Jeanine O'Loughlin

Fantasy, Science Fiction & Historical Fiction Author, Blogger, and Geek

Month: August, 2015

August Babies – Piers Anthony & The Xanth Novels

August did not have any compelling holidays to celebrate, so this month I’ll be posting about authors who were born in the month of August.

PiersAnthony

Piers Anthony 8/6/34 – Present (Age 81)

Piers Anthony is an English-born American author who is most famous for his long-running novel series set in the fictional realm of Xanth. Mr. Anthony was born in England but moved to the United States when he was 6 becoming a naturalized US citizen while serving in the US Army in 1958. He was a teacher at Admiral Farragut Academy in St Petersburg Florida before becoming a full-time writer. At this time he and his wife made a deal that if he could sell a piece of writing within one year she would continue to work to support him and his writing career. At the end of that first year he had managed to have one of his short stories published.

Mr. Anthony commonly states that he originally intended the Xanth novels to be a trilogy, but after the wild success fo the first three books decided to expand on the series to nine books. His extremely devoted fan base persuaded the author to continue writing the series which is now open-ended and has 39 books published with two additional announced titles. Mr. Anthony considers one of his greatest achievements publishing a book for every letter of the alphabet.

Friday Book Recommendation – Lord of the Flies

http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Flies-William-Golding/dp/0399501487

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Lord of the Flies is a dystopian novel published in 1954 by William Golding, a Nobel-Prize winning English author. The story is about a group of British boys who are trapped on an uninhabited island and try to create their own government with tragic and disastrous results. The book digs into the inner human instinct of survival as well as the concepts of the individual vs the common good. A common book read among grade school aged children it is considered one of the most challenged books by the American Library Association because of its controversial subject matter. I found this a very thought-provoking novel put in the perspective of young children that kids of a similar age can identify with and examine the implications of these subjects within their own lives and moving forward within modern society.

Happy Reading!

What Makes a Strong Lead Character?

Thinking Through My Fingers

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” – Issac Asimov

Lead characters or protagonists are what propel the reader through your story. Now what makes a “strong” lead character? Now a “strong” character doesn’t mean that they need to be a hero type, from my perspective what makes a good strong lead character is someone who has a strong personality and can make a strong connection with the reader.

When I’m developing characters I always try to work on imagining or visualizing their personality. How do they express themselves, verbally & non-verbally? A lot of this information is included in my pre-writing outlines, but when I actually start writing I find that the word choice I use to describe the character and the way I develop their voice has the biggest impact. In an early draft it’s not uncommon for a lot of my characters to sound the same and become this homogenous suite of names within the context of the plot. So as I’m editing i really focus on the voice of each character, trying to project their personality from the page to the reader. I them to draw reactions from my readers, are they likeable, are they annoying, do the readers hate them? If I’m not getting the right responses from my alpha readers I know that the personality isn’t strong enough, or perhaps too strong.

I’ll try and dig more deeply into the different character archetypes but just think that to make a strong lead character does not necessarily mean they have to be the hero type. Your character could be a victim or an anti-hero, but as long as they have a strong personality that the readers can connect with that is what’s important.

Happy Writing!

Weekly Writing Prompt

Books

These prompts can be used in any way to get you writing. Whether it’s the subject matter, setting or character; as long as you are writing that’s all that matters.

This Week’s Writing Prompt

Family

Happy Writing!

August Babies – HP Lovecraft & the Cthulhu Mythos

August did not have any compelling holidays to celebrate, so this month I’ll be posting about authors who were born in the month of August.

H._P._Lovecraft,_June_1934

HP Lovecraft 8/20/1890 – 3/15/1937

Howard Phllips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island and is best known for his short horror stories including “Call of Cthulhu” which has since sparked a great many tales, games and other  media around the mythos. Howard was primarily raised by his mother and grandfather after his father was confined to a mental institution when Howard was only 3 years old. His mother was a very overbearing maternal figure and kept him home from school due to illness which may believe were psychosomatic. He did not begin to attend school full-time until the age of 13.

Howard’s grandfather was a businessman who enjoyed storytelling. It’s thought that this was the biggest influence in Howard’s literary pursuits. Many felt that Howard was a literary prodigy being able to recite poetry at the age of 3 and writing his own complete poems at age 6. he was continually encouraged to pursue his talents by his grandfather, who introduced Howard to the gothic horror genre that he would later become famous for.

Howard was always seen as a socially awkward and nervous throughout his life. He excelled in history, linguistics, chemistry and astronomy but due to his ineptitude of mathematics never graduated high school. It wasn’t until 1913 at the age of 23 that he joined an amateur journalist association and by the age of 31 was encouraged to start circulating his stories. By 34 he was a regular contributor to the newly founded Weird Tales magazine; he later turned down an offer of the editorship. It was around this time that Howard’s mother, suffering from hysteria and depression was committed to a mental institution until her death in May of 1921. The two remained close throughout her hospitalization.

Shortly after his mother’s death Howard attended a convention of amateur journalists in Boston where he met his future wife Sonia Greene. The two were married March 3, 1924 and relocated to Brooklyn at the behest of Sonia, who thought he needed a change of scenery in order to flourish. Greene supported the two of them through her hat shop. There he produced his most famous work “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1926. While he was never able to achieve commercial success during his life, partly due to his lack of confidence and drive to self-promote the Cthulhu works continue to be influential within the horror genre. Some have even called him the Edgar Allen Poe of the 20th century. Howard died of cancer at the age of 46 in his hometown of Providence.

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