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Avengers: Age of Ultron

Go see it

:D

Enough said!

J. Dean

(I’m sure that somehow this is a Haiku gone bad)

Greetings, Bearers!

Okay, so a week turned into a month. My apologies for not writing back sooner. That’s what happens when a typically focused person makes the mistake of trying to multitask :D

So getting back to my point in my previous post: Magic in writing. In light of what I put down last time about the inconsistencies and interior logic problems that arise when magic is not thoughtfully and carefully incorporated in novels, I wanted to do in this second part is give some advice to those of you who are brave enough to tackle the topic in your books. So, if you’re interested in this, read on!

1.) Establish rules and boundaries for your magic. Understand that if you decide to make magic limitless in its potential, you’re opening doors for inconsistencies in logic. As I alluded to in the previous post, if you have a character who can cast a spell and reduce a castle wall to rubble, then you’d better be prepared to explain why that same character cannot use that magic should (s)he be locked up in a dungeon and be unable to escape.

2.) Along those same lines, beware the temptation to make magic the answer for everything. If a character can simply resolve a situation with a wave of the wand, the story loses its tension. Part of the appeal of storytelling is placing the characters in a position which requires some sort of risk or fear that must be confronted when dealing with the problem at hand: be it an impersonal or personal one. The idea of a magical resolution can seem cool in the mind of the author, but in the mind of the reader it can end up being a letdown because it turned out to be nothing more than an “abracadabra” solution that is utilized instead of a real nail-biting scene.

3.) As with every other cool concept in fantasy, magic is no substitute for good character development and good story. Remember that the special effects we authors contrive in our heads, as awesome as we think they may be, are at best enhancements to the story. If we fall into the trap of “George Lucas syndrome” (where the special effects overshadow the story or become an attempt to mask weak character or plot development) then we’ve not only wasted our concept, but we’ve also wasted our story as well.

Take these suggestions for what they’re worth. Trial and error, both in my own personal writing and in reading the works of others, has taught me a great deal about such things. May they be as valuable to you in your craft.

Okay, back to my own stories now. Keep up the good writing, my friends!

See you in the Vein!
J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!
A busy couple of weeks have passed, and while I’ve been careful to keep writing (including starting on another new story for the Surrealities series), it’s been a bit difficult to find a chance to re-connect with you on the blog site. Fortunately, there’s always something that comes across my short little span of attention which triggers the writing bug with me, especially if it’s something about writing. :D
Yesterday, while watching this CinemaSins critique of Harry Potter, Jeremy (yes, the CinemaSins guy’s name is also Jeremy… probably why I like watching his stuff ;) ) pointed out something that I have been critical about numerous times but (to my recollection) have not taken the time to sit down and actually write about: namely, the consistent usage of magic in fiction.
Now, I need to make a full disclosure here: for those of you who do not know this, I am a Christian. And when I say Christian, I mean a full-blown, historically confessional, catholic (not Roman Catholic, but catholic in the traditional sense of the word) Christian, not simply somebody who shows up for Christmas, Easter, and nothing else. And while I do not hit people over the head with Christianity every chance I get, I don’t hide it, either. I do take it very seriously, because it’s true.
I say that to say this: whenever I talk about this subject, there are people who mistake my disdain for the use of magic in writing for a carte blanche accusation of Satanism for all things magical in books and movies. Of course, this is not the case. I love Tolkien, and there is magic in Tolkien. I love Star Wars, and it’s just as apt to call The Force a kind of magic (yes, even despite the midichlorians) as anything else. So aside from the promotion of blatant occult practice (such as Ouija boards), I don’t have a problem with the idea of magic introduced in fiction as a natural part of that world.
My issue as a writer comes from this: that magic, if not carefully explained and defined, can become a major point of inconsistency within the storyline.
I have seen this more often than I’d like to remember, and you probably have as well. A character will have magical ability, and will do something as incredible as, say, obliterate a dragon with a single wave of the hand or an uttered spell. But later on, that same character will be confronted with a much lesser enemy (a human opponent, for instance) who also needs to be eliminated, but suddenly cannot use their magical ability for reasons not explained to the reader or audience. Yet, instead of suspending disbelief, the thoughtful reader stops and asks “Why?” And since the explanation is not given (or is given in a cryptic, unsatisfying manner, like when the character in question suddenly turns to the mortal with him and says “You need to do this on your own.”), the story’s sense of interior logic is upset. In the end, the author has unintentionally pulled the rug out from under his own credibility, and the world he or she has created has fallen apart.
It’s the Gilligan’s Island theory of consistency. In the television show, Gilligan’s Island, the castaways had a professor among their numbers who could build a battery charger out of coconuts, among other things, but for some reason had trouble constructing a raft. No real consistency is given as to why the Professor can or cannot put together some devices, and the viewer is left befuddled with the lack of order and logic. Of course, I realize that Gilligan’s Island was a comedic series which was never intended to be a show which required a great deal of intellectual discipline to watch, but nevertheless the inability for the show to put together sensible situations did leave it with a lack of credibility that is best left for humor which requires no such continuity.
On the other hand, a work of fiction which constructs a world governed by laws of nature differing from our own still requires consistency if it is to be taken seriously. If magic works in one situation but not another, it is up to the author to explain why this comes to pass, and do so with a plausible explanation. This is especially important when the author is coming to a climactic conflict of a plot and realizes that a particular character’s magical powers should be able to make short work of a conflict, thus making the climactic conflict not so climactic. Real thought and definition must be put into a work that draws on magic, precisely because there is just as much room for blatant inconsistency as there is for wondrous imagination.
And if you’re an author who wants to hear from your audience (like I do), you’d rather hear “Wow! Great story!” rather than “How is it that the antagonist could kill an entire army with a magic curse uttered halfway across the continent, but not do the same thing while standing in the same room as the hero?”
Food for thought this week. Digest it, and I’ll be back next week with part two. :D
See you in the Vein!
J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers,

Unfortunately, I come on a somewhat sad note this day. Actor Leonard Nimoy, famous for his portrayal of the original Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame, died today. He was 83.

If you’re into any sort of good science fiction at all, chances are you have Star Trek to thank for this. It was one of the greatest sf shows in existence, and I still run to Gene Roddenberry’s masterpiece as a source of inspiration and influence. A great deal of the charm and attraction came from the emotionless Mr. Spock, played masterfully by Nimoy, who himself had a significant degree of contribution to the character. He was, indeed, a character who, although he had no emotion, nevertheless had great depth as a character.

He will be greatly missed. He was–IS–Mr. Spock.

See you in the Vein,
J.Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

Before I get back to business, I wanted to bring up a great quote from Ernest Hemingway about the craft of writing. Thanks goes out to Pastor Brian Thomas for posting this on his blog:

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing. A writer who appreciates the seriousness of writing so little that he is anxious to make people see he is formally educated, cultured or well-bred is merely a popinjay

Learn it, and remember it. Hemingway (who is not my favorite author, but a prime example of excellent prose nonetheless) speaks the truth.

Okay, back to it. DIVE! DIVE!

See you in the Vein!
J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers (and others)!

On a little side note for those who are theologically inclined, I’ve just published a review of Michael Horton’s book Ordinary over on Amazon.com. If you’d like to read my thoughts about the book (which were overwhelmingly positive) check it out HERE

Okay, back to mischief (and writing too, but that’s been hard to come by this week. Next week I get back on the ball. Promise :D )

See you in the Vein!
J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

I can now say that the second part of my Doctor Who fanfic piece is now finished, and now available at THIS LINK.

Part one to the Story is located HERE.

And if you’d like to read the entire story without interruption, feel free to check out the PDF file for the story just below my signature.

Now go get your Whovian fix and let me know what you think of it! :D

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

DoctorWho

Greetings, Bearers!

Well a new year is upon us and it only took me a week and a half to wish all of you a happy one! :D And no, my delay had nothing to do with too much partying or hiding under the couch once my children introduced me to Five Nights at Freddy’s (I knew about the game already, but playing it… well, that’s an entirely different experience. If you play the game, don’t do so while drinking liquids…).

Anyway, let me give you a rundown of things that I hope to accomplish this year, many of which are for your benefit as well as for my sanity…
1.) Finish the edit of The Summoning of Bherta, the Fourth Descent into the Vein
2.) Finish writing (and begin editing) the Summoning of Belenn, the Fifth Descent into the Vein
3.) Work out some more short stories for the Surrealities series, and (if possible) bundle them up into a nice set for all to read at once (I know for a fact that some people prefer to pick up full collections of short stories rather than buy individual ones here and there. And I’m okay with that :) )
4.) Get back to working on the Hutch Sheridan series (everything else has been getting in the way, writing and otherwise, and I’ve still not decided as to whether or not I want to make these full novels or something more like novelettes).
5.) Prepare for the RadCon event in February of 2016 (Very, very, VERY pumped about that one *insert maniacal Joker laugh here*)

I’m not sure whether or not you call these “resolutions.” I’m hesitant to use that word, because I’d like to think that these are goals which are meant to be fulfilled in a reasonable time period. Plus… people tend to break their resolutions, so maybe by calling it something else it’ll get done.

Because I’ve NEVER broken a resolution… (and if you believe that, there’s a swamp in the Sahara I’d like to sell you ;) )

So on with the writing, and on with the reading. Remember: feel free to let me know what you think about what you’ve read. I appreciate your feedback and love to hear from you.

Okay, back to writing, editing, and reveling in the arrival of Jim Harbaugh to Michigan while enjoying championship playoffs in the NFL.

You do the same.

Or not.

See you in the Vein!
J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

Looking forward to another relaxing break from the everyday, as I hope that you are as well. I and the family will be putting in some well-deserved down time from the daily grind and enjoy our Christmas and New Year’s (save for the fact that Michigan is not in a bowl game this year :( . Hopefully that will change as soon as Jimmah gets home… because he will…. I think…)

Anyway, to celebrate, I’m running a special half-off coupon between now and Jan 1st for you to enjoy. All of my full-length novels and my short story collection Alternate Endings are fifty percent off for the next twelve days. So take advantage of it while you can.

Here’s the coupon list. Remember, though, that these coupons only work for the Smashwords link, so you’ll have to get them from there rather than Amazon or Barnes and Noble (fortunately the Smashwords ebooks are compatible with all e-readers).

50% off coupons on smashwords.com
The Summoning of Clade Josso: FG57B
The Summoning of Old Velt: KH64E
The Summoning of Kran: FX48P
Alternate Endings: VE39A

So use, enjoy, and spread the word!

Have a great Christmas and a great New Year, and you’ll be hearing from me come January!

And no peeking at your presents! (Okay, that’s more directed at myself than anybody else…)

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

I have some good (almost great) news: The Summoning of Clade Josso cover reissue is now complete, and is available for ebook on Smashwords and Amazon! Check it out, and if you’ve been waiting to purchase it, now is the time!

And I GREATLY appreciate the feedback about the MUCH IMPROVED cover! People are loving it and drooling over it! That’s good!

“Wait, J.” you may be saying, “Why is that good but not great?”

Because I’m still waiting on the cover to be taken by Barnes and Noble :(. Not sure what’s going on with it, but I’m trying to get that squared away.

However, if you get it on Smashwords, you’ll still get a readable version with the new cover. So check it out and enjoy!

And on to the second piece: the Star Wars teaser. Yes, I realize that I’ve said to family and friends that I didn’t want ANY glimpse of anything from J.J. Abrams’ upcoming film. I said that I would stand firm and avert my eyes and ears from any clues and images that would give away spoilers and ruin my anticipation.

But I caved. Sue me. :D

If you’ve not seen it, check it out. It’s pretty much available anywhere, like Youtube and what not, so sit back and enjoy a little taste of what I hope to be a Magnum Opus that occurs in a galaxy far, far away…

(Now, if there happens to be a polar bear or a smoke monster in the movie…)

So get out there and watch it.

See you in the Vein!

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