Tag Archives: Opinion

Interviewing Carter Blake

I was going to post another raw excerpt of my first novel, Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book One, but I think I’ll interview Carter instead. As of now, the Walker of Worlds seems to be in his mid-30s and has fully realized his powers. The Chronicles of Carter Blake tells the stories of how Carter grows into a man, and the Walker of Worlds.

We’re to meet in a café in Baltimore called Peace & A Cup of Joe. I’m seated at a table, pecking away at my laptop when there is a faint pop behind me. I turn. Carter is a big man, clad in a silvery, purple-green armor the is molded to his broad form. When he shakes my hand, I fight not to wince. He’s got a very firm grip. He has a weary expression on his face. His shoulders are a bit slumped and his back is bowed.

R.w.Foster: Hello, Mr. Blake. Welcome to beginingsinwriting.

Carter Blake: Thank you. Please, call me Carter. (he sits in a wooden chair which creaks ominously)

R.w.F: Thanks. May we jump right in with the questions?

C.B: Certainly.

R.w.F: What is the Realm?

C.B: (He smiles. There is a faraway look to his eyes) The Realm is a world of magic, Elven, dwarves, half-dragons and other magical beings. It is also a nexus of the Multiverse. It is where I first learned that I am the Walker of Worlds.

R.w.F: What is the Walker of Worlds?

C.B: The Walker of Worlds is the being created by the Ancients to stop out of control gods. You could say we are Arbiters. You see, when a god becomes too unjust, we cut them off from their power and banish them from their universes. We are the balance, and the beginnings of Reason.

R.w.F: What are some of your abilities?

C.B: I can freely travel between universes, I can seal a deity away from the Sourcewell where they get their power from, I can kill them and I also have some minor Chronomantic ability.

R.w.F: What is Chronomantic?

C.B: It means I have the abilities of a Chronomancer, or a time wizard. I have a limited talent at using the fabric of time to create powerful effects.

‘That sounds cool,’ I think.

R.w.F: Sweet. Would you give a demonstration?

C.B: Sure.

(He stands and his eyes take on a crimson glow. He moves his hands in a series of complicated gestures, manipulating something I can’t see. Moments later, another Carter Blake appears. This one waves, then merges into the original.)

R.wF: (Impressed). Wow. That was epic.

(Carter returns to his seat. It crackles)

Do you have anyone special in your life?

C.B: (A radiant smile lights his face, instantly making him seem to be a lot younger) I do. My Rishka, a half-Elven named Dearbhaile.

R.w.F: What’s a Rishka?

C.B: It means “Beloved” in Renline, and Elven dialect.

R.w.F: What’s she like?

C.B: (He straightens in his seat and leans forward) She is the most spectacular woman I know. Intelligence sparkles in her emerald eyes, her ruby lips are quick to smile. Her wisdom is clear in every word she utters.

(I smile. I know exactly what he means. I feel the same way about the woman I love.)

R.w.F: When you first entered, you looked exhausted. What’s been going on in your life?

C.B: (There is a hint of sadness to his eyes) I buried my best friend today. Robilar and I traveled together for many years.

R.w.F: I’m sorry to hear that, man.

C.B: Thanks.

(I decide to shift the conversation away from something that seemed to be so painful.)

R.w.F: What were you like as a kid?

C.B: I was bullied a lot because of my intellect. Some moron decided to tell my mother that I was a genius and should be made a highschool senior at 11 years old.

R.wF: You still sound bitter.

C.B: Wouldn’t you be? I felt like a freak. And of course, I got beatings from the older guys when I screwed up the curve. Or made them look stupid in front of their girlfriends. At that age, I hadn’t learned to keep my mouth shut, and hadn’t learned that not everyone knew what I did. I just assumed it.

R.w.F: That sounds harsh.

C.B: It was, but it helped me become tougher. After stuff like what I endured in highschool, the Realm was initially a cake walk. But then, I met L’Arcs… (His voice trails off)

Before I’m able to ask Carter further questions, he vanishes. Off to save another universe, I guess. I’ll try to get him to sit down for another interview as soon as I can.

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Perils of Being Old…

This could be me... if I had someone to make a list for me.
This could be me… if I had someone to make a list for me.
…Or is it senility? I can’t remember. Speaking of forgetting stuff, I forgot that Last week, I was supposed to be updating my blog. According to the schedule I had set for myself, last week was supposed to see a Raw update of Jennifer Steel, A contest on Wednesday and a guest post by R.S.Guthrie. I think I accomplished one of those things. And that’s only because it wasn’t in my hands.

I have to look into setting up a calendar and schedule these things. I hope I don’t forget to look at the calendar…

Also, I have been forgetting my writing. I have been wrapped up in informal counseling of two friends. They’re going through some rough stuff at the moment. As I have gone through similar things a decade ago, and fought through it, they tell me I have a unique way of viewing things. I think they’re the most magnificent people I know.

Eh, before I get too lost in my ramblings, I’m gonna go look for those calendars. I just hope I don’t forget why I’m looking for them…

Image credit: Scott Hilburton

Today, R.S.Guthrie Takes Over…

Rob-75x850-Cropped…Posting on my blog. He’s a great author of Books such as Black Beast and Lost. Both are phenomenal books. Give them a read. To check out what up coming novels he has coming (like Blood Land) Check out his blog robonwriting. Tell him beginingsinwriting sent you. Without further ado, here’s Rob:

The Self-Publishing Dream (Or Was It Nightmare?)

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It was so much simpler when writing was just a dream. I mean, everything works out in a dream, and unknown things like deadlines and marketing campaigns with their cost and timing and effectiveness aren’t in the dream—after all, their unknown, right?

And what about the slush pile you were planning to avoid by self-publishing instead of sending your manuscript into the maw of overworked, underpaid, tumultuous world of traditional publishing? Send it there you might never see it again and even if you did what were the chances of it not having a form rejection slip attached to it?

Here’s the rub: the slush pile has moved to the marketplace. Yes, the ability for any man, woman, or child with an Internet connection to publish a book is one of the most fantastic things to happen to the unpublished writer. Want to know what one of the absolute worst things to happen to those same writers turned out to be?

Same thing.

Now this is not all doom and gloom. If you’re like me (or you were a Scout) you like to be prepared. Know what you’re in for. Muster your courage. Become the warrior you were always meant to be. (And when you’re done fighting those bloody battles you’re really going to need that sword as a machete to cut your way out of the middle of the “Jungle of Unknown Writers” for the next few years.
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Writing the book is the easy part, my friends. It really is. You have about three or four other full-time jobs awaiting you after the completion of your masterpiece. You are the Marketing Department, the Accounting Department, the Art Department, the Accounts Payable department, the CEO, the CFO, and a few other jobs I’ve forgotten due to the anti-depression medication.

Okay, that’s more like six or seven jobs above and beyond AUTHOR. The good news is even if you went the traditional publishing route, were signed, and waited until you were old and gray to see your book on the shelves, you’d be expected to do most of those things yourself (at your cost) anyway.

So here I am going to lay out some things, high level, you need to think about and my opinion on them (based on semi-substantial experience):

1. Hire a cover designer. There are a LOT of them out there who work for major publishers (or even publishers in general) who do work on the side. You should not have to pay more than $100-200 for a really nice cover. Make sure that you get the spine and back cover if you are going to have a paperback made.
2. Have a paperback made. You aren’t going to make money off of it, but you owe yourself after dreaming all those years of seeing your book in print to finally see it in print! And people want signed copies (book signings are a great way to meet your readers and even if they aren’t giant revenue producers, they make you feel more like an author and things that bolster your confidence are going to be very important in the first year or two.
3. Hire an editor and a proofreader. Yes, two different people. I like to think of it as checks and balances because the professions do overlap so you get some bonus work by using two different professionals instead of just one. (I hope I didn’t just ruin half my relationships with editors and proofreaders.) Again, you should be able to find reasonably priced people for each but expect to pay a bit more for the editing. That’s hard work.
4. Whatever date you have in mind for your “release”, plan to send it to advanced reader/reviewers as far ahead of time as possible. They are called Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) and you need to leverage them big time. Some advertisers won’t even allow you to pay for an ad without a certain number of reviews and a particular average score (say 4.5 out of 5 stars). You’re also going to have better luck actually getting them to post the reviews if your book is already out there digitally published on Amazon (and wherever else). Trust me, you hitting “publish” and your book being “available for sale”, while majorly exciting for you, means nothing to the marketplace. Just another web page no one knows about…YET.
5. Get on every social networking site there is (Twitter, Facebook Author Page, LinkedIn, GoodReads, etc.). And do it now (i.e. ahead of the release of your book). They say buyers have to see your name 3-4 times before it sinks into their brain that they might want to buy something from you. You need exposure. Pay for a decent website. That’s one thing that’s going to cost you a little bit more—definitely one of those “you get what you pay for” things. But look at it this way: your webpage is like your home on the Internet (and will be for a very long time). It’s also Grand Central Station through which all trains of reader will connect to your books. Make sure it looks good and performs nicely.
6. Grow thick skin. I mean skin that makes an alligators look like rice paper. No matter how good you are, no matter how nice you are—in fact, many times inversely proportionally to these things—you are going to be disliked, poorly reviewed, and even hated. You won’t even know why. This is the hardest part for me. I take things personally. DON’T. EVER. If you write well and produce quality material, the readers who love you will one day come. To Hades with the rest.

I know this makes self-publishing sound scary. Guess what? It is. Nothing worth getting in this life is without hard work, crazy levels of patience, and the ability to levitate above all the crap and still get up every day and start it all over again.

If you are truly a writer—if it truly is a passion; if you love it—you’ll get up every day and get done what needs to get done.

I Heart WritingIt’s a love affair. Actually, it’s a marriage. Love affairs come and go. This is your passion; this is what you’ve decided to dedicate your life to—richer, poorer, sickness, health, good reviews, haters, etc.

No one can take away your talent OR your love. And the combination of the two (with a lot of determination and outlasting the others mixed in) will get you there.

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Click this.

Thanks for those words, Rob. They are ones to study on. Now, if y’all will excuse me, my Kindle says I downloaded his new book, Blood Land already. Let me go read it. I’ll review it here when I’m done.

Dreams Image credit: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

Guy With Sword Image credit: aaronamat / 123RF Stock Photo

I Image credit: burakowski / 123RF Stock Photo

My First Poll

In two more days, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, begins. As you know, I’ll be participating. I’m actually going to attempt a romance novel. Well, action/romance, but still. Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. Guys really can write romance novels that women are interested in (if they have read them, or get help from women they know). But that’s not important. What is important is I have created my first poll. “Why?” you ask. Because I want your opinion. So, do me a solid? Vote in the poll? Thanks.

Burnout and other issues…

A couple of days ago, I came to a sad realization as I was editing my story, “Into The Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake”. I realized that it was feeling like work. I don’t know about you guys, but for me, work equates to No Fun and I don’t want to do it anymore. I jumped to a fun site I recently learned about (TV Tropes) and proceeded to kill about two hours. While reading about Star Wars, one of my favorite universes, I had an idea for something I wanted to do with Carter. After pulling my doc open, a though hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks: I had been dealing with a form of burnout. Holy crap! I had heard of it, but never experienced it for myself. Let me tell you, it sucks. Fortunately, I have a great imagination (part of being a fiction writer, I guess) and I think I found a solution for it.

I decided to start scheduling myself. A schedule? gasp! “That sounds bad, Rob!” Well, it hasn’t been. I started yesterday. I worked on editing a friend’s story for 45 minutes, took a 15 minute break, worked on my edits for 45 minutes, another 15 minute break, and wrote new stuff for another 45 minutes. Today, I wrapped up the friend’s edit, and am looking forward to editing my work in about an hour.

How do you combat burnout?

Now for the next part: My friend has started thinking about her next story and asked me for some ideas. This section is largely for her, but anyone can use it, too.

A couple of months ago, I saw a blog post about character designs. This chart:

Main Characters
Name:
Age:
Birthday:
Physical Description:
Personality Description:
Hometown:
Type of Neighborhood/Description of Home:
Father’s Name:
Father’s Background and Occupation:
Mother’s Name:
Mother’s Background and Occupation:
Siblings:
Position in Family (oldest, youngest, etc):
Family Relationships:
Friends:
Enemies:
Influential Person or Event:
Grade in School:
Grades:
Attitude Toward School:
Favorite School Subject:
Least Favorite School Subject:
Favorite Sports:
Favorite Foods:
Hobbies:
Dress Style:
Religion:
Attitude Toward Religion:
Relationship with Boys:
Relationship with Girls:
Leader or Follower:
Ambitions:
Strongest Positive Personality Trait:
Strongest Negative Personality Trait:
Temperament:
Consideration for Others:
How Other People See Him/Her:
Opinion of Self:
Other Traits:
Notes: Minor Characters
Name:
Age:
Physical Description:
Friends:
Enemies:
Siblings:
Education Level and Grades:
Occupation:
Hobbies:
Personality Description:
Dominant Characteristics/Traits:
Physical Tag (a mannerism or nervous habit):
Voice and Vocal Tag (voice pitch, frequently used word or phrase):
How Other People See Him/Her:
Opinion of Self:
Other Traits:
Notes:

On a characters objects and possessions:
What does your character carry around in his/her pockets? And why?
How does he/she dress (i.e. what is his/her sense of style)?
How is his/her bedroom decorated?
What is his/her most prized possession?
What are his/her opinions of the various things in life?

On the people a character interacts with:
Who are your character’s friends? Enemies?
Who lives in his/her town? Neighborhood?
How does he/she treat these people?
What are his/her relationships with parents? Siblings? Other family?

On a character’s actions and reactions:
What makes your character laugh? Cry?
What does he/she do when frightened?
Introvert or extrovert?
Body language.

On a character’s opinions:
Optimist or pessimist?
Liberal or conservative?
What is his/her opinion on certain kinds of music, movies, and books?

was on there. It was written by either Ms. Angela Ackerman, or Becca Puglisi. I’m sorry ladies for not remembering which of you posted it. Anyway, it was on their website, The Bookshelf Muse. I don’t remember the exact spot (it was a couple of months ago), but it is there.

I use part of that chart to help me get to know my characters initially. Of course, as the story progresses, the details may change, but it helps a lot. I hope the chart is useful to you, too. And, if you like it a lot, head over to The Bookshelf Muse and let the ladies know. You can tell them how you got there, too. 😉

Last thing: I’ll be posting the first Carter selection soon.

Have fun with your writing, folks.

Coming soon…

In a few days, I’ll be hosting the excellent author, R.S.Guthrie! He’s written some fantastic books. I’ve had the pleasure of reading two of them recently, and they kept me entranced.

The first one, called Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel, is about a Denver Detective named Bobby Macaulay whose life has recently gone to the dogs: His beloved wife died of cancer, his long time partner was recently killed and he has lost his leg. As he battles with losing his faith, a long-lost secret comes to haunt him as evil strikes his hometown. I have the Kindle version and it kept me up all night, turning the pages. There is a scene in the book that had me say, “Damn!” It was completely unexpected. Black Beast is one of the best stories I’ve read recently. Give it a read for yourself. You won’t regret it.

The next one, called Lost, is the sequel to Black Beast and I had high hopes for it. For me, Mr. Guthrie surpassed them. Lost picks up shortly after the end of Black Beast and we find Bobby dealing with the aftermath of those events. Without giving too much away, let’s just say Det. MacAulay’s life is about to get much harder. He’s called to Idaho to aid his little brother, Jax, deal with a strange case of missing girls. It’s not long before Bobby is called upon to uphold his ancient family traditions. Like Black Beast, Lost had me up all night, turning the pages, eager to reach the end. Unlike last time, though, Lost had me shout three times, “No fricken way! C’mon!” You will enjoy this one just as much as the last, trust me.

New Jennifer Steel Raw Post

Rob paced the operations center. “Have you found her yet?”
Stevenson shook his head, “Negatory, sir. Give me a little more time. She’ll pop up on camera shortly.”
Rob sighed and resumed his pacing. The director walked into the center and watched for a few seconds. Her eyes crinkled at the corners as her mouth curved slightly upward. When he turned to her, the director immediately straightened her face, but he still saw the twinkle of merriment in her eyes. “Still wearing the carpet bare, Mr. Worthington?”
He sighed and ran his fingers through his rumpled hair. He scanned the room, eyes not staying on any object for longer than an instant. “Jennifer isn’t showing up on any of the cameras, Director.”
She nodded. “Ah. So, you are worried about Ms. Steel. Do you believe her to be incapable of surviving?”
Rob’s forehead wrinkled and his brow drew downward. “What? Of course I don’t believe that! She is my friend, though. Not only that, but the supernaturals weren’t supposed to be able to contact her yet.”
“Yes. You have made a good point, Mr. Worthington. In that case, why don’t you use your considerable tracking skills to locate Ms. Steel and bring her back?”
Rob’s eyes widened. “Are you certain? What about the test?”
“Under the circumstances, I think it would be permissible to name the test as null and go with your original recommendation that Ms. Steel join.”
Rob smiled and turned to hurry out of the Ops Center. The director allowed him to get almost out of the room, before stooping him. “Mr. Worthington?”
He poked in her back in, eyebrows raised. “Yes, Director?”
“Bring our friend back safely.”
“Indeed.”

Rob strode the warm brown hall to the armory. He wanted to be properly outfitted in case Lilith was in a bad mood. Carter tended to have that effect on her. Rob shook his head. He did not envy the Walker of Worlds. The man had the power to slay deities and freely travel between universes, but he also had the responsibility of watching over trillions of lives across the same. ‘That’s way over my pay grade.’ But there had been a time when it hadn’t been. Flashes of a different world and a woman with silver eyes played in his mind’s eye before he pushed them away. ‘Anila,’ he thought before pushing that away as well.
Arriving at the armory door, he placed his hand on the cold palm reader and leaned forward. A small green light waved over his retina as a blue one did the same to his palm. A computerized voice stated that he was cleared to enter.
“Of course I am. I wouldn’t be here otherwise,” he said.
As always, the computer did not respond. He grinned, thinking about what anyone would say upon hearing him talking to the computer. The heavy steel door slide up into a recess, allowing him entry. The backlit walls were lined with rows and rows of weapons. The rows closest to the doors were modern firearms from the Colt .25 pistol all the way up to the M72 light Anti-tank Weapon and FIM-92 Stinger missile system. Rob ignored them and headed further in. The next section held various martial arts and medieval weapons. He strode past bows, cross bows, javelins, swords and shields. Pole arms, blowguns and throwing weapons held no interest either. Presently, he came to the very back of the armory. He stopped before a seemingly simple wooden door. This door however, was like the weapons within: magic.
Rob knocked three times on the door, paused, knocked twice more and waited. Soon a bright azure light played over his body. When it faded, the door swung open. A chill mist wafted from within. He shook his head: no matter how many dehumidifiers were placed inside, a mist always formed. He figured it must have been due to the magic being kept in there.
The two handed sword Glamdring hung on wall. Next to it were Icingdeath and the double edged Blade of Evil’s Bane. On the opposite side of the room were the katana Tenseiga, the purple flesh covered broadsword Soul Edge and the mace Sharur. Gungnir, Mjolnir, Tonbogiri and the Runestaff hung from the ceiling. Rob strode past display cases holding the Sword of Truth, Mace of Cuthbert, Hammer of Kharas, the Dagger of Time, Soul Reaver and the Sword of Omens. He stopped before a dark wooden case in the shape of a pentagon. It had mystic symbols carved over the entirety of its surface. Despite this, it felt smooth and slightly slippery under his hand. He raised the lid and was hit with a wave of cold air. Rob ignored the arctic blast and fully raised the lid. He waved the vapor away impatiently and looked with reverence at what was within.
It was a blue crystalline bastard sword. The blade was a double fuller, lenticular design. The cross-guard was curved slightly towards the blade, the grip was of onyx and wrapped with golden wire in a chain link pattern, the pommel was a clear gem. Legend held that if this sword was used for evil, the gem would capture the wielder’s soul on his death. The sword rested on a bed of crushed red velvet next to its scabbard. The scabbard had been made by hand by Siddhārtha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. He had made it from the wood of an Elder tree and wrapped in the skin of a Nukekubi, a vicious human-like monster whose head detached from its body. Legends didn’t say who created the actual sword.
It was the third most powerful weapon in the armory, yet it was his favorite. The crystal sword fit him like it had been made for his hand. He reverentially lifted the blade and held it up to the light. The harsh white light of the florescent tubes was softened and diffused by the azure blade. He smiled as he stared at it. It had been two years since he last held this weapon. As he exited the armory, he passed a large sword embedded in a block of granite. ‘Looks like the director finished with Excalibur,’ he thought.

So, what do you thinK?
Will Rob find Jennifer in time to save her?
What do you think will happen next?
Do you have ideas on how to make this better?
Notice any familiar weapons in the armory?
I’m open to all thoughts, opinions and critiques! Please post them below.

Good points: all of them.

Cristian Mihai

I usually try to avoid three things: controversial subjects, shameless marketing, and bar fights. And most of the time I’m lucky.

But today I feel like making a stand. Yeah, it’s late and the USB ports on my laptop stopped working, but I want to tell you my honest opinion about self-publishers and all the people who have been criticizing them.

A number of agents, editors, and traditionally published authors consider self-publishing as some sort of mistake. Self-publishers are just lazy. Why? Because they didn’t go through the route. They didn’t query agents, they didn’t get rejected over and over again. Stuff like that. Also, they’re bad to the world of publishing, because some of them did try to get published via the traditional way, but were rejected. Oh, and did I mention this stupid, stupid habit they have, of selling e-books well below what the big Six deem as…

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