The best wisdom to navigate through life comes from authors

145805516-fantasy_20quotes_20philosophy_20game_20of_20thrones_20tv_20series_20arya_20stark_20hbo_201920x1200_20wallpaper_www_wall321_com_73“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.”  That’s from Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. That’s just one constant you can always find throughout literature, words to live by and wisdom to navigate through the rivers of self-doubt. As authors, we represent the struggles of not only our own lives but that of the world events happening around us. Authors want to instill hope, courage, determination and justice in the words we right.

How we deal with death was beautifully written in Games of Thrones by Geroge R. R. Martin. “There is only one God and his name is death. And there is only one thing we say to death … Not today!”

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as great and sudden change.” Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy teaches us that, “It is much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it.” Parse that with a quote from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, “Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”

There are thousands of inspirational and life-changing words throughout literature, from The Bible to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or even The Shining. Please, don’t misunderstand me, I am not comparing something as powerful as the word of God to a gothic horror classic. What I am trying to say is, there are words to inspire us in all facets of literature.

The inner demons of self-worth from Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island come out, where he wrote, “It is a great misfortune to be alone, my friends; and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason.”  The same can be said for The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

“We need never be ashamed of our tears.” Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

An examination of the human psyche has always been an essential part of literature. From The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde wrote, “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Even Richard Yates in Revolutionary Road looked into the mind’s eye when he wrote, “No one forgets the truth, they just get better at lying.”

How we spend our days is also a theme carried throughout books. P.D. James in The Children of Men wrote, “We can experience nothing but the present moment, live in no other second of time, and to understand this is as close as we can get to eternal life.” Roald Dahl wrote in The Witches, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.”

There are hundreds more that many of us know and use as guiding posts through life. What’s your favorite quote from a book? Please let me know, I’d love to read about it and more. I’d like to leave you with a quote from my own “soon to be published” novel, The Outlander War: Book Three of the Forever Avalon Series. I am, by no means, comparing myself to the great authors represented here. I just wanted to show how my own personal inspiration, my family, comes through in my writing. I hope it can inspire you too.

“When you feel the sunlight warming your face, that’s me looking at you. When the wind blows through your hair, that’s me touching you.

“And when the rain falls on your lips, that’s me kissing you!”

Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be viewed at Inkitt and cast your vote to get it published.

The coming apocalypse has been predicted for years, and we’re still waiting for it

7040310-apocalypse-hd-wallpaperThe end of the world has been prophesied since the dawn of time. The Mayans said the world would end on December 21, 2012. The Vikings called it Ragnarök when the world ends and the Norse Gods die, only to be reborn. Of course, the book of Revelation in the New Testament goes into detail about the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus; and with the current climate of financial, political and global upheaval happening today, people are scared that our time has come.

I’m not trying to be the voice of doom and gloom because I don’t see the end of the world, at least not yet. There is still so much to do, from deep space exploration to robotics/cybernetics and other advances in science. The amazing thing today is that all of this has been written about and talked about for hundreds of years, first in books then in movies and television.

Ray Bradbury saw a world where books were the downfall of mankind in Fahrenheit 451. H.G. Wells saw a future where the human race split into two groups—the predators and the prey—in The Time Machine. Stephen King gave us the end of the world through disease and biblical proportions in The Stand. Philip K. Dick imagined a world where genetically engineered humans were hunted down because they wanted more time to explore their humanity in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep or as we like to call it, Blade Runner. George Miller made a living of showing us a crazy wasteland through the eyes of one man, Mad Max.

saints+of+the+apocalypse+bAs writers, the end of the world can come about through endless possibilities and that gives us so many options in the stories we tell:  Zombie apocalypse, machines taking control, deadly viruses, nuclear war, climate change, etc. We are fatalistic in our views of the apocalypse and show humanity at its worst to bring about the end of the world. Yet, through all that turmoil and tribulation, we find a glimmer of hope. There is always one guiding light or shining star that wins out in the end and gives everyone, from readers to storytellers alike, that spark of optimism that will inspire.

In series like The Walking Dead, the character of Rick Grimes is the focal point of that hope and inspiration, doing everything and anything to keep his family and friends alive in a world that wants to destroy them all. In the Terminator series, Sarah and John Conner are the only chance for humanity in a world where machines want to wipe out the disease called humanity. Even kid’s movies like Pixar’s Wall-E, we see a world destroyed by human greed where hope for life is found in a little robot looking for love.

In most post-apocalyptic stories, humanity is both the cause and the cure for the end of days. Writers see Armageddon as a tool to show us the faults in humanity and the possibilities we can achieve together. That’s the beauty of literature. For hundreds of years, authors have been talking about the end of the world and, through our writing, we have stayed off the apocalypse. As long as we continue the conversation, show people what can happen if we don’t change our ways, then maybe, just maybe, we can put off the end of the world for another millennium.

H.G. Wells said it best in his novel, The Time Machine. “We should strive to welcome change and challenges because they are what help us grow. Without them, we grow weak like the Eloi in comfort and security. We need to constantly be challenging ourselves in order to strengthen our character and increase our intelligence. ”

A forgotten classic, swept under the rug by Disney

The_Black_Cauldron_posterDisney is known for its great animated movies, the majority of which take place in the fantasy genre. Classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty and The Sword in the Stone have all the right elements of a great fantasy movie:  wizards and witches, dragons and knights, good versus evil, etc. There is one, however, that was a beautiful adaptation of a classic fantasy novel that Disney decided was too dark and scary and swept it under the rug of forgotten classics. I am, of course, referring to The Black Cauldron.

Released in 1985, The Black Cauldron was adapted from the 1965 Lloyd Alexander novel, the second of the five books from The Chronicles of Pyrdain. The movie was Disney’s 25th animated film. It was the first Disney animated film to receive a PG rating and the first to use computer-generated graphics. It featured the voices of Grant Bardsley, Susan Sheridan, Freddie Jones, Nigel Hawthorne, John Byner, and John Hurt.

The Black Cauldron is set in the mythical land of Prydain during the dark ages. The film centers on the evil Horned King who hopes to secure an ancient magical cauldron that has the power to raise an army of the dead, but to do that, he needs a pig named Hen Wen who has “oracle” powers. He is opposed by a young pig keeper named Taran, the young princess Eilonwy, the bard Fflewddur Fflam, and a wild creature named Gurgi who seek to prevent him from ruling the world by destroying the cauldron.

Horned_KingThe imagery in this movie was quite dark and spooky, especially for a kid’s animated movie. The Horned King looked like a walking corpse. It had all the earmarks of a Disney movie with the boy hero, a beautiful princess, the evil villain and his henchmen, and of course, the comedic sidekick; but even with all that, Disney had problems with the film. After its initial audience screening, the Disney Studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg ordered massive edits and cuts in the film, particularly in the “cauldron born” scene where the Horned King brings his army of the dead to life. There was even scenes where one of the “cauldron born” monsters sliced the neck of one victim and the torso of another. It was very gruesome indeed.

It was scenes, like that, that gave children nightmares from the pre-screening. Though most of it ended on the cutting room floor, it left the film quite jumpy and left a certain lapse, especially in the final act. In the end, after its release, the film only managed to make $21.3 million of its $44 million budget domestically. However, it did manage to score big internationally, especially in Europe.

Rotten Tomatoes called it “ambitious but flawed” while only giving it a 55% rating. Even the author, Lloyd Alexander, had mixed feeling about the movie. He said, “First, I have to say, there is no resemblance between the movie and the book. Having said that, the movie in itself, purely as a movie, I found to be very enjoyable. I had fun watching it. What I would hope is that anyone who sees the movie would certainly enjoy it, but I’d also hope that they’d actually read the book. The book is quite different. It’s a very powerful, very moving story, and I think people would find a lot more depth in the book.”

Disney even misused the film for its initial release to home media. It was finally released on VHS in 1994. This was mostly done due to fans wanting the film released on video along with other Disney classics. It was again released on dvd in 2000 and again in 2010 for a special 25th-anniversary edition. All of this was more “fan-driven” than anything else.

The Black Cauldron may not have the love of some of the other Disney classics, but to those who love the fantasy-genre, it is a forgotten classic that deserves a little more respect. Or as Gurgi would say, “Oh, poor miserable Gurgi deserves fierce smackings and whackings on his poor, tender head. Always left with no munchings and crunchings.”

Social Media is the devil’s playground for Independent Authors

social-media-marketing-imageI wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with this week’s blog, but then, after spending precious time checking my Forever Avalon Facebook and Twitter accounts, it dawned on me. Social media has become the last refuge for independent, self-published authors.

I can’t tell you how many hours a week I put into creating posts, sharing posts, “liking” and “following” other authors, It’s a shared responsibility within our community to support each other and sometimes, the reality is, it’s all we’ve got. We are passionate about our work and we want to share it with anyone who’ll listen. So we post it on every social media website available.

Unfortunately, it takes up a lot of our time. I am currently unemployed, so between job hunting, I am writing and editing the next chapter of my series as well as keeping my friends and followers up-to-date and interested through various social media platforms. I must spend at least 4-5 hours a day on social media alone whether I’m on my computer, iPad or smart phone. It’s a constant barrage of messages, likes comments.

There are also tons of websites professing throngs of followers (for the right price) for independent authors. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking them. I have paid for a few of their services this past year. You just have to be careful who you’re signing up with. Like all facets of self-publishing, social media marketing costs money. You have to pick the right investment that will suit your needs as an author.

I try to take a practical approach when preparing my social media discourse. I write fantasy/science fiction genre so I try to focus my posts on that, from inspirational quotes to interesting articles and, of course, other authors in my network. Additionally, I like to throw in a weekly plug for my books.

This is the day-to-day social media life of an independent author. It’s not as glamorous as some celebrities or social media icons, but it’s how we get by. I was ecstatic when I broke 2,000 followers on Twitter. I’m still waiting to broach the 500 mark on Facebook. It’s a tough row to hoe, especially the wait for that one post to garner multiple likes, shares, hearts, and retweets.

To many reading this, it’s a reflection of the day-to-day doldrums of keeping your social media current and up-to-date. My Monday mornings are spent writing this blog, creating a week’s worth of social media posts via Hootsuite. (FYI, if you’re not using it, you better be! Hootsuite is a Godsend for independent authors, and Google too!)

The key is consistency. You have to keep it current, relevant and focused on yourself and your genre and your day-to-day practices as an independent author. Try to avoid controversial subjects. I like to follow the same rule I follow when I’m in a bar, pub or tavern. Avoid subjects like religion, politics and sex (unless that is your genre of choice) as it is a hotbed in our current “PC” climate of today.

Just remember, this will be a slow and steady process gaining followers and friends through social media. I liken it to the “Tortoise and the Hare” story, slow and steady wins the race.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.