Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Blog Prompt - Hurdles in Writing - Criticism

This week's blog prompt was about 'hurdles in writing'. Hurdles we faced, and how we overcame them. It sounded dangerously close to the writer's journey, if you read that last week, but there are hurdles that weren't there. Things that seemed less important, so I didn't think of them, or they weren't mentioned, and while that's true in some cases, I think this hurdle was pretty important.

Here is the link to my blog prompt group if you want to join us. We're on facebook, and I pull two new prompts from a jar every Monday. Blog Prompts It's old fashioned, but fun, and our blogs are never neglected unless we're over the top, busy.

Today's hurdle is criticism

When you take classes specific to novel writing, or even creative writing courses, you have your classmates to critique your work. I remember the very first time my creative writing teacher addressed critiquing. There were people arguing like cats the following week. I wasn't one of them because I'm more the passive aggressive type, rather than confrontational, but I was feeling the sting as bad as the next guy. I soon learned to look the pages over, and put the writing aside for a few days.

Some rules can be broken, but critiquing is important. It should never be avoided entirely. Why? Because...

  • We don't always see our own mistakes.
  • Criticizer's can find holes in the story or subplot you missed.
  • Sometimes a criticizer will have a better idea for something specific in the story. 
  • Criticizer's find errors in the writing, or things that make sense to you, but not the reader.
 I could continue, but I think this addresses the bulk of it. 

When I left my writing classes to write, it wasn't long before I found myself with no one to critique my work. I had stayed in contact with a few classmates, but sometimes life takes over and people have to deal with their own lives, or they just don't have time. There were some writing groups around, but they were inconvenient, and the times didn't work for me. 

It seems foolish to say I didn't think of the internet until I hit the end of my rope, but it's true. I couldn't figure out how it would work and if people could be trusted, but I did a search online, and found a number of groups. I settled into Scribophile. 

Not really being a computer person, it took me a while to learn how things worked, but eventually with a little help, I settled in. I can't say it got better, because it immediately got worse. The criticism was over the top and I became hurt and frustrated, really fast. Information dumps were my biggest grievance at the time. I'm better with that now. I don't remember the other issues anymore, but I stuck it out and I'm a better writer for it today. 

Not everything I was told was constructive. Sometimes people were downright mean, but most of the time I found something helpful, and I made some great critiquing friends. Some of them are successful Authors today, others are still working on that. 

So how do we know who to trust? I found that when the criticism is constructive, it has a balance. The criticizer will tell you what you're doing right, and why it works, as well as what's wrong, and why it doesn't work. You might not always agree, and that's okay. Ultimately, you have to make the final decision about what's right for your story, but don't use that as an excuse to deceive yourself if something really does need to be changed. Sometimes writing is hard. If you need to put a critique down and go back to it later to make an unbiased decision, that's fine, but use criticism as a tool to help you become the best writer you can be, and to write the best story you can possibly write. You owe it to yourself, and your fans.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A FantasyCon Guest Post - Jonathan Yanez - What Makes Paranormal... Paranormal?

So What Makes Paranormal... Paranormal?

In an age when writer's are asked to place their work in a specific genre, which genre do we choose? Just to name a few genres we have; paranormal, dystopian, steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, supernatural, epic fantasy, etc... There seems to be an army of option all bleeding into one another and making for a confusing decision. I'll spend the next few paragraphs giving you a better idea on what defines the paranormal genre and separates it from all the others.

First the actual definition of paranormal as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

"PARANORMAL - very strange and not able to be explained by what scientists know about nature and the world."

Still not super clear, right? As writers I think we have done a better job by narrowing in on a more thorough answer. Novels tagged as paranormal have been written in our modern day world with the introduction of paranormal elements such as; werewolves, vampires, witches, angels, ghosts, and so on. Examples of books that fall in the paranormal range could be Twilight (a paranormal romance) or The Mortal Instruments Series.

The aspect that makes this genre so different and unique is the freedom to mix our everyday lives with the fantastical. It twists what we know and turns everything we take as ordinary on its head. It makes us ask questions like, "what if?" and challenges us to reimagine what we thought we knew.

Author Bio:

Jonathan Yanez is the author of over a dozen fantasy and science fiction novels. His works include, The Elite Series, The Nephilim Chronicles, Thrive, Bad Land, Steam and Shadows and The DeCadia Code. He has been both traditionally and independently published with his works being adapted into; ebook, print, audiobook and even optioned for film.

You can connect with him by clicking the following links to his website, facebook page or twitter account;,

Jonathan YaƱez

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Writer's Journey

The Writer's Journey was the blog prompt for my group last week, and since this week's would have been a little redundant for me, I decided to take on my path as a writer.

Authors and Screenwriters are as unique as snowflakes. If you asked the same question to hundreds of writer's, Every story would differ. So here is my journey in the blanket of white.

I tend to be a scattered person. That's one of the reasons I plan my stories. When I get a new idea, it often comes like a download with numerous characters and lots of scattered plot and subplot information. I think my writing journey has been very much the same.

Years ago, a friend asked why I didn't write. I always had a book in my hands, and would sometimes read for days with minimal interruptions. Secretly I wanted to write, but I didn't really believe I had the talent to do it.

The seed had been planted, but it would be years before I broke down and took my first creative writing class. I remember the teacher's frustration when she told me my problem was that I didn't want to hurt my characters. If only she could see me now. *smile*

It's an inside joke that my characters fear me, and I think it must be true, but it wasn't when I started. If I had an idea, I ran with it, and every day was parties and roses. *Boring* I won't even get into my (lack of) punctuations skills. I took a screenwriting class at the same time, but for some reason, those characters were a little bit more abused, and since everyone else is the class was writing horror, The  Teacher loved me. If you're a writer, you already know I had a lot to learn.

When I first sat down with my novel, I wrote for days on end, and nearly finished the book. I had a better balance by then, but the story lacked any semblance of emotion, even in places where the lack of emotion made no sense. There is a screenwriting conference in Los Angeles every year, and I found it about that time. They have a lot of seminars with successful screenwriters and teachers, so my husband and I packed the car, and headed for LA. That conference became an annual vacation for us for quite some time.

I focused all the seminars I attended on my weaknesses. For a writer to be the best they can be, they must see their own weaknesses and be teachable. If they aren't, they will most likely, eventually hit a wall, but that's a post for a different day, because we need to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff, but as the cliche goes, I digress. The first couple of years were spent learning proper formatting, how to throw rocks at my characters, and how to instill emotion into my stories. I met some great teachers and learned so much. That led me to the UCLA Writer's Extension.

I spent a couple years learning craft. I don't push craft. If it isn't for you, that's fine, I don't argue with anyone else's choices, I believe in craft, because I've seen the change in my own writing, and in others as well. Having said that, I don't believe in rules. Learn, so you can make an educated choice when you want to go off the beaten path. But that's another story for different day. I did mention I tend to be scattered.

After a few years in the program, I realized I needed to take time to put things together and just write. I had made a mess of my story, Veiled Memories, by doing an off the beaten path, experiment, that didn't work, and I needed to clean up the mess. I've done that and the story is now published.

My journey didn't end there. I always meant to go back to the Writer's Extension, but classes are expensive and the time involved left me unable to fully pursue my stories. I'm not a fast typist, and while I get a lot of ideas, they don't always come at the most convenient time. At that point I had more novels started, but I no longer had a writer's group to critique my work. So I did some research online and found Scribophile. I met great people there, and some of them are successful authors, and good friends today. But Scribophile can be time-consuming too, so I don;t spend as much time there these days, although I do still have my account and check in on occasion.

I grew frustrated at one point, and took more than a year long break, but studied characterization in everything during that time. Anime, movies, various character sheets, books, people ... anything that had breath caught my attention, and that brings me to where I am today.

Here is the fruit from my personal journey:

-I'm obsessed with characterization

-I throw rocks at my characters, but I often fix them up too. That's part of the beauty of being the writer. I get to choose who comes out ahead.

-I have great friends to turn to when I don't understand something, or when I need help plotting something out, or even covering a hole. Sometimes it's just nice to have someone to talk to.

-My bad guys are bad, but they learn, and my good guys are good, and they have things to learn too.

-My stories have a strong emotional quality.

-I've been a judge for the first two rounds of a screenwriting contest for years, and I love it, because it helps people.

I still have a lot to learn, This journey isn't over yet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Raven Williams Omnibus Release

Realm Jumper Chronicles
Raven Williams

Volumes 1-3 

Now available in one great set.

Realm Jumper Chronicles Omnibus Edition

A world where fantasy and paranormal collide and chaos reigns supreme.  Do you dare to enter?  

Welcome to the Omnibus Edition of the Realm Jumper Chronicles.  In this edition, you will find the first three books in the Realm Jumper Chronicles Series.

Elven-Jumper, Book 1:
What happens when humans begin having memories and dreams of a life as an Elf? Do the Elves step in or do they leave the humans to their own devices and hope they remain undetected? 

Elf-Witch, Book 2:
When an Ancient Witch Prophecy is discovered, The Elves, Guardians, and Dragon-Shifters become involved in the human realm once more. When worlds collide, destinies become entwined.

Elven-Fire, Book 3:
With war looming, each of the Elder Species must make a choice. The Elves and Phoenix-Shifters have pledged their support. Will the other species join them or leave Earth to its fate?

Order your copy here:

Follow Raven here:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A FantasyCon Guest Post by Author Rick Haynes

A Virtual FantasyCon Guest Post

The Magic Within


Author, Rick Haynes

The Magic Within 

Fairy-tales ... from me?
After all, I mainly write medieval fantasy.
And where would I start?
At the beginning, I suppose.
But of course, didn’t we love to hear fairy-tales from our parents?

When I was small, my dad told me a different story every night, and every single one came from his own imagination. Looking back I realise how many were inspired by fairy-tales.

With the vivid imagination of a small boy, I had dreams of standing in front of the fire-breathing dragon and slaying it with one slash of my huge sword. Dad even made me a wooden one. And what about Jack and the Beanstalk? I loved it, but my mum was none too pleased when I cut down her giant sunflower.

Of course fairy-tales were told many, many, years before I emerged into the world. Take the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood as an example. This tale was originally dated back to the 17th century. But latest research has suggested that it could be over 2600 years old, because a similar tale has been found in China. The only differences being that the main protagonist was a small boy and the wolf was replaced with a tiger. Now that is amazing, for stories from that time, and for centuries afterwards, were never written down. Whilst subtle alterations have occurred and the tales have evolved over time, the basic story has endured.

Not long after my father read me that story I met a large Alsatian in our street. I took one look before running all the way home, screaming wolf at the top of my voice. When my mother introduced me to the neighbour’s new dog and he licked me to death, I realised the difference between fiction and truth. I think I slept better that night.
And I still smile at the memory.

One of the most prolific writers of his era was Hans Christian Andersen, yet he is more famous for his wonderful fairy-tales; my favourite being - The Ugly Duckling. What a great tale, and with a nice moral. You can be ugly but you can change, and become beautiful. I’ve always believed that the story should not be taken too literally, as I am sure that he perceived that beauty could be found on the inside as well as the outside.

So, what do we expect from our fairy-tales?

Like any other story we demand a beginning, middle, and an ending, preferably a happy one: anything to keep us interested all the way through. But we don’t always get what we want, do we?

And even then it’s not enough, is it?

We want, no, demand more, don’t we?

We want a princess or three, evil villains, brave princes and dragons with long tales and sharp teeth. And we wish for, elves, imps, dwarves, orcs, and fairies; not forgetting bucketfuls of fairy-dust. For you can’t have a fairytale without fairy-dust, can you?

With all the characters leaping from the pages our fantasies soar like an eagle, and all boundaries disappear in a trice.

I wonder what would happen if we could bottle up the power of a child’s imagination. The mind boggles with the possibilities.

We love fairy-stories, and even though the tales get bigger in the telling, we pass them on to our children, and our grandchildren. We never worry about the effect on our young because we know that the tales never hurt us.

And as we see the magic in their eyes, we remember.
Because fairy-tales will never die as long as we continue to allow the magic of the words to flow from generation to generation.

And as a teller of tales, I should know ... shouldn’t I?

Rick Haynes – Author Bio

I was born way back before time meant anything. One zillion reincarnations later, I think I know who I am, but I am prepared for a second opinion.
I have always enjoyed medieval fantasy tales. Once I started, I could never put them down, often reading them into the early hours. I found myself living the characters that jumped out from the pages, and I always hoped that one day I could create my own world, full of vile creatures and true heroes. And after the passing of too many seasons I finally began to remove the ideas from my head and commence writing.
Several fantasy short stories arrived, and I found that the ideas came along quicker than I could type. My Drabbles also received a dose of fantasy magic, yet in the background, the dream of a novel grew.
It has taken many a month to produce a story that had lain dormant for so many years. Evil Never Dies - professionally edited - is my first novel and is a classic tale of good and evil set against a backdrop of green lands, snowy mountains and dusty plains.
I show the horrors of war, as well as the loyalty, love and fears of all those involved. I believe that all men are flawed, and I leave it to my readers, to decide whether I have succeeded in showing their strengths and weaknesses, their compassion and cruelty. For war brings out the best and the worst in even the gentlest of men.
I have let my mind wander freely over the words, and I hope that you will enjoy your trip into the world of my imagination.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Where Do My Ideas Come From - Part 3 of 3

Apologies for my neglecting this blog this week. I've been in quite the spin. The good news is that Pretentious 4, is almost ready for the editor. With the holiday season just kicking off, I'm already busy, but can't wait for FantasyCon, the Halloween parties, and the holiday party for my street team, all happening in the next few weeks. I have a lot of good things planned for this blog in the near future, including some of the old style, character to character interviews - so stay tuned.

This is the final installment for where my ideas come from. You may have realized by now that they came from all over. The idea for Pretentious came when I was on a chick flick spree. Stories about entertainment, dancing, acting. No one specific story kicked it off. It was more of a 'pieces of reality that you see in the business' kind of thing, blended with fiction. You may think I'm being a touch evasive, but to divulge more here would be a big spoiler, and I can't do that to my fans who are making their way through the series. My husband and I were also working on a CD when the idea came to me, and I called a friend familiar with world tours, and he blew the story up a little bit more, and helped me hash out some of the issues I had at the time. Pretentious was not meant to be a serial, but as the story progresses there are a lot of characters. I sincerely felt like this method would serve the story, and reader, better.

For my upcoming stories:

One with the Dragon came from an image. I always have a lot of ideas, but I was at a lull and a friend sent me pages and pages of fantasy dragon images. Another image of a woman standing on a cliff edge gave me my plot.

Little Match Girl: I've always wanted to write the novel to Hans Christian Anderson's tale, and it's sitting on the backburner right now. My friend Aubrey Wynne, helped me hash the plot out. She writes awesome Christmas stories. Check her out here; All the research I've had to do for Reflections and The Carriage played a huge part too.

The Covens of Misty Haven: I can't remember where I got the idea for that story, but some ideas come to me like a download. This was probably one of them. Another friend, Harry Vossen, helped me plot out the legend for this one. So while the story is modern, it also has a complete history. We had a lot of fun. Harry is one of my go to's whenever I'm having trouble, and he never lets me down. He also helped with my dragon story, along with one of the most wonderful poets I've met,who critiqued it from beginning to end. I won't name her because she's an extremely private person. Check out Harry Vossen here:  Http:// You'll find he is very much a Terry Pratchett fan.

I have another novella on the backburner, and a novel I've began numerous times, and while it's been the critiquer's favorite, I haven't been able to get it off the ground yet. I need a little more medieval history first.

Have a great week everyone. I have some FantasyCon guest posts coming up, and my response to this week's blog prompt.