Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Artist in need.

Hey guys.
I have an artist friend who needs help. She's in the process of legally claiming her 2 year old son, so that she can permanently keep him away from her abusive ex-husband. Trouble is that in order to do this, she needs to pay the powers that be $900, and she dosen't have that kind of cash laying around. So she's having a commission sale to help raise the money. I know a lot of you are writers, so if you want and/or need illustrations for your book or just want to see what your characters look like or whatever for cheap, why not shoot her a PM and set something up? Here is her contact info and some samples of her work: 

Hope you guys can use this. 
I'm out. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My uncles new book.

Just letting you guys know that my mentor's (AKA my Uncle Lamar) new book is out. So check it out when ya can: 


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Dark Elf Cometh: An interview with New York Times bestselling author R.A. Salvatore.



Life is awesome sometimes. To be honest, I never thought that this would actually happen, that today’s guest would even agree to let me interview I mean. But, nice guy that our guest is, he has and now I’m hardly stopping myself from jumping up and down like a little boy on weaponized sugar. It’s nice to be wrong sometimes. Anyway, whether you like his work or not, today’s guests is one of the most popular and respected names working in the fantasy genre today. He’s the creator of one of the most popular Forgotten Realm’s characters ever, the dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden. And he is the author countless other books and stories both in and out of the Forgotten Realms like The Demon War’s saga and The Highwayman. He’s also worked on video games, the most recent being the popular RPG Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning on the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Creator hanging out with creation. 

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to the very talented, R.A. Salvatore. Mr. Salvatore, thank you for joining us.

R.A. Salvatore: Thank you for having me, Will.      

Me: To start off with, how did you realize that writing was your calling? And what were some of the things that originally inspired you?

R.A.S: Tolkien inspired me. When I read those books, I remembered how much I loved escaping within the pages. When i ran out of books to read, I wrote my own. Haven't looked back since.

Me: Cool, Tolkien is one of my inspirations too (I've lost count how many time I've read his books now). But anyway Did you ever think that you would get to this point in your career?

R.A.S: Not at all. I didn't start writing as a "career." I just wanted to tell a story. I was working in finance when I got my first break.

Me: What do you do when you set out to write a novel? Do you make an outline or do you just sit there and let the story take shape as you go along (if that makes any sense)? I guess I'm interested in the creative process and how you do it.

R.A.S: I make an outline, then start writing and let the characters take over the story and direct my fingers. I look back at the outline now and then, revise if often as I go along, but really, writing is an organic thing to me.

Me:  What keeps you writing? 

R.A.S: Writing is how I make sense of the world, so I'd go crazy if I stopped.

Me: You and me both. We like our sanity too much to stop.

The First book in the Neverwinter saga.
Me: On a related subject, you recently wrapped up a new series of Drizzt books, the Neverwinter saga. Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about them?

R.A.S: These books were an exploration of Innovindil's advice to Drizzt on what it is to be an elf. Live your life in shorter bursts, recreating yourself to fit the lifespans of the humans around you, she told him. So he did, but this time, he wasn't surrounded by companions of similar weal and mores. So the conflict of Neverwinter was whether Drizzt would bring them up or they would bring him down...or something in the middle.

Me: Sounds very interesting. While on the subject of Drizzt, I liked what you did with the Dark Elves of the Realms and how Drizzt rebels against that, but still has to struggle to find acceptance, even though he's among those who share his values. And it makes me wonder, if you had complete creative freedom over him and his friends (like if they were characters in one of your original works), what would you do with them? Would they still be the same or would you take them in a completely other direction?

R.A.S: I do have complete freedom, so it's a moot point!

Me: *laugh* good to know.  

Me: What's next for Drizzt now that the Neverwinter Saga is finished (that you can tell us about)?
This is what's next. 

R.A.S: "The Companions" comes out in August. That's all I will say. No spoilers on this one, though I think it might be the best book I've ever written - certainly in the top three, with "Homeland" and "Mortalis."

Me: I will definitely be on the look for that. One of the things I've always wondered is, when writing in a shared world like Forgotten Realms or Star Wars (no, this is not a question about Chewbacca lol), how much say does the owner of the world have as to what goes into the book in terms of content? I mean, do they mostly give you a freehand or do they micromanage it?

R.A.S: It depends on the world. With Star Wars, the author gets very little control. With the Realms, I get much more control. Generally speaking, if you're working on an active intellectual property that is associated with big-dollar projects like movies, you're not going to be able to do many dramatic things. Even the Chewy thing was not my idea and I was told I had to include it.

Me: I heard about that, that killing Chewy wasn't your idea I mean. It’s a shame that that overshadows the book, because I thought that Vector Prime was actually pretty good. And I hope they ask you to come back and write another one.          

Me: Getting away from shared worlds for a moment. You've also written quite a number of original series, like the Demon Wars saga, Echoes of the Fourth Magic, the Highwayman and so on. For those who haven't read them, what can you tell us about them (with as little spoilers as possible, please)? And which do you prefer, working in a shared world or your own work?

The first Demon Wars book.
R.A.S: I've done several other series.

The Crimson Shadow Trilogy is a rollicking, Three-Musketeer-type adventure with one of my favorite (funniest) characters, the Highwayhalfling Oliver deBurrows.

The Spearwielder's Tales is an analogy of my own journey into fantasy.

The Chronicles of Ynis Aielle includes my first book, "Echoes of the Fourth Magic," and details a future Earth that is its own fantasy realm.

DemonWars is my most ambitious project ever. The original series encompasses 7 large books, which tell the stories of heroes and villains a'plenty, create an entirely new gemstone-based magical system, and a logical set of societal structures to go along with it.

The first Highwayman book.
The Highwayman and the Saga of the First King are four more books set in the DemonWars world. I hope to do more. This is my Forgotten Realms, my Middle Earth, my Shannara.

Me: As a world builder myself, I can relate =). Do you plan to write more in those universes, or to create new ones?

R.A.S: More DemonWars, certainly. I doubt I'll ever create another one, but you never know.

Me: What's the world building process like for you? I mean, do your universes open themselves up to you or do you have to fight it for every little scrap of detail?

R.A.S: I spent six months building the world - geography, races, social structures and magic system - for DemonWars before I ever started writing the books. Everything has to make sense or the whole property falls apart, and that takes detailed work.

Me: Indeed. On a semi-related subject, how do you come up with a character's (original or otherwise) personality? I mean, do you know who the character is going in, or do you discover who they are gradually?

R.A.S: I float an idea about my head for a character, introduce him or her, and let the character reveal himself/herself to me as we go along. This was true of Drizzt, who wasn't supposed to have a big role in the first book, and even more true of Entreri, who showed up on a whim at the end of that same book.

Me:  Would you be open to having the Demon Wars books, or any of your original work, adapted into a movie or game or whatever? Have you even been approached about such a thing? 

R.A.S: Sure. And I have had some close calls in this regard. Nothing yet. The truth is that my most desired work by licensors is Dark Elf, and Hasbro owns the rights to the Realms, not I.

Me: I hope that that changes, because I (and many other fans I’m sure) would love to see a Demon Wars movie or an Echoes of the Fourth Magic movie (so far, that’s my personal favorite of your original work). Though I’m actually pretty surprised that Hasbro hasn’t thought to make a Drizzt movie to be honest. You’d think they’d be all over it, given the character’s popularity *shrugs*.   


Me: But anyway, the first of your non-Forgotten Realms universes (or at least one that you helped to create) that I was really aware of, was the world of Amalur; which, of course, was the setting for the video game Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning. I thought that both game and world were fantastic and had lots of potential for expanding upon, and it’s a terrible shame that 38 Studios went out of business before they could do more with it. I was looking forward to the Amalur MMO, myself. What was the process (like where did the idea for, say, the Fey come from? And the back and forth between 38 Studios and you Ect) that went into making that world? And, if given the chance, would you become involved with it again if/when someone buys the rights to the IP?

R.A.S: The Fey were an add by the BHG team to the 10,000 year history of Amalur that I and my team had created. It breaks my heart that so many people think of Amalur only in the terms of the "Reckoning" game, because that's all they can see. The truth is that Reckoning takes a tiny slice of space and time from Amalur and expands it into an RPG. The Fey, for example, only existed for a small amount of time in the world, and the concept of "fate" as portrayed in Reckoning was a brief belief among the people.


Me: Well, I would've loved to see more of the world beyond Reckoning anyway (and I know others who feel the same way). With that said, is there any chance of Amalur novels popping up anytime soon? That's just something I would personally love to see.

R.A.S: I doubt it, as the intellectual property is owned by Rhode Island. It will be up for auction, so we'll see.


Me: Indeed, I’m keeping fingers cross. Aside from Amalur, you've also worked on other video games (Like Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone, Everquest 2, and Quake III) as well. What would you say the biggest differences and challenges are for writing for an interactive medium like video games as opposed to writing in non-interactive ones like novels, comics or film scripts and so on? And what role do you see the writer playing in the creation of video games in the future?

R.A.S: When you're writing for a game, the most important character will be the one the player creates. In a book, you live vicariously through my created characters. In a game, you live through your own.


Me: As a writer and gamer, I'm interested in writing for that medium myself, but I'm not exactly the most tech oriented guy in the world. What advice (if any) can you give to people like me who would want to write for games?

R.A.S: Writing is writing, and anyone who calls himself a writer should be writing. Period. There are no tricks or shortcuts; it's about finding your voice and learning to say things in the manner you wish. Then you sit back and hope other people like your choices. 

Me: Very good answer ^_^.  In other interviews, you've often talked about how things like e-books and ever evolving technology are changing the publishing industry, and it certainly has (I and many of the indie authors following this blog are living proof lol). How do you see this change affecting not only published writers but the industry as a whole?  

R.A.S: I can't even begin to predict. The changes are already dramatic, with brick-and-mortar stores falling by the wayside. Publishers and authors are continually scrambling to create a new relationship in the changing environment, and it's very hard, because that change isn't slowing. In addition, the new behemoths, like Amazon and iTunes, are trying to set the parameters and dominate the structure, and what's good for them might not be what's good for publishers or authors. Things will look very different in a few years, I'm sure.

Me: No doubt of that.

Me: What advice can you give to aspiring and indie writers looking to get published?

R.A.S: Same as always: if you can quit, then quit. If you can't quit, then you're a writer. Writing and publishing are two different things. For publishing advice, go and look at the newest edition of a periodical like "The Writer's Market." It will teach you what you need to know. I wish I could offer more, but I'm at a very different place than someone who needs this advice, and honestly, I haven't tried to sell a book in many years.

Me: it’s welcomed advice, nonetheless ^_^.

Me: Ok, This one is for the nerds: Who would win a fight: Drizzt, Rand al'Thor (from the Wheel of Time series) or Elric of Melnibone? Lol. Only joking.    

R.A.S: The character of whichever writer is writing the battle, no doubt.

Me: R.A. Salvatore, thank very much for joining me today.

R.A.S: You’re very welcome. Thank you for having me.

And thanks to everyone for their undying patients. I hope you all enjoyed the interview. If you'd like to know more about R.A. Salvatore and his work, then visit him on the web at: http://www.rasalvatore.com/ 
and on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/RA-Salvatore/54142479810
and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/R_A_Salvatore
  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Recommended Reading for fantasy authors.

This is one I've been tossing around in my head for a while now. I held off on doing a "recommended reading list"  because, well lets face it, recommending anything to anybody is already kind of a slippery slope. Not everyone is gonna like everything and trying to get someone to do anything is like shooting a gnat from a thousand miles away in the dark with a blowgun. Besides, for a topic as subjective as this, there are gonna be a lot of people who look at this and tell me I'm full of it. And I'd be hard pressed to say otherwise (because even I feel like I am sometimes). All that, and I'm simply just not that good at recommending stuff.

Then I just thought, "Ya know what, screw it. Just do it anyway and stop worrying." So, while we wait on R.A. Salvatore to get back to me with his answers for the interview. I'm just gonna do a quick run down of a few books that I think should be in every fantasy writers toolbox. I'm not gonna talk about them much, and I'm going to do my best to avoid classic literature or the stuff people should probably read anyway (like Shakespeare). But I hope that maybe reading and studying these books can maybe help some people improve like they did for me. Oh and if you want to buy the books for yourself, just click on the pictures and it will take you the the Amazon.com page.

I. On the craft of writing. 

Because everyone needs a refresher of the basics from time to time. There are tons and tons of books out there that fill this role, but the following books are the ones I found to be the most helpful for me personally. Not only as a fantasy writer, but as a writer as a whole.


1. On Writing By Stephen King.

Part Memoir, and part practical advice. In the first and third halves of the book, King delves into his own evolution as a writer, his struggles to get published and the victories, trials and tribulations of fame. While the second half focuses on the practical side of the craft, likes advice on grammar, ideas, how to develop plot and characters, self-editing and so on. Its a little academic but it's also a fascinating look into a writer's life and how said life influenced his work, and full of good advice for both newbies and old veterans.


2. The Elements of Style by William Strunk JR. and E.B.White

Speaking of academic. This book covers all of the mechanical aspects of the craft. It might come off as a little stuck up, but its comprehensive, short and reinforces the rules of  proper english grammar and style. Besides, as Robert Jordan once wrote, "You must follow the rules to the letter until you understand which you may break and which you may not." Which basicly means, knowing the rules will help you break them. I recently found out there is an updated edition of this, but the fourth edition (pictured on the left) is the edition I use so *shrugs*.




3. Writing Fiction: A guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French  

Its basicly a step by step guide through the creative writing process from idea inception to final revision. It includes a lot of writing exercises, short stories to illustrate its points and overall, its a pretty good coach of the basics of the craft. It meant for beginners, but I still think there are things that old pros can gleam from it.







4. Zen and the Art of Writing By Ray Bradbury.

This collection of essays is just brilliant. Bradbury doesn't focus on the mechanical aspect of writing, but the mental side of it, the sheer joy of it. It dispenses wisdom while at the same time encourages you to pursue your dreams and have fun while doing so. And that, I think, is the most practical advice of all. Rest in peace, Ray.









II. Books on story structure.
Ok, admittedly, this one is much harder to talk about. Because its basicly all subjective and I in no way claim to be an expert on this. But I do have at least one recommendation that I think stands above the rest.



1. The hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

This is Storytelling 101, people. This book is about comparative mythology, more precisely looking at the heroic stories of the worlds various mythology and belief systems and studying what they have in common. It takes a look at, among other things, how they are structured, what the common character archetypes are and so on. The structure that Campbell presents here has influenced, either consciously or unconsciously, just about every narrative medium (movies, books, video games, etc) out there, the most famous example being the Star Wars movies. The structure presented is in no way binding, it leaves a lot of wiggle room, but like I said before, knowing the rules makes it easier to break them later.

III. Books on world building. 

As many fantasy and sci-fi authors will tell you, there really is no right way to build a fictitious world.  It involves a lot of note taking, inner exploration and a lot of logical thought piecing it all together. So what I'm gonna do here is put up examples for authors to read and study and, hopefully, be inspired by and learn from.



1. The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien.

Yeah, you knew that Tolkien was gonna show up here eventually. What many don't know is that he originally never intended to make a fantasy world. Middle-Earth was conceived when he was 17 as a project to create a unified mythology for the British Islands, and The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings just kinda grew off from that by accident.  The Silmarillion is the early history of Middle-Earth (ya know, the stories that the characters from Lord of the Rings constantly make references too), from its creation to the rise and fall of Sauron. I think what authors can learn from this book is how to lay down the foundation of a fictional world, not so much in terms of physical creation, but in cultural and religious. After all, the stories here provide the foundation for which Middle-Earth's Elven culture is based on.


2. The Dune Saga by Frank Herbert

What can a sci-fi book teach fantasy writers about world building? Well a lot of things actually (not all of which I have time to cover here, so please bear with me). Least among them is how to make a fictitious cultures seem believable, in this case its the form of the desert dwelling Fremen, whose culture is dictated and centered around their environment. It can also give some insight into how politics work, and how both can change over time, thanks to the fact that the Dune saga takes place over a span of many thousands of years. There is a lot you can gleam from this series so give it a go.



3. The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan & Teresa Patterson

Aside from reading The Wheel of Time itself (which you should do anyway In my opinion), this companion book is a great resource for potential world builders to study. Why? Because it literally talks about every detail of the world, providing maps, explanations on each of the series various nations and their culture, how the magic system works and so forth. Studying it, I think, is a good way to get a feel as to how make a fantasy world believable, in pretty much every since of the word.



4. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. 

Ya know, I really debated about including this one because A) this book is more of a general "how to" and not so much a book on world building and B) Orson Scott Card is an overhyped, homophobic ignoramus (to use the most polite term I think of) who really doesn't need anymore money. BUT, despite that....the advice laid out in this book is actually pretty good. And I think that there is a lot you can actually gleaned from it. So yeah, I think you all should read this and take it for what it is.





IV. Magic Systems. 

The general rule of any good magic system is "Make sure it has limits and rules and make sure it follows your world's internal logic." That's certainly true, but still, the following books are ones that I think potential and beginning Fantasy Writers should look at to get an idea as to what that actually means.



1. The Wheel of Time Saga by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson for the last three books).

Call this a fanboyism if you really have too, but I found The Wheel of Time's magic system to be one of the most interesting I've ever come across. It really embodies the "Make sure it has limits" thing mentioned above. It treats magic as a science and not so much an all powerful force. Not necessarily a new idea, but Jordan takes it to its logical extreme, and I think that studying how its system works (in both the books themselves and the companion book mentioned in the section above) could give potential fantasist some insight into how to make their own magic systems believable.

 

2. The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

I think that one of the greatest strengths that Brandon Sanderson has as a world builder is his ability to make magic systems that are both stone faced believable and  jaw dropping "wow." After all, he was a originally studying to become a biochemist before switching to writing, so he understand perfectly the concept of "everything has limits" and applies it to his magic systems. All of this comes out in his original work (The Stormlight Archive, Elantris, Warbreaker and so on), But I chose the Mistborn series because its his most well known creation and you get two magic systems to study for the price of one. So if you haven't picked him up yet, best do so.


V. Conclusion.

I could go on and list books for another hour, but then I'd just devolve into naming every book on my bookshelf and that I'm not gonna do. But I hope that I've given some people some potential resources that that they can learn from, or at least I've given them a starting point to expand their knowledge. Because honestly, the best way to learn how to write fantasy is to write it (obviously). And to read everything, not just fantasy and sci-fi, but literally everything, regardless of genre or subject matter.

But anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this. And I'll keep you all posted on the interview with Salvatore. Thanks for your undying patients.
See you soon.

VI. Links to some additional advice on writing fantasy: 

http://tinsky.hubpages.com/_s5g4h6je4r5/hub/How-to-build-a-fantasy-world

http://mtdremer.hubpages.com/_s5g4h6je4r5/hub/How-to-Write-Genre-Fiction-for-Beginners

http://crazednovelist.hubpages.com/_s5g4h6je4r5/hub/Creating-A-Magic-System
                    

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Future plans part 2.

Well it's April, so what's this big thing I have planned? Well, some time this month, I will be interviewing this guy:

And this guy, for those who don't know, is one of the fantasy genre's biggest names: R.A.Salvatore, creator of Drizzt Do' Urden, the Demon Wars Saga and is the principal creator of the world of 38 Studios' best selling video game Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning. And he is also the writer of over 30 Forgotten Realms novels (most staring Drizzt)...and one really infamous Star Wars novel.

And if you don't believe me, here's a link the Magic Appreciation Tour's blog confirming it: http://magicappreciationtour.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/r-a-salvatore-to-be-interviewed-by-one-of-our-own/

Understandably, I'm really excited, but as Dan says in the link, I want to share that excitement with you all. So if you have any questions that you'd like me to ask him you can leave them in the comment section below, or you can leave them on the Magic Appreciation Tours' blog post in the link above.

So be on the look out for this ^_^. Can't wait to read you guys questions. Thanks in advanced.

See ya soon.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Future plans.

Not really a new post, but just letting you all know that I got something big planned for the blog next month (not April Fools, God no. I don't really go for that). I won't say what yet, still finalizing it, but you'll know when you see it. I'll give you a hint though: The Dark Elf cometh.

To find out what that means, you'll have to come back in April. So yeah, please spread the word.


see you later.              

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Me on Hubpages.

Hey guys. Just letting you all know that I finally got the Hubpages thing I mentioned in the last post set up so here's the link to my page if you're interested:

http://willsummerdreamer.hubpages.com/

And to my first two articles:

http://willsummerdreamer.hubpages.com/hub/Edge-of-the-Mirror

http://willsummerdreamer.hubpages.com/hub/Zombies-calling

No, I'm not gonna abandon the blog, but with this at least I might be able to elevate help with my lack of finances problems.

Hope you all check it out and enjoy it.  If anyone has some experience on there, feel free to share it in the comments.

talk to you all later.