Why I Don’t Like Fan Fiction

BooksThere is a beautiful safety in books. In that time, when you are in a great novel, your focus is clear, and reality can gracefully slips away, leaving you to play in the imagination of the author. You walk with the characters, you explore the land, you fall in (and out of) love, and when the book is closed, a bit of you feels lost, returning to the too real world.

The sad thing is that when you return to a book again it is never the same. That initial spark is diminished. This is because the surprises are gone, and with each additional reading it slips more and more; until it is nothing more than words on paper, something to be almost merely analyzed. It is a memory now, a glimmer of that first magical escape.

The fact is I understand the desire to create fan fiction. As a lover of books and an author, I truly do.

It’s hard to let go, move on, especially if you want more than what the author wanted to give to you. It can feel like an early death, especially when there is so much more to live. And maybe it is that book, that author, that inspired you to write yourself! Your inspiration driven from a need for more and more.

The problem is at the heart of every piece of fan fiction there is one bit of truth, one thing the fan fiction author doesn’t want to consider:

It is not their decision whether the story continues or not.

They are not the author and only the original author should make that call. Continue reading

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The Questions I Struggle With

The Approaching trainWhen you are growing up there is this myth we all buy into.

When you decide your goal, that’s it. Forever. Your life is locked in, congrats and here are the keys to your future.

Oh, if life was only that simple. Like a movie where the hero figures out their destiny and we know it is going to be okay. There is no conflict there after the decision. Bruce Wayne is going to be Batman, it is his destiny.  So be it, here is the cowl, there is the Joker. Go to it!

Instead what I have found to be actually true in reality, for us non-superheroes, is that we decide every day, every hour what we want to believe is true, and what we want to hold us back.  See, I’m not this person just because it is who I am, it’s also because I chose this. There have been numerous times I could’ve changed me, my life, but I didn’t want to then, and still don’t want to. The option is always there, it doesn’t go away. Frankly, most of the time, I like being me.

Yet, I still battle four thoughts, four burning questions almost every day. They can hold me back, make me question everything I have done in my life (from being a writer to a father to a husband to a human being), and sap all the energy from my system. It is not always easy to take them on, and sometimes I do lose, but they are always there. And I don’t see it ever changing. Continue reading

The Importance of Delusions: The Four That All Writers Need

Imaginary FriendsWhen I was a child, I never had one imaginary friend.  I could never limit myself to one. And when I did seek them out, I would steal them left and right from books, having in the end something more akin to a kingdom in my head.

The funny thing is this kingdom is still around. No, I don’t need any help, but they are there, transformed now from warriors and wizards into readers, editors, agents, interviewers and publishers.

And if I am walking my dog on a late evening, there is a chance I might be working out a pretend interview in my head or I might be thinking of a meeting with a producer interested in one of my books, figuring out how I would pitch the material. Typically, I don’t talk out loud (even my dog would question my sanity then), but those conversations are there as I am always planning, considering my options and thinking of the next steps I might need to take in my career.

Yes, the imaginary friends or the capability for internal debate like this is still around and it is now a tool I use. And using my imagination like this has grown, assisting and encouraging… and not always truthfully. Spawning dreams and delusions that I use as tools as well.

All artists have delusions, some are big and some are small. They empower our debates, drive our inspiration forward, and give us hope even in the bleakest of hours. There are, in my humble opinion, four universal delusions that all writers share.  Continue reading

New Interview on Clean Romance Reviews for A Jane Austen Daydream

Jane AustenToday there is an interview with me up at Clean Romance Reviews for A Jane Austen Daydream. In it, I dive into my writing, Jane Austen, blogging and even Disneyland. (Yes, I said, Disneyland.) Here is a snippet from the interview, my answer to the question “What is your favorite genre to read?”

One advice I give writers a lot (and I hope this is not seen as a cop out), but I think writers should read as many genres as they can, explore all possibilities. See, it is my opinion that the groundbreaking works in any genre, the ones people remember the most, are the ones that break the mold. To see new possibilities like that, a person has got to have an open mind not just of what to read, but of life in general. I like to think I did something like that with A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM, but time will tell.

You can read the entire interview here.

A Jane Austen DaydreamMy new books A Jane Austen Daydream and Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare are both available on amazon.com right now.  You can find them via my author page on amazon here, available in print and eBook (just $3.99).

I hope you enjoy the interview.

The Awesomeness of TeeFury

TeeFuryI live everyday with TeeFury regret.

This tragic tale is from last year, sometime in the autumn. It was before I purchased my first TeeFury shirt and this one was a combination of Calvin and Hobbes and Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog.

Let me repeat that- Hobbes and Kermit.

Basically, the artist took an image of rambunctious Calvin carrying his stuffed tiger and replaced it with a child that looked like Henson carrying a puppet of the awesome frog. And for 24 hours I stewed over this shirt, weighing each of the arguments pro and con for getting the shirt (or maybe purchasing it for others). I even shared the link to the shirt with friends and family who I thought might like it! But as the hours dripped by, I forgot about the shirt until it was the next morning… and there I was, head down on the computer keyboard staring forlornly at a new shirt available that did not include my beloved frog.

That is my TeeFury regret and now that I am on the mailing list I think of it each time a shirt appears that I may or may not be interested in purchasing. Do I want to live with that experience again?

Do I? Continue reading

“Belle & Sebastian Meets Jane Austen” A Guest Post on the Undercover Soundtrack

Belle and SebastianToday I have a guest post up on The Undercover Soundtrack. For those that don’t know, it is a unique writing blog where writers share the music that influenced and inspired their writing. My post is on the music of Belle & Sebastian (one of my favorite bands) and how it impacted my new novel A Jane Austen Daydream. Here is the beginning of the article:

There is usually nothing more important to me than the music I have playing while writing a book.  Music can inspire me, engage me, keep my energy up when I need it to be up. It sets the mood for me, and the right song can pull the right levers to get me to go from point A to point B in a plot. It has also been known to drive the people that live with me crazy since while I am writing I may play a CD a few too many times (Just ask my wife about the writing of My Problem With Doors and my nonstop playing of O by Damien Rice; an album I am forbidden to play in her presence again). But what I used for A Jane Austen Daydream was something surprisingly contemporary. This was not something for Liz Bennet to dance to (but she might if given the chance).

You can read the rest of the article here, where I go into details on how Belle & Sebastian (especially their CD The Life Pursuit) changed my version of a certain famous novelist.

A Jane Austen DaydreamA Jane Austen Daydream is available via amazon.com where you can find it in print for just $13.85 in print and only $3.99 for the eBook. Here is the link: http://amzn.com/0983671923

And remember, my new experimental gothic novel Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare is a free eBook on amazon until June 15! You can check it out here.

My Favorite Literary Oddities

What a weird pictureOn June 11, my new book MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE will be released via amazon.com in eBook and print. Currently, there is a book giveaway going on for the book on Good Reads which you can enter here.

To help prepare for the release of this odd and playful book, I thought it would be fun to write on some of the influences for the novel.  This week I discuss three writers who gave me the courage to attempt the mad surprises that come in this new novel.

There should be a warning that is given to every future English Major. It should be in bold lettering with a dark-foreboding red hue.

WARNING: This major will impact how you read and enjoy books forever.

We all scamper and leap into becoming English majors because of a love of books, imagining afternoons in classes playfully discussing our new favorite classics. The ultimate book club! Surrounded by like-minded, educated readers debating and then debating some more the next day. All that is missing is the secret handshakes, but a big part of that dream is true… What is glaringly missing in the scenario though is the in-depth analysis that comes along for the ride.

When you are an English major you are taught to deconstruct a book down to its essence, find new ways to interpret a work (maybe related to the author’s biography or the history of the time, etc.); whatever the case, when you are done with a book, it is never the book it once was to you at the start. Over time, this kind of investigation will become part of your reading makeup.

You’ve seen too much! The wizard cannot go back behind the curtain, you know it is a silly old man now! Every book is a future study, even when you don’t mean to do it. And soon you may even begin to forget what it was like to simply open a book and enjoy the tale. Continue reading

An Interview With One Writer’s Journey About A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM

A Jane Austen DaydreamThis week I was interviewed by author Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz about my novel A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM. Here is an excerpt from the fun and interesting interview:

No one understands Jane Austen, not even her family has an easy time keeping up with her wit and creativity. Yet, all Jane dreams about is having that great romance, just like the ones she loves to write about in her books.

After a fateful meeting with gypsies, Jane believes she now knows the path forward to finding true love. Over the course of A Jane Austen Daydream, we follow Jane from one romance to another, and over the experiences and surprises she begins to emerge as the Jane Austen we all know today.

Over the course of the interview, we further discuss the inspiration around the book, my own experience writing (and being a writer), and much of my philosophy on books. I hope you will check it out via this link.

A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM is on sale right now on amazon.com. While the eBook is only $3.99, the beautiful print version is going for just $9.85. Here is the link to the page on amazon- http://amzn.com/0983671923.

I hope you enjoy the interview and A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM!

Chasing the Ghost of Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock HolmesAs I write this I am surrounded by the ghost of Sherlock Holmes.

I am wearing a t-shirt for the BBC show Sherlock. You can also find the Blu Rays for the seasons behind me, alongside the box set containing all of the films starring Basil Rathbone and the series with Jeremy Brett (my favorite television Holmes).

Over to my side is my Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat that I bought at 221B Baker Street in London many years ago. I remember that moment vividly.

Why?

Well, honestly, I have a big head. I can’t really buy hats since it is rare I find one that fits my large skull. After spending an afternoon walking through the properly messy rooms of the museum, I assumed I would be going home with just a copy of an illustration from the original books (now on the wall in my kitchen), but to my utter surprise there was a hat that fit me. My large head? Really? It was a glorious moment, as if the great detective was prepared for my arrival. Continue reading

My Favorite Writing Posts

Even Superman writes!We writers love to write about writing. Do other artforms love discussing their own art like we do in our neck of the woods? Do painters paint about paintings? Or singers sing about singing? Okay, this is a silly notion and the answer is sometimes, but nothing like us writers. We own this.

Yes, we writers love to discuss our artform (read and write) and I even have the personal proof to back the magnitude of this.

See, I like to think I write on a lot of interesting topics from movies to life experience to  TV to parenting, etc. (Heck, even last week I wrote 1300 words on Winnie-The-Pooh!), but nothing beats the numbers of visits I get when I put up a new writing post. And luckily for me I love writing about writing.

Books, and the creation around them are a passion of mine. I love throwing a thought out there and watching the responses come in via twitter and comments.  Sometimes I agree with the responses, sometimes I don’t, but it is always fun (not when they get mean, of course, which sometimes does happen).

I thought today I would link back to four of my personal favorite writing posts with updates and new thoughts from me on them below their link.  Consider it the equivalent of a reunion special… of my mind. Continue reading