The Real Life Guide to NaNoWriMo

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Introduction

You manage to adjust your schedule at work, straighten out your daily routine at home, and even get your family to help out during your writing challenge. You’re all ready for NaNoWriMo when a knock comes at your door. It’s Life standing there and he has a box of new problems for you to add to November!

Whenever we seem ready to take on the writing challenge in November, Life always finds a way to come in and throw a wrench into the works. Here’s some advice to help you journey through the maze of November.

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The Family

One of the things you can do to really get your writing off the ground is to bring your family on board with your project. First and foremost, try and encourage others to join you in the frenzy-filled madness of writing for thirty days straight. If they decline, the next step is to help them understand why you need to do this and look for moral support from them.

Ask them not to disturb you when you are in writing mode but also to give words of encouragement to you especially when you are struggling. I read an article several years ago that a woman locked herself in a room with a computer and a bed and was in there for the majority of the 30 days. Rarely coming out; eating and/or a shower but she wasn’t aware of her family to the point that she noticed her one son had grown a mustache.

Personally, I would not recommend you avoid your family in this way; even if you have a spouse who’s willing to run the household while you’re writing. One of the great idea makers is real-life conversation and everyday events that can be harvested into writing fodder. Make sure you set aside some time to spend with your family so they still recognize you while you’re in your writing cave.

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Meetings and Appointments

We don’t always have control of our time when it comes to doctor visits whether it’s a checkup or a weekly counselor’s session. However, you can try to schedule these appointments as close together as possible and get them out of the way ASAP.

When an appointment is coming up, make sure you write a little extra to pad yourself for that day. Not every appointment will eat up much time but if little Johnny is rushed to the hospital from the school with a broken arm, you may find that a few days of writing will disappear while you tend to this emergency.

Naturally I’m not telling to ignore your family or obligations when it comes to these sudden changes, but stay ahead of your word count goal for any eventuality. And if you are a church-goer do not ignore your responsibilities for the purpose of writing. Your congregation might understand but not God Himself. As I mentioned before, get up 30 minutes earlier and get some writing in before the rest of the house gets up.

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Meals and That Holiday

If you are the cook in the household, you may find it difficult to do the evening meals for the family. Don’t just shove the yellow pages at your family and tell them to, “Figure it out for yourselves.” Pizza, on occasion, is nice but no one wants takeout every night of the week for an entire month.

One of the ideas that someone came up with was cooking several meals in advance and then freezing them so it can be thawed and reheated during November. This is a great way to make sure your family not only gets enough to eat but is eating healthier than what they’d get through a drive-thru window.

Another idea is to get your spouse to do some if not most of the cooking during this time and an even better idea would be to get the kids to help. If you have teenagers in the house this would be a perfect time to get them to learn how to cook for themselves. Recipes are readily available all over the internet as are cooking videos that give you tips and hints on how to prepare certain dishes.

Of course the biggest event of November is that holiday called Thanksgiving. It falls on the 24th this year (2016). One way to prepare for this is to have your story completely written before then. It’s not impossible but for some it may be more challenging. If you’re hosting the big dinner at your house, prepare as much of the food in advance before the day arrives. There are some grocery stores that sell an entire turkey dinner with all of the trimmings so that all you’d have to do is heat everything up in the microwave or oven. Check your area and see if this option is available.

Another idea is either have it earlier or postpone it until later depending on everyone’s availability that will be a part of your dinner. There are no rules written in stone that says you have to celebrate Thanksgiving on the actual day.

If you’ll be visiting someone else’s home for the meal, perhaps you can do some writing on the way over to the location. Whether you are travelling by car, train or airplane; you should be able to snag some extra words prior to the meal. Provided that your hosts understand your writing challenge, you might be able to get in some writing while waiting for the meal to be served. Don’t ignore them especially if you only see them once or twice a year. If you’re spending the weekend there, there’s always time to get some writing in on Friday and Saturday after the meal.

Conclusion

Whatever you do, do not totally neglect your family during the month of November. Spend some time with them, eat meals with them, and celebrate each milestone that you cross. We’ll talk more about this in an upcoming article.

What about you? What are your secrets to dealing with everyday life and writing? Share any hints or tips of what worked and what didn’t. I’m looking forward to hearing your comments.

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

Helpful sites for your NaNoWriMo experience.

As we get closer to this year’s NaNoWriMo I thought I would share some of the websites I frequented for inspiration and quick information to help me stay on track for the 50K word challenge. This isn’t a complete list of useful sites, just the ones I’m most familiar with over the past 12 years or so.

Name Generators

Fake Name Generator—Not only do you get a made up name but also: an address, an occupation, an online screen name, a social security number and others. You can even activate the e-mail address to make your character seem real!

Seventh Sanctum—One of the ultimate collections of names for Fantasy or Sci-fi. Plus you can also create names for tools or gadgets for your characters.

Band Name Maker/Other Generators—This is a collection of other Name Generators.

20,000+ Names — This site has names from different ethnic backgrounds plus their meanings.

OTHER SITES

10,000-Year Calendar What I really like about this is that you can locate any date in history and find out what day if falls on, plus you can see into the future for certain dates as well. For example, we all know that JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963 but did you know it was the Friday before Thanksgiving?

Dollar Times-Inflation Calculator—Now you can find out how much $1000 in 1945 is equal to today.

Logo Design—Help create a logo for your company, your band, or your adventuring party!

Online Alignment Test—A good way to figure out what kind of behavior your character has and how they would react to certain situations.

Anagram ServerWant to hide your villain’s name in plain sight? Try an anagram!

Pixabay—Free Images—A collection of images that can be used to inspire your writing or become part of your book cover.

This should help you on your road to 50K words this year.

Good luck and Happy Adventuring!!

Chris

The Cheater’s Guide to NaNoWriMo

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Introduction

All of your life you were told “Don’t cheat in school” and “Cheaters never Win”. There is an exception to this and it’s called “Padding your story” and it’s allowed during NaNoWriMo! A lot of us out there struggle with notion of writing 50,000 words; or 5,000 every three days. We just know that life will get in the way and sometimes you get the feeling that life intentionally gets in your way when your pounding away at the keyboard during November.

            Below are some suggestions to help you get to your daily word goal and the 50K overall. Remember, the advice given is not mandatory nor will it remain in your final draft. It’s primarily suggestions to help you get to the next portion of your story or fill in when you’re stuck.

 Take out the contractions

I’ve made this suggestion several times on the official NaNo forum boards and all I get in response is, “then my story won’t be grammatically correct.” My response is, “Who cares? This is just a first or rough draft.” We use contractions all of the time in our speech and our writing and sometimes it’s difficult to flip the switch to change the mode of thinking. “I’m” is “I am” and that counts for two words instead of just one. See you’ve doubled your word count already.

For possessive contractions like, “This is Steve’s ball” you can say “This is the ball of Steve” or “This ball belongs to Steve.” And then you can go into further detail by describing the ball.

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Song Lyrics

Suppose a character is going to sing the American National Anthem at baseball game, Find the lyrics to the song and insert them into your story. It increases your word count and it stays in connection with the story. Most lyrics to your favorite songs are available online all you have to do is search for them. Here are a couple of suggestions for songs to include: Albuquerque by ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. The National Anthem of Greece has 158 verses. How’s that for padding?

Stuttering or Hard of Hearing

A character who stutters a lot can be utilized as part of your word count just be careful not to link the multiple letters together otherwise it will still be one word. For example: My name is S-S-Steven = 4 words. While, My name is S S Steven = 6 words. You can still include the hyphens, just make sure there is a space in between.

For a character who is hard of hearing, all you are doing is repeating the previous comment and by adding, “I said” gives you an additional 2 words. You can take it further by having the hard of hearing character repeat what he thought he heard which will force the character to repeat it a third time.

Example: “What’s the title of the sermon?”

“Oh, to be like thee.”

“What did you say?”

“I said, ‘Oh, to be like thee’!”

“Moldy like me? That’s an odd name for a sermon.”

Chapter Title Extensions

This was actually something done in some of the more classic books of the 19th and early 20th century; perhaps earlier as well. A chapter title is listed then just underneath, a short summary of what’s involved in the chapter. For example: Chapter 11: The Treasure is Found! In which George and Alex arrive at the end of the maze and discover the lost treasure of Sierra Madre.

This might also serve as a useful device to help you stay on course in regards to your story outline.

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Recipes, Grocery lists, and Directions

Another fun way to increase your word count is copy and paste a recipe into the story. Suppose a character is at a potluck and their best friend brought a new dish to the party. They like it so much they ask for the recipe. The best friend starts to quote it then, is interrupted when asked to write it down. Then later when they go to the store, you can write in a grocery list which features the ingredients for said dish and add a few others to round out the list.

You can also have someone stop and ask for directions and insert all of the directions given, then have the character repeat the directions to make sure they got them correct; even write one or two incorrectly to have those certain ones repeated.

Name extensions and titles

Instead of naming a character Bill Jones, name them: Bill Carter Jones or “Wild” Bill Carter Jones, the fastest gun in the Pecos. Then each time you mention them, insert the entire name and title. This works very well with royalty who are rulers over several lands, territories and/or kingdoms.

Sudden Life Changes

This is a great way to pad if your story comes to a screeching halt. There are two major life changes you can create which will generate extra words: A Wedding or A Funeral. In other words, either someone gets married or someone dies. Both events can take a lot of time in describing each plus the services will get you a lot of extra words.

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The wedding service, vows from the couple, and scripture from the bible. When the preacher asks if anyone objects, have two or three characters stand up and give their testimony as to why they shouldn’t get married.

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At a funeral service you have the standard eulogy (including scripture) and, if there are a lot of people present, have several characters stand up and say something about the deceased. If you’re into undead, have the deceased come back from the dead and give a rebuttal to everything that was said.

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Picture courtesy of NaNoWriMo.org website

Conclusion

This is by no means a complete list of things you can do to pad your story but a few suggestions to help you get to your desired goal of words. Whether you need come from behind to catch up to the desired word target or finish out the 50K in time to validate your manuscript, I’m sure these will get you to where you want to be.

What about you? What have you done to pad your story? Did you keep it or did it give you inspiration for further ideas? Share with me what you prefer to do.

 

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

Beginner’s Guide to NaNoWriMo

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Picture courtesy of the NaNoWriMo.org website.

Introduction

Everyone has a writer within them whether they admit it or not. Some will cause it to grow and become a full-fledged author. Others will ignore this notion until they get into the twilight of their life and make a statement like: “You know I’ve always wanted to write a book. One day I just might do that.”  My question to them is why wait for “one day” when you can have a whole month?

The November Challenge

Back in 2005 I was introduced to the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). It’s a website where people gather together as a community and for the entire month of November, they strive to write 50,000 words. For most that seems an incredibly large amount of words. To others, it’s a casual walk in the park. Either way, it’s a challenge that has been going on since ’99.

Founder Chris Baty and his friends in San Francisco had got together and decided to each write a book in the space of thirty days. He randomly chose a book off his shelf and did a word count and obtained the goal of 50K words. As the years progressed the number of writers increased as did the location of these people. Now heading into its 18th year (2016) they are hosting thousands of writers worldwide!

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How to Prepare

The goal of course is to write your story starting at Midnight November 1st and ending at Midnight on November 30th. Of course you want some time to be able to submit your work into their validation counter and be officially listed as a winner.

So how does one prepare? The goal is to do all of your writing in the space of 30 days but that leaves the rest of the time to prepare. The website itself usually relaunches at the end of September or beginning of October to give people opportunity to check in, introduces themselves, upload information about their current WIP (Work in Progress), and generally wander around the site meeting new people and playing the games that are there.

This also gives you time to setup everything you need for the upcoming challenge. Things like:  Create a plotline, develop characters, create scenery, and the like. You might also outline your story so you can adhere to what you are working on; how you start and where you will end.

If you’re not into outlining, you can always enter into the month with no ideas and no plot and just start writing and have things develop as you progress. Chris Baty has written a book called: No Plot? No Problem. I’ve read it several times over the years and it really gives you an insight into, not only the NaNo challenge itself, but also how to achieve that magic number.

I’ve never been one for doing outlines; official outlines that is but I usually will write down a list of scenarios and the characters involved so I can keep things in a (somewhat) orderly fashion. There’s no right or wrong to preparation but if this is your first time, I would suggest putting together a group of characters and a couple of plot ideas.

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Picture courtesy of NaNoWriMo.org website

The Magic Number

As you begin your trek towards 50K words you have to keep one number in mind. 1,667. That’s the magic number because that is the average number of words you need to write every day in order to stay on track and reach those 50,000 words in 30 days. If that’s too complex a number to remember try this…Every three days you need to write 5,000 words. Technically it’s 5001 words but let’s not argue over exact amount. 5K every 3 Days is a good mantra to use as you are writing.

 

What do you win?

In a word, nothing. There is no prize to win, no honors to achieve. However, you will receive a nice certificate of completion worthy of hanging on your wall to show your accomplishment. But you will also have the satisfaction of writing a foundation for a book and you’ll get to meet a lot of fellow writers from all over the word. These people usually end up becoming friends, supporters, and even contacts in the literary world. You’ll enjoy their company in the remaining 11 months of the year until the next November Challenge comes along.

To some people 50,000 words is only a novella and so they won’t even go into the challenge because they want to write more. There’s nothing wrong with writing more. I do know of a challenge called, A Million words in a weekend. That might be more your speed.

I’ve been using NaNo as a way to discipline myself to write the story and most times my story will exceed the 50K after I’ve completed my challenge. Doing NaNo for me is just a way connecting with other writers who are online at the same time. It’s like going back to Summer Camp every year but without the mosquitos and the sadistic camp counselors.

The bottom line is: What you put into the challenge is what you will get out of it.

 

Getting to 50K words

Sometimes this can be the tricky part especially if you’re not very good at writing. What I mean by that is coming up with ideas and dialog naturally without thinking about it. If the words can flow from your mind to the keyboard you will have no problem. If not, here are some suggestions to help you out:

  • Word count is the key. Do whatever you have to do to get to the desired number of 1,667 a day or 50K in a month. I’ll have more to say in another article called, The Cheater’s Guide to NaNoWriMo. Remember the mantra: 5K every 3 Days
  • Shut off your inner editor. One of the main problems people have is dwelling on mistakes like misspellings, grammar usage, and describing the same character two different ways. Always remember, this is only a first draft and most of it might be discarded in the long run. You’re not writing useless stuff, you are creating a foundation from which to build a story on. Here’s another way to look at it, if you want your garden to grow, you need to shovel a lot of manure.
  • Find time to write. All too often I hear people tell me, “I’m too busy, I don’t have time to write.” Those who do have time usually find other things to do instead of writing. People get that sudden urge to clean or make that special supper, or set that new movie that’s just come out. Anything to avoid the actual writing part.

Instead of saying you don’t have time, you need to FIND the time. To help you find time to write: a) list the things you do every day b) Write down when you do them c) Go back and eliminate the excess stuff. For example, if you check your e-mail four or five times a day, cut it down to twice a day; once in the morning and once at evening. Another idea is to get up thirty minutes earlier or stay up thirty minutes later and use that time to write.

You can always record your favorite TV shows and binge watch them in December or, if that’s too long a time, treat yourself to two episodes every week. Reward your accomplishments of writing will also help you find the time to write.

  • Notify Family and Friends. More often than not, the people who are a daily part of your life may not understand what you are doing or why you are doing it. Explain to them your goal and ask for their moral support and encouragement. Even if they still don’t understand just tell them it’s something you have to do. Make sure they help you find time to sit down and write. And above all, when you are in the process of writing make sure no one disturbs you during that time. Yes, Thanksgiving is in November and I’m sure you’ll be expected to attend. Use that date as your goal to finish your 50K words so you can sit back at the table and brag to all of your family of your story.
  • Lastly remember that Life Happens. No matter what has happened last month or in previous Novembers, every month is different and comes with a new set of problems. In other words don’t neglect Junior if he’s broken his leg or ignore the electric company who’s threatening to shut off the power. Take care of these important things because they will not wait. Keep an eye on your word count and always try to stay ahead. I always try to get 3K-5K within the first day to make sure I’m always ahead for just such emergencies.

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Final Advice

Remember this is only a rough draft. You can’t expect perfection in thirty days nor should you try for it. Just get all of your thoughts and ideas on the page then go back later and edit. Too many people, who are against the book in a month idea, think that it will be immediately published. Even if you do write a story perfectly in the first draft, it would be better to read it over and share with others before you put it out for sale. You might find where certain ideas that worked at the beginning of the story no longer apply because of what happens later on.

Should you decide to enter The November Challenge or try it during any other month, make sure you at least try to reach 50K words. It’s better to try and fail in thirty days than to not even bother to start and spend the next eleven months wondering if you could have succeeded. During my first attempt I only achieved 25K words but that was my personal goal and I was happy that I tried. You may not win every year but if you at least try, it will be worth it in the long run.

So what about you? Think you have what it takes to write a story in thirty days? If you’re a former WriMo, share your previous experiences below.

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

 

7 Signs that you are a Semi-successful Author

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All of us one day would like to be at “Star Status” like Stephen King, James Patterson, J.K. Rowling and hundreds of others. In the meantime, there is a level that one can easily reach before that and it’s called the Semi-Successful Author status!

 

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“At last, my book is now available for purchase!”

  1. You’ve uploaded your book to the internet.

At long last your manuscript is finally done, the cover image is just right, and you’re ready to receive huge sales. Six months later, still no sales but hey it’s all right! After all, you’re book is available. Just have to be a little patient. Update your photo on social media so people can see the real you…and not the one of you sitting on the couch stuffing chips into your mouth.

 

2 Book promotion

“This will bring in the sales!”

  1. You post about your book on social media.

Sales just aren’t there so you turn to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and talk about your book. The response is mild but it shows that someone out there actually has a pulse. You buy special pens to autograph books when they come running up to you.

 

3 Bought book

“At least he’s looked inside.”

  1. People mention that they’ve bought your book.

Nothing pleases an author more than when someone comes up to them and says, “I just bought your book today.” The fact that they haven’t mentioned anything about reading it escapes your attention but no matter, the book is in their possession! Walk around like you’re on Cloud 9, maybe clock out an hour early so you can have a celebratory drink.

 

4 Blogger

“Whoo hoo! More exposure, more sales!”

  1. Bloggers beg you for an interview.

Your pride swells when a book bloggers asks to interview you about your current novel. The fact that they add the words, “I’ll do it if you’ll stop harassing me!” goes unnoticed. Write down a bunch of witty anecdotes to share with all of your adoring fans. Just remember not to add the story about getting the runs while on vacation in Apache Junction.

 

5 Autograph

“The demand for my signature is sweet!”

  1. People ask for your autograph

Wow, you’re really famous now! Overlook the fact that it’s a restraining order from people who find you on their lawn at 4am talking about your book. Your signature is now worth something to these people. Hopefully they’ll hang on to it for a couple years and then sell it to the highest bidder online when you really make your mark on the literary world.

 

6 Give talk

“My first public appearance. I’m the center of attention!”

  1. You’re asked to give a talk at work.

You’re first public speaking gig! Never mind the fact that you’re talking about when to remove old produce from the bins so customers won’t see it. Or what is the perfect color is for bananas. Work your book into the conversation while you talk about moldy strawberries.

 

7 Bum Author

“I’ll be the toast of the social media world!”

  1. You pose for selfies with your fans.

Your adoring fans want to pose with you in the hopes that you’ll post it on social media to be seen by everyone else. Sure it’s a family member but, a fan is still a fan. Be sure to smile but wipe that ketchup off of your face first.

 

I hope you enjoyed this little collection of signs I shared with you. Feel free to comment of your favorite or perhaps you might have additional ones to share. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

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Flash Fiction No. 4

Good Monday morning! For your reading pleasure I bring to you another Flash Fiction story inspired by my trilogy, The Askinar Towers. This story would take place in book 2, Sibling Rivalry.

Devan and Galadar: The Final Conflict

“So long Cow Face,” said Devan sadly.

“Good-bye Shoeless Freak!” replied Manitoba.

As Devan returned to the elevators, he waved to Talbot and Mercedes mouthing the words, Good luck.  Once on board, he thought back to the many years he worked as a member of the now disbanded adventuring group. Although Roland would be expecting him, he was anxious to get back to Furfoot and see his mother and brothers first. He also hoped to see Sierra; provided she wanted to see him. Last time they were together, he abruptly left for adventure and certain things were left unsaid. Devan spoke a silent vow that he would make everything right this time.

He turned left towards the walkway to the Tower of Earth and then proceeded right to then next walkway and on to the Tower of Air. As he waited for disc ’54’ to arrive, he made another vow to quit adventuring for the time and make sure his family, friends, and loved ones were cared for first. It would be great to see everyone again. He also hoped that he wouldn’t have to contend with the giants from Panzington, especially Galadar.

Giant Wins

Galadar, the giant defeats the clueless halfling, Devan.

Yes, the famed children’s story of Devan and Galadar was about him and his confrontation with the giant. However, it was the giant’s version that got the most circulation; when Devan hit Galadar in the head with a small, smooth stone; the giant pounded the halfling into ground. The halfling version had Devan defeat the giant and was supposed to be a source of encouragement to shorter races to always stand up the bully regardless of size. Hardly a copy of the halfling version is even seen. Even in other halfling villages, he always found the giant’s version. From that version, all halflings are taught never to go up against a giant with just a stone.

At Floor 54, he got off the disc and opened the lone door. It came out of a tree in the woods near the village of Furfoot. Immediately, he heard cries for help and a sinister laugh that could only come from one person.

“Galadar!” His mother’s house was on the other side of the village, the last one before the road to Panzington. That meant they were the first house to encounter any giant coming in, which is also why Devan was bullied the most. That, and the fact that he stood up to Galadar each time. “This time, I’m making sure he doesn’t bother this village again!”

Devan stayed to the trees and skirted the village over to his mother’s home. He spied a bush shaking and quickly investigated.

“Oh, Master Ambercrombie!” a halfling peered out from behind the bush. “I’m so glad it’s you!”

“Morrie? Is that you?”

The bush nodded in response. “Galadar arrived this morning looking for you. He’s taken your mother and three brothers to the lake near Panzington Mountain.”

“Aloysius, Gremble, Tonkin, and Mother Lily,” said Devan under his breath.

The bush nodded in agreement. “He said that he wanted to end this fairytale nonsense once and for all.”

“What does he care?” asked Devan. “All copies of that story that exist are with the giant winning.”

The bush shook in disagreement. “Not true. All copies with the halfling being victorious are in Panzington. They know of no other version.”

“No other version? That’s it!” Devan instantly knew what he must do to maintain peace in the village of Furfoot. He ran back to the center of town and rang the bell of the church. The ringing brought everyone in the village to the church knowing that it was one of distress.

As the halflings gathered many were surprised to see Devan back in town. Some attempted to welcome him home but he stood up on the steps of the church to get everyone’s attention.

“Please, please! Yes, I am very grateful to see all of you as well but there is a more urgent problem affecting us. It appears that Galadar the giant has kidnapped my mother and brothers in an attempt to have a final encounter with me.”

Many of the halflings seemed uninterested in that the encounters with Galadar were always with Devan and his family. They expressed their opinions in that fashion.

“Yes, I do realize that he is the only giant from Panzington who comes down here to Furfoot and yes, I do realize that I am the only halfling that he encounters. But who’s to say that he will be the last and, if my family and I aren’t here, who will stop the others?”

“That’s only if any of the other giants come down here,” said a halfling who extracted himself from the crowd. He was dressed in more authoritative clothing that the other.

“Mayor Furfoot, I was informed that all of the fairytale stories of Devan and Galadar that exist in the town of Panzington are the ones where the halfling is victorious. If all of the giants read that version of the story, there is no stopping them if they should come down here.”

This bit of information alarmed the villagers. Many were in a state of panic as Mayor Furfoot ascended the steps to address the town.

“Now now, calm yourselves,” he said. “We can hold our own against the giants if need be. We have several who are trained in battle skills and can meet any opposition that comes our way.”

“If it pleases thee, Mayor Furfoot, I have a suggestion that could avoid any unnecessary confrontation and bloodshed,” Devan said.

“Say on, Master Devan,” Furfoot replied.

“If we were to gather all copies of the fairytale where the giant is victorious and trade them for the copies where the halfling is victorious, we can end this peacefully.”

“That is a capital idea! But who among us will take on this task?”

“I will, of course,” Devan said. “But I can’t do it alone. Do I have any volunteers to assist me in that endeavor?”

Many of the halflings looked away and mumbled in fear and disinterest. One young halfling bravely stepped forward.

“I’ll go with you,” Morrie said as he brushed off twigs and leaves from his clothes.

Devan smiled knowing that he might just be one of the braver halflings in all of Furfoot. “Thank you, Morrie. I knew I could count on you.” He turned to the rest. “Please return to your homes and collect every copy of the fairytale that you have and bring them here. Time is of the essence!”

The villagers dispersed to their homes. The mayor and another halfling went to the library and returned with four copies of the fairytale. Soon others arrived with copies of the story and the total amount was fifty. Morrie drove up in a horse and wagon and the copies were loaded in the bed.

“I’ll take these to Galadar and offer an exchange of the books for my family and, if possible, their copies of the fairytale as well. Wish me luck!” Devan climbed aboard the wagon and they sped off while the villagers waved goodbye.

On the far side of the lake the giant, Galadar, had his captives tied around an Acacia tree. He had a fire going and was cooking a wild boar.

“You’re not going to win,” said Tonkin, the youngest brother. “Our brother, Devan, will be here soon.”

The giant laughed heartily. “I do hope so for your sakes. I heard the bell ringing in Furfoot and I’m guessing he’s return and knows I have the four of you.”

“Galadar, why must you always fight with Devan?” asked Mother Lily.

Halfling Wins

Devan, the brave halfling defeats the bungling giant, Galadar.

“It’s because of that stupid fairytale! All I ever heard was Devan the halfling defeating the mighty giant, Galadar. It’s so annoying! I will prove to my people in Panzington that giants always prevail.”

“Devan wins?” Gremble asked. “All we ever hear about is Galadar winning over Devan.”

“You speak lies! You just want to trick me into thinking that this is true so I will let you go.”

“But it is true,” said Mother Lily.

“She’s right,” said Devan as he came around the lake with Morrie as his side. He held a copy of the fairytale story up to show the giant. “See for yourself. Every copy of this story in Furfoot has the giant winning over the halfling.

“Let me see!” He walked over to Devan and snatched the book from his hand. Morrie quickly hid behind Devan.

Galadar thumbed through the whole story and seemed unimpressed. Then when he got to the last two pages his face lit up and he smiled from ear to ear and then laughed out loud.

“I love it, this is great!”

“You see, Galadar, the halflings have only heard one version of the story and my friend, Morrie here, told me that Panzington has copies of the other version. I have fifty copies of that book in my wagon on the other side of the lake. Let’s make a trade. Free my mother and brothers and you can have those copies of the fairytale.”

Galadar appeared to be thinking it over as he looked at the book and then over at the halflings tied to the tree. “It’s a trade!” He stood up and let the halflings loose. Devan went to hug his family as Morrie looked on. “Now take me to those books.”

“Follow me!” Devan led the way around the lake to the wagon. His brothers and mother all talked at once wanting to know about his travels and what brought him back to Furfoot.

Once they reached the wagon Devan turned to Galadar.

“As a sign of good faith, I’m allowing you to take this wagon full of books back to Panzington. I hope that this will end any confrontation that you and I have and that we might become friends.”

“Friends with a halfling? Not likely.” He climbed into the wagon and then drove off toward the mountains.

“How could you let him take the wagon?” Aloysius asked.

“A small loss to keep the peace between the two races,” Devan replied with a shrug.

“Will you two become friends?” Mother Lily inquired.

“That’s up to Galadar. I kept my end of the bargain as did he. I even went one step further allowing him to drive the wagon home. If I know Galadar, he’ll realize that I’m one up on him in favors and he’ll want to return to make us even.”

“He might give us their copies of the fairytale,” Morrie suggested.

“That’s what I’m thinking,” Devan agreed. “For now, let’s return home and celebrate!”

“By the way, Son, Sierra has been asking about you,” Mother Lily said.

The End

Thank you for stopping by and as always comments are appreciated!

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

Avoiding the “Herd Mentality”

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Introduction

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past couple of months no doubt you are aware of the phenomenon that is sweeping the nation called Pokémon Go™. Whether you play it or know of friends and family who are involved this is what is considered the newest form of social media. But my article this week is not about the game (the pros or cons) nor is it about its place in the world of socializing. My question to you is this: Do you play the game because you’re a fan of Pokémon or is because everyone else is playing it?

 

The Herd Mentality

I was never a fan of the show, Pokémon but I have seen enough episodes to understand the basic concept. One of my two daughters watched it faithfully and is one of the thousands that participate in this “Go” game. I immediately chose not to because I did not want to run with the crowd; that and the fact I’ve heard enough horror stories of people being robbed and/or shot to not want to consider my life forfeit for a game. And, just for the record people, it is JUST A GAME.

There are a lot of memes out there on social media that are both for and against people who play the game. People seem to get easily offended by the negative memes and feel that families will split over it. As it stated in the last paragraph, IT’S JUST A GAME! If you can’t take a little criticism or a little ribbing then clearly you are taking the game way too seriously.

I avoid the game because I don’t want to become part of the Herd Mentality; play it because everyone is playing it. One of things my mother used to say to me as I kid when I wanted to do something because the other did it was: “If you’re friends jump off of a bridge, would you?” Of course I would reply, “No.” Naturally they wouldn’t jump off a bridge but my mother’s point is just because they are doing it doesn’t mean you have to do it. And, more often than not, she was right.

You look at any herd of cows in the field; the only reason they are there is because some opened the gate and let them out to graze. They will stay out there until they are corralled back into the enclosure they came from. This is a daily routine and they rarely stray from it. Occasionally you have a rogue cow go wandering from the herd and ends up paying dearly for it; either by injury, theft, or death.

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The Herd Mentality in Writing

This concept follows over into the world of fiction. When Anne Rice put out Interview with the Vampire, suddenly vampires were cool and every writer wanted to jump on board and write their own story. When J.K. Rowling released, book 1 of the Harry Potter series, then writers wanted to write about children with wizard abilities or witchcraft. The examples continue with Sexy, brooding teen vampires to the zombie apocalypse. When a new idea comes out everyone want to emulate and put in their 2¢ into the mix. This then is the herd mentality of the writing world. Be like everyone else because that’s what’s hot!

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Everyone writes about zombies.

A major drawback on this concept is that by the time you complete your vampire novel and publish it, vampires may not be the hot topic and instead it’s serial killers with an ice cream fetish. (*Note to self: create serial killer with an ice cream fetish) But you get my drift. The other problem is by the time your story comes out, the market will be so saturated with books of the subject that yours will be simply seen as, “Just another vampire book.” Even if you think your book is different from the rest it will just be lumped together with the rest of the herd.

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Is a female vampire really that different?

But vampire stories won’t be popular forever and neither will stories about the zombie apocalypse. That’s why you need to avoid the herd mentality and break from the pack. Write about something that no one else has considered and put your book out front of the pack rather than follow the herd. Create something that will cause others to say, “Now why didn’t I think of that, I’ll write one too!”

Conclusion

Be a salmon and swim upstream, go against the grain of the wood, and any other lame cliché saying you can think of. In others words, stand out and away from the herd by writing a story about someone or something that no one else has thought of. Or take a really old idea and put a completely new spin on it; not just to breathe new life into it but to make it your own. Avoid the herd mentality in your writing!

What problems have arisen in your writing that could be considered “herd mentality”? Share with us your problems and your solutions. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Adventuring!

Chris