Tag Archives: authors

THE PLANETS a scifaiku poetry collection by Wendy Van Camp

The Planets: a scifaiku poetry collection by Wendy Van Camp

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection
written and illustrated by Wendy Van Camp

The planets have fascinated humanity since the dawn of time. We’ve looked up into the heavens and wondered what these wandering stars are and why they are different from their more stationary cousins. In modern times, humans have sent probes to all the planets in our solar system, sending back tantalizing views from faraway worlds. The planets are woven into our culture and history. They are signposts of our journey ahead.

This collection of 108 science fiction haiku poems (scifaiku) will take you on a journey of exploration showcasing tiny moments of wonder with each of the planets of our solar system.

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection is nominated for the 2020 Elgin Award for best speculative poetry book of the year.

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

It is time for another top ten writing articles here on No Wasted Ink.  This time I have a varied selection of general writing tips, better focus in writing, a great article about marketing your books, and if you’ll forgive my self-interest, a beat sheet write up on Persuasion by one of my favorite authors, Jane Austen.  Enjoy! 

The Heart of the Story: A Conversation with Scott H. Andrews

Try This to Find an Extra 30 Minutes to Write, Even on Your Busiest Days

How Seeds of Dystopia in the Present Make a Novel Set in the Future

Once a Bookseller, Always a Bookseller

Persuasion by Jane Austen Novel Beat Sheet

Tangled Threads or Perfect Weave: Writing a Many-Stranded Story

How to Change Your Kindle Keywords, by Dave Chesson

What Words Can Do

Where Novelists Get Stuck: 3 Common Issues with Early Drafts

9 Tips to Increase Concentration Levels

World Building by Bill McCormick

World Building
Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Before we get into the meat of the subject I’m assuming you’ve read Strunk and White and learned grammar and studied Steven King’s On Writing and learned how to craft content. If not those specific tomes then I’ll presuppose you’ve read, and devoured, similar. It all comes down to this, world building isn’t where you start your journey as a writer. You need to have the basics well in place before you throw yourself off this mountain.

When you create the world your characters are going to live in it can be something simple, like Toledo, Ohio, or something amazing like the gas clouds of Orbius Prime. No matter which, you’ll need ground rules to get started.

  1. Let’s say you picked Toledo; you’ll need to mention the Mud Hens, the city’s devotion to sausages, the national museum of the great lakes, lunch at Grumpy’s and so on.
  2.  If you picked the gas clouds of Orbius Prime, then you need to let readers know about how light refracts in the gasses, what does , and does not, work as a means of propulsion, whether or not the beings living there are corporeal, and how communication is achieved. I would assume varying shades of illumination would work best, but you have options.

In other words, it’s not just a name you toss out it’s a place you bring to life. When the reader closes the book they should feel like they were there. Maybe even bought some souvenirs.

I have found that detailing the world I’ll be creating first, and then adding characters works best. I didn’t do that for my first novel and ended up having to go back and do so since there were glaring inconsistencies in locations and tone. I, literally, had a desiccated desert near a lake.

Before you ask, yes, that was a huge pain in the ass.

So, to save yourself the irritation, lay things out in a simple graph.

  1. Where: Name your place and then detail, at least, ten things which make this place unique.
  2. When: Based on a current reader’s perspective, is this something that happened before or after their existence. If it’s current, try and avoid pop culture references. Since they won’t be current when your book comes out they immediately place the story in the reader’s past.
  3. Tech: It’s well known that any tech sufficiently advanced enough would appear to be magic to a less developed society. The same holds true in writing. If you introduce the “multi phased Frombulator” you have to be clear as to what it does, why it exists, and be able to give a rudimentary idea of how it works. You need not get into the physics of the thing, unless you feel it’s required, but you do have to be able to make readers believe it could exist. Contrariwise, if you’re setting is medieval Europe, you can’t give the princess a Buick to make her life easier. The tech you add has to fit the rest of your universe.
  4. Consistency: Despite popular tropes, it is not the hobgoblin of little minds. Foolish consistency is. Now, whether you’re creating a magical fairy kingdom, interplanetary battles featuring alien warlords, or a whimsical a rom/com starring Satan, you need to set out the rules that guide your universe. And those rules need to apply to every character, and in every event. Remember, it’s not the suggestion of physics, those are laws for a reason. If your characters can violate them, you need a believable reason. This is less true in comic books where characters can fly unaided. Yet, even then, the rest of the universe follows basic physics leaving the flying people as outliers.

One easy out from all this, that lazy writers like to use, is to create a universe of gods. Since their characters are all gods they can do whatever they want. Unless you have multiple iterations of Yahweh, that won’t fly. And if you do, where’s the conflict? Even Satan doesn’t directly challenge God. In fact, in many interpretations, he’s fulfilling a function required by God. So, you’re back to needing some rules, and characters to live within them.

Another thing to look out for is accidentally creating multiple generations of morons. A wildly popular series of books, and a related TV show, have characters who, according to numerous plot points, have been at war, and fighting dragons, for eight thousand years. In that time the only weapons they have come up with are variants of a pointy stick. Some large, some small, some metal, some wood, but, at the end of the day, they’re all just pointy sticks. You would think that, given the fact there were constant airborne threats, someone might have given artificial flight a try. All of the needed materials are right there. And the inspiration is literally eating their livestock.

However, there was also an abundance of naked boobs, so that made up for a lot.

World building can be, and is to me, fun. There are lots of guides you can use to help they’re just not marketed as such. Books on mythologies will help you create believable powerful beings. Dungeons and Dragons is a great guide for your magical realm. NASA.gov has tons of free research online that will help you build realistic alien homes. And, if you want to bend some brains, don’t neglect the various conspiracy sites.

Once you have your feet firmly on the ground, let your imagination loose and see what it brings home.


Author Bill McCormackBILL McCORMICK is a critically acclaimed author of several novels, graphic novels, comic book series, and has appeared in numerous anthologies. He began writing professionally in 1986 for the Chicago Rocker Magazine in conjunction with his radio show on Z-95 (ABC-FM) and went on to write for several other magazines and blogs. He currently writes a twisted news & science blog at WorldNewsCenter.org. That provides source material for his weekly appearance on The Big Wakeup Call on WBIG 1280 AM (FOX! Sports). You can find out more about him at BillMcSciFi.com.

Splice by Bill McCormack

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Welcome to No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links. These are a top ten of articles about the craft of writing or of interest to science fiction and fantasy readers and writers. Forgive my blue mood, but there has been far too many losses in our speculative community as of late. I want to highlight both Chadwick Boseman’s and Terry Goodkind’s passings in particular. Many bright lights are diminished, but not forgotten.

“The Moon’s a Balloon”: Hot Air Balloons and Airships in Speculative Fiction

How To Read

7 Ways to Build a Community Around Your Blog

On Writing Fanfiction

Terry Goodkind (1948-2020)

Writing Horses: Why Bother to Get It Right?

How to Pitch Your Story

Rest in Peace, Chadwick Boseman

Writing Chapter Books for Young Readers

Get Inspired with Observational Writing

Author Interview: Jeannie Wycherley

Losing herself in an imaginary world is quite possibly the best thing that has ever happened to Author Jeannie Wycherley. She  can travel far and wide with an array of wonderful people and creatures and when it gets interesting, she can share it with everyone else. Bliss!  Please welcome Jeannie to No Wasted Ink.

I’m Jeannie Wycherley. I live by the sea in East Devon in the south-west of the UK. Over the years I’ve worked as an academic, a waitress, a library assistant and as a stage manager. I have a doctorate in modern and contemporary British social history. I run a seaside gift shop with my husband (or try to at the moment, things are not great). I have two dogs that I love above all creatures and I’m fanatical about forests and wildlife.

When and why did you begin writing?

I always loved to write but I lost the urge when I started working. I was busy, I was young, I had a life. Then in 2010, during counselling for a bout of depression, I uncovered my desperate need for creativity. I started to fiddle with words again and wrote a play that was performed by a local theatre company. I then found an online virtual writing bootcamp in June 2012 with a group called Urban Writers. I loved it! There were lots of exercises to do, something everyday, and by the end of the month I had a long short story that I was quite proud of. After that I began to write every day. It became a habit. I submitted short stories everywhere and gathered quite a collection.

I took part in the Six-Month Novel challenge, again with Urban Writers, and produced my first novel. It has never seen the light of day, but I proved I could do it.

I was made redundant in September 2012 and over the next few years, I balanced freelance copywriting work and working in our gift shop with my creative writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Relatively recently! I published two novels, Crone (2017) and Beyond the Veil (2018) but felt like an impostor. It wasn’t until I started to work on my Wonky Inn series (first published September 2018), when the writing and the characters totally consumed me, that I realised I was a proper writer. Now I drive my husband mad because I don’t talk about anything else. He’s currently in the process of getting a proofreading qualification so he can help me out!

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

It’s called The Municipality of Lost Souls and, put simply, it’s a ghost story where some dead sailors want vengeance for their wrongful deaths. But it’s far more complex. It’s about greed, power and manipulation, love, lust and loss. It’s about the way we treat others. It has shades of Jamaica Inn and The Old Curiosity Shop and The Woman in White about it.

What inspired you to write this book?

It started life as a short story, published by the Society for Misfit Stories. It was a story that would not let me go. I knew there was far more to it, but the complexity of it put me off. It requires quite an ensemble of characters and that proved difficult to balance at times. I take much inspiration from the landscape around me. The town of Durscombe—a fictional name—is based on Sidmouth, where I live. I wanted to write about the power of the sea and have this kaleidoscope of people’s lives unfold in front of a tempestuous, glowering backdrop.

Do you have a specific writing style?

People have often remarked how immersive my descriptions are, that reading my work, whether it’s dark fantasy or cozy mystery, is a little like going to the cinema. They can see the world through my eyes.

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

I have absolutely no idea! It just popped into my head. I have had some criticism for it, because of its length, but to me, The Municipality of Lost Souls, has a whole different meaning to Lost Souls. It adds place, context, era and specificity. There are so many lost souls in this book, but the most important ones, are in the town.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, but it’s not spelled out. Part of me wants readers to understand what drove me to produce this story, but not everyone will. I’m perfectly happy if they read it and enjoy it without getting ‘it’, though.

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

I’m getting on. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve observed a lot. I’m ravenous for people-watching. Obviously, this is a historical fantasy novel, so it’s not true to life, but I’ve used my experience as a historian to add flesh to the bones. I like my characters to be flawed. This bunch certainly are!

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

So many. I drew on my love of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins for The Municipality of Lost Souls. I love their use of language. Both of these writers have wonderful villains too. Dastardly! I have several Dickensian type villains in this novel. I would add Elizabeth Gaskell and Edith Wharton to that list too. Gaskell is my favourite author of all time. She has a gentle touch, but she really packed a punch when it came to unpicking the social issues of the day.

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

The beautiful cover was designed by Anika Willmanns of Ravenborn Covers. She does the most magnificent work. I wanted something ghostly and tempestuous and I wanted to show vulnerability. I think Anika did an amazing job.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Commit! And believe in yourself.

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

Thanks so much for reading! I can never quite get over the fact that people actually read my words! I’ve never been happier and it’s entirely down to people like you!

Lost Souls Book CoverJeannie Wycherley
Sidmouth, East Devon, UK

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The Municipality of Lost Souls

Cover Artist:  Anika Willmanns

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