Archive for mglit

Keepin’ Up with the Bloggin’

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on August 12, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

I really should blog more but I never know what to talk about.

My stories are fiction after all, and fiction is what I do. There are myriad writing lessons and tutorials and  workshops out there that I really could only duplicate, not add to, due to their vast numbers already covering everything under the sun, so writing about writing would be redundant and pointless. Same with parenting. Same with just about anything I can think of to write here.

My stories. My worlds. My characters. THAT is what I have to offer that is unique and of value to you. So I suppose this is a reminder to you wonderful readers of those stories. Guts and Glory and Tipani Walker. Go read those, and I’ll spend time writing more of them. Fair enough?

Perfect. 🙂

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Another Excerpt from “Guts and Glory” Book 3!

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

Emily

I sat in the back.

I always sat in the back.

My little brother stood at the front, next to the teen spokesperson. I was torn between feeling left out (as always) and being happy I wasn’t noticed.

When us teens woke up in Nil, Mom barely noticed me as her kid. Instead, she said everything was okay and that Glory had saved us all. I love my little sister, but my mother is my mother too, not just Trevor and Tabitha’s. And as I sat and watched the meeting between the kids and the teens, I couldn’t push down the feeling that had been growing inside me for days now.

Like I wasn’t quite a Tate.

“We teens know the kids helped take the curse off us, so thanks fer that an’ all, but ya can’t ‘spect us ta follow kids inta battle!”

The teen spokesperson was not much more than a kid herself. Her name was Wendy. Mom’s work again. She’d told us all that we should choose names from Earth, even though none of us were from there. But Mom insisted that Earth names would give us independence, since none of us could remember our Nil names, and At Igh Schoo we were only named after our ranks. I was only a Mindseer for a short time, but the name had stuck more than “Emily” ever did. And my tattoo, like all the teen tats, remained on my face: a blood-red tear down my left cheek. Even then, I felt more like Mindseer than I’d ever felt like Emily Tate.

“I’m willing to work with the teens, but we are in command,” my brother said. His voice was a lot more powerful than I’d ever head it. He’d definitely grown up a little since we came to Nil.

Wendy laughed. “Yer in command ‘a the kids, sure. But the teens ain’t gonna follow ya. Why would we? We’re bigger an’ stronger an smarter than any kid could ever be.”

“Because we saved your sorry butts, that’s why!” Trevor said, leaning in to Wendy and squeezing his fists at his side. “And why are you talking for them anyway? You’re barely older than me!”

Wendy didn’t flinch. “Because, KID, I’m a leader.”

“Some leader!”

The crowd gasped and parted to make room for the new voice – a teen I vaguely remembered seeing somewhere, at a time that seemed long ago. His red hair was super short, shaved almost to his scalp, and as he looked around at the crowd of kids, teens, and zombies, his green eyes flashed in a way that made me shiver. His mouth was a thin, tight line, and he wore all black, with the exception of a red hoodie two sizes too big for his lanky body. Around his neck was a circle of black feathers, and his face was tattooed with a tribal spike down one side – the rare tattoo of a commander.

Then I heard my brother make the weirdest noise I’d ever heard, like a cross between a groan and a scream. I turned to look at him, and his face was so white I was worried he’d faint right then and there.

“F— Fist!” he gasped, his eyes wide. “What… how… where—”

The new teen stopped walking and, to my shock, bowed low at his waist, sweeping his arms back in a grand gesture like some kind of old-fashioned lord.

“Guts the mighty leader ‘a the Dark Crows! I salute ya!”

Trevor closed his mouth and shook his head hard. “H– hello Fist,” he croaked. Then he seemed to notice the crowd again, and cleared his throat. “What— what brings you here?”

Fist smiled, his thin lips rising at the edges just barely enough to notice. “Ta take my rightful place leadin’ the teens, ‘course.”

Guts blinked.

Wendy sucked in a sharp intake of air. “How dare—“

Before she could finish, Fist took two long, gliding steps to the front and shoved her roughly aside. “Move over, soldier,” he snarled at her. “Or didya think rank didn’t mean nothin’ nomore?”

“B— but Fist, you’ve never even wanted to be a teen,” Trevor stammered. “Why would you want to lead them?”

“Easy,” Fist said. His voice changed instantly back to nice when he spoke to my brother. “If a Tate’s in chargea the kids, then a Tate’s gonna be in chargea the teens, too.” He put his arm around a very uncomfortable Trevor and squeezed. “After all, brothers gotta work tagether, right?”

On Encouragement

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

Lately I’ve been rediscovering my favorite T.V. universe of all time: Star Trek. I started by watching “Voyager” from beginning to end (thank you Netflix!) because it’s my favorite-favorite. Now I’m around the middle of “The Next Generation”. I’m watching them from favorite series to least-favorite. (Sorry “Deep Space Nine”.)

When you’re a trekkie like me you learn a LOT about Roddenberry’s universe, including behind the scenes stuff that can be quite illuminating. One of those things, which seems to be the same for every series (though TNG is the most infamous for it), is first season flopping. Though arguments abound over which series is best, it seems each one has started hard but ended beloved by at least a few fans (and in the Star Trek fandom, “a few” needs at least one k after it!) Indeed, when one re-watches TNG especially, one can’t help but cringe jeeeest a little at how… well… BAD… the first season or so is. No matter how much of a fan you are now.

For a struggling writer like me, that is enormously encouraging.

I’ve been writing seriously since I was 16. I decided on that particular age because I was first published then: my own review in the local newspaper on “The Chronicles of Narnia”, though I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. Now 24 years later (you do the math), I am still writing… when I’m not at my day job.

People tend to react similarly when you tell them you’re a writer. Questions like, “are you published?” abound, as well as comments somewhere along the lines of, “I have a great idea for a book — you should write it!” I’ve learned to field reactions like this with a fair amount of grace; after all most people really have no idea how the publishing world works, and I’m all about education. That said one question in particular still grates on me: the dreaded, “do you do that for a living?”

The answer is no.

Still.

24 years later.

No.

At least I’m not alone. The vast majority of writers don’t make a full-time living on it, and those few who do are mostly not the Stephen King types. They’re lower middle class on down, and they work hard for the privilege of writing full time. Many spend more time promoting themselves online, through school visits (for kidlit authors) and the like than they do actually writing, which is what they’d really rather be doing. In a way in this day and age even writing full-time is more than one job. And despite all that hard work, most full-time writers struggle with bills and “dry” seasons when their royalties are lower than usual. Sometimes these “dry” seasons can be anticipated. Other times they can’t. As a mother with children to feed, clothe, and house, I have not been comfortable enough with even my best royalties to try quitting my day job.

There are days — even weeks — when this can feel terribly discouraging.

Most every writer dreams of being free to write what we love without fear of becoming homeless. To not only have an editor, but one to whom we can go with an idea and automatically get clearance — and a nice advance — to write it. The J.K. Rowlings of the world are few and far-between, but to be one of them: that is OUR lottery dream.

And it’s a pretty, pretty dream indeed.

The funny thing is, despite their sometimes awkward or insensitive questions, most people outside of  the publishing world are extremely encouraging and supportive of writers. We are usually seen as brilliant, creative, unique, and even akin to superhuman for being able to even write a book, let alone publish and sell it. To most people, whether we can pay the bills or not with it has little to no bearing on this awe they view us by.

To writers like me, the dichotomy of this can be somewhat bemusing, but ultimately encouraging. I’m a brilliant superhuman, guys!

And so I keep writing my books and watching my “Star Trek”, dreaming of the day when my own first season comes to an end. When I can finally say I’ve grown out of “The Naked Now” and am ready for my own “Inner Light“. Until then, I’ll take the questions with the compliments, and keep my eye on the future prize of answering that dreaded question with a yes.

Finally.

Yes.

Website Revamp, Baby!

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 19, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

I’m gonna start with this awesome little nugget: I just found out I almost have 1000 blog followers! When and how did this happen? But most of you are very quiet. Say hi; I don’t bite! You all rock with your support. Thank you!

In case you can’t tell this site has had a bit of a makeover. I decided that if things pick up with “Guts and Glory” once the 3rd book is out, I MIGHT need this site to be ready. One thing I did was think about what people are looking for when they come to my site, especially those who ask for the URL from me in person — my books. Which before weren’t featured very well. *Facepalm* SO, now they are! I also shortened my menu and updated all the media and review information. I like it a lot more now. What do you think?

Other than FINALLY finishing Book 3, now it’s time for me to get on with completing http://gutsandglorybooks.com. That will take a lot more work, especially the fannish areas. My biggest challenge, besides Books’ Laboratory (anyone know how to create a game from scratch? EEP!) will be keeping everything safe for the kids who use it. I plan to have a requirement of the Nil Name quiz, so they can use that name instead of their own on, for example, the message boards (for the teens), the fan art area (for kids and teens), etc. I will also not have private message options, and I’ll need some mods and admins to help with the boards and chat.

Of course, the usage of these areas will be EXTREMELY small at first (and — let’s face it — possibly forever) but I don’t want there to be an issue I’m not anticipating, just in case. If anyone has any other ideas to keep the place on lock down, please let me know. The last thing I want is to make an unsafe place for my young readers!

But first, I need your help with the Nil Name quiz. I FINALLY got it to work for people other than me, so if you would be willing to take the quiz and tell me what you got and whether it was accurate, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you!

What’s Your Nil Name? Quiz

Updates from the Land of Nil

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

Hot on the heels of the new and improved version of Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine (which, by the way, is currently free on Kindle — GO GET IT BEFORE IT’S NOT ANYMORE!) comes its brand-new little sister, The Counterfeit Zombies of Noc!

As you can see, the cover is all ready thanks to the beautious Jessica Douglas. Alas, I am not as prolific as she, and my edits aren’t QUITE up to snuff yet. That said, it will be finished and ready to buy within the week so keep checking back!

You follow me here, so of course you know about THIS blog, but did you know I have a brand new website just for Nil? It can be found at http://gutsandglorybooks.com and it will be full of TONS of fun stuff to do soon! For now, you can earn your Nil name (I’m still adding to that, so if it comes out wrong for now let me know please!) and there’s a contact form to talk to me. Keep checking back though because among other fun stuff, I’ll be adding:

  • A Kid area with games, prints, fanart, and more!
  • A Teen area with message boards, chats, fanfic and more!
  • A special game where you can build tons of fun inventions in Books’ lab!
  • An FAQ page for parents about the books, the world, and the website of Nil.

Don’t spread the news JUST yet though… it’s hush-hush between us for now. 😉 So much to be excited about! Talk to you again soon!

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 8-ish: Innocent Villainy

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

kiddo

Day 8… ish. I was off work for a week, so… yeah.

Anyway, HI! I have good news — thanks to my wonderful friend Molly, I have the ability to write at home again! W00T! Thank you Molly for letting me borrow your iPad; I will return it as soon as I am able to buy a laptop for myself. Does this mean I will be blogging more? I certainly hope so, but knowing my scatterbrainedness (and the fact that I kinda have a book to write) let’s just wait and see, shall we?

As for today’s subject, I want to talk a little bit about villains. Namely, making them 3-D in children’s books. The norm for giving villains depth in most stories is to give them a great backstory. A hard and fast — and even sympathetic — reason for doing what they do. Who are they? Why do they do bad things? What makes them really TICK, deep down inside? But for parents, who want their children to learn that it’s NEVER okay to be a villain no matter what the reason, and for kids, who see the world in black and white, just how do you keep your villain from being a parody, a shadow, or a mask?

This is a question I have run up against many times in my writing career. I am not afraid to say that 99.9% of my bad guys have been… bland and boring. Tropey. Exactly what you’d expect a villain to be.

Blech.

But I’m not alone in this. Think about the kids’ books you have loved. From Alice in Wonderland to Coraline, from The Wizard of Oz to “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, villains in kidlit tend to just be evil for the sake of being evil. The Queen of Hearts just is a bully. No reason given. Other Mother is demonic and therefore naturally bad. The Wicked Witch*… well… need I say more? As for Count Olaf, I like to say he’s like The Joker with fewer reasons to be nuts. And I won’t even get started on any of Roald Dahl’s monstrous inventions!

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with this. After all, a large part of what makes kidlit fun is the simple good vs. evil aesthetic often inherent in it. And every single example I have given is from a story (or stories) I adore. That said, can we give our young readers more in their bad guys?

As it turns out, the answer to that is a resounding YES! At least according to some contemporary authors who are doing just that.

One great example is, of course, J.K. Rowling. Is Voldemort evil? Yes. Does he do bad things? Ohhh yeah. But Rowling also delves into his past, weaving a tragic story of a boy who struggled with loss and defeat at a very young age. Does she use this to excuse his actions? Not at all! But it does show the reader that he is more than a scary mask floating on the wind. And this is even more prevalent in her “lesser” villains, especially in young Draco Malfoy, whose character development is a work of art akin to Michelangelo’s, in my humble opinion.

But I digress.

*Fangirls*

*Ahem*

Another example can be found in the “Percy Jackson” books, though to be fair Rick Riordan kind of cheated on that end, using myths and legends who already embody the rich depth that only comes from centuries of storytelling. But I digress. His villains still count.

Still, these examples are as few and far between as the list of fantasy and sci-fi children’s books on Amazon. (Hint: it’s small.) Maybe I’m just not seeing it. Maybe I’m reading young readers wrong. Or maybe — just maybe — we need more depth, more magic, more wonder, in kidlit overall. Not just in its villains, but in… everything?

I’m in danger of getting off-topic here though. Let me return to villains. (Though I’m seeing another blog topic in the near future…)

Rowling and Riordan (and maybe others I missed; add them in comments!) have shown us that yes, kidlit villains can be 3-dimensional, if we choose to focus just a little more on them. In fact, keeping with the “marketing” aspect of this blog series, making a children’s literary world deeper and richer overall has proven to be extremely successful and popular among young readers. So why don’t we do that more often? That’s the question I’ve asked myself lately, and why I plan on doing the same with my villain in “Guts and Glory.” At the moment Dr. Fixit is little more than a shadow. I’ll be changing that in book 3.

It’s time to make Nil real.

MUAAAHAHAHAAA!

 

*(I hope it goes without saying that I’m talking about the ORIGINAL CHILDREN’S book by L Frank Baum.) 

 

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 6: WRITING!

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

You know what I am not?

A promoter.

You know what I AM?

A WRITER.

And yet, I haven’t had a chance to really write one word of the glorious third book of the trilogy that’s in the CENTER of this whole thing!

*Headbash*

So… I’ve decided to give my promotional needs up to those who know how to work them properly, and focus on what I do best — writing the freaking BOOK already. I’ll keep writing my blog of course, and post when and where I need to on social media, but all the crazy details will be taken care of by JKS Communications. After some pretty extensive research, I found them to be at the top of my choices, as they are professional, have KILLER reviews, and (and this is crucial) I can afford them. At this time I have sent in my proposal and am waiting with baited breath on their reply.

For now, it’s time to finally WRITE!

*Runs off cackling like a manwoman*

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