Boycotts & Books

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I think one of the most overwhelming things to do in life is spend a gift card at a book store.

Yes, it is possible to be overwhelmed by a good thing.

The money/book ratio is always off. There is never enough money on the gift card to buy all the books you’d want to read, so you want to make sure you pick out a good one.

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This task becomes even more overwhelming when the gift card happens to be the last gift card I ever received and ever will receive from my mother.

I just felt like it should be used to purchase a special book.

With Mother’s Day being this weekend, inconveniently and tormentingly close to my mother’s death, I have decided to avoid all stores that sell Mother’s Day paraphernalia … which just so happens to be every store. I miss her and I want to buy her a present. I can’t, so I don’t want to be reminded that she won’t be here this holiday.

Due to my Mother’s Day boycott, as you can imagine, it was really hard to find something to do or somewhere to go during my lunch break. So I drove around for fifteen minutes before remembering I still had a gift card from my mother from Christmas.

Since I miss her, I thought this was either a really good time or a bad time to spend it. It was really a coin toss, so I decided to chance it.

So began the overwhelming task of picking out a special book.

I found a few series I’d like to try: John Gwynne’s Ruin series and S.M. Stirling’s Change series.

I also batted around getting my own copy of Empress by Karen Miller so I wouldn’t have to sneak my sis’ copy whenever I want to read a passage.

I ended up getting a new copy of the Silmarillion. Yes, I already have it, but I hate the cover of the copy I bought (and that was the least ugly cover at the time).

I found a copy that matches my copy of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

My mom wasn’t a fan of Tolkien or fantasy for that matter, but she’d be happy I got something I really like and will treasure forever. Now whenever I read it I’ll think of my mom … and how much she didn’t like Lord of the Rings.

For those of you who will be acknowledging the holiday, have a good one. Hug your moms. Srsly. I still remember my last hug. It was worth more than all the books on my shelf. If it’s Sunday, and you’re reading my blog, leave your computer right now and go spend time with your mom!

 

 

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Look to the left of my blog (right below my photo, title, and tagline). See it? Notice anything different?

That’s right, I now have a newsletter.

For those of you who want to stay informed about book releases, promotions, events, etc, just click on Gandalph to sign up.

And because my sister and I share almost everything, we will be sharing this newsletter, so it’s really a two-for-one deal. Sign up for one newsletter and get updates for two authors.

At the risk of continuing to sound like an infomercial–Wait, there’s more!

The first 20 followers will be entered to win a copy of my sister’s debut novel The Quest for the Holy Something or Other or her upcoming fantasy parody (your choice).

So go ahead, sign up. It’s free and easy.There’s no hidden print, conditions, fees, terms, or  clauses. Just important updates about your favorite twin authors.

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Are You Going to Read Go Set A Watchman?

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Harper Lee is no longer a one-hit wonder. Fifty years after the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, the long-anticipated sequel Go Set a Watchman is available in bookstores.

Was the fifty-year wait worth it? So far, the book has received mixed feelings from critics and readers alike.

The sequel has been labeled a poor stand-alone, that it would not have even been published if not for TKAM. On the flipside, it’s also been  praised for being more ambitious.

I’m not in a hurry to read it, but I want to know your thoughts. Please take the poll or comment below. Let me know what you think.

Sound and Fury: Fantasy’s Best Fight Scenes

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From spectacular choreographed sequences to outright reality-defying stunts, fantasy fight scenes have always stood out in literature and cinema. What other genre gives you battling robots, monsters, giants, and rats of unusual size? I figured it was time to put together my list of best fantasy fight scenes ever–according to me.


Firstly, let me just say these are not in any particular order. It’s hard enough to choose which fights make the list without having to rank them. Secondly, this list is based on my own preferences, so if I left out some iconic fight or your favorite, please feel free to disagree in the comments below. Considering this is a post about fighting, I feel like that would be appropriate. Thirdly, what constitutes a fight? Basically not a battle. It doesn’t have to be mano o mano or a one on one duel, but it can’t be a full-scale battle. Fights usually focus more on the inner conflict or personal investment of a couple of characters–not entire armies.

Gandalph vs Saruman: The Lord of the Rings

Who doesn’t like to watch wizards or old people fight? What could be better than both. This is a great fight because they wipe the floor with each other without touching. They are seemingly slapped, thrown, dragged, pushed, and hurled by magic–that I assume is coming form their staffs. What really makes this wizard war fun is the fact that the characters are played by Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Christopher Lee. I couldn’t imagine anyone else in these roles. The head-to-head (or staff-to-staff) fight between Gandalph and Saruman is certainly a highlight of the first film, especially after Lee’s death.


Hector vs Achilles: Troy

This movie has a lot of downfalls–fight scenes not being one of them. The best one is the death match between Hector and Achilles. To say I’m not a fan of Brad Pitt is a huge understatement. He ruined Troy in the same way he ruined Seven Years in Tibet with his bad acting and poor attempt of an accent. Even his face can’t act. It doesn’t help that this flopping fish was thrown in a sea of wonderfully talented actors: Eric Bana, Brian Cox, Brendan Gleeson, Orlando Bloom (even at his worst can out-act Brad), Sean Bean (doesn’t die in this film believe it or not), and Diane Kruger. Back to the fight scene. This one stands out not only for it’s well-orchestrated choreography, but also because this is before the overuse of CGI. My younger followers might be asking what did they do before CGI? Train the actors to fight of course. They didn’t use stunts for the fight scenes either. If you thought their characters were obsessed with honor, Pitt and Bana had an honor system of their own where they paid each other for any accidental blows. Pitt paid out $750 to Bana. Bana paid out nothing, proving who is the better actor and fighter. Sorry had to make one more dig at Pitt because he’s the pits. Anywho, aside from the fact that there is almost more at stake with this one on one fight than any of the full-scale battles in the film, it’s just exciting to watch. It’s high powered, action-driven man-on man action.


Aragorn vs the Nazgul: The Lord of the Rings

Yup, another from the Lord of the Rings. I know there are a lot of fights in this trilogy, but this one stands out in my memory. Firstly, it’s the Hobbits’ first fight, which they epic fail. Again, as with Troy, all the actors were trained to fight. Sean Austin (Sam) was really disappointed because after learning elaborate fighting sequences, he was told by Jackson to pull back. In an interview he stated being worried no one would know he was good at this “sword stuff.” The best part of the fight in my opinion is where Aragorn fights with a sword and torch in a display of epic badassery.


The Man in Black vs Inigo Montoya: Princess Bride

If you were afraid this one wasn’t going to make the list, fear no more. How could I exclude this epic sword fight complete with witty repartee, hilarious commentary, ostentatious bravado, and swashbuckling badassery. Elwes and Patinkin were both trained by coaches to master the sword right and left handed. Did I mention their coaches also worked on Star Wars. That means not only could Westley fight with Bonetti’s defense and Capa Ferro, he could also easily master a lightsaber. What really stands out in this fight is the fact that these two have no beef with each other, which actually makes it really funny. No vows of revenge, threats of pain or torture, just compliments, heart-to-hearts, and playful banter.


Jen vs Yu Shu Lien: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Yes, some ladies finally made the list. Probably one of the most memorable fights, not just between women, but in cinegraphic history. When I refer to the fight between Jen and Lien, I’m actually referring to the rooftop chase as well as the final showdown; however, the clip is just the final showdown. This fight is just marvelous. Probably one of the most spectacular fight sequences ever. It’s as exciting as it is beautiful. They are impossibly graceful and agile, not to mention they can fly.


Neo vs Agent Smith: The Matrix

This is a classic. What television show hasn’t referenced this iconic battle. One of the reasons this fight stands out in my memory is because I just remember thinking, there’s no way Neo can win. The odds are stacked so heavily in Agent Smith’s favor. Another reason is the variety of fighting styles from gun fights to karate. It’s almost Dragon Ball Z-esque with all the rapid fire punches. Partly the time the movie came out helps. A fight scene like this would not stand out anymore in a world where we’ve seen it already. But for the time, this was cutting edge. I think most fans agree though. This fight still stands out even above the final showdown because of the tasteful use of CGI. The more they tried to top this fight in later films, the more this one just comes out on top.


The Black Knight vs Arthur: Monty Python

This is the funniest fight to make the list. It’s probably even more iconic than Princess Bride. It’s just clever and silly. Not to mention the black knight is played by my favorite Monty Python comedian, John Cleese. I really like the humor, from the moment Arthur tries to pass him, exclaiming that he “makes him sad” to the point where he literally has to disarm him. This fight as well as the entire movie is extremely quotable. I’m sad to think that there will be a generation that won’t understand references from this film.


The Mountain vs Prince Oberyn: Game of Thrones

Of all the fights in A Game of Thrones, you might be wondering why this one? Let me explain . . . No, there’s not enough time . . . Let me sum up. This fight had an Inigo Montoya feel. You could easily replace Oberyn’s lines them with, “Hello my name is Prince Oberyn. You killed my sister. Prepare to die.” I loved his emotion and energy tied in with his desire for revenge. I was really wanting him to win. It was a pranciful revenge–had only it ended in revenge. Don’t watch to the end if you are squeamish or don’t want spoilers. One of the things I liked the most about this fight was the variety and contrast. They pitted a nimble, handsome spear fighter with a large, ugly man with a long sword. What you get is a fight of skill vs strength. It’s just visually stunning.


T-Rex vs Raptors: Jurassic Park

Ok, credit goes to the first movie, not Jurassic World when it comes to memorable dino duels. Let me start by saying, I loved Jurassic World, so my preference isn’t based on a bias. I just really liked that short-but-sweet final battle between the T-Rex and the raptors. It looked more realistic than the final fight in JW,  Also, in comparison, it wasn’t over the top. It had that great finisher. T-rex hurls the raptor into the bones and roars while the banner is falling. Great stuff, great stuff..


Per my sister’s request, here are some honorable mentions that didn’t quite make my cut.

  • Flynn Rider vs Maximus: Tangled
  • Moon vs Flying Snow: Hero
  • Tristan vs undead Septimus: Stardust
  • Elsa vs guardsmen: Frozen

There you have it. Please agree or disagree in the comments below.

Tuesday Tip

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tip#1Have you ever seen a runner trip in a pothole? They’re in the zone, focused on the path ahead, running to the rhythm of their music when all of a sudden they stumble in a pothole. It jars them out of their trance and throws them off their running groove–not to mention hurts like heck.

The same thing happens to readers when they stumble upon a plothole–though it’s less dramatic and doesn’t usually require stitches or Bandaids.

Don't throw the reader off their groove!!!

Don’t throw the reader off their groove!!!

What is a Plothole?

The short definition is anything that can be asked but not explained, or poorly explained (not to be mistaken for an unanswered question like in a cliffhanger).

  • unlikely/impossible events
  • mistakes
  • contradictions
  • forced situations or character reactions for the sake of plot

Examples The Hobbit: In this example I’m talking about the movie. If you didn’t read the book before watching the final installment of the films, you may have asked, what happened to the Arkenstone? In the book, it’s placed on Thorin’s grave. In the movie, supposedly it’s still hanging out in Luke Evan’s shirt. Not a bad place to be necessarily.

The Arkenstone: returned to Thorin Oakenshield, or wedged between Evan's pecks?

The Arkenstone: returned to Thorin Oakenshield or wedged between Evan’s pecks?

Harry Potter: Usually I pick on George R.R. Martin, but today I’m going to pick on J.K. a little. The time turner is a prime example of why time travel almost always leads to plotholes. Why didn’t he keep using it? He used it to save two people, which seems like an insipid abuse of time travel in the grand scheme of things. What about the other people who died later in the book. Why not go back and save them?

Aladdin: One of my favorite Disney movies of all time. I’ve watched it a hundred times and suddenly I notice a whole new plothole (pun intended). Aladdin uses a wish to become a prince and yet it is considered lying when he tells Jasmine he is a prince. Um, excuse me, he didn’t ask the Genie to make him look like a prince, he asked him to make him a prince. I think he got ripped off. Also he could have given Jasmine the lamp in the end so she could wish him back into a prince, but now I’m just being picky.

Deus Ex Machina

Ok, this is more of a plot device than a plothole, but I think you don’t get one without the other. A deus ex machina is basically where an unsolvable issue is suddenly solved by a new event, ability or super power, character, or God. Essentially, it’s when a writer has written themselves into a corner and doesn’t know how to resolve the conflict.

The result: the resolution is unsatisfactory and the reader is robbed. A prime example of this can be found in (I’m sad to say) The Return of the King. Tolkien wrote himself into a corner by making Sauron’s army undefeatable. Realistically the army of Gondor, even backed by the soldiers of Rohan, a wizard, and a few shire folk could not defeat them. I imagine Tolkien spent hours scratching his head before inventing a ghost army to defeat them. After all, ghost can’t be killed. So last minute, they use the ghost to help defeat the bad guys. It would have been a more satisfactory ending had the characters come up with a battle tactic to defeat the larger army.

Checkhov’s Gun

This is the notion that if you describe something, it better come into play at some point. For instance, if you describe a chair, it better be flipped, thrown, broken, or at least sat on. If it’s described, it better be part of the plot or else you’ve created false promises or suspense.

I’m not a firm believer in this. I do see where too much attention to a seemingly significant item would be jarring if it never came to use, but something like a chair or table is sometimes just necessary to give the reader a sense o place. This is why it’s always a good idea to describe your scenery as the character interacts with it.

A great example of Checkhov’s gun. In A Game of Thrones, Sam gets a blade that several seasons down the road kills white walkers. Also, the necklace given to Sansa in season three or four is used to kill Joffrey. Those are some great examples of Checkhov’s guns coming into play.

Continuity

Lack of continuity is a major cause of plotholes. This could be something small like a sudden change in appearance, or something even more jarring like a character referencing an event they have no idea occurred. It could also be a sudden change in motivation, even age.

Example: Merlin (the television series). Mordred appears in season one as a child, but by season five, he returns as a teenager or young adult. Realistically the oldest he could be is 13, but he is at least 16 if not older when he reappears. Meanwhile, the rest of the characters have only aged 3-5 years. Soap operas do this a lot, because let’s face it, babies get boring after awhile.

When is a Plothole not a Plothole

Sometimes readers believe the unbelievable, especially in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. These genres create a lot of their own rules, abilities, creatures, etc. Just because something can’t happen or doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean it’s a plothole. When you event something (like magic), you are relying on your reader’s ignorance of a subject in order to make them believe it. A world with two moons and seven suns probably couldn’t exist or sustain life (could you imagine gravity?); however, your reader is more likely to accept that than if your character’s eye color suddenly changes in chapter two.

This is because of the suspension of belief. You can create super human beings, magical powers, fantastical creatures, as long as you make it as believable as possible and keep it consistent.

Example: Superman For decades, people have accepted that there is a superhuman man who comes from another planet, but they don’t believe that he can disguise his identity with glasses alone.

yeah, you're not fooling anyone, Superman

yeah, you’re not fooling anyone, Superman

How to Prevent Plotholes

It’s easier to prevent a plothole than to fill one.

  • outline your story
  • create character sketches
  • outline the rules and limitations of your magic systems
  • research before writing
  • keep track of the time of day, hour, month, season, and year of your story so you don’t accidently skip summer and fall and go straight into winter.

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How to Fill Plotholes

Break out the shovels!

Break out the shovels!

  1. Identify your plot holes. Read through your MS and look for unanswered questions and things that couldn’t happen
    1. Your character could not have survived that fall
    2. Your character’s hair changed color
    3. Your character is angry in this chapter but fine in the next
    4. Your character’s worst fear is being shot, but you have her bravely confront an armed robber.
    5. Your character can’t swim, but saves a child from drowning.
    6. Your character’s dog went missing. You never explained what happened to it.
  2. Create setup: make sure you lead up to the event so it can realistically unfold.
  3. Make changes: no one likes to make big changes, but think of the big picture. You may have to adjust the setting, events, even drastically change your character so that necessary events can occur.
  4. Ask an outsider. Beta readers are far more likley to identify and resolve a plothole.
  5. Think on your back: they say lying on your back helps you think
  6. Step away from your WIP. Distance can help you see clearer. The solution may even come to you when you’re not thinking about it.
  7. Keep it simple: When filling plotholes, don’t make it difficult or over complicated.

It’s like Yzma’s plan to get rid of Kusco in the Emperor’s New Groove. She’s going to turn him into a flea, a harmless, little flea, and then put that flea in a box, and then put that box inside of another box, and then mail that box to herself, and when it arrives smash it with a hammer. She changes her mind–not because the plan was convoluted–to save on postage. She goes for a simple route: poison.

Recently I filled a glaring plothole–in the beginning of my book  no less–by using the methods above (mostly lying on my back and talking to my sister). What’s the biggest plothole you’ve ever had to fill?

Writer on a Warpath: Dylan Saccoccio Rampages against Reviewer

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There’s only one way to respond to a negative review: DON’T

Authors who challenge a review do nothing in the way of damage control. Quite the opposite, actually.

This is a major writing faux pas. At best the author comes off defensive or childish. At worst, the author comes off psychotic, especially when they threaten to post revenge reviews or even file a lawsuit.


On the offenders registry are authors Stephan J. Harper, Carroll Bryant, Emily Giffin, Chris McGrath, and now Dylan Saccoccio.

Today, I’d like to focus on Dylan Saccoccio (author of The Tales of Onora) for going on a rampage against a recent reviewer.


dylanDylan is an author I’m rather familiar with, having purchased his book based on the number of reviews, comparisons to Tolkien and George R.R. Martin, his impressive Amazon Best Sellers Rank, and the fact that I’m a sucker for an attractive cover.

You’ll note I did not determine my purchase based on the number of positive/negative reviews.

Similar criteria attracted the recent reader who left a less than positive review.

How Dylan responds is absolutely cringeworthy. See for yourself. If you’d like to see a train wreck, follow the link here.

His arguments aren’t even valid. He accuses negative reviews of being damaging to his novel’s success and a reflection of the reviewer instead of the author or book.

What I find funny: It’s his response to the negative review–NOT the negative review itself–that risk damaging his book’s success and his reputation as an author. So essentially he’s causing the very thing he is afraid will occur.

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With over 100 reviews (60% being positive), a large twitter following, a loyal fan base, and a high Amazon ranking, it’s petty and ridiculous that he would even hone in on this one review.

He is so afraid of others threatening his writing career, he isn’t even aware he is committing career suicide. That’s like worrying about getting West Nile from a mosquito bite while smoking a cigarette.

Let’s look at the damage, shall we?

The review did no damage whatsoever; however, his response could cost him fans (new and old), damage his reputation, hurt sales, and lose followers.

Case in point. I used to follow him on twitter, but I simply can’t follow any author who behaves this way. Will he notice the sting of one bee? Maybe not. But if enough bees sting . . . you start to feel the venom.

So what did he accomplish in the way of damage control? Nothing but assuage a bruised ego.


So why did he respond to this review? The simple reason would be a lack of logic. He wanted the reviewer to remove his review because he worried it would damage sales. So in truth, he wasn’t trying to be a defensive man-child. He was responding to misconceptions of the dreaded negative review.

Misconceptions

Negative Reviews Discredit Your Book or Writing

Negative reviews add legitimacy to a book’s reputation. Case in point, I almost didn’t purchase The Tales of Onora because it had too much praise. Without a negative review, I’m led to believe that his friends and family (or paid people) were a majority of his reviewers.

Negative Reviews are Slander

Slander and opinion are very different things. Can anyone tell me what a review is? Yes, for those of you who said opinion, you would be correct. We live in ‘Merica where everyone has a right to an opinion–whether informed, well-constructed, or biased. Does the latter describe this recent review. Hardly. He simply didn’t like it, and to be honest, neither did I. And for a lot of the same reasons as this guy, I might add. I guess I’m glad I didn’t review it. I’d hate to be the target of damaged pride.

Reviews are Personal

Youve_Got_Mail_20917_MediumHere’s where he really lost it, accusing the reviewer of having no sympathy or humanity. As if the reader’s goal was to bring down his career. Most of the time, reviewers don’t know you. Your success or failure isn’t their concern–and it shouldn’t be. This isn’t heartless, it’s just a fact. They are interested in finding a good book that they will enjoy. You are not their focus when they leave a review. Reviews are for READERS, not authors. They are telling other readers why they liked/did not like a book and whether they think it is a worthy read. Their opinions can be hurtful, but it isn’t an attack.


For the record, the ONLY good way to respond to a negative review is to NOT RESPOND.

You could try NOT READING THEM, though I think an author interested in growth should read and consider all their reviews.

Instead of going on a rant, consider these alternatives to take the sting off.

  • take a shot for every negative review (non drinkers can substitute shots for chocolate)
  • frame them on the wall of shame
  • burn them
  • put a hex on the bad reviewer
  • determine if their negative response is in fact positive criticism and use that to improve your writing in the future
  • whine to a friend
  • re-read positive reviews
  • sing Let it Go
  • go online and distract yourself with cat memes

Well there you have it. I’m a firm believer in learning from other’s mistakes, so let this be a lesson to the rest of you. When you get a review–good or bad–be gracious, be humble, be prepared, and most importantly be quiet. Whatever your response is, keep it out of the spotlight. In the end, your success or failure relies more on you than your reviews and readers.

Do dishes, go to the gym, pick up child from school, write the next best-selling fantasy novel: You know, just your typical to-do list.

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The life of a working adult is busy, and writers are no exception. If anything, we’re busier than the average adult.

My to-do list today literally looks like this:

  • buy drano
  • get gas
  • blog
  • wash dishes
  • fill out forms for summer camp
  • clean car
  • put clothes away
  • finish outlining book one
  • edit chapter 9-10 of sister’s fantasy parody
  • pick up child from school
  • go to gym

Yup, just your typical to-do list . . . if you’re a writer, anyway.

A non-writer’s list stops at put clothes away, freeing them to watch Netflix or pursue some other pleasure in their–what’s that word again? . . . oh yeah, free time.

A list certainly helps categorize, order, even prioritize chores that need done, but a calendar is so much better. Join me Tuesday for my next Tuesday Tip which will be all about making a writing/life calendar. Guaranteed to help you turn your to-do’s into already done.

What does your to-do list look like? How many writing vs non-writing items are on your list? How many can you check off in a day?

Ask An Author

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The first Friday this month happens to fall on the first. It just so happens to also be time for another Ask the Author, the feature that puts the author in authoritative.


phpXT7GODPMMay’s featured author is none other than Charles E. Yallowitz, author of the Legends of Windemere. He also happens to be one of the first authors I followed when I started my blog back in 2013.

Back then he had two books published in his fantasy series. Now he’s up to number seven in just over two years! He makes it seem easy, doesn’t he, but planning and writing a series is hard work. Have no fear, because Charles has plenty of advice about planning, writing, and marketing a series whether your series consist of three or twenty books.


Creating and Marketing a Series

may5The Legends of Windemere series is a fantasy adventure that currently has 7 books out and is planned for 15 overall. I believe this is where people groan or run away because long series seem to scare many readers and writers. Well, they are a big challenge and I’m here to give some advice on how to create and market a long series.  (Note: All advice is personal opinion and can be discarded as the ravings of a madman that needs to get out more.)

Planning a Series

First, I’m going to talk a little about planning. I use a lot of notes and outlines to keep my series going smoothly. For Legends of Windemere, I’ve had all 15 books outlined since I finished writing the third one. This helps me create foreshadowing and get a sense of where I want the long term storylines to go. A full outline isn’t even necessary if you want to dive into the writing immediately. Maybe you only need a page of notes about what you want to happen later on or a few future events that you’re heading for. To be honest, mine tend to get changed as I go and I have to rewrite the next outline after every book I write. Still the meat of the story is there and that’s what I use to help me guide my characters to their various destinations. The truth is that every author has his or her own system of organization. Detailed outlines and character bios work for me, but there are those who create great stories out of a trio of Post-It notes.

One of the biggest challenges for a series author is continuity. You need to make sure the rules and details remain the same throughout the adventure. This is where character bios and outlines can come in handy. Even if you don’t do a full outline, future installments can be helped by jotting down important information as you move along. Take a little time to review what you wrote every night and list whatever you think you won’t remember. For example, I kept forgetting character eye colors early on and one of my heroes abruptly changed from green to blue for some reason. I had to keep a note by my laptop for a few chapters to make sure I remembered. Eventually, it locked in and then I did the genius maneuver of having something change his eye color to brown. Worked for the story, but it was one of the spontaneous decisions that caused a few stumbles in the next book. A common question in regards to planning a series is the following:

How Long Should Your Series Be?

The answer is as long as it has to be. You might be scared of readers dropping out before the end, but that happens with trilogies too. Yes, the longer the series, the higher the chance of a reader walking away. So the author has to decide if they’re writing to tell the story they want to tell or the story that they think will sell better. These are not always the same thing. I can only speak from my personal experience and I will say that I couldn’t do Legends of Windemere in less than 15 books. It used to be 12 and then I realized that there were characters whose stories weren’t being told. I write using an ensemble cast, which means I want each hero and villain to get a story to shine in. Many of them can do this within the original stories, but I had those that needed something more to evolve. Do I regret doing a series this long, which nets me a few complaints? No. I’m happy with the adventures I’m telling and that should be one of the author’s main goals. If you’re enjoying what you write then it will come through your words and draw in the reader.

Marketing a Series

A brief mention of marketing since this is an area that many authors are concerned with. I’ve found that later books in a lengthy series will not have the same impact as the earlier ones. Not unless you have a massive support system and fan following. The reason for this is because you have people going in and out of the series all the time. A person drops out after Book 3 while another picks up Book 1, but you only see how there are fewer sales for Book 4. It took me some time to realize this and then I aimed more for continuous sales across the board instead of major sales of the most recent. So I do the big marketing things on either most recent book or the first one, Beginning of a Hero. I try to do a little for the middle books too, but you’re going to see a wide variety of sale numbers in there. It’s the nature of the series beast and all you can do is keep pushing on.

Tweets, blogging, guest posts, interviews, various chat platforms, and helping to promote other authors are where you will find most of your marketing power. (Note on that last one: Reciprocation is a great thing. I’m a big believer of helping those who help me.)

All of what I said might seem like an overview and oddly brief considering a big series is a major undertaking. Well, you would be right because all another author needs in terms of advice here are the basics. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that every author, actually artist, has his or her own methods. My series is long because I focus a lot on character development, but it would be shorter if I was more concerned with the main plot. That’s just my way and it took quite a few years for me to realize that along with my specific style. So I give advice and add that this is my personal experience.

Now, is writing a long series a thing for everyone? No because it’s a lot of work and dedication with a high risk of writing yourself into a corner. Still I say follow the story and your gut. If it says a 10 book series then go along with it until you finish or find that it might work better as 5. You can always rewrite the outline.


51WkCW8ZDoL__UY250_To connect with Charles and to learn more about the world of Windemere, check out his author website and blog.

You can also follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Check out his Amazon author page here to purchase his current novels as well as learn about future projects.

Don’t forget to be on the lookout for the next book in the series.

Take a Break from Life to Watch this Video: Game of Thrones/Taylor Swift Mashup

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Life has been firing lemons from a lemon-grenade launcher at me all week, so instead of my planned post, here’s one I whipped up in a pinch just for fun. After all, humor is the cure-all for life’s troubles. But don’t worry, for those of you who follow me for content, I will try to resume my regular blogging schedule on Tuesday with a new Tuesday Tip.

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A blog post is coming. It’s on it’s way. It’s gonna be amazing.

In the meantime, I’m going to be catching up on my blog, writing, editing, and life in general, I’ll also be catching up on Game of Thrones. One more disc and I’ll be finished with season 4.

And speaking of Game of Thrones, if you haven’t seen it yet, please enjoy this Game of Thrones/Taylor Swift parody “Blank Page.” I promise you, there are no spoilers, but I warn you, it will be stuck in your head for days.

http://www.nerdist.com/vepisode/nerdist-presents-game-of-thrones-meets-taylor-swift-in-blank-page/

Meet the King of Sass and Class

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I love meeting other Tolkien fans, but that can be a challenge in my hometown (We do, however, have a surplus of Harry Potter fans). Thank goodness for the Webosphere.

Since I started cosplaying, I’ve met so many awesome people (and other Hobbit fans). One of which, I had the privilege of interviewing recently.

I discovered the King of Sass and Class, Joshua Dart (better known as Thranduart) while browsing Thranduil cosplays on Google while I was developing my own Thranduil costume. I saw a couple of pics of him at a Starbucks and I thought to myself, here is a fan I want to get to know.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Thranduart, you must not be a fan of the Hobbit. He has a strong online presence and he’s a very enthusiastic Tolkien fan.

Without further delay, here is the interview with the Party King.

Thranduart: It’s Good to be the Elven King

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How long have you been a Tolkien fan?

Since I was about 15 years old–over half my life.

Is this your first cosplay? How long have you been cosplaying as Thranduil?

Yes, Thranduil is technically my first cosplay. I dressed as him for my first convention ever, Dragon Con 2013, and that’s where it all started.

What drew you to this particular character? Why do you think Thranduil has such a large following?

Honestly, the look. I was super impressed by the Weta team’s design for the character and I just felt like I could pull it off really well–I guess I was right!

Agreed : )

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How long did it take you to develop this costume?

About four months of on and off work in the beginning. The Starlight Robes (silver) took about two months on and off. The crown alone took thirteen to fifteen man hours.

Are you going to continue developing your costume? What additions or changes will you make now that you’ve seen BOFA?

Well I definitely want to make the armor version. And I have to re-make my crown because i sold the second version.

How far have you traveled as the Party King? How many cons or fan events have you attended in costume? Any plans for this year?

I’ve been to Dragon Con, Tampa Bay Comic Con, Mega Con (Orlando), and NYC for the Hobbit BOFA Fan Event. NYC is the farthest this costume has been so far. 

When you’re not the Party King, tell us a little about yourself when you’re not in character.

Hmm . . . hard to really put yourself into words. I’m a pretty easy going guy, but I love to read and watch movies. I ADORE going to movies. It’s probably my favorite thing.

Where did you see BOFA for the first time? Your reactions/responses to the movie.

At the NYC Fan Event. I cried like a baby afterwards. It just felt like an ending and I didn’t want it to be over. 

As a die-hard Tolkien fan, I think you’d be a reliable person to ask, what do you think (against or in defense) of some of the changes Peter Jackson has made in his adaptation.

I think you have to separate the two, honestly. Tolkien created this beautiful, fantastic world of characters and places. Peter took that to another level and made it his own. Whether or not you agree with that is a whole different story. I think the movies are spectacular in their own way, just like Tolkien’s writings. 

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Pace face!!!

You met the fabulous, handsome, and charming Lee Pace. Tell us about that. Is this the highlight of your year?

Oh, gosh, definitely. He was so kind to come out there and visit with us. He didn’t have to–what an amazing feeling when his assistant came out and told us he wanted to come out and say hi to us. Incredible. And the things he and his assistant said about my costume just made me feel like all the hard work had paid off. Best day.

I, as well as other fans, would like to see some Thranduil tutorials on YouTube. Any plans for this or expanding your presence on YouTube?

Gosh, it’s so hard to find the time, but I really want to make a makeup tutorial, as well as a bloopers reel for the music video.

Speaking of your presence on YouTube, the Lady Gaga video was perfect. Tell me about this project.

It was a labor of love, to be certain! SO much planning and hard work went into it, but I had help from amazing people. Without them, it never would have been as amazing as it was. As far as future videos, I would love to do more! We shall see!

(If you haven’t seen this, check it out now. I’m sure this was just as much fun to make as it is to watch)

You certainly feel the love as the Party King. I think some people obsess about you as much as they do over Lee Pace. Ever run into haters? How do you deal with them?

I think everyone has people that don’t care for them, no matter who they are or how “famous” they are considered. Sometimes you know that they exist, sometimes you don’t. If you are unfortunate enough to be made aware of their presence, you just have to remember that at the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is your own. I truly try to live by one of my favorite quotes, “What other people think of me is none of my business” -RuPaul

As first time cosplayers, after the convention ended, the makeup and wigs were removed (with much effort and spirit gum remover), my sister and I were at a bit of a loss. Do you ever feel this way after a convention or fan event?

Not really, honestly. I’m usually in costume for long periods, so I’m ready for it to be off. And by that point, I’ve had my fill.

Speaking of feeling at a loss, we’ve probably seen our last Peter Jackson adaptation of Tolkien’s works. How do you feel now that we’ve come to the end of this journey? Do you think Tolkien and Peter Jackson’s works will live on or do you think they will be buried under future trends?

I think the movies will live forever in their own way because they are so special and mean so much to so many people. I know they will for me. Hello Extended Editions!!!

Long live Tolkien and Peter Jackson’s creations, and long live the Party King!

thgIf you’d like to connect with Thranduart, check out these links:

Facebook

Twitter

Redbubble (where you can purchase Party King memorabilia)

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