Stop! I Collaborated now Listen!

Alright Bookbrainers, (yeah you heard me), I have something special for you this week! Some of you may have noticed me post about this VERY briefly on the blog’s Facebook page, but I recently went on my friend’s podcast called Rawcast: A.D. (Here: https://soundcloud.com/rawcastad/017-bookbrain ) and got to promote the blog to his listeners. I HIGHLY recommend that you go over when you get the chance to give it a listen. Doug (the host of Rawcast: A.D.) and I talk about the blog quite a bit…

I'm Awesome

(Pictured Here)

…as well as talk about movies and books worth reading. Doug and I go waaaaay back to our college days at UW-Stevens Point. There is also a podcast we did talking about that if you’re for some reason interested in me…can’t imagine why you would be though…(*cough* look at above picture *cough*).

Anyway! Doug’s podcast has been on hiatus for a while, but he’d bringing it back better than ever going forward! Doug talks about everything from politics, to books and movies, to just random fun things that he feels like brining up. So if you’re interested in him or if you just want to hear me jabber like a moron for an hour about writing give it a listen!

Now to celebrate this awesome crossover how about a…FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE!!! On next week’s blog I’ll post the new challenge for YOU (yes you) to vote on and me to pick the wining suggestion and write on. So all you Bookbrainers…

Bring me

I want all of you to get involved in this next challenge and have your friends (all those Nobrainers who don’t read the blog) vote too! Also when I ask you to, “Bring me everyone,” what I mean is…

Everyone

Have a great week!

Creative Inspiration: Dungeons and Dragons

Alright you beautiful readers! This week I’m taking the time to dig into one of my favorite creative inspirations, so grab your dice and let’s talk Dungeons and Dragons!

Dice

(May the odds be ever in you favor!)

I’m fairly sure I was born with a love for all things fantasy. If you were to take a sample of my DNA and look at it under a microscope you’d see a tiny film strip of a wizard fighting a dragon. So it’s no wonder that this game appeals to me, what with it having a picture of both wizards and dragons on many of its covers. The only strange thing is that I didn’t get introduced to the game until I was in high school. (So many wasted years!) The game is even loved by people such as Vin Diesel.

(Disclaimer: I actually stopped playing official D&D years ago. I play a game called Pathfinder, which is essentially the same game but by a different developer. I just called it D&D when talking to other people because it’s easier and they don’t really care about the difference.)

For those of you reading not too familiar with the game, Dungeons and Dragons (much like myself), comes to you from the great state of beer and cheese, Wisconsin. The game was introduced to the world by Gary Gygax in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in January of 1974. Since then the game has seen many years of ups and downs, with the high of its popularity being in the 80’s (think Stranger Things from Netflix), though it has been growing in popularity in the last few years again now that all things geek and nerdy are mainstream popular.

Each player in the game creates a character from the rules offered in the books ranging from your standard Wizard…

Wizard

To the Rouge…

Rouge

To the basic Fighter…

Fighter

(It’s super effective!)

Once you as a play pick your class, race, and buy gear from what gold you have, you’re ready to play! One player though has to act as the narrator for the story and control the monsters you fight, they’re called the Dungeon Master (though to be fair the newer books acknowledge that this name has a LOT of geeky connotation with it have has started to call them the, “Game Master,” instead to try and sound cooler…it’s not working).

It’s the job of the Dungeon Master (DM) that I want to focus on though. For many of the games I’ve played my job was to be the game’s DM. There are pre-made games that I could run in this role, but the fun and challenge of creating my own worlds using the game’s rules and putting my friends into stories that I create (often without much preparation since that’s a lot of work and I’m busy *cough* lazy *cough*), has challenged me to become a better story teller over the years and helped inspire me to think about fantasy stories in many different ways. As well one of the challenges of running a game is that it only works when the players are having fun. Playing has challenged me in a way where I have to balance each player’s own enjoyment of the game, my enjoyment of running it, and keeping the game fair and running smoothly. It’s the kind of challenge that any writer interested in fantasy should consider since keeping readers happy functions much the same way and provides very similar challenges.

Hopefully in the future you think of D&D less like this…

Geeks

And more like this…

Awesome Geeks

Now that you’re more familiar with this amazing game and its possible influence, my challenge to you is this…go and enjoy your weekend!

Curiosity: Why This Blog is Late

Happy weekend everyone! I hope you’re all doing well out there! So as I’m sure you noticed by this title and by the fact that this blog wasn’t posted until Saturday this week instead of Friday afternoon that this blog is a bit late.

(Unless you’re one of those readers who catch up when you can…in which case just sit tight crouching tiger we’ll get to you in a second! Enjoy this very cold pineapple while you wait!)

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Now those of you who know me might be sitting there and thinking, “I bet he was procrastinating writing his blog this week and didn’t make the deadline and now he’s just covering his ass with this blog’s theme or my name isn’t Batman!”

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…or maybe I’m attempting to talk about one of the greatest tools any writer can use, curiosity. (This is where you come in couching tigers! Hope you enjoyed the pineapple!) Anyone who noticed that the blog was off schedule or thought about the title may have been curious about what this blog would be about, making them want to read on. The need to see where writing is going or what’s going to happen next is what keeps most readers turning the pages. It doesn’t matter if you need to know if the boy in the hospital will get a new heart in time, or if guy working at the gas station will get his head out of his ass and do something about the rich married woman flirting with him every Friday night, or if grandma will drop a pair of aces during the illegal poker game to win and thus get the money she needs to win this year’s Better Homes and Garden’s competition!

My point is this; if you can’t keep your readers wanting to know more, regardless of the reason, then you have some work to do as a writer. (I’m personally always worried about my writing not keeping their curiosity up, so no worries if you’re a writer and suddenly spastically freaking out, we’re in the same boat!)

Now that you’re curiosity is sated, please go and enjoy your weekend….or whatever day of the week it is for you if you’re reading this not on a weekend!

Giving Credit: Writing Tips

It’s the weekend! I hope all of you fine readers are doing well. I want to give a BIG thanks to everyone for all the kind words about my flash fiction story from last week! It meant a lot to me that you took the time to read something a little longer than my normal blog posts and that you actually liked it!

Love me

So because everyone seemed to enjoy it, I’m going to make flash fiction challenges like that a regular thing on here! But since it takes time away from me working on my book, I won’t be doing them more than once a month or so. Now, it has occurred to me that I never really spoke on how I came up with the challenge. Short answer: I didn’t.

eh

Long answer: So a few years ago I was walking through Barns and Nobel with my fiancé and I found the section of books that deal with tips for writing. I spent over half an hour looking through the various titles and scanning chapters. Now I have a degree in English and a minor in creative writing and I’ve spent a lot of my adult life thinking about and studying the craft of writing…yet I can’t seem to ever have enough books on the subject. Not all books on writing are good, and some aren’t really meant for people like me, but there are always some that I find have great tips and ideas about how to write that I gravitate to.

During this trip I found one that has since become my favorite. It was titled, The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience by Chuck Wendig. (You can see why the title grabbed me.) This book was filled with great ideas about writing put in such a way that it doesn’t feel like a text book and doesn’t sound like something a guy named Brad would say while wearing an ascot and admiring his own flatulence.

Brad

(Fact: Fred’s real name is Brad)

I can’t say enough how much I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in writing! So while reading it I became interested in the author Chuck Wendig and looked him up. He has a blog. It’s right here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/ I started reading his blog and on it every Friday he features a post called (you guessed it you super smarty pants reader!) Flash Fiction Challenge. Now for his blog he’s challenging his readers to do the writing and he just comes up with the prompts (somehow). In the future I may take more challenges from his blog to use or I may come up with my own, either way I’m very excited to keep writing both this blog and flash fiction, and seeing what ideas I can juice from my brain for you!

(I’m going to leave you with that fun mental image)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Flash Fiction Challenge!

Happy Friday readers! Before we get into the heart of things I just wanted to remind you that this week’s blog will be the short story flash fiction challenge. There were many submissions, but the story choice of, “Mermaids and Time Travel,” won. So since last Friday I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with a story.

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(Behold the creative process!)

The following is what I came up with! I actually had a lot of fun writing something that I wouldn’t have done on my own. I really enjoyed looking at what I could write in just a week and how far I’ve come as a writer so far. If you guys like this then I’ll probably do this again in the future. Enjoy!

 

“Negotiations”

 

Princess Kamare watched the human envoy enter the golden throne room with great anxiety. The tip of her fin at the end of her tail kept twitching in agitation, distracting her from the event. It had only been a year since the human world had discovered the great city of Wanax hidden in a massive cavern at the bottom of the ocean. The humans had been greatly surprised, but Kamare couldn’t help but wonder if her and the rest of Poseidon’s children weren’t more so.

The humans were wearing black suits with large bulbs on their heads and heavy looking packs on their backs. Kamare had been told it was how they could breathe. Many of them were also carrying a kind of black metal tube in their hands, but Kamare had no idea what there were for.

“It’s only been two hundred years since we last saw them,” Giorgio, Kamare’s bodyguard, whispered to her, “I can’t believe they’ve created such things in so little time.”

“What are they carrying?” Kamare asked quietly.

“No idea,” Giorgio shrugged, “I was told it’s some kind of tool. They don’t even have swords which is the strange thing,” he said adjusting the sword at his side.

Kamare leaned over to her mother, Queen Anassa, “What is their leader’s name again?”

Anassa looked a Kamare with the same tired looks she’d been giving her since Kamare had become an adult in age alone, “His name is Yuri. Be patient, we’ll negotiate the arrangement of a summit between our world and theirs, then you can ask them all your questions.”

Kamare was about to reply, when their court herald announced loudly, “Ambassador Yuri Demogorgon and his entourage from the human world to speak with Queen Anassa of the great city of Wanax, pride of our lord and creator Poseidon.”

At the front of the group a man stepped forward and bowed to Queen Anassa, then raised his arms and turned around slowly acknowledging the large cheering group of merfolk who had come to the palace to see the historic meeting.

“Thank you and greetings your majesty,” Yuri said through a speaker built into his suit, “It is a great pleasure to be welcomed into your kingdom.”

Kamare saw her mother nodded her head in greeting out of the corner of her eye. She couldn’t wait for the formalities to get out of the way. Her mother had outlawed traveling anywhere near the surface world two hundred years ago after a human fishing ship had greatly injured her father, who later died when she was very young.  Kamare had always been interested in humans. All she knew of them where the stories the older merfolk told and the writings from the time of the gods.

“Wanax welcomes you,” Kamare’s mother was saying, drawing her attention back, “Long have we hid from humans, but your very presence here has shown us that there is much your world could teach us. There is also much we could teach you of the old ways your world has forgotten.”

There was a chorus of applause from the gathering of merfolk. Many of them like Kamare were too young to have ever seen a human before.

“It is these old ways that I wish to discuss first,” Yuri said, locking the queen’s gaze with his own, “Is it true that somewhere in this great underwater cavern that you have weapons of great magical power?”

Kamare saw her mother shift uncomfortably at this question, a frown forming on her face.

“Yes,” she finally said, her tail flicking out in agitation at how things were starting off, “We do possess many magical items left to us by the Olympians.”

“Excellent,” Yuri said with a smile. He then raised his hand and instantly the humans behind him brought up the black metal tubes they had with him and metal spears rained out.

Kamare was stunned and unable to move. She watched as the crowd erupted into screams of terror and swam for safety. Everything felt far away. Clouds of blood dirtied the water obscuring her vision of the humans, who were reloading as Yuri was pointing at her and shouting something she couldn’t understand. She looked over and saw four metal spears pinning her mother to the throne, her eyes empty. Kamare tried to move to her, but she was stuck. She looked at her shoulder and saw that a spear had gone through it and pinned her to the chair. As she watched blood was slowly oozing from around the spear and with it the pain started to blossom and the reality of what was happening hit her.

Kamare screamed.

“Kamare!” Giorgio yelled into her ear, “Kamare! We have to go!”

Kamare nodded and Giorgio gripped the spear and yanked it out. Her body exploded in pain and her tail spasmed. He then took her arm and swam strongly out of the throne room, his sword in his other hand. As they went, Kamare saw spears from the human weapons fire at them through the clouded water, but without good vision they all missed.

“We need to get to the Vault,” Kamare said as Giorgio took them into a dining hall and shut and locked the door between them and the approaching humans.

“You’ll bleed out before we get there,” Giorgio said coming over to inspect her shoulder which was streaming blood.

“Maybe,” Kamare said, “But as long as there is rage to fill my veins I will get there.”

Giorgio nodded slowly, “What are you looking for in the vault?”

“Our secret weapon,” Kamare said, “There is a…” she started to say, but was halted when an explosion shook the palace. There was a pounding on the door as the humans tried to get in.

“Let’s move, we’ll have to take the long way to avoid as many humans as we can,” Giorgio said as they began swimming as fast as they could out of the other door of the hall and towards the vault.

The sounds of screams filled the halls as they swam. Merfolk were swimming in all directions, no one knowing where to go. In the thousands of years that the city has existed it has never been attacked. Its people had never known fear.

They rounded a corner and saw one of the serving maids lying on the floor staring blankly ahead. She looked at them and a dim recognition came to her face.

“There’s so many of them,” the woman said, her voice flat.

“What do you mean?” Kamare asked stopping her headlong rush.

“There were screams from the throne room. Then all these metal pods and humans came flooding in through the gates to the city.”

An explosion shook the palace again and the woman flinched slightly, “Where’s Poseidon? Why isn’t he here to save us?” the woman asked Kamare. She then laid down flat against the floor and began to sob into the marble tile.

“The gods died long ago,” Kamare said stroking the woman’s hair with her good arm, “But I will cast out the humans for them,” she then took off again down the hall, Giorgio right behind, her face twisted in rage.

A few minutes later they came around a corner to see that a group of humans and merfolk guards were battling at the entrance to the corridor that led to the vault. Clouds of blood were already starting to obscure them as more humans and merfolk came flooding into the hall. As Kamare watched some of the humans threw small oval shaped objects through the water towards a group of merfolk with swords and shields. The oval struck them and exploded, with twisted bodies, metal, and marble spraying outward.

“We need to get past them,” Kamare said to Giorgio.

“There’s no way through with you injured,” Giorgio replied pulling her back around the corner out of sight.

“I’m running out of time and so are they,” Kamare said as the pain started to ebb away with the blood from her shoulder.

Giorgio looked at her, his eyes held fear for the first time in his life, “Do you even have a plan? What is this weapon?”

Kamare smiled, “Poseidon secretly stole a piece of his father Cronus when he was freed by Zeus and hid it in a conch. Mother told me that if there is ever an emergency to blow the conch.”

“But what does it do?” Giorgio asked peaking around the corner to check on the fighting.

“No idea,” Kamare said, “But mother told me it was our greatest weapon and to keep it secret.”

Giorgio was silent for a moment then nodded, “For Wanax then!” Giorgio said raising his sword, “Let us save our people!”

“For Wanax,” Kamare said with a smile.

The two of them rushed around the corner, Giorgio in the lead his sword ready. A few humans turned when they saw them charge and fired at them. The first spear went wide and Giorgio batted the other aside with his sword.  The men tried to reload, but before they could Giorgio was upon them and cut them down without slowing. Kamare swam through their blood, determined to follow closely behind.

Kamare saw as they reached the other side of the tumult that the corridor to the vault was open. Someone had beat them to it. They swam through and Kamare weakly pulled the door shut behind them to the sounds of other guards shouting, “Protect the princess!”

“Welcome!” Yuri said from the other end of the hall, standing before a giant circular door in the wall that led to the vault. The men with him instantly targeted them and Kamare knew that there was no way to the vault without being killed.

“Open the door,” Yuri continued smiling.

“Don’t,” Giorgio said keeping his sword ready.

“It’s fine,” Kamare whispered swimming forward slowly, “Promise to stop the killing and leave us in peace,” she yelled as she continued forward, Giorgio following close behind.

“Done,” Yuri said, then stepped to the side and gestured to the door.

Kamare swam up to the door and placed her hand on the handle which glowed blue at her touch and easily swung open. For a moment everyone was lost in thought looking into the vault. The room was filled with an array of pedestals, each with a different artifact on it. Helms, shields, swords, armor, and a host of other items that all once belonged to gods.

“The door only opens for the royal bloodline?” Yuri asked Kamare, not taking his eyes off the inside of the vault.

“Yes,” Kamare said slowly drifting forward into the vault.

Yuri nodded then stepped into the vault to the first pedestal, which had a golden fleece on it. He reached out and gently touched it. As Kamare watched she continued to drift into the vault, edging further and further from Yuri and the other humans who were mesmerized by the artifacts. She saw Giorgio look at her out of the side of his eye and arch his eyebrow to ask her now what. Kamare put her hand to her side and held out three fingers. Giorgio nodded and tightened his grip on his sword. Kamare counted down on her fingers and then everything happened at once.

As she finished counting, Kamare darted for the back of the vault, but her blood loss kept her from moving as quickly as she should. At the same time Giorgio struck out with his sword and killed two of the four humans with Yuri before they could react. Kamare looked back as she swam and saw that Giorgio’s sword had gotten stuck in the chest of one of the humans, and before he could dart away two spears were fired and struck into him. He shouted in rage and pulled the spear from his stomach out and used it to stab its owner through the throat before another spear hit him and he stopped moving.

Kamare cried out in anguish at seeing Giorgio killed, but pushed her tail to swim faster. She could hear Yuri yelling something to the other remaining human just as she reached the conch, which to her didn’t seem any different from any other shell she’d ever seen. She picked it up and as she put her lips to the shell she felt two spears thud into her back. She drifted around to face the humans, slowly sinking to the floor. As everything started to become dim, she used the last of her breath to blow into the conch which released a powerful wail.

The world shifted around her and Kamare’s vision swirled. She felt tossed in several directions at once like she was being pulled through a powerful whirlpool. After what felt like an eternity of drifting and being pulled around, Kamare felt still. She opened her eyes and saw that she was in the hall just outside of her bedchamber. Kamare looked down and felt around herself. All her wounds were gone, she felt fine.

“There you are!”

Kamare turned and saw Giorgio swimming towards her, unharmed.

“We better get a move on,” he said, ignoring the look of wonder on Kamare’s face, “The humans will arrive soon for the meeting and you can’t be late.”

“The humans aren’t here yet?” Kamare said, excitement and joy rising inside her.

“They will be shortly and we need to get going,” Giorgio said, giving her a reproachful look, “You haven’t been dipping into the wine early have you?”

“No!” Kamare said in excitement, “But we don’t have time. Swim as fast as you can and alert my mother and the captain of the guard that the humans mean to betray us and to meet me at the vault.”

Kamare then darted down the hall, swimming so quickly her tail ached. Giorgio called after her, but she was out of sight before she even registered that he was yelling for her to wait. She came to the vault quickly, this time being uninjured and not avoiding battle. The door again opened easily to her touch.

Inside Kamare put on Achilles armor, Hades’ helm, tied the conch to her side, strapped Apollo’s bow to her back, picked up Poseidon’s trident and Zeus’s shield and swam out of the vault. Her mother was there along with Giorgio and other important guards and merfolk.

“What are you doing?” Anassa asked, shocked to see her daughter with the god’s artifacts.

“The humans have come for war, war I will give them.”

And the Winner is…

Alright readers! Today’s the big day! The day you find out what reader suggestion I follow for my flash fiction challenge! But before I reveal my choice (que annoyed grumbles), I want to talk about the progress I’ve been making with my book.

If you can think way back to my second blog post on May 1st (I know it feels like forever ago!), I talked about how at the time I was 1/8th of the way through my projected book length of 350 pages. As of this week I finally reached 1/4th the length I’m shooting for!

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(Hell yeah!)

That’s right! In two months I’ve managed to double the length of my book. And you know what? I personally think it’s all because of you guys. In the past eleven weeks all of you have been very supportive and have helped keep me motived to continue writing even when I’m having days I just don’t feel like it. So if you’re reading this, then you’re the real MVP!

Now for the big show! After reading through your suggestions and thinking very hard about which one I like the best and can write about, the winner is…

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(Drum roll please!)

Time Travel and Mermaids!

So for next week’s blog I’ll be posting a short story that’s 1-2 thousand words long about time travel and mermaids. This will be an original story and one I hope you’ll all enjoy. This will be the first actual fiction I post on here so if this is something you guys like or want to see more of let me know and we can make it happen’ captain!

Reader’s Choice: Flash Fiction Challenge!

(Kicks in door!)

Welcome readers! I have a very special treat for you this week! As you may have guessed it’s time for all of you to play an active role in this blog. You! Yes you reading this right now while wondering how long you can hide in the bathroom before someone drags you back to responsibility, will get to choose something I write!

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(Your face)

We’re going to be doing what is called a flash fiction challenge. For those of you who don’t know, a flash fiction challenge has nothing to do with exposing myself to fictional characters, it’s all about writing a short story based on a random prompt in a short period of time.

So here’s what we’re going to do. At the bottom of this post is a LONG list of various…things I think would be the best way to describe it. In either the comments here on the blog’s Facebook page tell me what you’d like to see me write about in a story that is 1,000 to 2,000 words long.

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  1. You can only post ONE mashup!
  2. You can only choose TWO things you want me to write about. Example, you can choose ninjas and pirates, but you can’t choose ninjas, pirates, and Jabba the Hut.
  3. You can not combine the choices. This means monkeys and dinosaurs as a choice is ok, but not time traveling monkey vampires and dinosaur ghost librarians. (I’m not saying that wouldn’t be awesome, but it does put a lot of limitations on ideas for me and I don’t have that many words to work with.)
  4. If you have an idea for something that isn’t on this list that you want me to consider writing about you can, BUT (and I mean a but so big even Sir Mix-a-lot thinks it may be too much) please use caution if you want to do this. I don’t want things getting too out of hand with write ins. So please use your best judgement…oh God what did I just ask of the internet?
  5. You will have until 11:59pm central time on Wednesday June 29th to submit your vote for what you want me to write.
  6. I will pick the winner to write about based solely on what I think is cool, but if a lot of people want to see the same thing or if one idea seems very popular, then I may pick that one. (or not, who’s to say really?) If you think that’s unfair, I’m sorry to say I’ve already checked with the referee who decides what’s fair and he says it’s fair.referee-1544532_960_720
  7. (See? I checked!)
  8. I’ll announce the winner at the end of next week’s blog!
  9. The short story will be an original piece of fiction that I’ll write myself which only one week to do it.
  10. The short story will be posted here on the blog on July 7th.

Finally before we get to the list and you brains go into over drive, if this flash fiction challenge is something that you the readers enjoy and want to see more of let me know and we could make this a regular thing. And now without further delay…

The List!

Robots

Vampires

Monkeys

Demons

Pirates

Dinosaurs

Goblins

Dragons

Ghosts

Gods

Time Travelers

Cops

Librarians

Rock Singers

Skeletons

Interdimensional Floating Jellyfish Creatures

Aliens

Cats

Werewolves

Classical Musicians

Zombies

Monks

Spiders

Heroes

Fairies

Robots

Assassins

Mutants

Cannibals

Mermaids

Scientists

Serial Killers

Cultists

Any US President prior to 1990

Any Superheroes

Artificial Intelligence

Swamp Monsters

Cheerleaders

Elves

Scooby-Doo

John McClane (Die Hard)

Any Star Wars Character

Hannibal Lector (Silence of the Lambs)

Godzilla

Any Friends Character

Any X-Men Character

Sherlock Holmes

Alice from Alice in Wonderland

The Demon from Paranormal Activity

Any Looney Tunes Characters

The Hunger Games

The Shining

Any Transformer

Making a Villain: Doing Bad Good

Welcome back readers! Today I have something very special for you. Today I want to talk about villains! I had a discussion recently with someone reading my book as I write it to give me ideas and our discussion turned towards the character who will be the main villain of the book.

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(Behold the face of true evil)

After our discussion I thought a lot about the character and how I’ll present them in the book and show the reader that they’re evil. Now I could go the traditional way and just show them choking people out for no reason, kicking puppies, and wearing all black.

Darth

(So close Darth! Just remember that 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!)

But this feels like a kind of over-done stereotypical way to show evil that I just don’t want. Be honest, how many of you watch movies or read books and look at the villain and think, “Ok, yeah, they’re clearly the bad guy and evil…but they’re not really cool.” If you want an endless list of physical traits to show someone is evil, the best place to look is Bond movies. The villains in those movies run the gauntlet of “evil looks,” from being bald, scars, dead eyes, metal teeth, being not English, to even just being short (though to be fair that actor did actually turn out to be evil as hell and is currently in prison so they may have had something there).

All this still feels superficial to me though. I want my villains to not just be one dimensional physical representations of evil, I want the reader to need to get their blood pressure checked after reading my book they hate the villain so much! To do this I’ve come up with three basic things I think all villains should have using the case study of this evil bastard:

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This is Tywin Lannister from the show Game of Thrones in the event that you’ve been handing under a rock for several years. He is not the person I hated most on the show (BURN IN HELL JOFFERY!!!), but he was one of the best villains not only on that show, but anywhere. So what are the three things that Tywin had that made him an amazing villain?

One: Personality. This is what I mean when I said earlier having a villain be more than just black clothes and scars, I want them to have depth. All the best villains have a personality that comes out through dialogue and action and gives the feeling like a real person and not just some cardboard cut-out with the word, “Evil,” written on it. Tywin through the course of the show displays ranges of emotions from rage and disappointment to smugness and joy. Tywin is more than just your standard angry and brooding villain, he has a range of emotions that bring a 3D sense of his character. This coupled with his backstory that’s revealed through bits and pieces lets you know who he is as a person. Because of this that leads to the second thing that makes a great villain.

Two: Relatable. Tywin at his core is a man rooted in family. If you look past the horrible things he does, you see a father trying to keep his family protected and together. He is a father looking to make a better world for the kingdom by making it better for his family. Any good villain, the kind of villain who sticks with you, has something in them that the audience can relate to. A parent can relate to the base ideas of Tywin, enough that they won’t condone his actions, but they understand him. Which brings us to the third requirement.

Three: Motivated. Tywin is nothing if not motivated. His grand plans and desires drive him without failure through the story. This is key for a good villain. No one fears, hates, or worries about a villain who never gets out of bed and has plans to do evil deeds, but never gets around to doing it. This is where if a villain has a personality and is relatable, they will have motivation.

All real people have these three things and characters, whether an evil sorcerer king, a suburban drug dealer, or an intergalactic mobster slug, have a personality and relatable desires to make them highly motivated and engaging villains that you’ll love to hate!

I know there are lots of other good things that go into making a good villain, too many to list here. Go ahead and comment here or on the blog’s Facebook page to let me know what you think makes a great villain!

Creative Inspiration – My Favorite Author

Alright folks it’s time again to talk about sources of inspiration! This time I’m going to take things in a little bit different direction.

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(not that direction)

Instead of looking at my favorite movie I’m going to turn to books and talk about my favorite author. There are many authors I love which I’m sure I’ll talk about later, but there is one far above the rest. This is a man who has everything a good writer should have including the optional but ever amazing EPIC BEARD!!!

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(BASK IN ITS GLORY!!!)

This is Patrick Rothfuss. If you’ve never heard of this magnificent bastard sit your ass down and listen! Rothfuss is the author of two novels so far in a trilogy with a third on the way. The first book, The Name of the Wind, and the second, Wise Man’s Fear, are absolutely outstanding works of fantasy. These fantasy books center around a man named Kvothe as he tells the story of how he learned magic and worked to hunt down a group of malevolent figures from legends that murdered his family.

Rothfuss’ writing is something I’ll never tire of reading and will continue to recommend to anyone who will give me a minute of their time (kind of like the crazy guy who smells like pee in a subway station). Beyond the fact that he does a fantastic job of world building and developing a magic system that works, his writing brings an air of authenticity that hits you with hurricane strength winds. What I mean by this is that these are not just a books about a man who learns magic and fights with a sword, these are books about a man struggling with grief and loss of his family, burning desire for vengeance, and a woman who causes a love in him so profound that Rothfuss’ take on the feeling rival any writings that are taught in literary courses today. If you can’t find a way to connect with the emotions and people in these books, then you either have led a horrible life or hang out with this guy on the weekends.

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(just make sure you don’t have better business cards)

One of my personal goals as a writer is to someday match Rothfuss’ level of skill with the craft of writing, but until then I’ll settle with pointing people his way. So if you’re interested in reading his books you’re in luck! This year actually marks the 10th anniversary of the first book’s release and RIGHT NOW there is a fundraiser going on where you can pre-order a SIGNED copy of the upcoming anniversary edition of, The Name of the Wind, and have the money go to charity!

See, Patrick Rothfuss not only is a great writer, but he has set up a charity called Worldbuilders which does two annual fundraisers to get money for an organization called Heifer International. This organization uses donated money to give reusable and sustainable change to people in need along with the tools and education to keep the good will going, (you know, the whole teach-a-man-to-fish kind of thing). An example of this is the organization giving a goat to a family in a developing nation and then teach and give them the tools to not only care for it, but how to get milk and cheese from the goat and how to care for it when its pregnant and what to do with the kid. They can even sell the extra to make more money to improve their lives. Patrick loves this kind of charity work that helps people build permanent change in their lives and not just feed them for a day.

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(that goat is SO star struck right now)

So right now one of these charity events is going on called Geeks Doing Good and the money goes directly to Heifer International. You can get there from this link https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/geeks-doing-good-2017-books#/ . Go on there and pre-order a copy of a book that changed my life. Or buy some of the other really cool stuff for sale right now. OR just donate to help a family in need somewhere in the world never need charity again. I donate what I can twice a year to these charities, even during the years money has been a bit tight.

If you’re thinking to yourself right now, “Hey! When the hell did this blog post about Spencer’s favorite author turn into a pitch for me to donate money to charity?” The answer is this, you don’t have to! I just think this is something cool to hear about and a way to pick up a signed copy of a special edition of an amazing book written by an amazing author who I hope you’ll at least risk the late fee by borrowing his books from the library.

Now go forth and be awesome and inspired!

You’re Not Hemingway: Writer Things

Welcome back to your favorite way to start your weekend! (you know it’s true)

Going into this weekend let’s talk about some writer things. I’m not talking about things like pens, paper, writer confetti…

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(Writer Confetti)

Over the years I’ve realized that many people have some ideas of what writers are like. I’m not going to go into all of the different stereotypes, that could take a while. Instead I’m going to focus on the two that kind of go hand-in-hand. These are the, “Coffee House,” and, “Alcoholic,” writers.

You know what I’m talking about. The Coffee House writer is the writer that sits in a public place, usually at a coffee shop or with coffee, and writes. Now I’ve been guilty of this one myself on several occasions, but unlike the stereotype I was actually there to work in a space away from where I lived. The Coffee House writer is more interested in being SEEN writing rather than ACTUALLY writing. You will know them by their screens tilted so that others can see it, constantly roving eyes looking for eye contact, and them jumping at the opportunity to say, “Why yes! I am writing a novel! It’s a space epic about a chimpanzee star pilot falling in love with an alien made of mold whose people are at war! It’s really a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but you’d have to read it and have a degree to get it. LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT!!!” If you see this person, you must shun them! SHUN!!!

The other type is the Alcoholic writer. This is the writer that claims that they are, “unable,” to write without alcohol. As if they have some sort of mystical liver that if you pour alcohol in a great American novel comes out.

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(If you look closely you can see he’s going to spring into a flurry of writing at any moment)

This kind of writer will use alcohol as an excuse to do stupid things all in the name of their, “art.” Really they’re just using writing as an excuse to drink. Shun this person. SHUN THEM!!!

Now at this point you’re probably curious how these two kinds of writer’s came to be. It’s simple, blame this man:

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This is Ernest Hemingway. (seen here typing a few words before he goes and shoots a lion in the face) Hemingway, for those of you who don’t know, was a famous American author who made a name for himself writing about drinking and manliness. He was well known for writing in cafés and drinking enough alcohol to fuel a rocket. To this day many of his works are still seen as some of the greatest American novels ever written and are frequently taught in schools. Now because of this man:

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(Yes, this man)

Many people make a show of imitating his public writing and drinking exploits thinking that it will make them either a better writer or a more authentic one. The worst part? Many of these annoying asshats don’t even realize that they’re imitating him! They just think that’s the, “thing,” you do to be a writer.

So there you go! For those of you who think this is all writers, hopefully you know more and realize these two kinds of writers aren’t to be encouraged. That real writers are the ones busting ass at a keyboard on good days and bad, whether the inspiration is there or not, whether or not anyone sees it. The other kinds? They are to be shunned. Shunnnnnnnnd.