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Posts Tagged ‘writer problems’

After all my talk about No-Write Lists, it might seem like I have no intention of actually writing much of anything. So let me assure you that, just as there are some things I don’t want to ever write about, there are some things I will always write about, given the right circumstances.

Witches/Wizards/Mages/Etc. I love magic and all the fun, dramatic stuff it can do. The world’s folk stories are full of different ideas about how magic can be made. I just can’t say no to witches.

Dragons. Like mages, the world’s folklore is full of dragons. There are so many fascinating concepts about what abilities dragons have and what their purpose is. Almost every time I start writing a story, I ask myself, “How long has it been since I wrote a dragon story?”

Prehistoric Ruins. Stone circles, ruined castles, lonely towers, cliff dwellings… You name it! There’s such an evocation of history in a good ruin. Who build this place, what was its purpose, how was it abandoned… All of these add layers of complexity to any story, and I’ll work them in whenever I can.

Libraries and Museums. I’m a life-long reader. No surprise, right? There have been a lot of great books recently that feature libraries, and I’ve enjoyed them all. But, I almost put them on my No-Write List because there are so many. Still, what’s better than a collection of old books or other objects? What mysterious or malign artifacts might be gathered into the collection?

Questioning the Status Quo. This is more vague, but I love to delve into the common tropes and make people think twice about them. That can mean literally swapping all the characters’ genders, or just taking the person who is assumed to be evil and making them… not. Basically, I can’t pass up a chance to flip a stereotype.

There you have it: a few of my favorite things, literarily speaking!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Yes, I actually keep a list of topics and tropes that I’m not going to write about! As a reminder, the list includes things that I feel are already being over-done or in some cases have become toxic. So what’s on the list these days?

Vampires, werewolves, unicorns, fairies. I adore fairies, but still find these creatures over-exposed. I would have to have a really unique concept. I still love hearing about traditional lore from other cultures, but I wouldn’t try to write it myself, since I’m not from the culture.

Schools for witches and wizards. It’s a fun concept that’s just been done too often.

Assassins, especially teen assassins. As an educator, I don’t see this theme as offering a positive future for our youth.

Tournaments and contests that are drenched in blood. Again, especially where teens are forced competitors. See the above rationale.

Dystopian settings. A little too close to home right now, honestly. I wouldn’t write about a pandemic or plague, either. Although, as a writer, I’m certainly storing up impressions and observations.

Pirates and bandits, especially drunken pirates. I just don’t find it funny.

Slavery being excused or condoned. Same with any sort of discrimination or harassment. These would be features of the villains, not something my protagonist would exhibit.

Violence as an appropriate response to ordinary situations. I know that sounds vague, but our media and stories are really dependent on violence. In the past, I’ve had characters solve their problems with the sword (or gun) and didn’t think much about it. These days, I try to use my writing to show alternatives to bloodshed.

Well, did anything on my No-Write List surprise you?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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My role-playing group has reached the end of a long journey. Starting way back in April of 2019, Gamemaster Dan led us through an escalating series of adventures. Last night, we finished it. The universe was saved!

But then, the game ended abruptly. It was after 9 p.m. and some of us had to get up for work in the morning. We all just shouted thanks to Dan and ended the call. I was left… disappointed.

The last couple of games were really intense. Over 2-1/2 years, we built our characters up with skills and powers. We hoarded mighty weapons and magical items. This battle was what it all came down to. Evil forces were trying to seize control of a weapon that could destroy the universe one solar system at a time. Normally, you hold back some resources for the next situation. This time, if anyone held back, there was not going to be a next situation. We laid out everything. Each player had their chance to land a great spell or make an impossible shot. A victory like that should be sweet and savored. But instead of sitting together afterward, enjoying the moment, the game just cut off.

This is something I’ve noticed before in some books, but especially in video games. After the characters go through all that, sometimes there’s really nothing else. You’re left standing in a cave with the dragon dead at your feet. Or it loops you around to start the whole game over at a higher difficulty.

But in a great game, you return to a hub location, where all the side characters you’ve bought weapons or healing potions from will thank you and congratulate you. Sometimes you can even watch an epilogue that describes the result of decisions you’ve made and what the supporting characters do afterward.

Role-playing games may be different than video games or books, but there still are lessons to be had in this. Our readers stick with us through all kinds of world building and plot twists, but if the ending isn’t satisfying, they’ll walk away unhappy. Worse, they might tell their friends the story fell flat.

Writers have to work as hard on the end of the story as we do on the beginning.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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This will be a short post, because there just isn’t much going on around here. Besides, after the last couple of posts, I figure you all deserve a break.

I’m working on those final revisions for Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. I hadn’t realized I started sentences with conjunctions (and, but, or) as much as I do. Also, it’s funny, but every story seems to have one certain word that keeps cropping up. This time it’s “rickety.” It’s a fun word, to be sure, but not everything in Skaythe can be rickety. I have to find interesting new phrases for those conjunctions and all my rickety objects.

In other words, writing as usual!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Something has been nagging at me recently, and I think I finally realized what it is. Every time you hear a news story, they seem to go on about someone or something being “innocent.” Innocent civilians fleeing a civil war. Innocent children being shot at school.

It brings to mind a passage from the Tao: “When people say that some things are beautiful, other things become ugly. When people say that some things are good, other things become bad.”

Just so, when news coverage and fictional stories continually refer to a few people as Innocent, what happens to the other people in the story? Do we think of them as Not Innocent? And what exactly does that mean?

Yes, innocence is a complicated concept. It can strictly mean that one did not commit a certain crime, but more generally an Innocent person is simply unaware of harsh facts in life.

It’s easy to recognize an Innocent character in stories. They’ll be the pure, virtuous person who deserves to be cared about and defended. If they do wrong it will be portrayed as a simple mistake and they will receive leniency. And by the way, they will be dressed all in white.

What about characters who are Not Innocent? They are mean and selfish, and don’t care if they hurt other people. They don’t deserve to be cared about and defended. A character who is Not Innocent doesn’t make simple mistakes. They are assumed to act with malice and should be punished harshly. Also, they dress in black.

Do you see how ridiculous these stereotypes are? Yet, they turn up over and over in stories, movies, news reports. How often in the past year have we heard that a black man was killed by police, only to have pundits and politicians rush in, assuring us that the dead victim was Not Innocent.

As storytellers, we might sometimes feel that it’s okay to lean on the concept of Innocent/Not Innocent characters. It might seem like no further effort is required. But anyone who is even a little thoughtful will surely realize that the world is much more complicated than that. If our fiction is to have deeper meaning, our characters have to be more complicated, too.

Just a little something I’m Innocently reflecting upon.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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One of the things I do when I’m between projects is to update my web site and social media with quotes from people who have reviewed my e-books. Writers can never have enough reviews. Even a few stars would be great, but like I said I’m hoping to quote good things from a review or two.

So, if it just so happens that you’ve read one of my e-books and put up a review, I would love to hear from you! Which one was it, where is your review posted? If you have one but didn’t remember the review, now would be a great time for that.

Thanks so much, if you did! Every mention is a big help for us Indy authors.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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As previously mentioned, I’ve resolved to push myself and submit my short stories to more places before giving up on them. You know what that means, right? Rejections are coming in.

Rejections are part of a writer’s life, and I usually try not to dwell on them. When one comes in, I just look for the next market to submit to. My goal is to submit to 5 places. That may not sound like much, but with markets quickly coming and going, it should be attainable.

With one of my stories, that’s going to be harder. It has a juvenile voice, but at 2,300 words, it’s too long for the juvenile magazine markets. So far it’s been at 3 places. I’m casting about for any more markets to try. If anyone has a suggestion, I’d love to hear it.

The other is more clearly for adults, so I have a lot more potential markets there. The first one I tried sent a generic “didn’t work for us” but then added they’d like to see more from me. I’m trying to focus on that, instead of the didn’t-work part.

One thing I’m observing already is that the responses are coming faster. Instead of mailing physical manuscripts back and forth, most publications now take electronic submissions. They are able to get through submissions in a couple of weeks, or even a day or three, where previously you would wait 3 months or longer to hear back.

Would be nice to get some acceptances, though!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I’ve been working away on my short story, Hag. Yesterday was very much disrupted, though. We’ve been waiting almost two months for the roofers to schedule their work. Suddenly they arrived! It was a different company, though. We had to call around a bit to make sure they were not trying to scam us.

But they were legit, and they got right to work. Unfortunately for me, my office is on the second floor. So all day while I tried to work there were loud footsteps and intimidating noises as they pulled off the old roofing. Our poor cats didn’t know which way to run. Later, when that was all off, came more loud footsteps and lots of banging as they nailed the tar paper down.

We were very impressed with their efficiency, although my poor plants were somewhat the worse for having tarps thrown down on them. Today was better, and I feel like it’s going well.

At least, until the roofers come back…


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Bear with me as I untangle a thought here.

I was watching an animated series that was supposed to be about samurai. I suppose I should have expected a bit of hacking and slashing. They’re samurai, after all. They have swords. As I got into it, there really was an extreme amount of beheading. Like, every single battle, multiple beheadings. Also limbs cut off, bodies sliced at the waist… All that gory goodness (?). And did I mention there were sorcerers and giant robots?

Yeah, it wasn’t exactly historical fiction.

As a viewer, I have a limited tolerance for beheadings, impalings, and so on. As an author myself, I see them as a sign of an inexperienced writer. Someone who isn’t confident in their characters and plot, so they try to keep up interest by throwing blood around. Also, show how cool and edgy they are, I guess.

But come to the end of the series, there was one death that stood out from the others. Just a simple beheading wasn’t gruesome enough for this character. She had to be magically twisted into splinters by some sorcerers who showed up, did her in, and then never appeared again.

It made me wonder about why the screenwriter chose to do that. Why was that character torn apart, when so many others were “only” beheaded? The other female fighters in the series were shown to be more feminine, caring for loved ones and loyal to family. When they died, it was mostly off screen or in silhouette. But not the lady were-bear.

Why was she treated differently? Was it because she was Russian, and some of us apparently haven’t let go of the Cold War mentality? Because she was a mercenary fighter, not a noble samurai? Because she was a woman who dared to be as deadly as her powers allowed?

It’s been a while, but this is a topic I come back to from time to time. What is the writer’s thinking when they decide when, why and how to kill a character? I would suggest that we ought to be a bit thoughtful when we decide these things. If we aren’t careful, we might leave our readers or viewers with questions that aren’t so easy to answer.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Is this thing on?

For some strange reason, there are a number of blogs I follow that I suddenly stopped getting notifications for. Most of my regular blogs, I receive a daily digest. About 2 weeks ago, they no longer came through. I don’t recall un-following them. It’s weird.

If people have to stop blogging, that isn’t something I want to pester them about. For most of us writers, we’re trying to reach an audience. If the blog doesn’t seem to be working, it makes sense to focus elsewhere.

Still, it can be distressing if one’s following starts to drop. So I’m going back through, searching for the ones I remember. I’ve found a few that I had to follow again. I hope no one thinks I’ve turned my back on them.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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