Archive for Parenting

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 8-ish: Innocent Villainy

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

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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.) 

 

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Books 1 and 2 of “Guts and Glory” are now LIMITED EDITIONS!

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

 

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As all who read this blog now know, I am revamping the “Guts and Glory” brand. To that end, even as I write book 3 I will be revamping books 1 and 2, both in edits and cover design. I will, therefore, be taking down the versions that are now on Amazon to replace them with the new ones on January 31st, 2018.

SO!

If you want an original copy of “Dr Fixit’s Malicious Machine” and / or “The Counterfeit Zombies of Noc“, you MUST order before January 30th, 2018 or forever be without!

This has been a public service announcement. More to come!

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 5: Social Media Madness

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Hello all, and I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

I’m back at work now, and therefore back writing to you. Today I’m thinking about social media marketing, this blog, and ways to use them all in-tandem to their best advantage for getting the word out there about “Guts and Glory”.  Things I’ve thought about so far are…

  • Some kind of “ad” campaign where Books’ inventions are being promoted in apocalypse punk style (But I don’t know how interesting that would be to people, especially my young readers.)
  • A”recruitment” campaign into the Dark Crows
  • A “call to adventure” style campaign where readers have to sort clues and such to find their way into Nil
  • A Nil-related contest of some kind
  • A quiz or quizzes related to Nil and its characters

Hmm… What do you think? What would get the kids excited to see Book 3’s debut? What would get the young readers interested in Nil and its denizens? If you have any other ideas or just brainstorming, please leave them in the comments.

Whatever the campaign ends up being, for the full Social Media gauntlet I’m looking at linking:

  • This blog
  • My Facebook fan page
  • My Twitter feed
  • Goodreads
  • YouTube (Especially for book trailers!)
  • Patreon (Gotta do some more research into how to utilize it for kidlit in particular.)

Still thinking! Gotta find a way to get a computer at home, too. I can’t do everything I need to do by February on my work breaks alone… Hmm…

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 4: Pushing Through

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

I want to write.

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m at work. I don’t mind that at all, especially since I’m off at 3:30 and don’t work tomorrow. Plus, it allows me to write to you. Unfortunately unlike this blog, I can’t write my book at work. The zone is too powerful; I’d forget my responsibilities here and that could be catastrophic to my financial stability. I can make notes, which is nice, but when I’m ready to write the book itself… I don’t know how I will do it without a computer at home. (If only my hands weren’t aging faster than the rest of me, I could handwrite it…)

Sorry. Kinda melancholy today. Being tired will do that to you, I suppose.

There are so many steps to this plan, but many of them I can’t do until I have the capitol to do them, and others aren’t doable until the book is finished. Other steps, such as research and planning, I have been doing a lot of lately, but the biggest, the hardest, and the one that takes the longest… is writing the third book itself.

That one is VITAL. And I can’t do it.

I WANT to write, too. I do. But my Muse has been fickle lately and I don’t know how long she’ll stick around. I’m going to be honest here: today, I am afraid. Afraid I will never write this book. Afraid I will never actually make this plan — this DREAM — happen. Afraid and frustrated.

It is a hard day. A low day. But these, too, must be documented, so that I can look back and see that I pushed through them. So that others can see that as well.

Today, I am tired and afraid and frustrated. But today, I am still a writer nonetheless.

Mornings SUCK

Posted in List with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Today, I am tired.

I promised myself I would write one blog post every day. That was on a good day. Today is a not-so-good-day. It’s a walking-in-molasses day. An I-need-to-be-in-bed day. One of those days I dread when I say I hate mornings. The whole REASON I hate mornings. Normally I’d put off my blog today, and replace it with a form of staring off into nothing in-between registering patients at the ER (my day job; folks gotta eat!) but I’m trying to write at least a little every day, so you all get a molasses post from me instead of a dead-eyed stare that you’ll never see because you’re not here with me anyway. In fact, I think I’ll even do one of those list posts people seem so keen on. Just cuz… well… I’m lazy today.

Congrats!

Jessi’s Top Five Reasons why Mornings SUCK (™)

5) Circumstantial Strife

I’ll begin by saying that I don’t hate mornings, per say. They can be quite lovely and peaceful under the right circumstances. My problem is that the circumstances are almost never right for me. As a night person, I quite literally gain energy as the day goes on, culminating in a brilliant burst of creativity and motivation…. juuuuuuust in time to go to bed.

Poopfarts.

Tossing and turning because you have to try to sleep when your brain is at its most active and energetic is not fun. Nor is knowing that inevitably, when you wake in the morning you WILL have a case of…

4) Feeling Like You’re Hungover EVERY MORNING

You know that feeling. Faintly dizzy. A bit like you might have a fever but you know you don’t. Slow in thought and slower in body. Muscles tight. Eyes like sandpaper. Knowing that you COULD do something amazing today, if only you didn’t feel like you had been hit by a 12-lb bag of Sandman brand sandpaper. Hungover? Nope. Just another morning in the life of a night person. It’s normal. Average. Torture, but expected nonetheless. Every morning.

Forever.

It doesn’t help matters either, that…

3) Morning People Assume You’re Lazy

Okay. Can I rant for a moment? Thanks.

If I hear one more variance on “Why don’t you just go to bed earlier?” I will start stuffing pillows down throats. Remember #5? Remember how I CAN’T fall asleep when I’m supposed to? What makes people think that going to bed even EARLIER would help? Before you remind me that I said I get more energy as the day goes on, let me explain that the latest I feel tired enough to sleep tends to be between 12 and 2 P.M. So really, these people are telling me I should go to bed in the afternoon. Yeahhh… no.

Sorry. Didn’t mean to go off there. This one just irks me a lot. The assumption that night people are lazy because we’re either tired or asleep in the morning assumes that we do nothing all night. In fact, many of us do what morning people do during the day – we work. We just do it at different times. How does that make one lazy? I still don’t have an answer for that, but something tells me it has something to do with…

2) Societal Expectations

Why, you may ask, do I get up early if it’s so painful to do so? Remember that day job I mentioned before? Yeah. That. Day people run the world, after all. Even though we now have electric lights and computers and lack of superstition (in comparison to our ancestors, anyway), most “respectable” jobs (I.E. ones you can make a decent living at) are daytime hours, and daytimes hours tend to begin no later than 8 A.M.

My own begins at 7.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am SERIOUSLY thankful for my job, and to be fair, working in a hospital I could have any kind of hours; I was just “lucky” enough to land an early shift. That said, it doesn’t negate the fact that society expects human beings to be chipper and bright early in the morning, and if you’re not, there MUST be something wrong with you. Mentally, maybe? Or physically? Are you depressed? Are you sick?

WHY ARE YOU SO TIRED? What’s WRONG with you? DON’T YOU LIKE THE SUNSHINE? AAAA!

Okay, so maybe it’s not quite that bad, but sometimes it sure does feel like it. And when the society around you tells you something often enough you begin to believe it, which for night people results in a lot of…

1) Self-Doubt

My first ex used to tell me all the time that if I just TRIED harder, went to sleep sooner, and accepted that I’d be sleepy in the morning, I wouldn’t be so lazy. Nevermind that I had spent the entire night cleaning the whole house, a thing which he would have been quite happy for had I done it while the sun shone. Nope, forget all that. Because I now had to get some sleep from all that work, I was lazy. Sun + sleep = lazy.

Sun + sleep = lazy.

Sun + sleep = lazy.

Sun + sleep = lazy.

Sun + sleep = lazy.

Sun + sleep = lazy.

…told that over and over and over again for years, I ended up truly believing I was lazy. It didn’t matter how hard I tried to make up for that laze by cleaning all night or forcing myself to stay awake in the torturous mornings. Because I WAS tired during the day and I WAS awake at night, there was something wrong with me. I believed it, not only because my husband was telling me so, but because every TV show, movie, book, and acquaintance on the street agreed with him. “Early to bed and early to rise” isn’t just a mantra for our society it’s a holy code. If you don’t follow that code, even if you can’t because your body simply doesn’t work that way, then you’re wrong. Unholy. Outcast.

Well crud. I wanted to do a lighthearted, fun post today for once. I guess I still have some stuff to work through. I also guess this is my new therapy.

Well… this should be fun!

Also, to answer the above for myself: there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just a night person stuck in a day world.

There. Happy ending. 😉

Purple

Posted in LGBTQ with tags , , , , , on September 8, 2016 by Jessica Crichton

purple

purple-pg-1 purple-pg-2 purple-pg-3 purple-pg-4 purple-pg-5 purple-pg-6

It’s Almost Here! Book 3 of Guts and Glory!

Posted in book signings, Books, Family, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2014 by Jessica Crichton

You’ve been waiting patiently.

You’ve been wondering when it would be OUT already.

You’ve looked for SOME sign on this website  that it is actually coming.

Well, here it is!

August, 2014…

At Spocon, Glamirita, and Here on this Website…

The Official Release 0f…

“RISE OF THE NEFARIOUS NUMBOTS”

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The third and FINAL volume of “Guts and Glory, Freedom Fighters of Nil” is almost here!

Check back here soon for exact dates, and spread the word!

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