Saturday, September 28, 2019

Never Stop Reading

In absence of youth, blissful adolescence fades, conceding to sagacious thoughts. Perchance a white snake shall crown your head, granting you the wisdom to appreciate and revere the abundant mysteries and joy contained inside a book.


The next text message you send: Sorry, can't talk right now, I'm reading a book.

Wow, it has been crazy the last two months. Designed a board game, non-stop work on my next book, and lots of late night reading. Time slips by fast when you're busy. I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and have stacks of books ready to read this winter.

This week be a Sensible, Blue Worm or a Silly, Red Butterfly. 

Spreading the Love to Poland, Pakistan, Germany, Greece, Japan, Colombia, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and Bermuda.

The moon is in the 22nd house, Jupiter is drunk, and Venus lost Mars. Welcome to the age of personal feelings, indifference, and neutrality.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Writing Skin Color

Yup, this is about skin color character descriptions in fantasy writing.

I know this is a can of worms best left unopened, but originality and imagination should never hide behind a curtain of excuses. Say what you mean, mean what you say.   

General appearance descriptions paint a picture for the reader, (eyes, hair, age, tall, short, etc.) but when a skin color is added to the description, the author better tip-toe through the tulips if they don’t want to be accused of stereotyping.  

Without color, the world is empty.

So, should fantasy authors write skin color descriptions for characters? If the character is a fantasy race; yes, a skin color description is absolutely appropriate. What about skin color descriptions for human characters or is it better to let the reader draw their own conclusions? Do readers even think about skin color when reading fantasy novels?  Do any authors even consider how a character will be perceived based on skin color? Should fantasy authors only write within their own racial/ ethnic boundaries?   

Tough questions to answer, eh?

I personally believe skin color in fantasy/ fiction books should be included, so yes, I do write some skin color descriptions and sometimes I don’t. It just depends on how I feel that day. Green hair – black skin – blue eyes, white hair – brown skin – red eyes, purple hair – tanned skin – yellow eyes, are always a possibility in my world and the character’s actions and speech are based on the plot, not their skin color.

When an author writes about unusual or typical fantasy races is it an attempt to divert a reader’s attention away from thinking about skin color or stereotypical behavior? The PC people would probably say yes.

Moving on.

Book Covers: How often do you see a person of color on the cover of a fantasy book? Rarely. I looked for some, and they are not that easy to find. Fantasy books are a beast of primarily one color. 

I was always told to not judge a book by its cover. However, some authors spend a lot of time and money to make sure their book cover attracts readers – specific readers who like specific books – Romance, Western, Cookbooks, etc. Some people care about the cover, some don’t. Some people won’t read a book because of the cover. I understand. It’s your money, your time, and your choice.

Final thoughts: The world is a colorful place and my goal, with every colorful word I write, is to coerce the reader’s imagination into believing they are in the world I created. If using skin color descriptions help to achieve that goal, then so be it. A FICTIONAL story is fictional. Enjoy the read. Be open minded. Take a break from reality. A four-foot tall, thirteen-year-old, dark-skinned girl, with green eyes, long, blue hair, carrying a battleaxe, and wearing full plate armor is not that hard to imagine. Oh, she also likes eating grilled jelly fish and cheese sandwiches with hot peppers and spicy mustard.  

Appreciate the story as the author intended, and don’t worry, it’s not real – it’s fantasy!

This week be a Colorless, Energetic Bear or a Sloppy, Arrogant Weasel.

Spreading the Love to Poland, Italy, Finland, Greece, Sweden, Israel, India, Pakistan, Australia, and Canada.


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Wild, Wild Spider Web of Books - Librarian Nightmare

“Hey you! Are you a writer?”

“Yes, yes I am.”

“What type of books do you write . . . Adult, Adventure, Alternate History, Chapter Books, Chick Lit, Children, Comedy, Contemporary, Cookbooks, Cozy mystery, Crime, Cyberpunk, Detective, Diverse, Dystopian, Erotic Romance, Erotica, Fairy Tale, Family, Fantasy, Food, Friendship, Geeky, Ghost, Gothic, Graphic Novels, Heist, High Concept, High Stakes, Historical, Horror, Illustrator, Inspirational, Legal, LGBT, Literary, Magic, Magical Realism, Memoir, Military, Mystery, Myth, Noir, Nonfiction, Paranormal, Picture books, Regency, Retelling, Revolution, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Suspense, Sci-fi, Southern, Space Opera, Speculative Fiction, Sport, Steampunk, STEM, Superhero, Survival, Suspense, Thriller, Time Travel, True Crime, Upmarket, Urban, Urban Fantasy, Vampire, War, Western, Witch, Women, Women's fiction, YA, or bat-shit crazy stuff?"  

Intimidating and Frightening eh?  And people critique writers who use to many adverbs and adjectives.

This is what happens when writers are not specific about the genre of their book.

Simply saying you write horror is not enough anymore. You must say your book is horror with strong female characters, some mystery, fantasy, magic, and friendship. Oh, and a lot of romance with vampires.

Those appendages, attachments, accessories, and extras have to be included, because agents want specifics. (Visit #MSWL on twitter.)

I am patiently waiting for an agent to ask for strong female characters/ action adventure/ coming of age/ magic/ diverse/ mystery/ fantastical and philosophical fiction set in a fantasy world. And when they do, I’ll be ready!

I applaud the librarians who can categorize books in today’s world of crazy compartmentalizing. A librarian who can find a Romance/ comedy/ diverse/ vampire/ time travel book when asked is awesome. You got to bring your ‘A’ at all times as a librarian nowadays.

I blame fast food joints, because they started it by saying you can have a burger any way you want it. Pickles no onions. Tomatoes no lettuce. Tomatoes, pickles, no ketchup.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

The world is moving to fast for me. I am a dinosaur waiting for an asteroid to end it all.

“Burger, fries, and a medium coke, please.”

“How do you want your burger, sir?”


This week be a Tedious, Yellow Falcon or a Hypercritical, Pretentious Otter.

Spreading the Love to Poland, France, Spain, Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Argentina, Norway, and Japan.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Fantasy World Building and Other Stuff

Building a world from scratch and creating readable stories from your world is not easy, but not impossible.

What does it take to build a world?  Time, more time, a lot of thinking, and details – tons of details. Readers like details: odd shaped houses, crazy looking trees, silly drunks, angry bartenders, orange people, two moons, one giant continent, horses with six legs, etc. etc. etc. Details are essential, and they don’t have to make any logical sense whatsoever. Throw caution to the wind, be adventurous!

It’s your world, do whatever makes you happy. Think outside the box and then go where no world builder has gone before or is too afraid to go.

I suggest making a map first (start small and use a pencil because you’ll be making a lot of changes), and it doesn’t have to be elaborate either. Towns, rivers, lakes, trees, population, agriculture, trade, governments, rulers, and names for all of them will drive you insane, but that’s okay. Insanity makes irrational fantasy really fun. One step at a time and jot down everything in a note book. Do some research when required, but you don’t really have to. If you want a little boy or girl to wield a great sword, so be it! If you want the grass in your world to be blue, by golly make it blue! If you want elves to be big, fat, and lazy with long noses, I say go for it! If you want everyone to be happy about paying taxes . . . no wait, don’t do that. And when some idiot says, “That doesn’t make any sense,” you respond . . . “Fantasy!” Kind of like, when a literary genius, tells you, about how to, properly use, commas.  

When I started building my FANTASY world, I tossed logic out the window, because it was a FANTASY world. Besides, it was my world and I was going to do whatever I wanted. I only wish more fantasy world builders thought the same way, instead of trying to appease a few obsessive perfectionist hairsplitters.   

I just had to have a globe of my beautiful world.

I added topography too.

Three months later. 

Of course I went overboard, duh!

My world came into being by playing Dungeons and Dragons. When it was my turn to be the Dungeon Master, I drew a very crude map, dotted it with a few towns - populated them with good and bad people, and I thought of a problem the players might like to solve. From then on, my world grew a bit larger. But alas, after a few years, I had to stop playing because reality knocked on my door. (Wife, kids, job.)

Fortunately, I had saved all my D&D material and the original map, and when reality stopped knocking so hard, I began building again. 30 years later, I had my precious (way to big) world, which meant, I needed to start writing stories from the material I had saved. Deciding where to begin wasn’t easy. Twenty short stories later, I opted to start my novel at the end, obviously. WHY? Well, I blame the internet, because I have feelings and the internet doesn’t, at least not yet.

Speaking of the internet . . . the internet has spoken, and apparently it wasn’t very happy with the Game of Thrones final season or how it ended. I watched every season. Did I like all eight seasons? Each season had good and bad moments, but overall, I was mildly entertained. 

Making everyone happy can’t be done. There will always be a certain group of people who search for something to complain about, EVERY TIME! And trying to make logical sense of a fantasy is senseless.

Game of Thrones is not real. It’s fantasy entertainment. Either you like or you don’t. I have the utmost respect for every person involved in the show. They reproduced a writer’s vision into something watchable and entertaining. Bravo!  

I like fantasy series and movies. I dislike anything that begins with ‘based on a true story’, because there is a strong chance, I know how it ends. No fun if you know the ending. Reading or watching fantasy, for me, is my chance to peek into the mind of the writer and some writers are a bit weird. I like weird. If my neighbors wouldn’t get upset, I’d paint my grass blue, my house purple, and mount a giant scorpion cross bow on the roof to shoot at dragons and the undead. I hate dragons and the undead, and my neighborhood is full of them.

This Week be a Dreary Blue Undead or a Judgmental but Modest Turtle.

Spreading the Love to Poland, Estonia, Romania, Mexico, Greece, Albania, Australia, South Africa, Spain and Ireland.