Guest Post: My Top Five Tips For Writing Great Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels by Michael Phillip Cash

Hey everyone. I’m honored to share this amazing guest post from author Michael Phillip Cash. Be sure to check out his website and links down below, and don’t forget to follow the link to the Rafflecopter giveaway as well! Take it away Michael!

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“My Top Five Tips For Writing Great Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels”

By Michael Phillip Cash

When you’re just starting out as an author you may be tempted to heed the advice to “write what you know.” But what about writers who want to write in the Science Fiction Fantasy genre? That’s certainly not a world you’re going to have some knowledge of. But wait. Don’t get discouraged. You have a distinct advantage over some other genres. Everything you need to know about writing Sci-Fi Fantasy is already stored right in your noggin. That’s because it’s your world and you get to create every single thing about it. It’s known as world building and it’s awesome. As long as you keep some things in mind you’ll be good to go. Here are my top five tips for writing great Sci-Fi Fantasy books:

  1. Read, read and then read some more

Read every science fiction/fantasy book you can get your hands on. Study them like you would any other reference book. Learn from the masters. Take notes as you read. Don’t aim to copy, but use other books as jumping off points for your own unique stories.  

  1. Tap into traditional fantasy elements

It’s okay to include the standard trolls, elves, giants, wizards, warriors, or whatever. Just use them in totally different and unique ways. Use these tried and true elements, but do it as originally as possible.

  1. Combine basic writing principles in distinctly unique ways

Boy loves girl. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets captured by a ten-foot tall giant and girl must use her magical powers and her talking dragon to fool the giant into letting boy go. You get the idea. Much of what works in say for instance romance or another genre will work in fantasy. You just have to do it with a magical sort of imagination.

  1. Make sure your characters have dreams, hopes and goals

If your characters have nothing at stake, or nothing to overcome then no one will care what happens to them. When you’re creating your cast of characters, be sure to give them strengths, weaknesses, fears and flaws. Even fantasy characters have these and this is what will keep your readers invested in your story.

  1. Study old (and new) maps, and learn about different cultures and climates.

Maps are beautiful and artistic props to use as inspiration – particularly older maps. Imagine what it might be like to live in a foreign land. Research the clothing, tools and equipment other cultures use now and in the past. Considering what the terrain or climate might be like in your fantasy world will ultimately allow your readers to immerse themselves in your story.  

About Michael Phillip Cash

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Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His novel The Battle for Darracia is a three-part saga and is available on Amazon.

Michael’s novels are best-sellers on Amazon under their genres – Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense, Ghost, Action Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror. Michael writes full-time and lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wonderful wife and screaming children. You can follow him @michaelpcash or connect with him via his website.

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Interview with Author Philip Bencel

Check out my latest #authorinterview with Philip Bencel, author of Freedom City, a dystopian novel set in a world way too similar to our own… #interview #bookblog

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been a private investigator in Washington, D.C. for almost twenty years. I’ve written stories since I was a kid, but I didn’t publish my first books until I was in my mid-thirties: Introduction to Conducting Private Investigations and Principles of Investigative Documentation. I returned to writing fiction last year, when I took a sabbatical from my investigations company to write a novel.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

The book I aspired to write last year was called Order of Damaged Souls, set around the 14th century Flemish peasant revolt. I finished that book, but I ultimately decided it was too dark for mainstream consumption. While bemoaning all the time that I “wasted” on Damaged Souls, I had an epiphany about just how demoralized I was about the American disaster marked by Donald Trump’s presidency. This soul-searching led me to re-read The Monkey Wrench Gang, a campy novel written by Edward Abbey about a band of misfits who sabotage stuff to protect the environment. I thought, ‘I should write something like that, but set in post-Trump America!’ Thus inspired, I wrote Freedom City in about three months, rushing to get it out before Trump’s impeachment. [Laughter].

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I don’t know if I can curse on your blog—but fucking hell, what we’re living through right now is the resurgence of fascism, plain and simple. I know the left is often too loose with the word ‘fascist,’ and that’s regrettable, but there is nothing else to call attacks on the press, on the judiciary, and outright distain for the rule of law by the so-called President of the United States. So, Freedom City is a serious book about a very serious topic, but I really tried to bring it down to a level where I’m not just screaming incoherently out the window. The thing is that, when you take a deep breath, Trump and his enablers are evil in an almost inept-comic-book-villain sort of way, so there is actually a lot to laugh about in the situation. The one thing I hope people get from my book is that we must kill them with laughter. That’s their biggest weakness, which is why the right has been so up in arms the past few days about Michelle Wolf’s scathing comedy routine at the WHCD.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Well, my first novel was historical fiction, which is what I often like to read. Freedom City, I suppose, is contemporary literary fiction, but I’ve really struggled with whether to call it satire or dystopian fiction. It’s a little of both, actually, more like a tragicomedy. Like I said, I didn’t really set out to write it, but as a longtime private detective who lives in D.C.—I can literally see the fucking U.S. Capitol out of my window—I was probably the person best situated to write a novel like Freedom City.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I admit that I struggled a bit with Clare Swan, the main female protagonist. Some female readers have pointed out her promiscuity, and that’s certainly a fair critique. But while my book might not pass the Bechdel test, nobody (so far) has accused me of being anti-feminist. Actually, I’m a diehard feminist. It’s just that I have an active imagination, so when I write female characters I sometimes imagine ways I might sleep with them. [Laugher]. Ultimately, I think Clare turned out to be a delightfully complex human being and a righteous warrior. But if I could talk to her I’d ask if she feels I did her justice.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

That’s a great question. I had already developed this public persona as a private investigator, and by far the biggest platforms for that are LinkedIn and Twitter. Because of that professional following I already had from my non-fiction books, I’ve gotten the most traction so far from those sites. However, I’m super excited about Instagram—which I confess I wasn’t even on until a few months ago. As I’m someone who loves readings and events, it really gives me a chance to chronicle the “buzz” around my book and hopefully help it, one day, take off.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

So much of the advice aspiring writers get is to clichéd. I mean, I could say ‘don’t be afraid to suck’ or ‘join a writing group’—both sage pieces of advice—but instead I’ll say this: Write about the things buried deep in your soul that you think might scare your friends to know about you. Just do it. They won’t scare, and you’ll be writing honest shit.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’ve got a couple irons in the fire, including a continuation (sort of) of Freedom City. Lately, however, I’m back to doing investigations, so I don’t have all the time to write I had last year. That’s okay though, because now that I recognize impeachment isn’t happening anytime soon I can take the time to make the next book longer and even more snarky.

 

freedom

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Interview with Author Stephan Morse

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Writing came about from a failed project in the 5th grade. It was a bad fiction where I turned into a dragon and burned some other child in class I hated for reasons that were probably silly. We ended up meeting Ursula Le Quin (I believe, this was decades ago well before I’d read her books) as part of a school event. Between those two events, I’d always had an interest in writing novels. It only grew as I went through Junior High and High School and read anything fantasy related in three libraries. It took some time before I dared to write my own novels and release them to the public.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

 I tend to read a dozen or so books as part of my recharge process. over a few month span.  The Fiasco came about from a superhero kick, where I read nearly anything my Kindle could find from the genre. During this reading spree I’d been editing prior works, prepping some for release on eReaders, and so on. I wanted to try something new – a way to see a new story in an older setting. Comics, movies, and even a few old audio novels all played their part in inspiring The Fiasco but I feel like I managed something new(ish), which is my first goal when writing.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

It’s less about theme and more about exploring the rest of a world that others may ignore. As an example, my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe were the ones that fell between the cracks – specifically the Morlocks. They weren’t good enough to fit on a team, they weren’t powerful enough to be villains or anything else, and generally ugly enough that everyone gave them dirty looks. I loved these people because they were living a real life. They had day jobs and failure to fit in with normal crowds. They were the most developed characters because their plight started well before mainstream heroes started addressing life behind the mask.That sunk in, misfits among misfits.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The Fiasco’s superhero sort of ideas were a weird mix of every other mainstream series – since I’d spent so much time reading superhero novels. That being said, probably Marvel’s universe had the biggest impact on a desire to write in the genre. It’s simply been around so long that nearly everything else shares some inspiration from their works. Heck, I grew up reading comics (and compulsively sorting them). But I couldn’t let my work be a carbon copy of the classic coming of age and learning to use powers for great justice sort of tale. It couldn’t be about stopping the big bad from ruining the world in their ill thought out megalomaniac plot. It became about the captives left behind, the person who’s forced to be in all these powered events. The man who’s simply tired of being in the super powered world because he’s never the actual hero or a catharsis seeking vigilante/villain.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

There’s a lot of stuff I’d ask my characters – and constantly are things I’m asking them. I could pick Ted, who’s the first book’s semi villain and sort of mentor. His role is complicated because people are rarely one dimensional. He wants to get back at those who ruined his life and took away his daughter. He wants to make his wife see that there are some forces which are unstoppable – that losing their kid wasn’t his fault, but he also wants Adam to answer for his reactive role in everything that goes on. But because I know all those things, asking him his motivation seems weird.So, any question I ask has to be really out of the way.

Like, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten and where was it? That’s a question I may never have an answer to. So now, I really want to know.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook, hands down. I have my little author page and hang out in a few groups that focus on the same genre as my main series. It’s fun interacting with the readers who ping me when topics come up. I try to avoid self promotion and generally only pop by when someone messages me about a post – but Facebook lets me see what people think about the work, and that’s always an awe inspiring moment.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Finish a book. Don’t restart it 10 times. Don’t edit it until you’re drowning and hate yourself. Finish it. Quality aside, knowing that you have finished a book means a ton. It was the greatest thing I ever did.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

More books, more writing. But real life and the day job take precedence over putting together novels. However, now that I’ve started – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop. There will be two more books for The Fiasco eventually, bringing the series to a close. There’ll be some virtual reality based books along with western fantasy mashups. Ideas tend to occur faster than my fingers can type.

Blog Tour: The Pariah Child & The Ever-Giving Stone by Natasha D. Lane

Blurb:

When Sarah was four, she promised her mother she would be a good girl — a proper young lady in their small country town — and that she would ignore the creatures who appeared to her and whispered in her ear of things unknown. But like all creatures of myth and legend, they won’t be ignored forever.

Now thirteen, Sarah is attacked by a wolf with poisonous black fur and strange, human-looking eyes. With the help of a few unexpected friends, she manages to survive the attack but soon discovers the creatures have returned. They want Sarah to find a powerful gemstone and bring it to them in Lyrica, their magical homeworld.

Her new friends urge caution, however. There may be more monsters like the black wolf. And the creatures themselves are frightening. Can Sarah trust them? Stuck between reality and imagination, her mother’s wishes and her own desires, Sarah faces an impossible choice – break her promise or do nothing to save a world in peril.

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Interview with Author Natasha D. Lane

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I started writing as a kid. I was probably in elementary school when I realized how much I loved writing. Eventually, it became an outlet for me. I took everything I had to hold inside and put it on paper. It started with poetry,then eventually grew to short stories, before I started my first novel. My middle school teacher Ms. Snyder was the one who saw my talent and pushed me to write my first novel. It was called (get ready for this) “An Imperfect Utopia.” Great title, right?

Anyway, I never stopped writing. I was traditionally published as a romance author in college and did that for several years, before returning to the genre that always held a special place in my heart: fantasy. Now, here I am with one of the first fantasy novels I have ever written ready to be published.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

So much! Life experiences, other stories, and just a simple desire to write.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” and the movie “Eragon” (I know, I know, it was a horrible adaption) gave me a lot of fuel to write my novel. I love the sense of pure adventure both stories have and I wanted to write something like that, too. At that time, most of the fantasy novels I read had heavy aspects of romance in them which I didn’t mind but I began to wonder what it would be like to read a story that focused on the journey and less on some love triangle, ya know?

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Love yourself even when the world tells you that you’re somehow wrong or unlovable. Love yourself.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Fantasy is a genre known for escapism. I think as a kid I wanted to escape from a lot of the crap that was happening. I was bullied at school and had very few good relationships with the adults in my life, so everywhere I looked there was this chaos, this negativity, and so much stuff out of my control. When I read fantasy I got to leave all of that behind.

I also got to leave some of the things I used to hate about myself behind. When I read fantasy novels I wasn’t a nerd or loser. I was a warrior going on a journey to save the world or a magician with hidden powers that no one understood. I felt like an underdog and fantasy novels are famous for turning the underdogs into the heroes of the tales.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Oh, good question! Hmmmm. If I had to pick, I think I’d sit down with Serwa. She’s one of the main characters in the story and a very powerful witch. I think I’d ask her how she manages to carry all the burdens she does and how she handles people’s misconceptions about her. I don’t want to go into too much detail because her background has more explanation in the sequel. However, I will say that Serwa is one of the most misunderstood characters in the series. She’s often viewed as mean or a monster when in reality she’s trying to do what she can to save everyone.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Twitter and Instagram are my favorite platforms. Specifically, Insta for readership but Twitter is good for branding and networking. I like Insta because it’s such a positive sight. Seems to me like it has less drama than other social media platforms.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

“Write your way through life.” That’s my mantra because, like any form of art, writing is an outlet. When life gets tough (which it always does) write out all madness, the beauty, the good and the ugly. It’s a healthy form of expression.

Beyond that, I’d say take any marketing classes you can and build your platform now! The sooner you build your platform, the more opportunities you’ll have to test what works best for your brand and how best to develop it.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Lots of new projects. After “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is released into the world, I plan on publishing my second novel. It’s tentatively titled “The Woman In the Tree” and is an Arthurian legend retelling that takes a different spin on how Arthur became king. I’m already writing the book, so it won’t be too long a wait.

Once that’s done, the sequel to The Pariah Child is next on my list.

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Author Bio

Natasha Lane enjoys reading a wide variety of genres, but fantasy has always been dear to her heart. After a brief stint in romance, Natasha’s returned to fantasy and currently has two works in the making. She plans on releasing her first fantasy novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” March 22, 2018.

Natasha hopes one day to be a well known published author, whose writing informs as well as entertains her reader.

Besides being a bookworm, Natasha is a documentary junkie, rom-com addict, health advocate, entrepreneur, and chef (in her own way).

She currently resides in Baltimore, MD. Despite where life may take her, one thing is certain. Natasha will always keep writing.

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8547000.Natasha_D_Lane

Twitter: https://twitter.com/natasha_lane1

Website: https://www.natashalanewrites.com/

Excerpt: https://www.natashalanewrites.com/excerpt/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NatashaLaneWrites/

Copy of Pariah Child - Final Cover - front cover only - ebook rgb

Video Review: Spirits of the Heart by Claire Gem

Interview with Author I. Ashmawey

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
Since a young age, I’ve always imagined the world differently. Asked strange questions. Pictured how things could be rather than how they are. Writing is my way of capturing that imagination and documenting it. When I have a thought, I write it. It’s my way of allowing that thought to leave my mind and instead, possibly go into the minds of others. If people like my thoughts, wonderful. If not, I have plenty others!
2) What inspired you to write your book?
I don’t know anyone who reads regularly in my circle of friends. Perhaps that means I need new friends 🙂 But it also means that in general, my generation is not one of readers. My generation gets a ridiculous amount of screen time. Whether it’s TV, YouTube, or whatever else, it’s all the same. First of all, it limits the kinds of opinions they will hear. Second, the mind simply doesn’t work when it is receiving content through a screen. It’s a lazy method, and breeds even more laziness. Even those who laud themselves as people who read the news, do they really read it? Or just the gist?
I wrote this book to encourage my generation to spend more time with an open book in front of them, rather than a screen. The hope is that with only five minutes a day, people can escape their lives and take a small glimpse into a life that once was, or could someday be. And perhaps they would gain something positive from this insight.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
The themes in the book are plenty, as every short story aims to take the reader somewhere different than the one before. If I was to summarize all the messages and concoct a common theme that connects them all, it would simply be: think differently. If society runs things in a certain way, that way may be entirely wrong. There may be a far better way that is waiting for someone to discover it. There may be a way far worse, that’s still worth trying in order to feel more assured of society’s way. There is always something to be gained when thinking differently and questioning everything.
4) What drew you into this particular genre or genres?
Writing a book of short stories was never my intention. I actually finished a sci-fi novel and had sent it to my editor for editing which usually takes a few months. In the meantime, I couldn’t sit idle. So I decided to put some ideas down, which turned into short stories. I then wanted to challenge my creativity: 30 stories in 30 days. I was able to do it, a story a day. Then I added ten more, and thought to myself, “Why not publish?”
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
That’s an extremely tough one given that there are 40 shorts with 40 main characters. But I think I would choose Apolena Kipp from the story “Before the Beginning.” A space explorer who takes humanity’s first trip back to before the Big Bang. There was a moment while writing that story that I truly felt scared for her. I couldn’t imagine the courage it would need to take such a trip. Being the first to ever do anything requires courage, but especially to cross that threshold where there are no safety precautions, that’s something else. I would want to ask her what this trip means to her personally. Why does she so desperately want to know what happened before the Big Bang? And more importantly, how did she feel about what she found?
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I have to be honest, I don’t have social media. I used to. I was one of the first to join Facebook back when it required a .edu address and you needed to put in which classes you were taking. But on a specific day, I found myself with my 1-yrld daughter at Disneyland, and I was fighting with someone I didn’t know on Facebook about some political opinion. It hit me then, and then I deactivated my account, and vowed never to return.
I don’t deny however that social media can tremendously help marketing a book. So that’s something I’m currently working on, but without social media 🙂
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
The most important thing any writer can do, is write. It doesn’t matter how bad the writing is initially. It doesn’t matter if t hey don’t have a fully fleshed story. Start writing, and write everyday. One’s writing is a muscle. If it’s not exercised it, it will become weak. To write is to find the characters, then the characters will build the story. Just start, that’s the most important thing. Start!
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
The soft sci-fi is currently out with agents! The book is titled, “ETA: the Trial of Logan Gruver.” The story talks of Logan, a traveler on a commercialized time-travel trip to the Pliocene epoch, who finds purpose and love when he meets Giselle, a fellow traveler in the past. Together, they discover that humanity will mysteriously cease to exist in the future. The newly discovered Canvas of Time, a fabric that covers the universe and also lends way to time travel, will begin to deteriorate. Logan and Giselle understand their devotion, the consequences of their actions, and why humanity may have to pay the price.

Valentine’s Day Book Giveaway!

I wanted to let you guys know that two of my books will be free starting today and ending on the 17th! The first is Blood and Romance and the second is At First Glance.

At First Glance: A Frightening Romance Novel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008X0NK56/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_umVGAbMERH74E

Blood and Romance: A Book of Poetry and Horror https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0042P5DP6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_4mVGAbAWZFY7K