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News, Updates and Helpful Posts
Picking a Platform: eBooks

Picking a Platform: eBooks

Electronic books, better known as “eBooks,” are a controversial platform that Merriam-Webster would have you believe are simply an “electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device.” They don’t mention the ongoing war between print and digital, or the dramatic divide between self-published and not.

But don’t worry — we’ll fill you in.

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Deadlines:  How to Set a Goal, and Stay Motivated

Deadlines:  How to Set a Goal, and Stay Motivated

The life of a writer is a difficult one.  Finding motivation to sit and work on your own projects is one thing.  Finding the time to do so is another.  One thing that helps is proper time management.  In other words, setting a deadline for yourself on when things will get done.

The importance of deadlines cannot be understated.  When you get the ever-present time crunch and an ever larger list of things you can barely keep up with a handy schedule can help any aspiring (or struggling) writer keep on-task.

The Importance of Deadlines

Deadlines are the deadliest supervillains a writer faces.  Much like most foes, however, the frightening Deadline is also one of the things that will shape the writer into the best writer they can be.  Setting deadlines for yourself—and sticking to them—will help you develop milestones in your personal progress.  This will if developed properly, assist with clients, writing work, non-writing work, family, and school.  Having a reputation for being reliable increases client willingness to continue work.

Setting deadlines also give you somewhere to set your sights.  Consider that any novel was written word by painstaking word, page by terrible page, all of these one at a time.  Stuck staring at a blank page?  Set a goal of a thousand words, for whatever date you choose.  Make sure you have a thousand words written afterward, even if most of them consist of a grocery list or whatever is staring at you from the pantry shelf.

Be Realistic

But while setting deadlines is fine and all, setting unrealistic deadlines is just setting yourself up for failure.  

Given a food budget, a maid, a housekeeper, a personal chef, a chauffeur, and an island getaway most writers could gleefully pound out 70k words in the space of four measly weeks.  But let’s be real: most of us won’t have that available.  

You have to work for your food, your rent, and (most important of all) your internet.  You have to clean up after yourself (or at least, most of us feebly attempt to once in a blue moon.)  Food requires a supermarket trip, time at a restaurant, or a drive-thru window.  If you have pets, children, or even a single loved one that lives nearby, consider how much of your time is eaten up still.  Now consider juggling all this and a full-time job!

Make sure your workflow and your deadlines mesh with your current life.  For someone stuck in the rat-race, writing a modest goal of 2000 words a week, on a consistent basis, ensures that a whole new 70k word minimum novel, in purely rough draft format, can be completed in most of a year.  That doesn’t count edits, content or substance reads, or even the admittedly terrible query process for publication.  But still- that’s your first manuscript (or second, or third.)  

Make your schedule fit your life.  Or make your life fit your schedule, if possible.

Summing It All Up

Schedules suck, but they’re effective at making progress work.  Get out there, write down what needs to be written, and get it done already!  The only thing that’s stopping you is your (missing) deadlines!

Picking a Platform: Graphic Novels

Picking a Platform: Graphic Novels

Though DC’s Superman was the first big comic book character to grab the mainstream’s attention, Marvel Comic’s Stan Lee is undoubtedly everyone’s favorite father of comic book superheroes. But here’s the thing very few seem to have realized about the beloved Excelsior — he’s a comic book writer, not a comic book artist.

The distinction between artist and writer may not sound too groundbreaking to a reader, but writers with a desire to break into comics should take notice: Stan Lee is a living, breathing example of a published graphic novelist who thrived in the business without ever having to master the art of drawing comics alongside his ability to write them.

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Winterwolf Press Signs Fantasy Author, Aaron Yeager

Winterwolf Press Signs Fantasy Author, Aaron Yeager

LAS VEGAS, NV-Winterwolf Press (WP) signs fantasy author, Aaron Yeager.  The charming children’s fantasy entitled The Forge and the Flame will transport readers to an enchanting world full magical creatures and powerful weapons. In the midst of this, a young boy starts his journey as an apprentice to the greatest master in the hopes of becoming a magical blacksmith.

Aaron Yeager resides in Utah with his family.

The Forge and the Flame is expected to be published in the Spring of 2018.

Mary Sues and You: Avoiding Authorial Insertion

Mary Sues and You: Avoiding Authorial Insertion

What Exactly is a Mary Sue?

You’ve all read the story.  The protagonist is a fantastic person.  Their devil-may-care attitude and unwillingness to abide by the rules make them completely incompatible with real life, and yet everyone loves them anyway.

A casual perusal of the protagonist and the author links themselves in mysterious, preternatural ways.  Perhaps it’s a piece set in medieval times, and the main character hums a Metallica tune.  Perhaps there’s a fixation on tuna-and-cheese sandwiches, a lunchtime favorite.  When too much of the author is inside the character, it can be less fiction and more insertion.  That’s when you have a Mary Sue.  

How can we overcome this?

Make Your Protagonist Different From You

The urge to write through our own experiences is something many first-time authors are told to do.  And while it’s certainly normal to pull from our own experiences, and even necessary, you must be careful to avoid self-insertion.  What is self-insertion?

Wikipedia defines  self-insertion as ‘a literary device in which a fictional character who is the real author of a work of fiction appears as an idealized character within that fiction, either overtly or in disguise.’

It should be carefully noted that self-insertion is different from telling a non-fiction story about yourself.  A story of your own actions is fine.  But is it really necessary to craft an entirely new universe, only to have everyone bow down to you?  Popular fiction is rife with self-insertions of one sort or another, and while they can be done effectively, it’s far better to make interesting characters to play in this world.

Making Interesting, Unique Characters To Provoke Conflict

The main issue with self-insertions isn’t that the author references themselves, but that they are entirely without flaws.   They have quirks and manage to have amiable relationships with practically everyone around them.   Everyone likes them, loves them, adores them. The problem here is this character isn’t realistic enough.  This creates dull, flat character interactions that are devoid of conflict.

Stories need conflict.  A story without conflict is a mere recollection of a thing that happened.  Take The Lord of the Rings, for instance.  Frodo has a very pressing need to get rid of the One Ring.  If he was loved by everyone he could have very well sauntered straight into Mt. Doom with a swing in his step.  Instead, he fails—his resolve grows weak, and he is bolstered by Sam at numerous times through the story.  This dramatic tension is heightened by the character flaws Frodo has as an individual.  

Consider Harry Potter.  Harry is a scar-faced fish out of water.  Because of his reputation, yes, almost everyone loves him, but in his heart he’s basically an orphan with a chip on his shoulders.  He’s miraculously good at flying, yes, but he’s anti-authoritarian, sarcastic, and grows bitterly sullen as he moves, book by book, through puberty.  By the end of the series, his progression to hero is one well-earned as a result of conflict over time.  

Margaret Murry, from A Wrinkle In Time, is another example of a complex, flawed character who is nevertheless interesting.  She is not insanely smart unlike her genius her youngest sibling, Charles Wallace.  And yet she still succeeds as a heroine in her own right, despite her inability to play along with any of the rules.  Her stubbornness is a defining characteristic, which makes her character and the story such a memorable novel.

In Conclusion

Mary-Sues are usually easily detectable in a piece of fiction.  Authorial self-insertion can damage or destroy the imagination an author has put into crafting their universe.  By focusing on interesting, unique, flawed characters an author can create compelling conflict that moves the story forward and makes it a tale worth telling.

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