Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Sample - the scene that didn't make it in

Hi y'all!  Here's a teaser for those who haven't read the book yet, and something a little new for those who have.  Contest, for a copy of an upcoming work: who can tell me what chapter of Cataclysm this scene should precede?


Mars motioned toward the circular stairs leading back down to his bedchamber. “Please go invite Crystal to join me for the morning court,” the God of War instructed his thrakkoni attendant. The throne room held none but the pair, but the business of the estate was bound to fill the room shortly.

“Yes, Master,” Sorscha said, sarcasm lathering her tone. The god’s head whipped around, eyes narrowed.

“Do you have a problem with me inviting my wife to be involved in the process of managing my estate?” he asked.

“Not at all, Master,” Sorscha said.

“Your voice seems to disagree.”

“It is appropriate for whomever the Master wishes to bring home with him to partake in the running of this estate until the time she decides to leave,” Sorscha said methodically. She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow, her point made.

“She’s not Stacy.”

“I’m aware of that, Master. Her name is Crystal.”

“She’s not like Stacy, either, Sorscha.”

The thrakkon shrugged. Raising her lips in a smile that didn’t affect her eyes, she said, “We’ll see, I suppose. I shall go roust her out of the bed as you request.”

“Stop,” Mars said, the command echoing around the empty chamber. He rose from his simply-carved mahogany throne, turned to face Sorscha, and crossed his arms to match hers. “I’ll not have this continue, Sorscha. You were hurt as much as I was when my ex-wife left to become Aphrodite, I know, but that was millions of years ago, and I was a young and foolish immortal then.”

Sorscha threw back her head and laughed, the thrakkon’s high-pitched trill filling the room. After several long moments of mirth, she abruptly stopped and turned serious eyes back to her god. “I was hurt?” she said, an incredulous expression on her face. “No, I didn’t approve of her from the beginning, Master. You were the fool who brought home a mortal in the hopes of making her an immortal. Granted, you succeeded at that, in a roundabout way, but it cost you every scrap of joy you might have felt for a long, long time. And need I remind you of the Amiotrites? You destroyed an entire civilization in your rage.”

Mars’s expression, dark from the moment Sorscha called him a fool, smoldered further as she continued. Finally he burst, “I think you forget your place,” the sentence punctuated between each word.

“I think one of us needs to remember yours,” Sorscha said.


Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 So Far

"Mini Challenge: Write a post summarizing this year OR Take me through a day in your life.." - Cricket Walker

Yeah, y'all have seen the results of Cricket's challenges before, right?  Cozy on down and buckle in, folks.

I'm picking the first option.  I know, the year isn't over yet; there's still an entire month to be summarized later.  But a day in my life is so random; some days begin early and end late, while some (particularly weekend days) I'm quite likely to sit in my PJ's at the computer all day.

So--yeah.  Year summary it be.

Besides, I'm particularly proud of what the year has brought.  In January, I'd never finished a novel before; now I have.  In January, the dental program at my college wasn't CODA accredited; now it is.  In January, our apartment still wasn't unpacked; now it (mostly) is.

Unfortunately, the year has pretty much flown by.  In January we had my brother and his fiancee, now wife, visiting from Germany, and then the second half was busy due to accreditation visits at work.  February started quick, and I made it go even faster when I decided to put on a full-court press to write my novel.  Funny, how that's worked out.  I started out going to write one very large novel that was going to be a best-seller and make enough money to buy a house with cash.  At one point, then, I discovered that publishers preferred smaller works from newbies, so I chopped it into three novels.  Then I realized I didn't really have a story for the middle one, so it became the two that I have now.  Then, of course, I realized that my first novel wasn't going to make me a millionaire.  Then I began to despair of ever seeing it published at all.  Thirty explicit rejections and over fifty instances of being ignored later, novel one is published and available on Amazon, and novel two is nearly there.

It's been a good year for travel experiences, too.  We bought annual passes to Colonial Williamsburg, and we've been there several times and enjoyed it thoroughly.  We bought annual passes to King's Dominion, and went there once, nearly dying of heat injuries.  Haven't been back.  We won an annual family pass to the Cittie of Henricus, but haven't been back yet to claim it.  We've been to the coast of Virginia several times; Virginia Beach is a pretty cool place.  Went to Disney World and really enjoyed all but the getting sick part.  We spent a weekend in New York City, and boy was that interesting.  Of course, Washington, D.C., has become one of our favorite destinations.  Then there was the trip to North Carolina to see my cousin.

Overall, it's been a pretty darn good year.  Can't wait to see what's in store in December.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Guest Post: Angelique LaFontaine

TOSK says:
Okay, I feel horrible about this.  I knew I had three guest posts to run while I was on vacation, but when it came down to doing it (which I didn't get done prior to leaving, so all the posting was done from a hotel room in Orlando) I somehow only posted two.  It seems too easy to blame the oversight on the case of bubonic flu that got hold of me while I was down there.  If you haven't caught it, thank whatever deity you pray to, but if you have, you know what I'm talking about.  All that said, I feel bad because she wrote me a great blog post with some cool information, and the simple fact is that she's a wonderfully engaging writer.  I love the fact that she shares with me a technical engineering-y background.  She talks a little funny sometimes, but most of my friends in Texas share that problem. 

In any event, the good thing about figuring out my error today is that I get to run her guest post right now, and I'm sure you'll be glad I did.  Please join me in welcoming Angelique LaFontaine. 

Angelique says:

Hey Everyone! 
My name is Angelique LaFontaine and I wanted to thank Stephen for introducing me to ya’ll.  YES! I said it…”ya’ll”…I’m a Mechanical Engineer, Artist and Author in Texas…Yee-Haw!  Actually, I’m originally from Wisconsin so I know the Texas lingo, but it comes out with a northern accent.  Pure Awesomeness!

Let’s see, what should I share about myself…hmmmm…

I’ve been writing and painting for over 15 years.  I love it!  I try to mix things up a bit with my writing, I do a little fantasy, science fiction, drama, suspense.  I like to bounce around, it keeps things interesting.  As far as my art?  Well, I think that you should just check out my website…it’s kinda out there too.  Incidentally, I will be having an online art auction in January so you should check it out.  I’m creating a new art collection that will be encompassing both Art and Engineering…but shhhhhhhh…that’s all I’m gonna say about that for now.

Ok…books, books…

I’ve been working on an ebook digital short story series called “Thirty-1”.  It’s more of a science fiction series.  Lot’s of twists and turns, interesting plots, fantastic character development.  I’m having so much fun writing it

Volumes 1 thru 3 are currently available and Volume 4 will be released soon.  

It’s an interesting series that I was working on with co-author Eddie Frantom.  Just to add a little bit of flavor, the series will be finished with the great Giovanni Gelati.

Here are the links to “Thirty-1”

Check out some of my other short stories…Gotta Love eBooks!!
The Matriarch
The Air Guy
Gone is the Last Drop

And I still have some first edition copies of Sandstone and Mirrors!  My email address is on my website so if you would like a copy, I’m selling them for $15, first come first serve

I have about 6 ebook digital short stories that are going to be released soon. 

The Lipstick Stain
The Divers of the Lake
A Long Road Ahead
The Darkness Will  You
The Broken Backbone
Finding the Lost

My first full length book called “Sandstone and Mirrors: Book 1 The Crossover” should be released soon.  This will be a second edition.  New Cover Art and Re-edited!  Yay!!  That is the first of a 4 book series.  I have started the book 2 for that series.  I am scheduling a “road trip” or “pilgrimage” (whichever is more suitable) to finish the 2nd book.  I am traveling to where the story takes place to finish writing it.  Anybody interested in following my little journey can follow me online.

Another full length book entitled “She Has No Name” should be released soon as well.  It’s a drama, and a little different from what I normally write so be sure to check it out.

As well as a poetry book compilation entitled “Walking Before You Run”

I love to hear from new people so feel free to hit me up on any of these social networks…or send me an email from my website!
Google +

Thanks Everyone and keep on Rockin! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011


One of the things that fell through the cracks with the publication of Cataclysm: Return of the Gods is that the Acknowledgements page I had written was left out.  My fault, unfortunately.  To that end, I'd like to reproduce it here for the purpose of giving the appreciation I feel some bandwidth.


There’s simply no way this novel would have happened were I left to my own devices. Thus, more than a few acknowledgements are in order.

First and foremost, to my beloved, the family’s creative yin to my yang, the undisputed expert on strong women and their reactions to husbands’ hijinks, and my most avid reader and chief supporter—my wife, Heidelinde—a great big, warm thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To my editor, Debra Ginsberg, I send thanks for pressing through a first manuscript at a record pace. She made such a huge difference in the work with her comments and suggestions.

To all my readers, who gave me a smattering of some of the best advice I’ve ever received: Jaime, Doug, Lisa, Rebecca, Broog, Elena, and my beautiful sis-in-law Sarah. You guys rock!

To my daughter Jessa, thank you for your unquestioned support despite being banished from the living room for months while I needed space to write.

Finally, thank you to Trestle Press and Giovanni Gelati for believing in my work enough to put your brand on it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Short blog post today.

Since we left Disney I've had a sore throat, fever, muscle aches, and other flu type symptoms.  I'm thankful, then, that the good chemists in the pharmaceutical labs have created medications that have, for the most part, allowed me to continue functioning.

That said, of all the things I have to be thankful for, that one's pretty low down the list.  I have a wonderful family and great friends, a great job, and I just had a novel published.  I have novel #2 in final revision stages with a publisher chomping at me for it, and I have a concept built for another series.  Life really doesn't get much better, regardless how much phlegm is plaguing me and how much the pain in my sinuses is refusing to allow my brain to work in any manner that might be considered creative. 

I only hope that everyone reading this can list as many great things to be thankful for today.  That, and I hope my sinuses decide to let my brain function by tomorrow so I can get back to revising.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  While we're being thankful, let's be thankful for the warriors who are out there today eating MRE's and keeping us safe. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's in a name? Part Deux

Last time I asked the question in a blog post, it was October, I'd just finished the JRWC, and I was renaming my book.  In error, I must add--if you recall, I made the decision to do so without ever consulting the people who might actually read the book.  Now, though, I bring the topic of name up in relation to the author, not the book.

Yeah.  Remember when I ditched the pseudonym?  Way back when I began, I was concerned that someone would confuse me with "the real" Stephen King--perhaps I should say the bestseller Stephen King now--and buy my book in error.  From a sales standpoint, such an error would count a success on my part (so long as they didn't request a return), but from both a marketing and an integrity point of view it would be a failure, so I created Evan. 

Evan didn't last long, though.  It soon became quite a chore to keep the two identities active.  My friends, after all, don't know who Evan is, and they're my initial primary market.  Yeah, if this book had been the initial resounding worldwide phenom I had naively thought it might be, the Evan thing would've been a good idea.  It wasn't, though, and so most of my initial sales are to people who know me.  As Stephen, of course, not as Evan.  Thus, for the same reason Stephen King killed off Richard Bachman, I killed off Evan Koenig: he was more trouble than he was worth.

Since then I've had several people ask me if I'd be bothered if somebody bought my book thinking it was written by the bestselling author.  Of course I'd be bothered.  I like to play by the golden rule, and I know that were I to buy something that wasn't what it claimed to be, I'd be irritated. 

That's why I insisted on the H. in my name.  Stephen King the bestseller isn't Stephen H. King; he's Stephen E. King.  I know that because I pay attention, but I don't expect many of his fans to know that.  What I do expect them to realize is that, no matter what his middle initial is, he doesn't sign his books with it.  Granted, he also has something along the lines of "#1 New York Times Bestselling Author" in his cover somewhere and I don't, but some day I expect to have that as well.  Thus, the H. is what I'm sinking my hopes in to keep people from being fooled. 

All that said, it was funny how quickly my publisher was asked about it.  His blog post, swiped merrily from his site, is:


Question from a Literary Agent yesterday to Trestle Press marked URGENT: “Did you just publish Stephen King?” Our answer, “Why yes, we did!”

Heh.  So I'm a celebrity, of sorts.  Read on:

"Hey we did and we are extremely proud of it. His name is Stephen H. King and he has written “Cataclysm: Return of the Gods”. It is a very good full length novel selling for $4.99. It clearly states on the cover his full name and his bio (which I have placed below) gives you a nice snapshot of all the pertinent information.

What the bio does not tell you is that he is a really nice guy that flat out can write. I for one am very thankful that I get to work for him. He makes no bones about the fact that he is the “other” Stephen King that is why he adds the H. to his name. He could go without it and try to gain a few sales just on his name and the similarities, but I have way more respect for him and his work that he wants to be known for his writing skills and content, not the name sameness.
It is nice going to war every day with a talented author that wants to be known for his own skills and ability, so yes we say with a great deal of pride, That we do publish Stephen H. King; he rocks. To us “Stephen King” is the other “Stephen H. King”. 
One last thing, the REAL Stephen H. King has a great sense of humor. I think it would make a great blogtalk radio show and be very entertaining if anybody knows the “Other” Stephen H. King tell him I am looking for him. I would like to interview both on the same show. Just ask him to email me:
Okay, I gotta admit that having such cool stuff written about me is--well, cool.  I also gotta say that being on a show with the bestseller Stephen King would be even cooler. 

In the meanwhile, I just wanna sell some books. 


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Contest!

My book is out!  My book is out!

There's something absolutely whoop-n-holler exciting about seeing your book cover with your authorial name on a page at Amazon.com.  True, I don't get the opportunity to see it on the shelves of Barnes & Noble at this point--probably won't ever with Trestle, since they focus on e-publishing--but it's still incredibly wonderfully joyfully exciting.  I was on Cloud 9 all day today, and it wasn't even just the cold medicine causing it.

So what's the contest, you say?  It's pretty simple, really.  All I'm looking for you to do is help me spread the word about my book.  Many of you would have done so anyway, I hope.  You would've, right?  I mean, it's what readers do.  I still remember when a roommate told me about this new series by a guy I'd never heard of named Robert Jordan that was pretty cool.  Another good friend was the guy who introduced me to both Dragonlance and Drizzt Do'urden.

So here's the deal.  To enter the contest, you have to tell friends about my book using "social media"--Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.  Please copy me in the messages (with an @ sign) or if that doesn't work send me a note that you've done so.  Yes, I'll take your word for it.

That's all.  Just mention my book.

What do you get?  Well, for each time you mention the book, you get your name into a hat at the end of the period (I'll say December 9, to pick a nice round number).  After, I'll draw, and the three names I draw get to name a major character in an upcoming book.  The intent, of course, is for you to name the character after yourself, but I decided to give you a little bit of freedom.  You don't HAVE to choose your own name.  I just kind of figure you will.

One catch, though: I get to choose the character and have final veto authority on the name.  I won't be asinine about it, of course, but I refuse to have a female elf named Herbert in my book.

So--how's that?  Easy to do?  Comment below if you have any questions or suggestions, and in the meantime, thank you!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest Post: Tanya Contois

TOSK says:  A long time ago, it seems now (though it was just a matter of months, to be honest) I went looking in the Facebook world for fellow book lovers and writers.  One of the first landing places I found, through a friend's page, was All Things Books.  I've followed the page and the great people involved in it for a while now, and I'm glad to bring you a friend and fellow Trestle Press author Tanya Contois:

Tanya Contois says:  Writing has always been something I’m good at but after high school I lost focus of that. Instead I worked a series of jobs that lead nowhere. I always felt like there was something else I was meant to do. Now I’m 28 and despite all my efforts to find a job I’m still unemployed.

When I first started my blog and Facebook page All Things Books it was only meant to be a hobby but it has become more popular than I ever thought it would. Both the Facebook page and the blog were very helpful to me because it introduced me to so many people that I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise. I have been incredibly lucky to get to know so many friendly and kind people. Another plus of creating All Things Books is that I was able to learn about smaller publishers with open submissions.

When I saw that Firefly and Wisp publishers were having a contest for several anthologies I submitted a horror short story based around the urban legend Bloody Mary. Having my story chosen to be in the anthology was a huge deal but I really wanted a contract. At the same time I had to be realistic because there are so many incredibly talented writers who don’t have contracts with publishers. So I buckled down and started working at fixing plot holes and grammar/spelling errors. At the beginning of October S.L. Schmitz emailed me about participating in a blog talk radio show. Although I was incredibly nervous about being on air I said yes. After exchanging emails with Stephanie about the details of the show I got an email from Giovanni Gelati. When he asked if I was a writer I said yes and gave him a brief description of what I am working on. A few days later I signed the contract officially making me a Trestle Press author.

To anyone who aspires to be a writer don’t give up hope. There are alternatives to being traditionally published that are becoming more and more popular each day. Keep an eye out for smaller publishers with open submissions. There is also the self published route. Other websites that you can publish on are Smashwords and Lulu. Amazon has also just started Kindle direct publishing.

Monday, November 14, 2011


"The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas."
  - Dr. Linus Pauling

"Somehow, I can't believe that there are any heights to be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. The special secret it seems to me is summarized in four C's. They are Curiosity, Courage, Confidence and Constancy. And the greatest of all is Confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably."
- Walt Disney

As I sit sipping coffee, waiting on the rest of the household to rise and shine and prepare for another wonderfully unrestful vacation day of trudging through a theme park, I can't help but look back over what the vacation has brought so far.

One thing it hasn't brought, clearly, is rest.  The drive down was tiring, and we rose early the next day to enter our first park, Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure.  We took a day after down in the hot tub to soak out the pain the exertion had brought to our feet and legs, but the next day was filled with tours through the Magic Kingdom while today Disney's Hollywood Studios looms ahead.

Inspiration, though, it's brought, and that by the bushel.

I'm not referring to inspiration solely in its creative sense.  Keep in mind that The Free Online Dictionary (www.thefreedictionary.com) defines inspiration as "Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity."  Thus, inspiration is anything that gets the creativity going.

A trip to Harry Potter land did that.  True, in the creativity arena it got me thinking, as did the rest of Universal Studios.  More importantly for me, it put the wealth generation possibilities of a great idea right smack in my face.  There were thousands of people there, all having spent nearly a hundred dollars just to get in, putting more money into butterbeer and wands and trinkets.  With every sale, I saw a few pennies flying toward JK Rowling, the creator of the world.

Brilliant, that.  It made me a little green, it was so brilliant. 

Disneyland is no less a financial inspiration for creativity.  Walt Disney left his name emblazoned in the minds of children for centuries to come--and he left quite an estate, to boot.  That bit all started with an animated mouse.  Go figure.

I won't say I don't envy their success, no matter how gracious such a statement would be.  I don't see how anyone who fancies themselves a creative person wouldn't hold some envy, frankly.  Regardless, it brings a question to front and center: what IS the next Harry Potter?

Yes, I'm the guy who stood up in the session about the agent relationship and told a couple of agents that I'd written it--the next Harry Potter that they'd just finished saying every agent feared to reject.  Big on bravado, indeed, but even I know it was short on truth.  Cataclysm is a good book, but it's not the endearing tale that will worm its way into the hearts of millions.  What is, then?

Well, that's the $64,000 question.  Or, more likely, the billion dollar question.  Everybody's asking it, too.  All I can do is keep writing, and while on vacation, keep wandering the theme parts picking up on bits and pieces of ideas.  It's here, somewhere.  I know it.

With that said, off to Hollywood Studios.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Guest Post: Linna Drehmel

TOSK says: I'm pleased to present Linna, a friend of mine and the lady who introduced me to Trestle Publishing. She and I write in similar genres; we're both fantasy authors but her books are written for the YA (young adult) audience while mine are meant for adults. The differences can be subtle in some respects; Linna does a good job describing the characterization which is one of the differences.


Linna Drehmel says: Hello, Stephen; thank you for having me on your blog.

My name is Linna Drehmel and I am an author of SciFi/Fantasy stories for young adults. I am also starting to venture into the world of YA gothic horror.

Of all the compliments that I have ever received on my stories I think the one that I hear the most is that I have really well developed characters. The angle I have when writing my characters is unique because I am writing in a way that will appeal to the teen demographic as well as a SciFi/Fantasy demographic.

There is an article in Writers Digest on the matter of young adult characters that I would like to address:

How do I write my young adult characters and make them strong without mothering them too much?

The answer to this question is a bit complicated for me, because one cannot approach my characters with the modern day culture and how we perceive teen agers.

Two really good examples that contrast the way I write my teens are also two very good authors that I admire: J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. They both have written successful young adult fantasy series, but their books take place during modern day earth. With cultures and traditions that most everyone is familiar with. Both of these talented ladies did a very good job of creating enduring as well as strong characters that were able to think on their own without parents holding their hand throughout the whole story. The plots and sub plots put them in situations where it was sink or swim with no parents around to bail them out. The reader gets swept up in the story with the characters. They are fantastic!

Now with this in mind let me tell you about how I approach my characterization.

In my HEART book series, my characters are not from earth; they have never been here and will never come here. I have created a completely new world for my characters. In order to do this I had to create a new culture. In this world no one has the right to choose anything about their lives. All is decided by the ‘God’ of this world called the HEART. Before a person is even born it is decided that who that child will marry, what they will do for a living, where they will live and how many children they will have. The HEART even decides on what the babies names will be. The protagonist in the first book of my series was given the name of Donna. It was decided by the HEART before she was born that she would marry a boy named Devon who was born around the same time she was. At the age of 18 these two will be married, and given the pre name of DRA. They will begin the jobs that they were trained in from the time they were children.

So you see at the age of 18 they are no longer kids, in this world they are adults. In fact you will see in the books that the pre name is symbolic of the person no longer being a child. Say for example my protagonist after she is married she is no longer called Donna. She is called DraDonna. It is highly insulting to refer to a married adult without the prename, it says to them that you still think of them as a kid. Not a parent or sibling or even the spouse calls someone by the childhood name. The only time it is acceptable to do so is between bonded friends and that is all. However there is a small and exclusive group of people who do not have a pre-name. These people are servants of the HEART or are in training to be servants. They don’t ever marry. So their names stay the same until they are ordained into the service of the HEART. At that time they are called by their office, like: Ambassador Symon. The servants of the HEART are always three people who are typically bonded in friendship as well.

As I am sure that you are able to surmise from this is that my teen characters have no choice but to be strong. In this world you are on your own at 18; it is the way it has always been in this world. I do however keep parents around. My protagonist’s parents are still around in book one: HEARTs children, and book two: HEARTs choice. But they are not what I would call chief characters, they offer advice and support but don’t really get too involved in the plot that surrounds the protagonist’s life.

Something I do to help create well rounded and believable characters is to do an extensive character profile on my blog.

The first thing I do is think about what I want the person to look like, then I look for a face. I search only in BING or GOOGLE images for pictures of actors. The reason for this is that I know these two sites give you permission to use the images, better safe than sorry when it comes to copyright infringement.

Now when it comes to the ‘face’ I always use actors that are well known to me. I have had some who have read my blog posts tell me that they didn’t like the well-known faces, but I have to have the picture of someone that I am familiar with because I need to know how tall they are, what their voice sounds like, how they move or walk. I can’t get that from a picture of some random model.

Now with the clear picture in mind I think of whom they are and what shaped their lives and the choices that they make, after I get a clear picture in my mind I search through songs and find 2 or 3 that I feel sounds like the character that I have written. I then put it all together by writing a little story blurb on the character, then I give details on the creation process, and explain the characters playlist. There are also other tidbits in the character profile blogs that are more for the reader than for character development.

With this I hope to achieve in my books, characters that are rich and well rounded. I want the reader to connect with them on an emotional level. When my characters hurt I want my readers to cry.

Thank you once again for having me on your blog Stephen it is an honor.

Happy writing and let your light so shine.

Linna Drehmel.

Please feel free to read all of my character profile blog posts at:

linnadrehmel.blogspot.com all are titled HEARTs children

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Another Exciting Announcement--guests are coming!

Well, the slowdown in blogging I predicted due to the renewal of my dissertation efforts didn't happen.  I somehow forgot the way dissertation writing goes; it's the only thing that make the Army's version of "hurry up and wait" seem casual.  Every time you get a "suggestion" (I love the cozy fiction) from your panel, you panic and make all the changes required--that's what slows down the real writing--and then send it away to wait weeks for more suggestions. Turns out that the fitful nature of the process doesn't really alter my blogging pattern much. 

That said, I'm taking a vacation.  We're packing up the van sometime around November 9th and driving down to the Magical Kingdom in Orlando (what better place for a fantasy writer to be?), and we'll return sometime around November 19.  Hopefully between those two dates my lovely spouse and kids will get to remember what I look like, and perhaps even recall my name.

I'm taking my laptop, of course.  My keyboard is going too; I have a special one because the keys on the laptop are horrible to type on.  I just don't know for sure how much Internet access I'll have; last time I was at the resort we'll be staying in, access was spotty.  Thus, my exciting announcement:

I'm not going to be blogging from 11/9-11/19.  

No, really, it's exciting.  No, I'm not gonna leave you high and dry.  Instead, there's an awesome group of authors I've come to know and respect who've agreed to write guest posts while I'm away.  If you've followed this blog for long, you've gotten a lot of how a fantasy writer crafts a book.  There are other genres, though, and these authors publish in many of them.  I've asked them to give you some idea about how they've become successful in their aisles, virtual or real, of the bookstores.

Meanwhile, I'll be enjoying the Florida sun (hopefully), a day on Harry Potter's island, and several days in the Magic Kingdom (the other Magic Kingdom, unrelated to Hogwart's).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To Kill A Character

To heck with mockingbirds.  When is it cool/uncool to kill a character?

What brought this to mind was a bombshell on CNN's entertainment page:

J.K. Rowling almost killed off Ron Weasley



As reported by the Guardian, Rowling says, "I did seriously consider killing Ron." Apparently, she briefly thought about killing off Harry's red-headed sidekick around the middle of the series, when she "wasn't in a very happy place."

Not in a very happy place?  I guess not.  She targetted Ron.  Won-won.  The coolest ginger in the movies for the past couple of years.  The initial and continuing half of the pair that made the ultimate foil to Harry, the Great Protagonist.  The series wouldn't have been the same without Ron.  Hell, you can probably make a case that the series wouldn't have been at all without Ron. 

Okay, so it's clear that I'm glad she got into a very happy place, or at least a moderately happy place, apparently, and didn't kill Ron.  But this leads to another question--when should an author kill a character?

I'll tell you, first-hand, that it's hard to write of a death, even a fictional one.  In a soon-to-be-released short story, I killed a character.  He wasn't a particularly good guy, and I hadn't really even developed him all that much.  Still, I teared up a little when I wrote the death scene.  It's a tough thing to do, mostly because we're writing it to evict emotions in the first place. 

Rarely, after all, will you read a scene that bumps along in the manner of "oh, and Joe died, and everybody else kept playing canasta."  Death is kind of the ultimate big baddy, the one presence that nearly every one of us fears at our core.  When Piers Anthony launched what I consider one of the greatest literary series on the planet, the Incarnations of Immortality, he started with Death.  Death is the one constant, the one absolute in our lives, yet it's the one thing we can explain the least without some sort of ultimate reward on the other side. 

Many great series get along without any major characters dying.  The Lord of the Rings arguably does.  I mean, Gandalf comes back.  Boromir dies, but I have trouble identifying him as a major character.  The Wheel of Time?  Well, Moiraine dies, though there's been continued hints that she might be coming back.  The Forsaken who die keep being resurrected on an annoyingly regular basis.  Otherwise, all the dead characters could just as easily have been named Plot Device x. 

JK Rowling, meanwhile, shows no aversion whatsoever to death of her characters.  If you haven't read the series somehow, I won't ruin it for you, but she managed to kill off at least one per book for each of the last several.  That series, on the other hand, deals with death as a prime issue.  It makes sense, both from a plotting standpoint and from the view of a writer who's making an issue of death, that she would have it happen fairly regularly. 

I'm not sure I have the best answer for when an author should kill a character off.  What do you think?