Update October 2013

So here I am.

Yep, I’m actually here writing on this blog.

No, you aren’t just seeing things, I’m actually writing this…

Why has it taken so long for an update? Anything? …because I’ve been busy with life, that’s why.

So on with the update…

I’ve made some incredible progress, despite the slow nature of writing, working, moving, and attending school. I just finished outlining an important scene yesterday, that will bring a major twist to the plot of the story.

I’ve mostly been working on structure and outline the last few months. Due to the nature of writing a large saga, you must consider later installments in the first book. At least, in my case you do. I have the ending all planned, but to get there and keep things flowing in a realistic manner, I must keep things correlated. Some times I envy the seat-of-the-pants style writers…

Update:

It’s been quite some time since my last post, but I am still alive and kicking. My friends on twitter keep asking me where I’m at in my story, and when will I be finished. My first response is “I don’t know”, but I usually give some explanation of where I’m at. The problem is, that while I have been writing and making progress, it’s been in places of the story that are near or at the end.

Here is a list of things I’ve accomplished:

  • I’ve written the ending! Yes, that’s what I said, the ending…the problem is that I’m still struggling with the beginning. I’m not quite sure where to begin. Do I start by introducing Daelan’s (Primary Character) personality in a sports or similar format, or do I launch directly into one of his “missions” with some of the other main characters? Decisions, decisions…
  • I’ve discovered that this story is long…like really long! It will have to be a series of books just to tell it. I’m both excited and horrified by this giant prospect. I’ve never written a book yet, and the magnitude of this undertaking is a bit overwhelming.
  • This is one of  the most important discoveries I’ve made so far. I’ve decided to make the story, especially its characters, as real as possible. This means tons of scientific and psychological research are needed for many parts of the books. It’s beyond all the research and notes I’ve already taken. The task is a bit daunting if you ask me. 🙂

So there you have it folks, an update on where I’m at. Hopefully this answers most of the questions. If any of you want more, just ask. I’ll make sure you get an answer…even if it’s one you won’t like. Now, having said that with a smirk on my face, I’ll take my leave.

Bye bye!

 

 

This is where I am on the first book.

 

Author Interview: Michael G. Manning

Michael G. Manning

Fan-site: www.illenielsdoom.com
Facebook: MagebornAuthor

Bio: Michael Manning, a practicing pharmacist, has been a fantasy and science-fiction reader for most of his life. He has dabbled in software design, fantasy art, and is an avid tree climber. He lives in Texas, with his stubborn wife, two kids, and a menagerie of fantastic creatures, including a moose-poodle, a vicious yorkie, and a giant prehistoric turtle.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Let’s see, I’m forty two now and I’ve been a practicing pharmacist for about fourteen years.  I have a wonderful family, a sweet wife and two reasonably perfect children.  I like to climb trees and I read a lot.  Although since I started writing a year and a half ago I haven’t spent much time reading.

What is your genre, and why did you choose it?

Currently I’ve only written in the fantasy genre.  Later I intend to write science fiction as well, but it can wait.  I started with fantasy because I felt it gave me the most freedom to create the story I wanted.  The books I’ve written are really about the characters more than the setting and fantasy allowed me to set all the ‘conditions’, the environment, the rules, all of it.  Science fiction also has a lot of freedom but there is a stricter requirement for plausibility and believability.  In the end I chose fantasy because it’s probably my favorite genre to read.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I first wanted to be a writer somewhere in my early teens, when my reading addiction really took off.  As an avid reader you learn to love the worlds that you explore in books and by extension you begin to love the mind that wrote them.  As a young man looking for role models to emulate writers really seemed amazing to me.

What do you do when you are not writing?

The answer to that varies a lot.  Over the years I’ve had innumerable hobbies.  When I was younger I played rpg’s, the pen and paper kind… and I still do. At one point in time I had a serious chess fixation. I’ve also had long streaks hung up on various computer games.  Now that I’m a parent I also have a strong motivation to be a good father, so I spend a lot of time with my kids as well.

Do you have a day job as well?

Yes, as I mentioned before I’m a pharmacist, however I don’t really do much in the way of actual pharmacy work these days.  I’ve been at my current job for thirteen years and as the work place has evolved and changed I became sort of a trouble shooter.  I don’t have any computer experience but somehow I became a database application designer, a data miner, a programmer, and a general network support person.  None of that is in my job description, but they don’t ask me to fill prescriptions anymore.  In general anytime someone has a question or a problem they’ll bring it to me and I’ll find an answer or create a solution.

When did you start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I started writing in May of 2011 and I finished the first book in roughly four weeks.  I self-published it on Amazon sometime in the first week of July.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

My wife bought me a kindle and I went on a reading binge.  Over a week or two I read about eighteen books and suddenly found myself without anything interesting on the horizon.  I knew exactly what sort of book I was looking for and as I made a mental list of the attributes it should have I finally decided I’d just write the damn thing myself.  The type of book I wanted to read at that time was a fantasy book.

Where do you get your ideas?

I start with characters.  I make up some imaginary people, usually based on people I know and then I imagine them in some sort of extraordinary situation.  As I imagine their reactions and interactions a story forms in my mind.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Not really… what I do get is writer’s procrastination.  Writing, though enjoyable, is still work.  It is very easy to put it aside when the only one in charge of your schedule is you.  Thus far, as long as I sit down and force myself to focus, the ideas eventually appear.

Do you work with an outline, or did you just write?

I start with an extremely rough outline, often just in my head.  Next I decide on the starting point, the beginning scene, and I write it.  Once I’ve done that I usually have more ideas, so I create an actual outline to organize them.  As I add scenes, working forward from the beginning, I flesh out more and more details on the outline.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I’m not sure.  The first one took me four weeks, the second one took me eight weeks and the third took me months.  Each time is different.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Yes.  I should leave the answer with a simple ‘yes’ because there are so many it is hard to choose.  Once I got beyond children’s books I would have to say that Robert Heinlein made a huge impression on me.  He was the primary driver of my early love for science fiction.  David Eddings was one of my earliest favorite fantasy authors.

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

That’s easy… a mad scientist.  While my friends and peers at the tender age of five wanted to be firemen and policemen, I wanted to be a mad scientist.  I began studying science and doing basic experiments of all sorts at an early age.  Later (after reading Heinlein) I wanted to be an astronaut.  Once I realized that was unlikely to happen I thought the next best thing would be to be ‘like’ Heinlein, and to me that meant writing.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

No.  I self-published.  In all honesty, the main reason I never tried to be a writer earlier in my life was that the stories I heard from all my favorite authors were fraught with deprivation and struggle over decades as they submitted their manuscripts over and over.

E-publishing changed all that.  Once I had my kindle and I read a few books by indie writers I realized that there were no longer any reasons for me to not write, other than my fear of being criticized by readers.  Writing came easily to me, and given my technical background the formatting issues and such weren’t really an obstacle.

Now that I’ve established an audience I have signed a deal with Piper Verlag to publish a German translation of the books, so I suppose I can call myself ‘published’ now.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?

Yes, I would have spent a lot more time editing the first book.  Getting that first bad review based on typos or coma errors was a very emotional experience.  Since then I’ve invested a lot more time in editing.  With each book I grow more careful.

Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

I invested very little time in writing before I realized I could self-publish.  I did write a novella a year before my first book.  It was a story based upon a role playing game (Dungeons and Dragons) that I played with friends.  I wrote it to share with them and they really encouraged me to go forward.  Eventually I hope to re-write it and turn it into a full length novel, but I have to finish the first Mageborn series first.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  What has been the best compliment?

One reviewer suggested that my first Mageborn manuscript had been written in green crayon and was probably tacked up on my mother’s refrigerator with a magnet.  I had to laugh despite the way it irritated me.  That reviewer had a very colorful way with metaphors.

A few people told me that the Mageborn novels were the best books they had ever read.  I thought that was quite special, although I can name many books that I consider far superior to my own.  The one compliment that really stuck out in my head was that of a Dutch teenager who told me that my books were the first English novels he had ever been compelled to finish.

If you had to summarize, what one main thing has your life experience taught you?

Trust.  Our expectations shape the world around us.  More specifically, if you expect people to be good and kind they will usually sense it, and they’ll try to live up to your trust.  If you start out expecting bad things from people they won’t bother trying and you’ll only see their selfish side.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Write what you want to read and you will find your audience.  Other than that… edit, edit, edit, and get other eyes to help with that.

Did you use anyone in particular, as a base for your main characters?

Almost all of my main characters had particular people that inspired them.  Dorian, Cyhan, and Marcus were all based on close friends.  Royce and Miriam were based upon my own parents.  Penny was based in large part upon my wife and most of the other female characters were combinations of different women I have known.

Be honest, have you ever cried or wanted to cry while writing a specific scene?

Yes, I’ll never forget one day when my wife happened upon me sitting at my desk with tears running down my face.  She asked what was wrong and when I started to explain she smiled, “You’re crying over your imaginary people again?”  I have gotten teary eyes many times over various scenes in all three books.  In particular I can’t read one particular scene in ‘The Line of Illeniel’ without getting tears in my eyes.  Those who’ve read the book and the afterword will understand why.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

The most amazing experience I’ve had as a writer is simply the realization that I can connect with thousands of other people purely through the shared expression of my inner world.  Throughout my life I’ve had a rich inner life, but it felt a bit isolated.  When I hear people tell me how much they laughed, or cried, or that they felt that the main character’s inner dialogue matched their own… those comments have really made me feel connected to my fellow human beings in a deeper way.  For all of that, I would like to say, ‘Thank you’.

Scene Experiment

This is a classic brain-monkey-throws-poo-instead-of-giving-me-the-info-I-need moment! I ‘ve been struggling with a scene where a certain character must make a decision, after receiving some distressing news. <— (Not the main character.) I would like to put a similar scenario up for you to comment on and offer a fresh look from another perspective.  In essence you will be contributing ideas for a scene in my story, if you take part.

What follows is the setting, with some questions pertaining to various parts. I would ask for as much description as you are able so that I can view the emotions you might imagine. 

The setting:

You are a ranking official of the CIA.

You have personally trained and befriended one of your lead officers. 

You receive an emergency order, from your superiors, about this officer, and others in his team, for crimes of ongoing high treason, murder, espionage, and terrorist activities. You are given video, and other evidence to prove the allegations. You are given the last known whereabouts of the criminal and other officers he has coerced into other similar crimes listed. You have video proof of some of these high crimes and corroborating evidence based on some things he said to you days earlier. 

The order calls for the immediate termination of the criminals. Some of the murders are personal friends and/or loved ones, yet these people were some of the most loyal offers you ever worked with in the past.

How would you respond?

To what degree would you pursue the criminals?

Now, say you have located there hideout and found an underground terrorist ring that far exceeds anything you ever imagined. Now you receive communiqué that these ex-officers are high in the chain of this terror cell, but not at its head. You are to eliminate the ex officers, but keep the leader for questioning. How do you respond?

Please give as much of the emotional baggage that you might feel in making the decisions of this scenario, as this is where I ‘m struggling. What would be going through your mind, how would you address your subordinates? In a private moment would you break down?

Note: There may be a short delay before your comments post due to my spam blocker. If you have questions or need more details or insight I will be happy to respond.

Brain Monkeys

Brain Monkey

So, lately, I have been talking about brain monkeys on twitter. What am I talking about? What are brain monkeys? Well, let me explain…

One of my writer friends stated that her inspiration was, in part, determined by the monkeys residing in her brain. Sometimes they gave her great inspiration other times they threw poo…

Well, recently I have had my own experiences with these alleged brain monkeys. I have been awakened, through the night, with the monkeys screaming a piece of inspiration at me. If I ignore them they scream louder, keeping me awake; so I saté them by getting up and writing down the tidbit they offer. The problem is that when I return to that tidbit they throw poo at me and what I get out is a mess.

It seems as though they purposely choose the most inopportune times to give anything of worth, while asleep, in the shower, while driving, or while at work. Other times they throw poo and run around in my head till I give up and do something else. Then as if mad that I didn’t pay attention to them, they get me another tidbit of good stuff; I return to write it and they go wild again. …evil little monsters!

This is the war of the ages, the battle for our thoughts. We, writers, fight the brain monkeys so that you don’t have to. Well, that’s all I’ve got for now ’cause they are throwing poo at me again…sigh…

 

P.S. Just a little word to the wise: Brain monkeys are contagious and transmittable by any writer to another without ever coming in contact with them.

Evil Monkeys

Who do you write like?

This is a great question. I happened on a website that analyzes your writing style based on what you paste or type in the box.  I was interested to find out that my style changed from post to post or piece to piece. I have a funny feeling that the way I write is heavily influenced by things I have read recently. It may not mean much but I find this fascinating and worth investigating. My own style and voice is still being, and will continue to develop for the foreseeable future.

Based on the results of the tool, my writing seems to be similar to the following:

I write like
Neil Gaiman

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
Edgar Allan Poe

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I guess, Neil Gaiman, Dan Brown, H.P. Lovecraft, and Edgar Allan Poe are some of the authors I have taken notes from. I checked many pieces of my writing and these seemed to repeat, so at least it seems consistent.

The voice I use in my book was most like Neil Gaiman, whereas my posts varied between Lovecraft and Dan Brown. Every now and then the analyzer would come up with Edgar Allan Poe, so I must have some small bit of poetic flow during those pieces.

Overall I think it is a good tool to see how your own voice changes. It could be useful for those seeking symmetry throughout a single work, so I recommend trying it out yourself: http://iwl.me/

Let me know who you write like.