Guest Post: C.S. Boyack on Goals

Craig Boyack (C.S. Boyack) from Entertaining Stories is visiting today to introduce his new book, The Playground, and to share how his personal goals influence his writing. His stories often develop from the challenges he sets for himself.

image9The hottest toys of the Christmas Season are the Playground Network dolls. They contain a worldwide social network for children. Except, the network is controlled by a ruthless businessman with dreams of power.

To reach his goals he turns to the occult. Will our children make up his personal army? Could we have an enemy soldier in every home?

Gina Greybill is a cancer survivor who stumbles into her own brush with the paranormal. She wants nothing to do with it, but may be the only one who can bring down the Playground Network. To do it she’ll have to embrace her new situation, and recover the next generation of Playground software.

There is competition for the software in the form of a brutal thug named Clovis. He’s bigger, more ruthless, and more experienced. To top it all off, he has a head start.

The Playground is suitable for more mature readers, due to violence and mature themes.

I decided a long time ago that I have to push myself if I’m going to improve my writing. Every story I’ve written so far includes a personal goal that requires me to push the limits. Most readers will never see this, but it’s important to fill my toolbox. Many times the goal is pretty simple. Some past examples include:


  • Writing a character with no backstory, a non-human character with no backstory.
  • Writing a buddy story where two characters get relatively equal time, but are different enough to stand out.
  • Writing something using fairy tale story structure.
  • Writing something in first person, but limiting it to one character only as the point of view.


These challenges served me well. It’s amazing how little backstory is required, but I might not have learned that without the personal challenge. Another one was the experience of only letting the story unfold through my first person protagonist. There is no opportunity to write, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch.” This requires coming up with a different way of revealing the information.


I’ve always wanted to try epistolary style in a novel. It amazes me, and I’ve always enjoyed it. This style involves the discovery of old documents that move the story along. Some of them even get so tricky as to tell a story within a story.


The truth of the matter is that I’m not quite ready for that. I’ve written a short story in epistolary style, but it needs a severe edit at this time. If I can get the shorty in decent shape, I may be ready to try it in a full sized novel.


One night I was watching Pulp Fiction, and it struck me. I could get close to the story within a story by writing something similar to Pulp Fiction. The Playground concept grew from this idea.


The Playground involves three main characters in three very different stories. When you read the whole thing, the bigger picture emerges. It isn’t quite epistolary style, but it’s a neat trick if you can pull it off. I’m a humble guy, and the readers will have to decide if I pulled it off or not.


This is still a C. S. Boyack story, and I’ll say it’s paranormal with science fiction sprinkles on top. It involves a social network for children that has more sinister goals underneath it all. My idea is that our kids spend too much unsupervised time online these days. I thrive on the question every speculative author uses, “What if…?”


Check out The Playground and decide if I met my goal with this one. I’d love to hear from you and find out what the ultimate judges think.


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Coffee with Barb & @sknicholls1 ~ A Bad Word in Writing Fiction? #SundayBlogShare

Visited the fantastic Barb Taub’s blog today with a discussion on one of my favorite topics, stereotypes in fiction.

Barb Taub

You say stereoTYPE and I say stereoTROPE. Did we both just say a dirty word?

coffee with BarbAs readers of this blog know, I like tropes. Even when they are so incredibly overused that they go from being a useful shortcut to an absolute stereotrope. What is a stereotrope? There are lots of definitions, ranging from a 3D animation machine to “…an interactive experiment, exploring a set of tropes authored by the community on that are categorized as being always female or always male.” [check out the entertaining page on!]

But I think of stereotropes as the things that everybody “knows”. Little girls like ponies. Women love shoes. Men don’t cry. Everyone hates mimes. (Well, maybe that last one is a universal truth…)

Die_Hard_3_Die_Hard_With_A_Vengeance_Taxi_Through_ParkZeus: “Are you aiming for some of these people?!” John: “No… maybe that mime…” [Die Hard 3–Taxi through Central Park] But today, trope lovers, is our lucky day…

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Guest Post with Charles Yallowitz- Author Pitfalls: Watch Your Step & Bring Some Rope

Charles Yallowitz was one of the first people I came to know in the blogoshpere. I saw him everywhere and thought he must be magic. But Charles has a dedication to his peers that encompasses many methods of assistance and promotions, helpful comments and suggestions. He also has a great sense of humor. Today he has prepared a guest post that I have the pleasure of sharing with you.

Thank you to Susan for offering to host a promo/guest blog. Now to get the introduction and promo stuff out of the way. My name is Charles E. Yallowitz and I’m the author behind the Legends of Windemere epic fantasy series where the latest one is Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue. I also just released a 27-page short story for 99 cents called Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, so you can get a quick, cheap taste of me . . . whatever. Let’s move on to the fun!

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The world of writing is a dense jungle full of poisonous creatures, carnivorous plants, sudden drops, and a stopwatch that changes speed every few seconds. You may be calm and plan the initial idea, but chaos will appear for most of us at some point. Those that don’t stumble are either lucky or living in a cabin beyond the reach of human contact. If it’s the latter then how in the world do you get Wifi out there?

Every author will run into their own set of pitfalls and challenges. So there are no identical paths, but there are a handful of common dangers that one can slip into without realizing it. I’m not talking about rejection letters, negative reviews, or computer crashes that devour your work as you’re trying to upload to a thumb drive. Those are beyond your full control. Here are a few I thought of from my own experiences that I could have stopped if I had thought about it.

  1. Style Corrosion– Also can be called ‘Style Overload’ or ‘Failed Mimicry’ or whatever else you think of. I’ve mentioned this before on my blog. Many authors with low confidence or high exhaustion will see the suggestions of others as golden wisdom. It really comes off this way if presented as a solid fact instead of an opinion. A young author who is unsure of their style will absorb these suggestions. At first, it isn’t that bad and you might see improvement. Then you take on more advice and your style becomes either a cluttered mess or a carbon copy of an established author. If this goes on for too long, it may take months or years to get back to the style that you’re really comfortable with.
  2. PERFECTION!– I’ve seen so many authors fall to this ideal. It results in a constant creation of drafts to the point where a decade will go by and no progress has been made. It can connect to Style Overload as they adopt a new trick and rewrite the entire story. There are also times a single typo can cause these authors to make a rewrite or scrap what they have. It’s kind of scary. Some of these trapped authors research agents, publishers, and other authors, so they adopt the idea that they’re experts in the field. You’ll get suggestions on what you should do and they may be right, but these people lack the experience to go along with their own advice. I know it sounds like I’m badmouthing this type of author, but you can learn something from them. Maybe you can even convince them to take that scary first step too.
  3. The Universe Will Give Me Time– I wasted a decade of my life on this one. I truly believed that I would work my way through another job to the point where I could also do my writing. Some people can pull this off, but you need the perfect situation for it. I didn’t have that. Instead, I found most of my jobs sucked my energy and I was barely able to maintain the house. This deals a lot with the mentality you need to start writing and I needed to be calm. Exhaustion led to bad writing. So you really have to put your foot down and make time for your writing.
  4. Planning Loop– Much like the writer toiling for a lifetime on the perfect manuscript, you have some authors who don’t even get that far. They fall in love with the world and character creation, but fail to put it into book form. It’s a safety zone because planning and creating without structure prevents full-blooded criticism. You might be told how a few things don’t work, but it’s the comfy planning stage and nothing is written in stone.
  5. Quest for Pure Originality– We’d all love to make a story that is unconnected to anything that has come before it. Sadly, all of your basic stories have been done and readers can be really creative when it comes to connecting new to old. An author who is obsessed with originality may scrap all of their good ideas because one aspect has been done. I’ve met a few of these authors who are at the point where they’ve given up and spend their time turning on others. They become bitter and angry about their ‘failure’, so they lash out. I would consider this the most dangerous pitfall because it can be incredibly toxic and hard to break.
  6. Smug Competitor– At every level, you’ll find authors who are so confident that they refuse to accept advice. This isn’t the bad part though because some people simply don’t see a marketing plan of one person working for them. This pitfall becomes a problem when the author makes a scene about negative reviews and tries to sabotage fellow authors who are doing better. It’s this type of author that can do a lot of damage to the overall community. Thankfully, they’re rarer than we believe.

How Do Fantasy Characters Stay So Thin? by Charles Yallowitz

How Do Fantasy Characters Stay so Thin?

Thank you to S.K. Nicholls for letting me write a guest blog for her blog.  I am Charles E Yallowitz and I’m the author behind the new fantasy series Legends of Windemere.  I asked for a topic and my generous host suggested weight loss.  Everyone is trying to lose weight, but I was a little hard-pressed to tie this into my new book’s release.  Then it hit me that so many characters are thin and in shape.  What is their secret?  I’m here to share some of those secrets.

  1. Fire Magic– You think spellcasters only learn fire magic for destroying their enemies?  I don’t think so.  Cast enough fire magic in an enclosed room and you heat it up to sweat the pounds away.  A little water magic to make some mist and you have a sauna.
  2. Hunting is More Hazardous– We complain about bears and wolves hunting us if we’re hunting a deer.  Imagine if alongside those animals, you have dragons, orcs, and trolls on the prowl.  You have to take what you can get and the pickings can be rather slim in the winter.  Adventuring is a test of your stomach and willpower.
  3. Trail Rations– Nuts, berries, and dried meat are what these typically are.  High energy and nutrition, but not exciting enough to overindulge in.  So, you get the energy to continue walking without putting on the gluttony pounds.
  4. No Public Transportation– You can’t take the bus to your next adventure.  Heroes have to walk and wear out their boots to get to their treasure-filled hordes.  This also means that they have to spend more money on shoes than food.  Ever try to fight an orc horde while bare-foot?  It isn’t pretty.
  5. Dragons!– These heroes live in a world where they are not at the top of the food chain.  A lot of predators that want human for lunch can fly, breathe fire, and do so many horrific things that one wonders how the human race is still alive.  There’s our smarts and use of weapons and magic to keep us alive.  For many heroes, it’s the ability to run in full armor like terrified bunny rabbit.  Running is great cardio and a dragon chasing after you is amazing motivation.
  6. Heavy Metal– The weapons and armor of heroes seem to be made for bodybuilders.  The swords are heavy and the armor either weighs a ton or tighter than spandex.  So, you’re going to get in shape simply by using your gear or to avoid embarrassing armor rolls around the gut.
  7. Magic– People cheat.  We have plastic surgeons and surgeries.  Fantasy worlds have magic that can erase your fat or transform it.  I hate them too for this one.
  8. Dwarven Ale– It’s amazing with all the drinking that heroes do that they don’t end up with beer guts until they’re retired or slated to do during the adventure.  Only one thing can explain this.  Dwarven ale has the magically properties to taste delicious and have zero calories.  You gain more weight from drinking water than this stuff.  The trade-off is that eventually you will wake up with a beer gut and be forced to talk about your old warrior days.  At least until you’re the first to die in a climactic encounter and have to make your good-bye speech.
  9. Natural Selection– With all of the monsters and evil magic around, maybe those with slow metabolisms simply died off.  Only the naturally slender survived to breed while monsters feasted on those that gained two pounds from a simple piece of chocolate.  I mean what is up with that?  I eat one Hershey bar and I go up a pants size?
  10. No Office Jobs– The people of fantasy worlds have manual labor jobs and there are no cubicles.  So, it’s rather reasonable to assume that such lifestyles help them keep in some kind of shape.  Even a clerk has to get up and hunt through scrolls or walk to another office instead of using a computer.

There you have my theories on why fantasy characters are predominantly thin and in shape.  Be sure to check out my books: Beginning of a Hero and Prodigy of Rainbow Tower on Amazon Kindle.