Category: Blog Topics


This Saturday (yes, it’s short notice; sorry about that), I’ll be giving an online lecture through the Catholic Writers Guild. The topic is on the Hero’s Journey, a concept invented and popularized by Joseph Campbell. Here’s the blurb:

March 24 – 7:00 p.m. EST
Writing the Hero’s Journey
Presenter: Matthew Bowman
A look at the “Hero’s Journey Format,” based on the work of Joseph Campbell; why it works with the audience, why it’s so prone to failure, and how to adapt it for your own story.

To sign up, you can click on this shiny and well-crafted link. Admission is very affordable: $8 for CWG members, and $10 for non-members. All you need is a device capable of loading AnyMeeting software, which at most means a browser plugin that you can delete later.

I give a lot of convention lectures, but this is the best chance you’ll have of getting to listen to one of them for a whole year, unless you’re going to be at AwesomeCon next week or you’re a student at Christendom College — or if the Guild has me back before then, which in part depends on the success of their new online lecture program. So drop by, have a listen, and see what else they have to offer.

Intern Number One, signing on.

My daily purpose in the peculiar Novel Ninja family is a little hard to describe. Hannah and I are being trained side-by-side, but with very different specialties. Hannah, with her love of flow and passion for the written word, is spending her days gleefully working through documents sentence-by-sentence to polish the beauty in them; I, for the most part, am playing in my own little sandbox, learning how to stitch together inconsistencies and help chains of events feel realistic and alive. One of the tools Bowman and I use to keep ourselves entertained and our minds fluid is a little thing I call Culture Chess.

Culture Chess is an exercise that developed very early on in my career as a mook. It’s a way that Bowman-Sensei and I play with our shared love for big-picture thinking. It’s a mutual thought experiment; starting with nothing, or nearly nothing, we slowly build the workings of a story. Continue reading

A Wild Intern Appears

As I mentioned previously, I have two interns I’m training this summer, known as Thing 1 and Th– Wait, no. Intern #1 and Intern #2. There. That’s better.

Apprentices.jpg

Well, okay. They have names of their own. I’ll just let them introduce themselves. Continue reading

Open for Business

As many of you know (especially those of you who have been querying me for submissions), I’ve been very busy with a backlog for over a year now. That has been whittled down, and I’m now accepting submissions once again. Remember to follow the submission guidelines!

In addition, I’m training two interns this summer who will transition to more independent work as their experience increases. For now, if you’re willing to provide guinea pigs specifically for intern training, you’ll get a discount over the regular Novel Ninja rates (which are already below average, because frankly, the industry freelance standard is aimed at large companies and not the single authors I normally work with).

Please see this page for submission and pricing guidelines.

It’s short notice, but Declan had to cancel his weekly show, so I’m stepping in. It’s The Catholic Geek Radio Show, part of my other site, and it’s normally a guest-interview show. Well, I don’t have a guest, so it’s just me talking about stuff . . . including editing, if you want me to! You can call in or use a chat window. The details are over here.

You can even call in and say “Hey, why haven’t you replied to my email yet?” *hangs head in shame* Yes, I know I still have a bunch to go through, some of them a couple months old. I haven’t forgotten you! Unless I have, in which case it’s probably a good idea to call in and let me know.

By the way, one of the things I’m talking about is the new author co-op we’re starting at CG, as well as a chance for you to hear some of my lectures online. If you’ve been interested in those, you might want to take a listen.

Elantris

20151222_000616[1]Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity.

These are the opening words to one of the best novels ever written: Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson. I first read it in 2011, barely more than a year into my career as an editor. It immediately became one of my favorites, if not my most favorite novel ever.

It had been sitting on my shelf for years, though, waiting to be read. The problem was that the paperback copy doesn’t tell you what the story is about, and so I never knew if I was in the mood for it. My reading list is so long, and I stopped counting at a hundred, that I kept deciding to try something else. This is after reading both Mistborn and The Way of Kings. I’d heard good things, but not knowing what to expect kept making me pick something else.

Well, now it’s the only novel I’ve ever considered worth getting in a collector’s quality leatherbound edition. And not to give you a clickbait kind of hook, but what Brandon Sanderson put on the personalization inside made me tear up.

Considering how I feel about this book, I should have done a review on it years ago. I even said on this blog that it deserves its own review. For some reason, I kept putting it off. Maybe it’s just that I didn’t know if I could do it justice. I’m glad I didn’t, though. If I had, then I couldn’t have given my readers this story.  Continue reading

high-pain-toleranceThere’s a common misconception about people with high pain tolerances. They tend to be big, beefy, and burly, usually men, and if female they’re all badasses. They shrug off bullets and sword-thrusts like they’re minor distractions; they grunt from the pain and rarely, if ever, scream.

Now, I frequently impress people around me with my high pain tolerance. Most of that is in awe; some few, such as my doctors and a close friend who helps me exercise, approach it with worry, because pain is an important thing. I have such a high pain tolerance that I often automatically ignore signals that I should really stop what I’m doing and rest. I threw out my back (a little over a year ago) and my knee (a couple months ago) precisely because I could just work through the pain . . . until I suddenly couldn’t.

How do I do that? Well, it’s not because I’m tougher than other people. I’m not beefy or burly, and I’m only big if I’m standing up and haven’t turned sideways. It’s never about your mass; it’s all about what you’re used to. Establishing that difference is the key to writing action heroes and other characters that deal with pain through the course of your story.  Continue reading

Emails

Just a quick announcement: I know that some of you are waiting on emails. Some of you, in fact, have been very patient. I’m getting to you. 🙂 This has been the busiest summer I’ve had in over ten years!

WorkingWell, I’ve been silent. That is, I’ve been silent on this blog. Why? Because I’m trying to devote as much effort to my main job as possible. That is, jobs, but the priority goes to the company that pays me the most for my editorial and research skills. That company has been very generous with letting me balance going to places like AwesomeCon (and three more events this year, possibly five), so I’m trying to not take that for granted.

Sadly, thanks to a flare-up with my fibromyalgia that coincided with AwesomeCon weekend, well, I’m a bit behind. But I’m taking a few moments here to talk about the convention and a few other things before I let too much time pass.  Continue reading

Editor’s Note: Welcome, once again, the lovely and talented Lori Janeski in another Novel Ninja guest post. This time, we present her debut fisk, as she decides to tackle the massive Social Fiction Warrior response to Avengers: Age of Ultron by targeting a particularly egregious essay.

I should add that Lori is Texan — and yes, even fisks are bigger in Texas. This one clocks in at over 13,000 words, enough for a good-sized novelette. Strap in, grab some popcorn, and warm up your mouse-using fingers, because you’ve got some scrolling ahead of you.

Enjoy!


If you ever want to learn how to make a complete and total idiot of yourself in front of the whole internet, just read this essay I found: “Age of Robots: How Marvel Is Killing the Popcorn Movie.”  If you’re not into being an idiot, you can go ahead and read it for its entertainment potential, because it is so utterly ridiculous, and yet trying to be completely serious and intellectual and failing miserably, that it will make you either laugh your head off, or crawl under a rock and weep for humanity.  Maybe both.

Now, the author, Sady Doyle, is allowed to have any opinion she wants.  That’s part of life.  I don’t have to agree with her, and she doesn’t have to agree with me.  But when you’re being this stupid while pretending to be smart, those of us who are not stupid have to say something to make sure you aren’t successful in convincing people that you are smart.  To borrow a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, “I respect your right to free speech, but not your stupidity.”

Omar

Normally, I try very hard to disagree with the argument, not attack the person.  This article, however, is such a piece of trash that my politeness went right out the window.  Doyle is so far beyond stupid that she has reached the status of “contemptible,” and doesn’t deserve a polite, intellectual discussion about the merits, or lack thereof, of Age of Ultron.

If you don’t want to read an angry article about how stupid someone else is, complete with the occasional vulgarity, then don’t finish reading.  Go elsewhere now.  You have been warned, so there better not be any nasty comments on the blog or Facebook about how mean I am.

Oh, and if you can’t guess, there are spoilers ahead.  I know Matthew has a spoiler graphic somewhere around here . . . aha!

Spoiler Warning

There.  If you missed that, you deserve your spoilers. Continue reading

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