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Found 71 results

  1. I'm a nice guy. I think about how others feel, consider their beliefs, and I try to be respectful in as many things as I can. So when I write I do my best to adhere to those same principals. Yet, therein lies a limitation. Not rocking the boat of the reader, not challenging their beliefs, not forcing them to grow is a failing. It's one that I struggle to move beyond, and it has kept me from posting work. I know some of the things I've written will simply not pass muster for some readers who are decidedly experts in their own slice of experience - an experience I seek to depict as an integral part of my story. A friend had to remind me that I'm not claiming to be an authority. That I am only showing the lives and struggles of my characters, and not staking ownership on the only path. I've put in the work. I've done my diligence, and it's time to set it free. Anyway, this one means a lot to me. It means a lot. Maybe that's a part of why I have such a tremendous trepidation around turning it loose. The pictures embedded in most of the scenes are part and parcel of the work, which is why I am only linking it from my Google drive vs posting. By the way, Pexels is a fantastic place to dig up free to use pictures for your own artistic endeavors, and BeFunky was the program I used to tinker with them and add captions. Fleeting Eternity It can be a tough story to read. There's a lot of emotion here, but I love how it turned out. So, here we go. As terrifying as it is, I'm setting it free.
  2. Renee Stevens

    Crazy Life!

    Wow, how the time flies. It's hard to believe that Baby J is just under 2 months shy of celebrating his first birthday! He is so active and is crawling, pulling himself up, and walking along the couch (or anywhere else as long as he has something or someone to hold onto!) We have baby gates all over the house, and so far they seem to be keeping the little guy mostly contained. And we now adapt whatever we're having for meals so that the little man can eat it too, with his 4 little teeth! Being a new mom is more than I ever expected, and so worth it. Especially when he gives me his big grin, or like the other night when I wasn't feeling good and Baby J just snuggled with me. Or he says mama or dada (the very occasional mommy and daddy). Of course, he has his grumpy boy moments, but they're usually only when he's tired or not feeling well. Luckily major meltdowns are few and far between. He's even been on his first major roadtrip. 17 Hour drive (one way) to meet his uncle, aunt, and cousins (we broke it up into 3 shorter days rather than 2 long ones to make it easier on him). Of course, everyone loved him, but Baby J really took to my brother. If my brother was home, Baby J was on his lap, or otherwise in the very near vicinity. As you can probably tell, life has been busy. We're lucky that Baby J hasnt really been sick much, primarily only having the flu at one point and a short lasting stomach bug another one. I've been sick a little more, but D has been great about helping out around the house, especially when I'm not at my best. We may have finally got a few answers to everything that has been going on with me. Vitamin D deficiency counts for a lot of my issues, and most of what isnt caused by that are most likely caused by a stomach/esophagus sphincter hernia. Which basically means that the above named sphincter, that connects the esophogus and stomach, is loose and allows for reocurring reflux. Not great news, but it's mostly controllable with diet and reflux meds (though I'm not on a daily med for it at this point). Surgery isnt suggested to fix the issue unless it gets much worse than it is, as it would require a major surgery. So that's what's been going on here. Not much writing going on, as I simply cant seem to find the time and or ambition, but hopefully that will return in time. There have definitely been some ups and downs, but overall I cant complain too much. Hopefully I'll be able to return to GA on a more full time basis in the near future (is that a little optimistic considering Baby J is nearly a toddler?) But I have a great team to help with my GA duties, and I owe a huge thank you to all of them! Not going to name names, just in case I forget one, but Thank you, all of the help is greatly appreciated! Until next time! Cheers Renee
  3. I started rereading a story I wrote a while back. Camp Refuge is such a keystone for me. It has so many good things going for it, embedded in a package of terrible mechanics. I'm going to try and explain what I mean. I began it to help a reader who had written while I was in the process of releasing Guarded on another site. He was recently diagnosed with HIV, and he was wrecked. I'll never forget the last two lines he ever wrote to me - "Who could love me now? Who could possibly love me now?" I was a chapter away from finishing Guarded when I got that email, and I started Camp Refuge immediately after Guarded was done. I had to. I had to show him that he deserved love, acceptance, and peace. He never wrote again, and as I released chapters, I wondered if he even saw them. But, something started to happen around that story. Other's wrote. People who were HIV+, demisexuals, gray asexuals, trans folks, people suffering from depression, those who had been abused... they all reached out. I got some of them to explore getting treatment locally, even had our HIV nurse and a case manager reach out directly to a few who consented to such. I began to realize that it was bigger than the beginning. It made me understand something scary, and thrilling, all at once. It was the very first time I realized that my words have power. Rereading it now, I know I can't put it on GA. Not yet. I head-hop soooo much; it's almost laughable. But, the bones are there. It has a good skeleton. In the words of the esteemed Stitch, the story is "Broken but Good". I think it deserves to simply be "good". Another project... urgh.
  4. 'They're doing a premium short story collection at GA,' I said, 'for Pride. Coming out stories. Thought I might submit something, got a couple of ideas. I'd get paid, even.' 'That's nice,' she said vaguely. 'I think you should try to write some more . . . accessible stories, though. You know, stories you could sell.' Did you not hear that I may in fact get paid? I sighed. 'I can only write the stories that come to me.' She pursed her lips. 'Of course. But you could write something that more people will want to read.' Have you ever even read one of my stories? I wanted to ask, but I didn't. 'The stories I write are important, though. Queer representation is important. Queer voices are important. Queer writers writing queer stories is important.' 'Well, yes . . . I'm just saying . . . If you'd like to get published, then—' 'I can self-publish. Thought I might put out my short stories.' 'Do people make money off that?' 'Some do. It's hard to find bigger publishing houses who'll publish the stuff I write. And this stuff is important, Mum. How many mainstream novels with queer protagonists written by queer writers can you name off the top of your head? Ones that have reached any real amount of critical acclaim?' I knew I was getting worked up. 'Queer representation in the media is really, really important. Did you know that the only queer actor to ever win an Oscar playing a queer role is Ian McKellan?' 'Really?' She fell silent, and I sighed. 'I have to write my stories,' I said softly, 'or there's no point.' She let it drop. 'Oh, we're here. If you don't want Vietnamese we could go for something else.' 'No, Vietnamese is good,' I said. 'I feel like Pho.' EDIT: Fun fact about self-publishing: The Martian, the book that got turned into a big movie with Matt Damon, that The Martian, started out being sold for Kindle for $0.20 or something like that. Guy who wrote it just wanted to give it away for free to his friends and they kept insisting on wanting to pay for it. So, yeah. Self-publishing can work.
  5. When I write a short story, I usually sit down and write until I'm done. Then I go back, revise, edit, remove stuff, add stuff, read it out loud to myself, fix every minor thing in the dialogue, and then, when I'm happy with it, I'll send it to a beta or an editor, or both. That is my process. When I write a novel, I can't just write until I'm done. I'll write a chapter, go back and read it, polish it, add stuff and take stuff out. Then I'll move on and write the next bit, and maybe do some research for some detail or another (and I need everything to be correct, so my research is meticulous), go back, reread, polish, add stuff, take stuff out. I fact, nearly half my word-count often comes in the editing process, because my rough draft is very stark, often just dialogue and a few tags, the bare minimum of detail and internal monologue so that I know what's going on. I add descriptions, embellish my language, fill out my characters' thoughts and actions, on the first rewrite. When you do NaNoWriMo, you're not supposed to do that. You're just supposed to sit down and write. I have a really hard time doing that. If I manage 2000 words in a day, it's often because I went back and reread and added stuff to previous chapters. At the moment I'm only a tiny bit behind, and I should be caught up by this evening, but I'm not really doing this the NaNoWriMo way. It'll be interesting to see if I make it in the end.
  6. Wayne Gray

    Why I Write

    I don't have the best grasp of the mechanics of writing. I am sure I give my poor retired school-teacher editor fits (it'd be worse without Grammarly). Yet, I still feel my work has merit. Emotion and its description is something I love to do. I love making a reader laugh, cry, or shake their head in frustration at a character. Best, is when they empathize with the poor choice the character just made. The reader gets why the decision happened because they're on the same emotional journey, but objectively, they also know it was the wrong one. Characters with flaws, weaknesses, defects, and pain are beautiful gems that roll in sunlight and throw bits of chaos and color everywhere. My favorite character I've written was a brutal man who ended up guarding a boy on the autistic spectrum. He was prickly, dark, socially inept, but he had a soft spot for his charge. I never received more email than when he finally met the man who tore down the walls around his heart. How many times can you write lines like "... and he fell to sleep on the chest of the most dangerous man in the state..."? In the end, I know why I write. It's not about me. It's all about the reader, and that they're giving me the gift of their time. My job is not to waste it.
  7. Yes, OK, insert your own joke here and lets get it over with I'm currently posting an old story of mine (Cal) which I wrote a year or two ago, and each chapter is usually ~4000 words. I've noticed that many stories posted here have shorter chapters than this, which is interesting only because stories I am working on more recently (and yes, they will be posted on GA I promise) are tending to have even longer chapters. So my question is essentially; as a reader, do you care how long a chapter is? Sam
  8. Neil Gaiman once wrote, in response to angry A Song of Ice and Fire fans demanding the next book in the series, 'George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.' Much like getting attacked on Twitter, I think alienating readers is proof that you're doing something right, if that makes any sense. You've pushed someone's buttons, made them think or feel in some way, even if it was negative. I have alienated multiple readers because of artistic choices I have made, and the same artistic choices have kept many more on the edges of their seats. And that's fine. People don't have to read my books, they have every right in the world to put them down and go do something else. Lord knows I have. (Full disclosure: I find Lord of the Rings dreadfully boring and never made it past the third chapter.) Life is too short to read books you don't like. Some people didn't like all the swearing in The Jacob & Marcus Tales and stopped reading. Some people didn't like what I put my characters through in Nemesis. And I'm sure I've lost lots of readers who never said anything, simply put down the book, and moved on. But then some readers become angry. They feel entitled to have the story move in the direction they wanted it to. They claim ownership of someone else's creative labours. I will happily receive constructive criticism of my work. And I love hearing and reading what people think of what I write. I think it's wonderful that we can have this kind of interaction, that you and I can communicate about the things we write. But no one has the right to dictate what I should write, just like I have no right to dictate anyone else's work. And it's all in the delivery; some people are just rude. I firmly believe that art is a dialogue between artist and audience, but the artist still has final say. The thing is, I don't write for you. I write for me, and I share it with you just in case you might like it. That, I think, is what most writers do, certainly most good ones. Often when I write, the story and the characters take me in a completely different direction from what I thought they would, and that creates richer stories for me to write. I will never compromise my artistic vision to make people like me. I write what I want, what the story wants, and if people like it, that's great. If they don't, they can stop reading. But don't yell at me for my story moving in a direction you didn't anticipate. For lack of a better phrase, that's a dick move. So, dear reader, just to clarify: I am not your bitch.
  9. I started writing Nemesis a decade or so ago. While the essence of the story was the same, so many things about it have changed. Back then, Dave's name was Leo. Leo was a far more aggressive, macho type of character than Dave. When I began to rewrite the story from the beginning, a bit less than three years ago, I found that Leo had changed so drastically as to be almost unrecognisable, and his name had to change. Dave just felt right, somehow. Nick has always mirrored me, to a certain extent. When I created him, at fourteen, his big interests were anime and Harry Potter. He wrote poetry and would, in some sort of dramatic gesture, recite the poetry out loud to himself. But the Nick I write now is a songwriter rather than a poet, his great passion is music and his favourite book is, just like mine, American Gods. He's also much better as standing up for himself, quicker and cleverer. I was always terrible at clever comebacks when I was in school, and if It hadn't been for my friends I wouldn't have made it through those years. But Nick doesn't have any friends. It was suddenly clear to me that he needed some more street smarts if he were to survive school without the safety net of friends. So, instead of being the sad loser that everyone picked on, Nick had to become a loner by choice. A non-conformist. Not good at making friends, but getting by without them. In the original story, Leo was very much superior in every respect. However, Dave meets Nick half-way. They're more evenly matched. The minor characters have also evolved. They were, originally, far flatter, and the antagonists didn't really have motivations. That all changed when I took a leaf out of Neil Gaiman's book, literally. Neil says in his introduction to American Gods that when he wasn't sure what was going to happen next, he wrote one of the Coming to America stories (stories about how people ended up taking their gods, superstitions and deities with them to the new world), and when he'd finished, he knew exactly what was supposed to happen in the main story. Whenever I wasn't sure who a minor character was or what their motivations were, I sat down and began penning a short story exploring that character's origins or an episode from his or her life, and when that story was finished, I suddenly knew exactly what that character would do in any given situation. I call the collection of these short stories Hubris. I shall leave you (if anyone is reading this at all) with the rather embarrassing first paragraph of the original Nemesis, exactly as I wrote it ten years ago: There are many small towns in this world, where everyone knows each other and no one's a stranger. If you would ask any of the residents of one particular suburban small-town who the two boys Leo and Nick were, this is the response you'd most likely receive: Whoever it was would get a faraway look in their eyes and chuckle slightly before turning to you and saying, "Don't even get me started on those two!" Because there wasn't a single soul in this town who didn't know the names of the two archenemies Leo Thomas and Nick Davies. Cheerio! Going to sleep now.
  10. I've been meaning to do NaNoWriMo for years, but I never got around to it. November always seems to be a bad month for me. So when I heard about Camp NaNoWriMo this year, I decided this was my chance. So, in April, I finished and rewrote Nemesis. And I won! I'm sort of giddy and very pleased with myself right now.
  11. I finished NaNoWriMo! I’m a winner! I feel really happy and accomplished and proud of myself and very happy. Look, I got a certificate and everything! Of course, this doesn’t mean that the novel is finished. Far from it. I’ve mostly finished all the chapters, and mostly done it the way I planned. But this is just a rough draft. Currently, the sequel to Nemesis (the proper title of which will be decided at a later date) is a collection of loose scenes, it feels like. That’s not to say that there isn’t an ongoing story arc and red thread, but It feels very episodic, and there are bits missing to tie the story together. It’s also full of errors (not so much the spelling and grammar kind as the continuity kind), and it’s very bare bones; I’ve written dialogue and the bare minimum of necessary description, and the language is simple and direct. Now comes the bit I like. Now comes the edit. I will read through everything that I’ve written, changing things as I go, fixing everything that doesn’t make sense, adding flourish to the language and detail to the settings, address the needs of characters who were overlooked (Chas needs more lines; Chas is funny). In the coming months, I’ll likely read through this thing a dozen times before I deem it worthy to even be seen by a beta reader. A lot of authors hate the edit. I love it. Just writing was very stressful to me (and I didn’t quite manage to do it; I kept going back, adding bits and taking bits out of what I’d already written), it isn’t the way I usually work. I always edit while I write. Now I get to take this lumpy, crippled piece of fiction and polish it and turn it into art. This is the bit that I enjoy the most. This is the part of writing that I truly love. This is the fun part.
  12. When you've been depressed for a while, and you've found writing really hard, getting back into it can be a bit of a challenge. I'm feeling a lot better now. Going to school to study sound engineering this autumn, and it feels like my life is back on some kind of track. But the writing is still difficult. The problem is that I have lots of ideas, and I want to get back to writing properly, I really do. But I'm mostly motivated to work on my new ideas. So I sit down thinking, 'I'm gonna write now,' and open up one of the new, unpublished ones (my new viking story, my detective novel, the Pride & Prejudice pastiche). But then I remember that I should be working on my unfinished novels, Lavender & Gold or Nemesis 2, and so I open those and read through what I've written and get to the point where I've got more to write... and then stop, cause I don't feel motivated to write those things, I just want to write the new things. It's like my attention span is shot. And I have readers waiting for L&G and Nemesis, and I don't know what to do. So, I end up playing Skyrim instead. I know all I have to do to finish L&G and Nemesis 2 is just sit my arse down and start writing, but it's like when I try my fingers just won't move, and my mind wanders to Detective Inspector Templeton, or Trym the viking, or Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. And nothing at all gets done. I have to find some way around this. I really, really do.
  13. I'm doing it again! November is almost here, and I will be participating in NaNoWriMo once more. Last year, I won with Nemesis 2 (which, as many of you are aware, still isn't quite finished; I'm in the editing and rewriting stage and totally stuck, but I'm sure it'll come). This year, I will be working on the detective novel I've been planning for some months now. I'm really excited for it, which is awesome, as I don't get really excited about things very often these days. Now, it just so happens that NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit that, in addition to running and maintaining a website, also funds creative writing programmes for, in their own words, 'nearly 500,000 kids and adults in approximately 200 countries, 2,000 classrooms, 650 libraries, and 600 NaNoWriMo regions every year.' They provide tools for teachers, librarians and community leaders to run writing and reading programmes to promote literacy and creativity, they use their vast network to get talented and famous writers to write pep-talks and post encouragement for participants, and they inspire aspiring writers around the world to pick up their pens, notebooks and/or laptops and write. I would donate all of my money towards this fantastic cause. Promoting creativity is a recipe for peace and prosperity, and if NaNoWriMo keeps growing they'll be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize any year now. Unfortunately, I have rent and bills and tuition fees that need paying, and I'm incapable of studying and working at the same time, so my funds are limited. Which is why I've set up a NaNoWriMo fundraiser. NaNoWriMo allows their participants to create fundraisers to ask friends, family and random strangers on the Internet to donate to NaNoWriMo on their behalf, kind of like a sponsorship, all in the name of motivation. None of this money goes to me. I don't get anything out of this except good feels and maybe some freebies if I raise enough. And both good feels and freebies are pretty motivating things. So, this is where you guys come in. If you'd like to join me in helping NaNoWriMo to continue to be awesome, please visit my fundraising page. There's some information on there about the programme, but if you'd like to know more about how the money is spent and where it comes from, you can do so here. And, if you'd rather make a personal donation and maybe get some freebies of your own, you can donate directly here. As they put it themselves, by donating 'You not only support people’s novel writing dreams, you help transform people into creators who see new possibilities in the world—and act on them. You spark a creative revolution.' And, hey, who doesn't love a revolution? Thank you for reading!
  14. Have you ever completed a story that you were truly proud of writing, that got a standing ovation from your readers and fans, and became one of the shining gems in your body of work? If so, let me add to the giant round of applause and congratulate you on creating something truly special for everyone to absorb and keep close to their hearts for years to come. It's not an easy task, believe me. So take pride in the moment. Sometimes the success of something that you've previously written, along with the rabid cravings of fans wishing that they had more to read, can lead you to a strong desire to continue on with the story that your muse once gave birth to. I mean, you know these characters like the back of your hand, right? You've lived with them long enough to build an entire world around their personal story and people reacted favorably to them. Creating another story with these same characters would be like revisiting an old friend, right? Can't go wrong with the idea of jumping back into the story to give the people more of what they want! Well…that's not always the case. There are some things that you've got to think about before returning to a story that has already been told. Sure, you have some advantages in place...but there are also some pitfalls involved. No matter how well a story does, no matter how beloved the characters are, we all have to be able to ask ourselves..."Does anything really need to be added to this?" And we have to be able to give ourselves an open and honest answer. Because, truth be told, if you add to a story that doesn't need adding to...not only can it come off as weak without depending on the original text...but it can actually end up ruining the power and the impact of its predecessor in a way where both get dragged down into the mud. Obviously, we don't want that. So, today we're going to talk about sequels, prequels, and spinoffs! Something I definitely have dabbled in enough times to figure out some of the flaws and fortunes in the process! Hehehe! Because 'trial and error' ROCKS! Let's start by thinking about what these three expansions really mean in terms of your original story. When writing one of these extra ideas on your original project, it's important to keep in mind that you are trying to give the reader something NEW. Perhaps even unexpected. Sure, you want it to be familiar enough to draw them back into the world that they cherished so much from the original, but this should be a new angle, a new perspective...it provides information that could not have been provided in the first story. The last thing that you want to do is go back and repeat old information that the audience could have easily gotten in the first story without any more description needed. Otherwise, you're just telling the exact same story over again. The problem with that is the readers already know how the story ends. One of the big mistakes that many Star Wars fans site for the release of "Solo" in theaters dealt with that exact concept. No matter how dangerous the mission, or how risky the mission...nothing is going to happen to Han Solo or Chewbacca, because they obviously show up in later chapters. So putting them in mortal danger during a prequel kind of loses its effect. It goes from 'Can they get out of this???' to the much more mild question of, "What do they do to triumph and come out clean on the other side?" It's not a boring or unimportant question...but it doesn't have the same punch. These are the things that we, as writers, need to think about beforehand. The elements of each idea are slightly different from one another, so let's go into the difference between a sequel, a prequel, and a spinoff, in terms of the stories that you've written so far. I've done all three, and I've enjoyed them immensely, but I still have much to learn. Let me split them up and tell you what I've discovered so far... Sequels The very first question that a writer should ask themselves before attempting a sequel to a story that they've previously completed should be, "What is it about this story that was left unsaid?" When you finished your tale and wrapped it all up in a neat and tidy manner...what is it that is motivating you to keep going? It can't just be the readers asking for more. I mean, that's extremely flattering and all...but if you said everything that you had to say with your first story, and have nowhere else to go...then why write a sequel? I totally understand that telling a story and giving it that 'happily ever after' ending is sweet, but it doesn't often work like that in real life. Hehehe, happily ever after? That's a pretty optimistic stance to take on the characters that you've built through multiple chapters of struggle and strife and had to fight to be together at all. I'm sure that they had a few other problems and conflicts in the future, some significant, some...not so much. But a life free of drama and obstacles from that point forward, in my opinion, is not only unrealistic, but it would be downright boring after a while. Hehehe! However, if you are looking to add a new chapter in your characters' lives and continue the story...there are some questions that need to be addressed in the planning stages. What's changed since the end of the last story? How have the characters grown since their happy or unhappy ending? And how will that affect their decisions in the future? Is the threat of new challenges in this relationship enough to carry an entire story? What will the impact be on the readers to follow these characters on their next big adventure? And will that impact be significant enough to tell that story and update your readers on what they're doing since the last story ended? If you're iffy on that last question, I suggest you abort that plan immediately and go back to the drawing board. Don't retell the same story you did before. If you said what needed to be said, no matter how long or how short the story was, don't be tempted into continuing it unless you feel it's really necessary. Like I said, you might just end up sapping strength away from your first story by doing so. Have you guys seen the new trailer for the "Halloween" movie reboot recently? Hehehe! Perfect example! It's basically saying, "Let's pretend that we had the original 1978 "Halloween" movie, and everything that took place after that NEVER happened! LOL! If that's not the definition of a true sequel, then I don't know what is! I have one or two sequels in the works at the moment, and I am taking everything that I've written here in this topic into account. Believe me. I've put a lot of thought into it, and I want to make sure that I do it right. One of those stories is a hidden secret for now! But, I will tell you that a sequel for the story "Gone From Daylight: Nightfall" has been in the works for quite some time now. It was a story that I have wanted to continue since the original was finished, and it takes place a number of years after the first one. "GFD: Nightfall" is on the site and the "Blood Bank" for free, but the ebook version has been redone from scratch, and it is a MUCH better version of the story that I was trying to tell, in my opinion! Consider that the 'director's cut'! Feel free to check it out when you get a chance, and look for an explosive sequel in the near future, with much higher stakes and a different dynamic that I think will enhance the characters and the storyline as a whole! Coming soon! Prequels Now, with prequels...you have to ask yourself some of the same questions as you do with sequels...but with a few slight changes in your perspective of it all. The most important, of course, being...'what story is it that I need to tell that couldn't have been (or hasn't been) explained in the original text?' If you're writing a prequel, then it is assumed that there are secrets and revelations that can explain and further demonstrate the thoughts and future actions of your main characters. The cool part about writing a prequel is that you get a chance to look at your original story, choose certain moments or character behaviors, and then go back in time to explain why those things took place, or why a character feels a certain way about themselves or why they reacted a certain way to a certain situation. It gives you the chance to say why a certain trinket might have some significance to your main character. Or why they have a particular phobia, or why a few situations might trigger a nasty response from them. Prequels give you an opportunity to go back and look at those first few dominoes that you set up before your main character became who they are. It can be a lot of fun! Especially when you get to draw from your original story and look at the questions and speculations that other readers had concerning the writing. Again, the goal is to answer questions without an answer. Otherwise, there's no reason to write it. I've written a few prequels on the Shack, and they have always been projects that I made sure were necessary and enjoyable, as well as informative, adding another level of insight into what was previously going on with the characters that my readers had come to know and love. Stories like "Ryan's Heart" repackages the very first chapter of "New Kid In School", but from Ryan's point of view. Not only that, but it reaches back to events that happened before meeting his future sweetheart, Randy, for the first time. And I even got to play around with a few special cameos that fans of the original weren't expecting. Hehehe, which is also fun. But that's the whole point! Can you give your readers something new and involve them on a deeper level with a prequel? If not...don't write it. I know that it's fun to rewind the clock and add a bit more information, but it can backfire on you if you're not careful. You can end up spoiling the untold motivations of a character that was better off being 'mysterious'. Or you can end up giving away secrets to people who haven't read the original text yet. Which is why, even though I don't really give any big secrets away in the "Gone From Daylight" prequel, "Taryn's Song"...I always advise everyone to read "GFD" first! These are things to think about before you begin, and if you still think your characters can benefit with a bit of detailed backstory, then go for it! Again, just make sure that you have a legitimate reason for diving into the background of your original story. If you didn't feel the need to do so the first time...why do it now? You can give backstory on your characters in a few paragraphs if you feel it's important to the telling of your story. That can be done in the original. Only tackle a prequel if there are multiple unanswered questions about the actual origin of the characters that you're focusing on. Questions that need an entire story to explain and bring to light for your audience. If the material seems thin? Don't do it. Let your original stand on its own merit. I think a lot of stories work better that way. Spinoffs Now, as most of you guys know...I'm an 80's kid! Hehehe, I grew up with comic books, and those comics taught me everything that I know about storylines, character arcs, plot twists, triumph and tragedy, etc. I can't tell you how AWESOME it is to see those same comic book characters being brought to life in the movies, and watching those movies make billions of dollars at the box office every year! Because of that, crossovers and cinematic universes are now seen as the Holy Grail of blockbuster movies these days. But stories have always done that in the past, not just in comic books. There's an isolated story that may exist in one book, surrounding a few characters and their journey through life...but there's still a whole world out there beyond that. The idea behind an effective spinoff is taking the opportunity to tell your readers what was happening outside of your original story. You may be focused on one or two characters in the main story, but what else was happening at the same time? If your main character falls in love and gets obsessed with his new boyfriend...what is going on in his best friend's life? How does HE see this new relationship? What does the character's mother or father think? Maybe he has a brother or sister. How do things look from their perspective? The world doesn't revolve around one or two people in a single story. If you want to do a spinoff, then it's important to make sure that you have strong, three dimensional, characters that can carry that spinoff on their own, and that their perspective is a welcome change to what readers can easily get from the original story. Nearly everything that I've written for the "GFD: Blood Bank" has been a spinoff that, in some small way, builds upon the world of vampires that exists in the original story. This is the peek behind the scenes for readers who enjoy the main series. This is what is going on before, after, and during, the story being told. It's assumed that this is all information that will be alluded to or mentioned later, and will have some impact on the main story. Spinoffs can be fun, as they let you explore different characters and flesh them out individually, while still having them be a part of the main project. I truly enjoy doing that. But it takes time. And you have to be sure that your focus is placed on a character that your readers want to know more about. One that is interesting enough to inspire readers to follow them on a journey of their own. Anyway, either of these three exercises can be an enlightening experience, for both the writer and the readers alike. Just make sure that it's necessary. Don't just do it for the sake of doing it. Provide another level of effort, some new revelations, and maybe even a few big plot twists that further enhance the appeal of the original story. It's a lot of fun...just be careful. You've got a 50/50 chance of making a great addition to an already popular story, or possibly dulling the applause you got for a project that might have been better off being left alone. I hope this helps out and gets you guys thinking of new ideas for your own projects! Take care! And I'll see ya next weekend!
  15. MacGreg

    Cellar Door

    In phonaesthetics, the English compound noun cellar door has been cited as an example of a word or phrase which is beautiful purely in terms of its sound, without regard for its meaning. It has been variously presented either as merely one beautiful instance of many, or as the most beautiful in the English language.[1] In a 1955 lecture, J.R.R. Tolkien stated that “Most English-speaking people ... will admit that cellar door is 'beautiful', especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful.” It’s been suggested that Edgar Allen Poe chose the word ‘Nevermore’ for the refrain of The Raven because of its similarity to the euphony of 'cellar door.' I recall that even Drew Barrymore’s character in the film Donnie Darko makes reference to it when asked why she's written it on the chalkboard: “This famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that cellar door is the most beautiful.” As early as 1903 - and possibly its point of origin - a Shakespeare scholar, Cyrus Lauron Hooper, wrote in his novel Gee-Boy: "He was laughed at by a friend, but logic was his as well as sentiment; an Italian savant maintained that the most beautiful combination of English sounds was cellar-door..." I’m not a linguist, but language fascinates me, and certain words energize me purely for how they sound when spoken: · Fuselage · Metamorphosis · Sanguine . Disposition · Asphyxiation · Paprika (the list could go on) Cellar door belongs on the list. I understand its resonance. As a writer, I never just write a sequence of events to move the plot forward. I intentionally choose to arrange words that create flow, even if that means stepping outside of some standard grammar rules (a reason I enjoy writing poetry, too) and even if it's just to please my own ears. Are there certain words that do this for you? Roll off the tongue nicely; cause an emotional response simply for how they sound when spoken? I'm curious to “hear” yours. [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellar_door
  16. vEE

    Feels Like The First Time

    Wow, this is joyously freaky! I'm long-in-the-tooth, but only recently committed to writing full-time, all the time (a Coming Out of sorts for me). I suppose I finally got tired of keeping my head down, preaching that old mantra, "you have to do what you have to do, to do what you want to do" (paraphrase of St Augustine). I think it's fitting thus, to start off with immortal words that shook me out of space, into my true and rightful place: "It's better to physically force yourself to write 1000s of words, which may be shit, than to not write anything, and nurse vague and anxious thoughts about wanting to write something amazing." Shon Faye, 2017. Here's to the wordsmiths! Blessed be! .vEE
  17. Words are amazing aren't they? Are we even aware of how much they can affect other people? The casual use of a nickname. A kind “Hello” when you’re having a bad day. A softly muttered “Bite me,” when someone crosses you, or you cross someone else! Words we use to make light of a situation; or that attempt to pretty something up, make a concept or idea less gritty, better for polite company. Yes, words are powerful. Think of a parent with a child. A sharply spoken “STOP” can avert danger, cause the child to not touch that hot stove, or dash into the street. “I love you,” can be the sweetest thing you ever heard! “I don’t want to see you anymore,” can be the harshest; or could cause a sense of relief to wash over you. If someone tells you that something was difficult the words that you choose to bring comfort, or support, may sound like you are dismissing their pain or the effort that it took to get thru or past this thing. It can have the effect of invalidating that person’s experience. Think about that nickname for the guy you work with, for that friend of yours, whether you’ve known them for 8 years, 8 months, or 8 weeks. What does it mean to them? That you have christened them with your own appellation, something that only you call them, be it just between the two of you, or out where the world can hear. Or maybe a nickname that confers some kind of acceptance into a group. Maybe you have taken it upon yourself to shorten their name, Richard to Rich, or Dick, Jonathan to Jon, Victoria to Vicky. Does that person even like that you have done this? Does he or she grudgingly accept that you have done this, would they rather you didn’t? Was it the name that an old nemesis used as a form of torture or derision? Does this nickname bring this person joy? Does it makes him or her feel special? Make them a little giddy that you did this for them? Words can be truthful or they can be lies. They can help you make wants and needs understood, they can be used to baffle or enlighten. Think about the proverbial used car salesman, that fast talking shyster, trying to make that old clunker sound like a classic driven by a sweet little old lady to the market, the church, and home. A legal eagle’s contract written with lots of loopholes, the language archaic and full of jargon. Or those little quotes from someone you admire. A former president, or first lady. A spiritual leader you admire perhaps. A book or an essay that explains that thing you've always wondered about. They can tell you why the caged bird sings, or take you far away chasing a mysterious white whale. They can transport you to fantastical mythical places, or the corner store. I believe that words are one of the most powerful tools in all of humanity. Just look at what they do. They can bring comfort, joy, peace. Or they can wound, deeply, fatally even. Bring about war and division, foster hate and distrust. Because of the inherent power of words, we need to be mindful of them. Words are forever. Yes, even those spoken, not written, as they will be passed down by word of mouth to become tomorrow’s folk tales, and legends. So before you call that new guy in the office Jon ask, before you call the short cashier at the market “The Garden Gnome,” stop and think about the power behind what is about to come out of your mouth. When you finish a poem, chapter, or story, reflect on the power in what you just read. MacGreg Sir wrote about just that in His poem “Taste Your Words Before You Spit Them Out” What is the point of communicating with someone If your intentions are meant to maim? Taste your words before you spit them out. Consider the impact of their flavor As they roll across your tongue. For once expelled, they cannot be retracted. Consider this: Will what you are about to say produce acidity? Or lay a foundation for common ground? So consider the power of words, your words. With many thanks to @MacGreg Sir for allowing me to use part of His poem. Please look here for the complete poem, and here for more. And as always to tim @Mikiesboy for his never-ending love and support.
  18. Fascinating article about an author rewriting her first book after a barrage of negative Tweets. The over-the-top reactions by some of her fans don't surprise me. An idiot on GA lambasted me when I had the chutzpah to call out an author he liked. He claimed she was trying. Well, if she was trying then she would have appreciated my telling her what she wrote was crap. She did. And she earned my respect by acknowledging she didn't have any knowledge of what she was writing about and asking for help. I'm a firm believer in honesty when reviewing. There are a handful of GA authors I don't bother with because they seem to whine whenever anyone says anything about their work that isn't absolute praise. Keira Drake seems to be the type to pay attention to what readers say even if it's not laudatory. Unless as authors we're willing to listen to what others find wrong with our work, we'll never improve. Maybe I'm weird, but I'd rather hear how something I wrote doesn't make sense so I can improve. So, what do y'all think? http://www.vulture.com/2018/02/keira-drake-the-continent.html
  19. Last week was pure hell. Anyone who has ever lost a beloved furbaby you have my sincerest condolences. I lost my little girl last Tuesday and I miss her terribly. She was over 18, had end stage kidney disease, and a couple new health items that cropped up. We did all we could to save her, but it was too late. She awaits us over Rainbow Bridge now. Luckily, I have a tuxedo kitty too and he is not quite 14 yet. Diabetic, but in good health otherwise. He's been my love and light. He loves to cuddle and purr as soon as I touch him. Cats are definitely one of the three greatest loves of my world. After such a loss, I took a few days to recoup and regroup and cope with how quiet the house is, and it feels emptier without my six-lb calico always vying for attention. I luckily, found solace in writing again. Anyone who's a regular sees that I've been posting a LOT more and trying really to get involved. I have no day job, and hubby works a lot, so it's just me and tux baby all day. My love for words, men in love (or falling) and trying to be social are winning out over the choice to be a hermit or grieve forever. I have dealt with the fact girl kitty is gone, but I still kiss her urn and picture every morning and night. She's never really gone...just waiting.
  20. Hi Can there be a single place to track/organise/link to/or otherwise collate the current (structured) opportunities for engagement with GA? For example, today, there’s (at least) the Halloween writing competition open for judging, the 2018 novella contest, and the anthology theme voting all open, but it’s not ‘easy’ to know that, or find them all. Of course you can use the search box, but then, you’d have to already know they existed in order to search for them, and even then, it’s not massively intuitive to get to the ‘right’ post. I’m sure that all of these things have appeared on the front page previously, but quite understandably, they also ‘fall off’ relatively quickly and before the respective events are over. Sam Edit: I realise that every such new feature requires time and effort to implement, and for something like this, ongoing effort to maintain. I think I’m a relatively engaged user of GA, and I’d happily volunteer some time if I can help.
  21. Multimedia writing. I have been thinking about the opportunity offered by putting the written word in electronic format on our screens. It seems to me that website publishers have ignored the possibilities to enhance the printed book in its electronic format, content with just an electronic version of a printed book. A number of authors like to include links to enhance the reading experience, and also images. Publishing websites like Nifty and WordPress allow for this and the links can be integrated within the story. This, however, is very limited and not at all inspiring or taking the reading experience to a new dimension. Why has no one thought outside the box, to embed links into the written text. So, for example, a character might switch on the radio and a song is playing - there could be a link for the reader to that music. But what I am talking about is embedding the music. As you read the words, the music comes on and plays. Images might be inserted into text in a similar fashion. Example, "as they were looking through the family album, one picture of him at 14 years old, stood out..." The photo might appear in the top right corner of the screen. I have thought about the visually impaired and those using text reading software. In that case an option would be read in the text much as an audio description of a TV programme. For the hard of hearing the same would apply to the embedded music. There would always be an option to switch off multimedia, but having read a number of stories with links, I have found these to add a lot to the story. Embedding those links is really taking advantage of modern technology. A simple electronic version of the printed word seems to offer nothing much in terms of possible artistic development. I know it would not be easy, simply reading the comments on here about stories with images and links not working, tells me that. I am sure it is perfectly feasible though, and someone might just make a pretty sum out of developing this, because no one has done it yet, and it might lead to a new genre of books - multimedia books.
  22. I saw this floating around social media today and thought it would be a humorous exercise for GA authors to participate in. http://www.boredpanda.com/and-murders-began-first-line-book/?page_numb=1 "The opening line of a book is extremely important, as it has to be intriguing and powerful enough to capture the reader's imagination. Then, the second line has to intensify the intrigue. Coming up with these lines can be pretty difficult, yet one writer came up with a second line that would almost always heighten the intrigue to its peak, and the Internet is going crazy. "And then the murders began" - that's the clever line Marc Laidlaw came up with. Add it to almost any opening line and you've got yourself a hell of an intriguing book opening." So here's the exercise for you: In the comments, write the first sentence of one of your GA stories or poems, followed by the second line of "And then the murders began." I'll start with my own contribution, from 'Backstage Tryst': "I rubbed nervous palms across my denim-covered thighs, trying once more to exhale the breath which remained stuck in my throat, unable to escape. And then the murders began." I look forward to seeing yours!
  23. Today I want to talk about something which mostly everyone thinks doesn't affect me, and much of the time, I am lucky, and I pass by writer's block like a freight train running on a different track while I sit in comfort and tap away on something which more resembles the shinkansen. But to say I have never felt that dread of not starting right, or not finishing, would be a terrible lie. I'm good at lying, but I don't want to lie to you. Let's talk about The Last Page, Final Chapters, The End, and how hard it is to say goodbye. I'm sitting in front of a story right now, 24,000 words of something which sledge-hammered me around the skull two weeks ago (yes, sorry, I did write all that in 12 days with breaks for Christmas), but which I do not want to finish. Not just because it was supposed be for the spring anthology and is going to be too long to qualify, but because I still don't feel like I know these characters well enough to let them go. But I know I'll have to. Finishing is the worst feeling, or one of the worst feelings, I have ever known. Letting go of people you have shared your brain with, your life with, is tough. My characters talk to me in the shower, while I’m trying to eat dinner and converse with my family, hang around while I sleep and insinuate themselves into my life. They latch on, bug me when I'm supposed to be teaching, or marking, or walking the dog, and letting them go means waving goodbye to people who have become great friends. Even if they've only been with me for a little while, it's still hard. The First Page, In The Beginning, Once Upon A Time, and how to get to know someone. Starting can be as hard as finishing, and I doubt I need to explain to any other writer out there, the number of files I have, a thousand words here, four thousand words there, of things which just never got off the ground. Worse still are the ideas which roll around in the mind, sometimes for years, but every time you go to apply them to paper, they drift away, as insubstantial as smoke, the details smearing like warm paint in the bright sun. I have a few things I want to start at the moment, but I can't, because I don't know where to start, and something else is holding my back from that first blank page. Guilt. Guilt because I have left characters and readers hanging, suspended in mid air, waiting for resolution or continuation, some I have left waiting to fall in love. And that must be painful. I feel bad for them, but sometimes trying to dive back in where you left off is worse. You can't grab the thread, the style has changed, and what seemed easy and natural before is now stilted and difficult. The best intentions are all well and good, but coming back is hard. So to those readers and those characters, I am sorry. But I'll try. You are not abandoned, and I am on my way. I will do my best to bring you home.
  24. A lot has been said about how sex sells. There’s no doubt about that; sex and sexuality are hugely important to many marketing and advertising campaigns, and the fact that companies continue to experience commercial success after using sex as a marketing tool proves how well sex sells. But, I’m not a marketer, or an advertising executive. I’m just a guy who writes young adult novels. Which leads me to wonder how much sex is too much sex for a novel, or even a series of novels. We’re all taught to hide sex in our writing, that if we really must have our characters be put in sexual situations then they must be off-screen, to be imagined by the reader instead of explained and detailed. All of this is done in fear of disturbing potential readers, or especially potential publishers. This moral paranoia extends to television and films, though not to the same degree. You see people on tv or the movies pre and post-coitus. Sometimes, you even see the sexual act in some clinical fashion. Maybe we’re going about this the wrong way, as authors. I try to be a realist in my writing. I write about young adults who are on journeys of self-discovery, particularly relating to sexual orientation. They fall in love, and they have all the same urges that we had when we were young adults. We had sex. We didn’t let sex consume our lives; it was present, to be sure, but it didn’t dominate our existences. It was one thing among many other things that we did. I like to think that my writing is the same. Yes, there’s sex in my novels. Boys kiss boys. Sometimes they stop, sometimes they don’t. They’re learning how to control themselves and figuring out how to satisfy those urges without causing problems in the rest of their lives. But, they have other things going on in their lives that are much more important. I think that part of the equation is incredibly important, that sex not become the defining quality of the novel or the character. Frankly, the people who read my novels, and who read your novels, and who read anyone else’s novels? They all have sex.We’re deluding ourselves as an industry if we think our readers don’t know what’s going on when we fade the scene to black. Let’s be realistic with our writing. Write scenes the way that feels natural, not the way you think it needs to be censored in order to survive a publisher’s wrath. In an industry filled with things that defy reality, it will make your writing feel that much more connected to the lives of your readers. Cross-posted from https://authorhunterthomson.wordpress.com (Check out my blog/twitter/facebook page in my profile!)
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