Spam Comment Spring Cleaning.

 

 

I don’t know why I do this every year, but it gives me peace of mind. I know it may be a little childish, but I thought I’d share some of the more hilarious and/or cringy ones with all of you… because misery loves company!

We’re going absolutely low on the spelling/grammar/relevance scale here, people. Be very afraid.


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… okay? Well, thanks for sharing. Hope you figure out your daddy issues there.


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Okay, well… again thank you for sharing. Hope you figure out your daddy issues.


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Well thanks, you must be very proud of yourself.


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… and that someone just had to be me, right? Okay, well thanks for the share.


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Wow… okay what’s the best way to handle this… I’m going to have to go with a classic…

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*Facepalm*

Yes… it does really seem like that, doesn’t it? You know that’s not really a profound statement when it’s… what actually happened?


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… how did you know that I was trying to lose weight? Oh no, they’re on to me…


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… I’m starting to see a pattern here. There seems to be a connection between spamming and daddy issues. Do we have any psychologists or psych students among my readers? You should totally get going on a research paper!


 

Readers, I invite you to go through your Spam comments. Are they as ridiculous as mine? Feel free to post a few!

Thanks,
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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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In the Circle… Circle of Writing!

Hello Jim,

I am working on a story of my own for quite a while already. From several sources, I’ve heard that self-published writers are quite friendly community that often can share advice with one another. I’d like to discuss the writing process and the joys and perils that come with us with like-minded people but I have no idea at all where to start.

I wondered if you know and could point me in the right direction?

Tomas


Hi Tomas,

So if I’m understanding this correctly, you’re looking for a writing circle. I think that’s a great idea and I definitely encourage it. Bouncing ideas off of other writers who are looking to get their work out there, or may have already gotten their work out there is a great way to get started.

The two places I frequent when looking for such people and groups is either right here on WordPress, or Goodreads. WordPress has a lot of writers out there looking for, and giving advice on various topics. Check out the #Writing tag on your reader list and you should be able to find others out there offering their advice.

For a more personal touch, Goodreads has several groups for writers and readers alike, including writers circles. Feel free to check them out here.

You can also consider starting your own here on word press. I’d recommend putting the word out for other readers and then perhaps do a once a week Skype chat or create a message board. I’ve personally been beating the idea of doing one myself, but at the moment, I don’t have the necessary time to commit to it.

So I really hope this helps in some way. There are plenty of resources out there. I’d consider checking with your local library as well. Often times they offer workshops, forums, and writing circles through there.

Thanks,
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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Drafting and Re-Drafting the Draft of the Book you want to Publish.

In your experience, how many drafts does a book go through? Your post above seems to indicate four drafts, total. Thanks!

 

Thanks,
Laura Beth


Hi Laura,

The answer stops being wrong after 3. Beyond that, there is no wrong answer.

First Draft: You just finished writing your book. This is the draft where you literally typed ‘The End.’ No edits, no proofing, nothing.
If you publish this, all I can say is… “Bless your heart.”

Second Draft: You’ve done the first round of edits. You’re confident that you’ve caught everything you can and even run the book through editing software like Grammarly or the horrid MS Office Spellcheck.
If you publish this, you may find a major plothole later, as well as sentences that sounded better in your head than they do to others.

Third Draft: You’ve passed your second draft off to someone and they edit it for you. They make spelling/grammar/coherency checks and give you their recommendations. You’ve made said corrections and are now all set.
This is, IMHO the minimum you need to do before publishing… THE BARE MINIMUM! I would recommend repeating what you did on the second draft and then pass the book off to someone else for additional edits to spelling and grammar, but that’s up to you.

I performed the spelling and grammar checks, and then handed the book off to a friend for spelling and grammar, now I’ve submitted it to my editor for coherency, plot, and additional spelling and grammar checks. When I get it back from him, I’ll probably do the checks a few more times before publishing.

Three is the absolute minimum and I do not recommend it. That’s a pretty major risk and should only be taken if you’re pressed for time. You could reasonably expect your book to go through 5-10 drafts before it’s anywhere near publishable.

Writers, what do you think? How many drafts do you put your work through before you’re confident in its publishability? Let Laura know in the comments.

 

Thanks,
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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Dumping the Info Dump on New Characters

Hi Jim,

HELP!!!

… please! 🙂 I am so frustrated, I’m not sure what to do. I am trying hard to write my book. I’ve got a lot of great ideas, but I keep getting held up on when we meet new characters. Each time one of my main cast makes their first appearance in the story, I wind up with five or six paragraphs of details about the characters. I hate reading stories that just pile on the detail, but that’s what I’m doing. How can I stop this?

Thanks,
Lane


Hi Lane,

I know the feeling. It’s tough to get through books that just drag the detail out to absurd levels. We don’t need to know what each individual stone on the wall of the castle looks like, we can picture it on our own.

Okay, the first thing I would do is CALM DOWN! You emailed me in all caps. Do you know how many internet etiquette rules you’re breaking by doing that? ONE! Do not type in all caps!  I get you’re frustrated, but trust me, you’ll work through it.

All right, are you calm? Good. Now, when typing out person/place/thing descriptors, ask yourself a few questions; Does the reader need to know about this? Is this something that will become relevant to the plot later? Believe it or not, we don’t need to know the thread count of the clothing their wearing.

All joking aside… I think the best way you can break up ram-eating walls of text is to actually turn them into dialogue and omit what isn’t necessary. Let me give you an example:

Then he saw her. Her hair was a lustrous blonde that shimmered in the sunlight. It flowed to the small of her back and tapered off just above her behind.

Take something like that and edit it down to something a little more simple and use it in dialogue:

Toby turned to Mike, “Who is that girl?”

“Which one?”

Toby beckoned to a tall girl coming towards them, “That one with long blonde hair.”


Which example is easier to read? IMHO it’s the second one. It’s broken up and while obviously longer, it’s more engaging and isn’t a huge wall of text. That’s really the best advice I can give you. Slim down what you don’t need to say and have your characters actually talk about it instead of just telling the readers.

What do the other writers on my page think? How do you avoid huge walls of text?

Thanks,
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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Calling it Quits

Hi Jim,

 

I have about three books in publication and… honestly, I have some ideas for other stories that I think about do well, but I spend so much time writing that I’m starting to feel like it’s consumed my life. I don’t want to let some really good ideas go down the drain, but there are other things I want to do and I have a family that I want to spend more time with. Have you ever thought about calling it quits or is there a time when you think you’ll retire the keyboard?

Thanks,
Ned


Hi Ned,

Spending time with and taking care of your family is the most important thing you could do. It should never take back burner to anything, even your writing. If you believe that your writing is interfering with your life, then indeed, it may be time to hang it up.

I ran into this issue a while back and decided that the best time to write would be when I was on break at my other job, or after everyone else goes to sleep. That way it doesn’t affect family time. I will say that devoting your time to writing can and will take a toll on your health as well.

I’ve honestly thought about calling it quits many times, but I don’t know that I ever will. I am planning on taking a much-needed long break after the next one is published. Perhaps that might be a good compromise? If you’re worried about missing some inspiration for a good story, then keep a small notebook with you and jot down a few notes to remind yourself.

In any case, I think it’s unrealistic to expect to be able to give up your art altogether. A prolonged break is not unreasonable. I hope this helps and I hope you can get everything on track. If you need any more guidance, feel free to email me.

Readers, what do you think? How do you handle thoughts of literary retirement?

Thanks,
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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Private vs. Public Profile

Hi Jim,

 

So I’m published and like you, I have a blog with a fairly decent following. Over the past few months, I’ve gotten a number of friend requests to my personal facebook page. I’ve ignored them, but they keep coming and I don’t want to seem unprofessional. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?

Thanks,
Lindsey


Hi Lindsey,

I think it’s absolutely important to keep your personal and Professional space separate. I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong by rejecting or ignoring these requests. My advice to you would be to create a separate account of author’s page on Facebook. You can take a look at mine on the left, for reference if you like.

I would link it to your WordPress and other social media accounts. Once done, I would lock your private Facebook page with the highest security settings and then make adjust your page so that you’re unsearchable. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot more secure that way. I’ve had the same issue from time to time and it’s really the best way to handle it. I love interacting with my readers and fans, it’s what I really enjoy about releasing books.

However, my Facebook page has personal interactions with close friends and family and I prefer to keep that separate.

So anything you want to keep out of the public eye, you need to secure as best you can. It won’t be perfect, but that’s really the best thing you can do.

I hope this helps. Authors and readers, how do you handle issues like this? Do you interact with the people who send you friends requests?

Thanks,
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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Hurdles of Creating Characters from People of History

Hi Jim,

 

I read a few of your other pieces about character creation and was hoping you could expand more upon how you create a character based on a historical person. I’m trying to do something similar right now, and am really having a hard time. You said that you wanted the character to be as close to the historical person as humanly possible, so I just wanted to know how you accomplished that.

Thanks,
Danny


Danny,

I don’t know how much more I can say on the subject without retracing what I’ve already said, but I’ll do my best. In my writings, I’ve incorporated a few historical people as main characters… Let’s take a look at them.

From left to right, Federico II Gonzaga, Pope Leo X, and Mary Jane Kelly.

Each of these characters presented their own problems in character creation and each had different levels of detail.

Federico and Pope Leo X were both portrayed in Divinity, and for those who have read it, Divinity is basically a story criticizing the church of that time, and by default, institutional religion in general.

Basically, I wanted to show the problems with blind adherence to strict interpretations of doctrine that was, in my opinion anyway, used way outside of its purpose. To do this, I posed the question; What would happen if an angel appeared in 16th Century Europe? What would happen if she were wounded and in need of help? How would people react to what she had to say or how she behaved? Would they take her in and help her, or would they fall back on what they’d been taught, not considering that those teachings might be wrong, and thus assume that she was actually a demonic presence?

To frame the story, I needed to choose the right time period and the right church leader. Yes, the Pope was a villain in the book. I wanted to be careful as I didn’t want to portray someone in a negative light who didn’t deserve it. There were plenty of Popes from the time period I had in mind that did their jobs and were, on a scale, considered benevolent.

Pope Leo X shows up on many of the ‘Worst Popes’ lists out there. He’s was extremely indulgent, driving the church deeply into debt, and then prayed on the ignorance of the faithful in order to sell indulgences to pay down that debt. He was not a priest and he’d had his hands very deep in the pockets of politics of the time.

My portrayal of him is based on that. I presented Leo X as a man who would view an angel potentially going around countering the teachings of the church as dangerous. Especially given that this was a time when the Protestant Reformation was really taking off. Other than his dealings with the church and some backstory of growing up as a member of the Medici family, there isn’t much on his personality traits. So basically, I had to envision what someone would be like who made the decisions he did. What I came up with was an intelligent, well-spoken individual, who was, unfortunately, too easily seduced by power and luxury. He lived by the silver spoon and would go to great lengths to preserve his way of life.

Federico II Gonzaga is a lot more complicated. Aside from allowing the armies of the Holy Roman Empire to pass through his land unmolested, and sack Rome, there really isn’t much on him. I had to dig a little deeper to find more info on him. He was somewhat subversive and underhanded at times, and he had very poor military experience. He essentially was a young man who was thrown into a role he was not equipped to handle. He was deep in the politics of the church, however, given a more passive nature and his manipulation of the system, I was able to portray him a little bit more as a skeptic of what was going on around him.

The lack of information on the personalities of people from several hundred years ago is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, with limited information, you have a lot more freedom. However, if you value history the way I do, you have a responsibility to dig as deep as you can and uncover every scrap of information you can find to make sure you get the character right… and even then you’re more than likely way off.

So let’s take a look at Mary Jane Kelly.
(Spoiler Alerts for Soul Siphon. If you don’t want to know about Mary Jane’s character yet, skip ahead.)

Now… obviously I took a LOT of dramatic licenses here… If you don’t believe me… these three pictures portray the same person:

Mary Kelly was a little easier to deal with for a few reasons;

  1. Outside of her death, she was a relatively insignificant person on the stage of history and it’s likely that her name wouldn’t show up in any historical texts otherwise.
  2. We do have historical accounts of her personality. However, those accounts are based on hearsay and the testimony of a few people who knew her. A lot of it was based on conflicting stories that she herself had told. So there you can pick and choose which ones sound feasible and which ones do not.
    Example:
    According to her, she had a brother in the military. This is likely. A lot of people served back then.
    On the other side, she also has a number of brothers… I think the number was 7. Arguably less likely, especially from the same mother. Not helping matters was that sometimes it was 7, sometimes it was 2 or 3, or sometimes just one and a sister. Needless to say, I kind of dismissed that.
  3. I wasn’t going to portray her as she was back then. My character was the historical person, still alive in the 21st Century. In other words, she’d have 150 years of new experiences and development.

So here’s essentially what I did with her. From what historical accounts we can find on her, she was an Irish-born brothel worker with a sharp tongue. She was known for being quarrelsome and had earned the title of ‘Black Mary’,  which suggests that she knew how to handle herself in a dangerous neighborhood. She was also known for getting drunk and singing Irish folk and patriotic songs… so perhaps I could add some of the cultural characterizations and stereotypes to her behavior. I also based some of her personality on my own experiences with Irish culture, people I’ve encountered, and friends I have from the homeland itself.

So with that information, I was able to build the character personality around those traits and behaviors. However, that original build would have been appropriate for portraying Mary Kelly as she was during the late 1800s. I had an additional hurdle to overcome with her in that she was going to have an additional 150 years of development.

So what would a character like that be like? Well contending with immortality, having to watch friends die, as well as having full memory of her murder, I tried to create a character who voluntarily isolated herself from the rest of the team and shies away from forming bonds out of a fear of loss or abandonment. I then created a backstory where she spent years protecting other prostitutes and brothel workers. When she finally located Jack the Ripper himself, she set out to kill him, only to lose her chance when he attempted to escape to American and drown when his ship wrecked. She later discovered that her failure to catch him sooner resulted in more deaths at his hands.

I used that backstory, coupled with the harsh life she lived, to create a bitter character who was justifiably mad at the world. So when our hero meets Mary, she’s harsh, rude, and extremely condescending. She continuously objects to the main character joining the team and gives him a wide berth. I’ve gotten emails from people who read her character and ask why she’s so mean… and I always smile because I can usually tell where they are in the story.

Truthfully, readers aren’t meant to like Mary at first. I’d actually understand if they didn’t like Mary at all. However, I did want people to understand her. I wanted to make a character that wouldn’t necessarily change, but people would at least grow to understand and even empathize with. You may not like her abrasive personality or attitude, but at least you’d develop an understanding of how she got that way in the first place.

So in the end, the major hurdle is whether or not these people would actually be like the characters I created. Honestly, I have no idea. I used their historical profiles and what personality traits I could find to build a character that is as close as anyone could reasonably get without actually knowing the person. That being said, I fully recognize that I could be completely off. One, because as I said, I never met these people. Two, because I’m exposing them to fictional situations. Given that, it would be impossible to predict how they would react, even from someone who knew them personally.

So I guess in the end, my advice is simply to be careful. Do your due diligence and… I’d personally avoid anyone living or recently deceased. It’s true that you can’t slander the dead, but you’d be surprised at the legal loopholing a famous person’s family can do if desired. If that’s what you want to do though, I’d contact a lawyer first to see what your options are and what you should or should not consider saying about said person.

If they’re from an ancient time period, any surviving family members would have a much harder time making a case against you, and many would first have to be able to trace their line back to said person which isn’t always easy to do in a way that would be accepted by most legal systems.

Anyway, I hope this helps, but let’s open it up to the readers. Does anyone else in the WordPress community have experiences with creating a character from a historical person? Feel free to share your experiences and the steps you took in creating said character in the comments.

Thanks,
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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim