Authors have always been at the forefront when it comes to race relations

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Today we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the voice he brought to equality, race relations, and civil rights. I was only a baby when Dr. King was alive, but I remember his influence growing up in the 70’s. I was a military brat, raised in a very strict environment, but race was never an issue with me.

One of my best friends in elementary school was African-American. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember him. We connected through our love of comic books. We would both draw our favorite superheroes during our spare time in class. We even cut them out and played with them like action figures.

I think that was the key to my “education” on race relations. In the comics, especially for the superheroes, race was not an issue. Captain America teamed up with the Falcon. The X-Men has heroes that were black, blue, Native American, etc. The best example from the 70’s was the Legion of Superheroes. The covered every race, religion, creed, and color imaginable and always fought for the greater good.

That’s what’s great about comics. They have always represented the best and worst of us, and always showed how good triumphs over evil. Comics teach us that it’s okay to be different, and that we should work together for the benefit of the planet.

Unfortunately, things haven’t changed since Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech. We are still divided, not united, by race. People still use labels for self-identity, persecution, hate speech,and even violence. We are not being “judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin.”

I’m not going to get political here, pointing fingers at the left or the right. There are people guilty on all sides that are using race to perpetuate an idea or political power, and that’s wrong. We have to get beyond the name calling and find that middle ground. We can’t move forward if we’re not working toward a common goal.

Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” As writers, we have the responsibility to bring out the light and drive out the darkness through our stories. Stories emulate what’s going on in the world around them, i.e. The Jungle, To Kill a Mockingbird, Grapes of Wrath, etc. This trend has to continue, even more so today.

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Even in fantasy stories, there are issues of race. The animosity between Dwarves and Elves is a great example. Although you really can’t compare that to the real world, it’s speaks to the heart and soul of the issue. J.R.R. Tolkien, was keen on representing animosity and friendship throughout the Lord of the Rings books.

Gimli Glóin’s son is renowned, for he was one of the Nine Walkers that set out with the Ring; and he remained in the company of King Elessar throughout the War. He was named Elf-friend because of the great love that grew between him and Legolas, son of King Thranduil, and because of his reverence for the Lady Galadriel […] But when King Elessar gave up his life Legolas followed at last the desire of his heart and sailed over Sea […] We have heard tell that Legolas took Gimli Glóin’s son with him because of their great friendship, greater than any that has been between Elf and Dwarf. If this is true, then it is strange indeed: that a Dwarf should be willing to leave Middle-earth for any love, or that the Eldar should receive him, or that the Lords of the West should permit it. But it is said that Gimli went also out of desire to see again the beauty of Galadriel; and it may be that she, being mighty among the Eldar, obtained this grace for him.

— The Return of the King, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers

I’m not trying to compare race relations in a fantasy story to the real-world issues today. What I’m trying to say is before you let that hate and frustration fill your heart, before your type that profanity-laced rant on Twitter or Facebook, remember this … Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

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Great villains make it easy to be bad

“Evil is relative – and what I mean by that is that our villains are as complex, as deep and as compelling as any of our heroes. Every antagonist in the DC Universe has a unique darkness, desire and drive.” 

— Geoff Johns

extEvery story has to have an interesting protagonist, but it also must have an equally villainous antagonist. Most people think being bad is easy, but its not. We’re taught at a very young age that being evil is stupid. I remember the days of Snidely Whiplash, Boris and Natasha, and Dick Dastardly. Their plans always failed because of their mistakes.

But recently, evil has evolved. Villains are more complex, complete sociopaths that work their way to beating the good guy through intricate plans. Characters like Hannibal Lecter, the Joker, and Cersei Lannister are shown as calculating, devious beings with the utmost evil intent. Even Disney villains are becoming darker than ever. Their hearts are as black as a starless night, and yet, we are curious as to what make them tick. That is why they interest us.

Every crime drama from Criminals Minds to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit brings us a daily dose of evil to dissect their mind and their motives. We watch every day people responsible for horrors so awful we can’t stomach it, and yet we can’t turn away. It’s intriguing to some, to others, perhaps its an escape. Have you ever imagined doing something horrible to another person? Sure you have, we all have. It’s acting out on the those evil impulses that separates us from being complete sociopaths. Some have even come to be anti-heroes, those doing bad in the name of good. It’s all so confusing.

It’s the same in writing. You want to create a villain, an antagonist, that interests the reader but not one that takes the story away from the hero, or protagonist. I believe that, in order to take the morale high ground, good must always triumph over evil. Sure, evil has their victories, but in the end, they lose.

Villains are very difficult characters to create, unlike the old days where villains were obvious to all. Villains today are given a myriad of excuses and diagnosis to justify their actions. Bette Davis once said, “There are new words now that excuse everybody. Give me the good old days of heroes and villains, the people you can bravo or hiss. There was a truth to them that all the slick credulity of today cannot touch.”

In my own stories, I try to stick to the basics, relying on classic villains:  Morgana le Fay and Mordred. These characters have been a part of fantasy literature. Their ideology has been both good and evil, and somewhere in between. I find it easy to use these classic characters and add my own addition of supporting villains, as it were, to blend in my own style to the story.

You don’t need the obvious villain with bad teeth and the curled mustache that is twisted and curled around his fingers. Today’s villains are smooth charmers, one that will pour out their love to you while they stab you in the back with a knife. A great example of that is Amy Dunne in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. That woman is pure evil, and you wouldn’t realize how evil until the very end of the book.

I find it challenging to decide between greedy and corrupt or calculating sociopaths. One may give way to the other, or vice versa. Although villains make being bad look easy, writing them into a story is a challenge for any author. The key is finding that balance between Captain Bligh and Adolf Hitler. It’s not easy, but essential.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Is there any reason not to love anime? I don’t think so!

Happy New Year everyone! As we kick off 2018, I need to talk about a subject that’s near and dear to my heart … Anime! Now, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I really need to talk about this again. It’s becoming quite the obsession with me. I watch a different show nightly on my iPad. I’ve watch so many different genres its exhilarating. It’s so easy with services like Crunchyroll, Funimation, even YouTube.

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I love watching anime, and its not for the reasons you might think. I know some people watch it for “fan service”, waiting for those gratuitous cleavage and butt shots of scantily clad women. It’s ridiculous how disproportioned women are in anime. They either have ridiculously large breasts or look like little girls. It’s weird and really, not my thing.

First off, and I know this is unusual, but I love the music. Anime’s have the best theme music of anything out there. These opening songs are catchy and memorable, even though I don’t understand the words. The songs resonate and rattle around my head like a catchy TV jingle. For example, I first heard the themes to Speed Racer and Space Battleship Yamato more than 40 years ago, yet I can still recite them verbatim.

Then there’s the comedy. The anime writers love to put geeky, ordinary guys in awkward situations that make you laugh. It usually involves them walking into a bathhouse or room where the female protagonist is dressing or, more than likely, naked. There are also common occurrences of flirting that makes one, or both, quite uncomfortable. These moments bring needed levity to sometimes serious stories.

clockwork-planet-theme-bw19Speaking of the stories, that’s one of the things I truly love in anime. The plots made be similar across different genres, but the stories are incredible versatile and diverse. They combine fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and action/adventure in so many different ways. I also love the “underdog to hero” story in many of them. It’s the heart of most of these stories; specifically, good versus evil. That’s the basis for a lot of them and its the best story there is. Now matter how bad it can get, good wins in the end. They take the morale high ground, even if the main protagonist is a pervert (i.e., High School DxD) or a nobody (i.e., Is it Wrong to pick up Girls in a Dungeon).

The next thing is the art. Anime is art on whole other level from other animation. The beauty of it is undeniable. It’s quite graphic and real, which makes it even more inspiring to watch. Between the elaborate costumes, weapons, spaceships and backgrounds, the art is so detailed and, quite frankly, utterly spectacular. I mean, take Chain Chronicle: The Light of Haecceitas. This series has such a wide variety of characters, races, and locations. Each one is more beautiful than the next.

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I can’t begin to describe the inspiration I get from watching all these anime. Each one provides me inspiration for my own stories in more ways than one. I know I probably need to go to an AA meeting (Anime Anonymous) but for now, I’ll watching.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

To read or not to read? A New Year resolution for writers

reading-quoteAs writers, we are constantly working on our craft. I try to write daily, even if its just adding a few sentences or a paragraph to my next novel. When researching different tips for writers, the one thing I always come across is READ, READ, READ! As writers, we need to read other stories to help us with style, plot development, and even a sense of direction. When you read someone else’s work, you have a feel for them , as a writer, and see into every technical aspect of the story. You see every part of it, like the bricks in a building, creating a structure that’s a beautiful sight to see.

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

My problem is, I want to write more than I want to read. It’s weird but I find myself delving deeper into daydreams, finding a niche or element to my stories, rather than reading someone else’s book. I’ve had Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson sitting on my nightstand for a couple of months now. I’ve been meaning to read it but have yet to turn a single page.

That’s where we fall short … Discipline. As writers, we must have discipline to hone and work our craft, yet we rarely do. We find distractions quite easily that makes us set aside the work we must do, both reading and writing. Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

So, my resolution for the new year is to read more. I get inspired by many things, from TV to movies to books, yet books have been lacking. I need to find it again and get back on the straight and narrow. I resolve to read at least on book a month for the next year. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a good starting point for me.

So, I’ll end my blog with a simple Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2018!

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

All writers start out with some failings, so don’t get discouraged

4-Inspirational-Quotes-for-Writers“All good writings begin with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” — Anne Lamott

There are many hills and valleys associated with being a writer, but the hardest part of being a writer has been managing discouragement. It’s hard to keep a “stiff upper lip” when you get rejection letters, low book sales, or constant writer’s block.

Joel Osteen said, “We all have unfair situations and things we don’t like. You can get bitter, discouraged, and sour, or you can see it as fertilizer and say, ‘The difficulty is not going to defeat me, it’s going to promote me. It’s not going to hinder me, it’s going to help me.’ Do go through it, grow through it.”

I love that last line:  “Do go through it, grow through it!” That sentiment is how I work as a writer. I keep chugging away, learning from my mistakes, and fight on. I never stop writing, even if I’m the only one reading my stories. I can’t keep them inside and let them stew. I have to keep going, no matter what.

It’s hard not to get discouraged, but there are worse things than a rejection letter from a publisher. I have my health, my family, and a good job that allows me to pursue my writing career. It’s fighting back against the discouragement that adds to my passion for writing.

5ffe80f826477383c6083865818ce228I spent more than 30 years in the Navy as a Navy Journalist and Public Affairs Officer. That training and work experience gave me the tools I needed but did not satisfy my needs for more creative writing. I fight my own self doubt every day, but it’s a battle I have to win. Being a writer, an accomplished writer and storyteller, is something I desire more than anything. It’s not for the fame, the glory, or the recognition. It’s just for the satisfaction of having someone read my stories in the hope that it gives them a good feeling or a chance to escape.

There are thousands of quotes, advice, or methods out there to beat back the funk of being discouraged. Personally, I like to throw myself into my writing. It helps me when I take myself to a magical fantasy world and follow the adventures there into my stories. It gives me an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and keeps my dream alive.

I may or may not achieve my goal of being a published author, but if even one person likes my stories, then I’ve done my job. I’d like to leave you with this thought.

“Very few writers know what they’re doing until they’ve done it.” — Anne Lamott

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Doctor Who provides geeks with their own Christmas tradition

doctorwho2811aThere are many traditions from various cultures around the world when it comes to Christmas; but in Great Britain, and in the homes of geeks around the world, nothing is more sacred than the Doctor Who Christmas special. After a long day of presents, family, and food, it’s nice to curl up under a Tardis blanket, wrapped in a eight-foot long scarf, with a nice bowl of fish fingers and custard to watch Doctor Who celebrate the joy of Christmas and, sometimes, regenerates into the new Doctor.

This year is no exception as the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, meets up with the first Doctor (brilliantly played by David Bradley, recreating the role originated by William Hartnell) and will conclude with his regeneration to the 13th Doctor, Jodie Williams.

During the first run of the program (1963 to 1989), while not an official Christmas special, one episode aired on Christmas Day: “The Feast of Steven”, the seventh episode of the twelve-part serial The Daleks’ Master Plan, which aired on 25 December 1965. The episode was a comic interlude in the style of a pantomime, in the middle of an otherwise epic adventure. In its final scene, the Doctor and his companions celebrated Christmas with a toast; the episode ended with the Doctor (William Hartnell) turning to camera (breaking the fourth wall) and saying, “Incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home.”

The actual Christmas specials we know and love today started with the 10th Doctor, David Tenant, after his regeneration from Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor, at the end of the first season of the relaunch of Doctor Who under Russell T. Davies. “The Christmas Invasion” was about an invasion by the Sycorax while the Doctor recovers from the effects of his regeneration. It ends with David Tenant donning his famous suit and trenchcoat. So, from that point on, here is my TOP 5 Doctor Who Christmas specials.

gallery_uktv-doctor-who-bernard-cribbins-5.  The End of Time, David Tenant (2009) — The End of Time was the final episode with David Tenant as the Doctor. It involved the return of the Master (John Simm), an alien device called the Immortality Gate, and the return of Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) and the entire planet of Gallifrey to bring about the end of time. The best part of the episode is the end, when the Doctor takes a grand tour and visits all the companions he met over the years, including a stop off with Rose Tyler on New Year’s Day of the year before she met him. It’s a sad ending with the Ood singing an operatic farewell as he limps back to the Tardis. The one thing everyone remembers is his last words, “I don’t want to go!”

the-10-best-doctor-who-christmas-specials-that-every-true-whovian-must-watch4.  The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe, Matt Smith (2011) — I will start off by saying that Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor has three spots in my Top 5 Doctor Who Christmas specials. His specials were the most memorable to me. Besides the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker), Matt Smith is one of my favorite Doctors. After a World War II widow saves his life, he repays her and her children by trying to bring a little fun in their Christmas; but, as usually happens with the Doctor, things run amok, including a trip to another world that’s about to be destroyed. In the end, the Doctor saves her and her family, including her deceased husband. As with most Christmas specials, the ending was the best when he reunites with Amy and Rory for Christmas dinner. The fact that they always set a place for the Doctor brings a tear to his eye, and makes it a memorable special.

 landscape-1448898478-doctor-who-the-husbands-of-river-song3.  The Husbands of River Song, Peter Capaldi (2015) — River Song has been one of my favorite companions of the Doctor since her first appearance in “The Silence of the Library” with David Tenant. We learned about River’s long history with the Doctor through Matt Smith’s run as the Doctor. It all came to a close with Peter Capaldi when they finally reached the “Singing Towers” on the planet of Darillium, where he gave River her own sonic screwdriver. It also has the best “Hello Sweetie” in all the episodes of Doctor Who with River Song. This episode had everything you want to see in a Doctor Who Christmas special–giant robots, split-head aliens, a spaceship falling from space, and a jewel heist. What more could you ask for?

time-of-the-doctor__1311261242432.  The Time of the Doctor, Matt Smith (2013) — This episode was Matt Smith’s final one as the Doctor, leading to his regeneration into Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor. It also spanned centuries as the Doctor defended the town of Christmas on the planet of Trenzalore. This was supposed to the Doctor’s last battle, where he dies at the end of his regeneration cycle. Every race across the universe is trying to prevent the Doctor from answering “the oldest question in the universe” that would return the Timelords and Gallifrey from it’s exile in another universe. They feared the resurgence of the Time War and so, the Silence was born to stop the Doctor. Like The End of Time did with David Tenant, The Time of the Doctor brought everything from the beginning of Matt Smith’s tenure to a close–the crack in the wall, the question, Silence will Fall. In the end, Matt Smith gives, what I think, is one of the best speeches by the Doctor at the end of his time. Add to that, the reappearance of Amy Pond and her final words, “Raggedy Man, Goodnight,” touched my heart as he took off his bow tie and regenerated.

christmascarol1.  A Christmas Carol, Matt Smith (2010) — There are so many reasons I absolutely love this episode, it’s hard to pick just one. I’d have to start with the music. Singer Katherine Jenkins is the voice of an angel, bringing a beauty and soul to this special that has never been matched. Her song brings the joy and spirit of Christmas to life. Second, the comedy is just so damn funny. In my opinion, Matt Smith has the comedic timing of Charlie Chaplain and it shows in this episode. From his photo of him with Santa Claus (“or as I like to call him, Jeff”),  to the shark in the wardrobe, and his “marriage” to Marilyn Monroe was absolutely priceless. Lastly, the story was a wonderful rendition of the traditional Charles Dickens classic. Michael Gambon gives a perfect rendition of Scrooge, or Kazran Sardick in this episode. I especially loved their twist on the Ghost of Christmas Future, showing a young Kazran his grouchy, future self to change his heart. I will watch this Christmas special before all others. It is, at heart, what Doctor Who is all about.

So, here it is. I have a feeling that that the “Twice Upon a Time” might make it’s way up there after this year’s episode airs. Until then, Merry Christmas to all!

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

The Ancient Magus Bridge has the heart and spirit of Hayao Miyazaki

AncientMagusBride-110117As I’ve said in previous blogs, Hayao Miyazaki is an inspiration and one of my favorite storytellers. He has a brilliance that I aspire too. The art and words of his many wonderful stories give his anime a life of their own. I want my own stories to have the same “magic” as his. In fact, I see that same look of wonder in The Ancient Magus Bride anime.

The Ancient Magus Bride is a Japanese fantasy shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Kore Yamazaki. Hatori Chise has lived a life full of neglect and abuse, devoid of anything resembling love. Far from the warmth of family, she has had her share of troubles and pitfalls. Just when all hope seems lost, a fateful encounter awaits her. When a man with the head of a beast, wielding strange powers, obtains her through a slave auction, Chise’s life will never be the same again. The man is a “magus,” a sorcerer of great power, who decides to free Chise from the bonds of captivity. The magus then makes a bold statement: Chise will become his apprentice–and his bride!

I have been watching this anime and it’s amazing. I see the same heart and soul in these characters as I did in many of my favorite Hayao Miyazaki films. For example, the relationship between Chise and Elias is the same as Chihiro and Haku in Spirited Away or Howl and Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle. The women are stronger than they think and they can reach the heart and soul of the one they love, even when appear to be a monster.

Chise doesn’t see a monster in Elias, even with his bone face. She sees someone who loves and cares for her, something that has been missing her entire life. It’s touching to see her touch and caress his face, even though any normal person would be repulsed by it. It’s a great example of the old adage about seeing the beauty on the inside, not the outside. Even its simple music–mostly a piano softly playing in the background–lends to this unusual but everlasting love story.

Another great element of the story is how they explain magic an alchemy as two competing forces. I’ve always seen alchemy as “the science of magic” which is how I use it in the Forever Avalon series. In the anime, they see magic and alchemy as opposing forces. Alchemists use magic to alter reality by manipulating and “tweaking” the laws of nature, while mages break the laws of nature to alter reality by taking power from fairies or spirits.

This is an inspired system for magic that I’ve never  heard of before, especially focusing on Britain as a land of powerful magic. This is something I relish and aspire to in my own stories. Another great concept is that dragons are one with the world, and when they die, they return to the Earth as mountains and trees. The interaction between Chise and the ancient dragons is sad and heart-wrenching. Along with the music and its sweet, loving song, it is a reminder of how the myths and legends of our own world can be seen in the places we see as magic in itself.

The last thing I want to mention is the villains in this. They are incredibly scary. With their heartless attitude for human life. Once again, it’s frightening when you look at the face of evil and see it smiling back at you. Evil like this is hiding in plain sight, and wee, as humans, we only see it when we want to. It is a reminder of how and why we must face evil and tear it down.

I would highly recommend this anime to anyone. The writing is magnificent with a little bit of comedy in all the right places, with heart and even horror thrown in where it needs to be. It has the heart and soul of a great story and, in the spirit of Hayao Miyazaki. It’s a story that will remain as an inspiration at the heart of any magical, fantasy story.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

What do you do when you wake up in the middle of the night with a story idea?

frustration_zpsde5ab9fdDon’t you hate it when you wake up in the middle of the night, from a vivid dream or something else, and you have the next idea for the book you’re currently writing? As much as I love it when that instantaneous idea of genius hits me; after I wake up, it’s so hard to go back to sleep. I have to write it down before I forget it, or it will rumble around in my head, keeping me awake even longer. That’s the problem you run into as a writer… A lot of sleepless nights. The question is, do I ignore those late night inspirations for the sake of sleep?

Author and writing mentor Tom Bird writes, “Writing should be a comprehensive and holistic support system that opens participants to a free-flowing mental, physical, emotional and spiritual state.” I totally agree with that, but it’s kind of hard to be inspired at 2:00 a.m. after waking up from a wicked dream.

I find that inspiration is something that comes at a moments notice, whether from a dream or maybe something that pops into your head while out on a walk. For example, I was walking my dog the other night, thinking about the chapter I currently writing in my next book of the Forever Avalon series, The Prometheus Engine. I’ve been stuck at this one part when it suddenly hit me, as clear as day.

You see, I’ve been working on creating a new type of mage, a fighting mage called the Magus. These wizards are not worried about studying magic or understanding the philosophy of magic; but rather, they use their skills to fight and protect other wizards. Think of them as a magical Praetorian Guard. Their focus is on attack and defense. They are the warrior class of mages.

The problem is, I needed a way for the Magus to carry a variety of magical weapons at their disposal without looking like an overzealous, overburdened fighter. You see, to me, the Magus focus their magic on weapons, not wands and staffs, so they learn about the art of war like a mixed martial artist. Then I had this wonderful idea for a pauldron–a shoulder plate armor piece–that extended down a Magus’ arm into a gauntlet. Each piece in the armor would be storage for a different magical weapon. So a young Magus might have one or two weapons while a more powerful Magus could have 10 or more. All a Magus had to do was cast a summoning spell to bring out the weapon.

All this came to me while walking my dog. That’s what I love about being a writer. Inspiration hits me at different times and it makes writing so much more fun than I could imagine. It just takes a moment for that spark of imagination to ignite inside me.

It’s those late night, interactive, rolling movie set of a dream that keeps me awake all night sometimes. I have a dream where an idea for another part of my book hits me. I wake up and realize, “that’s what I’ve been looking for!” But now that I know what I’m going to do, I can’t stop thinking about it. It just goes on and on, like a multi-part mini-series spread over two weeks inside my head. No matter how hard I try, I can’t go back to sleep. It’s frustrating, especially when I have to get up for work the next morning.

So what do I do? I usually write it down. I find that writing down these bursts of imagination helps me go back to sleep. Normally, I’d say keep a pen and paper close by, but my Galaxy Note smartphone has a great note taking function that lets me jot down ideas, but to each his own. I still have trouble going back to sleep, but that’s okay. As long as I got the idea written down, it’s worth it.

So remember these words when you have those moments of instant clarity and inspiration that keep you up at night.

“The power of a writer is that he is a god of sorts. He can create his own worlds and populate them with his own people, all by the powers of his imagination. It’s the closest a man can come close to the gods. No wonder the most successful writers are considered immortals.” ― Bangambiki Habyarimana

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

 

Ignore the reviews, Justice League is a geek’s wet dream

JusticeLeague-IMAX-poster-1I normally don’t listen to a lot of movie critics when it comes to superhero movies, and I’ll tell you why. The majority of movie reviewers are not 100% certified comic book geeks. Additionally, those who are comic book nerds are such purists that even the tiniest of flaws ruins the movie for them. That being said…

I left the movie theater in awe, full of a giddy excitement over each and every “Easter Egg” I saw in the movie. That’s what Justice League did for me today.

You have to understand, I grew up in an era with spandex costumes, bad or relatively weak special effects, and scripts written by TV writers who never picked up a comic book in my life. The comic book movies coming out today are a million times better, and Justice League is one of them.

Okay, so here’s my warning… SPOILER ALERT!

I loved Justice League. It was a faithful culmination from Man of Steel, to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and then Wonder Woman. The story brought the League together in search of three “Mother Boxes,” alien devices that could destroy the world in the hands of the villainous Steppenwolf and his Para-Demons. That’s the basic background but the movie went even further than that.

We got to see the undersea kingdom of Atlantis and the first meeting between Aquaman and his future wife, Mera. I was concerned hoe they were going to do the undersea battle, and it was brilliant, especially when Mera pushed the water aside so she and Aquaman could talk to each other. It was that simple attention to detail that made that moment work.

The fighting was amazing, especially since we actually got to see a Green Lantern (but not THE Green Lantern) in the historic battle between Steppenwolf and the combined armies of the Amazons, Atlantians, men and Gods. And when Superman came back, it made the fighting even better. The League used everything thing they had fighting Steppenwolf, even to go as far as show the Batman’s vulnerabilities as a mortal man.

The “Easter Eggs” are so numerous, it’s hard to miss them and that makes me giddy even now:  Steppenwolf calls out the name Darkseid, the Green Lantern, Bruce talking about a round table with six chairs in a new HQ (set up in the old Wayne Manor (Holy #$%* Batman!), Cyborg getting his more traditional armor at the end (not to mention “Booyah!”), Superman racing the Flash (mid-credits) was right out of the comic book, and Luthor and Deathstroke talking about forming a league of their own (end credits) and how awesome Deathstroke looks. I mean,wow!

Are there ploy holes and challenges with how the story is laid out? Yes, but it didn’t bother me. I was seeing the comic book team I read as a kid on the big screen together. I was hooked from the very beginning, glued to my seat.

I also enjoyed a lot of the sentimentality and the comedy in the movie. Watching Superman standing the cornfield as his mother pulls up and sees that he’s alive brought a tear to my eye, as did watching Barry Allen dealing with his father in prison. Speaking of Flash, he provided some great humor throughout the movie. Watching the back-and-forth between Flash and Cyborg in the graveyard while they’re digging up Superman is comedy gold.

It’s up to you, but I would recommend it to everyone… GO AND SEE IT! Justice League (#2) and Wonder Woman (#1) are my top two superhero movies of 2017, with Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, at a respectable third. I really think Marvel was out shined this year, in my opinion. Thor: Ragnarok had too much comedy for my tastes and, to be honest, I wasn’t interested in another Spider-man origin movie.

I left the theater today in love with this movie. It makes me want to watch the next series of DC movies, anticipating the sequel to Justice League. I am geeked out over this movie, and I think you will too!

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

I’ve finished editing my third book, now what?

book coverIt’s taken me over a year, but I’ve finally finished writing and editing the third book in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War. This is the finale of the first trilogy in the series following Forever Avalon and The Dark Tides. I want to thank my book editor, Michael Stettes, for helping me with editing my book. This was his first time editing a novel and, I have to admit, he did a great job. I also want to thank Adam Aldrich for the cover art he provided.

So, with all this done the question is, now what? Now comes the hard part that many writers face. What to do now that all the writing, editing, rewriting, nail biting, and late night coffee breaks have finished? The answer to that is publishing.

I want to try and find a regular publisher, hoping that someone will like my work and take a chance on me, but that isn’t easy. It takes research, time, and the stamina when those rejection letters start coming in. For independent authors, this is a decision that usually costs money. It you want to self-publish your novel, complete with ISBN number, etc., it can cost anywhere from $500 to $5000 dollars, depending on the publisher and whatever publishing package you pick. These options include help with editing and marketing your novel.

However, there is another option. If you just want to go the ebook route, these are usually inexpensive, sometimes even free. For example, Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon is a FREE ebook publishing option. My first book, Forever Avalon, was originally only available in paperback. Since I owned the rights to my book (in most cases, as an independent author, the publisher doesn’t own the rights to your book) I was able to publish my book on Amazon as an ebook. It was easy to do and it added to my profile on Amazon.

Deep down, I want to take the easy route. I love writing and I just want to put my book out there as quickly as possible. But there’s a little voice down there telling me not to give up on my dream of being a writers full time. It’s like those old cartoons of the angle and the devil on opposite shoulders, trying to convince me that I should do this, not that.

I have a decision to make and its not an easy one. To be totally honest and up front with you, I have spent more than $10,000 on publishing and marketing my first two books, and I’ve made less than $500 on sales for both of them. Financially, it doesn’t make sense to throw more money at it.

But its my passion, and…Arrgh! You see what I mean? The angel and the devil are talking to me and it’s driving me crazy. I have a decision to make, as do a lot of other Independent Authors. What that is, we’ll just have to wait and see. I would appreciate any advice from people in the comments below.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.