Author Spotlight: EJ Wenstrom

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I was introduced to E.J. Wenstrom by the wonderful Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA and as soon as we started talking I fell in love with the concept of her debut fantasy novel, MUDLuckily she agreed to do an interview and chat about how she came up with it.

Please give E.J. Wenstrom a warm welcome!

  1. Can you tell us a bit about your novel, MUD?

My debut novel, MUD, is a dystopian fantasy that follows the quest of a golem who is so desperate to get a soul he’s willing to do almost anything. So when an angel comes to him offering to make him human, he takes his chance and doesn’t ask questions. The deal they make takes him on a quest into the Underworld to steal a soul … and puts the whole realm in jeopardy in the process. It’s a character-driven story with a soulful narrative and a lot of great action.

  1. What part of the story came to you first?

The main character’s voice. I was flipping through some lesser-known monster descriptions—as one does—and came across golems among them. Something about golems just grabbed me. As I mulled it over, Adem’s voice started talking to me in my mind, showing me little pieces of his heart. It was so sad, so desperate, I just knew I had to tell his story.

  1. How much planning did you do before starting Mud?

Not much! Wish I’d done more, honestly. I tried to outline before I started drafting, but inspiration took over. So I ended up writing as far as I could see the plot, pausing to plan, and then writing some more.

It was not the most efficient process, and one I don’t home to repeat. But it was my first novel, and I think on some level planning out an entire novel felt like too much to take on all at once.

As I work on MUD’s sequel and another sci-fi novel now, I’m trying to plan out at least the big tentpole moments of plot and character development better, ahead of the actual writing. I’m more a punster than a plotter naturally, but I think the best approach is somewhere in the middle.

  1. What is the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?

I’m a VERY slow writer. MUD took me five years to write. I get frustrated with how long it takes, feeling like the work I put in doesn’t even make a dent into what still needs to be done.

It helps when I write every day though, because even if my daily contribution is a tiny drop in the bucket, I can at least take comfort in the knowledge that those drops are adding up to something.

I’ve also been working to increase my daily word count—I used to only be able to write for about 45 minutes before work, so I’d average 250-500 words a day. Now that I’m freelancing, I have a little more flexibility, so I make myself stay put until I hit 1200 words.

Interestingly, it usually only takes 60-75 minutes to hit my word count, even though it’s proportionally much more words than that. I guess that’s either evidence that I’m becoming a better writer … or (more likely) just the psychology of setting goals and making yourself stick to them.

  1. Do you believe in writer’s block? Why/why not?

I don’t. Coming from a career in the creative industry, you don’t get that luxury of waiting around for an idea when there is a client deadline coming up—you learn ways to make creativity a habit and tap into that inspiration regardless of your mood. I’ve applied the same mentality to my personal work, including writing fiction.

If I feel stuck, I just start asking myself questions—why do I feel stuck? What’s missing in the story? What’s the logical next step? When faced with an open-ended question, my brain can’t help but try to answer it, and the wheels start turning again.

  1. You’re also the social media mastermind at DIY MFA. How did you get involved with this awesome community?

This is something I love to talk about, because it ties back to being involved in the writing community. I first got involved with DIY MFA by guest posting. I loved the site and the perspective on writing it advocated, and so I read it. Then I pitched a guest post in an effort to build an audience for my own blog. Then I guest posted a couple times more.

When the blog posted that it was looking for columnists, I knew I wanted in, so I pitched a concept that brought together my passion for writing with my professional experience (social media platforming). Now I run the social media for DIY MFA, too. All because I was engaged in the writing community and platforming for myself years before I had a book to promote.

This is only one of many incredible relationships I’ve grown that started with guest posting. I wish I could tell every author—just get involved, just start giving to the online writing community. Start your own blog, even if only as an excuse to approach other blogs with guest post pitches. When you finally reach a point where you have a book releasing or something else to get out to the world, you’ll be amazed how those posts you’ve contributed come back in dividends.

  1. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned working at DIY MFA?

It’s been so cool to watch how Gabriela works. She’s got such an incredible community built around DIY MFA, and as I’ve collaborated with her more, I’ve gotten to see behind the scenes a little at how she does it. I’ve learned the importance of sharing your passion, only offering the highest quality resources, and protecting your brand rigorously.

  1. How do you balance leisure time, working for DIY MFA and your own personal writing/marketing?

Right. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

But seriously—for me, it’s come down to knowing what’s most urgent, and also knowing what’s most important, and what can be put off or cut altogether. I try to do certain types of work at the times of day I’m in the best mindset for it.

For creative writing, that means 5:30am; for workouts that means about 7pm; I freelance now but I’ve mostly maintained my old office work schedule because it helps me to have the structure of maintaining “open hours.” Most of all, I rely on the power of habit.

And honestly, it’s not uncommon for me to work some long hours. It’s been said to death, but it really does help when you love what you’re doing.

  1. If you could give an aspiring author only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Usually I’d want to say simply, “write,” but that advice is out there already, so I’ll go to my expertise and say, start platforming NOW. Act like you are published. Create an author website, get a professional headshot, and start collecting an email list. It seems like it’ll never come, but once that publishing contract comes through, or your novel is ready for self-publishing, everything is going to start moving in fast-forward. You’ll really wish you had these pieces already in place—so just do it. The earlier you start, the more time you have a to grow an audience (and learn).

  1. What are you working on now that readers can look forward to?

A few things! I’ve got a novella in the works that will be a fun little prequel to MUD and offer some backstory to the larger world the series is set in. That will be free for my email subscribers, probably starting in May.

I’m also working on the sequel to MUD, and while I was waiting to get MUD published I started a totally separate sci-fi YA story about two sisters in a world where your death date is printed on your wrist when you’re born, and how that world starts to unravel when one of them doesn’t die on their assigned date.

It sounds like a lot when I type it all out like that, but it doesn’t feel like it when I’m working on them.

Wenstrom EJE.J. Wenstrom is a fantasy and science fiction author living in Cape Canaveral, FL. Her debut book, the dystopian fantasy novel MUD, was published by City Owl Press. When she’s not writing fiction, E. J. drinks coffee, runs, and has long conversations with her dog. Ray Bradbury is her hero.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have more questions for E.J.? Think MUD sounds like a great novel? Tell us in the comments section below!

Attitudes towards LGB characters in your fantasy land

Image free from PixabayFantasy is a genre full of tropes, many of which I love: castles, dragons and magic are just a few of my favourites. Some of the tropes, however, aren’t so pleasant. Many fantasy societies closely resemble the medieval English culture they are modeled after, including not just the castles but the strict class structure and the oppressive laws. Main characters tend to rebel against these structures(even when it makes no sense for them to do so) but they are almost always there.

But… Why? Why can’t our fantasy societies have different morals? They can still have castles, can still have kings and courts of nobles, without needing the entire moral code. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t make sense for most of these societies to have such identical morals. Most fantasy societies are already so radically different from our own histories that it only makes sense for them to have completely different morals. There’s one huge difference:

Magic

Magic is found to some extent in pretty much every fantasy story, but few people really explore its full implications. The implications of healing magic are simultaneously the most profound and the most under explored. You see, advanced healing magic probably means a lot less infant and child mortality. Things like compulsory heterosexual marriages made a lot more sense when you’re dealing with a 30%(or higher) infant mortality rate. Survival of the species takes precedence. At that point sex is 95% about creating the next generation and 5% about pleasure if you’re lucky.

A world where magic has allowed your civilization to flourish much the way science has allowed ours to flourish–and to do so much earlier in their development–will likely have totally different attitudes about things like work, relationships and sexuality. If they’ve figured out how to heal your character’s mortal wounds with magic they’ve definitely figured out how to save children from common yet deadly illnesses and extend the human lifespan at least a little bit. This makes the need to have children less desperate, making sex more about pleasure the same way it happened in our world.

Maybe I’m just an optimist but I believe cultures become more progressive as their lives get easier. It’s why we’re seeing a huge swing back to conservatism in so many places right now: one country after another has been thrown into financial turmoil and we’re all so screwed we can barely help ourselves, let alone each other.

And hey, if your fantasy culture has different attitudes about sex it actually makes sense for your main character to have even more progressive views. What doesn’t make sense is how every woman living in a near copy of medieval Europe seems to be obsessed with the idea of marrying for love when they have literally lived their entire lives under the assumption that they will have an arranged marriage. These women have often also been taught love is a learned thing, something achieved through marriage rather than a reason to marry, so why the hell does every single one turn away from their entire upbringing?

You don’t even have to change the morals completely. With the histories of many fantasy worlds it doesn’t make sense for them to be totally accepting of everything. There will still be taboos. People who are different may simply be tolerated rather than actively accepted. No culture is perfect and I’m not saying yours should be either–that would probably take most of the fun out of it.

What I’m suggesting is that our fantasy worlds don’t have to match our own history so closely. The possibilities of our genre are literally endless. Yes, many fantasy tropes are wonderful, but we need to move beyond them and expand the genre into new territory. The world is changing and so should our stories, because the world changes faster when we change the stories we put into it.

Have you ever read a fantasy novel about a culture where they’re more open about sexuality? Have you written one yourself? Tell me all about it in the comments section below!

Editing dialogue to make characters stand out

DSC_0289One of the biggest challenges of writing good dialogue is making characters stand out from each other. Sometimes this is easy, like when you’re writing a conversation between people who have markedly different accents, but most of the time it’s incredibly difficult–and the more people you have in the conversation, the more difficult it becomes.

This is still one of the things I struggle with most when writing, especially when my novel takes an unexpected turn and unplanned characters appear. So between drafts I take the time to develop these new characters further, asking the following questions:

Where are they from?

This question is obviously important because people from different parts of the world have different accents, but there are many other ways location alters speech. Slang, for example, can vary wildly from one city to the next. And where they live will probably influence the answers to the rest of these questions.

How much education do they have?

Somebody who’s never spent a day in the classroom will use a very different vocabulary from a university graduate, even in a society much less advanced than ours.

Are they religious/what religion do they follow?

I’m just going to assume there is some form of religion in whatever world you’re writing about, but that doesn’t mean everyone follows it. Even if there’s one main religion and all others are illegal people will find a way to practice something else. There are also many different levels of devout. Truly devout characters may quote holy texts to prove their point; characters who don’t really believe might make semi-blasphemous comments. And others will deliberately blaspheme, especially when there’s a devout person around.

What is their rank in society?

Since myself and most of the people reading this blog have the pleasure of living in countries without super strict caste systems it can be easy to forget how people from different classes would actually speak to each other in such a world. The stricter your class system is, the more this matters. Just take a look at Etiquette in Victorian England. Your system obviously doesn’t need to have as many rules for social interaction but it should definitely have some.

What do they do when they’re nervous/stressed?

Here’s a simple truth: EVERYBODY has some kind of nervous tick. I bite my lips until they bleed when I’m really stressed or nervous and during an extreme bout of stress I’ll also bite my nails. Some people run their hands through their hair, tap their fingers impatiently against the nearest hard surface, pace in circles, or start stuttering. Really nervous people might even carry something(like stress balls) around to play with.

Even if your character is a member of the nobility who has spent their entire life learning to suppress their emotional responses they can be pushed to the point of breaking. Gradually increasing the rate of these nervous movements is a great way to grow tension and add physical beats to your dialogue so you don’t suffer from the infamous talking head syndrome.

 

Once I’ve answered these questions for all of my characters–my major characters often end up different than I originally imagined them–I’ll create a dialogue cheat sheet. This simple piece of paper lists every character’s name, education level, religion, nation of origin, and nervous ticks. Some characters also have a favourite phrase or gesture that gets added and others have little personality notes like “most sarcastic”.

For characters who appear only in one scene, people like guards who are there primarily to get beat up, this is often all the background work I’ll do. Of course, this probably only works because I’ve thoroughly developed all the places they come from and can therefore assume certain things about their lives. You have to understand the class system, religion, education system, and the place your character came from before you can understand how those things impact their speech.

This dialogue cheat sheet is something I can easily pull out when I’m editing a dialogue scene so I know exactly what to add. It’s been so useful that I’ve now created a similar cheat sheet for all the POV characters in my current project(pictured above — yes, I know that’s a lot of POV characters).

New Twitter Chat for Writers & Readers: Dark Lit Chat!

dark-lit-promo#DarkLitChat is a monthly Twitter chat for writers, authors, or readers who appreciate dark fiction. Writers and authors at all stages are welcome, and encouraged to join in. Whether you’re plotting, procrastinating, or published, you’re welcome to join us!

When is #DarkLitChat?

Tuesday, June 21st at 8pm EST, on Twitter. (You can find us for subsequent chats every 3rd Tuesday of the month, at 8pm EST)

Why #DarkLitChat?

Writing dark fiction can be hard — and it can be lonely. Many times it’s difficult to find other writers who appreciate a good blood bath in a world filled with happily ever after. Network with other writers of Dark Fiction while we discuss the ups and downs of writing dark fiction.

Who’s hosting #DarkLitChat?

D.H. Poirier, (@PoirierPages) Young Adult Author of dark historical fantasy, and horror. And Elesha Teskey, (@e_teskey) Urban Fantasy Author, and Publicist for Pen And Kink Publishing.

What is Dark Lit?

Any genre or market covering darker topics. Thrillers, horror, suspense, urban fantasy, mysteries, etc. Dark Lit would include murder, crime, abuse, drugs — things of that nature. Dark Lit is subjective, if you think you write Dark Lit, chances are — you do.

How can I help?

Help us get the word out on your blog, and on twitter.

#DarkLitChat Future Chats

We’re looking for published authors open to doing Q&As for future chats. If you’re interested, tweet at @PoirierPages on Twitter, or DM.

Need a reminder for #DarkLitChat? You can sign up for an email reminder for the chat here.

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I can’t wait to see you all at the #DarkLitChat!

Author Spotlight: Jessica Marie Baumgartner

embracing-entropy (1)Jessica Marie Baumgartner is a multi-published author whose most recent novel, Embracing Entropy, came out in March 2016. I’m really excited to introduce Embracing Entropy as it’s a space opera(something you won’t find much of around here) centered around a family trying to survive on a new planet. There’s a real lack of families who actually care about each other and help each other in genre fiction so I was thrilled to chat with Jessica about this novel and her writing process.

Please give her a warm welcome.

 

 

  1. Can you tell us a bit about the Embracing Entropy series?

Of course. This is a space opera novella trilogy, printed as one serialized novel, but also available as individual ebooks. It’s about what happens to a family when they have to leave Earth. The planet’s dying and they are at the mercy of a seemingly friendly alien race.

Here’s the actual blurb:

As Earth dies, leaving its inhabitants struggling to survive, an alien race offers an unimaginable option: to relocate humans to their own planet on the far end of the universe. The Campbells, one of the last surviving families, quickly realize humanity’s hope for survival may come with a price. Accepting a new way of life, acclimating to a new atmosphere, and trying to fight against a universe that seems set on tearing them apart offers many struggles. Can the Campbells make it through, together?

2. What part of the story for the Embracing Entropy series came to you first?

I’m a chronological thinker so I started at the beginning and worked my way through it. It wasn’t supposed to run as long, or be more than one story originally.

3. Why did you decide to publish the series as three novellas rather than one novel?

Haha great question. I had this crazy idea to try and bring back the serialized novel, like Dickens and most of the greats used to do. The idea of publishing the three novellas as ebooks, is still something that I think will catch on in the future, but it’s always fun to see your name in print too.

4. How much planning do you usually do before starting a book length project?

I used to try and outline everything, but this project especially refused to follow any directions I tried to give. The more I write, the less planning seems to help.

  1. Do you believe in writer’s block? Why/why not?

Not a bit. I believe in uninspired periods where life gets in the way of creativity, but I myself am always bursting with new ideas. I have notebooks full of stories I’ve been dying to write for ages.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about your editing process?

I have had to learn to like editing. Used to hate it. I totally disagree with Hemmingway, I prefer to write sober and edit tipsy, it’s the only way to survive the terror of going through my own work. Now when editing other people’s work, I love it and being sober is easy.

  1. What did you learn about writing while working on the Embracing Entropy series?

I learned to forget outlines and let the story direct me. Writing this was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life and it’s a bit hard to know that it’s completed.

  1. How do you define success as a writer?

I love this question. Some people measure success by popularity or sales, maybe I will too (if I ever become a best seller haha), but for me success is reaching out to your readers and really sharing your experiences; exploring the human connection. I constantly get messages from readers who love my work and I always respond. To me, that is writing success.

  1. If you could give an aspiring writer any one piece of advice what would it be?

Reach out to other writers. Learn what you can, help who you can, and know how to take criticism. The writing industry is rough. You have to learn to take a punch.

  1. What are you working on now that readers can look forward to?

I am currently wrapping up my short story collection. The insanely talented Dash Crowley is doing some artwork for it, and I hope my publisher will have it ready late this year/early next year. I’m also polishing two older novels that need reworking, and a couple of children’s books that will be fun to get out.

JessicaB&W13 Jessica Marie Baumgartner is the author of: The Embracing Entropy Series, Siren’s Snare, Tale of Two Bookends, and My Family Is Different. Her stories have been featured in numerous publications such as Everyday Fiction, The Lorelei Signal, Fiction on the Web, The Horror Zine and many others. She is a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild and is always weaving new worlds in the webs of her tales. You can check her out at www.jessicamariebaumgartner.com

Purchase Embracing Entropy here! If you enjoyed this interview or have a suggestion for an author I can interview, please leave a comment below!

Book Review: DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community

DIYMFA-Book-Cover

DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community is a brand new(it’s actually only available on pre-order right now) writing book written by one of my all time favourite bloggers, Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA. The book, blog and courses Gabriela has created all share one goal: to help writers who don’t have the time or money for a traditional MFA program create their own structured writing education, a home-made MFA program.

I’ve been following Gabriela since 2011 so I was obviously thrilled when she finally announced this book and even more excited when she sent out the call for reviewers and actually let me join the list.

The Details

The great thing about DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community is how different it is from other writing books. It does contain some writing exercises(and some really cool reading exercises) but really it’s all about creating your own writing methodology. Rather than simply tell you her process and schedule, Gabriela walks you through how to create your own writing process and schedule. She reminds you again and again that your personalized MFA program should be just that–extremely personalized.

As a long time fan of the DIY MFA blog and an attendee at last year’s online DIY MFA conference I was already familiar with most of the DIY MFA concepts, but the book went into much greater detail and helped define the concepts more concretely in my brain. One thing I really love is the concept of iteration–creating a writing routine and tweaking it slightly every few weeks until you find something ideal–and failing better. Gabriela’s discussed it on the blog plenty, but in the book she goes into great detail and discusses how you can do it for different aspects of your writing life. She also talks about how iteration(like learning) should be a lifelong process.

One thing that was totally new to me was the term “Revolutionary Reading”. Every book you will ever read about writing at some point reminds you that it’s important to read widely, read often and read actively. Very few writing books actually go into detail about what that means but DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community has a large section(I think about 25% of the book, even) about reading. Revolutionary reading is a cooler way of describing what many writers call “active reading” or “reading like a writer”: actively examining not only what a writer is saying and why, but how they are saying it. This is when you pay attention to specific techniques and turns of phrase and how they influence story development. Revolutionary reading is one of the most important things a writer can learn how to do and I can’t think of a book that teaches this skill better than DIY MFA.

DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community also has extremely detailed and useful information on critique groups and beta readers–what they are, how to find them and how to treat them–along with a large section on the business side of writing. Like the other sections of the book, this focuses primarily on giving you the long term strategies to figure it out for yourself rather than spoon feeding you information(much of which might not be useful by the time you’re done your book anyway). Oh, and there are lots of recommendations for further reading, along with a soon-to-be-released online resource guide.

The Bottom Line

I really wish I could have bought DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community way back when I made my first attempts at creating a regular writing routine, or even a few years ago when my process was a lot less finessed than it is now. Still, this book deepened my understanding of many concepts I’m familiar with, introduced a few new ones and got me thinking about my own writing in a new way. I’ve been building my own DIY MFA for years already so I didn’t create a massive educational plan for myself or anything like that, but I have changed how I’m approaching the book I’m currently writing and I feel a lot better about it now. I liked this book so much I might even buy a paper copy so I can cover it in sticky notes.

Or, long story short, every writer who wants to learn more about the craft should buy DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community.

What books about writing do you love? Let me know in the comments section below!

Understanding resistance

DIYMFA-Book-CoverOver the last few days I’ve been reading the DIY MFA book, a writing book by one of my favourite bloggers and writing teachers, Gabriela Pereira. I’m going to post a review of the entire book next week, but today I wanted to examine a specific concept in closer detail: the idea of using resistance as a guide.

This idea–the idea that resistance is a good thing because it forces you to grow into a stronger writer–is one I’ve heard stated in many different ways over the years(or, more accurately, read stated many different ways on different blogs). It’s one that resonates with me strongly, but to me it doesn’t necessarily mean forcing yourself through the piece anyway. Sometimes it means you need to stop and develop your characters or your world more thoroughly. Other times the resistance is a sign that you need to completely change the direction your story is going in.

Resistance can also mean that you need to stop and take care of yourself. This is particularly true for those of us who live with trauma and/or mental illness. Using our experiences in our writing gives it depth and can be an incredibly cathartic experience, but it can also put us back in those painful places, those painful memories. It’s the most painful when we’re writing about the traumatic experiences directly, but even writing a similar story in a completely fantastical world can drudge up the old hurt.

Here’s the thing: we absolutely must tell the painful stories, but you must not hurt yourself. Our stories have the power to reach people who are still living in the struggle, to remind them that they are not alone. They also have the power to educate people, to show the world what it is really like to live with trauma and mental illness. But we want our stories to be hopeful tales, not cautionary ones, and taking care of your mental health is crucial.

So if you’re struggling with a piece, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you stuck because of a problem with the story itself or is the story weighing you down mentally because it reminds you of something from your own past?
  • Is there a different angle you can approach the story from?
  • Can you psych yourself up for tough writing sessions with the promise of a treat afterwards?
  • Is there somebody you can call mid-writing session and vent to if you find yourself being highly triggered?

Usually I know before I even start a piece whether or not it’s going to be tough on my health, so I always schedule extra social outings and reading time when I’m working on something that’s going to drudge up hard feelings. On the first draft I often only skim the surface of these dark feelings and I take many breaks, but I know the painful stories have the most power, so I always come back to them. In fact, I’ve been working on several painful stories I’ll hopefully be sharing with the world quite soon.

How do you take care of yourself when you’re writing about things that bring up bad memories? Let me know in the comments section below!

Introducing M.D. Selig of The Gunrunner Billy Kane

GunrunnerPoster

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the world of indie film in the last year, diving into epic web series like RWBY and The Gunrunner Billy Kane and supporting awesome Kickstarter film projects like the Mythica fantasy series, so you can imagine my excitement when the brilliant mind behind The Gunrunner Billy Kane, M.D. Selig, agreed to do an interview. He’s taken the time to provide incredibly detailed insights about the indie film industry along with some spectacular advice for anyone interested in creating their own web series.

Please enjoy the wealth of knowledge M.D. Selig has to share and don’t forget to check out The Gunrunner Billy Kane yourself! It is one science fiction web series you can’t afford to ignore.

What part of the story for Gunrunner Billy Kane came to you first?

I was reading “The Singularity is Near” by Ray Kurzweil and was fascinated with the idea that once we are able to augment our neurons (in our brains and throughout our body) with nanotechnology – we might just end up connecting with each other like laptops can connect to each other.

That is the crux of the work Dr. Billy Kane is experimenting with.  The augmentation of the brain using nanobots.  In our show it’s called “Enhancement”. Essentially it’s what futurists call “The Singularity’”.Author and actor MD Selig

I study emerging technologies especially those where we are slowly going to become hybrid humans and how that will effects us as a race.  From enhanced limbs  to enhancing the brain’s speed through nano-technology, enhanced vision and other capabilities and how those adaptations will effect our interactions with each other.

Kurzweil and other futurists talk about “spoken language” will only be used as a delicacy between two humans – because to use it as a means of communication will be much too slow. Once we are all connected via wireless, speaking will seem like sign language in some ways. Effective but  really inefficient.

Once we are augmented, you will be able to exchange all you are thinking and feeling in the blink of an eye with whoever you choose to share it with. Fun and or…a little scary…depending on how it’s used.

I’m fascinated with where it will all go. But we are certainly moving in that direction.

GBKCrosshairsCan you give us a brief rundown of your writing process?

My writing process is consistent in a number of ways.

  1. I always write at coffee shops on a small laptop.
  2. I front-load the writing process by doing all of my research around a story idea and work hard to create a 10-20 page “bullet” treatment of the intended scenes in the order they will appear.

Before any writing on the treatment I do the following:

  1. I will watch other TV shows or films that I think are relative to the type of story that I’m trying to create.
  2. I have no qualms about borrowing great ideas or themes to suit my project, with the idea of not copying another writer – but to take what they have done and adjust it to my own style and story.

For instance, when studying a successful show like Breaking Bad or House of Cards, I look at – what is the THREAT, and how is threat sustained throughout the show or the book or the movie.

All great stories thrive on threat, be it relationships, physical threat, or resolution of a threat to a characters existence etc.

If the stakes are high enough…we keep watching.

So to me…establishing threat and then sustaining threat until the end of the story, with rising tension toward the final resolution, is the toughest thing to do.  It’s the most challenging and rewarding thing about storytelling.

Once I understand the threat they’ve established in a show…I watch for the next level of story; characters.

How many characters do they focus on? How many leads, series regulars, and recurring roles are there?

Writers of top shows have learned through experience just how many characters will hold an audience without making the story too complicated.

Why re-invent the wheel.

If anything, I think less characters provides deeper dives into each characters arc.  More fun, more intense, more to relate to as a viewer.

I watch to see how often the story comes back to the main character and how often the show goes off on an ancillary character and story arc before they return to the main characters of the show.

In my opinion The Wire is one of the best TV shows from a writing standpoint. The characters are many and the show has a very slow reveal and pace. But the power of the show is it’s depth – and there is a reason it’s on everyone’s top 10 list as the best written show of all time.

Stuck on an island with only a TV, I would take The Wire as my choice above all others. Worth studying on many levels. Breaking Bad is certainly right up there.

I will often watch the pilot episode of a series and then get on my computer and try to recall every scene from the beginning to the end. Thereby understanding more organically how the writers created a world, the threat and the characters that must deal with the threat. Not to mention it’s fun to work your story memory.

FINALLY.

I BEGIN WITH THE END IN SIGHT. (This is a trait in the “7 habits of highly effective people” book, but it works well for storytelling)

I take a lot of time to see the end of my story, visualize it, write notes about it, try to imagine sitting in a theater at the end of the show and loving that feeling of wanting to watch the credits roll… because the show left me breathless.

If I can see the end of my story – then I know that everything must lead to that ending – then I’m ready to write the treatment.

I will begin the treatment as a “flow-through” process. No editing, just free writing for as long as I can keep it up. I won’t edit until I’m through with the 10 pages, finishing of course, with my ending that I’ve already got in the bag.

My treatment might start like this, notice it’s really rough, bad punctuation…and I don’t care. It’s about getting through it.

Exterior Italian hardware store, Boston 1955. The snowy streets are busy and our protagonist Larry, 35, dressed in a salesman suit of the era, enters the store.  If you didn’t know better, you might think he was Italian. He puts down a large suitcase on the counter. The old Italian proprietor watches him with interest. Larry was expected. Larry whips on some serious Italian fluency and knows how to small talk. He opens a small suitcase showing a faucet of gold, made in Italy. The Proprietor reaches for the piece and picks it up impressed. He taps the gold with his fingernail and we are suddenly on LARRY as Larry FLASHES BACK to A NAZI GUARD holding a rifle against his throat, this is a YOUNGER LARRY, pinned against a wooden fence –  in a Lithuanian Ghetto. Larry WINCESS, his hands UP in a defensive gesture as the Nazi squeezes his TRIGGER! CLICK. Larry GASPS as the guard realizes his trigger is FROZEN. Larry reacts to the guard who violently SWIPES the butt of the rifle ACROSS LARRY’S FACE.  Thud. FLASHFORWARD. The Proprietor is asking Larry if he’s okay? Larry comes to…and shakes off the horror in a moments notice…and makes an excuse in Italian, something about a long night of drinking…and gets back to selling.  The proprietor nods his head and says he would like twenty of the gold faucets. Larry shakes his hand and closes the case. Says “you got it” in perfect Bostonian and departs.

Ext street day, Larry walks through the snow…straightening his tie and wiping the sweat from his brow…that was a close one…fuck. He pulls out a cigarette and his nervous hands SHAKE as he light the stogie, takes a long drag, sniffles and walks on….  (END)

So it’s not perfect, I don’t give a damn about punctuation at all…I just try to get the friggin scene in a rough way as I see it and keep going.

Why this way of writing?

In WWII, Germany used “The Blitzkrieg.” very successfully and the concept of it, works in life with regards to pursuing your dreams.

Simply put:  Once you go on the attack… (or begin writing) …go around any obstacles or barriers or resistance….just press forward to the end of the terrain….and the pockets of resistance will simply dissipate through being surrounded. And it works!

I find writing this way to be really pro-active.

Here is the reader’s digest version of all of the above.

  1. Get your story idea.
  2. Research it like crazy and watch all the shows that are roughly like yours.
  3. Know your ending cold. (Begin with the end in site)
  4. Blitzkrieg through your 10 page treatment, no editing until every scene you can come up with has been vomited on your paper.
  5. Then and only then…do you go back and edit the scenes into an order that you think will play well.
  6. Writing the script with the same Blitzkrieg abandon. No editing on the first pass. Just get through all your scenes according to your treatment. Write any dialog that comes to mind and keep moving to the next scene. Write fast and stay with it without editing whatsoever until all 120 pages are splatted down …then hit SAVE again and walk away.
  7. Come back to it a few days later…and guess what? You are reading a rough draft! Awesome. Give yourself a coffee and treat reward and get back to work.
  8. Momentum is key for me. Editing and polishing are just absolutely fun…because by then you know you have a story.
  9. Btw…it generally takes me, up to a year of re-writes before I’m happy enough with a script to begin shooting.

One of my favorite writing books is Steven King’s “On Writing”.  Tiny book. Critical to read as he talks about his process and the discipline of it. He also talks about who he shares rough-drafts with and why. Invaluable.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?

SarahNChairGetting back a draft from a produced writer is always tough. After a year of rewriting my script…I find it very difficult to think that it needs adjustment…but the fact is…I’m too close to it and my scripts always get better via feedback.

So pick your readers carefully before you send anything out. You better really respect them, otherwise you are going to hold on to your silly idea and defend it…so what’s the point of sending it out if you are not willing to really hear constructive criticism.

When you absolutely can’t make it any better…pay to have a produced screenwriter (meaning someone who has actually had a screenplay produced as a movie or a TV show or an on-line series) read it.

They truly understand how your script will play when shot.

Listen to them. Take notes. Make adjustments where necessary. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? Why/why not?

The two words are diametrically opposed.

The produced writers I’m friends with call it “Lazy”.

There is always reading to inspire the next story idea.

There is always a scene you can write that might generate something else.

There is always a concept to be developed.

There is always a feeling you can express between two characters that chat in a diner…and maybe they are discussing something redundant like dysfunctional family…or something that is always a perfect excuse to be at Dennys at 2am., eating and not writing. “Writers block.”

You filmed the first two seasons of The Gunrunner Billy Kane entirely with money from private investors. How did you find these investors?

My first feature “Southern Justice”  is on Netflix.  Funded with Visa and MasterCard meaning I went 150k in debt to shoot it Super 16.

GBK began with a 15k “gift” from my old roommate (who made a chunk on an internet buyout) saw me finish Southern Justice and knew about my new show GBK. My “track record” of having finished a movie and getting it distributed was enough to inspire him to give me a gift. He wanted to see me succeed at the next level.

My eventual “Executive Producer” Herb Warme happened to be renting a garage near me for his vintage motorcycle collection and we became friends. He saw the trailer to GBK which I had created after using up the 15k.. He then watched Southern Justice. He surprised me a few days later and said he was an investor in movies and wanted to know how much I needed to finish GBK.

 

I had shot roughly 60 percent of  GBK on the 15k I started with. (No permits anywhere…just full guerilla shooting.) By the time we finished shooting and editing Cycle one and two…we were into 350k when you add in all the visual effects.

 

LESSONS LEARNED TO GET INVESTORS.

 

  1. Create a track record. Produce your first show…whatever it takes. Get it in the can. Not a short…but a feature. (Shorts are basically worthless in my opinion. I’ve done them and they simply get watched and discarded)
  2. If you can get distribution for your feature – all the better.
  3. Think of yourself as an investor. Are you going to give money to someone who has never completed a feature film or TV show? No. So if you are an investor…you are looking for someone with a “soup to nuts” completion record of producing a show. Just like betting on horses…investors want to pick a “proven” winner.
  4. Write your follow-on show and set a date to begin shooting and do it. Come hell or high water. Just shoot…even if it’s just you and one actor. Do it. Things happen when you prime the pump.
  5. I now have investors that call to inquire about participating in the show. Only because they see it’s already produced at the beginning level. Again, the track record is everything in any industry.

 

 

ON DIRECTING.

I directed Southern Justice and The Gunrunner Billy Kane series. Mainly because I wrote the scripts and I knew exactly what I wanted to see on the screen. I also knew how to edit and so I know exactly what I need to capture when shooting a scene to piece it all together in post.

 

In my perfect world, because I love acting as my primary passion, I would love to be able to use a director I admire…and that might be coming soon.

 

I’m about to do a crowd-sourcing for Cycle-3 for a director as well as an actor and a writer.

 

For the Director and Actor crowd-sourced scene, I will write a scene and post it on the GBK website. Any director and or actor can get a group of friends together and shoot the scene and post their finished scene on YouTube, which will link back to our website.

 

Fans of the show, worldwide, will be able to go to GBK website and watch the same scene shot by many different directors and then cast a vote say by October 1st, 2016.

 

Once we have a “top 10” based on fan voting, I will watch those top 10 scenes and pick a director to actually direct that scene in the show.  That director will be invited to join me for pre-production on the scene all the way through the completion of principle photography.

 

Depending on how good they are with my crew, there will certainly be room for them to direct more scenes and later full Cycles.

 

Concurrently, the actor videos will also be voted on.  (Our last actor competition was so large, that on the final voting day, it crashed our server. )

 

Robert Donnelly won our last actor competition. He now has a recurring role. Not bad for a guy who lived no-where near the film industry.

 

We had video auditions of that scene come in from all over the world. It was really awesome to see the creativity that different actors brought to their auditions. You can still find those auditions posted on youtube. Look under Gunrunner Billy Kane/ Rat Auditions.  One woman shot her scene on a mountaintop in Alaska.  Talk about interacting with your fan base.

 

It’s all happening again very soon, so stay tuned on our website and subscribe on the top right of the website to be informed of the upcoming competitions.

 

For the writer competition I will announce it based on the current characters in the show and ask the competitors to write a scene that I will actually shoot for the next cycle. It will be the same process as above. We will allow worldwide voting and the top 10 scenes will be read and I’ll pick a winner to come to the set and hang out as their scene is shot. If they are fun to work with, then there will be ample opportunity to have them continue. (Not to mention the other top 10 writers.)

 

I look forward to the day when the show is truly self sustaining and we can afford to pick new writers to help me as well as find a few directors that can really see our vision so that I can let go and just focus all my energy on bringing Billy Kane closer to his truth from an acting standpoint.

 

 

 

If you could give an aspiring writer any one piece of advice, what would it be?

Finish your book. Finish your screenplay. Finish your Pilot.

Put a finish date on it and make it happen.

 

If you are in the visual world, film/TV…then produce it.

 

There are a million writers in L.A. still “waiting for money” so they can produce their show”. I’ve met many who have never produced anything in the 10-20 years they have been there due to “waiting”.

 

Because of seeing that when I first arrived in L.A. I decided to produce my own…by going in debt. It was the best thing I ever did.

 

What you learn by seeing your words come to life on screen really changes the way you write. And you might not enjoy the experience. But at least you’ll know.

What are you working on next that readers can look forward to?

 

We’ll I’m writing Cycle Three scenes now. I also have at least two features that are complete that I would like to produce. But first…I need to see if I can make GBK sustainable from a financial standpoint. The online space is tricky to monetize, but we have a growing, activated fan base. So if it continues to grow at the current rate, we should be able to attract advertisers soon. Once GBK stabilizes…then perhaps I can think about my next endeavor.

MGseligM.D. Selig is the lead actor and series creator of The Gunrunner Billy Kane Sci-Fi episodic.  Selig’s first feature as Actor/Writer/Director “Southern Justice” aired on Showtime and is currently on Netflix! As an actor he appeared in Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY, Ashton Kutcher’s PUNK’D, and many independent shows. Selig is currently producing Cycle Two of the Gunrunner Series and writing Cycle three. He lives in San Francisco with his partner and 3-year-old daughter.

 

ABOUT GBK

A sci-fi western series.  A rogue scientist runs guns to fund brain experiments that may save his dying daughter. MAD MAX meets FRANKENSTEIN.  Cycle One (Ten Episodes) was released online in December of 2015. The show ‘s cast is all Hollywood rising stars. Cycle two will post in late June. Cycle three filming in late August.

 

 

 

 

Did you enjoy this interview? Find any one piece of advice particularly useful? Let us know in the comments section below!

Author Spotlight: Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA

DIYMFA-Book-CoverGabriela Pereira is the mastermind behind one of my favourite writing blogs, DIY MFA. I’ve been following the blog–which is all about creating your own personalized writing education–for a number of years now and even interviewed Gabriela in 2012. Over the years Gabriela has expanded DIY MFA to teach a variety of writing courses. She even ran an online writing conference last year which was both fun and educational.

Now Gabriela is gearing up to release DIY MFA the book and I am really excited to be hosting her for a second interview to discuss all the progress she’s made.

Please give Gabriela a warm welcome!

1) Can you tell me a bit about when you first thought up DIY MFA? Was it an AHA moment or a process?

The idea for DIY MFA came to me as I was sitting in the graduation ceremony for my own traditional MFA degree. As the student speaker gave her commencement talk (complete with clichés like “spread your wings and fly”) I reflected back on the two wonderful years I had spent in the writing program. It was a phenomenal experience but I felt a wave of deep sadness when I thought about the writers who weren’t able to go back to school for an MFA, but really wanted to improve their craft. I started pondering: “how can I translate what I learned in the MFA into something that can be done outside of a formal graduate program?” That question grabbed hold of me and would not let go until I finally launched the first nugget of DIY MFA the following fall. From there, DIY MFA grew from a tiny blog experiment to a full-fledged business, to my full-time job, and now into a book.

DIY MFA has also become my passion, my obsession, my life’s mission. My goal is to enrich the educational experience of writers and creative people. While I used to think I would end up as a writer who taught classes on the side, I am now very much an educator, who also happens to be a writer. The teaching component is front and center, and writing is just a means for communicating concepts.

2) How did your experience with the DIY MFA blog shape the classes you created?

Blogging has been fundamental in the development and growth of DIY MFA. When I first decided to test the idea, I did that by challenging myself to blog about the DIY MFA concept everyday for one month. It was kind of like a personal NaNoWriMo, but for blogging and I limited myself just to that one topic. I figured, if I could find something to say on this topic every single day for a month, then maybe there was something to the idea. This personal DIY MFA “challenge” happened in September 2010, only a few short months after I graduated from the traditional MFA program.

At the time I had a teeny-tiny personal blog with something like twelve followers (one of whom was my mother!) so when I announced the project I figured I’d get at most a comment or two in response. To my surprise, people started coming out of the woodwork, sharing my posts and engaging with the material I shared. By the end of September, my audience had grown from 12 blog followers to several hundred!

But the blog has had a deeper impact on the DIY MFA concept than just audience-building. I’m a firm believer in iteration, and over the years I have used the website and newsletter as my testing ground for just about every piece of curriculum I create. Whenever I have an idea for a course, I weave bits and pieces of it into blog articles or newsletters, then gauge the response. If you dig back into the DIY MFA archives, you’ll see nuggets of ideas that I’ve spun out into conference talks, magazine articles, even entire sections of a course.

3) What is your favourite thing about running DIY MFA classes?

Just one thing? There are so many, but probably the thing I love most is the community in the flagship course: DIY MFA 101. When I first launched the class, I knew I’d be iterating on it and improving the material, so I decided to give the first wave of students unlimited continued access with the option to retake the course as many times and they wanted, free of charge. While some colleagues said I was insane for doing this, it turned out to be one of the best business decisions I’ve made, and I have continued doing it to this day.

What ended up happening is that we now have a core group of returning students who take the course again and again, helping to welcome new students into the community and set the tone overall. It has created a close-knit, supportive space where people really trust each other and feel that they have a tribe, a place where they belong. I’ve become incredibly protective of this community, and they’ve become protective of each other as well. This is so amazing to see. This year I’m taking some big steps in expanding the DIY MFA curriculum so one of the big questions I’ve had to think about is how to expand that community aspect while still having it feel safe and nurturing. Let’s just say, I’m doing a LOT of beta-testing behind-the-scenes to see how things play out before we implement any major changes.

4) How did you apply what you learned from running the DIY MFA classes to writing the actual book?

All those motivation and productivity techniques I teach in DIY MFA classes really came in handy while writing the book. Mantras like “honor your reality,” “resistance is your compass,” and “don’t compound failure with guilt” not only made it into the book—quite literally—in that I actually wrote about them, but they also helped me get those words on the page in the first place. I used the same DIY MFA techniques I talk about in the book to write the book. It was a bizarrely “meta” experience, but also fun because I was able to see the tools in action and confirm that they did indeed work.

Remember, too, that I had been blogging about DIY MFA and building courses around it for the past five years before I even attempted writing the book. By the time I sat down to hammer out those chapters, the ideas were so well-formed in my brain that the writing side of it was straightforward, almost like taking dictation. I knew what I needed to say, so it was just a matter of applying my bottom to the chair and clocking in the words.

5) You’re also a fiction writer. What is the biggest difference between your fiction writing and writing DIY MFA?

Writing fiction is a zillion times harder. Seriously. It takes a lot more trial and error for me to wrap my head around a character than it does for me to grapple with and finesse a concept for DIY MFA.

You see, I’m a categorical thinker, not a linear thinker. I’m good at distilling ideas from nebulous concepts into straight-forward nuts and bolts instructions. I love acronyms, formulas, and anything that can fall into categories. For me, it’s easy to take a big topic like “supporting characters” and break it down into the five most basic elements or archetypes.

Storytelling, on the other hand, is sequential, and therefore much more challenging for me. There’s a cause-an-effect aspect where one event or motivation leads to the next, and the perfectionist in me finds it very difficult to trust that the story is going somewhere even if I don’t have a clear idea of where that might be. When I do write fiction, I’ll write by the seat of my pants for a short while, but once I have a good sense of the protagonist and her struggle, I’ll put together a detailed outline and stick pretty close to it for the rest of drafting process. I’ve learned over time that I work best when surrounded by structure and order, so I try to make the messy process of writing fiction as organized as possible, especially because for me the fiction is much harder than nonfiction.

6) What are you reading right now?

At any given moment, I’m usually juggling about 8-10 books. I have a category on my Kindle titled “Nightstand” which is where I keep all the books I’m currently reading. Most of the books on that list are ones I need to read as I prepare for podcast interviews, but I try to weave in some “pleasure reading” every so often as well.

Right now, the book I’m reading that’s not podcast-related is John C. Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership because leadership is a topic that has been pressing on my mind a lot lately. I never really thought of myself as a “leader” growing up; I was always more of a loner, doing my own thing and not really caring if anyone else followed along or not.

Recently, it dawned on me that my role at DIY MFA is, in fact, one of leadership. I know, I know, you would think that as the founder of the company I’d have an inkling that I was its leader, but I think I’ve always been a bit in denial about that. I’ve realized, though that if I want DIY MFA to grow into its full potential, I have to stop burying my head in the sand and admit that I am actually a leader. This means doing whatever it takes to educate myself and improve my leadership skills.

What I’m loving about Maxwell’s book is that he breaks down the concept of leadership into manageable nuggets and elements so it’s not this big, overwhelming topic, but instead just a series of actionable steps and techniques. He also digs into the different facets of leadership and the strengths and weaknesses that go with each one. I’ve realized from reading this book that it is, in fact, possible to be a leader, even if my personality is much more that of a loner.

7) What are you working on now that writers should look out for?

There is so much fun stuff happening over at DIY MFA right now!

First, the DIY MFA book comes out in June/July so my team and I are gearing up for some really fun pre-book celebrations. We recently launched our Storytelling Superpower quiz (DIYMFA.com/STSP) and in June we’ll be doing a week-long Storytelling Superpower Summit, where I’ll dig into the different storytelling archetypes, and how to apply the concepts to your writing. Think of it as a FREE online master class, led by yours truly.

Writer’s Digest just announced the details for the DIY MFA book launch event, to take place during their annual conference in August, 2016. Go to DIYMFA.com/WDC16 to learn more.

In addition to all this exciting book stuff, I have a few articles slated to come out in the June and July/August issues of Writer’s Digest Magazine (so check newsstands for those!) and I’m also beta-testing some courses behind-the-scenes right now and those will be rolling out later this year and in early 2017.

BIO

GPereira-AuthorPic2Gabriela Pereira is the Instigator of DIY MFA, the do-it-yourself alternative to a Masters degree in writing. She earned an MFA from The New School and has helped hundreds of writers get the MFA experience without going to school. She teaches writing at conferences, workshops, and online courses and also hosts the podcast DIY MFA Radio.

When she’s not teaching or developing new courses, Gabriela enjoys writing middle grade and teen fiction, with a few “short stories for grown-ups” thrown in for good measure. Her book about DIY MFA will be out in July 2016 from Writer’s Digest Books.

Does DIY MFA sound awesome to you? Has anything Gabriela said inspired you? Let us know in the comments section below!

Book Review: The Path of Sorrow

path-of-sorrow_eb-pb-2700pxhNormally I don’t take review requests because I firmly believe in only reviewing books I love but when Martin Bolton approached me to review The Path of Sorrow I was thrilled, having already enjoyed and reviewed The Best Weapon back when it was still a Musa Publishing novel. The Path of Sorrow is a sequel and although I’d forgotten many details of The Best Weapon I still wanted to see more of the world.

This book is so intense right from the beginning that I honestly don’t know what counts as a spoiler so I’m going to let the back cover blurb explain as much about the story as the authors find appropriate:

“A song of hope and sorrow, born on the coming storm.”

After the cataclysmic events of The Best Weapon, an uneasy calm has descended over the world. The Winter Realm and the Old Kingdom are ruined by war, while the people of the southlands have retreated to their deserts and jungles, to lick their wounds and wait for better days.

Fulk the No Man’s Son is now the lord of Silverback, and commander of the surviving Templar knights. Considered a heretic by many of his followers, he struggles to contain his unearthly powers. His half-brother Naiyar has returned to the deep jungle of his youth, where he prefers to live alone, isolated from his tribe. Both men notice the stars shift in the sky, and become aware of the rising of a new god.

On a remote tundra in the heart of the great continent of Temeria, a peaceful nomadic tribe is attacked at night and wiped out by a mysterious enemy. There is only one survivor, a boy named Sorrow. Hunted by Templar Knights, bloodthirsty pirates and an army led by an increasingly desperate slave-turned-sorcerer, Sorrow’s chances of survival are slim. He finds an unlikely saviour in the form of Bail, a ruthless assassin, and the pair realise they must stay together to stay alive…

The Path of Sorrow is Book Two of The World Apparent tales, and continues the story of the half-brothers Fulk and Naiyar.

I loved The Best Weapon because of its detailed worldbuilding and the unusual tribal culture Naiyar came from, so I approached The Path of Sorrow with enthusiasm, but I was still utterly blown away by how awesome this book is. I’m kind of wishing I had a paper review copy so I could have covered it in sticky notes(I can’t stand the note function on my Kindle) where all the awesome techniques were used. If I ever teach a writing course this will be one of the books used as an example over and over again because it’s that good.

The Path of Sorrow features a huge cast of characters, all of whom manage to be interesting(or dead really quickly). It’s also got a fascinating story I guarantee will actually keep you guessing right up until the end–and an ending that manages to shock you while still being perfect for the story. And unlike other self published novels I’ve read it is edited impeccably.

The Path of Sorrow is not, however, for the faint of heart. I mean, I didn’t expect a happy-go-lucky novel after reading the title, but Martin Bolton and David Pilling impressed me with their ability to always make things worse and their willingness to kill characters. I’m not going to throw in any spoilers about who dies or how, but let’s just say the character death count in The Path of Sorrow would make George R. R. Martin proud.

Still, if I had to give this book a star rating(which I will when I upload this review to Goodreads and Amazon tonight) I would give this book a 5 star rating. 

Still interested? You can read this book on its own but I really suggest you read The Best Weapon first since it’s also a fantastic book. You can purchase The Path of Sorrow on Amazon.

Author Bios:

Martin Bolton was born in Cornwall in 1979 and now lives and works in Bristol.

Previously he concentrated on his artwork and writing small pieces of nonsense for the amusement of his friends, before deciding to do some serious creative writing. His first published work, a full length novel co-written with David Pilling, The Best Weapon, was published by Musa Publishing on 02 March 2012. The sequel, The Path of Sorrow, was published in March 2015. The Peace of Elias, a novelette set in the same world is also available on Amazon.

His short stories can be read at The 900 Club.

His work is inspired by such authors as Robert E Howard, Joe Abercrombie, Bernard Cornwell and Iain M. Banks.

You can find Martin Bolton @Bo1_tan.

David Pilling is an English writer and researcher, addicted to history for as long as he can remember. He spent much of his childhood dragging his long-suffering parents up and down the misted ruins of castles in Wales, and the medieval period has always held a particular fascination for him. He is also interested in the Roman period, the Dark Ages and the British Civil Wars of the 17th century.

His first published novel, Folville’s Law, followed the adventures of Sir John Swale during the dying days of Edward II’s catastrophic reign. It was followed by twelve mini-sequels. He has also written one stand alone novel, The Half-Hanged Man, and published the first two White Hawk novels, part of a planned 4 part series that takes place during the War of the Roses.

David Pilling’s most recent published works are Nowhere Was There Peace, a stand alone tale of espionage during The Second Baron’s War, and The Path of Sorrow, the second novel in a series co-written with his friend Martin Bolton. All of his published novels are available as both ebooks and paperbacks.

You can find David Pilling @RobeH2.

Does The Path of Sorrow sound awesome to you? Do you want to see more book reviews? Let me know in the comments section below!