Beating the Writer’s Block

Right now, I’ve hit a bit of snag in my writing. I’m a few chapters in and I am unsure on how to progress from where I am at. I have a storyboard and basic layout of the plot but I’m just hitting my head against the wall second guessing how I SHOULD write it.

Any thoughts?

Jak


Hi Jak,

I actually get this question a lot. So without knowing a ton about your specific case, I’ve been in your shoes at least in some way. You’ve got a great story, great ideas, but several directions you can go in with said ideas.

Well… I remember back in High School when we were taking SATs, we were told that if we didn’t know the answer, to go with our initial thought. Like you look at the answers and the first one that stands out as being right is the one you should go with. They didn’t want anyone second guessing themselves because then they’d foul up.
At the time, I thought that there was so much wrong with that advice… however when I realized how much of a time constraint we had, and how many of my answers turned out to be right when I went with me ‘gut.’ I realized that there was some value in it.
Intuition is a very powerful tool.

The same can be said for writing. If you’ve got a bunch of ideas flowing, go with the first one that pops out at you. Write it all out and get it on paper so that you can see and read your ideas. Often you’re going to find that those ideas were better in your head, but in most occasions, those initial ideas may only need a few tweaks here and there to iron them out.

In the instances where you read through and just think ‘Eh… this is stupid!’ you can always go back and change anything (or everything) that you need to.

So basically what I want you to do is sit down, look at what you have so far and ask yourself the question ‘What comes next?’ Then just write the first thing that comes to you. Don’t bother with any second thoughts, you can deal with those later.

Hope this helps. Readers, what do you think Jak should do in this situation? Let me know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Current Events, and Why I Don’t Write About Them.

 

Hi Jim,

You mentioned a while back about writing politics in fiction. I was wondering if you could give some examples of how you deal with current events in your books. I’m looking to try to paint an accurate picture of some things that have happened recently.

Thanks,
James


Hi James,

I snagged your question because I wanted to tackle this, give what’s currently going on in the U.S.

Sorry to disappoint, but I do not cover current events or political topics in my writing. If I cover social issues, I do it in a way as to incorporate it as a theme in my books.

Example;

I handle topics of racism by creating a race that is despised by others due to past transgressions and go through the damage that is caused as a result. I do not say who is wrong or right, nor do I condemn anyone. I lay out the story, give the details of both sides and let the reader decide. That is as far as I will ever go.

You’re probably wondering by this point why I don’t cover them… well two reasons. One, most of my work is historical fantasy so current events wouldn’t have a place.  Secondly, I don’t cover current events and political issues because frankly… I create worlds for people looking for an escape. We already have plenty of news sources that remind us on a minute basis that there is horrible crap going on in the world. My readers don’t need to hear about it in the worlds I invite them to explore.
More over though, I don’t cover them because frankly, there is no winning. Look at how badly our country is divided right now.

You’ve got extremists on both sides literally killing each other, pundits making horribly one-sided arguments and supporters condemning anyone who doesn’t share their views or not taking one side over the other. My writing about it would solve NOTHING, and just make people even more bitter.

It’s ridiculous, it’s everywhere, and frankly, it’s a fight no one wins. So why bother playing it? I have platforms out there where I converse with people about this kind of thing. I don’t need to do it in my writing and I think my readers appreciate that.

So, sorry if you’re disappointed by my answer, but I made a promise to myself to keep my worlds away from this horrible nonsense and preserve my readers’ escape. I stand by that decision.

So… I’m sorry James, but I’m afraid I have no advice for you here. All I can say is to treat your audience like adults, make no assumptions, and don’t preach. Its the only thing I can say.

Readers, maybe you can help our friend here, or do you agree with my stance? Let me know.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Quick update… Drakin, The Story of Raiya

So we don’t have a release date yet… However the cover design is taking shape and the first draft is complete and in review.

We also have a synopsis ready to go, which I will share with you now…


“Abomination, freak, monster…”  You get used to names like these when you have yellow eyes, horns, and scales, but Raiya could have really cared less.

After being forced into exile because of her appearance, Raiya’s mind has been focused on one goal; hunting down the dragon lord that killed her parents. For over thirty years, humanity has been locked in a struggle for survival against a race of dragons that had fallen from the heavens. They took everything from her and consumed the planet in a fierce war. Humanity’s numbers are quickly dwindling, leaving her few options in the way of allies.

What she doesn’t know is that her journey will strike at the very heart of the Red War and uncover truths about her past that she may not want to know. Can she finish what she started while coming to terms with the truths of her origin?


Hopefully, you’re as excited as I am about the release. I will deliver more updates as I get them. Please just be patient with us!

Thanks all,

Jim



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Magnifica: Gravestalker, Revised Release!!!

Hello everyone!!!

I am so excited to announce that a revised copy of my book, Magnifica Gravestalker is currently set for release tomorrow. For those of you who have already purchased a copy (physical or digital), you’ll be able to download the revised version free of charge. For those who haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll enjoy it. Gravestalker remains the favorite of all the stories I’ve written. Returning to it was a true labor of love and I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy the results.

All I ask is that when you read it, PLEASE leave a review!!! Stars are everything in this business

Hard copies for those of you who are like me can be purchased here.

Digital copies are available here.

They will also be available where ever fantasy books are sold!

Book details:


Sample Chapter:

Chapter I

Toby’s heart froze in his chest as he stood next to his bike, ready to leave the reservation. He was getting sick of Giselle’s rhymes and riddles. All he wanted was a straight answer and if he didn’t get it soon, he was going to explode, “What do you mean Masarabi lied to me? What are you talking about?”

Giselle stepped away from Gishan, lowered her eyes to the ground, and began pacing in a circle, “Toby… you were right when you said that I should have left you and Lia’na alone. I know it’s partially my fault for getting you two mixed up in this awful mess. Had I not asked you for help, the chances are that she would still be alive right now… The Apocalyphe would still exist, but the Filis de Lux would have no way of getting to it. I couldn’t make up for that even if I spent the rest of my life trying.”

“Giselle, really, I’m in no mood for any of this. We all have our regrets, me more so than anyone. I’m sorry, but I can’t play counselor to you right now. If you have a point, would you mind getting to it quicker so I can get the hell out of here?”

“Toby man, take it easy.” Gishan said nervously.

Giselle shook her head as she looked at Gishan, “No, he’s right. –I’m sorry Toby… you’re right… but what if I told you that the elven people weren’t the only ones to salvage Alliance texts? What if I told you the U.S. Government had them in our posession? The Government fears what some of the books represent, so they keep them secret even from their own employees. It got to the point where the only people who knew what was in some of those archives are long since dead. Many of the locked areas of the rare books sections don’t even have keys anymore and are regarded as off-limits.”

“So?” Toby asked, ready to walk away.

“Well… Being an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has its benefits… including access to all of these things without anyone questioning it. What if I told you that after Lia’na died, I went poking around the library on a whim and discovered another book in the archives that may be of some interest to you? What if I told you that I took it… and no one would ever even notice it was gone?”

Toby was now slowly becoming interested. He stepped away from his bike, having temporarily lost the desire to get as far away as fast as he could, “What book?”

“Before I show you… answer me one question. What would you do to get Lia’na back, to be able to hold her, and love her again? How far are you willing to go and what price are you willing to pay?”

A slight breeze swept by that brought the sound of movement with it. The group turned immediately, suspecting that they were being watched. Toby scanned the darkness for a few moments, but there was no one around to be seen. The hair stood up on the back of the friends’ necks, but they ignored it.

Toby turned back to Giselle and looked deep into her brown eyes, letting her know he was serious, “You already know the answer to that. I would bring this entire world to its knees to hold her again, even if it were just for a few moments. I would sell my own soul to the devil for just one day with her. I would go through what we went through a million times over if it meant she’d be waiting for me at the end.”

 

Giselle bit her lower lip and sighed as she pulled out a square shaped package wrapped in brown cloth from under her jacket. Part of her had wished she’d never brought it up, but she knew she owed Toby this much, “Toby… please understand… I could go to prison for the rest of my life for what I’m about to show you…”

Giselle slowly unwrapped the package and held it out to Toby. Inside was an 8”x 10” book. It looked to be around the same age, if not older than the Magnifica or the Apocalyphe, but it was in much better condition than either. The cover was brown leather with golden clasps. There was an eye on the cover that bore a striking resemblance to the Eye of Providence.

 

Toby took it from her and instantaneously felt a charge of spiritual energy flow through his body. Whatever this book was, it was powerful, more so than the Magnifica or the Apocalyphe… possibly combined. He got the feeling that the eye on the cover was watching him as he looked the book over. It was unlike anything he’d ever seen before.

Toby looked up at Giselle as the charge flowed through him. His eyes narrowed as he examined her nervous expression, “What is this?”

The lights from the nearby torches flickered on Giselle’s face as she nervously smiled. Toby continued to look over the book as she spoke, “When I did some digging, I found an old script left by none other than Thomas Jefferson himself.”

Toby looked up in shock, “What would Thomas Jefferson have to do with this?”

“Near as I can tell, this book was out of Europe before the American Revolution. It was handed off to a group of Freemasons for safekeeping. The local masonic lodge didn’t know what to make of this book and feared the stories that they were told.”

 

Giselle felt chills travel down her spine as she continued, “One of the masons at that time, a man named Benjamin McConnel, was a skilled linguist. He was able to translate part of the text. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for them to figure out what this book was used for. When they realized its implications, the freemasons panicked. They tried to destroy the book, but when they failed, they decided it needed to be hidden away. They gave it to then-president Thomas Jefferson for safe keeping. Jefferson held on to the book for a few years, but after a couple of suspected break-ins at his home, he donated the book, along with the rest of his collection to the Library of Congress after Washington was set ablaze during the war of 1812.”

Giselle sucked in one last deep breath as she nervously finished her history lesson, “The message he wrote said that he truly believes great evil surrounds this book and it must be kept hidden and secret at all times.”

Gishan took a nervous step back as Toby opened the book and looked at the ancient hieroglyphics, “This isn’t Alliance writing. It looks totally different.”

Giselle shook her head, “True, but you should be able to manipulate it the same way as you did with the Magnifica.”

 

Toby quickly focused his mind as he stared at the page. He waved his hand over the book and watched as the lettering rearranged itself to modern English. His mind ached as he worked. Some of the letters were similar to what he saw in the Magnifica, but others were totally different. There was no way to know if the book would completely translate or if it would come out as complete gibberish.

As the enchantment worked, Toby looked up at Giselle, “What is this?”

“The Necronexus. From what I was able to find out, this book was written by an unknown sect outside of the Alliance. No one knew about it until the Alliance raided their lands. When they discovered what it was, they also tried to destroy it, but the book resisted all spells, charms, and enchantments. Nothing appeared to do the job. When they failed to dispose of it, the Alliance Council took the book and hid it in the southernmost part of their territory. They wanted to make sure that it was completely forgotten.”

Toby listened as Giselle gave him yet another history lesson, “It is believed that the Egyptians later found the book, successfully translated it, and used its spells in their books of the dead. Since then, the Necronexus has made its way around history without really being noticed. It found its way into the hands of the Knights Templar, who feared what it may be and locked it away after they themselves failed to destroy it.”

Gishan sighed, “So that would explain how it found its way into the hands of the Freemasons.”

“Yeah that’s right.”

Toby shook his head while he looked at the spell book, “This… resurrection and regeneration enchantment looks like exactly what we want… but it’s complicated… It looks like we’re going to need quite a few things, most of which look more symbolic than anything. I hate the idea of having to wait… but I’ll need a week or so just to make sure I get it right. Even then there appears to be a lot of risk. These enchantments are unlike anything I’ve done before.”

Gishan nodded, “Tell me what you need, if I can’t get it, I’ll know someone who can. We’ll find everything on there as long as it still exists. Don’t worry man. Just promise me one thing.”

“Go ahead, I’m listening, what’s up?”

“Don’t be stupid about this. It sucks what happened to Lia’na and she deserves a second chance… so do you. You’re like a brother to me and I know she made you happy like no one else could… but screwing with nature… I don’t know man. Take your time and make sure you get it right. That’s all I ask.”

“Don’t worry, Gishan, I learned my lesson after the last time. I’m not going to be doing anything that might put another person in jeopardy that I promise you. I’ve lost too much already from making that mistake.”

“I want to be there too.” Giselle added. “You never know what might happen and you’ll need all the help you can get. That book is considerably older than the Magnifica and is apparently impossible to destroy. We know a lot less than we should about it. What we do know is that it could be easily misused if it falls into the wrong hands. We need to be extra cautious.”

“Agreed. So we’re all in on this then?”

“Yeah.” Gishan replied.

Giselle hesitated for a moment before answering, “Yes… but on one condition.”

“Only one?” Toby asked. “What’s that?”

“Once you’ve brought her back, you never use the book again. I know your uncle and your father were taken from you… and I understand the temptation to try to save them. Lord knows there are people I’d love to see again, but that book is too dangerous to keep around. You never know what else could be waiting to come through from the other side. I will allow you to take that risk once, and only once. So once you’ve gotten what you want, you need to find a way to destroy the book.”

The look in Giselle’s eyes was absolutely serious. Toby could see that if he tried to negotiate or refuse to destroy the book, there was no way she’d let him use it. He also knew that there would be risks and as much as he loved his uncle, he knew that he owed Lia’na a second chance.

Giselle sighed as she finished her terms, “I won’t take it back to the Library, nor will I leave it in your hands. Not after what we saw with the Apocalyphe. Messing with the metaphysical goes way beyond simple enchanting, and is too dangerous. I won’t risk our existence by allowing it to fall into the wrong hands… as if there were any such thing as right hands in this case. This is my price, one use, and then I want it destroyed.”

“So that’s the deal then? Lia’na’s life for this book’s destruction?”

“You could look at it that way.”

“I am, and you don’t need to worry.I don’t know what I can do that the ancient enchanters didn’t already try, but once she’s back in my arms and all is said and done… I’m getting rid of the Fragmentum, this book, and possibly even the Magnifica. When I’m done, I’m ridding the world of magic. There is just no place for it anymore. Lia’na deserves the normal life she was robbed of. That doesn’t seem possible as long as enchanters still exist.”

“Good…” Giselle said in approval. “Then count me in all the way!”

Toby smiled for the first time in days. The pain of Lia’na’s death was still with him, but hopefully it wouldn’t be something he’d have to live with for the rest of his life, “Then let’s head back to Massachusetts and get started. I need to study these writings while you get the supplies we’ll need. The sooner we get everything together, the sooner she’ll be back with us.”

“Right, so let’s all meet back at Toby’s condo tomorrow and figure out what we need.” Gishan replied.

Toby turned away and hid the book in the left leather pouch on the side of his bike. He tapped the odometer to wake it up as he got on. The bike revved its engine, as though asking a question.

“No I’m feeling better now.” Toby said in response. “It looks like the story isn’t quite over yet.”

Vroom!

“I know that… but we’re going to get her back. I’ll fill you in on the way home.”

Vroomroom!

“I know… I miss her too, but I said I’d do anything to save her and I meant it. So let’s get going, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

Cerererer!

“I can’t wait to have her back either. She would be in my arms right now if there were any justice in the world. It’s just not fair.”

The bike slowly rolled forward as Toby rested his arms on the handle bars, “Come on. Let’s go home…”

Gishan waved as Toby disappeared into a dust cloud that was kicked up by the bike’s tires, “Good luck, Toby! See you tomorrow!”

Toby had hoped that he would be able to learn the enchantments quickly and bring her back within a day or two. However his hopes were shattered when he saw what would be needed to conduct the ritual. Aside from procedures and mental preparations, there were some rare items that they would also need.

As promised, Giselle and Gishan showed up at Toby’s house the day after the funeral. Toby had spent the entire night going over the book and had gotten no sleep. His eyes had heavy bags undernieth them and his skin was pale.

Giselle noticed his disheveled appearance the moment she entered the living room, “Good God, Toby. You’re not going to be able to save her if you run yourself into the ground like this.”

Toby rubbed his eyes as he spoke, “No, I know that… but every time I close my eyes, I see her face… the look she gave me during the last few minutes before she died. I just can’t stand it.”

Gishan frowned, “I know how you feel buddy, but you need to be healthy. How ya going to conduct this ritual if you’re falling asleep?”

“Fine. Let’s figure out what we need for the ritual and then I’ll go to bed.”

“Sounds good to me.” Gishan said as he sat down next to Toby and rested his stubby legs. “Let’s get started.”

Over the next few days, Giselle and Gishan worked diligently to get everything they would need. Gishan worked especially hard as he knew better than Giselle how badly this was killing Toby. They were brothers as far as the young dwarf was concerned and there was little he wouldn’t do for Toby. He knew that he would have to hurry before his friend collapsed from exhaustion.

The few nights where Toby was able to sleep, he was forced to watch the horror unfold once again. No matter how hard he tried, he could not expel the dream for even a single moment of relief. It would continue to haunt him and continue to make him face the grim reality that she was dead because he was powerless to save her.

Every night, it was the same thing; Toby watched in horror as Lia’na placed her hand on the Apocalyphe. He tried to run to her, but a wall of energy blocked his path. He tried everything from slamming his body into it, to trying to go around, to blasting it with both light and dark enchantments. Nothing worked and there was nothing he could do except watch helplessly as the release of energy from the book killed her.

Lia’na began to shake as the powers of the Fragmentum and the book ripped into her soul. The book was destroyed and a bolt of light hit Lia’na. Blood poured from her abdomen as she looked up at Toby with a sympathetic expression.

The light drained from her eyes and tears flowed as she cried out, “Toby… help me… please! It hurts…”

Finally he was able to run to her and try to restore her wounds. Each time he tried, the wounds just got worse. She scowled as she looked at him, “You… should have listened to me. This is your fault…”

One morning, Toby’s eyes shot open to the sounds of a kettle in the kitchen screaming that its contents were hot. He jolted upwards into a sitting position and fell off the couch. His left hip ached in pain as he struggled back into his spot.

“Oh, sorry about that,” A voice appeared behind him, “I didn’t think the kettle would be that loud!”

Toby looked up to see what was going on. His eyes were only half open and his vision was badly blurred. He tried to make the fuzz go away by rubbing them a few times and eventually succeeded, “It’s all right Giselle… you probably just did me a favor.”

Giselle was standing over the stove in her pink pajama pants and one of the long tshirts she had brought with her. The shirt looked huge on her, but wasn’t long enough to cover her legs, so the pajamas took care of the rest. She frowned as she poured the hot water into a mug, “Still having the same nightmare?”

“Yeah… I can’t get her out of my head. It’s driving me insane!”

“I know, I’ve been through it myself and I understand what that’s like. The only comfort I can offer is that it does get easier over time.”

“I find that hard to believe…”

“I know… but either way, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. We’re almost ready to get started on the ritual.”

“I just don’t understand how I can’t even get one decent night’s rest.”

Giselle gave him a sympathetic smile, “The amount you’ve been drinking lately probably hasn’t helped anything! When’s the last time you actually slept in your bed?”

“A few days…” Toby admitted.

“You see? I’m sure that’s part of it! Lying face down on this leather sofa like you passed out cannot be comfortable. You need to be in your own bed.”

Giselle walked over to a small box on the counter and plucked a teabag out of it. The water in the mug steamed as she added the bag and a drop of honey from the bottle next to the stove. The mug made a faint sound resembling a bell as she stirred the tea.

“It still smells like her. It’s even harder to sleep there. When I close my eyes, it’s like she’s still there.”

Giselle sighed, “As much as I hate to say it, maybe it’s time to replace the sheets then? If it drives you that insane, then it might be time.”

“Maybe…”

“Definitely.”

A concerned look came over her face like she wanted to say something, but was afraid of what Toby would say. She took a step closer and spoke, “Toby, I hate to bring this up now… I know you have high hopes for the enchantment. I do too, but we have to accept the possibility that it may not work.”

“I don’t want to think about that right now.”

“You have to. You have to consider what you’ll do if we can’t bring her back. A hard choice will have to be made.”

“What are you talking about?”

“If we can’t bring her back, you’re going to have to let her go. That involves moving her out.”

Toby looked at her oddly, “She’s up in New Hampshire having her bones laid to rest, or didn’t you notice?”

Giselle sighed. She knew that what she was about to say would hurt, but Toby needed to hear it, “No, what’s up there is an empty shell of what used to be Lia’na. Her spirit never left us. She’s here, right now… in her smells, her clothes, and the decorations she brought here when she moved in. She’ll continue to linger here as long as you hold on to her. For now that’s fine, but if we fail… eventually you’re going to have to let go and let her move to the next life.”

“Enough, I don’t want to hear this… not now.”

Once her mug was empty, Giselle walked over and sat next to Toby on the couch. The moment her hand touched the moist leather, she shot up, “Aw gross, thanks for warning me, Toby!”

“I can’t help it if I sweat.”

“Yeah, but its leather, it doesn’t absorb the sweat, it just let’s the stuff pool!”

“Sorry.”

“Ugh, this is what I mean! Toby, as your friend, I’m telling you right now, you need to get out of here! Go ride your bike up and down the road or go walk around Arcanus. I don’t care, just do something! This is not healthy.”

Giselle cleaned herself off and sat down in the armchair next to the couch, refusing to go anywhere near where Toby was again, “Gishan should be back in another day or two with the corpse flower we need. I’m sorry it’s taken us so long to get the ingredients, but some of this stuff is complicated and very rare. We’re actually lucky that none of it is extinct.”

She picked up an odd looking knife from the side table, “I mean look at this! We needed ebony to hand-carve a ceremonial knife for the ritual, we also needed a bit of her remains, which the elves were not going to give up willingly. Sneaking back on to the reservation before they buried her wasn’t easy! Then we needed candles made from pure whale fat! Seriously, whale fat? No one even uses that anymore… Now we need an extinct flower, which has a different species growing in South America, and hopefully that will be it!”

“I know that, and it didn’t help that it took me so long to translate the Necronexus. The damn book drained me of my energy for days! I’ve never seen an ancient text so complicated that it actually took more than a simple decipher enchantment to translate it! It was more like trying to web a network of unknown lines and dialogue together to make something partially coherent!”

“I remember…. I watched you struggling with it. You were off your feet for two days after! I would have helped you if I could have, but that was way beyond anything I could have done. I also had to coordinate Gishan’s trip to get the flower.”

She broke her gaze momentarily to look down at her mug as she sipped the tea before continuing, “It should have been me going after that flower. It would have been… but after the chaos in Washington, and our little incident in the Netherlands, I’ve been on conference call after conference call with my superiors and have been essentially grounded. Even so… I should never have let Gishan go to Malaysia alone.”

“He’ll be fine… he always is. That dwarf has talked himself out of trouble more times than he’d ever admit to.”

“I hope you’re right.” Giselle replied as she headed for the guest room to change. “You know him better than I do, but I still worry.”

Toby stared blankly at the frame on his end table. It was a beautiful picture of Lia’na and Toby at Revere Beach. He would never forget that day. Lia’na had asked a dwarf that was passing by to take the picture for them.

Toby had expected Lia’na to stand next to him, but instead, she jumped on his back. Her legs hugged his hips and her arms were loosely draped around his neck. Toby’s arms were holding Lia’na’s legs in place as the two of them stood there smiling.

After a few moments, Toby could no longer stand looking at it. He grabbed the pictured and turned it over so that he didn’t have to see the smiling faces. That was nothing more than a piece of history now.

Giselle noticed it and frowned, “I know you miss her Toby. We’re going to do everything we can to get her back.”

Toby stood up and headed for the bathroom, “I know that… Thank you…”

Without another word, Toby closed the door to his bedroom and headed into the shower. Giselle shook her head as he disappeared from view. Her heart sank in her chest. It’s just not right.

Toby shut the door to the bathroom.  His skin was oily and itched as he stripped off the tshirt and boxers he’d been wearing for the last two days. Part of him just wanted to throw out the clothes, given how badly they smelled, but he knew that they could be salvaged if washed soon.

The water pouring out of the shower head didn’t offer him any comfort as 48 hours of sweat washed away. The soap that came off of his body was tinted gray and he had to vigorously run the shampoo through his hair to get the plastic feeling of greese to go away. He was getting clean, but it didn’t feel any better.

Toby leaned down and turned off the shower. He stood in place for a few moments, letting the water drip away as he stared at the steam that whisked by his face. He leaned on the wall, not ready to move. He was completely paralyzed as he remembered the joy of looking forward to showers when Lia’na lived with him.

After more than ten minutes, Toby got out of the shower and grabbed a towel. His mind was completely blank as he dried off and got dressed. He threw on some black jeans and a red tshirt before grabbing his keys and heading for the bedroom door.

Giselle was now sitting in the living room chair, sipping another cup of tea as Toby opened the door to the bedroom. The TV was on and she was keeping an eye on the restoration projects efforts aimed at bringing Boston back to it’s glory. She was interrupted by the creaking sound as Toby’s door opened.

“There, now that looks better. You look like a new man now that you’ve cleaned up a little.”

“I don’t feel like a new man.” Toby replied as he slowly started moving towards the front door.

“Going somewhere?”

“Yeah, I’m heading for Revere Beach. I’ll be back in a while.”

A worried expression appeared on Giselle’s face, “Toby, I know I told you to get out, but are you sure that Revere Beach is a good idea?”

“What do you want from me? It’s where I used to go when I needed to clear my head. There is no place that I can go now where she won’t be haunting me.”

“Yeah I know that, but now… I mean given how much time you two spent there. I’m just worried… Look just promise me you won’t have a meltdown until you’re off your bike, okay?”

“Fine.” Toby replied as he closed the door behind him without even looking up.

Giselle sighed as he disappeared from view. She feared that Toby would wind up coming back in traction, but that was a risk she ran no matter where he went. In the end, she knew there was nothing she could do about it. Damn it.

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Last Rite Redemption

 

Hi Jim,

I have a character in my story that I want to turn from a bad guy into a good guy. The problem is that he’s guilty of committing several atrocities including mass genocide. I don’t see how I can turn him into a good guy in a way that I can redeem him. Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Linney


Hi Linney,

Oooooo that is a tough one. Redeeming someone who committed mass genocide is certainly a tall order and frankly… it’s impossible. Morally, there really isn’t any way a person can be redeemed for committing such a heinous crime. I think at most, heroes would accept that person as an ally of convenience at most.

In truth, both Lucasfilm and Marvel really seemed to struggle with this one. Lucasfilm had to find a way to ‘save’ Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi. This is the guy who killed multiple Jedi including young children. How can one be redeemed from something like that? Well… they went about it in kind of a weird way. It’s sort of an ambiguous explanation, but Obi Wan seems to imply that Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker are in fact two different people. Could it be that the force influence over a Jedi alters their personality when they go from light to dark and vice versa?
Luke: You mean it controls your actions?
Obi Wan: Partially, but it also obeys your commands.

Obi Wan: Your father was seduced by the dark side of the force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father, was destroyed.

So it is kind of implied that this is the case.

Marvel really messed up on this one… everyone already knows my opinion on the Phoenix Saga, but when the writers decided to resurrect Jean Grey, they had to figure out a way to do it that absolved her of the mass genocide she’d committed as Phoenix… despite the fact that she wasn’t even really responsible for her actions. To do that, they made it so that her and the Phoenix were two different beings and the Phoenix had essentially copied her physical characteristics.

So if you’re not willing to do a workaround, and I highly advise against it, I’d say that you probably can’t absolve the character. You can have them work for good, but they’ll never be out from under what they did. At best, I’d say by the end of the story, kill that character off. Have them sacrifice themselves to save the heroes or another large group of people.
I call this particular plot device the ‘Last Rite Redemption’. In my opinion the only way to cleanse the soul of someone who has committed such horrible crimes would be for that person to willingly give their lives to destroy an ultimate evil or save an ultimate good. Even then it may not be a redemption, but that’s as close as you’re going to get.

If you’re hoping to make that character a hero… likely that’s never going to happen.

Readers, what do you think? Do you have any advice for Linney?

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

The Cameo Takeover

Hi Jim,

I’m trying to write a new story and have a few characters make cameos from the previous one. Basically my story is set in the same timeline and one or two characters make appearances in order to connect the stories. However I seem to run into issues with the cameo characters taking over the story. I’ve had to do a rewrite a few times. Can you help me?

Thanks,
Michaela


 

Mi Micahaela,

If you’re having so much trouble limiting your old characters’ appearances… why not make the new story about them? If you love your characters so much that you can’t help but keep writing about them, there is no rule saying that you can’t just make the story about them with maybe your new characters simply joining the team.

The other thing you can do is give your character cameos one or two scenes and then cut them off completely. Don’t bring them back in and don’t mention them again, just make a clean break.

Without knowing more details about the characters, I’m afraid I can’t offer too much more in the way of guidance. Please feel free to email me when you get a chance.

Readers, what about you? Any other advice?



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Star Trek Discovery: The Elephant in the Room

I’ve really wanted to tackle this one for a while, but the issues with Discovery seemed a lot more wide-spread than just the show. As a result, I had to address the more global issue first.

To give a little background into my experience with Star Trek, I started off watching seasons 2-3 of The Next Generation. Then my father introduced me to Wrath of Khan, which is to date, my favorite of the movies. After discovering that there was an entire other cast from TNG (no, I didn’t know this) I went back and watched the original series. At first, I was taken aback at the low production quality (I was ten, give me a break!). However, the series eventually grew on me. ‘Wolf in the Fold’ and ‘The Conscience of the King’ remain my two favorite episodes to this day.

I then began religiously watching DS9 and eventually Voyager. Admittedly my wife likes Voyager far more than I do, but its passable. DS9 was boring as sin until Michael Dorn joined the cast and the Dominion War broke out. I was never a fan of the Marquis story line nor the constant religious themes of the Bajorans. Sorry, this species is not that fascinating!

Then Enterprise came out. At first I hated it. I thought the theme really took you out of what was going on and the whole show seemed way too interested in catering to a new audience instead of the loyal base, a mistake in my opinion. As the seasons went on and we started getting into the formation of the Federation, as well as the seeds for the Romulan War, I started to get into it. Unfortunately the show was cancelled, leaving us with mere tidbits of what could have been.

I actually loved the Kelvin movies, despite them being sexed up, and having way too much emphasis on action. There is only so many times you can shred the Enterprise before it gets old.

Now admittedly, my fandom has shifted greatly over the years. They say there are three camps; The Star Trek Camp, The Star Wars Camp, and the Lord of the Rings Camp. I am firmly in the Lord of the Rings Camp, being a huge fan of folklore, fantasy, and mythology. This isn’t about to change any time soon. That being said, I still love Star Trek and Star Wars and do go back regularly. However, my outting from the Star Trek camp has allowed me to take a look at what’s been going on.

Star Trek has an insanely loyal fandom, one that even the creators have learned to respect (or fear, I’m not sure which). Their near cultist following of the show has earned them a reputation for being picky. However its this fandom that has kept the genre alive for so long with fan films and movies. The problem lies with the fact that Star Trek fans have a history of shooting themselves in the foot. Every time a new series or movie comes along, they gripe about every little inconsistency to the point where the show/movie is pushed into oblivion. Only after the show/movie is destroyed do they turn around and say how they missed it and how ‘at least it respected canon, etc.’ I hear this all the time about Enterprise.

So what about discovery?

Well… yeah even from the outside, one can see that it has a lot of problems. The ship designs, species designs, uniforms, technology, etc. etc. etc. all do not look right. The story appears to be a mess and the studio is in a panic. So from the outside looking in, it almost appears that the fans might have a legitimate gripe THIS TIME.

However there is one more problem with this one that really makes the controversy surrounding it stand out….

Let me preface all of what I’m about to say with this… I want to be very clear now… MOST, IF NOT ALL, OF THE STAR TREK FANBASE HAS ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM ACCEPTING A MINORITY CAST MEMBER OR A WOMAN IN A LEADING ROLE!

We had Uhura, Number One, Rand, etc. in the original series, TNG had several women and diverse cast members in and out, Avery Brooks led the charge in DS9, and Kate Mulgrew in Voyager. So really, the fandom has never had an issue with this.

However, recently we’ve seen a lot of concern and backlash over the fact that the leading character is a, as CBS put it ‘non-white female’. There is also a lot of talk about the apparently lack of any white cast members in the show. I can’t speak to this as I have seen quite a few white cast members, including Jason Isaacs, portraying the captain of the Discovery.

So if my initial statement is correct, then why are we having trouble accepting these particular cast members in Discovery. Well… I don’t think the problem is as simple as black or white. Let’s explore…

First, lets look at the timing of this show coming out… The current state of American Culture is in complete disarray. On one side, we have an extremely regressive movement that has placed a rather unhealthy emphasis on identity politics. What I mean by this is that the political ideology of these people seeming places a higher value on the color of ones skin or the type of genitals they have, then on their personality, morals, or values. Meanwhile on the other sides, we have an equally regressive isolationist movement that wants us out of world affairs and a small minority of these people have issues with race and gender as well, though its a lot more age-old. Then we have the people in the middle on both sides of the isle who are getting torn between the two. Verbal threats from both sides compels these moderates to pick a side and… because so many of them felt left behind, we currently have Donald Trump as the populist representative of the people…

Unfortunately, a great deal of our media including news, movies, comics, and TV shows, fall into the first camp of regressive leftists. A lot of people call them ‘social justice warriors’, however I’ve decided to take that phrase out of my vocabulary. It’s a euphemism, an ineffective term, and gives someone on the outside looking in the wrong impression of these people.

As a result, we’ve seen a lot of our mediums fall from good story-telling to regressive propaganda machines… again, focusing on agenda and skin color, while letting the story suffer. I covered this in another post called ‘Diversity and Writing‘, which I highly recommend for context on this issue.

So what does any of this have to do with the objections to the cast of this Star Trek show?

Well to be honest, I’ve followed the twitter, youtube comments, and other criticisms of this show very closely. I try to keep tabs on the general issues people seem to have with this series and I think I have a grasp on the current trend…

It’s not the fact that the cast is diverse, it’s how the shows creators are handling it. Star Trek has always had a diverse cast and they’ve always been heralded as progressive for a few major reasons; 1. the minority cast members are treated as equals with everyone else, 2. none of the modern issues with race, diversity, or gender are an issue in their time because humanity have evolved beyond such issues. In other words, we see people of all walks of life treated as people and having access to all the same resources as everyone else. They’re respected and their personalities, morals, and values are explored. Because the focus is on the character and not their race or gender, these characters are dynamic and beloved. They aren’t simple archetypes that have to fit into perceived stereotypes.

But Jim, those issues did come up!

They did only in the context of looking back in time. Either by Sisko looking back at segregated America, or by others exploring Nazi Germany and other issues, and how much we’ve grown since then.

Now let’s take a look at Discovery… for starters quite a few elements of Trek have adopted the regressive mindset. Trek against Trump, being one of the more egregious examples…

Next we have the show’s original front runner, Bryan Fuller.

Brian Fuller is a huge Star Trek fan and cut his teeth writing for Voyager and Enterprise. He also said that he would drop everything to captain a new series if ever asked. However, he also appears to be in pretty big with the regressive left…

In 2016 he commandeered the SDCC Star Trek Panel turning it into, as many called it ‘an hour-long social justice rant’ much to the chagrin of many patrols:

 

Not helping matters, when the show was first announced, little to nothing was mentioned about the setting, plot, or story… placing a higher focus on the fact that one character would be transgender and the lead would be a ‘non-white female.’

The wording of the identity of the lead, as well as the main focus of the creators seeming to be on the characters’ identities over the story led many to refer to the new series as ‘Social Justice’ Trek. Many feared that Star Trek would begin tackling social issues that should be out of date in the Star Trek universe and essentially follow Marvel, Hollywood, and much of Sony into becoming a regressive leftist propaganda machine.

In essence, its not the characters’ races or gender identities that is the problem, it’s the seemingly out-of-place focus on them that people seem to have a majority of the problem with.

In typical fashion, things have been made much worse by the media. Several news sites have pulled a Sony and taken a single digit percentage of the show’s detractors (seriously google the articles, they all use the same 5 hateful tweets!), namely racist individuals, and passed them off as the majority of the show’s criticisms, despite almost a million other comments going through legitimate criticisms of it. I’ll give a few examples you can look into below:

Some white ‘Star Trek’ fans are unhappy about remake’s diversity

Racist Star Trek Fans Decry Discovery’s Diversity, Revealing They Know Nothing About Star Trek
(Why Gizmodo, WHY!?!?!?)

Keep in mind, a lot of these news organizations are owned by the very companies that are producing a lot of the shows and movies that we now see. So its not entirely unreasonable to assume that the show’s creators had a hand in this.
Essentially what these people are doing, are dismissing the show’s detractors and driving a the hard social divide even wider for their own gain, either through contracts for later interviews, or clickbait.

I’ve noted in my previous post that this should be a crime against humanity. However, dismissing critics as bigots, or silencing critics through threats of sexism and racism have been a trend of the regressive left for a long time now. Sony did it and completely insulted the fanbase for Ghostbusters. Marvel tried to do it with new Fantastic Four movie, and, while CBS hasn’t come right out with anything, several of their supporters have. In essence, when Geek Culture objects to anything, we’re labeled as being basement-dwelling, unwashed, unmarried, introverts that are crying because our toys got taken away.

So how are they allowed to get away with this? Based on what you’ve said, these companies are misrepresenting gender/identity issues for their own gain and insulted a large group of the general populace. 

Well… honestly its in part because geek/nerd culture doesn’t have a collective voice. We come from all walks of life, genders, races and beliefs. We’re all over the place, so it’s hard to have anyone to speak out on our behalf. The people who could have been those voices have long since joined the ranks of the regressive left, leaving the majority of geeks/nerds (moderate-left/center of the line) with no voice. Its like a microcosm of the political moderates in the U.S. today. There is no voice.

However I would argue that these people aren’t getting away with it. The detractors from the Ghostbusters movie in many cases had to do a soft walk-back on the things they said. (Not actually apologizing, mind you, but the bare minimum they had to do when public opinion turned on them).

Paul Feig Corrects Quote Regarding Assholes in Geek Culture

Stay classy guys…

However though we don’t have anyone to speak out on our behalf and our outrage is often dismissed… for people who live in their mother’s basements, we do have oddly large wallets (strange how that doesn’t add up). Ghostbusters flopped at the box office, there is no plans for a sequel and Feig won’t be touching another ‘nerd flick’ any time soon (thank God). Fantastic Four outright bombed at the box office and Marvel comics are in a death spiral.

To all of the show’s detractors…
Guys, give the show a chance. The first episode is going to be free to watch, so you don’t have to pay for it. It may be good. Midnight’s Edge’s videos portray Bryan Fuller’s exodus as a bad thing, but I disagree with them. His departure from the series and lack of further involvement means that this may not be the ‘Social Justice’ Trek that a lot of people fear. Give it a chance, if the pilot is really bad, well you don’t have to pay for it. Speculation is that CBS is already gearing up for a potential cancellation anyway. So just see what its like and go from there. That’s all anyone can ask.

So readers, have you seen the same trend I have? Do you agree with me that the focus on identity, not the actual race/genders, are the issue or are the detractors actually racist? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to engage with you!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim