GUEST POST: KACEY VANDERKAAR – “Enjoy It”


I’ve called myself a writer for 6 years. It took me about 3 years to realize that “writer” is synonymous with “crazy.” Back before I donned the “writer” label, I wrote a mystery about a girl who marries a guy with split personalities. I don’t remember much about writing this manuscript, except that I did it in my parents’ basement on an ancient computer that was eventually fried by lightning. That book is still around on one of my flash drives. Sometimes I open it and read a few pages—and maybe it’s not brilliant or a work of art, but it is special. I also completely forgot that I wrote it…until I stumbled upon it one day.

A few years later, I completed a young adult manuscript. It took me 4 weeks to write it during a college break. I remember spending all my free time glued to my laptop. I wore the finish off chairs at Border’s, I woke up early and stayed up late because, just one more chapter. It wasn’t brilliant or a work of art, or truthfully, special, but it was so rewarding. Writing became my release, my place to hide and unwind, and feel safe.

I allowed a few close friends into my circle of trust, printing pages for them to read because I was terrified of having my work hijacked online. (I know, I know, crazy, right?) I remember sneaking into a lab at school with one of my classmates so I could print the pages for free. It was like Christmas when they returned the story with comments and thoughts and feedback written in pink or purple ink. I wasn’t the only one connecting with my characters. My friends were instant fans.

I lost myself in the wonder of creating a new world. One book became two, then three. I had an entire series, and then a spin‐off book. These characters became like real people. Even now, I can tell you their favorite foods, where they went on vacation as a child, their likes and dislikes. Everything felt so possible in those days. Sometimes I wish they’d never ended.

There is an inevitable point in every writer’s life where they cross from the “honeymoon stage” into the “reality stage.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, more of a wakeup call. Eventually, every writer needs to let someone more experienced look at their work. Every writer (who is serious about being a writer) needs to learn and grow. Oftentimes this means taking off the rose‐colored glasses and seeing our work for what it really is: In Progress. What follows is a lot of editing, frustration, tears, and heartbreak. But that’s not what this post is about.

Writing, like any art, should make us feel. So when I’m pressured to live up to everything I’ve learned, I go back to that safe place, those early days of pure joy. Writing isn’t about getting it perfect the first time, it’s about the feeling you get creating something wonderful. It’s so easy to get lost, especially when we raise our standards to nearly unreachable heights. We can literally edit our work to death.

So whether you’re a new writer, an intermediate writer, or someone who’s been around the block a time or two, take some time and return to that safe place. Write for the happiness it brings you, not because you want to be the next best seller or impress an agent or because you have to. Put the world on the back burner. Tune out those nagging voices and let a blank page fill you with possibility. Let the words fall from excited hands. The manuscript may change with time, but the way it made you feel will stick around forever.


Author photoKACEY VANDERKARR is a young adult author. She dabbles in fantasy, romance, and sci‐fi, complete with faeries, alternate realities, and the occasional plasma gun. She’s known to be annoyingly optimistic and listen to music at the highest decibel. Kacey is president of the Flint Area Writers and the Social Media Director for Sucker Literary. When she’s not writing, she coaches winterguard and works as a sonographer. Kacey lives in Michigan, with her husband, son, and crazy cats. In addition to her novels, Antithesis, Reflection Pond, and Poison Tree, Kacey’s short fiction is featured in Sucker Literary Vol III, Out of the Green: Tales from Fairyland, Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things, and will appear in the forthcoming Spark Vol VII.

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OFFICIAL: HIS ONLY STAR RELAUNCH


CoverI’m excited to announce that my YA book, His Only Star, is being relaunched! The book has been combed through and given a stylish new cover to really highlight this tragic story.

His Only Star is one of my personal favorite books of mine because it really has the most of me in it. When this book was initially published, I recall saying how I’m convinced I was a different person when I wrote that. Something about this story really flowed and resonated with me, and, while I’ve loved everything I’ve written, I really have a certain appreciation for this book. Creating it was a unique experience unlike anything else I’ve written, and that’s why I’m so excited to share this new edition with you.

His Only Star isn’t your traditional boy-meets-girl story. You won’t find pages of swooning internalization and longing for love. What you will find is a dark edginess to a tragic love story. You’ll find a love of books, music, and a character’s loyalty to someone he loves, who he fears may never love him in return.

Praise for His Only Star

Release_0“The story was simple, engaging, exciting and tragically human. Definitely worth a read.”

– J.S. Collyer, Author of Zero

 “The story is poignant and emotional, and it’s one of those texts that stay with you long after you read it.”

– Karen Rought, blogger

 “The physical and emotional struggles encountered by the characters are tragic, yet real-life.”

– Fille Guillaume, blogger

“Well-written & great story-telling.”

– Deb E., author of Healer’s Touch

His Only Star is set to be re-released March 1, 2015. Don’t miss out on a great story, and be sure to add it on Goodreads!

Creating Characters: Defining Moments


This month’s Creating Characters is not only wildly off schedule (still getting used to parent time), but it’s also not necessarily just about creating a character. It’s about the defining moments that make a story what it is. The little details that suck you into the world and set the stage, the time period, the person.

For example, I was struck with inspiration (Thanks, in part, to Britt Skrabanek’s post “Thursday Night,” which you should absolutely check out) for the introduction to a short story. The only information I had were the details of the first sentence as it flew through my brain:

Toes curled over the edge of the cliff, little else matters.

This doesn’t tell us much, aside from it’s a person standing at the edge of the cliff who is struggling with something. I had no idea whether this character was male or female, or when this story was taking place. But the curiosity of the defining moment didn’t hit me until a few sentences later. At this point it was just me enjoying the flow of the words as I scribbled them on my legal pad. But as more of it emerged, the questions began to beg in my mind about who, what, and when.

Toes curled over the edge of the cliff, little else matters. The white-capped waves below crest to their peak before slamming into the jagged rocks. How very like life. I close my eyes as the wind whips across my face, my body, whipping my

Right there. The first defining moment. Whipping my what? Dress, perhaps, for a woman. Pants, maybe jeans? It could be trousers? The language, the right word needs to be used to fully define the time period here. The language defines the era, maybe even the precise year, but it’s necessary to suck the reader in.

I close my eyes as the wind whips across my face, my body, whipping my crimson dress about. Soft and smooth, it reminds me of the blood smearing between my toes, on the bottoms of my feet, and dripping from my fingertips.

More is defined here. The blood could define multiple things. It’s been established that this character is a woman, but the blood could be from many things. Maybe she’s wounded, or perhaps she partook in some kind of bloody tragedy. Maybe she’s a doctor or surgeon of some sort now standing at the cliff’s edge. It may not define the character or the location or the time period, but it creates that defining mystery that keeps the reader enticed.

…dripping from my fingertips. Between the blood up to my elbows and the cloth around my body I feel like I’ve turned inside out.

What does the act of the character feeling turned inside out define for you?

Creating Characters: What Makes Us So Radical?


A writer who takes his or her work seriously must also be a philosopher, to some degree. We have to understand the human condition while also attempting to figure out the human condition. How does the mind work under certain circumstances? How do we function, and why do we function, the way we do when certain things happen? Not so much on a psychological level, but more in terms of how does what’s happening in our lives affect our actions, thoughts, and change our beliefs? Can our core beliefs be changed? We have to understand triggers and historical occurrences on minute, personal levels of our characters. Philosophy, the way I understand is, isn’t about right or wrong answers. Instead it’s about potential understanding of why we are the way we are, why the people of this world interact the way we do, and what results can be drawn from it as well as what might happen to us.

The particulars of this post, which could potentially end up as a monthly series, are what makes people so radical? A lot of my current writing, dark as it may have turned, deals with a lot of radical people exercising radical ideals. At least, they’re radical in the world in which I’m writing. Some characters are radical anti-theists interacting with religious individuals, while others are vigilantes with radical ideals of justice. But If we’re to understand how our characters function, then we have to understand how we function. Those are the parts of writing I find so fun and interesting. The learning and exploring that comes with creating characters who are so fundamentally different from me. Embodying a person who could be the complete opposite of who I am as a person allows me to see deeper into that life and create a more three-dimensional, richer character. And, chances are, if I’m learning, then so is the reader.

But first, what exactly defines someone who is radical? Relying on the trusty Oxford dictionary, I think this is the best-fit description of what I’m attempting to gain a better understanding of:

“A person who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform; a member of a political party or part of a party pursuing such aims.”

Examples of such individuals, extreme as they may be, would be someone like a suicide bomber, or one who might take up arms to defend his or her beliefs. What state of mind does this individual have to be in to engage in an activity such as that? I would argue that a person who would do something as extreme as taking, or risking, their own life would have to be absolutely sure that what they’re doing is right. Whether it’s in a religious sense–that they’re actions are seen as righteous in the eyes of their deity–or in a personal sense–that they’re actions will be rewarded through political or social change–they must be in an unchanging state of mind. I argue that an individual like this will almost never be able to have his or her mind changed unless presented with absolute, convincing facts that they can visibly see. This is a person who isn’t reasoned with well, especially by people with an opposing point of view, and he or she may also see them as a threat or target.

Of course we see people similar to this all over social media. People who blame one political party or group of individuals for all the country’s or world’s problems, but I don’t think they can be seen as radicals unless they are absolutely willing to fight and potentially die for their cause, whether it’s good or bad.

That being said, I think the term radical isn’t absolute, either. Are soldiers radicals because they’re putting their life on the line to protect their country? Some, perhaps. But are law enforcement or firefighters or secret service radicals because they’re risking their lives to protect and help others? I don’t think so. I think there’s a line between risking your life to protect and risking your life to further a cause.

These [radicals], however, are some of the most fun and interesting to create and write about. They’re people we can explore and see the world through their eyes. Everything and everyone in this world deserves to be understood, and by exploring the philosophy of characters through writing I think we can understand the world in a proactive and exciting way.

Winter and Writing


I have a pretty significant dislike for the cold. The bracing chill accompanied with freezing wind makes for a less-than-pleasant outdoor experience. Not to mention the time it takes to bundle up in scarves and hats and gloves and coats and whatever other layers are required to ensure I don’t lose a finger to frostbite (I know, I know, I live in New York, I should be used to it by now).

But, all complaining aside, I still have an appreciation for the aesthetics of  the cold season. I appreciate the blanket of snow shimmering in the sunlight. The dark trees beneath a cold, gray sky, once resembling life, then vibrant color, now are bare to show the final cycle of life. A dim farewell to the season. However, when the snow does eventually fall and cover those empty tree limbs, it almost disguises them with a sort of beauty that makes the idea of death–of and ending–okay. Like a thin, glinting veil over our eyes to ease the despair that may come with such finality. It creates the idea that an absolute, crushing end might be a little less final if we can see past the bare emptiness of it. A preservation of life that will eventually return if we can find something to help us hold on.

As a writer, it’s my responsibility to not only tell a good story, but to show one was well. Example: the idea of winter symbolizing death, but showing that we are capable of moving on from it and finding ways to cope with it (Hopefully I did that well). It’s my job to try to make you see something in a way you hadn’t before, or to feel a certain way about a point of view, an experience, a lifestyle that maybe you hadn’t considered. It’s my job to evoke emotions and feelings about fictional characters and trick you into thinking these are real people with real problems who, if they don’t deal with them, will suffer from catastrophic repercussions.

A key aspect of accomplishing my job successfully is descriptive writing. Unfortunately, it’s also something I’ve been a bit lacking in. Not that I struggle to get my point across, but I’ve never been one to go into the deep, minute details of each scene, every minuscule point of a character’s face, or every minutia of a person’s feelings. I’ve been told my writing somewhat resembles Hemingway. To the point. No messing around. Nothing unneeded. It’s just the story and the reader. No fluff. And while that’s well and good, and, well, a bit of an honor, really, it’s not entirely what I want my writing to be. Certainly we don’t have much control over our voice. It develops into what it is, and I don’t think there’s too much we can do to change it. However, I think we’re capable of altering it to some degree.

Our voice is kind of like the roots of our writing. We see what other writers do, how they describe something, tell a story, and why it’s working, and then we try to blend it with our own. Like little word thieves, if you will. Of course you could argue that those influences are the roots of our voice, and with practice our voice then becomes fully grown. But, stick with me here. If our voice is indeed the root of our writing, then those influences, paired with the grueling practice of writing, can then develop our voice into something great.

But once we find our voice (again, a counterargument could be that we never actually find our voice, but instead we just hone it to the best polished product it can become), are we able to change it? I think so. I think we can never lose that essence–the roots–of our voice, but it’s certainly able to be altered. We’re always getting better at writing, no? Every time I look back at an old piece of work I can’t help but cringe a bit because I see all the ways I could’ve written that scene better or told that person’s story in a more dynamic way. In order to do that, in some cases, I need to write more descriptively, which is something I have been working on.

My next work, Wasteland Gods, is currently in the beta reading stage. It also took me close to nine months to write. Taking that long to write something, to me, is both good and bad. It’s good because, well, that was nine months of me gradually becoming a better writer, meaning I can put out a better finished product. It’s bad because taking nine months to write a book means the beginning is almost inevitably far worse than the end, strictly from a technical standpoint. Eventually, however, when I did finally reach the end I was able to go back and read through the draft, adding in all sort of cool details and writing tricks that I had developed over those months, making the work stronger. Of  course it involved some chapter rewriting and extensive edits–all part of the revision process, of course–but in the end I was quite pleased with how it all turned out.

All of this is to say that our voice is important to constantly develop as writers, and this happens without us knowing. But if we actively work to get better, noticing our actions and how our writing develops, then we are absolutely on the right path to really doing something immense and meaningful with our writing.

If you’re still here, you’re a trooper. And thank you for reading.

Classics Kick


Since my declaration of decreased social media, I’ve decided that I need to read some more classics. The only real exposure I’ve had to them is what we were required to read in high school, and most of the time I didn’t do the required reading. I think there comes a certain level of reading maturity that we have to hit before we can appreciate certain books, and I just hadn’t hit it then. But now I’m more eager than ever to read them.

I have mixed feelings about the classics from a writing standpoint, one of which being that in order for us to keep up as much as possible with current writing trends, reading something as old as the classics won’t really keep our writing current. However, there is so much to be learned from reading the classics.

Classics teach us the tricks of the trade. They show us such exemplary fundamentals of writing, themes, and characters, and they often touch on such important topics that I think are often overlooked in today’s fiction of vampire romances. (On a side note, it’s interesting that, for me at least, comparing something to vampire romance books seems to be becoming a cliche.)

So, to start off my classics kick, I read Of Mice and Men, which was one of the books I think I read most of in high school, in its entirety Monday. One of the things I especially enjoy about classic books is that many of them have interesting introductions by professors and people of literature who briefly analyze and provide some insights into the book, which are fun to look for while reading.

Along the Erie Canal.

Along the Erie Canal.

That leaves me with yesterday’s read. It was unusually warm, and the wind had been especially strong, but I couldn’t just sit in my apartment. Across the street, over a narrow trail line by two rows of trees, is the Erie Canal. Since my wife and I moved here in February, I’ve taken many walks alongside the Canal, weather permitting. There are paths on either side of it with benches and picnic tables and grills, so it’s really a nice spot that doesn’t get a ridiculous amount of traffic. I enjoy sitting and watching the boats, and oftentimes there are ducks passing by, so it’s really a peaceful spot to sit and, most recently, read.

So, yesterday, I went out and began my next classic read, The Scarlet Letter, which I’m enjoying. I’m told, mostly from the back cover, that it reveals a lot about the influence of New England’s past on American attitudes, which is something I recently got into. It’s interesting to see how the past influences the present, and can sometimes show the origins of present behaviors. Also, from what I read in the preface, this book was fueled by the death of Hawthorne’s mother, which apparently gave him a new sort of look at writing, and it launched him into an inspirational sprint unlike any he’d had before, since he’d somewhat unsuccessfully relied on writing short fiction.

Now comes the part where you can help! I’ve got my stack of classics, and I’d like for you guys to either recommend which book I read next and/or tell me which ones I need to get–as I know I’m really lacking good, classic books.

20141015_093600

The book on the very bottom is a biography of Emma Goldman that I had to read for an old college history class but would like to re-read. I just happened to grab it with the rest of the classics collection.

The list includes:

  • Of Mice and Men
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Wuthering Heights
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

Which classics are your favorite? Do you think classic books are still relevant in today’s constantly changing book marketplace?

F@%#!*$ S*!#: Why I Don’t Censor my Writing (And You Shouldn’t Either)


Photo credit: Rebecca Barray via WANA Commons

Censorship has played a large role in every part of the media we consume for some time now. Between banning books and the creation of the FCC, what we’re exposed to and how is constantly regulated. I believe that there are certain audiences requiring censorship and others that are capable of comprehending and processing these things–i.e. violence, sex, vulgar language.

When I began writing in middle school, I really had no concept of censorship in books or on television. I just knew what I liked and that’s what I read and watched. Some of that transferred into my writing, but at such a young age I wasn’t really exposed to vulgar language or violence that much. However, it wasn’t until recently–the past year, or even couple of months–I’ve really stepped up my game when it comes to content. I’ve stopped holding back when it comes to violence and language and how characters act, and I believe I have good reasons for doing so:

The things most worth understanding sometimes aren’t pleasant

The world is full of a lot of bad things, as much as many of us don’t want to believe that. There is violence, terror, and hate in abundance anywhere you go. This isn’t to say there isn’t plenty of good out there, because there is. But we live in a culture that often focuses on the negative, and it’s good to understand and explore those negatives. One of the best ways to explore them is to view those actions through the eyes of the characters performing them or being subjected to them. How can we really understand hate until we see it from these points of views? How can we understand violence and intolerance if we don’t look at it head on and question it? There are reasons these things happen. There are motivations and emotions that are worth exploring to understand why people feel the way they do, and possibly a way to combat all the negatives.

That’s mainly why I don’t censor my writing anymore. My characters are just as likely to tell someone to “fuck off” as they are give them a bouquet of flowers. My characters give and take hate and live in hate-filled, intolerant worlds because that’s the kind of world we live in, and if I’m going to live in it I want to explore it. I want to understand it. I want to know why people steal and kill and are so intolerant.

That being said, I try to write with meaning. I try to ensure that the violence, the vulgar language, and the hate aren’t senseless. They have to have meaning, and there has to be a logical reason for the hate, otherwise what is there to gain from it? What is there to learn from? And why do we read and write if not to explore and learn?

Censoring writing deprives us from knowledge. It deprives us from watching chaos from a safe environment, and doesn’t allow us to gain other perspectives. And how can we become tolerant and accepting if we can’t see where other people come from, how they got to where they are, and what resulted from it? How can we expect to learn and grow by shoving away everything that has foul language and violence in it? That’s the place we live in right now, every single day. And if we’re going to combat it; if we’re going to try and fight the things that make the world as negative as it is, we need to let the people see the world as it is.

All it Takes is the Right Story (Oh, and a Ton of Hard Work)


I’ve been told on several occasions that all it takes to “hit it big” is to tell the right story.

“All you need is the right story and you’ll be famous,” they tell me.

“All you need is the right story and they’ll make it into a movie,” they said. “Then you’ll be rich and famous.”

As if it’s just that easy. Bang out the “right” story and you’re golden. No, literally. You could have a gold statue of yourself made because you’re rolling in book and movie money.

That has me wondering: what is the “right” story? I mean, I’ve published several novels and no one has offered me butt loads of money or a movie deal, so does that mean I’m writing the wrong stories? Does that mean my stories aren’t good? My characters are weak? My themes are rotten?

You know what? It’s beginning to sound like this writing thing has a bit more to it than just telling the “right” story. It sounds a bit like it takes time and effort to carefully craft brilliant characters, a perfect story line, suspense, action, adventure, romance, danger. And, in the end, you may only end up selling ten copies. It’s perfectly plausible that you may write the “right” story and still end up on your ass with no money.

In fact, sometimes–and I really do mean sometimes–it seems like you will inevitably end up on your ass with no money, no matter how hard you worked on that book.

Before I became a writer, I would read a book and have no idea how much work went into it. How many months–sometimes years–went into the writing, editing, revision, publishing, and marketing process. I just read the words, enjoyed the book, or not, and went on my way. Granted, I’d done my fair share of writing. But I’d never completed a book, nor had I looked into what sort of process it took to create a finished product and distribute it to the masses. As far as I knew, the author just hammered it out, gave it a once over, and off it went to the world.

I was one of those people who believed you just wrote it, and if it was good you were set for life. I understand where people are coming from when they think all it takes is the “right” story to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. And yet that still doesn’t make it any easier when people say it to me now. Maybe it’s just the human condition to get aggravated when someone makes light of the writing process–of my dream career–or maybe it makes perfect sense. Whatever the reason, I understand that it takes really getting into the craft of something to fully understand how it works, and the complexity of every part of it.

People are so quick to generalize something or write it off because people are successful at it. As if it’s the easiest thing in the world. When in reality it takes much more hard work than people think, and even after all that hard work it seems as if luck plays the biggest role out of all of it. Sometimes it takes the right person seeing it, the right cover, or the right description. But I believe that “right” stories are written all the time. Just as “right” covers, descriptions, and people play roles in the book process and even then sometimes nothing, or very little, may come of it. But it’s become clear over the years that writers don’t write for the fame or the money, they write because they have to. Because they don’t want to stop, no matter how many terrible reviews they get or how famous it makes them. Writing is fun. It’s exciting. It’s exhausting. It makes me want to scream. But I love looking at my bookshelf and seeing my name in print next to so many others, and it just further reminds me why I keep at it.

WASTELAND GODS: COVER REVEAL


It’s interesting how much things can change when writing. For those of us who don’t plot out our novels–and I’m sure that even for some who do–things can change in a flash as the story unfolds. Character motivations can change. Characters themselves can change. Plot, personalities, history, everything can change so quickly, and sometimes that requires us to change things around.

This realization that something needed to change has been growing for a few days now. I was telling my wife about the recent happenings in my current work in progress, DEADGOD. I told her about some characters’ plans and their roles in the novel, along with what they’re going to eventually come to realize. How they’ll change, or arc, if you will, and what they’ll learn. She then said to me, “I don’t think that title fits anymore.” And me, still enjoying the name DEADGOD, tried to find a way that the title still fit the book. Mostly because I’m so horrible at coming up with names that I didn’t want to go through the pain of trying to think up a new one. However, as I was thinking about my characters and their current situations yesterday, I eventually came to realize that, once again, my wife was right. While DEADGOD fit one of the characters, it didn’t fit the overall theme of the book, nor did it fit the other two main characters’ personalities.

That’s when the struggle began. My characters had morphed into something I didn’t think they would. As their roles in the novel became more apparent, their actions and beliefs changed, and somehow I had to think of a title that encompassed all of it, along with a brand new cover to go with it. I tossed around this name and that name, writing it down on the old cover to see how it looked, trying out various fonts and colors in the editor to see how it blended together. And, finally, with the help of my friend, Karen, I settled on a name that I really enjoy, and I hope you will, too.

So, at long last, feast your eyes on the brand new cover and title of: Wasteland Gods

Cover_C

Click to view larger

There is no hope in the unforgiving wasteland. Only the starved, withering Insurgents. The insane, cannibalistic Roamers. Slavers, Raiders, and death await in the sweltering heat.

The Koval Republic, a utopia filled with clean water and food, shelter, and protection. A land saved by politicians, greed, and ignorance. A republic that looks down upon the Insurgents, offering no help or remorse. Instead, they lay siege to the Insurgent’s meager settlements, hoping to wipe the mongrels from what remains of the planet.

Anton, a religion-hating Insurgent in a world void of faith who only hopes for salvation from the wasteland seeks freedom and fairness.

Claire, a soldier of the Republic, banished to the wastes, struggling to survive. Begging to return to her old life.

Roland, a soldier like Claire, taken in by bloodthirsty slavers who aim to bring democracy and the people’s voice back to the world.

Who will live long enough to see if redemption can be brought to the wasteland, and who will buckle beneath the crushing force of the Koval Republic, and the crippling dangers of the wasteland?

Coming 2015!

 

DEADGOD: Understanding the Theme


Progress on my current WIP, DEADGOD, has been pretty slow as of late. I’ve really only been working on it about once or twice a week, maybe contributing 300 – 1,000 words on any of those days. I used to attribute it to my large course load during my final semester of college, which had me writing a lot of pretty big papers and reading a lot of texts. But now I don’t have any of that. I have my degree, but I’m still working on getting a full-time job. I have an abundance of free time, which also means I’m not making much money (Although, if you’re inclined to help me out then click on one of the book covers to your left and pick up a copy of one of my books!)

However, I’ve had what appears to be some sort of revelation the past few days. When I started DEADGOD I wanted to write some kind of book about cultural, religious, and social tolerance. I wanted to make a social commentary on American culture, seeing as how that’s the one I’m most familiar with, and show how intolerance can shape the world into an awful place. In order to do that, I created a religiously intolerant character in a world with one remaining religious man. I had a concept, and I knew how I wanted this religiously intolerant character to arc and learn from his behavior, but there was just something missing on my part. Something wasn’t driving me to tell this story. Part of it was because I really wasn’t pushing myself to sit down and write, which I can only blame on myself. But I think I’ve realized that I had a basic idea of the theme I wanted to convey in this novel, but I hadn’t really figured out how I was going to show it.

Now, as some of you may know, I write a column entitled Maglomediac in which I study and analyze various media. I think this has really helped me to understand the themes I want to tell in this novel and nail them down. When people think of the word media, most often they think of the news, meaning that I’ve been taking a look at it more on a cultural level–why it’s happening, to whom it’s happening, is it a result of some kind of social stigma? pseudo-environment? and things of that nature–which has allowed me to see it on a deeper level and apply it to my writing.

I now have some of the tools to be able to show the ideas and themes I want to portray in this book. By showing religious intolerance, political and religious zeal, and some of the concepts and ideas that are common today, which one could argue are contributing to a sort of devolution and backwards thinking in society, I can show why we need to correct these behaviors. Or, at least, I can show why I think we need to correct these behaviors.

After finally unearthing the deeper ideas about what exactly I want to show with this novel, not only have I been motivated to create the characters and world needed to show the themes I want to convey, but it has definitely made the writing stronger, too. It has given me a further look into the characters motivations and beliefs, and I can see much more clearly now why these character think, act, and speak the ways in which they do, and I think it’s making my novel really strong, and when it’s finished it will certainly