Your Town’s Main Attraction

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(World Building, part 3)

Introduction

We’ve been discussing World Building over the last couple of articles and if you haven’t had the chance to read them yet check them out now… WB1 and WB2. In this article we continue the discussion of Town Building by zooming in on the town and taking a look and what might bring someone to your town. What is the main attraction or focal point of your town?

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The Fishing Village

Most of your towns; from a small village to a large city, has some sort of trade that it is known for. In a fishing village that trade of course is fishing. Most of the men would head out to sea in the early morning and not return until afternoon, or evening depending on the success of their catch. Fishmongers; traders in various fish and other seafood would have shacks set up along the beach hocking their wares.

As a main attraction, your town could be built in a horseshoe shape with a large lake at its center. Perhaps a large ocean-themed gambling house could be built on stilts in the center of the lake to attract visitors. The only way to get to the casino would be by boat.

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Another idea, and something a little more unique, would be a bait-and-tackle shop. Most citizens would visit the local tavern for news and gossip. In a fishing village, a shop that sells live bait and rents boats would be a better locale. It allows the writer a little more creativity than your typical dull tavern setting.

 

The Inland Village

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A blacksmith might be the main attraction of a village further inland and away from a large body of water. Like the tackle shop, this could be a place where people come to socialize while watching the smith work on the latest project.

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If a village is too small to house a tavern or common room, a boardinghouse might be the main attraction of your village. A large farmhouse with multiple beds for travelers which would include a meal or two. Perhaps if it is on farmland, the owner might get a couple hours of labor out of a visitor in exchange for room and board.

 

Town Attractions

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The larger the town the bigger, and sometimes better, the attraction. A town I created called Manzana Gran (“Big Apple” in Spanish), the main attraction was the Emerald Gardens Coliseum. I created a large gladiator type event called the Colossal Warrior Challenge which came around once a year. There was another event called the Chaotic Mayhem Series which was similar to football teams but with weapons. Other events such as plays and circus-like performances could be there. Plus, I created the fantasy version of concessions to be in the outer ring of the coliseum.

 

The Tourist Trap

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Just like any place in your own hometown area, there is always some little place where people like to go for a quick trip, buy some little knick-knacks and pay too much money for food, gas, and local entertainment. In your world, you can do the same thing. Create a collection of ruins where a mighty civilization once lived and promote it around the countryside as the place to see when in the area. Create a monument to a great battle that took place decades or centuries ago and give tours.

Not all tourist traps necessarily have to be legit either. Some of your local thieves guilds might create said tourist trap as an actual trap! For example, a guided tour in the woods only to be attacked by a band of trolls who rob every tourist and split the loot with the guild. Another could be a scenic boat ride to be overrun by pirates. The list is as endless as your imagination.

 

Conclusion

Remember, as standard as a tavern is for a centerpiece of a town for entertainment, it doesn’t always have to be the main focus. Try something more on the unique side and your readers will thank you for it. Please share any ideas that you might have for a main attraction, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Until next time,

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

Building Your Town ~WB2

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(World-building, part 2)

 Introduction

In our previous article we looked at an overview of World Building and some of the problems that I personally had with it. Grant it, you don’t have to include everything you read about in your world but at least have an idea how something works so that if a storyline comes along that would feature that portion of the world, you’d know how to handle it.

In this article we look at creating a town and what is necessary for it to function and I’ll share hardships of the first town I created. I’ll be using the word “locale” for an overall use of the setting. The population listed in each is my own guesstimation. I’m sure everyone has their own idea of how many people reside in each size of a locale. These descriptions are for a Fantasy or Medieval setting.

 

Village, Town, City

Before building, you must decide how large of an area you are creating. There are three basic sizes of locales: A Village, A Town, and A City. There are additional sizes but these three will suffice for the purpose of this article.

Village

Village

            A village consists of approximately 50 people and, depending on your story will have a larger town or city nearby. Villages will not have all of the amenities that are found in the larger towns; and most likely will not have any kind of elected official or mayor. Depending on your story, you might select someone to serve as Matron or Patron of the village which could be the eldest member of the village. It could also be the one with the most knowledge of the village or area in general.

Usually a village will have that country feel to it; featuring farmland, orchards, and a fishing hole. A fishing village will be near a large body of water with fishing as its main line of business. Not every village will feature standalone shops for people to purchase items. A shop generally is someone’s home where the business is conducted in the front room (with the family living in the back) or on the first floor (with the family living above).

 Town

Town

A town consists of approximately 500 people and is mostly self-sufficient. A town will have either a mayor as an elected official or a town council; sometimes both. Aside from having more people, a town will feature several businesses and even have a residential section. A town will also house a couple of guilds where people from villages, farms, and the general area can come in for meetings. A guild is an organization of people with similar interests. A Merchant’s guild will feature a place for all shopkeepers to get together and discuss the latest news and suggestions for improving business. I’ll feature guilds in another article.

City

City

A city is the largest of the three and usually has towns and/or villages nearby as suburbs. A city consists of 1500-2000 people and will feature a ruler such as a king or governor. A city council might also be included, plus law enforcement; city guards, possibly a night watch, and soldiers from the castle.

A city will also have various districts which make it more of a “melting pot” of citizens. You’ll have your residential sections of: Wealthy (merchants, royalty, etc.), the Working Class (bartenders, laborers, and families), and the Lower Class (thieves, outcasts, etc.)

The advantage of a city is that you have several businesses that feature the same service thereby bringing a little friendly competition or that they cater to certain individuals. For example, I have a tavern called Noblemen’s which caters to the upper class of a city. On the flipside, there is a tavern called The Hangman’s Noose which caters to a seedier clientele. And right in between, I have a tavern called, Quenchers which caters to the rest.

 

Business Suggestions

As you can see all three locales vary in size and naturally won’t house all businesses that are available. The smaller the locale, the fewer the businesses; or specialty shops that you would find in a bigger town. Here are some suggestions of businesses that can be featured in all three regardless of size.

Church

Church

There should be some sort of religious facility that people can come and worship. It can be a proper church building, temple, or a simple garden grove with a shrine. Even farmers and dairy owners would want to pay homage to a god of nature for crops or health of cattle.

Tavern

Tavern or Common Room

No locale would complete without at least one watering hole. This is usually the location where everyone will gather in the evening to socialize with their neighbors. A common room is more of pre-restaurant idea that centers on food service and less on alcohol. Some places will have both a tavern and a common room in the same building.

Healer

Healer

Call him a shaman, priest, or simply the local healer; a locale should have someone who can tend to those who are sick and in need of medicine. In a village, it would most likely be the Matron of the place; in a town, an apothecary (pharmacy) might be available; and a city would have all of these and possibly a hospital.

Some might ask why would a village have both a healer and a church? I mean afterall a priest is a healer, right? Correct! However, there might be people in the village that aren’t comfortable in dealing with a priest; especially if they are not of the same faith. A farmer with an axe wound would not want to listen to a priest attempt to convert him while healing him. This could make for an interesting conflict in the story too.

There are many other business ideas and I’ll provide links at the end for further help.

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This Town ain’t Big Enough

One of my earliest experiences as a DM (Dungeon Master) I created my first town called Tsangu. Don’t know where I came up with the name but I wanted some strange and Fantasylike. Anyways my first concept was that of a one-street Western Town; buildings on both sides of the street (maybe an alleyway between buildings) but nothing more. I wasn’t too familiar with towns and this came long before the internet was around. I don’t recall any of the names of the businesses except for one and it was called Nuthin’ for Sumthin’. It was a front for the local thieves’ guild and the business they ran was for looks and not for profit. The prices were outrageous as they weren’t expecting customers.

Since then I have slowly improved in designing towns and villages but that’s been possible with the help of the internet and mapping programs. For my current project, DWC, the main locale is the village called Caldera Falls. I have a few ideas of what is featured but haven’t quite worked out everything yet. The neighboring city is called, Ciudad (Spanish for ‘city’).

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What about a Shantytown?

Finally, I want to discuss a possibility for you that might help with story ideas. A shantytown is worse than the seedier district of a city. Shantytowns are instant locales that are created with a series of people and tents or wooden shacks. If you have a group of people who are suddenly homeless due to war or disease, they become a band of refugees who own whatever they can carry.

A local town can provide tents or scrap pieces of wood or cloth to help construct places to live. Food is whatever is brought with them or given by the locals and sanitary needs are virtually unheard of. This setting can help you to hide a thief who is on the run from the law, created sudden robberies in town, or create problems due to traditions or language barriers of the foreigners.

 

Conclusion

In my next article we’ll continue the discussion of town building and look at what the focal point is for your setting. Plus, I’ll make suggestions for some towns that you might haven’t thought of. In the meantime, share with me any of your problems you’ve had in creating towns or comments you might have in businesses you’d add.

 

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

Featured links for further assistance

DMG II (Dungeon Master’s Guide 2): This free PDF of the manual can help you in your creation. Chapter 3 gives you an idea of how to create a fantasy city including tables from which you can choose professions and trades for characters. Chapter 4 is about an old D & D city called Saltmarsh. This gives you all of the details of this town and you can get an idea of what you want to create.

AD&D 2nd Edition: (*Sorry for the nudity on the front cover*)This collection of 26 books holds every type of book a gamer could want plus valuable information for the writer. In the DMG, chapter 6 covers money and equipment which will give an idea of how much things costs and of what value certain item are.

 

 

Taking Things for Granted~ WB1

 

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(World-building, part 1)

Introduction

            Have you ever played SIMs computer game? It’s an opportunity to further the lives of pre-made characters and create places for them to live and hangout. It’s like being a god of your own world; you help them get a job, make friends, and basically live their lives. But sometimes things happen because you’re not paying enough attention and accidents occur. I had one character wet the floor because she needed to use the bathroom and I didn’t see it right away. I took it for granted that she would do this on her own.

A while back I wrote an article called “The Writer and the God Complex” in which I discuss how our characters seem to take on a life of their own and for as much as you want them to go here and do this, they want to go there and do that. This article is on building the world itself and how we take certain things for granted.

 

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Yeah, but what’s the source?

A couple months ago I began a new writing project I’ve dubbed DWC. I don’t want to give away the title as I fear someone will steal the idea and get stories out before me. As I began to create the characters, the concepts, and the little village where they all lived; I got to thinking that I haven’t researched World-building (WB) very much.

Yes, I already have books published and, if you read them closely, you can tell that my WB skills are lacking. So I went in search of articles and sites to help me with this information. I’ll share what I found at the end of the article.

The name of the village where my characters live is called Caldera Falls. Naturally it’s named after a waterfall that’s at the north end of the village and there is a mill at the bottom that uses the water to turn its wheel. I decided that the water ends in a pool and then creates a nice stream that runs through the village and dumps into a body of water called Farewell Bay.

So then I ask myself, where does the water come from at the top to spill over into the falls? The answer is nowhere to be found. In fact, I really didn’t want to answer that question. I thought it has a falls; the village is named after it, so leave it alone! But I couldn’t leave it because I just know someone who reads my story will ask that very same question. That forced me to find an answer. One of the articles I found talked about water runoff and the drainage situation and I’m thinking, “That’s too real!” But I then realized that this is what I’m after.

 

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Ditch the Plateau

Another idea I had was to make the capital city, Ciudad, reside on the top of a plateau of a mountain. It looks out over the rest of the area called, Alderman Valley which features Caldera Falls and two other towns. However, the question arises: Who is going to climb up the side of a mountain to get to the city after pulling into the docks of Farewell Bay? Again I wanted to refuse to answer this question because the plateau idea was neat. I even had an idea of an elevator on the side of the mountain facing Alderman Valley where people could go down and get to the towns there. Of course they can completely bypass the city and travel around the mountain, across the sand, and over to Caldera Falls. So I decided to ditch the mountain but I’m keeping the name Alderman Valley and having it to be a misnomer when it was discovered and no one bothered to correct the error.

 

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Town Boundaries

Another item I tend to overlook is boundaries or city lines where one town ends and the next begins. Out here in The Valley of Arizona you can go through three different cities in just a few minutes and not even know where one ends and the other begins. Primarily, it’s because you don’t have a Welcome to Mesa sign at every area when you cross one to another. I thought about just making the grass a slightly different shade of green for this town compared to that town but that was fairly lame. Given that Alderman isn’t that big, putting up signs to announce the arrival in one and the departure of another was a little too much.

Then I hit upon a unique idea. Since I was thinking about the source of my waterfall, what if the river to the falls broke off and travelled down the side of the hill and created a line that separated Ciudad from Alderman Valley. That’s an interesting way to create a border without stating the obvious. Since the village of Greencrest is dominated by orchards, how do they get water for the trees? So I had the river branch off and created all of the borders for Alderman Valley. This way when you crossed the river you knew you were entering the next town. Problem solved!

 

Suggestions for World-building

  1. When doing research for building your world, don’t assume you have to include everything you read about. It’s one thing for you to know it’s there in your world but you don’t have to mention it in your story.
  2. Design a type of map to know where businesses and homes are located. You don’t want to say your characters when north to the tavern in one chapter and then south in a later chapter; even though they left the same place each time.
  3. Study maps of cities and countries to get an idea of borders and the “lay of the land.”
  4. Make a checklist of things you want to include in your world so you don’t forget them. However if they don’t fit, don’t force them. You’ll upset yourself and your reader.

 

Conclusion

Make an effort to build your world so you know where things go and how people get there. In future articles, we’ll discuss other ideas. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or ideas from you own world-building share with me in the comments below.

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

World-building Sites and Articles

Here are just a few places to research to give you an idea of how to build your own world:

World Building Academy— This site has been very helpful! You can sign up for weekly tips.

Inkwell Ideas–A collection of articles to help you flesh out your world.

Fantastic Medieval Ships— Does you world have a large body of water? You’ll need ships!

Medieval Demographics made Easy–What’s the difference in size between a village, town, and city? Here’s some help!

New Release~A Psychological Thriller!

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I’m happy to announce that a new book has been released today! “Amnesia” written by Kylie Hillman. Without further ado, let’s get right to the details!

Synopsis:

First, he steals her mind.
Then, he owns her body.

Dr. Jaxon Ray has bided his time. He’s watched Amber St. George from afar, plotting and calculating the best way to get her back, until he realised that the answer was simple…

Steal her mind so he can own her body. Program her to forget then reprogram her as his perfect partner. The plan is foolproof, promising everything he’s ever wanted once it’s executed. Money. Prestige. Her.

Why? Because when you don’t know that you’re missing, it’s not possible for you to be found. Especially when the only person you think you can trust, is the one who’s left you with medically-induced amnesia.

If that’s not enough, here’s an excerpt from the book…

“Welcome home.” My mother greets us in a singsong voice. “I trust you’re both feeling relaxed and recharged from your little break?”

Both sets of parents are waiting in the foyer of our house, apparently ready to celebrate our return from our honeymoon. I lean into Jax, close enough so that only he can hear my comment.

“Somebody’s had her Stepford pills today.”

I can feel his low laugh where it rumbles in his chest below my palm. It calms my fears about returning home. During our flight, I was worried that the connection between me and Jax would be lost. He seemed to grow more aloof the closer we got to home. Tension that hadn’t been in his hard frame during our three-week honeymoon became more noticeable by the minute. It diluted the tenderness I felt for him after such an amazing honeymoon, which made me feel guilty, so I’d spent the remainder of the flight trying to find ways to recapture it with small talk and inane observations.

“Seems someone’s missed hers,” Jax replies loud enough for our parents to hear. He takes a step to the side, putting distance between us and causing me to stumble from the unexpected loss of his body. I right myself, bright spots of embarrassment making my face burn. “I have work to do. Amber, you should rest. We have a battery of tests organised for you first thing tomorrow. It’s time to see if you’re able to live up to your end of the bargain.”

Jax strides out of the foyer in the direction of his office, my father and his falling into step with him. Left alone with our mothers, I look between them to see if they’re going to comment on how my husband just acted. They meet my perusal with deliberate blankness, although my mother does seem to be more nervous than usual.

“Is anyone going to tell me what tests he’s talking about?” Their mouths fall open at my belligerent tone. Internally, I shrug it off. They’re lucky I didn’t stomp my damn foot. I certainly want to. “No? No one?”

I give them my back, extending the handle of my biggest suitcase and tilting it so it will roll behind me. I signal the maid to bring the rest of my bags with her. Jax’s luggage can sit in the middle of the entry until the end of time, for all I can. When I reach the curved staircase, I immediately regret my show of defiance. There’s no way I’m going to be able to pull my bag up there.

“Maria.” My mother snaps her fingers at the maid. “Bring some refreshments to the lounge, then have their luggage taken to their room.”

She sniffs when Maria takes too long to move. “Come now, Amber. Tell us about your trip.”

I follow, with reluctance in each step, sitting on the loveseat closest to the window. It’s a beautiful day outside. Bright sunlight and barely a breath of wind. It’s a day that I could spend with my husband, if he wasn’t a workaholic who barely drew a breath before he dived straight back into his job.

“I think you’re mistaken as to how things will run from now on.” Jax’s mother, Elizabeth, speaks first. I run my gaze over her, taking in the perfectly coiffed hair and her straight unnaturally posture with her hands tucked between her knees. Looks like she had her Stepford pills today, as well. “My son is a very busy man. It’s your job to make his life run as effortlessly as possible. There will be no further allowances made for your delicate state.”

She stands, pacing in front of me. I assume that her “delicate state” jibe is a reference to my ongoing amnesia.

“You’ll take over the running of this house. It is not my place to do so now that he’s married. However, I am happy to provide some tips so that the transition is smooth. The same goes for Jax’s social calendar. That will require close attention so that your influence as the only St. George heir benefits my son from the outset. Once you are with child, Cynthia and I,” Elizabeth indicates my mother with her jutting chin. “will assist you so that you are able to concentrate on your most important duty—providing as many heirs as possible.”

“So, that’s what the tests are for tomorrow?” I slouch in my chair when they both incline their heads in agreement. “Well, I guess I’d better rest then. Wouldn’t want anything to get in the way of my ability to breed.”

“I feel that you would benefit from a lie down.” My sarcasm goes straight over my mother’s head. “It will improve your disposition.”

My feet are in action, removing me from this conversation before I say something I regret. I can’t take this farce, anymore. We’ve been home for less than an hour and my life is already being dictated by the expectations of “society”.

Isn’t that one of the reasons you ran away in the first place?

My stupid heel catches in the corner of the rug when that random though pops into my head. I stumble, steadying myself with a hand on the back of the settee. Balance regained, my shoulder clashes with the person currently entering the room as I restart my hasty exit.

“My apologies.” I give Seb a ghost-like smile as I pass.

He takes hold of the top of my arm to slow me, a shopping bag dangling from that same hand.

“It’s time. Be ready.”

Amnesia, Available, Teaser_Sm

Ready? You can buy the book here…

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

Still not convinced? How about a Giveaway? (Ends July 6th)

  • Signed paperback copies of The Centrifuge Duet 
    (Amnesia and Exodus)
  • $25 Amazon or iTunes gift card
  • Limited edition swag pack (tote bag, mouse pad, pen, bookmark, and travel mug)

Just who is Kylie Hillman?

Kylie_

Kylie Hillman is the Australian author of the Internationally Bestselling Black Shamrocks MC series, Amazon #1 Bestselling NA/Sports novel, Brawl (Black Hearts MMA #1), and the recently completed Centrifuge Duet. She’s currently working on the highly anticipated spin-offs to the Black Shamrocks MC series, writing the rest of the Black Hearts MMA series, and plotting her upcoming psychological thriller, Blood Oath.

She’s also wife to a Harley-riding, boating and fishing, four-wheel driving, quintessential Aussie bloke and mum to two crazy, adorable, and eccentric kids. A Crohn’s Disease sufferer and awareness campaigner, as well as an avid tea drinker, metal head, and math nerd, Kylie is known for lacing everything she says with sarcasm and inappropriate innuendo.

You can follow her at the following links:

The Official Author Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

 

Thanks for stopping by! Today’s Book Release was made possible by:

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 Xpresso Book Tours

Writers, Take a Moment

Introduction

When you begin your writing session, do you simply sit down at the computer and write? Do you know exactly what you’re going to say and how to say it? Not everyone can do that and I personally wouldn’t recommend it. Before you begin, take a moment to focus on the task at hand.

Ritz Theater

Going to the Movies

Growing up in a small town in the 70s, there was only one place to go to see movies. That was the Ritz Theater downtown. When my sister and I were old enough we were allowed to be dropped off at the theater, go in and watch the movie, and then be picked up at the end.

Before the main feature they would run a cartoon which I thought was always neat! It was like free entertainment. Of course when my mother was a child, she saw trailers of upcoming movies, serials, shorts, and cartoons.

The point of most of this; especially the cartoon and the trailers, is to allow people to get to their seats and get comfortable before the main attraction. Adjust your body, maneuver drinks, snacks, and children before you got to the main feature you paid for.

Writing should be viewed the same way. Before sitting down to the computer or that blank page, you should take time to get yourself situated. Allow yourself that period of adjustment from the Real World to the Fantasy World of your story. Even if you’re writing non-fiction, it’s still your world in which you are entering.

 

Suggestions for transition

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  1. If you listen to music while writing, select a couple of songs to play just prior to writing. It allows you mind to leave one world and enter the next.

 

  1. Use the time to fix yourself a snack. Brew some coffee or tea, gather some cookies or veggies, and find your stash of chocolates.

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  1. Review your notes. Look over your notes from your previous writing session to find out where you left off and prepare your mind for writing. Don’t re-read what you last wrote; at least not much if you do. Too much re-reading will cause you to begin the editing stage.

 

  1. Maybe take a walk around the block, down to the mailbox, or down to the corner convenient store. Although this is suggested for writer’s block, it can also be a good transition period before writing as well.

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  1. If you live with people; family or roommates, take the time to announce you are going to write and don’t want to be disturb for the next hour or so. It is always good to allow an hour in case a problem arises that needs your attention.

 

Conclusion

These are just a few ideas that you can utilize to take a moment to prepare yourself for writing. If you have any other suggestions place share them in the comments below. I’m always interested in other ways to pause before I begin a writing session.

And, as always,

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

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ANNOUNCEMENT:  This Wednesday I’ll be taking part in the release of a new book as part of a blog blitz. I’ve never done one of these before but thought this would be an interesting experience. Come back Wednesday and check it out and then share it with others on various Social Media Outlets.

 

Buy my Book, Read my Book

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Introduction

You just published your first novel and you do the promotions properly. You don’t spam people with “Buy my Book” but cleverly promote it while talking to your potential readers. Sales start pouring in and you eagerly begin your next book. However, there’s one problem; there aren’t any reviews.

 

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Buy My Book!

Before I published my first book in 2014, I studied other authors’ methods of promotion as well as read articles on how to develop my Writer’s Platform. One of the main things I learned, above all else, was not to use the phrase, Buy my Book. It sends the wrong message to your potential readers. In a way it almost sounds like a threat: Buy my Book or else!

However, I see this kind of promotion going on throughout Twitter and Facebook and it seems to work, mostly. But I choose not to do it as I know better. I joined the site called Readers Gazette and they promote my books for free. Every time they promo my books, I’ll take and share it and add a little teaser from the story or create a clever way to promote it.

One of the ways that I promote book 1 of my trilogy is by using this phrase on Twitter:

2 girls, 4 towers, 1 magic key, endless adventures.

 

You would think that this would be enough to entice someone to buy the book but apparently not. Amazon lets you know when a book has been purchased but they don’t tell you which one. And unless, you have enough people to buy one of your books, you’ll never know how many of each is being purchased.

 

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Read my Book

A couple years ago I did a giveaway of book 1 as part of an author gathering. I gave away five copies of my book and the response was very positive. However, that feeling of happiness soon dissipated when that positive response was followed by: I have a lot of books on my TBR (To Be Read) list, but I’ll get to it. Two years later and still no reviews, no comments on my Author Page, nothing.

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The Ever-growing TBR list

I’ve had people claim they’ve read my book and when I ask them to post a review they act like they don’t have time. I’m thinking you’ve had time to read the book, why not take a couple of minutes to write a couple of sentences in a review. Before I continue, I am guilty of not doing the same but I will get those reviews written—eventually.

I’ve convinced family and co-workers to buy my book but some say they are too busy to read it, while others say they’ve started reading it and like it so far, yet, no reviews. No comments at all.

 

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Review my Book

When no one reads your stories it becomes very discouraging to an author. They can’t gauge what works and what doesn’t. They can’t decide if they should write the sequel or write something else entirely. I’m struggling with that very dilemma right now.

In addition to my trilogy, I’ve written four short plus a collection of blog posts by a character featured in the trilogy. They only reviews I’ve gotten are by: My cover artist, an editor, and a friend. Nothing from my fellow authors whose books I have read. I always thought it was an unwritten law that if you help out an author by reading one of their stories, they’d read one of yours. Guess not. I have hundreds of ideas for future stories but struggle with which way to go as I don’t know what’s worth writing.

I understand people don’t want to spend their hard earned money on an unknown author’s book if they know there’s the possibility of them not liking it but that’s the chance you have to take sometimes. I’ve read several books by people I didn’t know and absolutely love their work; sometimes better than the big name authors out there.

One of the reasons I provide short stories, and at only 99¢, is so readers out there can get an idea of what my writing is like and not have to spend a lot of money in doing so. Oftentimes, I find writing short stories easier as I can spin a good tale in a small of amount of space as compared to a full length novel.

 

Conclusion

I will continue to write stories; even if no one reads them because this is who I am and I have stories to share. I can’t think of ever stopping because it would hurt too much not to write. Fellow authors know this feeling.

So when you buy a book please read it and then give it a review. If not on an official page, like Amazon, send it to the author instead.

Do you review books after reading them? Or do you space it and move on to your next book? Share your comments below.

 

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

Characters: What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” ~William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet Act II, Scene II

 

Introduction

Sometimes one of the more difficult challenges for a writer is naming their characters. They want something that will define who they are, as a person, but also to make them stand apart from everyday people in real life. This week we’ll look at advice on naming your characters and where to look for ideas.

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Life Imitates Art

Regardless of how careful you are in selecting your character’s name, there is also a slight chance that someone in the real world has that very same name. One of the best examples I can think of is the American version of the 1954 movie, Godzilla, King of the Monsters. They brought in Raymond Burr to play news reporter, Steve Martin. Twenty plus years later, a young actor/comedian came onto the scene named, Steve Martin.

Naturally this is a coincidence and, just for the record, Steve Martin was born in 1945. I’m sure this never caused problems in general for Mr. Martin until, maybe, Godzilla 1985 arrived which was to be a direct sequel to the ’54 movie. Raymond Burr, once again, reprises his role as Steve Martin. By this time the comedian has gotten a foothold in Hollywood and perhaps some found it confusing to hear that the bearded Mr. Burr was playing, “Steve Martin”.

Firefly cast

Cast of Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” TV series. Courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Fantasy/Sci-Fi Names

Of course if you’re writing the Fantasy genre or even Science Fiction, there’s a slim to no chance that your characters will be the names of real people. People might name their children after your characters, which isn’t new, but it could be very flattering. On the other hand, no one would want to go to school with a classmate named Voldemort.

To use the TV series, Firefly as an example, there is always a possibility that there might be someone named Malcolm Reynolds or Kaylee Frye, but a slimmer chance with the names Hoban Washburne and Inara Serra. As we head further into our own future, some of these names will be as common as Joe Smith and Bob Jones.

 

How original should I be?

Speaking of Joe Smith and Bob Jones, some writers might ask, “How do I create original character names without being obvious?” The answer to this question varies based on the decisions of the author. If you’re writing a fictional story that takes place in our world and our time, you’re going to run into plain names such as Joe and Bob. To make them unique you can always add a middle name, a numeral; to show his name is passed down from generation to generation, or give him a nickname.

Character names are can be based on a region that he is born. For example, you won’t find many people in America named ‘Colin’ or ‘Basil’ but in Great Britain, the names are as common as George or Fred.

The same works in Fantasy settings; a character’s name might have more vowels in it, like natives of Hawaii, if they live in the Northern Territory; or they might have a similar prefix or suffix to their name to denote that they are slaves from The Wasteland.

My overall advice is to keep the names easy to pronounce and easy to remember. I read where one Fantasy author provided a pronunciation guide to go along with the book so you can properly pronounce the characters names. If you have to do this, I would recommend renaming the characters. The last thing I want to do is refer to another book just to know how to pronounce their names. I’ll give up the book long before chapter 2 in that instance.

In my own writings I have two characters whose names seem long and difficult but they’re pronounced the way they are written. One is a dwarf named, Pendergrass Snickersnee; and the other is a gnome-like character named, Finnbiddle Pilwicket.

Both look difficult at the first appearance but they are pronounced as they are written. So you see you can have Fantasy or Sci-Fi names that appear complicated but are easy to pronounce. If that’s not enough, you can always shorten a name to give him a nickname. I refer to Finnbiddle simply as Finn.

 

How do I choose names?

There are a variety of ways to choose names for your characters. Here’s an article from fellow author, Chris Andrews, and how he chooses names.

Name generators found on the internet are a great way to create names for Fantasy and/or Sci-Fi characters. I’ll post the links at the bottom of this article.

If you’re looking to name a character based on a certain meaning or a certain word, you can use 20,000 Names website. They have ethnic names from different parts of the world; both male and female, and the meanings of each name.

For example my character Ravenkeep in book 3 of The Askinar Towers trilogy has a pirate ship named, The Malandra. I found the word at this website and here is the meaning…

MALANDRA: Modern English compound name composed of Mal- (“dark, black”) from Malinda, and Sandra “defender of mankind.”

As you can see the word is a form of the color, Black which is also the color of the ship.

If you work a day job in addition to being a writer, sometimes they will put out a company magazine every month. Usually they’ll list names of employees how have been with the company for a number of years based on the state they work in. This is a great way to take someone’s first name and combine it with someone’s last name to create a new name for a character. In book 3, The Reverend Edward Hardwick was named after two employees of the company. I keep a stack of magazines on hand when I need to name a character and don’t always have access to the internet.

Conclusion

Try and be as original with your character’s names but not too original that it seems obvious or difficult that you have to put out a pronunciation guide. Try not to make it a huge chore either. As you’re working on your first draft, if you can’t come up with a name simply insert something (anything) as a marker then you can come back and replace it at a later time once you’ve had the chance to think about it.

How do you come up with names for your characters? Do you use generators? Names of friends? Or do they come to you in dreams? Share your experience in the comments below.

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

Here are some of my favorite name generator sites:

Seventh Sanctum: Characters Seventh Sanctum has a wide variety of name generators.

The Real Mormon Name Generator (Rum and Monkey) No disrespect but this puts out some great names that would be perfect for Fantasy stories.

Fake Name Generator This is for mainstream fiction. This not only gives you a random name but a street address, city, state, zip, birthdate, Mother’s maiden name, etc.