The art of war in medieval fantasy stories

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

35-Sun-Tzu-Quotes-1The words of the great Sun Tzu have been used to motivate warriors for thousands of years. His wisdom in warfare is an essential read for those signing up for the armed forces. It is also essential for fantasy writers. Warfare between humans, Elves, Dwarves, dragons, centaurs, and other mythical creatures is an integral part of fantasy writing.

Combat is not just about sword swinging, arrow flinging, and spear thrusting. It’s about strategy, deception, and intricate maneuvers that will lead to victory. When considering what to do, think about something Sun Tzu said.

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Besides reading Sun Tzu, I’ve been able to develop fighting strategies in my stories through hours of Dungeons & Dragons role playing. Being immersed in the game, especially in combat situations, forced me to develop strategies and think about ways to fight in fantasy situations.

When your creating a combat situation, the devil’s in the details. You not only need to consider your characters and their capabilities, but also the enemies capabilities, the terrain, the weather, and more. There are so many elements involved in any combat scenario that a book like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is almost required reading.

If you need inspiration for a great leader, “In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.” Do you need a plan where the odds are lopsided? “Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack.” Everything you need can be found in Sun Tzu. If it worked for Tony Soprano, it van work for you.

Just remember this:

“Order or disorder depends on organization; courage or cowardice on circumstances; strength or weakness on dispositions.”

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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, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Daydreaming is for dreamers, keeping writers like me feeling young again

1218075500955_fRalph Waldo Emerson said, “Live in the sunshine. Swim the sea. Drink the wild air.” I like the sound of that, not only as a writer but as a human being. To me, it says “enjoy life” to the fullest possible sense. It also helps to keep one’s creative juices flowing.

I will admit that I daydream a lot. I find myself dreaming about the next chapter of my novel, or captain of a spaceship, travelling to the stars. I’ve even dreamed about being a rock star while listening to my favorite music. I think that dreaming comes naturally to people with a creative talent, like writers, artists and musicians.

It’s through dreams that we create and add to the building blocks of our stories. The whole concept for Forever Avalon came from a dream I had, and each story of the series has come to me through dreams. I’ll give you an example. I’m currently writing the fourth book in the Forever Avalon series, but I’ve been stuck on this one part. For weeks, I’ve been staring at my computer with little to no results. Then one night, as I laid in bed trying to sleep, it came to me. The story just laid itself out perfectly in my mind. It was exactly what I was looking for. The only problem was that because my mind was racing with all these ideas, I couldn’t fall asleep.

“Never let it be said that to dream is to waste one’s time, for dreams are our realities in waiting. In dreams, we plant the seeds of our future.” ─ Unknown

I think that’s the curse, for lack of a better word, for writers. Our ideas can come at the most inopportune time and we don’t know how to shut it off, no matter how much sleep we lose. That does present a problem, whether at work or late at night when you’ve got to get up for work the next day. Dreaming, and daydreaming, can both be a negative and a positive for writers.

Its a part of us that lets us bust loose with incredible adventures in worlds never imagined or seen before. I wouldn’t trade all the sleepless nights and missed deadlines if I had to give up my dreams. Even the smartest people in the world want to live in their dreams.

Albert Einstein said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live in my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”

We need our dreams to give us something to aspire too. Those dreams are the foundation of our future. Let’s not give up those dreams, otherwise we will stay stalled in our life. I will continue to dream and grow my world through my imagination. That way, I’ll never grow old.

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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, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Getting over the a writer’s wall requires inspiration, imagination, and ideas

break throughThere are many walls that writers have to hurdle to make it to the finish line as a published author. Sometimes those walls are self-imposed, like writer’s block, and other times those walls are caused by outside forces, like a publisher’s rejection letter. All of these walls can be overcome and soon, you’re on your way to being a published author.

That’s the best feeling in the world, you know. Holding your book in your hands is a feeling of complete and unadulterated bliss. You know why? It’s because the journey it took to get there was an unrelenting, mind-crushing, pain-filled agony from beginning to end, but maybe, just maybe, its a good thing. Actor Will Smith said,

“You don’t try to build a wall, you don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say I’m gonna build the biggest baddest wall that’s ever been built. you say, I’m gonna lay this brick, as perfectly as a brick can be laid, and you do that every single day, and soon you have a wall. It’s difficult to take the first step when you look how big the task is. The task is never huge to me, it’s always one brick.”

This is just an example of the challenges that await many writers. The walls we build can be both good and bad. When writing, a wall can represent the stagnation in your story, a writer’s block as big as the Great Wall of China. Yet, even these blockages can be diverted, like a beaver dam blocking the river. A little dynamite can go a long way; and by dynamite I mean inspiration, imagination and ideas. Michael Jordan said,

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

You don’t need a five-step program or a life coach to overcome these obstacles in going from writer to published author. All it takes is a little research, some networking with other independent, self-published authors, and time and effort on your part. Remember, walls aren’t there as obstacles but rather as challenges.

You can break through any wall, without too much pain and damage to yourself. Persistence is the key to breaking down these walls. The whole Galaxy Quest, “Never give up, never surrender!” come to mind. Don’t let the walls discourage you or you may find yourself staring at your computer screen, waiting to type the next word, for weeks on end.

It’s not fun when you hit that wall, but remember, most of the pain is self-inflicted. Pull together that which inspires you to write and use it to climb over, break through or go around the wall. I know a lot of this sounds like a bunch of metaphors, and they are, but they’re good ones.

As writers, we know all the right words to do and say to get our characters out of any mess. The object is to apply those same foils to ourselves. It might not be practical, but it can be quite useful. You do what you have to do to get the story written. Your success counts on one thing and one thing only … YOU!

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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, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

 

Self publishing gives an author hope of being discovered and hitting it big

2016-07-25-21-06-14-writingHope…It’s a word associated with many things, like Star Wars, President Obama, and the first game of your favorite sports team’s season. Hope is a part of faith, family, and charity. This past week, watching the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey filled me with hope for humanity as I watched people helping others without thought of their own safety.

Hope is a big word that fills all our lives on a daily basis; but for an author like myself, hope is what makes us go on. After I finished my first novel, Forever Avalon, in 2007, my hope was to get it published and become a famous writer. I bought a book listing publishers and mailed out my manuscript. I received plenty of rejection letters, sometimes none at all. My hope was fading fast.

Then I received a phone call from a small publishing company, Rock Publishing, who offered to publish my book for a small fee. Now, at the time, I didn’t know what self-publishing was. I thought this was someone truly interested in me a writer and the small fee ($1,200) was because I was a new, untested author. How wrong I was…

The word “vanity publisher” was another way of describing self-publishing houses. It’s an appropriate word, preying on the “vanity” of the authors to be published. It’s true, though, as I was filled with pride, completely overjoyed at seeing my name on a book I could hold in my hands. I didn’t care about the cost. It was worth it.

The problem was in the writing. Most vanity publishers aren’t concerned if your book has been edited, polished, and thoroughly vetted, unless you pay for it that is. That’s the thing with self-publishing–you pay for everything you need from your publisher,including marketing, cover and interior art, editing, etc. I received more editing from my mother than I did my first publisher, and she gave me edits after it was already published.

My second book, The Dark Tides, was published through iUniverse publishing company. They gave me tons of support and wonderful customer service, for a higher price than my first. I paid even more for editing, marketing, special events, and artwork. Even with the higher cost, the results were similar to my first book. This would tell you that maybe writing isn’t your thing, that your stories are not what people are looking for, and yet I continue to write.

As an author who self publishes, you rely on yourself for everything from marketing, social media, setting up book signing events, all the while your working on your next story. It can be a frantic existence for any author, but we continue to strive on with that little bit of hope.

Self-publishing has its ups and downs, good and bad experiences for any independent author. Others would give up with little to no success, but I just can’t do it. Why is that? Is it vanity or something more? Its not vanity, its hope. Through it all, I still have that little bit of hope deep inside. I’m in the process of editing my third book and already started working on the fourth. That’s what it means to be an author, filled with hope in the spirit that one day your work will be recognized. “Never give up, never surrender!”

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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, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.