Tag Archives: writing

The Power of Stories

“There’s power in stories.” – Varric Tethras

I’m a bit of an oddball.  Always have been.  But I’m not ashamed of that fact.  It makes life more interesting for me.  I like to imagine it makes me enigmatic as well, but that’s probably just me indulging my not inconsiderable ego.

The point, however, is this: I’ve got some unusual ways of looking at the world.

For instance, if you asked everyone on the planet about the meaning of life, what do you suppose the answers would be?  They would be far-ranging, but I think we could expect a dozen or so common themes around which the majority of people’s answers would cluster.  We’d hear about love and service to others, adventure, experience, survival, proving your worth and living simply.  We would most certainly run into people who believe life was about serving God, just as we would discover that many people believe life has no purpose at all.

But me?  I think everyone is wrong.  And I think everyone is right.  Because I believe the meaning of life is all of these things.  It just depends on what story is being told.

The purpose of this website is the same as that of life.  Story.  In the end, everything comes back to story.  Everything about human existence concerns and hinges on narrative.  Each individual life is a story, every day is a story, every activity, every event.  That’s what history is – stories that last.  Even religion is made of stories, the ones that inspire or motivate us to be better.  Stories are all around us, in everything we do.  Life, after all, is just one vast saga.  We’re all characters, and we each have a part to play.  It’s all about stories with us, and, in the words of expert storyteller Varric Tethras, there’s power in stories.

That’s why storytellers do what we do.

The careers of all storytellers – authors, filmmakers, playwrights, video game developers, even songwriters – are built on the assumption that stories are powerful.  That stories change people.  They challenge us to grow and explore, to look at the world in new ways.  They cause us to re-evaluate the world and our place in it.  Research is beginning to suggest what storytellers have known for eons: that stories affect how we think, how we perceive life and the world around us, and, by extension, the way we act.  But we don’t really need new research to tell us that, do we?  The evidence is around us in daily life, and it is apparent in even the most cursory glance through the past.  Stories have proven throughout human history to be far more than just art or entertainment.  They are often radical agents of change.  To demonstrate this, I could cite a number of stories from any one of the major religions in the world, but that seems a bit too obvious.  How about The Illiad?  Homer’s epic influenced generations of Greek tradition which ultimately, in turn, affected every aspect of western civilization.  It also kept in place a Greek warrior ethos that radically reshaped the world through the actions of Alexander the Great.  (Funnily enough, Alexander was not Greek, but the Macedonians of his time adored Greek culture and emulated it in almost every way.)  Alexander was raised on The Illiad.  He was greatly inspired by the ethos it espoused, and he believed himself to be a continuation of its epic.  A new Achilles for a later age.

Where would the world be now if not for The Illiad’s influence on one of the great shapers of history?  Somewhere very different, that is certain.  This is just one example out of thousands, tens of thousands, of examples that could be used.  Stories are powerful; the world in which we live has been shaped by story as much as man.

So, have I gotten my point across?  Are stories powerful, or am I just a ranting lunatic?  (The latter is very probable.)  If you agree that stories have almost unlimited influence in our lives, then I invite you to subscribe for more posts.  I’m going to try to get some discussion flowing in the future, that way you don’t have to read only one person’s highly biased opinion.  After all, the internal and external conversations brought about by stories are what unleash their change-creating potential!

Changing Gears

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this blog and expanding my author platform, and I’ve come to the conclusion that one of two things must happen.

Either I discard it altogether, or I change it up.

Here’s the thing.  Blogs are a metric ton of effort if you want them to work properly.  I’ve not been dedicating the time required to put out consistent, quality content, so I’ve gained all of zero followers.  (Okay, that’s not true, but it certainly feels like that sometimes.)  Should I forget about the site and focus on my books?  Or put more effort into the blog, potentially drawing away attention that my novels deserve?  I’d like to say the former was the answer, but that’s not the world in which we live.  According to the great, collective everyone, building an author brand – through social media, blogging, etc. – is much more important.  This strikes me as odd, seeing as I want book readers for my books, not internet surfers for my books.  Geez, I don’t know.  Perhaps they’re one and the same now?  I’m not a marketing guru, and I don’t make the rules.

So this is what I’m saying: I’m rebranding this blog.  It’s time to start putting more effort into my public image of being a science fiction and fantasy writer, and less time into actually…writing science fiction and fantasy.

Am I the only one who thinks that sounds backwards?

Whether it is or not, according to the experts it’s the way to go, and I’m going to give it a shot.  I’ve realized in my analysis that not only have I not created enough content (which is the main problem), but the content I do create is wildly unrelated.  I just talk about random stuff that interests me, while throwing in updates on my novels.  That won’t cut it.  I need a focus, a distinct topic.

The Power of Stories

From now on, this blog is going to focus on the influence stories have in our lives.  It will have a fantasy/science fiction bent, of course, since that’s what I write, but that will just be the flavor of the icing, not the cake itself.  Stories – in any medium, in any genre– are going to be the topic, and we’re going to discuss the heck out of ‘em.  If that sounds like your idea of a good time, then come join me.  If not, well, sorry to disappoint, but here’s your exit ramp.  It’s only fair to give you warning.  I know I hate having content show up on my feeds that I couldn’t care less about.  And for reals, especially if this is your stop, thanks for sticking with me to this point.  I’m going to miss the 50% of my followers who are leaving.  Hope you three have a great life.

Anyway, there’s the big announcement.  Expect a bit more content on a regular basis.  (I’m going to shoot for one good blog post a week.  That should add constancy to the site without taking undue time from my books.)  Hopefully I can turn this site (and my author platform) into a place people come to get their fix for all things story.  Feel free to come along for the ride.  Your thoughts, opinions, and discussion are always welcome.

A Random Dude’s Opinion on a New Year

Yes, yes, I know.  Yet another post by an obscure human being (who likely has no significant experience on which to be basing advice) about setting goals in a new year, blah, blah, blah…

I am well aware that now is the time of year in which every Bob or Jane with half a coherent thought is giving life advice.  But I’m a writer that writes what’s on his mind, so I’ll throw my two cents into the general pot.  Maybe we’ll come out with a fortune.

The fact of the matter is this: goals are important.  I don’t care if we’re nearing a new year and everyone’s saying it.  Doesn’t make it any less true.  Now is the time to be thinking about what you want out of life.  Not so you can forget by January 12th, but so you can carve it into your soul or your heart or whatever other internal organ or metaphysical entity you find appropriate.  Goals, people.  The conception and pursuit of what’s important to us makes us who we are.

So set ‘em!  Set those goals and keep them in mind.  Make a mission statement about what’s important to you and recite it daily.  Pull out that dusty ol’ bucket list and start ticking off your dreams.  My list is nearing the length of a novel (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it is super long), and there’s no way I’ll ever complete it all in one lifetime.  Should that stop me from trying to attain as many of my dreams as possible?  No!  It just means I need to step up the pace to realize as many of them as I can with the time I’ve got!  It’s time to start knocking those suckers outta the park, and 2017 sounds like a good time to hit some grand slams.

The first step is to pick the goals you want to attain (or even just work toward, if they’re big ones that take years).  For example, here are some of my goals: I want to be a New York Times Bestselling author, serve my country, become an astronaut, earn a doctorate degree, and rule the world (just kidding on the last one…kind of).

I can’t do all of that in 2017!  I’ve got to be more selective.  So, first I select the goals I currently have the means to obtain or work toward.  Let’s use the NYT Bestselling Author goal.  This is one I’ve been pursuing for several years now, and in all likelihood, I still have years to go.  But I have the means to get closer to that goal, as long as I keep in mind what is important to me.  That’s the key; don’t let life interfere.  We can’t let the little things make us forget what we really want.  I want to change the world through my tales.  I want to rip and tear and break people inside with nothing but story, nothing but fiction and characters.  I want people to laugh and cry and shout and become inspired because they recognized something beautiful, tragic or stirring in what I create.  Being a NYT Bestseller is a representation of that, and as long as I keep that in mind, every day, every month, every year becomes a good time to reach for my goals.

Because, in the end, we all just want to change the world.  And if we work hard, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

What about all of you?  Anybody have any goals they’d like to share?  What are you going to do to attain them?  Let me know!

Here’s wishing everyone a happy new year!

Ironheart on Sale for $.99

Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please.

Ahem.

Ironheart: The Primal Deception is on sale for the next few days on amazon at only $0.99!  Good people, that is less than what is spent on even the most frivolous of things, and also equal in price to the most serious of things, such as the delicious deep-fried goodness of the items on a McDonald’s dollar menu.  So unless you are saving every last possible dollar for sweet calorie accumulating fries and mini-hamburgers (a perfectly legitimate way to approach the saving of money, in my humble opinion), consider plopping a measly dollar down on the altar of literature.  You’ll be purchasing hours of enjoyment for less change than most people ignore on the sidewalk every day, not to mention supporting an independent author in the process!

Of course, if you think it’s both likely and deplorable that I’ll just spend your hard-earned money on a small fry, then you are correct on both counts.  Feel free to send me a picture of the finger instead.

If, on the other hand, you decide to sacrifice that highly prized dollar to the kindle gods and read Ironheart, please post a review on amazon.  No matter your opinion, I’d like to know your thoughts so I can improve my dollar-menu-income-generating projects.

New Results

I woke up this morning and my brain exploded.

Ironheart has hit #1 in the Teen and Young Adult Steampunk category on amazon, and #2 in Steampunk Science Fiction!  (By the way, the screenshot above is from last night and was provided by a friend.  It’s a little out of date.  Ironheart has since moved up in those categories.  I’ve got to figure out how to do some of this stuff.)  Seeing Ironheart ranked above Jim Butcher’s – the JIM BUTCHER – Cinder Spires nearly sent me into convulsions.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in Ironheart‘s release!  You guys and gals are wonderful, and without you, writing books would be a gigantic exercise in futility.  Every single one of you has my heartfelt gratitude.

Early Results for Opening Day

I am very tired, but I’m also ecstatic.  If you didn’t know, those two things mixing together lead to a sleep-deprived feeling of euphoria.

Peeps, if I was not totally technology illiterate, I would post a screenshot to go along with this announcement.  Ironheart just hit #1 in Children’s Steampunk on amazon!  Finally edged out Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.

In addition, it is also now at #2 in Teen and Young Adult Steampunk, which is also awesome.  (I’ve heard it said that they don’t give medals for almost, but sometimes they do.  It’s called silver.)

What I’m trying to say…is that you all did it.  I know every author says it, but I’m going to say it too.  And when I say it, it’s actually true.

I have the best readers in the world.

 

Ironheart Update

Alright everyone.  Currently, Ironheart is sitting at #5 in the YA Steampunk category, just behind Philip Pullman’s popular His Dark Materials trilogy and one other book.  Let’s push it up to number one!

And for everyone who has purchased a copy of Ironheart today, you have my heartfelt thanks.  You guys are the best!

If you haven’t picked up Ironheart for $2.99, you can still get a copy here to help boost its rank!