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”

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Cover of Dark by Paul L Arvidson

Paul L Arvidson’s Dark is an unexpected hybrid, part science fiction and part heroic fantasy. The residents of the place known as the Dark inhabit a labyrinth of pipes and drains surrounding a central aqueduct known as the River, and readers will quickly realize that it is a created world rather than an organic one.

Dun, a budding shaman, and his boisterous friend Padj, along with a clever alchemist named Tali and their mysterious guide, Myrch, are tasked with following the River to its source and finding out what has become of their clan’s upstream neighbors.

Continue reading “Review: Paul L Arvidson’s Dark”

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Birth of the Eye by Justinas Vitkus

The flash fiction that follows was inspired by the artwork “Birth of the Eye,” by Justinas Vitkus. If you’d like to see more, check out his profile on DeviantArt.

The Stolen Moon

When the largest of the planet’s three moons finally slid free of the horizon, everyone on the research team looked up in awe.

“I don’t think that moon always belonged to this planet,” Senior Geologist Shayna Darris said.

“The hell are you mumbling about?” Mission Commander Jason Haze snapped, barely glancing up from putting together a portable security turret. “Get back to work, all of you. It’s going to be dark soon.”

“Take a chill pill, Commander,” one of the mechanics shot back. “There’s nothing hiding in the dark. Sit back and enjoy the moonrise.”

“Surely you see it too,” Darris said, nodding toward the massive red moon, its face dominated by a circular impact crater.

“See what? It’s a moon, for Star Mother’s sakes! The system surveys say it’s always been there.”

“2B6V is tidally locked. If it’s always been there, how did it get that impact crater?”

Continue reading “Flash Fiction: The Stolen Moon”

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Cover of Grounded: A Dragon's Tale by Gloria Piper

Grounded: A Dragon’s Tale follows a young dragon named Manycolors who has been burdened with the care of a flightless sibling. The narrative takes short breaks to focus on a human youth named Hote, who battles a mysterious illness as he works with the Watchers studying the dragons’ planet.

With its themes of misfit youngsters, youthful rebellion, and the looming threat of greedy poachers, I quickly formed suspicions regarding how the story might turn out. I’m thrilled to report that the author broke out of those tropes to create something unique, intriguing and unusual.

Continue reading “Grounded: A Dragon’s Tale Review”

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Ruhanna's Flight and other stories book cover

Within the pages of Ruhanna’s Flight and Other Stories, author Jeanette O’Hagan spins tales of shapeshifters and seafaring peoples, youthful struggles, first loves, enduring loss, and incredible courage. All but a few of the stories are set in the world of Nardva, and some of the characters will be familiar to readers of O’Hagan’s Akrad’s Children.

Continue reading “Review: Ruhanna’s Flight & Other Stories”

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Cover of Save Our Souls by Leighton Dean

Today on the author blog, Leland Lydecker reviews the second novel by author Leighton Dean.

The aptly-named Save Our Souls follows pilot and Captain’s son, Ford, and his family, the crew of the freighter Jian Seng, as they fight to survive in the face of an unholy trinity of catastrophes. The seemingly lifeless ship that barreled into their craft is only the first salvo of a universe that seems intent on eliminating the crew of the Jian Seng in the most unpleasant ways possible.

Continue reading “Review: Save Our Souls”

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 Welcome to the Madhouse: a Medical Space Station Thriller by S.E. Sasaki

Welcome to the Madhouse chronicles the adventures of Dr. Grace Lord as she begins her residency aboard the medical space station Nelson Mandela. Plenty of challenges are in store, from eccentric surgeons to a dangerously manipulative psychiatrist to an alien super-virus, but Dr. Lord is not entirely on her own: she soon finds an unlikely ally in Bud, an android gifted with artificial intelligence.

In fact, Bud is more than just sentient: he feels human emotion. And from the moment he lays optical sensors on the extremely talented, smart, and beautiful Dr. Grace Lord, he falls madly in love with her.

Continue reading “Review: Welcome to the Madhouse”

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 Cover of Darrell B. Nelson's The Genocide Game.

This week on the author blog, Leland Lydecker reviews The Genocide Game. A megalomaniac billionaire with an automation fetish plots to wipe out ninety-eight percent of the world’s population, and it falls to Stan– pick-up artist guru and self-proclaimed word-nerd– to save the world.

To be more accurate, Stan bumps into Raven, a scientist on the run from her job in the billionaire’s R&D lab, and offers to help her. Pretty soon they’re both on the run from Ferguson’s comically inept goons, racing to reveal the existence of a genetically engineered super-virus before Ferguson can unleash it on the world.

Although it sounds like a cool premise, The Genocide Game has some unfortunately fatal flaws. Let’s start with Stan.

Continue reading “Darrell B. Nelson’s The Genocide Game”

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It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Ursula K. Le Guin, one of science fiction’s most influential authors. I grew up reading her work, and her death hit particularly close to home.

My first taste of her fiction was the novelette Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight. In it, a lost child tumbles into the world of Southwestern US desert folklore and lives for a while with the trickster Coyote. As a young person fighting to survive in a disturbing, chaotic world, the tale really resonated with me.

Continue reading “The Passing of a Legendary Author”

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Danger: Bad Advice Ahead

There’s a never-ending flood of writing advice out there for aspiring authors. Some of the best I’ve heard is also the simplest and the most universal, like this bit from Stephen King’s On Writing:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

On the flip side, there’s tons of advice aspiring authors could probably do without. Today I’m here to tackle the misconceptions and one-size-fits-all solutions, and explain why they really aren’t helpful.

Continue reading “On Questionable Writing Advice”

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