Is Amazon The Only ‘Big Dog’ In Town? 


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“You are a start-up … The next great business is you.”  Hugh Howey

Perusing my morning Tweets I came across a post by Doris-Maria Heilmann @111publishing ‘Is Amazon Really a Great Deal for Indie Authors?’ (here)  To summarize the article, Heilmann suggests that while Amazon might have seemed like the savior of the Indie Publishing world at one time, like all great heroes, they have now become pretty much the only ‘Big Dog’ in town.

While its true Amazon might look like they hold all the cards, and have worked very hard to try to convince authors their only hope of success is to put all their novels into the Amazon basket of KDP, I personally don’t think they are the only viable gig in town.

Smashwords for instance, offers authors the same ‘Free’ publishing eBook services, distributing their books in all the major eBook stores (KDP authors can only sell through Amazon) a generous % of the royalties (60% through major e-book retailers; 70.5% when purchased through affiliate e-book retailers; 80.5% when purchased on Smashwords*), an author page as well as the ability to set up a publishing dashboard that will allow a single author to publish under multiple pen names (something this author plans to take advantage of).

While Smashwords may not currently have as long an arm as Amazon, they are, in my not so humble opinion, a more than viable option for those of us who refuse to kowtow to the ‘Big Dog’ propaganda.

(There are other sites such as Lulu, Booktango [just heard about this, haven’t checked it out yet] who offer free, or for a small or not so small fee, e-publishing services and distribution.)

Now we all know Doris-Maria Heilmann isn’t the first blogger/writer to comment on the Amazon’s monopoly issue (and she won’t be the last). But what I haven’t read or heard a lot of people talking about (at least in the world of self-publishing) is the fact that the only reason Amazon has become the largest self-publishing site in the world, is because of the hundreds of thousands of authors who have published through them.  

Authors who, even though they have put all their eggs in one basket, are under no contractual obligation to remain with them.

Authors who, because they have already demonstrated authorpreneurship abilities by the very act of self-publishing, have the power to take that pioneering spirit to its conclusion by taking control of their ‘business’ and building their own publishing platform, instead of leaving it in the hands of Amazon to tell them where and when they should publish.

If, and this is a big IF, Amazon has become the Big Dog, it has done so on the backs of its authors.

Which also means those same authors hold the power to change the landscape (unlike the Big 5 who own their authors and their books, for the length of the contract). Maybe not the company (eBook publishing makes up only a small, but profitable percentage of Amazon’s overall worth), but certainly its publishing interests.

In the mean time, sites like Smashwords, who’s only venue is self-publishing, offer authors a larger publishing distribution, a generous percentage of their royalties as well as the freedom to market their products in as many avenues as those authors have time and ambition for.

In my not so humble opinion, just as the uprising tide of tens of thousands of self-publishing Authors helped Amazon to change the landscape of Traditional publishing, so to will those same authors change the landscape of any one single entity who tries to herd them back into a conformity not of their choosing.

In other words, Authors, not Amazon, hold the real power. It just takes time for them to wake up and smell the grass on the other side of the fence.

Sharing the journey,

SSpjut

© All Rights Reserved

*Quote Source – Writers Circle, ‘E-Books: Pros & Cons of the Top 5 #Self-Publishers’ (http://buff.ly/1x7KiXH).

Writers Journal Vol. 2:4


images (11)‘Panser’ or ‘Planner’ Writing

A Blog2Book Novel Series

The Challenge

When I started writing ‘The Remnant’, I was part of a writer’s group that met twice a month for inspiration and to share two prompts each (no more than 500 words per prompt), as well as working on my first book (non-fiction, ‘The Unforced Rhythms of His Grace’), researching my second and writing content for my blog, ‘SSpjut|Writer’s-Blog|Stardate‘. Since I am a fantasy/historical/romance/fiction, writer/reader at heart, I didn’t want to lose sight of my first love. I also didn’t have the time to come up four completely different prompts every month.

One or two yes, four, no.

One day, while trying to find a solution whereby I could work on the my non-fiction books, satisfy my passion to tell stories, as well as come up with weekly content for my blog, I started thinking about how most of my favorite authors had taken a single story and turned it into a series of stories (Terry Brooks’, ‘Shannara’; Jim Butcher’s, ‘Harry Dresden Files’; J.K.Rowling’s, ‘Harry Potter’; R. A. Salvador’s, ‘Drizzt Do-Urden’; Charlaine Harris’, ‘Southern Vampire Series’, ‘Aurora Tea Garden’, ‘Lily Bard’; Dana Stabenow’s ‘Kate Shugak’, Liam Campbell; Anne Perry’s ‘Monk’ & ‘Pitt’; Jeanne Frost ‘Cat & Bones’ – the list goes on). The idea of doing something similar was like a pebble inside my shoe that wouldn’t fall out.

My Solution,

. . . take the writing prompts I had already been given and use them to create an ongoing story – 500 words at a time.

What began to emerge was a tale about post-apocalyptic Seattle ‘The Remnant: A 500 Word Prompted Novella (which I later changed to ‘The Remnant: A Dystopian Paranormal Story). Something along the lines of Terry Brooks’ ‘Void and Word/Shannara’. But instead of a fantasy about fairy and elves and demons, mine would be dystopian/paranormal with vampires, werewolves, damphirs, sorcerers, ‘reavers’ and humans, with a few angelic Watchers thrown in just to spice it up.

That’s as far as I got, and to be honest, even that much planning didn’t happen until about the third or fourth prompt. Outlines didn’t come until around the eightieth or so episode.

Problem solved. I was satisfying by my need to write fiction, fulfilling the bi-weekly writing prompts for the writer’s group, and supplying weekly content for my blog site.

A truly ‘panser’ approach to writing a blog-to-book novel series.

But eventually I realized I needed to have some sort of destination to begin herding my characters towards. A way to give the story depth and purpose. In other words, I needed to start planning where this story was really going.

That’s when I came up with the idea of having Spider (leader of the Damphirs, a species created to kill the ‘undead’) decide the only way he can keep his people safe is to take them up into Canada. But in order to do that, they’ll have to get past the Conclave of Four – Strigori, Rodannian, Varloc & Human – who have their own reasons for not wanting Damphirs to leave Seattle.

What started out as a way to keep working on my non-fiction books and still be able to scratch my itch for writing fiction, has snowballed into a series of books, of which I’ve now published the first ‘The Gathering’, and am currently working on the second ‘The Exodus’, with plans for the third and fourth.

(Next month I’ll share how researching the nine covenants mentioned in the Christian Bible led me to begin writing the ‘Keys of Destiny’ series).

Sharing the journey

SSpjut


Want to be the first to read the latest ‘blog-to-book installment of ‘The Exodus’ (Book Two ‘The Remnant’), as well as new of up coming book releases, writer’s journal, character short stories and profiles?  Click Here

Be sure to visit my new publishing site – reigningpress.com © SSpjut, 2015; All Rights Reserved.

Writer’s Journal Vol. 2.3


imagesAnd The Beat Goes On

A couple of months ago I came across an article,  Flash Forward: The Story Grid in Action, by editor turned blogger Shawn Coyne, in which he talks about the six questions an author should  ask themselves regarding the stories they write.

  1. What’s the genre?
  2. What are the conventions and obligatory scenes for that genre?
  3. What’s the Point of View?
  4. What are the protagonist’s objects of desire?
  5. What’s the controlling idea/theme?
  6. What are the Beginning Hook, the Middle Build, and Ending Payoff?

In Shawn’s post he offers the reader an info diagram he calls ‘The Story Grid’,  which diagrams the novel, The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris,  from start to finish, as well as promises to take the student/reader through the process of what it takes to create a solid story that not only answers the above six questions, but keeps its readers entertained until the end.

Now if you’re a fellow writer reading this post, then you’ll know that the Internet is flooded with a plethora of information on the topic of writing; ranging everywhere from How To Write A Best Seller to Plotting A Compelling Story to Creating Characters Your Reader’s Love To Hate And Hate To Love . . . and if you’re like me, your bookshelves have at least one, if not more, books on every aspect of the writing process.

Let’s face it, we writers don’t lack for resources – be it good, bad or otherwise.

So when I say that Shawn’s future posts on what it takes to write a compelling story/novel are probably some of the best I’ve read, I’m not exaggerating. And if you take his advice and buy/borrow the book ‘Story’ by Robert McKee, you’ll get even more out of Shawn’s articles.

I know I have, and the time spent reading both have revolutionized my entire approach to writing; as a panser as well as a planner.

How?

Before reading Shawn’s blog I began the first draft of every book knowing that in all likelihood, it would take as many as half a dozen or more re-writes before I would be satisfied with enough to actually begin to edit. Now, after reading Shawn’s articles, as well as McKee’s book on the structure of story, I begin every book, every act, every chapter and beat, with a better than good idea of exactly what needs to happen in order for me to bring the story forward to where it needs to be for the next chapter and the next and the next – until the story has a beginning, a middle and an end and can answer each of the six questions.

I’ve even begun to see if I can identify the ‘Global Story’ units (the inciting incident, the complication, the climax, the crisis and the resolution), in movies and other writer’s works).

And here we thought writing was all creative juices and magical fairy dust, right? Who knew writing was going to be such a technical endeavor?  (And this coming from the person who invariably spends hours trying to figure out how to put something together, before finally reading the assembly instructions.)

Let’s face it, time is a commodity most authors don’t have a lot of. I certainly don’t. Therefore it’s important we try and make sure the articles and books we do invest in, are worth the time and money spent. In my not so humble opinion, Shawn Coyne’s ‘The Story Grid’, and Robert McCree’s ‘Story’, are two resources I’m confident will meet that criteria. They did for me.

Sharing the journey

SSpjut


Want to be the first to read the latest ‘blog-to-book installment of ‘The Exodus’ (Book Two ‘The Remnant’), as well as new of up coming book releases, writer’s journal, character short stories and profiles?  Click Here

Be sure to visit my new publishing site – reigningpress.com © SSpjut, 2015; All Rights Reserved.

 

Writers Journal|Changing Stratospheres


o-ALZHEIMERS-facebook

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.  Eleanor Roosevelt

Several months ago my father, who was one of the hardest working men I’ve ever met, was diagnosed with advanced dementia. With all the changes in health care that have taken place since the George Bush Jr. administration, putting him in a memory care facility was financially out of the question (My parents could have bought a small island for the price they would have had to pay for the memory care alone.)

This meant caring for him at home was their only other option. My mom is 91 and weighs all of 100 lbs. soaking wet.

Since I’m the single one in the family, it fell to me to help. A task I was/am happy to do.

It also meant huge changes to lives – both theirs and mine.

If you’ve ever experienced what it is to live with an Alzheimer or dementia patient, then you’ll know that everyone’s life will be turned completely upside down. Days become nights (they need to have someone caring/watching over them 24/7), your home becomes a virtual prison (they are geniuses at escaping), its easy to become isolated, and if you’re a writer like myself, the battle to stay focused on the work becomes a feat of Herculean proportions.

To finish a chapter deserves a celebration.

To finish the first draft of your next novel, a feat worthy of Olympic recognition.

Marketing your books, keeping up with social media, as well as writing articles for your blogs and or newsletter – you can have nightmares just thinking about it.

On a good night my shift begins around midnight and ends sometime after 7 AM. On a bad night it starts even earlier.

With coffee in hand I begin my day (12 PM being the new morning) by helping my father with whatever his current needs are, then sitting in front of my laptop trying to get through the blogs and social media sites I follow; Tweeting, Retweet and or Facebook sharing those posts I find interesting or noteworthy before buckling down – or trying to – to the task of writing the next chapter or scene in my book.

Except for the time factor (I used to get up around 3 or 4 AM) and caring for my dad, this would actually be considered a normal routine.

But since this new change in the stratosphere of my life, those kinds of uninterrupted nights are now further apart than together. Generally my writing time is divided between my dad’s needs (either because he’s had a bad dream he thinks is real and needs me to make him feel safe again, or because he’s convinced its day instead of night and therefore time to get up) then, if the stars align, getting  back in the groove of whatever writing project I’m currently working on.

Let’s not forget my own trips to the bathroom to rid myself of the umpteenth million cups of coffee I’ve ingested.

Needless to say, the last couple of months have been an adjustment. Particularly with the writing. Let’s face it, its hard enough to block out distractions when life has no interruptions. Throw in disrupted sleep patterns, elderly parents one of whom has dementia, moving (Did I forget to mention I’m in the process of helping my parents downsize 50 years of married life into a smaller place?) and the endless doctor appointments –

My goal is to finish book two in both ‘The Remnant’, as well as ‘Keys of Destiny’ series, by end of June.

Dreaming right?

Maybe. But I’m hoping by setting myself a deadline will  give me the incentive to keep writing. Especially on nights when attending to my father demands all of my time and attention and writing a complete sentence seems like an insurmountable task.

*If you have elderly parents, you owe it to yourself, and them,  to read Alexandria Szeman’s (aka. Sherri Szeman) ‘Only With The Heart’ (read my review here) A brilliant novel that tells the story of a son and his wife who make the choice to keep his mother (who has developed Alzheimer) at home, rather than put her in a nursing care facility. Told from 3 different POV’s (the son’s, the daughter-in-laws and the mother’s), Szeman takes her readers on a journey of the heart that begins and ends with love – including all the emotional, physical and mental pain that happens in between.

Reading this book helped me see life from my father’s point of view in a way I don’t think all the doctors and social worker visits could.

By the way, tonight looks like its going to be a quiet one, so I’m off to work on the next scene in ‘The Exodus’, (Book Two The Remnant). Wish me luck.

Sharing the journey,

SSpjut

©Reigning Press; 2015 All Rights Reserved


 

Want to be the first to read the latest ‘blog-to-book installment of ‘The Exodus’ (Book Two ‘The Remnant’), as well as new of up coming book releases, writer’s journal, character short stories and profiles?  Click Here

Be sure to visit my new publishing site – reigningpress.com © SSpjut, 2015; All Rights Reserved.


 

Writer’s Journal Vol 2:3:1 RADD


imagesRADD – Reader Attention Deficit Disorder

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”Stephen King

While cruising through my Twitter page I came across a RT by Cory Doctorow ‘Publishing as personal: lessons from giving away a debut novel online’  by guest blogger Amelia Beamer.

In a world of publishing that is faster than the 4G speeds I wrote about two years ago, todays culture, especially here in America, is all about ‘time’ and the technology we use to get the most out of the 24 hour day we have. And one of those technological gadgets or its close twin, is eReaders or smart phones or iPhones or whatever gadget that allows you to read, eat, drive, talk and text your aunt Betty 2000 miles away, all at the same time. This includes reading the newest novel or non-fiction book or magazine or blog post.

But it was Beamer’s comment about reviews that really got me to thinking about my own novels and what it would take to get them into the hands of new readers?

It’s no secret that almost every marketing blog, forum or podcast on marketing your book will tell you how important it is to get reviews – post launch. Amazon even goes so far as to give a number of ‘must haves’ before they’ll put you on advertised author list.

Now let me pre-qualify what I’m about to say with the fact that I don’t disagree about the importance of book reviews.  I acknowledge their importance, just not to the same degree that everyone (except Amelia Beamer) does.

So why write about it. For two reasons really. The firstly to give you, the reader, an idea of how much importance I personally put on reviews as the basis upon which all the world makes it selections. And second to you the reader, how you would resolve the issue.

Do I personally rely on reviews to make my selections?

Never!

Ever!

The fact is, I’ve never watched a single movie or read a single book based on its reviews. Todate, all my movie watching comes from either recommendations from friends, the trailers, its promised story/plot or the actors within it.

What about the books I read?

Beginning with my first serious novel, ‘The Hobbit’ (first read when I was eight years old) until now, all my reading selections have made either via word of mouth or because of the image on the jacket cover (a hunky vampire or werewolf will win me over every time), or because of the inside blurb, genre and or author recommendation. (If my favorite author recommends a book, I’ll take a look.) Occasionally, when I’m in the mood to expand my existing favorite author base, I’ll either look for a series within a particular genre or pick up an  anthology (that’s how I discovered authors like Dana Stabenow and Diana Gabaldon, Charlain Harris, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Nalini Singh and Meljean Brooks).

But never, ever because of a review.

Which now brings me to the second reason for this post – if  time is a commodity few of us have, and asking someone for a review first means getting them to read the book (writing a review on a book you haven’t’ read is just plain wrong) then it would behoove me to find a way to get it in readers hands in the fastest, least painful way possible – beside using the words FREE! (even a free book takes time to read)

And who better to receive advise from than the very people who already invest their time reading my blog posts or following me on Twitter and or Facebook?

So how can I and authors like me, not only entice you to read our books (and hopefully write the all-powerful review) but do it in a way that makes it easier for you?

Suggestions welcome.

Sharing the journey,

SSpjut

©Reigning Press; 2015 All Rights Reserved

In Remembrance of International Women’s Day


images (1)

Letter To Teen-self

Dear ‘Me’.

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” – Marilyn Monroe

The later half of the 20th century until even as recently as a couple of years ago, will be a world in which woman like yourself, who know what they want out of life and aren’t afraid to go after it, are seen as bitches, overbearing loudmouths or lesbians.

The truth is, weak minded individuals will always despise those stronger than themselves.

Don’t let them tell you that your dreams aren’t realistic or that they aren’t important.  Especially ignore what your older brother says about how becoming a writer will only end in obscurity and starvation.  Believe when I say, chasing dreams is not what eventually makes you feel obscure or leaves you destitute — ignoring your inner self and cowering down before the fears and socially acceptable reality of others is.  

Trust your inner self – she’s wiser than you or anyone else gives her credit for.

I would tell you not to get married to that cute guy you met in college, but then we wouldn’t have had our two wonderful sons, so I’ll just say this – the failure of your marriage was because you were both stuck in other people’s expectations of what those lives should look like.  Maybe if you had moved to another state or ignored all the well meaning family advise, you might have been able to work through your issues.  

I doubt it. The truth is,  neither of you were living the lives you were meant to live.

At least not then.

In the years following the divorce, you’ll find yourself facing some very challenging choices, and some of the decisions you make you’ll wish you hadn’t. Especially where your children are concerned. My advise – put them first above all else. The time you have with them before they go out to face the world on their own, will be one of the most important seasons of your life. Invest in it by making their lives the number one priority of yours.  

Despite your being a strong-willed individual, you’ll still find yourself, more often than you would want, living out other people’s desires and expectation. But don’t despair, one day all those experiences will eventually become some of the background for your novels.  

Along the way you’ll meet some great people and develop friendships that may last a week, a year or a lifetime. But no mater how brief or how long they might  be, they will all add value to your life and believe me when I say, you’ll add value to theirs as well.

You’ll also discover that God is not who your parents or the religious leaders of the day say She is and that all the religious bullshit you were force-fed, is just that, bullshit.

So don’t be afraid to question everything – I mean everything. Only the religious are afraid of the truth and will go to any length to hide it, even making up bogus crap about end time judgments and religious acts of repentance and  acceptance. Take a deep breathe and know that one day you will finally come to the conclusion that God is either the all forgiving, all loving, all-encompassing Father Jesus said They are or They aren’t.

Spoiler Alert! You eventually come to believe They are, and decided to throw off all the shackles of religious dogma, embracing a Universal salvation that is all-inclusive, regardless of what mankind believes or doesn’t believe. In other words, you begin to believe in a loving Father who refuses to allow anyone to perish – despite  all the religious insistence to the contrary.

One last thing – just as the Phoenix rises out of the ashes of death to once again become the beautiful bird it was always meant to be, you too will discover how to rise out of the tragedies and disappoints of life to discover that dreams never really die and that at long last you have found the courage to do the very thing you always wanted to do – live life with courage, write what your passionate about and love others extravagantly. 

 Sharing the journey,

SSpjut

 

Format a Book with Word: Formatting for Smashwords


For the writer in all of us.

Format Book In Word

By Colin Dunbar

Special thanks to Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords for his permission to use material in this post.

Overview

Smashwords now offer the option to upload the .epub format. In the posts on this blog I cover the option for Microsoft Word, as this is “the best option for most fiction and narrative non-fiction authors because it’s the easiest method.”

View original post 1,183 more words

Barnes & Noble’s Dirty Little Secret: Author Solutions and Nook Press


Shady is as shady does. Has B&N finally lost their friggin minds? It would seem so.

David Gaughran

NookPressAuthorSolutionsNook Press – Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform – launched a selection of author services last October including editing, cover design, and (limited) print-on-demand.

Immediate speculation surrounded who exactly was providing these services, with many – including Nate Hoffelder, Passive Guy, and myself – speculating it could be Author Solutions. However, there was no proof.

Until now.

A source at Penguin Random House has provided me with a document which shows that Author Solutions is secretly operating Nook Press Author Services. The following screenshot is taken from the agreement between Barnes & Noble and writers using the service.

NookPressAuthorServicesBloomingtonopt

You will see that the postal address highlighted above for physical submission of manuscripts is “Nook Press Author Services, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, Indiana.”

Author Solutions, Bloomington, Indiana. Image courtesy of Wikimedia, uploaded by Vmenkov, CC BY-SA 3.0 Author Solutions, Bloomington, IN. Image from Wikimedia, by Vmenkov, CC BY-SA 3.0

There’s something else located at that address: Author Solutions US headquarters in Bloomington…

View original post 904 more words

Writers Journal Vol. 2:2 (2015)


4460976042_a1c8902046_oCharacter Arch’s & What Do We Do About Them?*
by SSpjut

I recently came across an article by Kyoko M entitled. Things The Dresden Files Taught Me About Writing. Well, being the Jim Butcher/Harry Dresden fan I am, I hopped over and read it. The gist of M’s post has to do with why Butcher’s ‘Dresden’ character is so likable – and I whole heartedly agree. Harry Dresden is your average ‘Joe’ who just happens to be a wizard and has as many hang ups as everyone else. Quite literally, the guy next door.

But here’s where I want to add my two cents worth – its the arch of Butcher’s character development that really does it for me. That and the fact Harry’s down hill slide into the dark arts isn’t because he chooses evil over good, its because he’s determined to do whatever it takes to save those he cares about – even if it means he pays the price. And lets face it, Harry always pays the price.

 

TRUE CHARACTER is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure-the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature. Robert McKee

 

So what has this have to do with what I am currently working? 

In The Remnant series, which is all about post-apocalyptic-dystopian Seattle, where the supernaturals out number the naturals, I love being able to explore multiple aspects of character development and the emotional/situational challenges they’re faced with. Those that are flawed and those who don’t know they are – like Sariel, and Count Moleach. With such a wide range of character types, I’m given an opportunity to approach each one just a little differently, blending motives and inherent species traits, with the cultural challenge of what happens when the monsters we’ve created, become our worst enemies?

Are All Character Arch’s The Same ?

What about about my Keys of Destiny series? Am I using the same approach in helping Serac, Ziana and Idduu search for the Tablets of Destiny, as I am in ‘The Remnant’s’ bid to get out of post-apocalyptic Seattle?

Yes and no.

Yes, my characters have challenges they are being made to face, and yes they will need to overcome many of them if they are to succeed in their quest. On the other hand, ‘Keys of Destiny’, unlike ‘The Remnant’, has its roots in history – namely that of the Patriarch Abraham.

Shocker, right? But true nonetheless.

Several years ago, while researching ‘covenants’ for a non-book I had intended to write (blame H. Clay Trumbull’s ‘Blood Covenant’ for my fetish on such things)I came across an interesting passage in the ‘Book of Jasher’ concerning Abraham and his great-great grandfather ‘Serug’ (or Serac in Akkadian). Long and short, it is the lack of information that actually gave me the idea of writing the story of ‘Abraham’ from a historical/fictional point of view, rather than a religious one.

Which also means I don’t have the same creative license in this novel series, as I do with ‘The Remnant’.

Why? Because religious-history, not me, has determined who the good guys and bad guys are, and how they got from point A to point B.

Or does it?

See, that was the question I asked when I began to write the story and realized the only thing the Christian Bible and Jewish text say about Serug and his grandson Terah is, they did evil in the site of the Lord. Not a single word about what it was they did that earned them that epitaph, or why?

Now remember what I said about Jim Butcher’s ‘Dresden’ character, and how Harry’s descent into the dark arts is because he’s made a conscious choice to choose evil over good, but rather, in his determination to do whatever it takes to save his friends, he’s made choices which  have resulted in less than desirable consequences?

So what if Abraham’s great-great grandfather Serug’s epitaph ‘and he did evil in the sight of the Lord’, wasn’t because he set out to chose evil over good. But rather, like our wizard Harry Dresden, life and circumstance only gave he and Terah so many choices, and unfortunately, some of the ones they made, had less than desirable consequences?

As much as I love writing ‘The Remnant’ and all the creative freedom that comes with that particular genre, I find writing an historical novel, where I’m forced to stay within the guidelines of certain events and cultural truths, just as exciting.

So whether the stories we tell are based in truth or in fiction, we need to keep in mind that, even though all characters must have an arch in their development, how we approach it can be as diverse as the stories themselves.

Sharing the journey
SSpjut

*From Reigning Press January 2015 Newsletter – Writer’s Journal

Be sure to visit my new publishing site – reigningpress.com © SSpjut; All Rights Reserved.

Writers Journal Vol 2:1.1 (2015)


Subscribe Here Plug 2

Character Archs

What To We Do About Them?

I recently came across an article by Kyoko M entitled. Things The Dresden Files Taught Me About Writing. Well, being the Jim Butcher/Harry Dresden fan I am, I hopped over and read it. The gist of M’s post has to do with why Butcher’s ‘Dresden’ character is so likable – and I whole heartedly agree. Harry Dresden is your average ‘Joe’ who just happens to be a wizard and has as many hang ups as everyone else.

Quite literally, the guy next door. But here’s where I want to add my two cents worth – its the arch of Butcher’s character development that really does it for me. That and the fact Harry’s down hill slide into the dark arts isn’t because he chooses evil over good, its because he’s determined to do whatever it takes to save those he cares about – even if it means he pays the price. And lets face it, Harry always pays the price.

So what has this have to do with what I am currently working? 

In The Remnant series, which is all about post-apocalyptic-dystopian Seattle, where the supernaturals out number the naturals, I love being able to explore multiple aspects of character development and the emotional/situational challenges they’re faced with. Those that are flawed and those who don’t know they are – like Sariel, and Count Moleach. With such a wide range of character types, I’m given an opportunity to approach each one just a little differently, blending motives and inherent species traits, with the cultural challenge of what happens when the monsters we’ve created, become our worst enemies?

Are All Character Arch’s The Same ?

What about about my Keys of Destiny series? Am I using the same approach in helping Serac, Ziana and Idduu search for the Tablets of Destiny, as I am in ‘The Remnant’s’ bid to get out of post-apocalyptic Seattle?Yes and no. Yes, my characters have challenges they are being made to face, and yes they will need to overcome many of them if they are to succeed in their quest. On the other hand, ‘Keys of Destiny’, unlike ‘The Remnant’, has its roots in history – namely that of the Patriarch Abraham. Shocker, right? But true nonetheless. Several years ago, while researching ‘covenants’ for a non-book I had intended to write (blame H. Clay Trumbull’s ‘Blood Covenant’ for my fetish on such things)I came across an interesting passage in the ‘Book of Jasher’ concerning Abraham and his great-great grandfather ‘Serug’ (or Serac in Akkadian).

Long and short, it is the lack of information that actually gave me the idea of writing the story of ‘Abraham’ from a historical/fictional point of view, rather than a religious one. Which also means I don’t have the same creative license in this novel series, as I do with ‘The Remnant’. Why? Because religious-history, not me, has determined who the good guys and bad guys are, and how they got from point A to point B. Or does it?

See, that was the question I asked when I began to write the story and realized the only thing the Christian Bible and Jewish text say about Serug and his grandson Terah is, they did evil in the site of the Lord. Not a single word about what it was they did that earned them that epitaph, or why? Now remember what I said about Jim Butcher’s ‘Dresden’ character, and how Harry’s descent into the dark arts is because he’s made a conscious choice to choose evil over good, but rather, in his determination to do whatever it takes to save his friends, he’s made choices which  have resulted in less than desirable consequences?

So what if Abraham’s great-great grandfather Serug’s epitaph ‘and he did evil in the sight of the Lord’, wasn’t because he set out to chose evil over good. But rather, like our wizard Harry Dresden, life and circumstance only gave he and Terah so many choices, and unfortunately, some of the ones they made, had less than desirable consequences? As much as I love writing ‘The Remnant’ and all the creative freedom that comes with that particular genre, I find writing an historical novel, where I’m forced to stay within the guidelines of certain events and cultural truths, just as exciting. So whether the stories we tell are based in truth or in fiction, we need to keep in mind that, even though all characters must have an arch in their development, how we approach it can be as diverse as the stories themselves.

Sharing the journey.
SSpjut


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