Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Break: Going On A Hiatus All Through April

Hey guys! Short and sweet this time. April is here and the A to Z Challenge is in full swing. It's been fun seeing your entries again. I'm not participating this year. A few good problems have sprung up that I need to levy my full attention to, so I'm taking a blogging and social media break all through the month of April. Maybe in May everything will have settled down and become more streamlined again. All good things, mind you. All good things. Here's to good news in May!

Thank you all for the support and ongoing encouragement.

I'm David, and I'm all out of potato chips.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Guest Post: Alex J. Cavanaugh On Writing a Series!

Hey guys! My series of guest posts continues with the blogger and author super ninja star, Alex J. Cavanaugh, who will tell you about writing a series. This is a nice refresher for me as I'm preparing to continue a series myself. I leave the bridge in your care, Sir Alex!

By the way, Comic Con FanX was a blast! Pictures coming soon.

*     *     * Cassa series was a lot of fun, but I knew where to end it. Three books were enough to tell Byron’s story. I have since written two short stories, one that takes place before the first book and one that occurs ten years after the last one. But anything else I write in the Cassan universe will follow Byron’s son instead.

Most authors who write series planned for the story to span over several books. Some found new adventures for their characters and kept going. And then some of us wrote the first book with no intentions of going any further.

One advantage I found when writing the second book was the world and main character were already established and familiar. I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel or do a ton of research. It actually gave me more freedom to expand into new areas because I already had a foundation. I liken a book series to a television series. There’s more time to explore and develop characters. People change as they grow older and I could put mine through the same growth. And like a television episode, each book stands on its own but there’s a character arc from the first book to the last. biggest advantage is the built-in fan base. Those who enjoyed the first wanted to read the remaining books. They latched on to the main character and were curious where he would go next. We like to explore, but we also like a measure of security, and that’s what the main reoccurring characters can provide.

Of course, a series comes will challenges. A big one is keeping the stories fresh. No one wants to read the same story twice. I had to make sure what I was doing to Byron was something new and interesting. He couldn’t keep saving his people the same way over and over again.

There’s also the issue of keeping the details straight. It’s easy to forget what was written in the first book when working on the third. (Especially as I don’t read my stories again after they are published.) I did have to check back and make sure I had characters and dates straight. And names! And the greatest challenge – make each book better than the previous one. I knew I was evolving as a writer and getting better every day, but it’s a huge pressure to deliver an even bigger bang. By the third book, I pretty much threw in everything but the kitchen sink.

What really saved me was the length of time in between each story – twenty years. A lot can happen during that time and it guaranteed my main character resided in a different position in life for each book. It also gave me an influx of new secondary characters to keep things interesting. For me, those twenty year jumps kept it fresh.

After all, the dude is getting old now!

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Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Guest Post: Editor Reece Hanzon On Genre Fiction - Why Science Fiction and Fantasy Are So Important

Hey guys! As promised, we have a special guest who is taking control of the bridge today, to tell you why science fiction and fantasy is so important. You'll find examples of the books he's worked on through the post. Please welcome editor extraordinaire, and my editor for The Undead Road, Reece Hanzon! Take it away, sir. Watch for asteroids.

(If you're going to SLC Comic Con FanX, here's my schedule)

*     *     *

Most of my life, I’ve had to battle against a literary establishment that pooh-poohs science fiction and fantasy as having no real literary value, or not contributing to culture, society, or the human experience. Even now, when science fiction and fantasy are gaining more recognition and acceptance in society, I still encounter a lot of condescension for these genres; people seem to think that science fiction and fantasy stories are inherently escapist literature and do not or cannot teach us about life and humanity—never mind that both genres have made incredible contributions to literature that are still studied to this day (the great masters of science fiction and fantasy are often, in my experience, regarded as anomalies, or truly great masters that were amusing themselves with writing fairy tales).
This summary dismissal really bothers me because I think science fiction and fantasy actually have more potential to address modern-day issues than contemporary “literary” fiction. Those of us who write in these genres can deal with issues directly without being so in-your-face about it, which helps readers keep an open mind and not feel as defensive or uncomfortable—which can translate into much deeper thoughts on the subject at hand. For example, I recently worked on a manuscript that does this very well. Cold and Thieving Fires* by Blake Bunker is a riveting fantasy adventure set in a dying world torn by an unending war between the last two remaining cities, each with diametrically opposed philosophies and customs.
However, the true story of this book is about drug addiction and recovery. Throughout the book, the reader witnesses the main character’s descent into addiction, her denial of her condition, her harrowing rock-bottom turning point, and final recovery—all of which affect and are affected by the larger events of the story. Bunker has worked in the mental health industry, specifically in addiction recovery, and has used his experience to craft a story that is not only entertaining, but also socially important. Readers who have struggled with addiction, or who have friends or family who do, will find Cold and Thieving Fires resonates with them on a very personal level and gives hope that things can get better. It is a wonderful example of how fantasy can directly address an important issue in a much more accessible way than other genres. course, not everyone wants to confront an issue head on; many authors, even in contemporary literature, prefer to use symbols. Once again, science fiction and fantasy have a distinct advantage over their literary counterparts; because we deal with imaginary worlds, it is far, far easier for us to create symbols than it is for authors limited to the real world. Though, to be fair, we probably have more of a challenge helping the reader recognize our symbols for what they are without figuratively beating him or her over the head with them. Even so, we have the ability to help our readers confront ideas from a position of strength and security (the comfort of a blatantly imaginary, nonthreatening setting and the lure of an engaging plot), which gives our writing tremendous power.
When writers use their craft and creations to help readers understand and think about real issues, they have the potential to change lives. Everyone has some challenge or trial to deal with—whether physical, mental, emotional, philosophical, intellectual, or any other kind of problem—and everyone likewise needs help dealing with them at one point or another. Books, like so many other art forms, can help readers find the catharsis they so desperately need to help them through their trials. And science fiction and fantasy have an unparalleled—and sadly neglected—capacity to do just that. As writers in these genres, we have a responsibility to take our craft up a notch or two, beyond mere tales and amusements, and add some real substance to our works. By so doing, we will offer a helping hand to many, many readers, and especially to those who may not read the more “literary” books out there.

* Cold and Thieving Fires is not yet published. The details above are shared with permission of the author. You can contact Blake Bunker at

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Going International: Woven Is Releasing In Brazil!

Hey guys! I've got some incredible news about Woven for you (I've been sitting on this for a while, so I'm ecstatic to finally share it).
On April 5th, Brazil based Arqueiro will release a Portuguese translated version of Woven. Yep! That's right. Brazil! It's an honor to see my blue and gold book going international!

I'd like to give a huge thanks to the Arqueiro team for a beautiful job and the unique interior art, and making Woven accessible for new readers.

You can check out their sample pages here - I can't wait to get a copy of this baby in my hands!

Apologies for the short post. My new jobs keep me extremely busy and I have more stories to write. I'll be sure to keep you posted on new developments. And for next week, you're in for a treat. My editor for The Undead Road is going to pay this blog a visit. You won't want to miss it. Thanks for stopping by!

Have friends in Brazil who may be interested in this version of Woven? Do you love the new title? What have you been up to?

I'm David, and you know, I've always wanted to visit Rio ...