Friday, April 29, 2016

The Week in Links: SFF Summer TV, The Killing Joke, Annabelle 2

Book Marketing and Branding
Effective Social Media = Storytelling
Download the Ultimate Collection of Book Marketing Examples
Marky Marketing: Promoting Your Book

The Ultimate Guide to This Summer's Science Fiction and Fantasy TV
That Naughty Pipe- a dark fantasy coloring book
Nnedi Okorafor Pens Two More Binti Tales

Writing, Publishing and Bookishness
How To Share Your Protagonist’s Deepest Feelings With Readers
On This Arbor Day, Capture the Beauty of Trees with Photography

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The post needs to be published between today, 4/29 and next Friday, 5/06. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Son of Light Book 2: The M.B.S. Guild by Chris Parker

Title: The Son of Light Book 2: The M.B.S. Guild
Author: Chris Parker
Genre: Fantasy

Despite having the worst birthday in his life, sixteen year old Joshua Suzuki finally gets his birthday wish—to get out of his house in Porter Ranch, California, which he had spent a decade locked up in. But his wish would be an unusual one because he soon finds himself in an underground college, which belonged to secret organization, called the M.B.S. (Mind, Body, and Soul) Guild. This blows Josh’s mind. And what shocks him even more is that his twenty-six year old foster brother, Nickolas Suzuki, is the leader of the M.B.S. Guild.

Nick wastes no time in telling Josh the horrible truth to why they’ve been in hiding for ten years — The Demon Lord, Hexen, has returned. Nick puts Josh in the protection of his crazy college friends to train him in the art of energy, as Nick travels around the world for clues about Lord Hexen’s origins.

But after being lured out of the guild, Josh find himself in the outside world again, a world far more dangerous than the last time. Now, Josh has to find his way back to the guild while dealing with violent bandits, crazed zombie-like people, and worst of all, Lord Hexen. Can Josh survive?

The Son of Light Book 2: The M.B.S. Guild is an adult fantasy novel that features fast-paced action, and side-splitting comedy. If you like the Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones novels, then you like The Son of Light book 2.

Chris Parker started writing during his community college years until he transferred to a film school, Columbia College Hollywood, after losing his house in 2008. There he came up with many stories such as, The Son of Light. However, he went to school to become an editor. After earning his BA, Chris went back to his first love, writing.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Goodreads Survey Results

A couple of months ago I asked you to fill out a survey about why you use Goodreads. The survey was for my thesis project. Since the project is pretty much done, I can close the survey. Here are the results:

Thanks so much for your help!

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Week in Links 4/22/2016: Ghost in the Shell, Power Rangers, Independence Day

Book Marketing and Branding
Author Cat Rambo on How I Use Instagram
How to Measure Social Media Using Google Analytics Reports

[INTERVIEW] How Bestselling Author Annie Bellet Juggles Multiple Book Series
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Chloe Bennet Talks Diversity In Marvel Films & TV ShowsWhy Are We Still White-Washing Characters?(Almost) Every SFF Adaptation Coming to Television and Movie Theaters!
12 Most Powerful Female Characters In Star Wars
AMC Fear The Walking Dead Season 3 Confirmed!
Different Lenses for Different Landscapes

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The post needs to be published between today, 4/22 and next Friday, 4/29. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Interview: Jeremy Flagg author of Nighthawks

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card. Enter at bottom of the post.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Are we talking the good stuff or are we talking my cheap chocolate ice cream? Depending on how classy I’m feeling I’ll usually just go with good ol’ fashioned generic chocolate ice cream. However, every now and then I treat myself to some Peanut butter Cup ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s which is pretty much going to vanish the moment I get home. Self-control isn’t one of my strongest traits, especially in the chocolate department.

Which mythological creature are you most like?
My background is in art, and one of my all time favorite pieces of architecture was the gothic period’s usage of grotesques. These small “demons” sitting on roofs would eventually be known as gargoyles and were used to siphon water away from the roof. However, they would later be given their own legends, calling them protectors and only stone during the daylight. I think it’s fascinating that something so simple as a creature on a roof has developed such a cult following of its own. I think if I was going to be a mythical creature, I’d hope I’d be more of the protector, and having wings wouldn’t be too shabby either.

First book you remember making an indelible impression on you.

The first book I remember reading on my own as a youngster was Peter Pan. I knew so much of the myth from pop culture that I decided to give it a go. I was captivated by the book, the characters and the sense of wonder given to the characters. However, it wasn’t until I read Michael Ende’s “The Neverending Story,” that I found a book that would stick with me for life. The main character embarks on a journey he thinks he has no chance of accomplishing. As he embarks on this journey, he finds himself becoming the villain and has to step back and take a look at what he’s done. It was the first time I read a story with such a drastic fall of the protagonist into the antagonist role. It’s fantastical elements only enhanced this amazing character development. Because of that, I’ll always remember the line, “And that is a story for another time.”

How do you develop your plot and characters?

I generally approach a novel with a plot in place. I don’t really outline, but I know where my characters are going to start and where I want them to end. The space in between is where I rely on my characters to write the story. I find if I give my characters enough drive and personality, they’ll propel the story forward. There are even moments I feel they hijack my plot and turn it into something they need to have happen. My characters start with a simple passion, and I tend to push outward from that. Often times I’ll look to my friends to uncover habits and traits that I find interesting enough to infuse into my characters. It helps having a model I can reference when I need to get into their head. Once they’re jammed packed full of personality, I feel the story just drives itself.

Describe your writing space.

I have a nice little office that I like to write in. My office is basically a single desk, with nothing on it but the computer and keyboard. I find if there is a distraction, I will find it, and I’ll wander off and stop writing. Since I’ve been giving myself word limits, however, I often leave the house and go sit at a Starbucks for a couple of hours and write there. If I can’t squeeze it into my work schedule, I will take my laptop to bed and write until I start to get tired. It’s been going pretty well. I find I have to work writing into my life. I’m hoping in the near future the responsibilities will shift and I’ll be fitting life into my writing schedule and I’ll be able to spend some dedicated time in my office banging out words.

Titles: Nighhawks
Author: Jeremy Flagg
Genre: Sci-Fi (Dystopian)

Twenty-six-year-old painter Conthan Cowan takes art to a shocking frontier…

His debut exhibit features the transformation of his high school friend, Sarah, as she went from a shy, soft-spoken girl to a Child of Nostradamus—an individual gifted with extraordinary abilities. Living in a society where the Children of Nostradamus are captured by the government, Conthan’s exhibit draws attention from officials and protesters alike.

A government psychic may be dead, but that doesn’t stop her from manipulating the future…

The deceased White House aide is only remembered for her failed assassination attempt on the president decades before Conthan was born. Foreseeing her own death, she scribed letters to bring together specific Children of Nostradamus on a mission that will change the world.

On the night of the gallery exhibition, Conthan receives one of those letters…

Whispers from the past direct him to visit Sarah, the subject of his paintings, who like many Children of Nostradamus, is being detained in a government research facility. It’s there he finds himself aligned with a rogue group of Children on a mission to prevent a dark future.

As a dark future unfolds, there's only one hope to stop the destruction of the world...

The Children of Nostradamus.

“…Seabrook, New Hampshire is gone. If you’re just tuning in, the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant has just exploded. We have no word yet on what caused the explosion, but we do know there was a catastrophe resulting in failure of the systems at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant.”

“God help them,” said the woman at the news desk.

He could hear Elizabeth gasp at the announcement. His mind was moving a million miles an hour. His wife, still covered in sweat and grime from giving birth, his newborn son, his office calling him to alert him to the news, all of it caused his head to swim. He was unsure of what his next move would be.

The television flickered and turned to static. Mark reached up and smacked the side of the box. The static began to take the shape of a person. He stepped back to see the solid outline of a man on the TV.

“United States of America,” said a voice through the static, “land of the free and home of the brave. We are calling out your discreet operations. We know all about The Culling. Individuals who for years have been in your employ, using their more-than-human abilities to further your goals, will not die in vain. Killing empaths, slaughtering clairvoyants, and the genocide of telepaths will be responded to in kind.”

“Eleanor,” he said in a hushed voice as he realized what they were talking about.

“The United States has declared war on the wrong people. We can see you coming. We can hear your plans. We will not be eliminated. You’ve seen our reach.”

I’m high school graphic design and marketing teacher, at a large suburban high school in Massachusetts. Working as a high school educator and observing the outlandish world of adolescence was the inspiration for my first young adult novel, “Suburban Zombie High.”

My inspiration for writing stems from being a youth who struggled with reading in school. While I found school assigned novels incredibly difficult to digest, I devoured comics and later fantasy novels. Their influences can be seen in the tall tales I spin.

I took the long route to becoming a writer. For a brief time, I majored in Creative Writing but exchanged one passion for another as I switched to Art and Design. My passion for reading about superheroes, fantastical worlds, and panic-stricken situations would become the foundation of my writing career.

I participated in my first NaNoWriMo in 2006 and continue to write an entire novel every November. Now I am the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison to the Massachusetts Metrowest Region. I also belong the New England Horror Writer’s Association and to a weekly writing group, the Metrowest Writers.

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 18, 2016

World Building: Think of Locations as Characters

William Estes asked "How much detail do you have to put into locations that your characters only hear about? "

Depends on how important the location is to the story.

For this post, details doesn't always mean what you put in the story. Sometimes you create background information to help you picture a location. Most of that information never gets into the book.

Map it
I map every location I name, no matter how small the place is. You at least need to know climate, how close it is to other towns/countries/continents, terrain, size and water source. 

Plot Critical 
Let's say your characters are in search of a new home. They hear about this place and think it's a good location to settle down in. You'll need to determine the place's location on a map to know how far it is from your characters, the terrain and whether or not it's possible to travel to it. Why do your characters think this is a good place to settle down? Why did it come up in a conversation? Your characters may spend the entire series only hearing about the location, never reaching it but because it's so important to them, you'll need to know the ins and house of that location. 

If the location is critical to the plot, it's best to build it as you would a city or village your characters actually visit.

In the Merging World Series, my characters hear a lot about this city called Denont. This place is causing them a lot of problem. Generally, most of the characters who visit it hate everyone who lives there. During the story, only one character actually goes there. Because Denont is important, I developed its culture to show why the characters hate it. I created the location's history to understand why the place is causing problems. Denont has a major port. Guns used to come in through that port from Sorin. Denont leaders made deals with Sorin to get some gun "under the table." Because of this, when the world ends, certain Denont residents have enough weapons to take over the country.

I also needed to go global. Denont gets supplies from Sorin. What is Sorin known for? Why are they sending guns into Denont's port as opposed to another city. The province (continent) Sorin is located under Jael, the province Denont is on. Due to natural obstructions, Denont port is the fastest way Sorin can get supplies into Jael. They go through the Rika canals. I don't dig into how the Denont leader made a deal with Sorin because it's not important to the plot.

There are certain place in my story, like Sorin, that are important for trade. How much detail do I put into that? Most of the time, I create the product they are known for, their location and how supplies are transported. Because Sorin is a province, I also know the size of the land, the terrain and the names of the countries.

There's also a place called Keep Tryst in my series. Certain characters never visit it but they hear about it often because the residents are experts at mixing medical herbs. Keep Tryst is located in the mountains which means it's difficult for most travelers to reach them. They get their herbs into different villages through one person. That's the only details I put into this location until a character visits it. 

Now, if one of your character meets someone from a location they've only heard about, you'll need to do a little world building. What type of clothes does this person wear? How do they speak? How do they view people outside of their home? What is their life like in this location? It their life is physically demanding, they may have a lot of muscles. If they're from some place warmer, they may have problems with cold weather. 

Then there are places that are historically significant. Your characters don't visit them for various reason. The location's history is important to them and the plot. The history tells you the type of world building you end up doing. If this place was known for its sturdy buildings, you'll need to detail the structures and maybe even the town's layout and how it impacted the country or world. Most of the details may not make it into the story but the background information helps you build a well-rounded location.

I world build as I write which means I only created details needed at that point in the story. If, while I'm writing, I realize a location is becoming important, then I step back and develop it enough that I can move the story along.

Think of locations as characters. A person learns another character is good at repairing buildings. That may be all the details you need if the person doesn't think the character is important and never actually meets them. There may be a corrupt leader of the village the person lives in. The person never meets this leader but they know all about their personality, their appearance, their family background, where they live, why they're corrupt...everything. 

Have a world building question? Email me at

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Week in Links 4/15/16: Diverse Books, Fahrenheit 451, Doctor Strange

Book Marketing and Branding
Attract And Engage Readers With Image Marketing
The Secrets of Trying For A Bestseller List: Interview With Greenleaf’s Magdalene Thomas
How to Choose the Sharpest Aperture

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The post needs to be published between today, 4/15 and next Friday, 4/22. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Ending Element: Calista by Lorraine Koh

Title: The Ending Element: Calista
Author: Lorraine Koh
Genre: YA Fantasy

Calista Bloom never wanted to fight in the war and it has been five years since war waged over Kosmotopia. All because of a sword. Fair enough, the Astronblade is supposed to hold infinite power, that is, once it finds its one true owner. But every 18-year-old will need to join the military and Calista soon finds herself trying to awaken the Astronblade. Will this batch hold the Blade Bearer? Or will finding the Blade Bearer trigger the chain of events that will bring about the end of the world?

Image Credit: Jeff Mahad


Lorraine Koh, who also goes by the pen name, Raine Koh lives in sunny Singapore. She has written Munchy Isn't Everything and Pop Rock Love and is currently working on a new novel. Her hobbies include chasing stars, photographing them and travelling to see them.

Join her Goodreads Group Ask Lorraine Koh
Like her writing page on facebook! We Write Now !

Monday, April 11, 2016

Fantasy Map Making Alternatives to Photoshop

Chris Mentzer asked "Where can I find a mapmaker program to make designing Fantasy worlds easier?"
I use Photoshop but that program is not easy to understand, which can be a bit frustrating. Let's look at other map making software. Most of these aren't free. This list is by no means exhaustive. I haven't had the chance to use these programs.

Check out:
Cartographer's Guild: List of Mapping Software
Role Playing Games: What's the best software for mapmaking?
Fantasy Grounds: Map Making Software - summary

During my research I started to notice a pattern, some fantasy map making software start out strong in terms of chatter on forums then I find out the program's last review was at least 4 or 5 yeas ago.

When you're researching software, pay attention to when the reviews/comments were written. If you can't find any chatter written in the past year or two then the program probably hasn't been updated and may not work with your operating system, unless you're using an older computer. Reddit and Cartographer's Guild seems to be a good place to ask questions about map making software. If you find a promising software, ask about it on a forum or group before you buy it.

If you want to find examples of maps created with the software, do a Google Image search for "(Software name) map example." YouTube is also great too.

Campaign Cartographer 3
"A few simple but powerful tools do it all, and you can learn what you need in a matter of minutes.....Whenever you need designs, whether it's roleplaying games or wargames, fantasy, modern or SF, CC3 can help you create them. From entire worlds and countries, to floorplans and furniture, CC3 can do it. You can map out your entire campaign world, place your troops in the field, or chart your galactic empire."

Software Review: A look at Campaign Cartographer 3 Plus

A Gallery of CC3 Maps

"Hexographer was built from the ground up to let you make maps in a few specific styles quickly. By eliminating a large number of cumbersome options general image editors & computer-aided-design (CAD) programs use, Hexographer lets you make a map in a tenth of the time it takes just to learn another tool."


"The Free & Open Source Image Editor...Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to many customization options and 3rd party plugins."

GIMP looks like Photoshop. It's a free alternative to that program but it doesn't look like it's easy to use or maybe it is simpler with the right tutorial.
Do you have any map making software to add?

If you have any other world building questions email me at

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Week in Links 4/8/16: Diversity, Smartpen, Star Wars

Book Marketing and Branding
How to Use the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop to Make Clear Skin

Do you want your post to be apart of The Week in Links? Email me your post published between today and next Friday for a chance to have them be included in the next Week in Links. Contact me at audendjohnson (at) gmail (dot) com.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Inspiration in Photos

Feels like forever since I did a season inspiration post. I'm so happy it's spring. One of my favorite seasons. The weather is supposed to be mild. It's not. We're living in 40 degrees here in New York. Last week, we hit 70. I want that back. It's April. I should be putting away my winter clothes. Still, I braved the cold to take some nature shots. The flowers are beautiful despite the weather.

These shots look like something out of a fairy tale! I only like pink when it's on flowers... or mixed with black.

"Springtime flowers bloom like colorful arrows piercing their way to the sun." Terri Guillemets

“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.” 
― Kobayashi Issa, Poems

"With the coming of spring, I am calm again." Gustav Mahler

Monday, April 4, 2016

Your World Building Questions Answered

Got any questions about fantasy world building- creating names, developing a magic system, coming up with unique creatures, adding tech to your world... email me at audendjohnson (at) gmail (dot) com. I'll answer your questions on this blog. You can also ask me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Also, if you have any posts you'd like included in my weekly The Week in Links, contact me. The Week in Links is published every Friday. Any posts included needs to be published within the week leading to that Friday.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Week in Links 4/1/16: Instagram, Harry Potter, Lego Batman

Book Marketing and Branding
Instagram changes: What is about to happen to app's feed, and why everyone wants you to turn on mobile notifications
Your Biggest Book Marketing or Platform Building Roadblocks – And How to Overcome Them
How to Build a Peer Network to Increase Your Social Reach
Global Self-Publishing And How To Sell More Books On Kobo With Mark Lefebvre

Images Revealed From Illustrated ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’
Framing Subjects with Natural Elements
The 5 Elements That Can Help You Make a Great Photos

Did you read anything posts this week? 
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