Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Monday, July 28, 2014

A New Writing Chair

My old beanbag writing chair was nice, but it wasn't comfortable for long periods of writing. (Watching TV, maybe, but not writing.) So I got myself this lovely little recliner. It's so comfy and nice! I just love it. I like the brown, but I felt it needed a little splash of color too. I also picked up this picture.


It inspires me. My office (though I really don't like to call it that) is quickly becoming my favorite room in the house!

What does your writing space look like?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Apocalypse Panel: Defining the Apocalypse

It's time for the Apocalypse Panel again! This month's question:

What defines an apocalyptic story?

The easy answer for me is

The End of the World as We Know It



I think it's the "as we know it" part that is most important. Apocalyptic stories start from a point of the world that we know, that we are familiar with. I think it would be pretty hard to appreciate an apocalypse in a world utterly unfamiliar to us, since we'd have no "before" to compare to.

Also, the apocalyptic event affects the whole of society. After all, we all go through experiences that change our personal world as we know it. Marriage, children, school, jobs, divorce, death, etc. But those don't make an apocalyptic story. Still, as I think about it, maybe it is our own personal apocalypses that make world-changing apocalyptic stories so appealing to us.

Be sure to check out the responses from the other panelists!

Monday, June 30, 2014

#MyWritingProcess

I was tagged in this fun blog hop by two talented authors, Danyelle Leafty, who writes delightful fairy tales that you must read. Find and follow her on Twitter @DanyelleLeafty. She's awesome! And S.A. Butler, author of the Sonia Fletcher books. Vampire hunter novels with a twist. She tweets @S_A_Butler. Look her up. She's awesome too.

Thank you so much ladies!

Here is a bit about my writing process.

1. What am I working on?

Right now, I am revising my third Defenders of the Covenant novel, Shrouded Skies, looking forward to a September 2, release date! I have a Pony Express fantasy short story, Zeke vs. the Dust Devil that needs to go to beta readers. I have also started on the first draft of a new novel, The Glory of the Stars. Another LDS science fiction novel, though very different from Defenders of the Covenant.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Hahahahahahaha! Most science fiction is not about Mormons. Most LDS fiction is not sci-fi. 'Nuff said.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Why does anyone write what they do? These are the stories that live in my heart and soul. The stories that insist I tell them to the world. I want to add goodness to the world.

4. How does my writing process work?

Umm... I'm kind of in
between processes right now. What has worked for me up until now is just no longer working. I'll keep you posted as to when I find something that does.

Anyway, thanks so much for tagging me Danyelle and Sara!

Feel free to share in the comments how your own writing process works. Maybe something will strike a chord with me. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Guest Post: Characters of Faith in Fiction by Terry W. Ervin II


Today we welcome back my good friend Terry W. Ervin II back to the writing chair in celebration of his newest release Soul Forge! (I am so excited to read this book!) Soul Forge is the third book in his First Civilization's Legacy series.

Terry is here to discuss a subject quite near to my heart. Writing characters of faith.
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Characters of Faith in Fiction

While several of my short stories could be identified as ‘inspirational’ with faith-based overtones, the majority of my writing, especially my novels, are fantasy and science fiction aimed at a more mainstream audience.

That doesn’t mean aspects of religious faith are absent from my novels. A great variety of characters populate my stories and some of them have faith, in varying measures. I find this to be appropriate, being just one possible aspect of a character’s make up.

That being said, there are conventions and potential pitfalls to consider when including aspects of faith in a work of fiction.

The most obvious convention when writing fiction is that an author shouldn’t ‘preach’ to the readers. This can be said of concerns other than religion. Consider political topics such as gun control, socialism, capitalism, drug laws, and more. All of these areas are ripe for espousing one point of view to the detriment of the story being told, including plot and character development. Heavy-handedly ‘telling’ readers how they should think or behave, even if they tend to agree, is certain to turn them off.

Another convention with respect to including faith in a work of fiction is that it should be organic, in that it’s a natural part of the character and story, and not simply inserted. Yes, there are stock characters, such as a strict, ruler-wielding nun in the classroom, or a humble, caring priest working as a hospital chaplain, and they have a place inserted in a story, but they should be used to play their part, after which the story moves on.

As indicated, faith being a part of a character’s make up is both reasonable and realistic. Prayer, moral beliefs, conversation, and actions within that context are all fine. How much depends not only on the character, but also on the plot and theme, and how integral the character(s) of faith are to the storyline. Most readers are comfortable with that. Most agnostics and atheists have friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and even family that believe in God, so having such characters in a work of fiction makes sense. The more important or central a character’s religious faith becomes to the storyline, the more the audience would shift away from ‘mainstream.’

It was probably noted that I said in the paragraph above: Most readers are fine with that.

Most does not equate to all, which leads to a potential pitfall.

If faith plays a significant part in the motivations and resulting actions of one or more major characters in a novel, there will be readers that are turned off. Those readers may be near the extreme end when it comes to intolerance toward religion, or even a particular religion. It should be pointed out that similar reactions occur among some readers with strong faith being turned off by characters that are expressively ambivalent toward God, or vocal in their atheism.

Potentially losing or dissatisfying some readers simply by including characters with faith as a part of their make-up doesn’t sound like much of a pitfall. Usually that’s true.

My experience in this arena is mainly through my novels Flank Hawk and Relic Tech. The main area where faith plays a role in Flank Hawk centers is the Crusader, Paul Jedidiah Roos. While a character important to the plot, Roos isn’t the POV character, and first appears in the 2nd half of the novel.

Even so, I’ve received emails from readers, indicating they returned the novel because of Roos. One reader thought it was wrong for Christianity to exist in my fantasy novel, and was tempted to throw his Kindle across the room because he was really enjoying the novel up until that point, when ‘Crusaders’ first appeared.

The First Civilization’s Legacy Series is a post-apocalyptic fantasy series. Why wouldn’t there be an outpost of Christianity? While those were my thoughts, it’s my ‘policy’ to not debate or attempt to alter the views of readers expressing an opinion, unless they specifically ask about some particular point. I prefer to thank them for giving my story a try and express my disappointment that they didn’t find the read satisfying.

With Relic Tech, the main character, Security Specialist Krakista Keesay is one with a measure of religious faith. It’s not overly strong and isn’t prevalent in the storyline. For example, he says prayers, based on Scripture memorized as a youth, for dead or dying characters. Also, there is a priest that plays a very minor role while the POV character is serving as a security specialist aboard the Civil Transport Kalavar.

Still, some of the most critical reviews, and emails sent to me, have focused on the religious aspects to the novel. The main character was called a TSA Thug and Religious Fanatic. I’ve had readers email me that they quit reading when a Bible was mentioned, saying they don’t like religion in their science fiction. The TSA/Religious Fanatic review was challenged by other readers, and eventually the reviewer agreed that he was off target. A week or two later, the review disappeared. Still, while the review was up, it appeared to negatively affect sales.

There are some pitfalls to having characters of religious faith in a story. But those pitfalls are okay with me. A writer cannot please everybody, and it’s part of the business of being an author—accepting, or at least acknowledging reader opinions and reviews that express disappointment, sometimes based on the content of a character’s make up. Because, on the other hand, there are readers out there that really enjoy reading about Roos and Keesay, and are glad I wrote them as I did, believing they add to the storylines and worlds created.

I guess I’ll see what happens with Soul Forge where, just as in Blood Sword, echoes of Roos’ faith can be found in some of the characters, especially Lilly.

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Thank you so much, Terry! I personally love your characters who display their faith. :)

Be sure to take a look at Terry's books. You can buy Soul Forge here:



Terry W. Ervin II is an English teacher who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction.

His First Civilization’s Legacy Series includes FLANK HAWK, BLOOD SWORD and SOUL FORGE, his newest release from Gryphonwood Press. Terry’s debut science fiction novel RELIC TECH is the first in the Crax War Chronicles and his short stories have appeared in over a dozen anthologies and magazines. The genres range from SF and mystery to horror and inspirational. GENRE SHOTGUN is a collection containing all of his previously published short stories.

To contact Terry or learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at www.ervin-author.com or his blog, Up Around the Corner at
http://uparoundthecorner.blogspot.com



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Apocalypse Panel: The Most Important Element

Oh, hello there. It's been a while, hasn't it? The end of the school year, followed by two weeks of being sick in bed sort of derailed blogging for a while. But I am back! With another question for the Apocalypse Panel. This month's question is:

What is the most important element in an apocalyptic story?

I could talk about important elements of story all day, but they would apply to any story, not just an apocalyptic one. So, I'm going to throw out what I think is at the heart of apocalypse fiction.

Hope.


I think at their heart, apocalyptic stories are stories of hope. No matter what the universe dishes out, we can overcome. We will survive. That to me is the truly essential element for writing about the apocalypse.

What do you think?

Be sure to check out the responses of the other panelists.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The New Writing Plan: I will offer my creations to the world

Step 4 of the new writing plan is

I will offer my creations to the world in the best way I can find.

This is another tricky one. It brings up the whole self vs. traditional publishing issue, and like most people, I don't know which way is best. It is different for every author, and probably for every book or story.

I will publish "Roomies" on my website. (Done! This is a Defenders of the Covenant short story. Go check it out!)

I will publish my Christmas stories myself. (Look for that this holiday season.)

I will publish Shattered Skies (Defenders #3) myself. (By the end of the summer!)

I will seek professional markets for new short stories. (I just finished one today called Zeke vs. the Dust Devil. A western fantasy. I'm kind of excited about it. Submitting to short fiction markets again kind of feels like going back to the beginning of my writing career. And I'm okay with that.)

I will decide on publishing options for each future project separately.

I will NOT sign a bad contract. (I hate to say it, but I think this means I will not go with any LDS publishers again.)

Overall, I think I will probably stick with self-pubbing. It suits my personality a lot more. But I am not going to ignore the traditional publisher option either. As I said, I'll take it one project at a time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Apocalypse Panel: The best apocalyptic books and movies

It's time to start thinking about the end of the world again! This month's apocalypse panel question is:

Other than the stories you have written which is the best apocalypse movie or novel?

I don't know about the best, but I can tell you which are my favorites.

My favorite apocalyptic book is one Randy mentioned in his original post. Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card. It's not a novel, really, but a collection of short stories. Stories that moved me in a profound way. Here were my own people dealing with a world-ending situation. I had never seen anything like that before, and obviously, it had a huge influence on my own writing. If you've never read Folk of the Fringe, I highly recommend it!

As far as movies go, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it, but I really liked 2012. Despite it's cheesiness and obvious flaws, I really cared about those characters and what happened to them. Somebody did something right in the writing there. Still, I'm glad I didn't fork over money to see it in the theater.

(Please do not confuse this film with 2012: Ice Age. That is another matter entirely!)
If you need a good laugh...











 
Don't forget to check out the answers from the other panelists. Maybe you'll discover some new books to read!