Quick Tour of Published Works

The Future of Engineering – an anthology
This anthology of short science fiction stories is ideal for college students or those who are curious about it. The author originally wrote these while living as a foreign exchange graduate student in London, England. While, definitely science fiction shorts, the ambiance of international academia and college students shines as the background setting.

Jimmy Bodeilo Travels Through Time
This is a single short science fiction story starring Jimmy Bodeilo who is about 11 years old. He appears in more than one story by the same author. To keep it simple “If it is a Jimmy Bodeilo story, then you know it is for kids.”

The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead  This is an urban crime novel.  You can also check out a page at the blog, and read a chapter for free.

The Children of Loki at Jet.com Using mercenaries in corporate conflict and cross-cultural relationships are the central themes of The Children of Loki. A middle-aged mulatto man from planet Earth discovers his military muse when he comes across one of Emperor Rejkyavik’s organic sentient warriors in The Rim.

Five Big Questions in Life and how to answer them In stark contrast to the other works, this is a practical philosophy mini-book.  Is there a God?  What is knowledge? Is morality absolute or relative?  These answers and more are addressed in this short and handy publication.

Just click on the link to purchase any of these.  They are all available at multiple locations.  The books can be ordered at any book store.  The short stories are available to Kindle readers.

Quick Tour of Published Works

The Future of Engineering – an anthology
This anthology of short science fiction stories is ideal for college students or those who are curious about it. The author originally wrote these while living as a foreign exchange graduate student in London, England. While, definitely science fiction shorts, the ambiance of international academia and college students shines as the background setting.

Jimmy Bodeilo Travels Through Time
This is a single short science fiction story starring Jimmy Bodeilo who is about 11 years old. He appears in more than one story by the same author. To keep it simple “If it is a Jimmy Bodeilo story, then you know it is for kids.”

The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead  This is an urban crime novel.  You can also check out a page at the blog, and read a chapter for free.

The Children of Loki at Jet.com Using mercenaries in corporate conflict and cross-cultural relationships are the central themes of The Children of Loki. A middle-aged mulatto man from planet Earth discovers his military muse when he comes across one of Emperor Rejkyavik’s organic sentient warriors in The Rim.

Five Big Questions in Life and how to answer them In stark contrast to the other works, this is a practical philosophy mini-book.  Is there a God?  What is knowledge? Is morality absolute or relative?  These answers and more are addressed in this short and handy publication.

Just click on the link to purchase any of these.  They are all available at multiple locations.  The books can be ordered at any book store.  The short stories are available to Kindle readers.

Politics in Novels

Politics in Prose

Sooner or later, people in more intellectual circles may ask about the politics of an author of about the politics of a fiction novelist’s fictional worlds.
Here are a few tid bits of information:

  1. Women philosophers are more likely than their male counterparts to write fiction novels. I won’t go into why that is at this time but there are reasons for it.
  2.  Genre authors are sometimes categorized in certain ways and people may feel that a specific political agenda appears in their fiction. This is only sometimes true. The politics of a given story may not be the same as in an author’s other stories.

As an author, I toy around with politics in some stories. I do view it as important but may not express that consistently from one novel to another. Then again, once readers get used to me, it might well be obvious.

Multiculturalism & Pluralism

There are stories which closely resemble the real world or are set in “the real world” despite being fiction. In the novel The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead has characters exhibiting the same kinds of racial diversity that one finds in the setting – the city of Indianapolis. There are good guys and villains of both the main “racial types” in the story. No one was included or left out for the purposes of being offensive.

Me, personally
My personal politics are most likely to be loved or disparaged as promoting a socially progressive “Liberal agenda” or even “Liberal feminist, politically correct agenda”. I don’t think of it that way to the same extreme that my political adversaries do but I am politically and sociologically a progressive thinker. I am not against tradition for the sake of rocking the boat. However, I do think that pointlessly oppressive social systems which are immoral should be dismantled. I do think that a certain amount of institutionalized prejudice against varying degrees of criminality is warranted. I do believe that it is perfectly acceptable for the USA to remain “a Christian nation” without apology and that “religious tolerance” should not go so far as to devastate ourselves due to being attacked by our opposition because their perception of our “tolerance” is to take over and supplant our basic Christian culture. I am Pro-Choice and believe that abortion should be very rare, but safe and legal in those rare instances when it occurs. I believe motherhood should be well supported and understand that many “relationship conservatives” are coming from a school of thought which is based in preventing divorces and single-parenting without killing anyone. I think support for adoption would work better if pregnant women and girls get more support than they get torment from peers, clerics or parents. I won’t go on about it all any more right now.

There are a few other tid bits about my personal politics in The Double Life of Tutweiler BuckheadMost of it, is the simple ways in which my views of good and evil are communicated in the plot and characters.Check it out for yourselves right on the Works associate page.

Meanwhile, drop us a comment or even start a conversation about multiculturalism in literature. If you are interested in diversity in the real world more than in fiction, check out Be Diversity Competent!.

What is Philosophy?

What is Philosophy?
Most people know what religion is. For those who don’t go to church with their family, religion is an organized way of helping people to grow spiritually; that means mainly to help the good stay good, to help people improve – especially morally, and in terms of their awareness, and to help people to help each other better. Religion is usually also associated with beliefs: beliefs and methods.
Philosophy addresses many of the same core questions that religion does, and that science also does. Due to that, sometimes philosophy can be understood as being part of religion and part of science but other times it isn’t. For example: what is knowledge? and Is God real? If so, what is God like? are all normal philosophical questions.
Sometimes philosophy is viewed as conflicting with religion or with science. How do we know that scientific research methods are as good as or better than religious writings like The Bible? Are both just as good? Are social science case studies and legal witness testimonies any better, worse or as good as testimonies about God’s activities in The Bible and elsewhere? Are they scientific evidence? If so, then why do scientists sometimes complain about religious people or claim they are unscientific and superstitious?
There are also famous or infamous atheist philosophers, including David Hume and Friederich Nietzsche, and Bertrand Russell. They were able to write and to publish without being burned at the stake by other people and they were not struck down by God for not being believers. However, David Hume did not dare publish while he was alive because the Church was so powerful in his day and he was terrified of them.
Many theologians also study philosophy, and those who do not fear and hate it, in contrast refer to it as ‘the handmaiden of theology’.
Ethics
Ethics is the philosophical term for morality when people try to talk about it as if it is not religion. Many theologians and others are comfortable dealing with morality as ethics. The types of problems that ethicists (moralists) deal with are often political; they require thinking about both the small and the large scales in life.
Here are a few examples:
1) At what point can a physician remove life support from an unconscious patient and not be breaking their Hippocratic Oath to protect and preserve life?
This one is clearly a medical question. Hence, hospitals are one place where ethicists often work, but as there are standards for the large scale, agreements about such matters turn into laws, regulations and public policies. As such, they are also political.
2) How many refugees can the country take in, in an emergency? To what extent does a nation’s right to protect itself and it’s own welfare override a moral obligation to help those in need – such as refugees? This is more obviously political, but is just as personal as the previous one. Clearly, this is not medical ethics.
Both of these questions can be looked at from a definitely religious perspective but may have to be faced by people who do not consider themselves to be religious or to even have a religion. Neither question has a quick, easy cut and dried answer.
People who consistently address these questions from a religious perspective are still doing moral philosophy or ethics. It is just that, this is also philosophy to those who take any other kind of approach to seeking good answers to the same kinds of problems.
When it is not
Philosophy is not always religion, and not everything in religion is philosophy.
When Socrates asked the young men at Plato’s parties if they knew what “justice” is, he was not trying to practice religion. When Aristotle chose to catalog animals while working for Alexander the Great he was not doing it as religion. Both were activities of philosophy.
Many religious activities are caused by the God-based philosophy (also known as theology), but the ritual of each religion is not philosophy itself. Many of the good works done, such as building schools and hospitals and feeding the hungry are likewise based in theology but are not philosophy itself.
Many businesses put together a paragraph or two about their company’s philosophy for employees and other customers. That is normally not considered to be religion.
Together and Separate
Philosophy and religion can be found together or treated separately. Real life is holistic of course, so there may be times when a categorical separation seems artificial but that’s okay. If you are used to one, but not the other rest assured that you can know both quite intimately. The better you know them, the less you will get confused about which is which.

*If you loved this article, check out Five Big Questions in Life and how to answer them.  You can buy it online Five Big Questions in Life and how to answer them.

Basics of Book Writing

Type of Book

This is the most important aspect of the project. Are you going to write a nonfiction book or a fiction novel? If the book is going to be a nonfiction book, there is more than one way to decide which type of book to write. One can look at the market and see what is most needed. One can look at oneself and see what one most wants to write about. Each leads to a good decision but not the same kind of wise choice.

If the book is going to be nonfiction, then one needs to make a decision on which type. Likewise if fiction, it helps to know the genre before one begins the writing process.

The goal of the end product does also matter. If one is just doing the work for fun, without any need to make money from doing it, then one can be driven more by preference and maybe take more risks. Money making endeavors can involve risks, but on

Planning

You may have just a simple form of the idea.

Pitch

You have to decide based on your self-knowledge whether or not you are going to pitch your idea to the publishing industry at this stage, or after you have an outline, or after you have written the book. There is one other option and that is to put together enough for a book proposal and pitch that.

Pitching an idea, means meeting with or calling or emailing industry moguls to see if any of them are interested in your idea. For some people this is the easy part, but for others this is the part that is harder than making a private trip to the Moon.

Outline and first draft

When that is the case you can start with an outline. In the case of fiction, some authors prefer to develop a detailed plot line and outline before they get to writing. Others begin by just writing and seeing where the creative process leads. People like that often face a great deal more editing after they have produced a first draft.

Depending upon the other demands in your life and your over all personality structure, you may also need to create a scheduled production time. This could be anything from ‘for an hour in the morning before the children get up’ to ‘9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.’

Editing & Book Proposals

After you have a draft, you can edit the entire work. Around the same time that you do this, you can also begin to query, and to prepare the book proposals. If you pitched and it worked, then you know who will be directing your queries to or where you will be submitting your book proposal. If you have had astoundingly good luck, then you will actually already have a publishing deal for your book. In that case, you know where to send the edited version of the book.

Editing tips: while a lot of editing can be done right after you complete the work, the more emotionally invested or simply overworked you are from writing the first draft the more you need to let the draft just sit for a while before you edit it. How long it should just lie around without you doing anything with it can vary from 2 weeks to 13 years. In most cases, you will be able to edit the thing with improved emotional distance after 2 weeks to 2 months. Even if you think you are not emotional about your book project, you should wait. Once you forget the exact details of what you meant to write, it will be easier to see what you actually wrote. Typos and other errors will become more readily apparent.

If you have the money and the connections to, hire a second person to edit the work for you at least once. Constructive criticism can be a big help in improving your performance. Outside editors tend to see things you miss as the author. In some cases, your editor will make you happy by showing you how well you wrote your book or story.

Once the work is edited, put together your query letter and assemble any other information the prospective publishers may want from you. This may include: an overview of the market for the type of book you have written, the first 3 chapters of the manuscript, a direct sales pitch letter to the publishing company to convince them how great your book is. They do normally expect a short bio, but it can be quite brief, telling them mainly how or where your work has been published and how well you were paid or if the problem is that you were not.

Submission

You may have to decide where to submit your book. You can try literary agents and you can try publishers. The Writer’s Market is one example of a resource that tells you which publishing companies require literary agent representation and which ones do not.

You also have to check whether or not simultaneous submissions are viewed as acceptable. Simultaneous submissions is like dating multiple people without having to get sexually involved in order to land a spouse or both in one. Some people get offended by it, and others are comfortable with it. Check with the publisher or literary agency.

Nowadays, you may sometimes email the publisher or literary agent. There are people who prefer this, and others who still want it the old fashioned way. Find this out to submit the way they want it.

Response

There is nothing left to do after submission but wait. Most of the results of a long wait are the way it is in romance: you don’t want to marry each other and you aren’t ever going to have sex. They will neither represent your book – in the case of a literary agency, nor will the publisher actually accept your book for their investment and publication.

Now and then you will be fortunate and get a positive response. Sometimes a positive response means “We can’t use this one but if you write another book, be sure to let us take a look at it.”

Be wary, but realistic. Many a positive early response rather than being serendipity should set off your alarms. It is probably a self-publishing company willing to publish your book as long as you pay them to. There are times when self-publishing is a perfectly sound idea but for most writers who are still naïve about the publishing industry, having no one but self-publishers interested after all your hard work can be devastating or, for the tough minded, only a little disappointing.

Seriously, it is possible for an author to ‘hit the jackpot’ and get a big publishing company to pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, even as an advance on sales for your book. Not only that, but in some cases, the editors won’t even change it so much that you no longer feel as if it is the book you submitted to them but does still have your name listed as the author.

Most likely, that is not what will happen. Most likely, if you have written a really good book you will be able to find a small publishing company willing to support your work with a small advance or no advance but a decent professional production of the book. In other cases, you can get it self published. I’m not sure about the % on this.

A large minority of writers will find that after all their hard work absolutely nothing more will ever come of the project. After a while, the author will get over the shock and numb, and move on with his or her life.

 

Want To Improve Your Creative Writing?

Want To Improve Your Creative Writing?
Join 1000’s of Authors at StreetArticles Today!

Want to Improve Your Creative Writing?

Seeking to improve your creative writing?

Are you looking to improve your ability to write creatively? Perhaps the creativity is no problem but you would like to improve the quality of your writing. There is more than one way to do this.

If you prefer to meet with people in person and can, you can try writer’s groups and semi public forums. The most important features of such groups, which are also often free or very inexpensive, is that a person can get feedback and some social contact.

The other main way for amateurs to work at improving their craft is to take classes. This can be done in person or you can use online creative writing courses. If English is not your native language there may be special ESL (English as a Second Language) courses that you can use. You may have to turn to more community education in order to be able get the level and type of instructional assistance that you need.

There are also ways to work at improving your creative writing skills when ‘by yourself’ and to differing degrees of interactivity.

As mentioned above, there are online creative writing courses. There are also online writer’s groups. OpenSim and Skype calls are two examples of how groups can meet in real time. Twitter runs LitChat and SciFi Chat at set times. There are limits to those but they are there.

Reading is actually one great way to work on one’s creative writing, but one has to use a bit of caution regarding what one takes in. Popularity, and excellence bring up the issue of what is literature and how does literature differ from and figure into creative writing in general, especially popular writing that sells well.

Another way to work on improving one’s creative writing is to just write and then let it sit. After it sits for a bit, read it again. In many cases upon re-reading one will discover either that one is happy with it or that there are numerous obvious correctible mistakes.

Finally, and this is especially applicable for those who are or who would like to turn pro, a great way to get feedback about your writing is to submit it to publications. It may be best to start with a publication that you have been a consumer of – the newspaper you’ve been reading for years. They will let you know if they will publish it or not.

 

How to write characters in fiction

Fiction Writing

Fiction writing is actually a broad category and can apply to TV, radio shows, short fiction, novellas, and of course novels. Plays and screenplays both also involve creating characters. In this article we will take a quick look at what is involved in creating good characters in your work of fiction.

Characterisation

When any of us read excellent fiction, the characters always stand out. Once you look, you will notice that they have enough depth to hold our interest, but are really held together by being exemplars of just a handful of traits. From a personal perspective, I find this easy to relate to because of how much I create my own images or senses of what other real people are like in a similar manner. I know there is greater depth and more detail to each of us, but often a few things are enough.

In creating characters for fiction, realize that the plot and the characters need to go together. If they don’t, you will get quite a bizarre tale or the story won’t go well because your characters are forced to act out of character much of the time in order to drive the plot forward.

Motives

What motivates your characters? Knowing any major life motive can help create the right kind of person for your story. A character may be most motivated by love or by sexual desire, or by money. One might have an intense personal passion and interest. One could be out for revenge or out to save the world. Of course, the lack of motive or unknown motives can be an intentional means of making a mysterious character.

The life motivations and what is driving the character through the story may be different. For example, one could easily have a sexually motivated life motivated character who is driven by the desire to rescue a damsel in distress while working as a police officer in a mystery novel. One could have an artist, motivated to achieve heights of personal self-expression over all but within the story line is motivated by her romantic desires in a romance novel.

Looks

Especially from the movies and television, people are somewhat conditioned about who we see and what we think. How people present themselves for work life and through other means also influence us. So do personal experience and personal preferences. In this case, personal experience includes other stories we have read or watched as plays or TV or film or even know from songs.

Making characters that look right may well come naturally. If you are a new writer, writer’s groups can be a great place to get feedback about what your own characters are like, including the question of whether or not they look right for the part.

As a writer, you have the choice to be intentionally conventional or intentionally unconventional. In reality, for most writers, leave the unconventional until after your career is established.

Tall dark and handsome still means something, but whether dark obviously means a black man or if it means a white man with dark swarthy hair depends. The characters need to fit the environment and the story line.

Other Traits

Your characters may well have professions. Whenever there is a good job match between a person and their profession, the job is a great way to showcase the identity of the character. A character that does not have a good job fit, and is not well represented by their profession may need to be shown to express that somehow – as a hobby or through volunteer work or some other means, or to have some difficulty with the job. A little dialog in bits and pieces might show the person’s colleagues expressing the ill-fitting nature of the job or that something about the person or situation is peculiar or even wrong.

Other qualities that may not be too difficult to express in written fiction: savvy, fear, courage timidity, enthusiasm, unforgiving, kind, impatient, persistent, inconsistent.

Intimacy

The relationship between characterization and plot is so intimate because what your characters do in response to each event is determined by who they are. As simplistic as it sounds it is that the plot of a story and the characters are interdependent.

Dialog within a story is a great way to give your characters more opportunities to express their identities to the readers while also driving the plot of the story forward.

Any other form of intimacy that occurs within the story can be used to reveal the character of the characters – silly as that sounds.

Of course, the secrecy and uncertainty people have about who other people really are is often used in writing. In many mysteries and thrillers the villain is someone who, on the surface, does not appear to be of the same character that he or she really is. In comic book hero stories, the villain is often open and well known for who he or she really is.

Characteristation

Integral to every written work of art involving people and an active story line are characters. The art of creating and portraying characters through the written word is an important part of being a writer and of every story. Some of it may come naturally, but a lot of it can also be learned. Just remember that your plot and your characters need each other.

To see how I did it in an urban novel, just click on the link : The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead