All posts by Wendy Van Camp

Writer. Gemologist. Artisan Jeweler.

You’re Writing What? by Katherine Sanger

College Students

I’m one of those people who feels like I can never learn enough or get enough education. Whenever I can, I attend any workshops or events that are local. I get to as many conventions as possible. And I have gone to school for far too long now.

My last degree was an MFA in Creative Writing.

I selected the program carefully, making sure that it didn’t have dismissive language or didn’t specify that it only wanted ‘literary’ fiction. From research, I knew that many programs looked down on genre writing, and I saw no reason to make myself suffer for two years by writing things I had no interest in.

I’d heard, many times over, that “good writing is good writing.” That genre shouldn’t count in determining if something is good or bad. Writing should stand on its own, regardless of what type of writing it is.

Yet still, during my MFA, when we had a presentation on genre work one day, the “literary” authors giving the talk trashed genre work and mocked it. But then, ten minutes later, they used examples from “Carrie” by Stephen King to show us how passive voice can be used successfully in fiction writing.

Something was clearly wrong.

Later that day, I was in a student-led workshop, and talk turned to the third-term papers that we had to write. They had to be serious research papers, ones that could potentially get published. I brought up the fact that I intended to write one about horror. Another student told me that I couldn’t possibly do that – horror was not “academic enough.” Apparently, the fact that I had actually taken classes in horror, science fiction, fantasy, and gothic fiction while working on a previous Master’s degree didn’t count. Clearly, to him, there was no value to anything that fell into a “genre.”

My frustration level was high during that residency period. High enough that I eventually talked to the director of the program. I asked him flat out if genre fiction was considered “not good enough” for the program, and I told him of the discouragement that I’d encountered so far. He was not happy. He assured me – and re-assured me – that what I had always heard was right: good writing was good writing. He saw no reason why my paper on the use of humor in horror would be rejected by a faculty member, and he wondered if I had misunderstood the presentation. I hadn’t, but it was encouraging that he thought that way.

Throughout my MFA, I ran into the same problem again and again. However, I finally figured it out. The biggest problem was that the people who felt that genre fiction was a lesser form were just not familiar with it. It sold well, and so, in their minds, it was “commercial” fiction and had no value from a literature standpoint. Of course, these same people were all trying to write the next great American novel which, as far as I could tell, would also have to sell well. Didn’t that count as a commercial writing project?

I got lucky during my final semester. My mentor, who happened to be completely unfamiliar with anything genre, was extremely open to learning. When I told her my intent was to write a short story collection of stories that centered around Cthulhu eating people who were staying in a basement apartment over time, she asked me to send her reading material so that she could learn about Lovecraft and Cthulhu. She may not be able to pronounce Cthulhu, but she could read it, and she happily (it seemed to me, anyway), critiqued my stories. She would note where she was unsure if something I had included would be known by my intended audience, but otherwise, she focused on writing. Because good writing is, after all, good writing.

Katherine SangerKatherine Sanger was a Jersey Girl before getting smart and moving to Texas. She’s been published in various e-zines and print, including Baen’s Universe, Black Chaos, Wandering Weeds, Spacesports & Spidersilk, Black Petals, Star*Line, Anotherealm, Lost in the Dark, Bewildering Stories, Aphelion, and RevolutionSF, edited From the Asylum, an e-zine of fiction and poetry, and is the current editor of “Serial Flasher,” a flash fiction e-zine. She’s a member of HWA and SFWA. She taught English for over 10 years at various online and local community and technical colleges. You can check out links to her many, many blogs at or find her at Facebook or twitter.

Author Interview: Bryan O’Raighne

Bryan O’Raighne is an author of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal, but believes that elements of romance and mystery enhances his stories. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Brien O'RaighneMy name is Brien O’Raighne. I am a divorcee and have a son. I, also, have a daily job I go to until my books can make enough to supplement everything I need. I love to write and have been doing so for some time.

When and why did you begin writing?

I think that it is something that I have always been doing. I have always been writing and making up stories, which started with superhero stories. But I really got hot and heavy with it in my sophomore year of High School.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve considered myself that for a long time. Like I said before, I really got hot and heavy with it in my sophomore year of high school

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My current book, Royal Pains, is really being relaunched since I was released by the publisher who originally published it. Anyways, it is about Douglas Harley and his adventures to rescue Querilla Opaaca and return her home. However, that is not easy. He learns more about his family and ties to her overall. Also, on the planet of Varia there is a resistance movement trying to break the occupation of the Coalition.

What inspired you to write this book?

How long of a list would you like…Well, it is inspired by many, many things. Hmm. Here goes: Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, X-Men, Superheroes in general, Dungeons & Dragons, Babylon 5, Firefly, etc. Heavily inspired by Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Superhero mash-up

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style specifically is what I call free flowing. When I write, I see the scenes flowing before me as I lay them down first onto the pad of paper or spiral notebook before going back to type them into the computer.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Wow. Never really thought about this. Most of my titles just come into my head. Not really any spectacular way that I came up with the book title. It’s a fairly common title too. Found out much later about that.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Message in my books? Not really. My characters tend to be rather complicated. I show both sides of the characters. I do not tend to lump them into strictly evil, strictly good categories. I try to show the grayness that they lie in.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not by a long shot. I try to let my characters tell me who they are and what’s going on. I do go back sometimes to look over the book and my characters sometimes will hand me information they left out in the beginning.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Timothy Zahn, Roald Dahl, and JK Rowling. I find that they are able to tell great stories with concise details, including dialects and imagery.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Mark Twain is who I would consider a mentor. Not because he is a distant cousin, but because he could help in the mastery of the written word. I don’t pride myself on being an expert. I know I am not. But I expect myself to get better each and every day. They day my work is perfect is the day I stop writing.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I designed the book cover. I had no other choice on selecting myself as illustrator. This cover was initially started with my previous publisher, but the cover artist left before it could be completed. Thus, I took over and added the rest of the other elements to it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice to other writers. The obvious is to write. But what are you going to write. You need inspiration. So, take in everything that you can through books, movies, TV, life itself. You never know what you will use to be the writer you will be. Also, remember this simple fact, your first work WILL NEVER be your best it will be your worst, but that’s okay because it sets your bar for you to climb above and continually raise to beat.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you enjoy this book. It is relaunched since being dropped by Ravenswood Publishing. It will arrive through Rising Dragons Publishing. There are new material and edits that were not there before.

Book Cover Royal PainsBrien O’Raighne
Houston, TX

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No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWriting articles are always helpful for those of us learning the craft or trying to brush up on our skills. I have assembled an interesting assortment for your reading pleasure this fine Monday. I hope you like them.

GOODREADS GIVEAWAYS: DON’T DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD

Riffle: The New Goodreads?

Show don’t tell: write from your character’s viewpoint

Danielle Steel Takes the Greatest Author Photos of All Time

Flawed Characters vs. Too Dumb to Live—What’s the Difference?

20 Writing Tips From Stephen King

13 Surprisingly Common Mistakes That Make Your Writing Look Bad

How do I come up with a Good First Sentence?

Adding Flavor

POINT OF VIEW – HOW STORYTELLERS CREATE TRUTH

Book Review: Nemesis

Book Name: Nemesis
Author: Louise Cooper
First Published: 1989

Louise Cooper began writing stories at a young age, more to entertain her friends than for any other reason. She was not fond of school and would tuck herself away to write stories in the classroom. At the age of fifteen, she persuaded her parents to allow her to quit school altogether and they agreed to it! She never looked back.

Cooper wrote her first novel when she was still a teenager and it published when she was twenty years old. She moved to London in 1975 and took a job in publishing before moving on to become a full-time writer in 1977. During her life, she has published more than eighty fantasy and supernatural novels, both for adults and YA.

She married Cas Sandall and they lived in Cornwall, England with their black cat, Simba. Cooper loved music, folklore, cooking, and gardening. In 2009, Cooper unexpectantly died from a brain aneurysm.

“Hope…which is whispered from Pandora’s box only after all the other plagues and sorrows had escaped, is the best and last of all things. Without it, there is only time. And time pushes at our backs like a centrifuge, forcing us outward and away, until it nudges us into oblivion.”
― Ian Caldwell, The Rule of Four

Nemesis is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Pandora’s Box, but with a Celtic twist. Anghara Kalingsdaughter, Princess of the Southern Isles, is an impulsive, headstrong girl in her teens. She is content with her life and the man she is promised to marry but is jealous of her younger brother who will inherit the crown because he is male.

The kingdom is built on the rubble of an ancient civilization. All that remains is a solitary tower built by a people whose name is forgotten. Her people’s oral tradition sang warnings of the danger presented by the “tower of regrets” and give a reminder of the folly of attempting to take to much from the Earth Mother. With each passing generation of her people, those warnings grow fainter and why the tower is forbidden is also forgotten, shrouded in mystery.

One day the princess is riding near the forbidden tower and her inner curiosity propels her to question why the tower of regrets is forbidden. Due to her youth and recklessness, Anghara enters the tower and discovers a box in the center. She opens the box and is horrified when seven demons spring forth and are released into the world.

The Earth Mother comes to Anghara, terrified and shamed by what she has unleashed. The goddess informs the princess that she must pay for her trespass by seeking out and destroying each of the seven demons. Until her mission is complete, she is made immortal and will never die. Her identity is removed, no longer is she a princess of the royal house. Anghara takes on the name of Indigo. It is the color of mourning among her people.

Newly transformed, Indigo sets off on her mission. She learns that her entire family has been slaughtered by the demons she has freed and her betrothed is condemned to a half-life in purgatory until she can rescue him. She is hindered by her nemesis, an evil copy of herself with supernatural powers. Indigo is joined by a companion, a talking wolf, who is her only friend as she hunts the demons based on the seven evils of Greek myth. Will she succeed in her quest to rescue her lover Fenran and regain her mortality?

Nemesis Book CoverThis was one of those books I discovered while I was an adolescent myself. I felt a strong connection to Indigo and her quest. The pace of the story was fast and each novel was unique in plot and the dangers that Indigo faced. Louise Cooper is better known for her Time Master series, but I feel that the Indigo Saga is equally as strong. I like the fact that it features a female protagonist who faces challenges more with her brain than with brawn. While the novels are considered YA, I feel that as an adult they are as enjoyable as they were when I was in middle school. I see more to the story now than I did when I was young and have a greater appreciation for the characters.

It is a hard series to find. The books have been out of print for many years and copies are hard to come by. I do not believe that ebook versions are available at this time. If you can find the books, they are well worth the effort.

The Indigo Saga:

Nemesis (1989)
Inferno (1989)
Infanta (1990)
Nocturne (1990)
Troika (1991)
Avatar (1992)
Revenant (1993)
Aisling (1994)

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to another Monday of Writer’s links from No Wasted Ink. This week I have a range of more unusual articles about writing, but with a twist. I hope you like them!

The Benefits of Journaling in Writing a Travel Memoir

Book Review: Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Collections of the Smithsonian Museum

Can CBA novelists move to the general market?

How to Improve Your Writing: 5 Secrets From Hollywood

Could Pulp Novels Be Hollywood’s Next Comic Books?

Designing a Compelling Synopsis

Bettering Your Editing

WHAT IS A DEVELOPMENTAL EDITOR?

Genre Considered As a Restaurant

Creating Your Author Brand