Tag Archives: AmWriting

The Need for Farsightedness

A Diary of Writing Wisdom (and other nonsense)

#FOUR

The Need for Farsightedness

Human beings are naturally shortsighted. The current opinions are the ones we see in front of us, the ones that are discussed in current magazines and on social media. It is natural to concentrate on current trends and hot topics. But there are two disadvantages in doing so. One is that we fail to learn from the past; the other is that we fail to look to the future.

Interestingly, these two forms of shortsightedness are connected, for one of the clearest lessons we learn from the past is that the “normal” of one generation is out-of-date in the next. In theory this is not hard to accept. At one time or another we have all read books/excerpts from articles written many centuries ago and smiled at the quaintness of the ideas and the language contained therein; and we realize that our own generation would be unique were it not for the fact that it will appear equally quaint in years to come.

I wonder, for instance, what our descendants will think of the Zombie Apocalypse theory or of stem-cell research. It is difficult for us to see it as future generations are likely to see it. Robert Burns once prayed for the gift to see ourselves as others see us. It would be an even greater gift to see ourselves as people in the 23rd Century will see us.

When it comes to writing, don’t be too shortsighted. Learn from your past. Don’t just let it lay dormant. Incorporate what you’ve learned from the past into your script of today. Believe it or not, this looking-back approach can help writer’s generate even greater power to look ahead. It can help writer’s ignore the temptation to write only about current trends and hot topics. It can even help writers become less shortsighted and more farsighted—nearby distractions become blurry while the ability to see distant goals and objectives become more and more clear.

OC Maryland-001Ocean City, MD, 2014. 

We are what we eat…

A Diary of Writing Wisdom (and other nonsense)

#THREE

We are what we eat…

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The Latin proverb simulac hoc, ergo propter hoc, which may be translated, “everything is the product of its environment,” is the basis for this writing theory.

According to this idea authors are like rivers. Rivers do not create water; they receive it from springs and streams. In the same way authors receive their ideas from the streams of thought that are flowing in the corner of the world in which they live. A middle-class Eastern author will receive middle-class Eastern ideas. A working-class Western author will receive working-class Western ideas.

To say it another way, authors “are what they eat.” This idea applies to minds as well as to bodies. It assumes that, just as my body is the product of red curry or pulled-pork BBQ (depending on my background), so also my mind is the product of French ideas or American ideas, liberal ideas or conservative ideas (depending on my background).

Growing authors, however, will realize this about themselves and seek out ways to “alternate” what they eat (every once in a while).

As a step toward becoming more aware of the kind of writer you now are. As a step toward becoming the kind of writer you someday wish to be—take time to consider not only how what you eat may be contributing to your writing, but how what you only eat may also be limiting your writing.

Variety adds spice . . . to writing life.

Silence Can Be Golden by @JERoyle

A Diary of Writing Wisdom (and other nonsense)

#TWO

 Silence Can Be Golden

Gettysburg, PA ,

Most literary criticism is concerned with what authors write.  The idea of strategically using silence in your writing, by contrast, is concerned not so much with what authors write as it is with what they do not write.

When it comes to writing a book, here are a couple of questions every author should consider:  Is it sometimes better to leave things a little open ended?  Or should you absolutely, every single time, try your best to describe every tiny detail your vivid imagination can divulge?  Do you leave room for your reader’s imagination to have a life of it’s own?  Or are you, perhaps, limiting the imagination of your reader by over doing it?  Do you have adjective-itis?

 “The dog did nothing in the nighttime.”

“That was the curious thing,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

The main weakness about this idea that silence can be golden, of course, is that it fails to take into account the way books are actually written—with adjectives.  But when is enough enough?  That’s the real question to consider.

Below is a six word story I recently entered in a contest:

The dawn.  The pilgrimage.  The dust.

What comes to mind when you think of the dawn?  Awakening?  A new day?  Who woke-up?  A teenager?  A married couple?   Whoever/whatever it was inspired a pilgrimage.  What kind of pilgrimage?  Spiritual?  Adventuresome?  Why dust?  You get the idea.

So the next time you want to include more because you feel a strong urge to tell your readers more about how Smith furrowed his brow and glared with genuine distrust at his shimmering spoonful of crimson colored magic tonic—NyQuil—force yourself to leave out the extra things you think you should include.

There will be plenty of opportunity in your book for you to write more—but sometimes less is the golden rule you should follow.

Jason Royle

Judas Hero Misunderstood

 

 

 

 

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Write what you LOVE.

Write what you know is perhaps the most over used and overrated piece of advice ever given to writers. I am sure Mary Shelly knew a great deal about creating a monster from body parts and electricity. She had heard various legends and histories and tales in her travels but when it came to creating what some refer to as the very first science fiction story, she didn’t know.

What then should be the advice? Write what you love. You may twist and turn it but at the base level it is what you love and if you write what you love you will finish what you love and do your best job while doing so.

I’m not the only one that has this idea. Or course I’m not. English author Anne Perry, of the Thomas Pitt and William Monk series, in the Forward to Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel wrote:

Sometimes I am asked, “Is it true you should write what you know about?” I say, “No, write what you care about. If you don’t care, you’ll find out. But if you don’t care, why should anyone else?”

Considering her success I think I will take her advice and feel comfortable that I believe the same thing.

I recently interviewed John W. Howell author of My Girl. His novel includes a great deal about boats, the terminology and the actual mechanical parts of a boat. This is what John had to say when I asked what he had learned about himself during the writing of the thriller My Girl:

“The first thing I learned was I could, in fact, finish a book that was readable. Up to this point my efforts were not what I would describe as stellar. The second was I could write about a subject that I knew little about. People who don’t know me think I have been around boats. I really had to research all aspects of the book since none of the hardware and software related items were in my experience profile.”

Considering the great reviews John has received, I think he did some great research. From my own personal writing I’ve written just about every genre you can think of and for every age. It’s taken me almost 20 years to realize what it is I want to write, what I love. As soon as I did, I also found my writer’s voice.

When you find what you love, you will also find that voice. The two go hand in hand it there is something natural about it. Yes, you will need to do a lot of polishing but your flow of storytelling will come to you as if it had been there your entire life just waiting for you to ask for it. One of my new found loves is Romance. Not the normal bodice ripper type that I believe one lady author friend of mine referred to them as, but more character driven. And now I am combing a love of history with adventure and romance in a new book I am co-authoring.

Once I found that love things started happening. I’m not saying that always happens but I will tell you this, it definitely makes writing more enjoyable. And I am a lot more willing and able to revise and edit and revise and edit something I love than something I just could barely complete the first draft of to begin with.

If what you are doing is writing in a genre just because that’s what sells, well that’s up to you. I go where the enjoyment takes me. One year it might be Middle Grades stories about little girls and talking bears and the next it might be about a doctor dragging himself across North Africa. You just never know and that’s part of what makes writing such a great life to be in.

What loves do you write about? And yes, I know what you love may be what you know about.

write what you love

 

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

 

@RonovanWrites

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Self-Pub but want an agent? Tips from @ChuckSambuchino

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You are self-published.

You now want to go traditional.

You’ve heard agents won’t take self-pub.

What do you do?

Ask Chuck Sambuchino.

“Many writers who’ve self-published a book for one reason or another get to a point where they want the book to be taken to the next level and see a widespread, traditional release. This is the point where they may contact a literary agent for representation. So with that in mind, I want to help explain some of the necessary basics about how to pitch a self-published book to an agent.” @ChuckSambuchino

For the full article click here.

 

 

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

 

@RonovanWrites

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The Nine Best Manuscript Publishers in 2014 from Authors Publish

ronovan's_inbox.png

Yes, I got mail. And no, it wasn’t fan mail. I don’t actually get any of that these days. Ever since they did away with the Scottish American version of Menudo my mail has been a bit skimpy of the fan sort.

But I do have something pretty good for all you author types, Scottish American or not.

Authors Publish is a site you can go to and subscribe to for FREE. Don’t you just love how I cap that word? Just click here to go there. But you might want to know why to bother. Well each week they review a publisher and give you all the details. They try to help us find the good ones. Well since it’s the end of the year, guess what kind of list they came out with?

You guessed right if you said . . .

The Nine Best Manuscript Publishers in 2014

That link up there will take you to the list and you can check things out, including their reviews. And guess what? “All of these publishers are open to pitch or manuscript submissions from authors without an agent or previous publishing experience.

Now remember this is just of the ones they reviewed for the year, not of every single publisher out there. Just keep that in mind. But good luck. You never know when one might fit you.

 

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

@RonovanWrites

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The Author Interview: How, Why, What, Who?

I love to interview authors, publishers, illustrators, cover artists, proof readers, agents, editors. I think you get the picture. If they are involved with the book business then I want to talk to them. I’ve learned a lot as an author along the way and I’m taking notes as I go. I’m not here today to talk about those notes I’ve taken. All the interviews are there to read and I’ll likely compile a few things at some point, knowing me, and share them with you.

Today I want to discuss what Authors should do with an interview, and also how they should interview.

the_author_interview.jpgI’ve done research about how to interview. In other words, what questions should I ask. Well, I actually came up with my own questions after getting a feel for what was going on. I won’t get into my technique because it’s my technique. It’s not that I think it’s a great technique about what I do or how I do, but it’s mine and it’s changing as I write this.

Remember the purpose of the Interview

  • Profile Snap Shot Questions-Maybe 5 things about you.
  • Book Promotion such as Book Blog Tour-Let’s say, 10 questions mostly about your book.
  • Interview about you and your work-No real limit, minimum or maximum. But this is one that is more to give the reader a good impression of who you are personality wise and good detail about your work. This is the one that is to make them connect with you, become your friend, and become your book buying fan.

As I get into details here, just know these are my opinions. I have been thinking of these details for some time though so they are not just quickly put together for an article.

Each type of Interview will determine how you, the Author, might answer. The shorter the interview the more precise your answers and the longer the interview, the more conversational you want to sound. Looking at the number of questions I noted above for each type of interview you can almost see the urgency to be efficient in your use of words without straying off topic.

At the moment I do the Long Form Interview because I enjoy them, and I want every Author that wants an interview to have a good interview of length to turn to when an agent or publisher asks about publicity. And the long form is the type of interview I will discuss today.

For authors I have already interviewed I will be asking some follow up questions in the future for some short form blurb type posts to continue their presence here on LWI and to have one more item out there for their name to show up in when agents or publishers search for them.

What is your goal in a long form interview?

This really depends on the questions you are asked, what you have agreed to. My interviews are all encompassing.

My first piece of advice is-Read through all of the questions before you start answering, if this is an interview where you are sent the questions, such as the way I do it. I would like to do interviews differently in the future so they are more organic, but in truth, the email interview keeps things focused.

Reasons for reading all the questions first

  • You don’t want to include information one place that you will be including elsewhere. Yes, repetition is fine, but save yourself the headache of repeating yourself, and your interviewer from having to edit down for space limitations. LWI is my site. So I have no set limits, but the longer your interview the greater the possibility of losing the reader, especially with repetition.
  • You will get an idea of how the interview is set up and the flow of it and that might help you get into the mood of the interview.
  • This gives you time to think about the questions instead of that feel of needing to jump right in. For those interviewing with me there is no deadline. When I get the answers I then put them on the calendar for the next open date unless the Author has some date that is beneficial to them.

 What is my purpose as an interviewer when giving you certain questions?

  1. To discuss your book that has just been released or is about to be released.
  2. Note previous work
  3. Note the book you are working on for the next release
  4. Show your personality
  5. Show your professionalism
  6. Promote you

Those are not in any particular order. If they were, number 6 would be number 1. And know this when you hand over your answers to me I am going to take them and try to make you look like the most interesting person possible. Know that an interviewer edits. I don’t change words unless it is a grammar thing. And no, I don’t leave the wrong spelling in there and note it for the world to see. I even have someone on staff I can turn to that edits for me to make sure that we both look good. Of course I have to ask her to do it. But then she reads the interview anyway and I get these chat messages saying “Oh Ronovan, did you really mean to spell that word like that?”  “Oh Ronovan, are you really a grammatical idiot?” And yes, yes I am. I think proof readers and editors should be assured of jobs security.

In order to engage a reader I like to create a conversation.

But there have been times that it’s been impossible because I wasn’t given enough to use, so I simply put the questions and answers in an article and put it out there. However, there are some authors who give me what I need and help themselves. If you ask me for an interview, just know that the more you give me the better your interview will turn out. I don’t mean a book, but not one sentence answers either.

 When I send out my questions and the information email I suggest what one should do.

  • Answer the questions like you would in a conversation.
  • Have some fun.
  • Show your personality.
  • Be yourself.

For those who give me that I can create a nice interview. Again, I am not going to go into detail about what I do. If you read the interviews here on LWI you can see which ones really work. All give good answers. Don’t get me wrong. They all answer the questions with the right answers, it’s just that some loosen up and just put it out there honest and like they were talking to their best friend.

It might be that people are worried what they see will make them look bad or someone will use what they say against them. I guess you do need to watch out for that. I personally don’t do that. You can ask any Author I’ve interviewed and they will tell you I am as honest and trustworthy as you get and I’ll make you look as good as I can. Sometimes people will give an answer that I know just doesn’t sound right. I know it’s going to come across wrong. I’ll send an email asking for perhaps another take on it or I will just leave it out. My job is to make YOU look good. Regardless of if I approached you or You approached me for the interview, once we both say yes then my job is to promote you. If I do a hatchet job on you then why would anyone else want to interview with me?

How do you know what an interviewer wants?

Check out their other interviews. See what their style is. You don’t have to say yes if someone asks you.

Who to Interview With

I feel a bit odd answering this one, as I am an interviewer but in truth I am an author first. Check interviews, talk to authors they have interviewed if you have concerns. Most interviewers should be fine. But before saying yes check things out. Unless it is with me, just say yes.

How to get an Interview

You might be asked or you can ask someone who interviews. Some might have how to approach them on their site. I rarely get approached for interviews and to be honest it gets a bit exhausting searching down and approaching authors. But my goal is to help whomever I can, so the search goes on.

 What to do with the interview?

  1. Link to it on your own site
  2. Include it in any publicity packet you send to potential agents or other publicity opportunities
  3. Share it in Social Media. Let me tell you this. Don’t Tweet it to death. Use it once a day at the most and that should be around 12:30 New York Time. And have other things going on in between the Tweets. Also change up how you Tweet it with different wording. Why? People will start skipping over things that look like it and might miss a new Interview, a new book, or a sale you have running
  4. Use excerpts from the review. Meaning use quotes from the interview in some promotional way

Finally and Most Importantly

Come back to the person that interviewed you! If you were happy with them and they were happy with you, there is a promotional relationship there waiting to happen. I personally want to keep the people I’ve interviewed as friends. Currently I’ve interviewed 29 people that have appeared here on Lit World Interviews. At some point I intend to take time off from writing on LWI and check up on them, seeing what they are doing and checking all their sites for any new promotions. Although I encourage authors to let me know when any new promotion is going on, I know I will be forgotten. But I don’t forget, well I actually have Retrograde amnesia and Short Term Memory problems due to a concussion but hey, it just makes note taking that much more important.

 

Until next time, I hope this helps,

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

 

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The 2014 Colorado Writing Workshops: Boulder (Nov. 14) and Denver (Nov. 15)

Are you near Boulder or Denver, CO? If so get it in gear and get there. And if you are, let us know. One of our followers might be in the area and you could find a friend to hang out with. Every little bit of support helps.

Meet Agents and Agencies that I’ve queried and been rejected and tell me how you succeeded.

Alex Barba
Chuck Sambuchino
Erin Buterbaugh
Rachelle Gardner
Renee Nyen
andra Brond
Sara Megibow
Sarah Freese
Shannon Hassan

 

Brighten Up Your Future In The Present

“Why not dream big? One way to cast your anchor into the future while improving your mood for the moment is to plan something exciting, something positive, something that makes you smile. Maybe it’s a vacation, maybe it’s a night out with someone special or maybe it’s just some much-needed “me” time/ Make a plan, set a date–and then bask in the anticipation.”

 

idea.jpg

How to come up with a book idea.

You have a goal to write a novel. Perhaps you want to do so in one month’s time. You are pumped and ready to go. You sit down at your keyboard and

 

 

 

You got it, nothing happens. Blank. Headache. Pit level feeling of nausea. Despair.

I know of what I speak. I think I just proved that. What do do about it.

How to come up with a book idea.

Thousands of books are unleashed upon the world every day. Therefore there must be thousands of ideas floating around out there somewhere. But you want yours to be original and not a copy of someone else. I get that, I really do. I actually avoid reading at times because I want my story to be my story.

How do I come up with ideas?

I’ve written perhaps . . . well we’ll say in the double digit numbers of books, ranging from children’s fantasy to adult paranormal detective. A lot of weird ideas float around in this bruised brain of mine.

  • I wrote a little girl a bedtime story that turned into perhaps 5 fantasy books.
  • A book I am working on now I found the bases of from a literary agent who said what they would like to see. It clicked with me and I in turn knew exactly who to use as a model for the main character, at least visually. And the story has gone from there and into more stories.
  • I took a prompt challenge to write a scary story, which isn’t my style, but the short story came out pretty good. I am thinking of expanding it.
  • I have  a favorite video game that I spun off into a YA science fiction/action novel.
    • This is probably an easy one to let yourself loose on. You know what you like about the video game and you have thought about it being real in your mind. Put that on paper, but of course change it up so it’s not the video game but your own world with your own names and creations. You are the hero or heroine or whatever. I wonder how many novels Zelda has inspired.
  • If you must, look at an old story, a classic novel, or your favorite book, and put it into a different setting. Take Gone with the Wind as an example. Take that and put it in the future and have the war be over some type of whatever that might be valuable or maybe a piece of land that whoever controls it controls all of the lands around it and thus controls that realm. Just make sure you make it your own story, names and all.
  • Write about yourself. Who do you know better than you? Turn yourself into a character and write a book about you. Perhaps you are a hero or perhaps you are named President of the USA. Think about that. What would you really do and include humorous things as well as serious. Be sarcastic if you like or very matter of fact about things you would do that just make sense to you to solve world problems.
  • Just looking around you, your friends, events that happen in your area, world events, relationships you have with your family, all of these things can be turned into books. For some you just turn the things up a notch or three. You amplify or pump up what is real and turn it into the fantastic and overboard type things. Sure you can keep it real if you like, but if you just want to have fun, have fun.
  • Is there an unfairness that you see that you want to change? Write about it and how it affects you and what you would do to change it.
  • Is there a recent national event that happened in your area? Write a book based on that and use your emotions and your knowledge of it to tell your point of view. It can be a work of fiction just based on the events.

There are a lot of ways to come up with an idea for a book. These are just a few and perhaps not even a great few. But I know people are sitting and thinking about writing a book and are frozen in place. Here’s the best piece of advice I can give you about writing a book, about getting that idea going. You ready? Write. You see that advice all the time. Write. The reason you see it is because when you start writing the thoughts start flowing and your brain kicks into gear. And guess what? If you don’t like what you write, who will know? You don’t have to share it. Write.

 

I hope this gives you a way to jump start your own thoughts into how you can come up with an idea.

 

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

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LWI #Tips for #NaNoWriMo and authors and #AmWriting people everywhere.

What kind of Literary oriented site would we be, an author centered environment without mention today of . .  .

NaNoWriMo 2014

nanowrimo

I’m actually taking part for the first time. Other member of LWI are involved as well. A lot of us think it will be difficult, yet we do blogs where we write more than 1700 words per day on average. The challenge here is that we write those words in the form of a story that links together 50,000 words.

Here are links to tips from our LWI crew and one of our friends who has gone through this before.

From Author Jo Robinson:

NaNoWriMo Time

Get great Survival Tips from Jo, who should know, so read before you go.

From Author P.S. Bartlett:

Here is my personal list of advice for you for NanoWrimo

Another one who knows of what she speaks. Nice reminder to take bathroom breaks.

 

From Author Jenna Willett:

Jen’s Top 10 NaNoWriMo Tips

“I volunteer as tribute?” I have no idea what she means. I am frightened.

 

From me

Stop With an Idea

Basically stop writing for the day before your brain does.

 

There will be more tips as the days go by. Some good, and some perhaps just fun ones. Okay, and some fun good ones.

Good Luck To the NaNo people, and good luck to the writers out there who can use these tips just the same. Writing is writing.

Write like a NaNoWriMo and get that novel done.

 

Much Respect

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

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Cliché usage and Research? Get them right when you write.

It’s Halloween and you would think there would be spooky stories here at LWI, but we’re not really about showing our writing skills here. We have personal blogs and novels for that. A friend suggested to me that I write a spooky story for Halloween for my blog. I considered it . . . for about 2 seconds. I’m not one to go into writing trends and clichés if possible. I would rather my clichés happen naturally. Believe me they happen naturally quite often.

Two things today, they were only going to be one, but I’ll do two now that I mentioned clichés.

Clichés

I was talking to an author/blogger friend, Jenna Willett, about clichés in books and I gave the opinion that a few cliches are okay. I feel that the reader does need that touch of comfort to at least ‘think’ they know what is going to happen. That is before you rip their hearts apart or destroy there mental stability. But if you do use clichés, use them for that reason.

Use cliché moments to advance the story. Use them to comfort and lull before you smash in the jaw with that amazing twist of yours.

Research

Now to the original reason I showed up today. I did write a story years ago that I had thought about sharing on my blog, but it needed work that I wasn’t prepared to put in right now. The work? I needed to give some authentic voices to some characters from the 1700s or 1800s. They needed that speech pattern and word usage to make your mind to take on the accent of an American male teacher and students from wealthy families during the more British sounding time.

In other words I needed to do some research. Jo Robinson wrote an article about Research that goes into more detail and her writing expertise carries more weight than my meager attempts. Yes, writing for over 20 years with several novels completed and submitted, but still meager. I suppose I should self publish, and might just do that someday. But read Jo’s article for more thoughts on Research. You need to get a lot of things right to make your story work.

 

Much Respect

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

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Research

Write about what you know is pretty good advice. It is possible to write about what you don’t know, but whenever you do you’re going to have to make sure that your research is spot on. The wonderful thing about Google is that you have a world of information at your fingertips. The not so wonderful thing is that not all of that information is accurate. So when I’m looking for specific facts I always find at least a couple of different sources to be sure that I’m not using flawed or bogus articles.

Most of us have felt the gamut of emotions to one degree or another, so those are fairly easy to convey. I believe though, that there are some extreme emotions that would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible for most – not all – writers to communicate unless they’ve lived them. So all the research in the world isn’t going to help you there. Readers are a canny lot. I know, because I’m one of them. If the subject is something they have a deep and personal knowledge of, you’ll probably lose them right there.

Mental illness is not something you’re going to understand unless you’re a psychiatrist, or you’ve lived it, although there is enough information available to research the experiences of others in certain instances. If you want to get inside the mind of a serial killer there is plenty of information out there, so there is absolutely no need for you to be writing what you know in this instance. Hopefully you aren’t. Not all people feel the same degrees of love or empathy, and those emotions can never be learned through research. Emulated possibly, but never learned. You’re going to have to be a brilliant scribbler to be able to write about the deep pain some empaths will feel at the suffering of another, or about a soul destroying, all encompassing love, if you’ve never felt anything like it.

Nuts and bolts on the other hand are a totally different kind of thing. You don’t have to travel to different dimensions through wormholes to write about them. Obviously you weren’t around when heads were rolling off the guillotine in France, or when the west was wild, or when Atlantis sank beneath the waves. Science fiction writers should research scientific facts and theoretical physics to write about warp drives and multiple universes if they aren’t going to raise the brows of die-hard fans of the genre. When writing a story in a specific historical era, again research is an absolute must if you don’t want a glaring blooper to jar your readers away from reading it. Even if your tale is fantasy, where you really do get to make it all up, a little research could make all the difference. I use a lot of mysterious ancient sites on Earth, and myths and legends in my stories, because I find them fascinating and so do many other people. For me, a little bit of fact makes fiction much more fun to read, and all stories have to be credible within their genre if I’m going to stay absorbed. French_Revolution-1792-8-10_w Image Credit: Wiki Commons