Tag Archives: fiction

What I’ve Learned While Not Writing

It’s no secret I’ve had little luck with writing lately. I’m not going to repeat the reasons here. But I have learned a few things while I haven’t been writing much.

Stories keep piling up.

I keep thinking about different story ideas. And they don’t stop. They’re in my mind, and they keep multiplying.

Taking other creative avenues.

I’m still remaining creative. My creativity has moved largely to YouTube. With my new science channel, I’ve been working a lot more on the editing and trying to make it look better.

I’m not reading more.

I’m writing less, but I’m not reading more. My reading seems to suffer when I don’t write. Why would that be?

Being busy doesn’t help.

I’ve been busy in many ways. This really doesn’t help my writing. If my days were simpler, I’d be able to write a lot more. But life isn’t simple.

While I may not be writing much, I’m still thinking about the books I want to write. And I want to write many.

Authors Answer 102 – Graphic Literature

Comic books and graphic novels are very popular. Both children and adults read them. There are comics for children, comics and graphic novel for adults. Although they are filled with pictures, they encourage people to read. But are they literature?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 102 – Do you consider comic books and graphic novels to be legitimate forms of literature?

Linda G. Hill

I’ve never actually read one, but why not?

Elizabeth Rhodes

Yes. They are legitimate storytelling mediums with their own styles. The presence of illustration does not change this. Comics have a history of not being taken seriously, but I don’t think anyone who still holds on to this view has taken a look at a comic or graphic novel from recent times. The mediums have come a long way.

D. T. Nova

Graphic novels, absolutely so.

There’s more of a continuum than a sharp definition of distinct categories, so whether most comics are “literature” has at least as much to do with definitions as it does with “legitimacy”.

Paul B. Spence

Literature? I suppose. I think they are legitimate ways to tell stories, but then so are video games and movies. Not sure I’d call any of them literature…

Gregory S. Close

Yes, but like any medium, some of it is better than others.  My fatigue with comic books and graphic novels began in my teen years, mostly around the depiction of women.  While there certainly are great female comic book characters, in general they are treated as Big Boobs in Spandex and it’s just so objectifying.  I noticed it more once I had daughters and realized how the female heroes were portrayed compared to their male counterparts.  I think changes are happening, but slowly, and the industry needs to do more with its female heroes (maybe starting with clothing them more, so that their appeal is based on character and not sex appeal).

Eric Wood

I do. I think they tell a story through image dialogue. It’s not a genre I ever got into, but I do believe they count as literature.

C E Aylett

I’m afraid I don’t consider them at all. They just don’t interest me. I don’t read them – I’m still unsure as to whether graphic refers to pictures or porn! LOL.

However, I don’t like using terms such as ‘legitimate’ when it comes to areas like this. It smacks of elitism, that one particular group can make a judgement call on behalf of the rest of us in accordance to rules they made up towards their specific tastes.

What we’re really talking about is the term ‘literature’ to mean a form of written art. (Technically, all texts that form and communicate ideas are literature!)

Graphic literature is so hybrid I don’t think you can make a judgement in such direct terms. The rules that apply to visual art or literary art cannot be applied to both in the same way. Graphic literature is an art all of its own and any ‘legitimacy’ should be one form of it ranked against another in the same form. A bit like commercial vs literary novels.

At a push, I guess I would compare graphic literature more in line with film. So, is script writing considered a ‘legitimate’ form of literature?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Absolutely, yes. They are obviously a very different form of literature, being that the vast majority of the written words are dialogue, with the rest of the necessary information being portrayed by the imagery, but literature none-the-less.

Comics and graphic novels aim to do exactly the same thing that traditional novels do: tell a story. And to be quite honest, I’ve read some comics and graphic novels that accomplished that goal much more successfully than some traditional novels I’ve read.

Also, my personal opinion is that reading is a good thing regardless of the exact specifics of the material, so if someone wants to spend their time reading comics…go for it! It’s all literacy!

Beth Aman

They are definitely valid forms of story-telling.  Literature?  Who cares about literature.  If you have a story to tell, tell it in the best way you can.  If that’s a comic book or graphic novel, then there you go.

Jean Davis

I suppose so. Can’t say that I’m a big fan of either, but I have enjoyed one or the other from time to time. If pictures help get people reading, I’m not going to debate about the legitimacy.

H. Anthe Davis

About half of my recorded Goodreads entries are graphic novels or manga, so I absolutely consider them literature.  Setting aside such materials as the X-Men or the Justice League, which most people think of when the idea of comic books crops up, there’s the Sandman series — which won a literary award that was subsequently clarified to be not-for-comic-books — and such materials as Persepolis, Maus and Zahra’s Paradise, which tackle serious memoir- and literary issues that just happen to be best shown through illustration.  Sure, there are plenty of throwaway superhero stories in the genre — but 90% of every genre is throwaway crap.  Comics’ throwaway crap is just more visible because the visuals make them easier to translate to the screen, and the somewhat disjointed stories are more easily massaged into screenplays to support whatever the movie studios want.  Just like it’s hard to find literary mysteries under the pile of James Pattersons, it can be hard to find literary comics under the pile of Avengers and Batman — but they exist.

Jay Dee Archer

In general, I’ll say yes. Maybe my definition of literature is a bit broad, though. I consider it any form of print that use words to convey a story or a message, just as long as it isn’t just a scrap of paper. It should be a book, at least. Even short ones. But if I were to narrow my definition down to books that are written to tell a great story rather than to simply entertain, then it depends. There are a lot of comics that merely entertain and don’t even tell a story. Garfield, for example, although I love it, probably wouldn’t be considered literature. However, something like Sandman would be considered literature.

How about you?

Do you think comic books and graphic novels are literature? Let us know in the comments below.

Top Ten Time Periods in Historic Novels I Want to Read

I love to experience different cultures through books. Seeing what life is like in different countries is very interesting. However, while we can experience those easily in modern times, it’s much more difficult to experience times from the distant past. Here are the time periods (and places) I’d like to visit through fiction:

  1. Ancient Greece, more than 2000 years ago
  2. Ancient Rome, more than 2000 years ago
  3. Ancient Japan, around 1000 years ago
  4. Mayan civilisation
  5. Incan civilisation, pre-Columbus
  6. Norway, around 1000 years ago
  7. Scotland, more than 1000 years ago
  8. Australia, before European colonisation
  9. North American plains, before European colonisation
  10. Mesopotamia

What are some time periods and civilisations would you like to read about in fiction? Let me know in the comments below.

What Would You Ask an Author?

Authors Answer has been going strong for eighty-three weeks now without a single week off. That’s eighty-three questions. By the end of this month, we’ll be at eighty-six. Not so far from a hundred!

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveBut now is your chance to ask the authors some questions. If you could ask an author any question, what would it be? This is not for a specific author, but for authors in general. Keep in mind that the simple, obvious questions have already been asked. Think of something unique and creative. You can ask your question (or questions) in the comments below, and you’ll see the answers starting after June. I will also be linking back to your blog, if you have one.

So, what are you waiting for? Ask some questions!

Ariadne Stories from A to Z

Last year, I participated in the A to Z Challenge, and for that challenge, I wrote a very brief story about a person who lived on Ariadne for each letter of the alphabet. It grew into something bigger than I imagined it would. It became an actual story and sets up the first novel a bit. This year, I didn’t participate because of our move to Canada. However, in honour of the challenge, here is last year’s challenge, all available in one post with links to each part. Read it all if you like. Each part will be very quick to read. Enjoy!

I hope you stuck with the entire story. I mostly just skimmed over some of the parts, and realised that I really need to read it again. Get my mind back into Ariadne and the characters so I can continue to write Journey to Ariadne and the first novel.

Please leave comments below, or you can leave comments on the story posts. I’d love to hear your impressions.

Authors Answer 77 – Naming Characters

Names are important, especially in fiction. They need to be memorable. They need to stand out. They shouldn’t be boring or forgettable. But it’s not the easiest thing to do. Some names are overused, some names sound cheesy. What’s the best way to choose a name?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 77 – How do you choose character names?

Paul B. Spence

For main characters, they are just there when I create the concept. For others, I glance through name books and pick combinations that I like. Sometimes I work the name of an author from my bookshelf into secondary characters’ names.

Gregory S. Close

A few names come unbidden through the ether and pop into my brain.  Other names have been carefully sourced and researched based on some imagined criteria I’ve come up with – based on Celtic or Native American roots etc.  Baby name websites can be handy, especially if they provide meanings and allow you to sort by derivation.

And… Some names come from stereo components.

Allen Tiffany

Mostly they just come to me. The main characters, anyway. I’ve been told I should pick names with subtle meaning and clever references, which I do for the secondary characters. But the MCs always just show up with their names already figured out. When I do think about names, I often conclude I think about it too much and make a hash out of it.

Linda G. Hill

I have the hardest time with character names! Once in a while they just come to me and I know beyond a doubt that I’ve plucked the character, name and all, from the universe. But most of the time I drive myself nuts with the decision.

D. T. Nova

I use a combination of the name’s meaning, its sound, and other connotations it may have from other uses.

I also sometimes use theme naming for characters associated with each other.

Jean Davis

I’m really exact about character names. I spend hours researching meanings until I find just the right one. And no, not really. Names either come to me in the moment or I mash keys until one happens. I’ve also been known to turn to someone and say, “Give me a name” and there it is.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

For me it actually depends on the individual stories. If I’m writing a drabble or a little flash fiction piece I’ll usually only use first names, and I’ll snatch those names at random from the long list of people I’ve met or worked with. I honestly won’t think about it too much; I’ll just pick the first name I think of that sounds okay.

With “Nowhere to Hide”, however, I was a lot pickier about my character names. Since it was my first horror novel, and I had every intention of it being published, I wanted to use the opportunity to pay homage to other horror names who have influenced me. My main character, for example, is Nancy King. “Nancy” is for the main character from the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie, and “King” is for, of course, Mr Stephen King.

With “The Other World” it was a much sillier process that brought my characters their names. For the purposes of a later plot point I definitely wanted my main character’s name to be Victoria, but I didn’t want to be calling her that all the time so I nicknamed her “Tori”. Since the first letter of her name matched mine I chose her last name from my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. Then, on a whim (since I’d already built her name, in a way, from my own) I named her love interest and best friend to match my husband and beset friend…thus Jacob was born from Jason and Kaima was born from Kelly. In retrospect it seems rather a childish way to name my characters, but I’ve grown into the names and love them now, so they’re here to stay.

Eric Wood

I ask my wife. Or I ask my friends. Or I’ll just grab a name that I like. There is usually very little thought to it.

H. Anthe Davis

Starting in middle school, I kept a list of interesting-sounding names that I either thought up randomly or found elsewhere, and would tweak them until they became something that fit a character.  As I built my story-world more, though, I started reverse-deriving some of the names to build the vocabulary in my fake language, and then branched out to defining naming-conventions for the various kingdoms and territories.  So these days, I check the naming conventions first, and then the language dictionary, and tack something together from those — but most of my long-running characters have names from before that age, so might stand out a bit from the rest of the pack, who knows.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I use a generator for most of my names, usually the Quick Character Namer on Seventh Sanctum. I don’t put too much stock in picking the “perfect” name for a character, but I do need to know what to call a character before I can continue. I don’t want a repeat of the placeholder name I mentioned in the last Authors Answer.

S. R. Carrillo

They often jump out at me. Back in the day, my character names were not uncommonly the fourth or fifth round of a name changed from its original version. For instance, Ero’s name used to be Samore Edorelo (don’t ask), which then became Relo for short and then Ero – at one point, it was going to be Aeiro, but thank God that one didn’t stick.

Other times, it’s a process of elimination – often, when I’m working on a project with someone else. We bounce a series of names back and forth until we find something that fits the idea of the people we both have in mind.

It’s really that simple – and complicated. ;]

Jay Dee Archer

I use a variety of methods. Mostly, for my science fiction books, I search online for names depending on the country or culture the character is from. That’s the simplest method. But for main characters, I look for meaning. For Ariadne, the main character of the first book is a girl named Solona. I searched for names of various cultural backgrounds that mean “wise.” One that caught my eye was the Greek name Solona. And that’s how her name was chosen.

For fantasy, I’m likely to make things up for given names, but family names may be based on geography, birthplace, family history, jobs, or any other appropriate category. I have yet to create any names for fantasy, though.

How about you?

If you write, how do you choose names for your characters? Let us know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 76 – Authors Reflecting on Their Earliest Writing

All authors started somewhere. We’ve discussed this before. However, when authors look back at their earliest writing, there may be a mix of reactions. Childhood writing would be simple, but how about teenage writing?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 76 – When you look at your oldest writing, what surprises or embarrasses you?

S. R. Carrillo

It was so boring! I had a tendency to wax poetic about the oddest things, and it would make scenes drag on and on and on forever. I also hated to kill my darlings, so I would get chapters and chapters full of beautiful prose… with little to no plot progression or serious relevance.

Also, I used to headhop. Like a madman. I don’t know what was wrong with me haha.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Years back I was editing a crime novel based on the story of Persephone. That book’s tucked away, but I surprised myself with how much detail I pulled from original myths to create these characters, from Demeter’s failing nursery to Hades’ favorite nymphs. I did cringe when I made (but didn’t catch) several references to my protagonist’s bad teeth (based on a bad toothache I had while writing the story) and a placeholder name I used for a minor character made it into the “final” draft. Who knows what I’ll find if I opened it today.

H. Anthe Davis

My oldest surviving writing is from when I was about twelve, and was edited when I was about fifteen, so I’m surprised to see that even then I had an attachment to certain concepts and character-types, even if almost none of the specifics of those characters have survived.  I wouldn’t really say I’m embarrassed, because my prose wasn’t too bad then, for what I was writing — Dungeons & Dragons-style adventures.  I’m much more embarrassed of the literary short stories I slapped together during college, since I wasn’t allowed to write genre fiction in my short-story classes; the disinterest really shows.

Eric Wood

When I look at some of my earliest writing I cringe. I was a monotonous writer. My descriptions were bland and my word choices were the epitome of  boring. At least in fiction works. Some of poetry that I’d reread years afterward I’d have to ask myself, “I wrote this?” Perhaps because I was reading with fresh eyes, perhaps because I could connect to it so personally, I really liked them. My poetry most always used vivid imagery. But it never carried over to my fiction writing until much later.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

The most embarrassing thing to look back at and see for me is that I was one of the worst offenders I know for creating “Mary Sue” characters (long before I ever know what the term meant). When I first started writing way back in the third grade, I would write stories featuring myself and my friends, or I’d make up female characters who looked and acted suspiciously similar to myself. Wish fulfillment was definitely the name of the game. I didn’t worry so much about silly things like a good plot…I wrote things the way I saw them in my fantasies, with myself as the do-no-wrong heroine whom everybody loved. This was all fairly understandable since I was, like, eight when I first started writing, but the theme did actually persist for quite a while, so I do still have random stuff in my house right at this moment that makes me shudder just to look at it.

Jean Davis

Because my early writing happened during my teenage years, it falls in the embarrassing category. The cheesy characters, dialogue, wandering plot, ugh, it’s all so bad. I did have more description back then, but yeah, still not in a good way.

D. T. Nova

Looking at some of the first stories that I wrote after I started seriously considering writing for publication, there’s one where I’m kind of embarrassed to have held back as much as I did. There is such a thing as too subtle.

And another one literally has more exposition than action, despite allegedly being an adventure story.

Linda G. Hill

What surprises me the most, is that I know at the time I thought my writing of ten years ago was good. What I fear the most is, in ten years’ time I’ll be surprised that my current writing is so much worse than I imagine it is. Did that make sense? …maybe it won’t be that much of a surprise…

Allen Tiffany

Two  reactions: First, it was really bad. Really bad. Adverbs, cliches, stories without any coherent plot, etc. But on the other hand, there was still enough goodness there that I continue to find the stories engaging, and I can still drop into the fantasy.

Gregory S. Close

I am always surprised how simultaneously good and awful my old writing is.  Sometimes I come across a cool line and I think “Did I write that?”  Then, usually immediately after that, I come across a line that makes me groan, “Did I write THAT?”

Paul B. Spence

Nothing about it surprises or embarrasses me. I know where I’ve come from, how far I’ve progressed. I’m not ashamed that I write better now, three decades later than some of it. I’m not surprised to see themes and even the beginnings of stories that I am now writing in some of the older stuff. Some of the ideas in my first novel, Cedeforthy, I developed as a small child. Some of the hardest things to cut are those that you’ve held onto for years.

Jay Dee Archer

When I wrote a short story in high school, I was proud of it. I don’t have access to it anymore, but I think I’d probably cringe at the dialogue and narration. In university, I wrote a bit, as well. I clearly remember how corny it sounded. But then, I didn’t go beyond a rough draft at that time. I should also mention that I wrote in present tense. I’m not very fond of present tense in fiction now.

How about you?

If you write, what do you think of your first attempts at writing? Let us know in the comments below.

Crazy Cross-Genre Fiction

There are so many different genres in fiction, and so many mixed genre books, as well.  But has it all been done? What are some crazy cross-genre ideas that you have?

Here are some of my ideas

Inspirational zombie cowboy – An uplifting tale of a cowboy and his cows surviving the wild west zombie apocalypse.

Children’s steampunk thriller – Scare the crap out of kids with this nineteenth century sci-fi tale.

Romantic dinosaur space opera – Dinosaurs in space! Dinosaurs falling in love in space! What could be better?

Okay, it’s your turn. Give me some of the craziest ideas you have about mixing two or more genres, and give a brief description of it.

Book Review – The Book of Deacon

bookofdeaconThe Book of Deacon

Author: Joseph R. Lallo

Series: The Book of Deacon #1

Genre: Fantasy

Published 2010

Review Copy: Free promotional eBook

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Goodreads Description

Myranda is a young woman more interested in staying alive than being a hero. Orphaned by a continent-spanning war that has gone on for decades too long and shunned for failing to support it, she has been on the move since she was only a child. One can hardly blame her when she thinks that the chance discovery of a fallen soldier’s priceless cargo is the moment that will change her life. No one could predict just how great that change would be. It will lead her through an adventure of rebels and generals, of wizards and warriors, and of beasts both noble and monstrous. Each step of the way will take her closer to the truth of her potential, of the war, and of the fate of her world.


The Book of Deacon by Joseph R. Lallo is the first book in a classic fantasy series of the same name. It’s a book that has its issues with pacing, lack of contractions in dialogue, and some not entirely well-developed characters, but I did enjoy it.

In the beginning, we have Myranda, a young woman who’s been orphaned and is wandering around the land without much of a direction when she gets mixed up with a sword, a malthrope, and the entire military wanting her. There’s a lot more to the girl than is directly told to us in the book, but it isn’t very subtle foreshadowing. As she gets caught up in all this unwanted attention, her life takes a surprising turn, joining a couple different groups, becoming a student twice, and a cliffhanger?

First of all, Myranda is our heroine. She’s been wandering for a long time, on the move because she’s a pacifist, and people who are against the war are not tolerated. She’s fiery, distrustful, and quick to argue. And she has a talent for magic. Leo, who is a fox-man malthrope, is like night and day. I cannot figure out his character at all, because he isn’t what he seems to be. I still don’t know what’s going on with him. Deacon, the title character, turns out to be a kind of grey magic enthusiast who is your typical intelligent character who isn’t completely accepted. And there’s Myn, a baby dragon who is mischievous, but grows a lot. There’s also a host of masters of their brands of magic who have their own personalities that don’t show much depth that I won’t get into. And then we have the main antagonist, Trigorah, who is an elf with a connection to Myranda. While she’s the antagonist, we see very little conflict, and she doesn’t seem entirely bad.

The story itself has some odd pacing. It’s kind of like it’s being done in three acts. The first act is slow-paced, wandering in a cold winter land, trying to survive. The second act sees a lot more action. The final part is slow-paced again, with a lack of real conflict involving any kind of real danger. The first part didn’t hook me. The second part looked far more promising. The third part slowed down a lot, but I enjoyed it. It was far more lighthearted, though there was still a dark side. It didn’t feel complete, though. But it is a series, and the second book is a continuation.

The world that Lallo has developed is an interesting one. Several kingdoms merged into one and has been waging an ongoing war with the southern countries for decades. Neither side seems interested in ending the war. War is life, and if you don’t like it, you’re an outcast. I personally can’t see how a war that reaches decades can be sustained, though. The demographics of the lands would result in large population decreases and a lack of children. But that doesn’t seem to happen.

The writing style isn’t very polished, as I think it’s Lallo’s first book, but it is perfectly readable. The thing that really stood out for me was the dialogue. It didn’t seem very natural. It lacked contractions, for one thing. As the story progressed, I felt that it got better, but the beginning was a bit rough in that area.

Overall, I give this book three stars. It has a slow start, but picks up the pace later on, and settles into a state of comfort towards the end. I actually enjoyed reading about Myranda learning magic. It felt like there should’ve been more conflict, though. But I guess that’ll happen in the next book, which I have an interest in reading. If you enjoy classic fantasy with a bit of a slower pace, then I recommend this book to you.