Conflict ahead sign

Let’s talk believable antagonists and realistic sources of conflict.

I’m not going to get into the four types of conflict, or six, or however many it is now. I am going to talk about creating a believable antagonistic force, rather than one of those cardboard caricature, source-of-all-evil bad guys.

The concept of a having one person be the source of all of a story’s conflict has always seemed overly simple to me. Either the antagonist has help, or the protagonist’s problems are going to be disappointingly simple to solve. A lone enemy, unaided, is easy to overcome.

Continue reading “Antagonistic Forces”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

You should be writing. No. Seriously.

I see a lot of motivational posters aimed at authors. You know the ones: a movie character pointing out that you should be writing. Or maybe it’s a pop culture icon. Or maybe the message is framed as a comic strip. Or maybe it’s just a blank page with the words “You should be writing!” emblazoned across it.

And while some are fairly benign, many seem designed to guilt the viewer. I don’t know about you, but I write to feel free of my daily obligations. Writing is my own world, a world free of deadlines and restrictions. The concept of feeling guilty because I haven’t put enough words on paper lately is anathema to the whole reason I write.

Why is it that we, as authors and as a society, conflate guilt with motivation?

Continue reading “Motivation vs Guilt”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Today on the author blog, I’m going to do something different. What follows is the first page of a short story that will be released as part of an anthology this summer. Hel’s Fury is set in Fairbanks, Alaska, in a dystopian near future. And yes, the spelling is deliberate.

A Taste of Things to Come: Hel’s Fury

As Fairbanks Police Captain Nathan Spencer waded through the soggy snow toward the crime scene, a growing sense of dread supplanted his annoyance at being called out first thing on a Monday morning. Dozens of other pairs of boots had already made the same journey, clearing a wide path from the parking area to the underside of the nearby Steese Highway bridge.

To his right the Chatanika River rushed by, muddied by year-round mining operations upstream. A forest of scraggly black spruce marched off into the pre-dawn dimness on the far bank. To his left, a handful of Alaska State Trooper SUVs and several Fairbanks Police cars sat in the parking lot of an abandoned campground. Ravens circled overhead.

The crime scene was thirty-some miles northeast of Fairbanks, and fell under the Troopers’ jurisdiction. Spencer silently cursed whatever circumstance had connected the scene to one of the FPD’s many open cases.

A FPD detective named Henriksen met him at the edge of the highway overpass, expression grim.

“This had better be good,” Spencer snapped. “I’m going to be pissed if you called me all the way out here just because someone strung up a couple more drunks.”

The detective grimaced. “These weren’t drunks. That’s why I called you. These are some of ours.”

Continue reading “Sneak Preview: Hel’s Fury”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Content warning: this post discusses suicide, depression, traumatic events, and Facebook’s unwillingness to protect their users from credible threats.

Facebook is Watching You-- For Your Own Good

Hello folks! I’m guessing that by now most of you have heard about Facebook’s new “proactive suicide detection” AI. Reactions have ranged from relief to disbelief to outright horror, but Facebook has already made it abundantly clear how little it cares about users’ privacy. It will not be possible to opt out of monitoring while continuing to use the platform.

Facebook says it trained the AI by finding patterns in the words and imagery used in posts, videos, and live streams that have been manually reported as a suicide risk in the past. It also looks for comments like “Are you OK?” and “Do you need help?” The AI will scan all posts for patterns that seem to indicate suicidal thoughts and forward “worrisome” posts to Facebook’s human moderators. “When necessary” the program will send mental health resources to the user or their friends, or contact local first responders.

Sounds fantastic, right? Well, at least if you don’t mind a Facebook algorithm and a team of dubiously qualified human moderators snooping through your most personal posts– regardless of your privacy settings. Aside from the fact that this is a massive violation of users’ privacy, here’s why this might not be such a great idea.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •