Two Weeks until NaNoWriMo!

While I still don’t understand the desire to have it in November (peak season for some of us!), it’s still a blast, and it’s almost here!

This year will be the toughest yet, for myself and many others.  But let’s put on “Eye of the Tiger” and rise up to the challenge!

For my part, I’m going to try to do things a little differently this time.  I have plans for the first book in a tetralogy, my biggest undertaking yet.  I might post progress to the blog as well as I finish chapters, or see if I can attend a meet-up or two.

What about you?  What are YOUR plans?

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The Journey, or the Destination?

As I was putting up Halloween decorations, twinges of excitement accompanying each little success, I started to think about that age-old question of whether it’s the journey and the destination.  I realized that Halloween night, as fun as it is, hardly compares to the fun of putting it all up and enjoying those peculiar adornments in the days leading up to it.  Christmas day does a little more for me, but all the same, it’s the build-up, as decorations go up all around the city over the weeks leading in.

Clearly, it must be about the journey.

Then I started thinking about the stories I’ve seen, read, and experienced with lackluster, or sometimes even awful, endings.  They managed to really put a damper on the entire experience.  And I thought about vacations: the journey can be fun, sure, but the real memories come from the destination.  The trip can be a struggle–all the packing, jamming it into a tiny car, sitting squished against the steering wheel for hours–but that’s not as big of a deal when the destination is glorious and fulfilling.

My real-world metaphors contradicted each other and gave me pause.  Perhaps it’s different for each genre, and maybe even each story.  I began to think about my own preferred realm, that of fantasy: dwarves, elves, magic, whole new worlds.

What made The Lord of the Rings great?  The journey was amazing, full of tense moments, incredible locales, terrifying monsters, and feats of magic and heroism.  All the same, if the quest failed, I would have walked away wholly unsatisfied, probably even disgruntled.  The book would have quickly made its own journey from my shelf to a bin at the locale Saint Vincent de Paul society.

And so, when it comes to fantasy, they’re both important: a fantastic journey capped by a powerful ending.  Other genres might vary a little: a generic kung-fu movie can become a classic via an incredible final set piece, while a documentary about Jack the Ripper can end with a whimper as the mystery dies unsolved but still have been a worthwhile, gripping ride.

In the end, look at your work, at your intent, and decide what’s more important to your story, the journey or the destination: and then be careful not to discount the importance of the other!

 

Fantasy Adventures Volume 1: Five Short Stories of Humor, Love, and War is out now for 99¢!

The Sword of Angels Review

Sometimes it’s the middle of trilogies that really stand out.  The classic example is The Empire Strikes Back, and I’d even go so far as to say that The Two Towers was probably the best of The Lord of the Rings films.   To use a more closely-related comparison, The Elfstones of Shannara is easily the peak of the original Shannara trilogy.

In that regard, John Marco’s The Sword of Angels–third in The Bronze Knight trilogydoesn’t quite buck the trend.  The third book is the largest of the three, with the hardcover coming in almost 300 pages longer than the previous entry.  There’s a lot going on as it builds to its conclusion, and for the most part, it’s good stuff.

IMG_2119Quests for ancient relics of power are undertaken in far away lands.  Deposed rulers struggle for their heritage and their families.  Battles are waged, allegiances change, and kingdoms rise and fall.  It’s quintessential fantasy fare, and it’s fantasy fare done well.

At least a half-dozen characters are given significant focus (with another dozen major players), and Marco’s strength in creating compelling characters shows.  Each member of the cast is distinct, flawed but likable.  Some characters fall away, but the cast never seems empty or lacking as different, but equally appealing, players come to the fore.  Even the worst villains can be sympathetic–not in a way that you want them to succeed, but that you hope for redemption rather than defeat.

Which makes it all the more disappointing that it leads into a rather lackluster finale.  The tension falters in the last 80-100 pages as it heads toward an expected conclusion, and the ending gambles with some questionable slight of hand.  Rather than restoring momentum, the left-field gambit only serves to hollow out some of the powerful build-up that had been bubbling since the second novel.

Even so, it’s a solid capstone on an exciting adventure spanning dozens of characters and a timeline of more than a decade.  Be a little wary of the conclusion, but don’t be wary of the The Sword of Angels, or the trilogy as a whole.  It’s epic fantasy worth reading.

(Worth noting: there’s a fourth book, The Forever Knight, that takes place after the events of the original trilogy.  Yep, that’s next on my reading list!)

 

Fantasy Adventures Volume 1: Five Short Stories of Humor, Love, and War is out now for 99¢!

The Most Magical Time of Year

Summer is my season, and I’m sad to see it go, particularly with the promise of winter.

And yet, the next few months bring up some of the prettiest, most enticing times of year.  Halloween brings out costumes and cosplay to compliment the deep red-and-orange hues of autumn.  November has that wonderful feast of food and family.  And by the time December rolls around, colored lights brighten houses up and down the streets.

Even though I dread winter–and the heavy workload this season will bring this year–it’s hard not to be excited for the pomp and pageantry the season brings.

And it’s an incredible backdrop for writing!

 

Fantasy Adventures Volume 1: Five Short Stories of Humor, Love, and War is out now for 99¢!

NaNoWriMo is a Month Away!

(Sorry for the delay–between work and the final 200 pages of a brilliant trilogy I’ve been reading, I lost track of time!)

This year’s NaNoWriMo is going to be difficult.  I mean, 50,000 words in a month always is, but tack on the busy season at work, and it’s going to be nuts–and quite a few people have it worse off than I do.

I almost back out.

Almost.

But writing is fun, and goals and deadlines can challenge us to rise up to a new level.  So you know what?  I’m going in.

This year, I’ll be doing a lot more plotting than pantsing, because I write faster when I know what I’m writing.  I’m thinking I might even post chapters up here as I complete them, share my journey with anyone else who wants to come along–and follow along with others, too!

Get ready!  November will be here before we know it!

Writing When You’re Tired

Today was my first day on the job at a warehouse, loading and unloading trucks.  Even though my shift was sent home early (the season hasn’t kicked in full force yet), I’m still wiped out and sore.  I barely managed to get the other chores done that I needed to (such as picking up the daughter from Cross Country).

Mere moments before laying down to do some before-bed reading (I’m in the last half of the third book in a trilogy!), I realized I hadn’t written today’s blog.

A month or two ago, this would have been a tragedy.  I would have been stressed, and I might have just given up on it.

IMG_2078
But don’t become so focused that you neglect your little buddies!

Not anymore.  I find myself excited at the prospect of sitting down at the keyboard and doing some writing, whether it’s for yet-unpublished stories or this little blog of mine.  I had to adjust my perspective: writing is fun, and blogging is writing!

That applies to stories as well: if you feed your passion and let yourself enjoy it, it’s that much easier to sit down and get writing (and with NaNoWriMo coming up, that passion will be a God-send!).  So feed that passion!

Give Your Story a Heart!

Where do stories come from?

As cheesy as it sounds, they come from the heart.  It doesn’t matter what genre you prefer, at the core of the story is humanity.  Every story touches on some longing we have.

Romance is about the search for love and passion.  Fantasy might be a need for heroes.  Science fiction shows us a world beyond our own.  Urban fantasy adds a little more magic to everyday life.  The paranormal gives us insight into what happens after death.

All of these things touch something inside of us, our deepest emotions and longings.

So when you start your story, look inside for the real meaning, and go from there.  Every good story needs a beating heart inside to really make it come alive.

 

Fantasy Adventures Volume 1: Five Short Stories of Humor, Love, and War is out now for 99¢!