Tag Archives: David Farland

Writing Contests: Tamara Bordon Tells Her Story

20131105_MEEEEE4Guest Post by Tamara Bordon:

Tamara graduated with a BA in Latin American Studies from Brigham Young University. She discovered a love for writing in 2007 when a children’s book magically morphed into a young adult fantasy novel. She has been published in Parables for Today, a book of anthologies edited by Kenny Kemp, David Farland, and Marilyn Brown as well as UAAnthology’s Obvious Things. She grew up in sunny California and has lived in Bolivia, the four corners of the U.S., and in between. She squeezes in an hour or two of writing a day between running a household, wiping dirty bottoms, kissing crocodile tears, and wrestling with her four strapping young lads in the greater St. Louis area. Uncle Sam will soon send them who-knows-where to start yet another adventure worthy of inspiring future stories.


I started writing in 2007 when my firstborn was a wee babe. He was a great napper and I wanted to fill the hours with something. I’ve never been a TV-watcher and we only had so many books to read and reread. I never enjoyed writing in school—oddly writing to appease a teacher turned me off—though I always aced English classes. But I’ve always loved to read. I sat down to write a picture book that immediately turned into a young adult novel. It took two days to finish the rough draft, drawing me in and transporting me into the world of Violet, a shy fifteen year old fairy raised by an aloof mother and a spicy Aunt Vista, who must learn to stand on her own two feet to save a beloved elf family and protect herself from an obsessed classmate. Afterward, I wondered what had happened, but man that was fun! After years of college with an undecided major,—everything sounded fun!—then settling on a Latin American Studies degree, I’d finally found my passion.

I revisited the novel off and on throughout the years, mostly off than on due to sickly pregnancies, exhausting newborns and the putt-putt-putt of getting back into writing mode. It is a great novel, but I almost felt like I needed to take a step back to improve my writing skills.

David

I’d never heard of writing contests until bestselling author David Farland mentioned that it is how he got started in his writing career. He joined a few contests, first researching the judges’ writing style preferences to cater his stories to them, and won first place. Then joined six more and won first place…in all of them. He helped support himself through college with his winnings. Yep, most will pay a small bundle of cash for winning 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. One award was from Writers of The Future, a huge writing contest which he now judges. He received three novel contracts at his awards ceremony. He offers FABULOUS advice on how to win these contests.

That lit a fire under my belt and in 2011, I joined two. One was called Parables for Today, put together by author Kenny Kemp. The contest noted that the winners and so many runners up would have the opportunity to be published in an anthology, so I gladly entered. I wrote up a short story, edited it as best I could, and sent it off. I didn’t place but I was a runner’s up and my story was included in my first publication called Parables for Today. It’s not my own shiny novel, but believe me I was still doing the happy dance.

In 2015 (birthing and rearing four little boys keeps me quite busy) I joined three more contests. I was lucky enough to receive honorable mention in one through United Authors Association that offered publication for the winners and a few of a few honorable mentions (see a theme here?). I love seeing my name on the cover of Obvious Things!

There are writing contests of all types—for self-published novels, for novel-length manuscripts, fiction, non-fiction, poems, etc. Writing these short stories has helped tighten my wording and improve story layouts. Many have even given detailed feedback on my work, free editing advice I can apply to my novels. Some charge to join, others do not. I look for contests with little or no fee to submit and that offer (free) publication for the winners and runners up. If you google “writing contests” you’ll find a wealth of information. Look them through and judge wisely which ones to join (and make sure to watch out for scams, they’re out there!).

I’m not quite first place material yet, but until I reach that point, I’d love to see my name on more book covers while I practice! Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a newbie, you can benefit from submitting to contests. These publications look great in the query letter, and placing in them looks even better. The day I place in a contest I’ll know I’ve honed my skills enough to deserve publication of my own shiny novels.

 

Jennifer Bennett

About Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer J. Bennett was born in Southern California as the youngest of six children. Her imagination began to develop as a child creating worlds in her backyard. Books have always played a big role in her life; favorites growing up were “The Country Bunny” by Dubose Heyward, “The Light in the Attic”by Shel Silverstein, and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’ Dell among many, many others. She also enjoys music, theater, travel, and cooking.

Jennifer moved from Southern California in 1989 and finished high school in Southern Utah where she met her husband Matthew Bennett who currently works in educational administration. They reside in St. George, Utah with four amazing kids: Haylee, Chase, Conner, and Libby. After her father was diagnosed with cancer, she began writing her first novel, “The Path”. Her father encouraged her to move forward with her writing and she has continued since. He passed away in 2009.

Jen, as her friends call her; can be found buzzing around California from time to time in search of magical elements from the past. She tries to balance fun, being a mom, and trying to be a grownup (which she really isn’t sure she ever wants to be).

Utah’s Arts and Artists

Almost four years ago, “an old friend”, Herb Arnold, came from Alabama to visit his adult daughter. We’d known each other 45 years before. Surprise, surprise! We hung out for a few weeks together while he was here, and then got married.

One of many delights with this sudden turn of life‑events came when he and I, plus another writing couple I knew, formed a small critique group, then decided to start a blog: The ABC Writers Guild. Herb wrote of the wonders he found in Utah’s Arts Community on coming to Utah, and I’d love to share the words he wrote in November 2012 with you:

I was first introduced to “The Arts” in Utah about 45 years ago: The Barbary Coast Opera House in Park City where melodramas were performed during the weekends. Of course, there was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony Orchestra.

I didn’t know of the Shakespeare Festival which, at the time, was in its infancy. We were about a decade from a local boy, Orson Scott Card, publishing a short story entitled “Ender’s Game.”

How things have changed; my perception of things, at any rate.

When I returned to Salt Lake in February 2012 for a visit (continue reading when you’ve finished snickering), I found a wonderland of art festivities and businesses.

The Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, now over 50 years old (www.bard.org), Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre (www.ufoc.org), CenterPoint Legacy Theatre (www.centerpointtheatre.org) are only a few of the theatrical venues.

Since this is a blog about writing, let’s add “Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers” (www.wifyr.com), “Life, the Universe, and Everything (www.ltue.org), both of which bring hundreds of local writers together with published authors, local and not‑so‑local editors from major publishing houses, agents from prestigious firms, all in a celebration and educational experience on writing, publishing, and how‑to‑do‑it.

The League of Utah Writers (www.luwriters.org), a tight‑knit group spread over the state with weekly/monthly meetings to discuss the craft of writing and an annual get‑together to celebrate the written word.

Utah has given us Orson Scott Card, Dave Wolverton/David Farland, Rick Walton, Brandon Sanderson, Stephanie Meyer, and Roseanne Barr to name just a few.

Through all of these venues, I have met some fascinating people: writers, authors, editors, agents, and just plain‑old‑fans of the written word.

If you’re in Utah and don’t know of these things, get involved! If you’re not in Utah, come visit!

Plagiarism: How to Defeat the Digital World Taking Advantage of Authors

UNDERSTANDING PLAGIARISM
What is plagiarism?
According to academic sources, “plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source” (Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2003). If this is its definition, then anyone who uses another’s material without acknowledging it, is by definition—plagiarizing.

It seems like people are accepting plagiarized material more and more and I find this extremely disturbing as a writer. I felt like it was time to address this as a topic. How do you protect yourself as a writer?

How do you know if someone is plagiarizing?
“Ethical writers make every effort to acknowledge sources fully and appropriately in accordance with the contexts and genres of their writing” (Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2003). If someone is writing a novel, for example, it makes it hard to decipher what ideas could have been taken from another’s work. For plagiarism to occur, the passages must sound similar or have similar ideas. This “the gray” plays a huge role.

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What Can Plagiarism Look Like?
These are portions of text claimed to be plagiarized by Sam Taylor Mullens (A.K.A. Tiffany Rushton) in the current Nunes-Rushton case. This example is given to show what questionable material may look like.

• Rachel Ann Nunes 1998 – The dark brown curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for twenty-eight of Cassi’s twenty-nine years. They puffed out from her scalp and plunged halfway down her back as if they had lives of their own, helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the double sink reflected from the brown tresses, bringing out the subtle gold highlights.

• Sam Taylor Mullens, 2014 – Dark brunette curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for the thirty-one years of my life. They puffed out from my scalp and plunged halfway down my back. They helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the sink reflected the brown tresses.
(Nunes, R. 2015)

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Understanding Laws: Copyright
“For a work to be protected by copyright law, it must be “original.” However, the amount of originality required is extremely small. The work cannot be a mere mechanical reproduction of a previous work, nor can the work consists of only a few words or a short phrase. In addition, if the work is a compilation, the compilation must involve some originality beyond mere alphabetic sorting of all available works. Beyond that, almost any work that is created by an author will meet the originality requirement.” (Tysver, D. A. 1997-2015)

THE SITUATIONS
Let’s take a look at how three different plagiarism situations affect the publishing market today. This should give all writers an idea of the attitudes of how plagiarism is being dealt with in the business world today. Each of these cases of plagiarism have some interesting attitudes and situations. Culturally we can see how people, in some cases, are surprisingly accepting of plagiarism. This is not a good thing.

The Rachel Ann Nunes vs. Tiffany Rushton Case
Locally the state of Utah has had its fair share of plagiarism cases. In the case of Nunes vs. Rushton, it has been well publicized over the past few months showing how social media has been a huge component to the case.

“A Utah author (Nunes) says a schoolteacher (Rushton) plagiarized her Christian romance novel, added graphic sex scenes and passed it off as her own. In a case she says brings to light plagiarism in the burgeoning world of online self-publishing, Rachel Ann Nunes of Orem filed a federal lawsuit in August against a Layton teacher, Tiffanie Rushton, who she says cut-and-pasted large sections from an electronic copy of her book. Nunes wrote Love to the Highest Bidder in 1998 about two art dealers, one from New York and the other from California, who meet while competing for an Indian Buddha statue and fall in love” (Associated Press, 2014).

James Altucher Admits Plagiarism
In an interview, James Altucher talks about stealing from another author as “a test” which will make him money. For Altucher, he believes in stealing people’s ideas and rewording them overseas to make money can’t be wrong if it’s reworded. These are his words from the podcast where he discussed his plans. Altucher for some reason thinks his plan isn’t plagiarism, yet fully discloses that it is.

“So today something interested me. I decided, just for the fun of it, I’m going to take a very popular book and I’m going to hire somebody on Freelance.Com to take this very popular book, and change every word, but keep the same story. So if the words were, “Jane ran to the store,” I might change that to, “Christine walked quickly to buy her clothes.” So I’m gonna basically, it’s just for fun, I’m gonna see if I can essentially see if I can have someone use a thesaurus to change/rewrite an entire book. So it’s the same book, but just every single word is rewritten. So nobody can say this is plagiarism. And if I load this book to Amazon, what will happen? It’s just an experiment. So I just had the idea to do it today. I found someone in India who extremely cheaply will do it, by Monday. So I’ll have the book finished by Monday.” (Dutson, A. 2015)

Jared Keller and Benny Johnson
For some plagiarism doesn’t end their career. Sadly people still get hired and work as writers in an industry where people are forgiven such as in the careers of Jared Keller and Benny Johnson. In an article for the Huffington Post, these men are “called out” for their sinful ways.

“In further evidence that plagiarism is no longer a career-ender, Jared Keller, the former Mic news director who was fired for plagiarism, has published at least six items in publications like The Atlantic, Pacific Standard and Daily Dot, Talking Points Memo reported on Thursday. Keller was fired from Mic last month after allegations of some 20 instances of plagiarism were published by Gawker. Keller’s second life shows just how much things have changed. Far from being run out of town, those accused and even fired for plagiarism are more often finding themselves easily back in a job. Last year Benny Johnson was hired by National Review not long after he was fired from BuzzFeed after more than 40 instances of alleged plagiarism surfaced. Just last month Johnson jumped to IJReview.com. In both Johnson and Keller’s cases, the plagiarism mostly amounted to not properly citing information or full passages lifted from other sources.” (Gold, H. 2015)

It’s evident that all of these situations are related to plagiarism. In some situations people were prosecuted and other times not. The criminals are hoping they won’t be caught, but with more and more people becoming aware, writers and authors are starting to stand up for themselves and their work in this digital scam. Some authors have publishers who help them in plagiarism cases while others do not.

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WHO IS DOING THIS?
Anyone could commit plagiary. The internet gives people the temptation to make money from others work with a click of a button. Unfortunately, it looks like other writers are beginning to plagiarize other writers in some instances like web content with Keller and Johnson. Authors, even notable ones like James Altucher, are beginning to believe plagiarism is allowed and should be looked at as fun. Well, they are all sadly mistaken. The key is how any author handles the situation of protecting their own work. Let’s take the Rachel Ann Nunes case as an example.

WHO CAN HELP?
Nunes found help through many sources. Many of these didn’t cost her money and, in fact, helped her fund much of her costs to this point. Let’s break down how she did this.
• Lawyers
• Social Media Web Funding
• Fans
• Other Writers
• Documentation

Lawyers
Nunes hired a group of lawyers at the beginning who were very expensive. With the help of her fans and other writers, Nunes was able to find legal representation with a writer who just so happened also to be a lawyer. This saved her a huge amount of money.

Social Media Web Funding
Without endless supplies of money, Nunes took to social media with her case appealing to fans, other writers, and her community for help. To date, she has had over $12,000 donated to her cause to stop people like Rushton, who believe they will not be caught plagiarizing.

Fans
Nunes has a huge support with fans. Online they have stood up to blatant bashing from Rushton and aliases she has assumed or hidden within. Social media bashing has become a huge issue within the Nunes-Rushton case and Nunes has been vigilant in documenting everything she can find on the internet.

Other Writers
Writers have spread the word on the Nunes-Rushton case through blogs and support with money to help Nunes. This has been a huge support. Even New York Times Best Selling author, David Farland has come to the aid for Nunes by rallying people to her aide and even suggesting that writers need an insurance policy to help with situations like these. David says he’s in the works of coming up with ways to protect writers in these situations who need support in lawsuits against plagiarism. (Farland. D, 2015)

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Documentation
One of Nunes’s biggest strengths in her case has been the documentation of criminal behavior that Rushton has been involved in. Anyone who believes that they are being plagiarized needs to document everything they can find online that links this person they believe to be stealing from them to the crime. Not everyone can hire a private detective so this is a great way to show the evidence you have. Screenshots are a great way of doing this to save evidence that could be taken down by the criminal or the website like Amazon or Goodreads.

MONETARY LOSES
This diagram below shows an estimate of fees that Nunes has lost due to her plagiarism case—since the case is ongoing, it could cost much more. This is how she explains what it’s like dealing with a plagiarism case. “Every day I was doing something to protect myself, taking screenshots, communicating with attorneys, deleting posts, asking Amazon to take down her reviews, trying to find books to put into fundraising sets, etc. Even when I had a slice of time, working was impossible because of the emotional upheaval. I felt terror every time I turn on my computer for fear of what I would find next.” (Nunes, R. 2015)

Monetary Loses

Lawyer Fees $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$= $25,000 and up
Court Costs $=$300
Time Lost $$$$$$$$$$=$10,000 and up
Book Sales Lost $$$$$$$$$$=$10,000 and up

SLANDER AND SOCIAL MEDIA

“In his new book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson (The Psychopath Test) points out that public shaming was a popular punishment in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it usually had a highly personal and physical component—confinement to the stocks or pillory, or even something more creative, like Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter. The punishment had died out with the rise of anonymous urban environments and easy travel, which made it less effective. But this wasn’t the reason for its disappearance, he argues: “They stopped because they were far too brutal.” Ronson makes clear, throughout the book, that he wholeheartedly supports this assessment. Still, it was the recent rise of the Internet and, specifically, social media that allowed for public shaming, of a sort, to become widespread.” (Fallon, C. 2015)

With this wide spread public shaming, Nunes found that her plagiarizer (Rushton) planned revenge through social media as the only way to get even. Social media has allowed public shaming as entertainment for some at the expense of others. In this case for Nunes it actually proved a point and gave her supporters room to defend her. Nobody feels good about getting into social media battles, but as social media becomes more and more popular, people are finding ways to discredit and become deeply slanderous to others and their work.

WHAT TO DO?

Nunes has dealt with her plagiarism case in a way other authors can learn from her. Unfortunately, for Nunes the end is not yet in

Nunes has dealt with her plagiarism case in a way other authors can learn from her. Unfortunately, for Nunes the end is not yet in site since the case is ongoing. What we can learn from this report is that more and more people feel that plagiarism is socially becoming acceptable. This is not acceptable to authors and writers who slave away to create their work. We must protect original works from those who scam, steal, and socially berate those who make an honest living with hard work and creativity. Having strong social connections has helped Nunes pay for a case she normally couldn’t afford. With the help of the writing community, Nunes is standing up for all writers in a case to prove to those who plagiarize that they will be prosecuted.

In order for authors to protect themselves against plagiarism, it’s important to have a strong social media presence. This helps fans and other writers know you and understand who you are so when you’re in a situation where someone could be plagiarizing your work, you have people who will stand up and support you. Nunes used her social media connections in her favor to rally others to her cause. You can too if the situation arises. Be aware of costs that cases of plagiarism may cost a writer and be ready to spend hours of your life fighting for your creativity.

Remember to:
1. Have a strong social media presence
2. Build networks with other writers
3. Be ready to fight for your own work

Works Cited

Associated Press. (2014, September 10). Schoolteacher copied Christian romance novel and added raunchy sex scenes: suit. Retrieved from Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/schoolteacher-stole-christian-romance-suit-article-1.1934341

Council of Writing Program Administrators. (2003, January 1). Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices. Retrieved from Council of Writing Program Administrators: http://wpacouncil.org/positions/WPAplagiarism.pdf

Dutson, A. (2015, March 19). Best Selling Author, James Altucher, Admits Plagiarism. Retrieved from Anthony Dutson’s Paper Petroglyphs: http://avdutson.blogspot.com/2015/03/best-selling-author-james-altucher.html

Fallon, C. (2015, March 25). Jon Ronson Shames Shamers In ‘So You Think You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/25/jon-ronson-wants-us-all-t_n_6935060.html

Farland, D. (2015, February 11). #DailyKick—Update on Rachel Ann Nunes Case. Retrieved from David Farland: http://www.davidfarland.net/writing_tips/?a=474

Gold, H. (2015, March 25). Jared Keller, fired for plagiarism, still writing. Retrieved from Politico: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/03/jared-keller-fired-for-plagiarism-still-writing-204588.html

Nunes, R. A. (2015, March 27). http://www.gofundme.com/StandingAgainstPlagiarism. Retrieved from Rachael Ann Nunes Woman’s Fiction: http://www.ranunes.com/

Tysver, D. A. (1997-2015). Obtaining Copyright Protection. Retrieved from Bitlaw: http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/obtaining.html

Jennifer Bennett

About Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer J. Bennett was born in Southern California as the youngest of six children. Her imagination began to develop as a child creating worlds in her backyard. Books have always played a big role in her life; favorites growing up were “The Country Bunny” by Dubose Heyward, “The Light in the Attic”by Shel Silverstein, and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’ Dell among many, many others. She also enjoys music, theater, travel, and cooking.

Jennifer moved from Southern California in 1989 and finished high school in Southern Utah where she met her husband Matthew Bennett who currently works in educational administration. They reside in St. George, Utah with four amazing kids: Haylee, Chase, Conner, and Libby. After her father was diagnosed with cancer, she began writing her first novel, “The Path”. Her father encouraged her to move forward with her writing and she has continued since. He passed away in 2009.

Jen, as her friends call her; can be found buzzing around California from time to time in search of magical elements from the past. She tries to balance fun, being a mom, and trying to be a grownup (which she really isn’t sure she ever wants to be).

Incorporating Beta Feedback into Your MS

 woman reading

You slave over your MS and finally beg borrow and steal to get beta readers to take a look at your work. Finally you’re getting somewhere. What do you do after you get your feedback? You have all these notes, both positive and negative, written throughout numerous copies of files and all the processing feels overwhelming.  As a writer, you may feel like you’re starting all over again and question everything on the page. It’s rough trying to weed out the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, let’s devise a plan.

6StepsRecurringRevenue

Find Reoccurring Comments

First things first—read through everything and see what comments are reoccurring. These are issues that need to be addressed first. Make a list of these issues and devise a plan that works well for your story. Listen to the feedback from your betas and think of ways to weave the suggestions into the work so that it appears to have always been there.

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

Hold to a Vision/Concept

Understanding what your story concept is, is so important and it’s what makes your work unique. Sometimes others reading your MS may see it as something other than what you envisioned it to be. That isn’t always bad. Be open to what’s coming off the page to your readers and see how you can tweak your work so that the concept shines through.  You may need to make big changes and be ready to if needed.

keep-calm-and-read-between-the-lines
Overall Comments

Read these comments carefully. Information here is huge. The overall likes and dislikes typically are written in these areas of notes. There might not be notes throughout the MS on these topics and the overall impressions are what the beta reader has taken away from your project. These “overall impressions” are what readers will be taking with them up to this point. How do you want reader’s opinions to change when they read it next? Think about it and look at edits in this manner.

Inspiration concept
Unique Comments

Some readers will come up with realizations you never did. Listen to if the make sense and how personal experiences can help your story. For example:  One of my beta’s came from a divorced home. This was really important when my main character was dealing with going through his parent’s divorce. The attitudes, thought process and reality needed to be there. Getting firsthand knowledge of this is priceless.

After you’ve looked over the comments, breakdown your edits into these categories:  Story Structure, Characterization, Dialogue, Setting, Action, Stakes and Risk, Writing, and Formatting. Make notes in these areas on how you’ll tackle the issues/comments given by your betas in these areas. Once you’ve compiled the information, make passes through your MS on each topic to strengthen the work. David Farland suggests making passes through a manuscript on key elements during the editing stage. This is a great time to do this.

You may need to adjust from this plan depending on how big the changes are. Maybe you need to add scenes, take out characters, and rework your character arc ect. This is only a skeleton plan to help you sort through the feedback and come up with your own plan of action. I’m sure there’s many ways to utilize feedback. Feel free to post other ways that have worked for you. It’s always nice to learn from others! Happy editing.

Jennifer Bennett

About Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer J. Bennett was born in Southern California as the youngest of six children. Her imagination began to develop as a child creating worlds in her backyard. Books have always played a big role in her life; favorites growing up were “The Country Bunny” by Dubose Heyward, “The Light in the Attic”by Shel Silverstein, and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’ Dell among many, many others. She also enjoys music, theater, travel, and cooking.

Jennifer moved from Southern California in 1989 and finished high school in Southern Utah where she met her husband Matthew Bennett who currently works in educational administration. They reside in St. George, Utah with four amazing kids: Haylee, Chase, Conner, and Libby. After her father was diagnosed with cancer, she began writing her first novel, “The Path”. Her father encouraged her to move forward with her writing and she has continued since. He passed away in 2009.

Jen, as her friends call her; can be found buzzing around California from time to time in search of magical elements from the past. She tries to balance fun, being a mom, and trying to be a grownup (which she really isn’t sure she ever wants to be).

Limitless: What Authors do to their Characters

When Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer released, my friend and I discussed that someone should die in the last third, to make the story more interesting. But I think, somewhere, a part of me knew it wouldn’t happen. Meyer doesn’t kill good guys in the Twilight saga. Sure, Harry Clearwater has a heart attack, but I mean killing characters fans are emotionally attached to, like Alice, Emmett, or at least Seth. I’ve wondered if Meyer liked her characters too much to kill them.

In contrast, when I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Runelords by David Farland, I found myself questioning whether the authors loved their characters much at all. In The Hunger Games, characters not only die, but are burned, poisoned, tortured, have limbs amputated, are forced into prostitution, and even brainwashed. Young, old, male, female, likable, unlikable, good guys, bad guys, named, nameless all suffered at Collins’ hands. Likewise in The Runelords, a stunning princess turns hideous, a stately King becomes mentally handicapped, and often strong, intelligent people are reduced to insanity and then murdered.

Sometimes in these novels, as a reader, I felt the authors had no limits. And I was scared. What could possibly happen next? Was anyone safe? Would the King ever regain his status, or was he doomed to die in his own filth? I had to read to find out.

Not all stories need to be as limitless as The Hunger Games and The Runelords to be good stories and to keep people reading, but notice that what Collins and Farland did added more tension to their novels. Also note that early in their stories, they let the reader know that nothing is safe. So as a reader, you have the whole series to worry.

And of course, putting your characters through heck doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t love them or that you harm them senselessly. J.K. Rowling loved all the “good guys” she killed. In New York she said she hated writing a particular death scene for The Casual Vacancy, but felt it had to be there for thematic purposes.

Collins and Farland didn’t harm their characters for the sake of it either. In their cases, their characters’ ailments came with the backdrop of the story—horrible things happen in the worlds and societies their protagonists live in.

Should Meyer have killed a likeable character in Breaking Dawn? Maybe not in the way we would see in The Hunger Games or The Runelords—the Twilight story didn’t call for it. But perhaps a different death or misfortune may have fit and added tension.  Or maybe I’m just twisted and like to see characters suffer and die. Or both.

Whatever the case, when we write, perhaps we should consider what our stories’ limits are and how early to alert our readers to them. Giving your reader a heads up not only makes them worry and adds tension, but if anything horrific is going to happen to a main character, they need a warning.  Our readers grow attached to our characters, and if we do something awful to the protagonist without any kind of foreshadowing, they’ll feel betrayed. (Imagine, for example, if in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the main characters was suddenly hit and killed by a random car. Readers would say “Hey! That’s not what I signed up for! I wanted a happy ending!” That incident doesn’t fit with the limits the story set up.)

Thoughts? Do you like reading limitless books? Can you think of anymore examples?

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Book Bomb for Ben

Ben Wolverton,ben age 16, was in a tragic long-boarding accident on Wednesday the 4th, 2013. He suffers from severe brain trauma, a cracked skull, broken pelvis and tail bone, burnt knees, bruised lungs, broken ear drums, road rash, pneumonia, and is currently in a coma. His family has no insurance.

Ben is the son of author David Farland, whose books have won multiple awards, and who is widely known as a mentor to many prominent authors, such as Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer, and Brandon Mull. David has also been a guest host on the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. Costs for Ben’s treatment are expected to rise above $1,000,0000. To help raise money for Ben, we are having a book bomb (focused on Nightingale and Million Dollar Outlines) on behalf of Ben.

You can learn more about Ben’s condition, or simply donate to the Wolverton family here: http://www.gofundme.com/BensRecoveryDavid

WHAT IS A BOOK BOMB?

A Book Bomb is an event where participants purchase a book on a specific day (in this case, Wednesday, April 10th) to support the author, or, in this case, a young person in serious need: Ben Wolverton.

WHAT BOOK SHOULD I PURCHASE?

David Farland’s young adnightingale_mult fantasy thriller NIGHTINGALE has won SEVEN awards, including the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival–beating out ALL books in ALL categories. It is available as a hardcover ($24.99), ebook ($7.99), audio book ($24.99), and enhanced novel for the iPad ($9.99). You can purchase it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006P7SEBY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B006P7SEBY&link_code=as3&tag=davidfarnet-20 Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nightingale-david-farland/1107084747?ean=2940016100463 on the Nightingale website: http://www.nightingalenovel.com/ or, you can get the enhanced version complete with illustrations, interviews, animations, and its own soundtrack through iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/nightingale/id560309064?mt=11

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Some people sing at night to drive back the darkness. Others sing to summon it. . . .
Bron Jones was abandoned at birth. Thrown into foster care, he was rejected by one family after another, until he met Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognized him for what he really was–what her people call a “nightingale.”
But Bron isn’t ready to learn the truth. There are secrets that have been hidden from mankind for hundreds of thousands of years, secrets that should remain hidden. Some things are too dangerous to know. Bron’s secret may be the most dangerous of all.

IS IT GOOD?

Authors such as James Dashner (The Maze Runner), Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn), and Paul Genesse (Iron Dragon series) all PRAISED it. Nightingale has 4 and a half stars on Amazon. Read what other people are saying here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006P7SEBY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B006P7SEBY&link_code=as3&tag=davidfarnet-20

Or, purchase the novel and find out for yourself.

WHAT IF I ALREADY OWN NIGHTINGALE? OR I’M NOT INTERESTED IN IT?

If you are a wmilliondollaroutlines_mriter, you may want to consider purchasing David Farland’s MILLION DOLLAR OUTLINES. It has been a bestseller on Amazon for over a month and is only $6.99.

As a bestselling author David Farland has taught dozens of writers who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight). In Million Dollar Outlines, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership, giving it the potential to become a bestseller. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors go on to prominence. Get it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B9JYJ6W/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B00B9JYJ6W&link_code=as3&tag=davidfarnet-20 Or on Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/million-dollar-outlines-david-farland/1114285069?ean=2940015965148 Read one of the 26 reviews here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B9JYJ6W/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B00B9JYJ6W&link_code=as3&tag=davidfarnet-20

CAN I JUST DONATE MONEY?

You can donate money to Ben here: http://www.gofundme.com/BensRecovery

(Or you could purchase a book as a gift for someone else.)

I WANT TO HELP BUT I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY!

The best way you can help is by spreading the word of Ben’s donation page, and/or this book bomb. Share it on facebook, twitter, pinterest, your blog—anywhere you can. Invite others to the event.

TELL ME MORE ABOUBen2T BEN. WILL HE BE OKAY?

David Farland has been keeping everyone posted on facebook. Subscribe or friend him to get up-to-date information: https://www.facebook.com/david.farland1. At the moment, Ben is stable and appears to be improving.

Thank you!

Ben and his family greatly appreciate your support, and so do all who love and care about them.

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.