Monday, March 28, 2011

Care about your Characters

When I read, I want to know the characters in the story.
If I don’t care about them, then I’m not concerned about what happens, regardless of how tragic or exciting the plot is. Conflict is necessary, but it’s the gripping characters and their reactions to conflict that, for me, create a story worth following. Often, the author has drawn me in with a person that reminds me of myself. Other times, I’m compelled by the bravery of the protagonist. Even more, some characters are simply intriguing and I can’t turn away.

When I started this blog, I didn’t know what to expect. There are so many great sources of writing information out there, I felt like I had nothing new to offer, save a story. The story is what I love. Until recently, I had been living a writer’s life inside a deep hole, scribbling my musings in solitary darkness, hiding them in fear. Except for my wife, children, and a few co-workers, no one knew I was writing. Then I pressed the publish button on the screen and started meeting you. Since my first post, I’ve discovered online friends and acquaintances that make this story so interesting, that I can’t turn away.


To celebrate you all, I’m giving away one $15 gift card to  I’ll use to generate the winner.

Here are the rules:
To enter, simply comment on this post using the format listed below. That’s easy!

Want additional entries?
  1. Using your creativity, mention this contest online for one additional entry. Please provide a link in your comments so that everyone can follow what you’ve mentioned.
  2. As an appreciation to my blog followers, each follower will receive one additional entry with their comment.
  3. Selling a book through Mention it for another entry. Give us a brief blurb about your book.
That’s it. One random commenter will win the gift card!

To recap:
  • 1 entry for commenting
  • 1 additional entry for sharing the contest online.
  • 1 additional entry for following the blog.
  • 1 additional entry for mentioning the book you sell through
How do characters relate to this contest?
I want you to name your favorite character from a book.

So, here's the format.
  • Your name:
  • Your favorite character’s name:
  • Did you tweet/post this contest? Give us the link to your creative online sharing.
  • Are you following the blog?
  • The name of your book available through and a brief blurb. One book only, please.

Just a few minor points. There’s no need to list your email address with your post. Once the winner is selected, I’ll provide instructions for that person to claim their prize. Also, the gift card will be emailed. Unfortunately, the contest cannot accommodate anyone outside of the US—I’m sorry. Finally, one comment per person.

The contest will end at 11:59 pm Mountain Time on April 3, 2011. I’ll announce the winner on April 4th. Good Luck!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Power of a Re-Write

You toil over the words, analyze them, revise them, plot, ponder, say them aloud, and even dream about them. Admiring the best that your creative genius has to offer, you sit back and stare at the screen. Perfect.

With pride, you offer your page for expected approval from a trusted reviewer. Maybe it’s a relative, perhaps a critique partner; it could even be an unknown reader from across the globe. You expect them to tell you, “It’s a masterpiece.”

It isn’t. There are flaws, unanswered questions, poor grammar, errors in continuity, misused words, and weak flow.

Your face warms and the air thins around you. What happened? Did they read the same words you had written? They must be mistaken. Obviously, they have different tastes and don’t understand genius. Relax. Absorb some oxygen. Sit down. They are right.While tastes differ and personal opinions vary at levels that stretch the universe, there’s one constant in our arena:
Poor writing is poor writing.

I’d like to tell you that I’m an expert, with years of publishing behind me, and numerous books quantifying my experiences. Truthfully, I am a novice; I haven’t published an utterance and I’ve never spoken to a published author. I know the strength of words, and can tell you with certainty:
There’s power in a re-write.

Step away from what you’ve written and UNDERSTAND what your readers are telling you—take notes if you must. Then dig inside yourself for the inspiration to apply that to your revision. Re-write and then do it again. Print the pages or view them in another format. Look for everything you can to gain a fresh perspective. Sometimes it even helps to have someone else read the words to you. Oh, the horror; you’ll discover the flaws that by the nature of your abilities should not have been. Re-write.

Eventually, YOUR WORDS will form the POWERFUL MASTERPIECE you imagined.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Nature of my Stories

The words of Wilson Rawls captivated me when I was a child, especially one brief passage about a fairy ring.

A few years ago, I found a fairy ring; perhaps it found me.
Only days after moving into our current home, I saw something on the front lawn. Tiny mushrooms forming a circle. I didn’t jump up and down and exclaim that I had solved the meaning of the universe, but I was fascinated. A Fairy Ring. Immediately, the words I had read years earlier repeated inside of me. I took a photo with my phone and captured the memory of the moment. Then I looked around, discreetly stepped inside the circle, and made a wish.

A year later, while plotting my first novel, I discovered that some of the characters were flat. In fact, I hated them. If the author doesn’t like what is written, then certainly the reader never would. I tried changing their descriptions, their names, even imagining different voices to make them unique. Still, they were boring. Then I remembered my little fairy ring. Perfect.

I studied fairies—their history, the myths, and writings about them. I quickly realized that my own mental images differed completely from everything I found. There was nothing close and that wasn’t a bad thing. I wanted my creation to be unique.

So, I’ve kept the FAERIES, using the old world name to more accurately match the characters involved. Characters that I love. With a different edge and a remake of history, I’m trying to share their stories in a way that takes the reader to a place they’ve never been.

What about you? Is there something in nature that inspires your creativity? What are your thoughts of Faeries?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Word Behind the Pages

"I'm going to write a book."
I must have been crazy the day I told my wife those words. Until that moment, I had never expressed interest. She never saw it coming. See my earlier post: The Beginning.

She smiled and said, "Okay."

That is the only word I've needed to hear since. It is my guide, my support. That word tells me everything that I need to keep going. It confirms that I am crazy to do this; however, that word reassures me that I have her support.

I can't imagine trying to take on this endeavor without my wife. She is the inspiration behind every page I create. We're on a long journey and before every step into the dark unknown, I can hear her tell me it will be OKAY.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How Long Will Your Creations Last?

As a youth, I spent many Saturdays exploring mountains and deserts with my friends.
Climbing cliffs, running from snakes, and hiking to hidden valleys and waterfalls was exciting, but nothing matched the fantastic discovery of petroglyphs. When I reflect back on those unique images and symbols carved into stone, I can’t help but relate them to my own endeavors as a writer.

Surviving the test of time.
The etchings are worn, some of them barely visible, and are clearly the work of someone from long ago. Despite time and the effects of nature, the results of that individual’s efforts are endearing. For a hundred miles in every direction, there’s only a handful of such creations. I can’t imagine that, in the day the petroglyphs were created, there were only one or two people willing to tell their story. Where are those other tales? The time it took to create a lasting image, I think, is the answer. Someone went through painstaking effort, spending days, weeks, or months, to show us the world through his or her eyes. It’s possible that others, with good intention, scratched a story into a leather hide or painted descriptions with brightly colored berries. Over time, their stories disappeared.

Sometimes artists are snared by the brilliance of popular fancy.
Because a theme or topic is selling hot, we are tempted to follow along and join the money grab. There’s nothing wrong if our created stories mirror what’s popular; I think that’s a dream scenario for any artist. If we don’t offer what people will buy, then we’ll never sell anything. On the other hand, what if the hearts of our stories are painted with the colors of the moment, instead of etched deeply into stone? Will those creations last?

One year from now, five years, and even fifty years from now, will your work stand the test of time? Have you perfected your craft through painstaking effort? Is your creation unique? I ask these questions because I hope I’m doing the right things to make my stories last.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Beginning

Many years ago, it's been too long since, I crawled out of the Snake River and decided I would write my story.
Then something happened. Like the violent rapids I had just escaped, life pulled me downstream and kept me from grasping my dream. I wanted to write. I could see the images in my head and plotted a way to eventually allow them an escape. Eventually is an evil word. I hate it. Eventually turned to tomorrow, and then to next week, and then to next year. Every day, the stories inside begged me to release them, but I kept telling them that the moment wasn't right, that eventually, I would find the time. That was 1989.
So, what has happened between then and now? Well, that's all back story.

My Novel is Finished.
I finished my novel, On Fallen Wings, a couple months ago. It's not my first book, in fact, it wasn't supposed to happen. While completing an edit on another book, I wrote a page of words about the sister of a main character. They were wonderful, the best words I have placed with keystrokes. Suddenly, I saw her in my mind. She was sad and beautiful. I wondered what her story was. On Fallen Wings was born.

What About the Other Story?
I learned while writing my first book that sometimes you have to cut the parts that get in the way, even if they're good. That story is good, but it keeps me from the direction I've chosen to travel. It's like a stone in the river. By the way, they hurt when the water smacks you into them.

What is the Book About?
Faeries. I'll talk about them later.