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Writing for a Cause

Writers are a passionate bunch. We spend years of our lives dedicated to writing, re-writing, editing, re-editing, and marketing our stories, with little expectation of a significant financial return. We love it, even though at the end of the day most of us are probably making about two cents per hour! We write because we just can’t contain our imaginations, and the worlds and characters welling up inside us need a place to go. It gets unbearably crowded in there otherwise. Sometimes writing is our best form of self-expression, too, and through our stories we learn how to deal with our own internal conflicts.

There are also times when we write for a greater cause—a meaning that extends beyond our creative passions and into the real world. For the past year, 10 writers have been working hard to put together a fantasy book called The Realms Beyond, hoping their stories will help raise money for the June E. Nylen Cancer Center in Sioux City, Iowa.

The project was envisioned by a young, upcoming author, KJ Hawkins, who had just lost her grandmother to pancreatic cancer. When I asked her how the idea for the book came together, she replied, “In many ways I felt like I needed to do this to help with my grief, but realized that my grammy would have wanted me to use what I was good at to leave a mark on the world. And I couldn’t think of anything better than to help those families fighting for their loved ones by putting together a book with the sole purpose of bringing them aid.”

When KJ Hawkins asked me if I’d be interested in participating, I was happy to say yes. My own grandfather died of pancreatic cancer, and other members of my family have been cancer survivors. I can imagine that all the participating authors share this connection in one way or another, and that many of the readers will too. Today pre-orders for the book have started, with the official release date scheduled for April 2017. It’s a project I’m thrilled to be a part of, and I hope that through it many lives will be touched in a positive way, readers and beneficiaries alike. Ten of us have come together to write for a cause—you can help too by reading for a cause. All of the proceeds from the book will go to the June E. Nylen Cancer Center.

realms-beyond-coverParticipating Authors and Included Works/Sub-Genres:
Allison D. Reid — Into the Shadow Wood (Christian Fantasy)
Ali Cross — Blood Crown (Sci-fi/New Adult)
Artemis Crow — Leona’s Descent (Fantasy)
D.B. Mauldin — The Chosen One (Young Adult/Fantasy)
Fiona Skye — Tools of the Dragon (High Fantasy)
KJ Hawkins — Half-Blood Academy Short Story Collection (Young Adult/Fantasy)
Melissa Barker-Simpson — Badge of Honor (Adventure/Fantasy)
Renee Scattergood — Makari’s Mission (Dark Fantasy)
Samantha Bryant — The Good Will Tour (Superhero/Fantasy)
V.L. Holt — 97 (Young Adult/Paranormal)

 

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How To Craft A Terrifying Monster

As this year starts to wrap up, we see writing communities going WILD with NaNoWrimo, new publications, and attempting to prep for upcoming conferences, book conventions, and events in the upcoming year. I suspect many of you are involved in the madness that is November, enjoying the mayhem, while looking forward to the calm.

Are you a part of the shenanigans of November or are you missing out? Go out there and get comfortable in a writing group and feed off of the energy surging through the masses of authors. The three of us at the Weekly Fantasy Fix wish you much productivity in the coming weeks!

This quarter I wrote a column for the OWS Inked: Literary Journal on How To Craft A Terrifying Monster for your current manuscript…

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Heroes and Villains

In a previous Inspiration Sunday post I mentioned that in the process of working out some things for the third book in my series, I’ve been thinking about the very different motives and actions of my heroes and villains. Where my story goes from here largely depends on their inner battles, and how those translate into actions that have world-wide consequences. What is each side trying to ultimately achieve, and in what ways are they trying to get there? Are they staying one step ahead of their enemies, or are they simply reacting as each new thing gets thrown at them, never really gaining any ground?

But even beyond that, what makes heroes and villains who they are is not just their inner conflict, but their inner character. The best heroes aren’t perfect people—they are just as flawed as the rest of us; sometimes more so. And yet what makes them different? Sure they might have special abilities—those can be squandered. They might be more desperate than most. Desperation can also turn to bitterness that produces nothing good. And we’ve seen time and time again how the same set of circumstances can turn one person to darkness and another to the light.

I found the answer in a quote from C.S. Lewis. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable.”

Our heroes have to accept their flaws, allow themselves be deeply wounded by them, yet still have the strength rise to action…even when that action is self-sacrificial. They have to care about something larger than themselves, and to care, a heart capable of love is required. So where does that leave our darkest villains? By contrast, they are cold and selfish. Their flaws do not make them vulnerable to heartache—they won’t allow it. And while they might also care about something larger than themselves, it is only to the extent that they will greatly benefit in the process…and they have no problem sacrificing someone else to get their prize. They worship none but themselves. Over time, our villains’ hearts grow increasingly incapable of love until, to use Lewis’ words, they become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. Those are the true villains that our heroes must rise against—the ones worth risking everything to defeat, because if they win, there will be nothing left worthy of living for.

For those of you who are writers, forget for a bit the mechanics of the plot you’re building, and look deep into the eyes of your heroes and villains. What lies hidden deep down in their hearts and souls? What, and who, do they really, honestly care about? How do their vulnerabilities impact their character, and what are they willing to do to achieve their goals? For all you who are readers, which heroes and villains stand out as the most memorable to you? What made them real?

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Simple Writing Tips!

A couple weeks ago, we talked about NaNoWriMo starting on November 1st. Although I will not be personally joining a camp, I will be writing a significant amount of words during the month. Whether you have been writing for two years or two weeks, I wanted to include a few healthy reminders of what may help you be successful in your writing endeavors.

  • Start small. The important thing is to maintain a routine of writing every single day. 300 words per day is plenty. Did you know John Grisham began his writing career as a lawyer? He got up early every morning and wrote one page. You can do the same.
  • Have an outline. I am currently working on a webinar talking about important tips when writing. One large piece of writing is maintaining an outline. Think of your book in terms of beginning, middle, and end. Anything more complicated will get you lost. Highlight your plot points and break them down into major events.
  • Have a set time and place to work on your book every day. Schedule your time to work and your time to be off. When you are writing, you should be in a special space for writing, so when you enter it, your body is ready to tackle the manuscript. And don’t let yourself off the hook.

These are not entirely complex tips to follow, but even the best of writers forget the simplicity that keeps us on track. Now get out there if you are a writer, because you should be writing.

Joshua Robertson, CEO
Crimson Edge Press, LLC

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Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

World building is a time consuming process. There is a lot to take into account when you are considering every aspect of a new world…how it came to be, what kinds of people lived there, how its landscape, history, economy, religion, and politics developed over time to the point where your book plot begins. How is what you write going to shape that world’s future for any additional books you may be planning?

Part of building a new world is figuring out how time works. Is your brand new world governed by the same rules we’re already familiar with? Or is it more subjective and non-linear; “a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey…stuff” as David Tennant (still the best Doctor!) describes time in Doctor Who? Do you mark the passage of time with minutes, hours, days, months, years? And are those at the same intervals we are accustomed to? Maybe you are doing something radically different. If so, how do you get your reader to let go of what they know and embrace your vision of how time moves?

When I started working on my series I ran into two issues which affected my perspective on time. First, even though my world is a complete fantasy, the setting mimics that of medieval Europe. I relied heavily on research to inform the details of what daily life would have been like. One thing I discovered is that while people of that era had the ability to keep time with mechanical clocks and other means, ordinary people simply didn’t bother. They didn’t even necessarily know their birthdays. They often had a general idea based on the season, but didn’t keep track of the specific date. They might mark certain years based on memorable events, like the year the river flooded, or lightning struck the bell tower. Religious days and festivals were more regimented, but by the Church, which was more exact with its time keeping.

For most, the days were governed by the position of the sun, and the passage of time by the seasons and the demands required by them in turn. I’ve tried to express this different sense of time through the eyes of my characters—hopefully I have been successful. I also purposely did not give my characters specific ages. I have a general idea of how old they are, and so do they. But they won’t be celebrating any birthdays.

Second, our present day calendar and numeric way of tracking the passage of years is unique to our history. It occurred to me that in my world, their way of keeping time should be unique to theirs. Trying to track years with numbers quickly became too complicated, especially since I created a historic timeline that started way back at the very creation of my world.

I decided instead to split my world up into different eras, their names determined by a special group of prophets within the monastic community. Each era of time has its own important events, and its own feel, much like the decades of the 20th century. The 60’s had a very different feel from the 80’s. The names given to each era describe their significance in history, starting with the Era of the Ancients, the very first era in which the world was created and humanity made its appearance. Later on the Era of Desolation marked a period of great turmoil and suffering, followed by the Era of Varol, where my world’s greatest hero (Varol) emerges to change the course of history. A listing of all the eras and their significance was included as supplemental material when I published Ancient Voices: Into the Depths.

If you’re a fantasy or sci-fi writer, how do you mark time in your world? If you’re a reader, what are some of the most interesting ways your favorite authors have played with the concept of time in theirs?

 

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Did you miss it?

As part of last week’s Weekly Fantasy Fix, I gave my readers a new short story. Well not NEW, but newly released apart from the Dragon Tempest anthology. It is an ancient story from my book world that tells about the dark origins of one of my villains. You can still get it here, it’s not too late. And while you’re at it, check out the rest of last week’s Fix if you haven’t already, for a new Medieval Menagerie, self-editing tip, and more…

Read the rest of this week’s Fantasy Fix newsletter.
Like what you see?  Subscribe to get each edition emailed directly to you.


If you’ve missed previous editions, it’s not too late! Follow these links to find the most recent ones:

The First by A. Claire Everward
With one sister an author and the other a publisher, how can it go wrong? “Forever Looking Forward”. That’s their motto. And that was what they were thinking when they decided to drop everything and just do it.

How to Destroy your Writing Career
With advice from Renee Scattergood on the importance of editing.

It’s Alive!! (And I don’t mean Frankenstein)
My article on how characters even surprise their writers, and a behind the scenes glimpse at who my character Einar might have been…had he not a mind of his own.

The Secret to Success!
Joshua Robertson’s advice on how to be a successful author.

Winter is Here…Beware Winter!
Renee Scattergood shares news about upcoming episodes of her Shadow Stalker series.

Top 10 Signs You’ve Lost Your Mind!
Including my top 10 signs that you’re either losing your mind, or maybe you’re just WAY too close to your fantasy WIP!

Enough is Enough
Featuring Joshua Robertson’s article about the editing process, and when to realize it’s time to stop.

Help us Improve our Newsletter!
Has a poll to help us discover what readers want from an author newsletter. The poll is still open–don’t lose out on this opportunity to make your voice heard.

 

 

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Feeling like The White Rabbit

I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say “Hello,” goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late! (From Alice in Wonderland)

It has been one of those non-stop, work from dawn to midnight, overwhelming weeks. We’ve all had them, right? Well, my horrendous week has put me behind schedule in just about everything, including the newsletter. So I’m hoping to make it up to you with a piece of writing that so far has not been released outside of The Dragon Tempest anthology.This tale directly relates to my Wind Rider Chronicles series; an ancient myth passed down through the generations, that has become part of my world’s extensive history. It hints at the distant origins of one of my most nefarious characters.

Though the story can be accessed through my website, you won’t find the link to it anywhere else.  This is my gift to the Fantasy Fix readers. Hope you enjoy it!

Birth of the Necromancer: A Midwife’s Tale

 

Read the rest of this week’s Fantasy Fix newsletter.
Like what you see?  Subscribe to get each edition emailed directly to you.


If you’ve missed previous editions, it’s not too late! Follow these links to find the most recent ones:

The First by A. Claire Everward
With one sister an author and the other a publisher, how can it go wrong? “Forever Looking Forward”. That’s their motto. And that was what they were thinking when they decided to drop everything and just do it.

How to Destroy your Writing Career
With advice from Renee Scattergood on the importance of editing.

It’s Alive!! (And I don’t mean Frankenstein)
My article on how characters even surprise their writers, and a behind the scenes glimpse at who my character Einar might have been…had he not a mind of his own.

The Secret to Success!
Joshua Robertson’s advice on how to be a successful author.

Winter is Here…Beware Winter!
Renee Scattergood shares news about upcoming episodes of her Shadow Stalker series.

Top 10 Signs You’ve Lost Your Mind!
Including my top 10 signs that you’re either losing your mind, or maybe you’re just WAY too close to your fantasy WIP!

Enough is Enough
Featuring Joshua Robertson’s article about the editing process, and when to realize it’s time to stop.

Help us Improve our Newsletter!
Has a poll to help us discover what readers want from an author newsletter. The poll is still open–don’t lose out on this opportunity to make your voice heard.