to the next shiny thing and not finishing a course of study. Really. Not at all. I suppose details don't really interest me. Perhaps I'm a generalist?

Never been a problem. Meant I could carry on conversations with a wide variety of people. As long as none were the type to look down on me for not knowing a whole lot about their interest. I usually display enough to be fascinated, but not get into trouble.

Until I began self-publishing. No, take a step back, when I started writing.

I grew up reading pretty much everything. (A talent much valued in my family.) Same with television habits. Curiosity was encouraged and imagination celebrated. Without a particular love...or more correctly...a love of so many things...I began to write and went with my natural inclination.

Why limit myself to only romance? Or one historical period? Or one world? I wanted all worlds!

I actually had no idea what the word 'genre' meant.

So, I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And over three million words later, I had a thought...'wonder if anyone else would like to read this stuff?' I assumed not and just kept writing for myself, feeling a little sad.

Then, I almost died and counted that as my kick in the ass. Time to publish.

But when asked what genre I was writing in...I stumbled all over the board: time traveling witch who finds adventure with a pirate. Hmmm. This made me hard to market, let alone sell. Pirate – historical. No, pure Hollywood pirate. Witch – Paranormal! Maybe. Witch who travels through time – Time Travel! Some. There's a Guardian Kraken – Uh, fantasy? Some. Oh, did I remember to add she uses sex to stay magically charge? Erotica? (Pounding head on table by now.)

Now, I'm self-publishing and running into this wall of discoverability.

And I totally understand my prior publisher and agent. Because now I am all of them. Jumping on tables and waving my arms to get attention and entice the vast ocean of readers to look at me.

Once I catch them, I do keep them. But the catch is presently small.

I never thought this would be a problem, assuming most people were like me and found all possibilities interesting. I was wrong.

If I could do it all over again, would I do it differently?

Probably not, I'm pretty stubborn. But it would have been nice to walk into this without those rose-colored glasses plastered to my face.

I'm fortunate I don't need to make a living with my books. I'd starve. Again, not because I'm a bad writer. I'm a very good writer. I'm also one of the invisible authors. (We are legion.)

My advice for budding authors...start with an easily identified genre. If you want to write the 'Jill' books, wait until you have an audience. Make yourself an expert of...something.

Maureen O. Betita

*  *  *

Maureen is an author living along the beautiful coast of California. Most days she enjoys walking along the bluff, admiring the blue of the Pacific...and dreaming of the Caribbean. Since that ocean is far away, she casts those waters in the many books she writes, and populates that region of the world with guardian krakens, charming pirates, time travelers and whatever else she can think of. Sometimes she writes about aliens. Curious? www.maureenobetita.com

Apr
9
2015

Writerly Passion

A Guest Post by Robin Ambrose

Lots of writers will tell you that if you're not passionate about writing, you should choose some other line of work. They'll tell you that, even if you are passionate about writing, if it's at all possible to convince yourself to do something else, you should do that.

Writing is hard, they'll tell you – and they're right. Plenty of wanna-be writers quit when it finally sinks in that writing isn't the anybody's-game they thought it was. They leave when they discover that writing quality material requires a masters-level understanding of sentence structure, grammar, syntax, and all sorts of things the average adult forgot back in sixth grade.

Writing requires a thick skin, they'll announce, and the bad reviews of even bestselling books certainly bear that out. Heaven preserve the shrinking violet writer who dares to publish a part of her soul for mass consumption.

Writing is a lot of work for not much pay, they'll insist. They're right again. Most work isn't on commission, most books never achieve even minimum-wage compensation, and even those authors lucky enough to get an advance rarely see any royalties.

Given all that, why would anyone want to be a writer if their primary passion didn't demand it?

Well, maybe – just maybe – passion that is less than all-consuming can be real nonetheless.

Maybe characters who fall silent when ignored still deserve to come to life when busy hobbyist writers finally have time to tell their stories.

Maybe a writer who struggles to follow their secondary passion – to find time for it amid the clamor of everything else they enjoy – is able to write brilliant stories filled with hard choices between legitimate options.

Maybe writers who are able to enjoy a variety of professions can craft sympathetic characters from all walks of life.

Maybe the busy can also be wise.

Writing stories cannot be the exclusive arena of those who can successfully do little else. If only life-long professional writers are writing the brilliant and worthy bestsellers of tomorrow, we will have silenced important voices of writers who could have opened up our minds to their own passions. We will have missed out on wisdom learned in hard, beautiful trenches utterly unrelated to words.

If you aspire to write novels, don't wait for writing to be the only important thing in your life.

Learn your craft. Write your million bad words. Get your masters in writing, even if it takes a decade. If you aren't intimidated by hard work, there is plenty here to do.

Grow that thick skin, for you will not be universally loved.

Keep your day-job, if you love it. It will help you feed yourself while your writing career limps along. It will fuel your passion and give you a multitude of ideas for new stories to tell and new insights to share with the world. There may come a time when your writing demands more of your attention, but nothing can force you to pick favorites. If you want, you can do both forever.

Writing is hard, daunting work. It requires the courage to face down blank pages and haters and self-doubt. But if you're willing to do the work, your voice is important, and your stories are needed.

Keep writing.

*  *  *

Robin Ambrose is a theatre arts major with a law degree who practiced criminal defense law for over a decade and is now branching out into family law. She dreams of becoming a best-selling author, but is presently content to be a wanna-be writer, a new bride, and mother of a blended family of 5 children.

Robin's blog can be found at www.robinambrose.blogspot.com

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