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The Posts of Long, Long Ago…


Readers: it’s your turn!

Readers are everything. I don’t mean that readers inherently make something good—no, there are plenty of things out there with a much larger audience than they deserve. What I do mean is that readers are the reason for writing. Or at least, they should…

Charity through a Children’s Book

Charity comes in many forms– so here’s what authors can do to give underprivileged kids their best Christmas yet. Every Christmas, millions of families facing poverty struggle to provide gifts for their children. Millions of children struggle to feel valued and find joy during…

Attractive Actors and Asinine Plots

Actors can get away with a lot in life. Attractive actors can get away with even more. We’ve all heard of celebrities who get let off the hook for traffic violations and other petty offenses, but they can get away with more than crime…

brown colour dawn environment

Stepping toward the Sequel

For those of you who have already read The Exile, I have some perhaps long-awaited news: a sequel is underway. I’ll admit that this decision came with some difficulty, largely because of my own fondness of open endings. The beauty of open endings is…

The Exile: a Golden Review

I always feel a mix of anxiety and excitement when another writer leaves a review for one of my books. Every review counts, of course, but those left by other writers are the ones that carry the most weight. Just like every golfer feels…

The Romance that should (never) have been

Are you tired of romance? No, I don’t mean tired of your spouse or significant other. I mean tired of seeing romance in book after book, movie after movie, show after show, as if every writer thinks he or she invented the thing. No?…

When Does a Signature become an Autograph?

Autographs: we worship them. We cut in line for them. We spend money for them. Everyone has that person whose autograph they would do most anything for. And yet, what makes an autograph so special? Isn’t it just a glorified signature? Yes, basically. But…

Of Saplings and Stories: What We can Learn

When I’m not writing stories, I work with trees. Let’s be clear: I’m not the one cutting trees down or doctoring them up—no, no, you will not see me wielding a chainsaw or fertilizer. Instead, I run the marketing and communications department for a…

When Political and Social Ideas are Born

As much as I enjoy historical fiction, I weary of seeing modern political agendas pasted into historical settings. We’ve all seen it: a character in a book or movie openly shares a fully developed opinion that never would have been expressed during that period…

Reading Aloud to Young Listeners

When I found myself reading aloud to twelve hungry-eyed elementary students, I suddenly realized why I had written a children’s book. Well, “suddenly” is perhaps incorrect, since parents had already been sending me pictures of their kids reading my children’s book. That’s pretty fulfilling….

crib room toy bed

If My Book were a Child

If my book were a child, I would think it most darling for nudging me with ideas while only half-conceived. “I hope you look like me,” I would tell it with fondness. For this unborn book would carry my name. And if my book…

abundance bank banking banknotes

Publishing: When an Author gets down to Business

Any aspiring author will one day come face-to-face with a formidable opponent: that opponent is called logistics. All right, you’ve written your book. You’ve revised the heck out of it. Maybe you’ve even found an illustrator. And now…? If the honeymoon phase with your…

handshake with young writer

What Young Writers can Teach Us

When I first met an 11-year-old writer who runs his own newspaper, I felt seriously behind on life. Those who know me have heard me complain about how old I feel at 22. In fact, one of my father’s friends tried to console me…

Illustrations that Breathe a Children’s Book to Life

I will never forget the first pictures I saw of my children’s book—pictures I didn’t draw. Oh, I’d storyboarded and thrown together some third-grade quality sketches, but I had yet to meet my own character face-to-face on a page. Or should I say, face-to-foot?…

girls on desk looking at notebook

Storyboarding a Children’s Book

When was the last time you picked up a children’s book to study the pictures? I’ll admit, I hadn’t even touched a children’s book for a long time when I decided to write one of my own. This meant I had a lot to…

The First Audience for a Children’s Book

When it comes to writing a children’s book, feedback is priceless. Most projects turn out better when they’ve been critiqued, but this is especially true of stories. Even more so of stories that are meant to be read aloud—which is precisely the purpose of…

Choosing the Words for a Children’s Book

Every writer knows that word choice is essential—but this holds especially true when writing a children’s book. Before The Misadventures of Melvin the Missing Sock, I had never written a children’s book. In fact, I don’t even have that many kids in my life…

Writing a Children’s Book: What no one told me

When I sat down to write my first-ever children’s book, I was actually a bit scared. Anyone who’s ever tried something completely new knows this anxiety. And anyone who’s ever written something for publication knows the self-conscious dread… What if it doesn’t turn out…

The Subtle Power of Dog stories

Every time I read a book or watch a movie that’s a “dog story,” I am 90% more likely to cry. Can you relate? Maybe it’s that the dog almost invariably dies. Or maybe it’s that the dog reminds me of my dog. Or…

The Healing Power of Stories

“Stories are wild creatures. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they may wreak?” Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls If you are at all familiar with Ness’s beautiful tale, however, you will know that the primary aspect of stories it explores is…

A Comedy of Subtitles

Unless you’re used to watching foreign films or you have a hearing impairment, you probably don’t find much use for subtitles. Neither do I—unless, of course, I’m watching a historical drama set in 1800s lower-class England, where everyone has a thick Cockney accent. Then…

The Power of Short Stories

For all the bite-sized TV dramas, music videos, and social media posts out there, it seems people often overlook the common thread that these share: they are all short stories. And while plenty of psychologists and social scientists argue that our attention span is…

Finding the Freedom to Laugh at Life

When my friend told me my life was material for a 4-star sitcom, I couldn’t decide whether that was flattering or insulting. “I would watch that show,” he said emphatically. “It sure would be better than some of the stuff out there.” On the…

Networking: Making Friends in all Places

You can’t grow up today without having the importance of “networking” drilled into you. We’ve all heard the pro-networking adages: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” “You scratch their back, and they scratch yours.” “It helps to have friends in high…

The Exile: The Story behind the Story

Recently a contact from my alma mater reached out to interview me about The Exile, my first published novel. Fellow Hillsdale College alumna Gianna Marchese, the Editor in Chief of the Student Stories Blog and the college’s Social Media Coordinator, took the time to…

Hatfields, McCoys, and Mental Issues

For all the attention that political and social issues receive in historical dramas, it seems mental issues are rarely addressed. That being said, when I started the History Channel miniseries “Hatfields and McCoys,” I had no inkling that this topic would even surface—and was…

The Secret Recipe to Great Blog Posts

WARNING: If you have no palate for satire, read no further. What you are about to read is a collection of the four unspoken, yet ubiquitous, components that are essential for writing unrivaled, mind-blowing blog posts. As someone who has been blogging for a…

When We are History

Today I was caught in a hailstorm. Well, not by the time you read this—the storm happened on April 7. And obviously I survived it. In fact, within two minutes of making it in through the back door, I looked out the window and…

The Reluctant Screen-Writer

Whether we like it or not, most of us today are screen-writers. Not that we all compose scripts, no, not that kind of writing. What I’m talking about is the fact that, regardless of what medium we are writing for, we have been compelled…

A Curious Perspective on Coronavirus

“How can I avoid the coronavirus?” “How will this virus affect the economy?” “How many people will die?” These are the questions we are deluged by on every side during this pandemic. Countless mavens and prophets are spouting off their opinions and predictions via…

A Writer's List of Virtues

Everyone has a theory of what it takes to be a successful writer. That’s all well and good, but first we have to define “success,” don’t we? I mean, one person may churn out melodramatic teenage vampire novels, while another compiles decades of life…

Perfectionism and Publishing

If any writer knows that revision is necessary, then he also knows the final product will be imperfect. “Final” draft does not mean “perfect” draft. This becomes especially (nay, painfully) clear when you see one of your works in print. Take it from me—I…

Worth Your Salt?

If there’s one thing writers know, it’s that adjustments are inevitable. In reality, this goes for everyone, not just writers. But what’s interesting is that there’s a special term for this in writing—revising. Okay, that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is that…

Closing the Deal (and the Book)

If a writer can sell a lead character to an audience for the entirety of a story, he’d better not give them what they expect at the close. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? What buyer wants to walk out of a store dissatisfied? While this…

How to Sell a Lead

Unlike most types of sales, this one involves no transaction. The agreement is unspoken, and is measured only by the customer’s insatiable desire for more. It’s the sale of a lead character. Last week we talked about the two different strategies to hooking readers,…

close up of human hand

Sales and Storytelling: the Hook

We’re all familiar with the cut-to-the-chase sales tactics that seem necessary in order for businesses to survive. But what can we learn from the business world if our mission isn’t to close a deal? Lots. It seems that two vastly different types of writers…

The Case of the Vanishing Character

Do you find it unsettling when people vanish from your life? “Depends on the person,” you say. Fair enough. But in general, when people who formerly played some semi-notable or even regular role in your life leave it, you usually have a sense of…

Identity Crisis: the Point of Re-inquiring

Identity Crises come in many forms. And with any luck, they lead to positive changes. This one is no exception. On The Inquisitive Inkpot’s 30th birthday, it has come face-to-face with the reality it can no longer deny: it is something different from what…

Cancer, Monsters, and Catharsis

Have you ever found yourself emotionally unprepared for a book or movie? You know, when you finish it and feel like the wind was just knocked out of you—and not in a good way. There’s a number of ways this can happen: Scenario 1:…

The Aeronauts: What the Skies Teach us about Humanity

Found: a fine specimen of historical fiction and an epic ride. It’s Director Tom Harper’s latest, The Aeronauts. Admittedly I was mostly interested in seeing Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones starring opposite one another again (after first seeing their acting chemistry in The Theory…

Triggered: the Power of Memory in Stories

Do you ever think about how much of our lives we spend reflecting? I don’t mean staring into a mirror. And I don’t necessarily mean long, soul-searching contemplations on our inner being. I simply mean pausing to acknowledge or recall the past and its…

How Many Faces Can One Figure Have?

Have you ever seen multiple iterations of the same historical figure? I don’t mean simply multiple appearances of said person in a variety of different hist-fic books, shows, or movies. I mean different works both devoted to that person, whose portrayals clash in some…

What the Author Hoped You Wouldn’t Notice

It’s funny how much of an author’s character we read into his works. We’ve all done it, and often with good reason. Knowing Mark Twain believed in racial equality helps us understand The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a satire. Knowing Arthur Miller’s purpose…

The Story I Distilled With

When I pulled the two notebooks off my shelf and folded back the cover of each, what I saw surprised me. Even though it’s only been a handful of years since I filled them, the penciled handwriting is already fading. Yep. Pencil. I was…

We are all Characters…

If someone were to write a book based on your life… what kind of character would you be? This is probably an odd question, but it occurred to me the other day after finishing a journal entry. I haven’t journaled regularly in a long…

How to Cope with a Trope

Imagine you’re sitting on the edge of your seat, engrossed in a movie or show. The characters are unique, the plot is gripping, the tension is building, and then suddenly your worst subconscious fear comes true— It falls into a trope. NO! Where did…

Less than Friends, More than Rivals

I’ve spent the past three weeks unpacking the character foils found in the TV series The Last Kingdom, and I promise next week we’ll move on to something else. 🙂 But I couldn’t help spending one more post on perhaps the most central foil…

Saints and Prudes: what do they show us?

You probably don’t sit down to watch a show with the intent of analyzing and breaking down its elements. Most people don’t. And to be honest, I didn’t plan to when I first started The Last Kingdom, but by the time I finished season…

Wait… What did I just see?

Do you ever finish watching a series and then just need some time to mentally process everything? Four weeks after finishing Season 3 of “The Last Kingdom,” I am still formulating my opinions on the series as a whole. I will say that as…

What Makes the Cut?

We’ve all had that experience of watching one of our favorite books turned into a movie, and finding the movie version vastly disappointing. Hopefully you’ve also had the satisfaction of seeing a good film rendition of a favorite book, but it seems that experience…

Literary Osmosis

When you hang around people, you usually start to adopt their mannerisms, turns of phrase, and attitudes. Or at least, theirs begin to influence your own. I’ll let the social scientists give us the details on how that works, but it seems this principle…

Can You Hear the Story?

Let’s face it: whether you’re a reader, writer, or both, having the right background music can work wonders to get you and your imagination in the mood. A number of scientists, bloggers, and authors have studied the connection between what you listen to and…

Slavery in the Clans: an Over-dramatized Image?

I noticed when we arrived at the longhouse kitchen that there were some men tarrying around, eyeing the women at work. I happened to glance and see Clare stirring a pot that hung over a rod in the nearest fireplace. A tall young warrior…

It’s About Time!… Or is it?

“You don’t look like the rest,” Clare said, her eyes traveling over the scars on my skin. “I was a warrior,” I told her. “But I can tell you’re not from any clan at all.” She lowered her eyes and glanced at her sister…

Says Who?

Her name was Clare. She came on a dark day when my body was still sore from its latest beating two nights ago. They brought her into camp with her sister, both of them quiet and skittish. When I first saw her I could…

What makes it Timeless?

Meet The Exile “When the Scandinavian princess Clare finds herself and her sisters sold into slavery to the ruthless clans inhabiting the unsettled mainland, she meets Delta—a hardened slave girl with a history of her own. Although their morals and perspectives clash initially, each…

What? Why?

At this point, you might be wondering two things: What is the point of this blog? What’s up with the name? It’s really quite simple: I tell stories set in the past. Chances are, if you landed on this site, you are also either…

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