One month left to get your stories & poems submitted!


If you missed the post back in June, Nerdy Things Publishing is accepting short stories and poetry for a charity benefitting a great not-for-profit organization. Shatter Your Image, the first anthology from Nerdy Things Publishing, will focus on the positivity that comes from embracing your true self. If you want to add your voice, this will be a paying writing gig with the opportunity to purchase copies at a discount for yourself.

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Nerdy Things Publishing accepting short stories and poetry for upcoming anthology.

And the sales of this anthology will benefit Realize Your Beauty, an organization that promotes positive body image and eating disorder awareness by way of theatre arts.

The deadline has been extended to the end of September, please don’t miss this chance to contribute to this anthology. We’re looking for voices that are diverse, young, anyone who can write a story or poem that celebrates shattering the image of what someone said you should be.

Full details are available on the submissions page.

Literary Music Lessons: Motivation and Norah Jones


Motivation: it can be the factor in your writing that determines how readers perceive your characters. Think of your favorite heroes. Now your favorite villains. Odds are if you thought about their character arcs, you also can figure out their motivation.

Solid characters need something to drive them, even if they’re secondary. Because if a character has something to fight for, then you understand them. You may or may not agree with their decisions, but if you can understand the decision made because of their motivation, it often allows readers to forgive character indiscretions.

See the example with the latest Literary Music Lesson. When most people think of Norah Jones, they think of romantic evenings. It’s her brand and she owns it. However, her 2012 album featured some departures from what most people knew. One of her songs on the album, Little Broken Hearts, was the song “Miriam.”

The song stands by itself, but when you put the incredible one-take video, you understand the motivation brilliantly. If you’re unfamiliar, play the song below and rejoin the conversation.

There are many people who have been through heartbreak, cheating is one of the hardest ways to experience it. And when you’re the person cheated on it causes scarred and horrible thoughts. The character Norah Jones assumes for this song isn’t a hero. Told from another perspective and she’s the villain, but most wouldn’t see it that way. She’d be perceived as a flawed anti-hero, most likely. It’s because she took her actions to the extreme, but everyone understands why. To be clear: I’m not forgiving her for murdering a human being. What I’m saying is you understand why. Don’t you? And by understanding why you empathize with her. That’s good motivation.

Flawed heroes will sometimes make choices readers disagree with, but it doesn’t stop them from liking the character. It’s because they empathize with the motivation. While it may not be the smartest thing, a connection to the reader is made through that empathy. When someone is driven by wanting something, it creates a fleshed-out person readers can relate to.

So what motivates your characters? How can you push them in new ways with a deeper motivation? Have you ever let your motivation cause you to make a decision readers might protest? (Hopefully, murder hasn’t been involved). Chime in the comments section below.

Read the other Literary Music Lessons by clicking the images below:

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Why You Should Treat Your Writing Like a Mortgage


This post won’t be long. It’s a statement. I wrote out a 5-year plan, while the plan itself is daunting as hell, it’s made easier with daily goals. It’s not a complicated day-to-day, honestly. One day a week I will manage my finances, pay bills, send business e-mails, and write a blog post. The other six days a week I write a certain amount. It can be writing novels or a query letter. Doesn’t matter. It’s a number I know I can hit. If I can complete each task every day, it’ll mean two things:

  1. I’ll contribute an insane amount of work to my writing career.
  2. By the end of the 5-year plan, I’ll be a New York Times Bestselling Author.

I want to succeed. I want to be the reason people buy tickets to a convention. I’m going to get there by doing something bold: committing to the hardest 5 years of my writing career I’ve ever seen.

I’m approaching it like a mortgage payment. You don’t get to skip out on payments. If you do you’re evicted. The difference between a mortgage and this is I love making these payments. But at the same time, it holds me accountable. I owe my success this investment. If I miss a payment, I have to make up for the lost payment with a 25% interest payment. I’m investing in myself, in my writing, in what I truly want in my life. And thankfully the payments involve doing what I love, so I have no qualms about mandating this for myself.

I’m investing in myself, in my writing, in my success, in what I truly want in my life. And thankfully the payments involve doing what I love, so I have no qualms about mandating this for myself.

You can tell me that’s not possible. That there are factors I cannot control to achieve the second part of my prediction. That’s fine. You’re allowed to say it. However, I’m moving as if it’s an inevitability and I know I’m going to achieve this goal. And once these 5-years are over, I’m not stopping. It’ll be a new 5-year plan to take my career even further.

Here’s why. I had one of the most reassuring moments of my life. I went to a bookstore near me. Going to the Science Fiction section, I looked at this:

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Guess what? That’s my shelf space. And you can be damned sure I’m coming for it. I won’t do it by shoving Alan Dean Foster, Pat Frank, or any other authors to the side. If anything, I want to join them. Find welcoming company among the best authors in the world.

The next 5 years will prove that’s true. There are exciting announcements coming, and if you’d like to come along I’d be happier than Godzilla attacking a nuclear power plant (he recharges with that if you didn’t know).

I was at Myths and Legends Con this past weekend, and finished with a panel on Overcoming Creative Fears. Chaz Kemp, Sam Knight, and I had an incredible conversation. Our fourth panelist, Sarin Tatroe, shared the video embedded below because it covers one of our key topics from that panel: what will you feel when you look back at your life?

So come along, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or subscribe here. Additional announcements and new adventures are coming in the next 5 years and I’m eager to share them with you.

 

Tell the Alamo Drafthouse to #DraftGodzilla and get “Resurgence” in US Theaters


I love entertainment. Two of my favorite things in the world are Godzilla and the Alamo Drafthouse. They’re like two people you know would be amazing together if you could just get them both in the same room.

You see, many people are asking “Why isn’t Godzilla: Resurgence being released in the US?” I don’t have a good answer for you. Word is earliest we’ll see the 29th Toho Godzilla film is 2017…on DVD. Apparently, New World Cinemas is working on it.

I don’t accept this. And the Alamo Drafthouse is known for specialty events that draw amazing fans. So I’m asking, nay: emploring Godzilla fans to show how much we want “Godzilla: Resurgence” in theaters. Tweet your local drafthouse, almost all the locations have their own account. If you’re not sure, use @drafthouse. Tell them: “Bring Godzilla: Resurgence to @drafthouse. #DraftGodzilla”

If you want some images to go with that tasty Tweet. Please use all of the images below. Let’s do this, Kaiju fans!

To my regular visitors, please excuse my divergence from the normal content. Just wanted to try something fun and see if I can accomplish something unique.

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Literary Music Lessons: Dialogue and Tenacious D


Many songs emulate an emotional feeling. There may be a story. However, not all songs incorporate actual dialogue, i.e. words exchanged by characters. Comedic rock duo Tenacious D created one of the most quotable songs of all time. And they did it while including hilarious dialogue. Is it the greatest song of all time? No, but it’s a tribute, and a great literary music lesson to discuss dialogue.

Jack Black establishes himself as the narrator. The two protagonists, he and his brother Kyle, find a shiny demon in the middle of the road. Then the voice of the antagonist comes around.

And while the dialogue seems simple, it’s encapsulating the characters and their motivations. With the shrieking imitation of the demon from the perspective of the narrator, you hear the tone. But more importantly, how the heroes perceive the challenge. It is furthered when they accept the challenge. Rather than go into an epic monologue in classic iambic pentameter, they respond to the issued challenge with a single word: “Okay.”

It shows the characters are simplistic and open to the challenge. Their calm demeanor captures their confidence in taking on the demon. The quivering response of the demon after describing the best song in the world shows how strong the protagonists are. With the demon mistaking the brothers for angels, we understand how good their performance was. We don’t get to hear it, but we don’t have to. The exchange of dialogue, cushioned by Jack Black’s narration and the band’s unrelenting instrumentation, tells the story as we need to hear it.

The irony of never hearing the actual song is what made the song iconic. And rightfully so, the telling of the story through dialogue and narration allows every listener to create their own version of what happened. Each fan, if asked, would have a different version of what the greatest song in the world would actually sound like.

Listeners who sing along have their own interpretation of the demon’s voice. Some are perfect impersonations. Others are creative adaptations to create a different cadence to the dialogue. But listeners become active participants. You’ve got a song that nearly everyone sings along to whenever it comes on. Don’t believe me? Blast this song at your office, a party, in a car full of friends. See if the place isn’t erupting in unison before the song is over.

“Tribute” is a funny, ironic song with memorable narration and dialogue. It captures the tone of the story. The very concept of the song allows for the basic approach makes the dialogue work. If it became too complicated of a story, the high-concept approach to the song being a song that’s a tribute to another song would be lost. So don’t ever think dialogue has to be overly complicated. Often, the more it sounds like a legitimate exchange, no matter how absurd the situation, the better the dialogue sounds. And make sure it serves the characters and story.

Is there a song that captures the tone of dialogue in your writing? Chime in with the comment section below. The conversation is always live on Twitter @ThomasAFowler. I’ve also made a Spotify playlist with the first dozen musicians we’ll be discussing and the songs that embody the subject matter. Have a listen by clicking here.

NECESSITIES OF SEARCH: CRAWLING


Search, it’s the tactical way to get people to see your website, your blog. If you missed the first entry about Keywords, you can catch up on the first entry on the necessities of search by clicking here.

The second element that you have to understand about search is crawling. It’s getting into technical terminology. However, understanding its fundamentals allows you to understand how crawling works, as well as why you have to factor crawl into your search. Regardless of whether your search is organic or paid, crawl will play a factor in how people find your content via internet search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo, the three most popular search engines in their respective order of popularity.

What is crawl when it comes to search? It’s when software scours the internet for information, literally crawling through websites for information. The higher quality the content is on your website, the more likely the crawl process will discover keywords and phrases you place on your website and content.

The crawling returns to search engine databases, creating an indexed library. However, splattering your page with a single term too many times won’t yield the results you may think. Quantity doesn’t equal to strong crawl and indexing. As stated by Google on their search help page, “When you search for “dogs” you don’t want a page with the word “dogs” on it hundreds of times. You probably want pictures, videos or a list of breeds. Google’s indexing systems note many different aspects of pages, such as when they were published, whether they contain pictures and videos, and much more.”

How do you create strong content to increase your crawling and indexing through search engines? Create new content, vary how that content is provided via text, images, videos and more. Make sure keywords are included that are relevant to terms that crawlers will discover. But more importantly, makes sure the key phrases, images and videos you post are items that are relevant to your brand and platform. That way crawlers find your content for the right reasons.

HeaderImage-BookCoverA big thanks to everyone who came to Denver Comic Con! The Writer’s Conquest: Establish a Brand is now available on all major platforms and sold an incredible amount of copies.

You can see all of the fun we had at DCC on my Instagram. Another big announcement was that Nerdy Things Publishing is now accepting short stories and poetry about Shattering Your Image until mid-September. You can read all about that on a previous blog post as well as submit formally by clicking this link.

Nerdy Things Publishing Accepting Anthology Submissions


NERDY THINGS PUBLISHING is proud to announce the first anthology to benefit a not for profit organization. Get published and help a well deserving group in the process.

ABOUT THE ANTHOLOGY: In our lives, people tell us who we should be. We gain the notion we could be happier by trying to be someone else. But we don’t have to be perfect for the world, we just have to be ourselves.

Shatter Your Image is an anthology from writers telling their stories through fiction and poetry. Stories of being proud of who we truly are, that tragedy and dark moments brought us to a light we didn’t think possible. Stories of accepting what some call flaws as cause for celebration. Stories that invite us all to stop changing for others. Instead, we shatter our image and realize our beauty.

All proceeds will benefit Realize Your Beauty, a not for profit organization that promotes positive body image and eating disorder awareness for children and adolescents by way of theatre arts. You can learn more about Realize Your Beauty at their website.

The anthology will feature short stories (up to 10,000 words) and poetry all about shattering your image.

For complete submission information, you can head over to my official website to find the submission form and manuscript requirements. Submissions close September 16, 2016.

Thomas A. Fowler and Nerdy Things Publishing will be on site at Denver Comic Con from June 17-19. Stop by Author’s Alley, booth AA14, to find out more and discuss the anthology.

Denver Comic Con Schedule


Last year was my first at Denver Comic Con as an attendee, this year I’ll be there as a panelist, moderator and to mark the official release of The Writer’s Conquest: Establish a Brand.

ALL WEEKEND you’ll be able to find me in Author’s Alley. I won’t be far from the Umbrella Corps or Xfinity areas. See the Exhibitor Map to find booth AA14, where I’ll be anytime I’m not on a panel.

FRIDAY PANELS: What’s the Fascination with the Living Dead? Friday from 12:15 – 1:05 p.m. in room 403 & 404. I’m joining an awesome group of authors including Catherine Winters, Jason Evans, Peter Meredith and Stant Litore. We’ll try to understand what makes the undead so fascinating in pop culture and where our fears originated.

Overcoming Your Creative Fears in Writing. Friday from 6-6:50 p.m. in room 506 & 507. I’ll be joined by Betsy Dornbusch, David John Butler, Anne Stamper and Brianna Shrum to discuss why we all have fears as writers, what we do to overcome them. We’ll open it up for questions to help aspiring writers find out everything they need to know. There’ll even be a giveaway for a hard copy of The Writer’s Conquest:Establish a Brand to one lucky attendee.

SATURDAY PANEL: Godzilla, Gamera & Other Kaiju MonstersSaturday, June 18th from 12:15-1:05 in room 403 & 404. Somewhere in my parents’ basement is a VHS tape of me freaking out about getting “King Kong vs. Godzilla” on tape as a kid. My reaction was almost as intense when they announced that the two were facing off again. We’ve got Gamera, Godzilla, Pacific Rim, King Kong, Ghidorah, Rodan and Mothra all returning to the screen. Join me with moderator Catherine Winters and panelists M.H. Boroson, Aaron Michael Ritchey, and Godzilla expert David McRobie as we talk about everything Kaiju and cinematic monsters. Who should replace Gareth Edwards? Will Pacific Rim 2 ever see the light of day? We’ll ask those questions and more.

SUNDAY PANEL: Disney Princesses – The Good, The Bad, and The Pretty. Sunday, June 19th from 1-1:50 in room 605. I’ll be moderating this panel dissecting the pros and cons of these characters. Are they good role models? What life lessons do the Disney Princess movies teach? What qualities do we want our children to emulate and which do we not? Join me along with other massive Disney fans to see where we’ve been and where we want to see Disney princesses head in the future.

See you at Denver Comic Con. What are you most excited for at Denver Comic Con? Chime in with the comments below. I’ll be tweeting all weekend too so follow me on Twitter.

BOOK RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT – The Writer’s Conquest: Establish A Brand


The Writer’s Conquest blog started in 2008. That first year mustered a depressing 164 views. However, after years of posts and hard work there are over 2,000 followers of this blog as well as thousands of unique visits per year. It’s been validating to see that people need marketing advice as writers and creators.

Now it’s time to take it to the next step. Introducing the first installment of The Writer’s Conquest book series: Establish a Brand.

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The book will be officially released at Denver Comic Con, June 17-19 where I will be there all weekend. Come by Author’s Alley and stop by booth AA14 to pick up your copy. If you attend my panel on Overcoming Creative Fears, there will be a giveaway of a free copy! The panel is Friday from 6-6:50 p.m. in room 506/507. That’s right. One room wasn’t enough to keep this panel contained!

So what the hell is this book? Allow me to explain:

Marketing is hard. You want to focus on your writing and you should. That’s why The Writer’s Conquest: Establish Your Brand exists: to allow you to write first and market second. If the terms “target demographics,” “website responsive design,” and “organic S.E.O.” sound like a foreign language to you, read this book and bring the ad agency experience to your author platform. Beginning with research, you’ll then learn what goes into brand strategy and finish with an executable marketing plan.

With 35 exercises to walk you through the process, The Writer’s Conquest is equal parts learning and doing. Whether you are an established author looking to refine your approach, or an aspiring writer gearing up to enter the industry, The Writer’s Conquest takes marketing step-by-step to sell your books and your brand.

So there you have it. The book will be available on Amazon and other platforms soon. In the meantime, subscribe to get free marketing advice. Big thanks to Vivian Trask, Bree Crowder, Harry Forehand III, and Quincy J. Allen for their incredible work.

See you at Denver Comic Con (full schedule coming soon) and thank you, everyone.

 

MUSICAL LITERARY LESSONS: SETTING AND METALLICA


Setting: It’s a central element to a narrative. Without it, readers get confused. They don’t understand the mood of the book. Worst case scenarios the reader can’t even tell where or when they are in the narrative. That’s why today’s musical literary lesson comes from one of Metallica’s iconic pieces. This lesson on setting is brought to you by “Enter Sandman.”

The opening of “Enter Sandman” is iconic. You could make an argument the beginning isn’t the beginning of the story. At first glance, the lyrics initiate the full meaning of the narrative.

Say your prayers, little one.

Don’t forget, my son

To include everyone.

Only then do we know what the song lyrics definitively set out to achieve. Lyrics don’t kick in until well over a minute. Yet, no one can imagine “Enter Sandman” beginning differently. That ominous guitar solo. The drums subtly growing creates an establishment of an atmosphere. You are provided a sense of setting.

By doing so, once the lyrics begin, you know the true character motivations and intent. Those only serve to further the narrative that already began with a sense of setting. Other songs kick in right off the bat with lyrics, but not “Enter Sandman.” In this musical instance, the instrumental opening begins telling you the setting.

From there, those opening lyrics explain more regarding setting. It plays a specific part. With moments like Say your prayers, little one and Tuck you in, warm within, our setting gets more specific. We know where we are and when the narrative takes place. You begin seeing a small boy, getting ready for bed. The setting is meant to paint the everyday Americana house, that Norman Rockwell perfect Colonial home.

While we visualize the setting and understand the time of day and locale, we also know something is amiss. It all goes back to the establishment of setting in the instrumental opening. We are all fully aware this kid is in for a terrible, TERRIBLE night. And that is worsened by the transition of setting.

After the opening verse, we hit the chorus, which is repeated multiple times. After the first chorus, we spend one more fleeting moment in that bedroom only to enter the new setting of this boy’s nightmares, because the sandman he comes.

Something’s wrong, shut the light

Heavy thoughts tonight

And they aren’t of Snow White

Dreams of war, dreams of liars

Dreams of dragon’s fire

And of things that will bite.

Now, we have entered the dreamscape that will torment us for the rest of the night. We also know the settings will vary wildly. It may seem like there’s an inconsistency in the setting. But that is part of what we’re facing with the song. We’re in for a long night of varied torment. That’s our new setting.

And what element remains despite the constant change of setting? The unrelenting drums and unforgettable guitar riff that started off the entire song. Those elements carry the narrative of “Enter Sandman.”

Understand what setting can do for you now? What song perfectly captures the setting of your latest writing? Chime in with the comment section below. The conversation is always live on Twitter @ThomasAFowler. I’ve also made a Spotify playlist with the first dozen musicians we’ll be discussing and the songs that embody the subject matter. Have a listen by clicking here.

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