Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Character Interview: Randall Fagan - From Seeking the Storyteller

Good morning everyone, today our publisher has finally revealed their fanclub which can get you access to special items concerning our book and many others.  As part of this, an interview with one of our main characters: Randall Fagan is on the site!

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Randall Fagan, a certified Hunter!  Mr. Fagan, thank you for meeting with me!
Really, you don’t need to be that formal.  You can just call me Fagan.  I don’t use Randall, you can think of it as a… secret identity thing.
Ahahaha, sorry about that, I'll just call you Fagan from now on.  Now, can you explain what it is that you do?  What is a Hunter, exactly?
I would say it’s like a police force, but I’m going to get in trouble for that.  So let’s just go with we’re the people who hunt down the monsters and demons that people don’t want to acknowledge exist.
So you're saying that demons and monsters actually exist?  Come on, you must be joking!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A couple thoughts about hunters

The hunter has become a staple in fantasy fiction.  The idea of being a warrior and hunting for something has been around forever, showing up in movies and books all over.  In human history, the hunter was the person who brought back food and ensured the family and group would survive.

Hunters, slayers, trackers - aside from being something constant in human life as a source of food, they're also present in our tales and stories.  Now, with the collective media focusing on telling stories about supernatural creatures in our world, the role of the hunter is also in the focus again.

Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Arrow, Agents of Shield and countless others have a special place for the hunter, as the lone defender of the human race.  They can be good or bad, have great morals or not so reputable ones - but they have a very important place as the person(s) who stands between the 'creature' and the rest of humanity.

The idea of the hunter seems to center on a small group of individuals who are specially trained to handle these threats.  They know the proper tools to take down the monster or dismiss the ghost, letting us live our life normally.  They are the only ones who seem to have any idea of what's going on behind the shadows and I think, that's the appeal.

A person who has either stepped into this life of constant battle or has been raised in it since birth holds an appeal to writers - because of the isolation.  They don't fit in, or if they do, the very act of the hunt is distancing.  They take their life into their hands to save others, and at the very least they're left to wonder if anyone would even notice if they disappeared and that creature got away.  Instead of a hunt for food, it's become a hunt for safety, a goal that never seems within reach.  This creates a constant plot line and plenty of ways to explore a character in their trials.  It also creates a foundation for relationships between characters that are that much more intense then they seem in normal life.  There's an urgency almost built into the character because they know their own mortality and they flirt with it every day.

These kinds of things draw me to these characters.  To create them, to write them and to create a world where they fit into the shadows.  What do you think?  If you're reading this you've probably had exposure to this genre.  What do you like about the archetype of the hunter in current urban fantasy fiction?  What do you think makes their lives so much more interesting?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Published: Seeking the Storyteller

Oh my gosh it happened early!

Pardon my excitement and I'll try to be coherent, but it's official, I am now a published author.

My partner and I wrote this book two years ago for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) on a whim and it's kinda been a roller coaster ever since.  I've actually been writing since way back before the 6th grade and she and I have been brainstorming this story and world for over 12 years.  This is a big, HUGE, deal for us.  She already has three published works, but this is my first and it's kinda hitting me now.

So you can find the book here on Amazon.  If you're a reviewer, you can contact me if you'd like a review copy in exchange for you posting a review on the internet.  If you have thoughts about the novel and the next ones coming out, please let us know, we would love to hear them!

Time for me to update my author page... because oh my god, I'm an actual author now.

You can buy the book here!!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Seeking the Storyteller: Preview Chapter Updated

Dropping in quickly to tell everyone to check out my author page.  We're so close to the book release date being announced that I can hardly contain myself.  In the meantime, I've updated my author website with a preview of the first chapter and I've also included it below for anyone who's interested in a taste of what's to come!

Social Media Tips for Authors

At my non writing job we had to take a couple classes on Social Media and while I found I knew most of the information, I realized that not everything is quite as obvious.  It may feel like second nature to me, but for others (like the classroom around me) it might not be.  So I took notes on all the important stuff and assembled it below, in hopes that it might actually help someone else out there.  This is stuff that applies mostly to promoting yourself and your business on Social Media, but can apply to normal life too.  (Keep in mind I'm not an expert, this is just my notes from what I learned).

Most Important
The most important things to keep in mind when presenting yourself on social media, from a business perspective are Honesty, Transparency and Authenticity.  It boils down to don't lie on Social Media.  If you lie there's a record out there of what you said (or that you deleted it) and you will be found out.  So it's generally just not a good idea.

Have a disclaimer
When you're creating a social media site, blog or anything like that, especially where you're going to post about entities and properties other then you're own, make sure you have a disclaimer (usually in your profile) that all of your views are your own.

When you see a link you like, don't just reblog it.  Add your own thought.  Keep in mind that if you and those following you have overlap in friends, they'll see a link several times with the same information.  What's the point of them looking at your post as opposed to everyone else's?  This is especially true with things like Twitter and Tumblr.  Instead, you should add a hook, something extra to catch their attention and hopefully steer them toward you and your thoughts, along with the link.

Also, in the same vein, when you reblog or retweet something, make sure it doesn't cut it off.  For example Twitter has a limit of characters, but blogs and tumblr don't, so sharing a link or post between them might cut off.  Be mindful of this and edit if needed to keep it looking clean and professional when sharing information between sites.

No Autoreplies
Avoid autoreplies.  They're boring, they're mechanical and no one really wants to see them, especially if it's a shameless plug like 'buy my book'.  Either respond personally or just don't do it.  It cuts down on clutter.

Credit Your Sources
A Golden Rule of Social Media... if you take from a source, credit it.  This applies to writing, to pictures, everything.  While the internet is hugely public, you should also respect the others there.  If you use an image, it doesn't take much to say where you got it.  Same with news and everything else.  Credit your sources, it's just plain nice.

Don't be a Troll
Don't be a troll.  While it might feel awesome every once in a while to poke at people and fan a flame, it doesn't look good for you.  Very few people can develop an online persona that's loved by being a jerk, so just don't do it.  You'll drive away more people then you'll gain and that doesn't help.

Don't Over-share
Don't over share, this is a business version of you if you're using it for promotion.  Over-sharing drives people away and can make people feel uncomfortable.

Write for scanability.  Use headlines and break information up so it's easy for people to scan over and read, even super fast.

Finally, don't get overwhelmed with social media.  You don't have to update it all the time, every second of the day.  Start simple with once a week and then increase as you feel comfortable.

What tips and tricks have you come across that apply to social media advertising and plugging as a whole?

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Decision About Rejection

Last night, just before bed, I received another rejection letter.

"Lurking Status" is a short horror story that I wrote based on one morning seeing a handprint on my mirror in the bathroom.  It creeped me out and now, when something scared me, I turn it into a horror story so that it stops scaring me - it's my own little version of taking control of my fears and I get an awesome story to boot.

I'm currently working through a list of contests and short story publishers to see who would want the story and have made a decision to post on my author's facebook and blogs when I get rejected.  Mostly because there seems to be this myth that all you have to do is write a story and send it to a publisher and you are published!  That's not how it works (unless you do self publishing, but that's a whole other can of worms with leg work) so I kinda wanted to show more of the process.  Not that many people read this blog yet as it's new, but I still feel I should be honest for myself and the future.

So this is rejection number 2.  On Monday I'll be sending it out again.  Wish me luck and hopefully I'll be sharing news that it's been accepted somewhere.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

TV Show Review: Big History

TV Show Review: Big History
Watched on: Hulu, home computer

Part of what helps me write stories, is constantly learning about topics and trying to look at normal things in a different way.  As a part of this, I'm a huge fan of watching documentaries and shows that explore information about random things.

Big History is the perfect show for this.  Along the lines of 'Modern Marvels' and such shows, the idea is taking one simple thing we all know about, and explaining it from all the different points of view like manufacturing, use and such things.  What Big History does, that Modern Marvels doesn't, is connect all the strange things you would never think of.

For example?  In the latest episode about horses, it explained the interesting coincidences that the spread of vast empires like Rome tended to coincide with how far a human could ride on a horse in a day.  This lead to quick message delivery and made it easier to control a large group of people.  Also, things like how pants tended to follow the use of horses, because it was really painful to ride them in tunics.

I just discovered this show recently on Hulu, but I'm loving it and flying through episodes.  I don't know if I'll ever use the information, but it's still really interesting to know in the back of my head.

As a thought, this would be a great show to watch if you're building a fantasy world or a new culture.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Random Thoughts: Shoes That Click

Once upon a time, when I was younger, I used to think that the clicking of shoes showed you were an adult.  Adults, in my opinion at the time, dressed up everyday for work and going out.  They wore fancy clothes, did makeup and their shoes were loud clicking against everything.  Concrete, tiles, even carpets if they were talented enough.

Being a child when I had these thoughts, I hated noisy shoes.  I wasn't an adult, so I hadn't yet obtained the right to wear them.  My tennis shoes weren't supposed to squeak in gym class, my flats weren't supposed to slap against the floor and my flip-flops weren't supposed to snap against my heel.  Children's shoes were supposed to be silent, so I developed a love for going barefoot, where I made the least amount of sound.   My shoes making sound was offensive, because it felt like I was lying to people and calling out to them that I was something I wasn't.

Now that I'm in my 30's and supposed to be an adult, the situation has changed and it's actually funny how my young mind used to work.  Heels make me feel more confident because they click across the floor and I'm reminded or my old thoughts.  A simple pair of heels with a small click and I feel so much more confident then anything else.  The click has to be light and sharp, sounding as professional as the mental image in my head appears to be.

I dress up nice for work (most of the time) and occasionally wear make up.  None of those things make me feel grown up, but the clicking of shoes always will.  It's cemented as part of what I need to feel grown up.

I'm not grown up, not really.  I still sit at home and relax with cartoons - anime really - and talk about silly things that really don't feel grown up.  I write stories about the same things I did while I was younger and I still dress up in costumes, though now it's a bit more complicated then a box of my mom's old clothes and some silly old wigs.  Being grown up is an illusion, wrapped around the child inside.  I still feel like that little girl slipping on her mother's shoes and listening to them click across the floor, pretending I'm grown up for all to see.

Random thoughts is just a snippet of where my mind is at the time.  It may or may not be related to a story I'm writing, or maybe it's stepping back and looking at the strange way my mind works.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Seeking the Storyteller - Final Edits done!

Just in time for the holidays my partner and I are done with our final edits for Seeking the Storyteller, our first novel together.  As it would figure, it's the holidays so we don't expect a response from our publisher until Monday, but it still feels really good to have it all done.

At final edits, the novel is 321 pages long!  I'll post more information once we have it, but in the meantime here's the cover and summary.  As a side note if you publish reviews of books and are interested, let me know and I may be able to get you a review copy.

 They say the Storyteller lives in a massive library full of books that tell the story of every being's life -- living or dead.  He can read these books and rewrite them; changing anything he wants, even if it's already happened.  Alix DeBenit is determined to do anything to get his family back and he knows the Storyteller can do just that.  The problem is that he was trained to hunt demons...

... not work with them. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Commissioned Art: Xaver Knoxton

Back from Daisho Con 2013
and I wanted to share this awesome sketch we got of one of our characters.

When we go to Anime Conventions we always set money aside now to get at least one commission.  Basically, we have descriptions and we pay the artists there to sketch at least one of our characters so that we have artwork to show on the site and then people can see what our characters look like.

This one in particular, drawn by thedietelfdraws, is of Xaver, one of the Hunters in our book.  He's an intimidating and rough loner that taught Fagan how to be a Hunter and showed him the more interesting perks of the life style.  They were partners for a while until Xaver went out on his own.  when the story starts, Xaver has called up his old trainee to say he's got a situation he needs help with.  Which is really strange, because usually Xaver is capable of handling anything thrown at him.

We have other fanart from past conventions and I'll share those too over the next couple weeks.  In the meantime you can also see them at my author site in the 'library' section.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Creating a Fantasy World - Urban Supernatural

Not all stories can take place in our world, and I'll admit I have a preference for reading and writing things that take place in a world at least a little different from our own.  To that note, I'm going to try and explain how I create the worlds I write in.

I have a huge preference for the genre of Urban Supernatural - where it is our world, but with a few differences.  For example, where vampires, fairies and magical powers are real.  It's the idea of taking these fantasy worlds that people have been writing in for years and melding them with our own worlds.  (Some of the authors I read in this genre are Kim Harrison, Rachel Caine, Jenna Black, in case you were curious.)

The approach I take to creating an Urban Supernatural world starts very simple.  Depending on my story and the characters and plot I want to portray, I'll start small and expand. 

For example:  Let’s say I have a character who his minor psychic powers, like being able to touch an object and see what happened to it.  This leads to - Are there other characters like him?, Has he met these people?, Does he hide his powers?

Expand bigger and bigger from that one character.  Go from him, to the people directly close to him, to the world as a whole.  Think of the bigger questions - such as if there are people like him in the world, how does the world react?  Do they pretend he doesn't exist?  Do they hunt people like him down?  Did they try and wipe them all out?

As you expand your world view, it'll help you tweak the world/universe you're creating to fit.  Think of the news stories you've heard on the radio or seen on tv and use them as examples for how people might act in that situation and just start to flesh it out as much as you can.

Keep in mind that a good portion of this planning will probably never make it into your book - but that's ok.  The better you understand your universe, the easier it'll be for you to work in it without pausing to wonder how a certain idea will work.

Something important to remember - keep your idea grounded.  

The key, at least I think, to remember with Urban Supernatural is that it's still our world.  So your ideas, as fantastical as they are, should have a root of truth that your reader could relate to.  Your reader should be able to close their eyes and imagine that the neighbor next door might be your character.  In other words, they should be able to imagine your created world as a part of their own.  This is what makes Urban Supernatural fun and interesting to read.

A very good example, and the one I always go to when I'm explaining this idea, is the universe created for Kim Harrison's books about the Hollows.  Her universe is ours, with one major core difference: a set of genetically altered tomatoes accidentally killed off a huge portion of the human race.  This, in turn, made it near impossible for supernatural creatures to hide anymore, so they were forced to step out.  And since humans stayed away from tomatoes, the vampires are now found in pizzerias, almost like a supernatural Italian mafia.

That sort of chain reaction is something you want to strive for with Urban Supernatural, because it makes your own twisting of our world believable and it's not such a jump for the reader to imagine that your character lives down the street, and it's just that no one has noticed how different they are yet.