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Blog Post (9/6/2018) Fanfictions (and their writers) aren’t the devil

I’ve heard some terrible things about fanfiction writers in the writer/author communities and I wanted to say my piece. Repeat after me: fanfiction writers aren’t bad. I feel like with the somewhat recent success of fanfiction authors becoming authors, there’s become this stigma of fanfiction writers not being good at what they do. It just isn’t true. Of course, there’s quite a few that I particularly don’t enjoy or couldn’t get into but perhaps it isn’t the writer being a “fanfiction” writer and more of the style of which the story itself is written.

Plenty of my closest friends have written or are writing fanfictions. Most of them do it for enjoyment with no aspirations to become an author. They enjoy the fandom that they are writing in and are writing for fun. Some of these fanfictions are better than some published works that I’ve read. There are others that do want to write a traditionally published book but uses fanfictions to build an audience, get to know people better, or even practice their writing. I honed a lot of my skills writing fanfictions for Bioware’s Mass Effect. That was the first time I’ve ever gotten people to read my works. They taught me how to accept criticism and get better. Whether it’s for hobby or practice for becoming an author one day, it’s both acceptable.

I can agree, there are some horrible people in the community. Alas, that can be said for anything really. In any creative work, you’re going to find a group of people shaming you. I’m not talking about criticism. I’m talking about straight up toxicity. That’s not exclusive to fanfiction. You’re gonna find people that don’t like your genre, you as a person, or you as a writer. If anything, fanfiction writers tend to have to deal with this more and on a frequent level due to the passion of the readers they are trying to captivate. Don’t assume that all fanfiction writers can’t handle or never had any criticism because I can say that there’s plenty that has gone through worse. I’ll take a rejection letter from an agent over an angry fanfiction reviewer any day.  Even the best fanfiction writer gotta deal with that almost daily. That’s saying something.

On another note, I’ve heard from various authors that fanfictions don’t cultivate talent. That, again, is obviously not true. It’s like saying that fan artists (the ones that you treasure and put on your website) aren’t actually artist because they don’t do their own original characters.  There are plenty of fanfiction writers that has created complex storylines, characters, and even worlds within your world that are exceedingly talented. Of course, you’re gonna get some people that copy the work or use other people’s worlds or words to get what they want. Again, that’s not all fanfiction writers. You see that all the time in published works. Talent comes from practice and more than likely, the fanfiction writer is writing consistently and learning (or at least attempting to). Don’t rag on them.

At the end of the day, whether its fanfiction or original works, you’re gonna get people who aren’t working hard for what they get.  Just because they didn’t create their own world doesn’t mean that fanfiction writers are lazy. Some do it for a hobby, some just like the world the author or artist made, and some are just trying to get better for their own world one day. Let them have that. If they aren’t selling your work as their own, leave ‘em alone. For fanfiction writers, don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t a writer. You are, and I really like you guys.

See ya next Thursday,

Deston “D.J.” Munden


Progress Report! September 6th, 2018.

Book Progress

Blog Post (8/29/2019) Main Characters (And how they aren’t the only characters in your story)

There’s a thing I’ve noticed with newer or inexperienced writers. They tend to not to have secondary or even minor characters at all. I didn’t realize how much of an issue this is until I realized in a few fan fictions and novels that I’ve been reading that something was missing. Secondary and minor characters are important to the world itself. They fill the world up with people that the main character will interact with, even if they only appear for a scene or two. It gives the world some meat to the potatoes that is the setting.  Without it, the main characters feel like they are the only people in the world and the world completely revolves around them. No one wants to feel like the only thing that the author wants to show off is the main characters.

So, what exactly is a secondary character or a minor character?

A secondary character isn’t quite the main characters, but they have importance within the story itself.  Often, they would appear more than once or have some significance to the plot. A good example of a secondary character is often the mentor character that disappears (or dies or something) midway through the plot. They are an important secondary character. They drive the plot forward without being the main characters that you’re always around. They are often reoccurring and sometimes can be upgraded to main characters easily given enough scenes.

A minor character is a character that holds very little significance at all and just shows up as a character for the sake of the scene. These are tricky and very often come up on the fly. Sometimes, they don’t even need to have names. They do, however, need to portray what you want them to in that specific scene without looking wooden or a cutout. You can have fun with these. Some of my favorite minor characters have been eccentric or awesome for a single scene, only to never be seen from again. Some never even get a line of dialogue (like the guards of a Queen or a bartender of a tavern).  They are there to give some depth to the scene and remind the readers, hey, this a world with thousands upon thousands of people that you aren’t going to be able to meet.

Then why are they important? Like I said before, secondary and minor characters bring depth to the stories. Main characters have their own drives and ambitions and the center of the plot. The setting gives them somewhere to stay, walk around in, converse around, and do battle in. However, none of that matters if there’s not more than the main characters they can talk to sometimes. Sometimes, you need to have nameless characters for your main characters to fight. You need to have them go somewhere and gather information. Secondary and minor characters can give you that without compromising what you want the main characters to experience. Also, they are easy to make for the most part.

Secondary characters usually have more depth. They take time to mature (however less than the major characters) and they often have names and personalities in every scene they come across. Take your time with these. For minor characters, you can very often just think of a name or personality on the fly that fits your world. Give them a job or a purpose for their minor role within the scene and keep moving. You’ll be amazed by just how much add a few soldiers, a few patrons, or a few random city folks within a scene can change how your readers will see the scene in their heads.

I hope that this helps. Keep making characters and write those stories.

See ya next Thursday,

Deston J. Munden

Blog Post (8/22/2019) Post First Draft Syndrome ™ (I’m both excited and tired)

So, if you’re following me on any social media, you’re probably aware that I’m now finished with yet another first draft in Duke’s Brand. It has been quite the wild ride, filled with a lot of hard work and late nights but I did it again. I wanted to talk a little bit about my first drafting experience since quite a few people have asked me about it. For me, it has felt like I took forever on this draft. For everyone else, it looks like I blitz through it at the speed of light. Either way, I’m suffering what I have officially coined as Post First Draft Syndrome ™.

What is Post First Draft Syndrome ™? It’s both excitement and sadness after finishing a first draft. It starts as complete excitement. You did it! You finished your first draft! Hurrah! Then, it slowly goes into mild paranoia. You start backing up the first draft everywhere in existence, realizing the editing work that’s going to have to go into it, start collecting beta readers for the next draft, worrying about every flaw in the first draft ever that you can think of off the top of your head!! etc. By the end of the first few hours, your exciting experience of finishing a first draft is now a conflicting war of emotions where you as the author feel like you’re being torn asunder. So, now I’m here, blogging (sorry for the lateness because I’ve been working obviously) talking about it.

So, how do I deal with it? As you know, I’m…. a bit of a workaholic. When I’m not doing anything productive, I get kinda angsty thus the beginning of my Post First Draft Syndrome ™ to settle in at full power. If I have anyone else like me, I have a few tips to help you get through it. The first being relax! You just finished a first draft, dude, celebrate. Kick back, enjoy yourself, give yourself a vacation (even if it’s a week or so). Don’t jump into editing or writing another draft. Just relax. Give yourself some time to recharge. The work is going to be there when you get back. You have a lot to do already. It’s better to just chill and enjoy your accomplishment.

After that, if you’re anything like me, work on something other than writing on or after your vacation. Work on your social media platforms, read your TBR, catch up on some other media such as video games or anime, just try to recharge yourself. Your mind is still going to be in work mode. Already today, I opened the file and remembered I’m not working on it anymore. I gotta force myself to sit down and enjoy the time I have off.  Yes, this is my job, but I gotta keep myself at top shape going forward. It’s time for me to enjoy other things for a while before jumping into the next project. So, right now, I’m focusing also on working on my health and getting my mind back centered.  It’s the best I can manage to do right now.

Thanks for all the support I’ve gotten for Duke’s Brand and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I love writing it when it’s finally released.  I’m going to go watch some anime now. I hope you guys have a good day and I see you guys next Thursday.

Have a wonderful week,

Deston J. Munden

 

Book Progress

Blog Post (6/24/19) Reviews and Contests (Scary Things, I know)

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So, if you’ve been following me on social media, you know that I’ve joined two contest this year: the Epic Fantasy Fanatic awards (the EFFys) and the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO 5).

It got me thinking about a lot of things (among those being how nervous I am just thinking about it). But it also got me thinking about publicity in general and how it’s a risk just to try some of these things out.

It took a lot of convincing for me to even try either of these things. It was a terrifying experience for me considering that I’ve never tried anything like this before. I thought, even now, why should I even try where there’s plenty of books out there that will probably be a thousand times better. It wasn’t a mindset that I wanted or needed to be in. You see, everyone has those reservations. To you, your book isn’t worthy of being placed in contests or being up for review by a blogger. You’ve already so acquainted with your story that you see its flaws and only see the best in the people you’re competing against.

I took the entire day when I joined the SPFBO looking at all the fellow contestants, especially the 30 within my chosen blog. There are quite a few big names in my chosen blog, so I convinced myself that I didn’t have a chance. It ruined my day. It took some friends convincing me that that act that I’m even trying is enough. And the more I think about it, it’s true. I wouldn’t have even tried this before. I would’ve convinced myself well before the contest even started that my book wasn’t even worthy to at least try either of these. It’s a scary thing to put yourself out there and take these risks. You’re going to be criticized and honestly, some people aren’t even going to like your book. That’s fine.  But you need to try. You don’t know what you can do or who you might meet along the way.

Reviewers and contests are as much of a networking tool as self-promotion and marketing. In a way, they are bound tightly together. Reviews and contests give you an audience that may have never found your book otherwise. That alone is a reason to try.  Your book needs to find eyes to read it. Like I’ve said before, you can’t expect people to find your book on their own. You must be willing to put your book in awkward situations. Find people that will want to read your book, who offer legitimate promotion services or publicly display your books to an audience. Remember that you’re not alone in this.

On the topic of fellow contestants in a contest, reach out to them. They are not your enemy. Yes, you’re competing against them (FOR WAR AND GLORY). But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with them or get to know them too. You’re in a contest with sometimes upward of hundred, two-hundred, or three-hundred other people. Don’t be afraid to meet them. Read their works and learn from them.  Also, don’t be jealous (as best as you can) while reading their works. Again, the grass is greener on the other side. Reading your fellow contestants works is not only supporting them but also showing good sportsmanship. It’s all a learning experience.

So, I’ll suggest anyone to at least give a contest a try. You might win. You might lose. But in the end, you might be surprised by the results either way.

Have a good day,

Deston J. Munden


Book Progress

If you want to nominate me for the EFFys to make it to the next round, there’s a link below!

https://epicfantasyfanatics.com/tavern-deston-j-munden/

Blog Post (6/13/19): Traditional vs Self-Publishing (what I’ve learned so far)

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My buddies at the Indie Street Marketing had a meeting not too long ago about indie vs traditional publishing and the difficulties that involve when you don’t have a traditional book. I wanted to throw my two cents into the mix since I couldn’t make it to the meeting that day so allow me to ramble for an unallotted amount of time until my heart is content. Ready? If you’re not I’m starting anyway, GOOOOO!!!!!!

I’m going to start off by being completely real, self-publishing is amazingly difficult, especially when it comes into the marketing department. While it has its upside such as creative freedom and control over what goes in and out of your book, it has one major downside. You’ll see it once you have your book published. You must get the books into readers hands. You gonna have to start marketing. What that means is that you’re going to have to learn to take (reasonable) risks and a lot of time and error getting your book up the charts in Amazon, generate buzz through social media, and learn things like Amazon or Facebook ads.

In traditional publishing, you have a juggernaut to help you with these parts. Self-publishing, this is all on you. You’re going to have to spend some of the money you earn (even very small amounts) on learning what works and doesn’t in your marketing scheme. But, there’s also plenty of other ways to make marketing easier for yourself without spending money. Develop a marketing plan. There are plenty of things that you can do to get yourself out there other than ads. You will have to learn how to network with other writers and readers. That means having a blog, having a website, frequent use of Instagram and Twitter, developing videos on writing and drafting, etc.  And you’re going to have to do some of these things every day. If that means making a tweet or Instagram post or even working on a video, you’re going be marketing at least one thing every day (it’s not even trying to sell your book most of the time). That brings me to my biggest point: your book isn’t always going to be the thing that sells your book, often than not it’s the author. You are what makes you marketable.

People are going to have to see you as an author. That means developing a brand for yourself. You’re going to meet people along the way. You’re going to talk to them, learn more of the craft, get yourself into the thick of it. I get it, we aren’t the most sociable bunch us writers. But as a self-published author, you don’t have the luxury of sitting back and having people stumble over figuring out who you are. There are sometimes you are going to get lucky and find a bunch of potential readers. There are going to be times where you’re going to have a dry spell.  But the main thing is that you’re going to connect with other people. Find people that you enjoy talking to whether those are reviewers, fellow authors, readers, and fans.  Have a good time doing this, make friends within your industry and genre. Remember, you were a fan of these genres before you were an author (well at least I hope). Talk about works you read, works your jealous of (I’m looking at you Jonathan French and Nicholas Eames), fine-tune your writing craft, and get to know people.

Traditional publishing puts you into this mindset automatically. Often than not, they share editors, cover artists, agents, etc. They swap ARCs back and forth; they get buzz around their books by meeting with their fellow authors. Indie authors are going to have to learn to be sociable to succeed. You’re going to have to meet with your fellow authors, give out blurbs, leave reviews for your author friends, have writing days with them. Over this week alone, I’ve seen several traditional published writers meet each other and just talk and chill with their fellow writers. Indie authors should do the same. After you spoke with them for a time (to make sure they aren’t axe murderers), ask them for a writing date or just chat. Learn more about people.

Back to the marketing itself, a good suggestion that I have learned with the ads is to start off small and learn keywords that will draw in your readers. Find authors that are like you or are within the same genre as you. As a fantasy author, that was easier said than done. I had to take the broad fantasy genre and chip it down until I found the exact genre that my book. Learn keywords that you would search on Amazon or look at targeted fantasy book ads that you get on facebook. Learn bits and pieces of what works and what does with a small amount of budget, then work your way up. If you’re serious about this process and already spent money on editors, cover artist and formatting, you’re also going to have to spend money on your marketing to keep up with the traditional publishing. Don’t put yourself into debt. Remember there are other ways to market your book first.

All in all, the marketing (and the self-cost of everything) is the biggest difference in traditional versus indie publishing. A lot of work falls on the author themselves when you’re self-published. You’re going to have to develop a street team for yourself, get friends and family involved, and learn more and more about how the genre works.

If you want to learn more, please join the Indie Street Marketing discord (https://discord.gg/mtfM2qP) and talk with me there. I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions and brainstorm with my fellow indie authors about getting more eyes on our book. I’ll be happy to hear from you. I would like to thank @bettsican @ginnyzero @jaimistoryteller @sixstepsaway on tumblr for bringing this topic to my attention.

See you guys on the next blog post,

Deston J. Munden

 

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Blog Post (6/6/2019) Birthday Sale (and progress)

It was my birthday on Tuesday! As a celebration, I decided to put my book, Tavern on sale for the week. It’s been a wild ride this year. I’ve done things that I didn’t think that I would ever do in my life. All thanks to you guys. So, consider this a thanks for all you have done for me. The old man (though not as old as I would like you guys to believe) is grateful for every person that has bought, talked about, and spread the word of my books to everyone they know. I can’t thank you enough.

On to the progress! We are closing on the end of Duke’s Brand. I only have a few more chapters and I’m steadily hammering away words for it. After that, it’s the Dusk Mountain Blues editing. That one is going to be very interesting (also I hate editing so there’s that). I will have a progress report outlining all of that as it comes on. We have also thought of the name of the next two Dargath Chronicles books. I will reveal them when we get closer to release Dusk Mountain Blues.

Other than that, there’s not much else to say. The details on the sale will be posted below as well as some progress on my book. I hope that you have a wonderful day. I hope to have a blog post topic soon.

See ya on the flip side,

Deston J. Munden


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Progress

Book Progress


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Blog Post (5/28/2019) Where (in the seven heavens) have I been?

So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I’ve been a very busy person since my book release. I didn’t realize that so much work went into a book release and I underestimated the amount of time that I was going to have to put in for marketing and getting myself out there. There are still book signings, more review copies, keeping my twitter and Instagram active, and etc that I have to do but this blog post isn’t about that. This blog post is about progress and not my degrading sanity.

So, the first thing you might have noticed is that Dusk Mountain Blues (the chapters, not the page itself) has been removed from the site (and Wattpad). That’s because it’s in edits by the amazing Nicole Ball (Ball N Services) on Twitter. We’re coming through some of the issues the story I’ve been having, and we are going to try to get it to a publishable state. Hopefully, if all goes to plan, I will also have another publishable book by the end of the year. That’s a good thing.

I will also be joining the #SPFBO this year, hosted by Mark Lawrence. It’s going to be an interesting experience and I hope that it is received well. My nerves are completely fried, but I think I can manage.

Lastly, Duke’s Brand first draft is on the ending stretch of its development. I have 9 more chapters to complete and I have a good idea of where I’m going to take the story from here. Should be a very interesting experience all and all. All goes to plan, I should have it finished within the next few months. I’ve also been kinda on a roll. I’m pleased with everything I’ve accomplished so far.

So, there’s that! Keep in contact and I hope that you’re having a good day.

See ya on the flip side,

Deston J. Munden


Progress

Book Progress