Life in Writing
Name: Beth McCue
Where are you from?
Merrick, New York originally.
Do you have a job other than writing?
I retired last April to write full-time.
Why do you write sci-fi and fantasy?
Sci-fi is what I most enjoy reading. I also love to read books on physics, astronomy and philosophy, but, I don’t have the background to write a non-fiction science book, so I stick to fiction. I try to incorporate a little philosophy in my writing as well. I would love to be able to write a truly funny book but I think that is the most difficult type of book to write.
What are you currently working on?
Marketing my novel. After that, I have several ideas for the next book including a time travel story involving Edgar Allan Poe, John Wilkes Booth and Marcel Proust; a sequel to Oceans Ending; and another involving a deadly virus which targets people with certain personality traits
When will your next book be released?
I would expect it to be towards the end of 2018.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I would have to say when I was maybe seven or eight. I decided to put out a “newspaper” for my neighborhood. It even had a comic strip I created myself. The first big story I wrote was about my neighbor, Robby, who had lost his glasses.
Where do you get your inspiration on what to write?
My ideas usually come up in conversation, either with my daughter or my husband. I am constantly reading something; a book; magazine; newspaper. I love New Scientist and the New York Review of Books.
What are some of your hobbies outside of writing?
I paint and I love to cook. I enjoy baking my own bread and topping it off with some butter I churned myself in my nifty little tabletop butter churn. My husband loves my homemade pizza!
What book are you currently reading?
House of Leaves and Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love Alice Hoffman, Octavia Butler, John Steinbeck, Douglas Adams, Tom Robbins, Hunter S. Thompson, Carl Hiaasen. There are many more but I don’t want to get carried away.
What do you do to market your books?
So far I have sent out press releases; started a Blog Talk radio show on which I read a chapter of my book each week; created a website for the book; created a Facebook page; joined Goodreads; added my book to Book Daily; sent review copies to a few places; added the information to my LinkedIn profile and other social media sites. I am working on putting together a book trailer which will go on YouTube and I plan on starting a blog when time permits.
Of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite, and why?
I have only written two so far. One is an illustrated fantasy for children, The Quest of the Crystal Steeds, and the other is Oceans Ending. I don’t have a favorite.
If any of your stories could be made into a movie, which would you choose?
I would love to see Oceans Ending made into a movie.
If you could be friends with a fictional character (Including any from your own stories) who would you choose?
Doc, from John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.
Does your taste in movies and shows line up with your taste in books? If they differ, how so?
It does. I love Mr. Robot, Stranger Things, Eureka, Humans. I also enjoy comedies like Monty Python and Silicon Valley.
Do you have a certain place that you like to do your writing? Does environment affect your work?
I have an office in my house where I do 99% of the physical writing. I can look out the window at the birds around the bird feeder and the woods behind the house. I write things in my head constantly. It sometimes makes it hard to carry on a normal conversation.
"The smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define you or destroy you." - Dominic Cobb
Thoughts are the most powerful things in this world. Every action good and bad began with a thought. Before Gandhi liberated India, he thought about it. Before Hitler invaded Poland, he thought about it. But it's not as cut and dry as that makes it seem. The thought that lead them to those actions were preceeded by many other thoughts. Gandhi likely had thoughts of wanting to help others long before he dreamed of liberating a nation. Likewise, Hitler likely filled himself with small thoughts of anger and greed long before he tried to conquer the world.
It's the small things, the little ideas, that lead to major choices. Just as Cobb says, "[they] can grow to define or destroy you." Gandhi was defined by his ideas just as Hitler was destroyed by his. Take the time to think about who you want to be, and how you want to be remembered.
Choose to think about the right things, and when the time comes, you'll be the person you want to be. make sure your ideas define you. Don't let them destroy you.
"It's not who I am underneath. It's what I do that defines me." - Batman
What Batman says here is true. That doesn't mean who you are underneath doesn't matter. Your thoughts and your dreams determine your actions. Truly becoming good starts with good intent, but don't make the mistake of thinking that good intent is enough.
Actions define us. Saying that we're still good underneath it all despite our bad choices is nothing more than a crutch. When it comes down to it, good people do good things, and bad people do bad things.
Batman is wise to have said this. It's worth taking stock of your life every once in a while to see where your actions rank. Are you doing good? Or are you doing bad? Be honest with yourself, and make the changes that you need to. Abandon your crutches, and do something good to define yourself.
I know that The Chronicles of Narnia really lays it on thick with the Christian symbolism and that can be off-putting to some people. But regardless of your religion it's easy to see the truth in this statement. People who act against what they feel is morally right will always be miserable. Everybody reading this has surly at some point in their lives done something that they didn't feel right about, and been miserable because of it. Taking a short-cut around the walls that your moral belief system sets up for you may get you what you want, but as Aslan points out, you may not like getting what you want if it's attained in a way that doesn't line up with your beliefs.
What Aslan is saying here is important. If you're unhappy in your life then take a moment to evaluate how well your actions are lining up with your moral compass. If you find that your actions aren't lining up, then make the effort to change them. We can all get what we want, but if we do it the wrong way, we're not going to like it.
Note: I would like to point out here, that not all unhappiness is because of wrong-doing, most is, but for many in this world depression is a very really thing that can bring about extreme sadness with no wrong-doing required. For those who suffer from depression, you may find this post more helpful.
Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or can't, you're right." In essence, that's more or less what Yoda is saying here. After making a failed attempt to lift his x-wing from the swamp, Luke gave up. Yoda did it easily, not because he was more powerful than Luke, but because he didn't doubt himself, he was able to do it.
How many times in our lives do we give up simply because we doubt ourselves, even when we're fully capable of succeeding? Don't quit out of fear. Believe in yourself, and succeed.
If you enjoyed this post, check out some of these other Star Wars Quotes
Nerd Wisdom from Chirut Imwe
Nerd Wisdom from Jyn Erso
Story structure can be tricky. There are so many parts of a story and each one accomplishes a different thing. Some are necessary, and some aren't. A Prologue is a common part of a story, that in reality isn't necessary most of the time. So when exactly should you use a prologue? Let's start with the basics.
What is a Prologue?
Simply put, a prologue is a small section at the start of a story that is only partially related to the rest of the story. It will generally feature a character who isn't involved in the rest of the story, and often dies at the end of the prologue.
So you may be asking yourself, if it's not even related to the rest of the story, and it doesn't introduce an important character, what's the point of even having one? Well that bring sus to our next point.
What's the Point of a Prologue?
A prologue is excellent at doing a few things. The first is establishing the setting of the story. This is extremely useful in the sci-fi and fantasy genres where the world is very different from our own. The prologue is a good place to let the reader know exactly what kind of world they'll be getting into, and introducing them to a few of the fantastic elements that will be present.
The next purpose of a prologue is to make promises to your reader. Do you have a story with a lot of action, but a slow begining? Many fantasy stories start this way, with the poor farmer boy destined to become a hero, many sci-fi stories start this way as well. If a reader hoping for an action story and jumps right into the tale of a poor farmer boy, they're going to give up on the book long before they reach an action sequence. This can be solved by an action packed prologue. A prologue packed with action tells your reader immediately that there will be action in this book, so it's worth investing in the poor farm boy. If your story starts slow, as many do, then a prologue may be the very best thing you can include.
A Word of Caution
Prologues aren't for every story. If you don't have a very specific reason for including a prologue then you absolutely should not include one. Think carefully about what your story needs before you write out your prologue, it could be the very best or the very worst thing that can happen to your story.
If you found this post helpful, check out a few other writing tips:
Writing With Flow
4 Words to Cut Out While Editing
Basics of Plotting a Storyline
Or you can browse through our other writing tips here.
Daniel M. Quilter is the author of A Soul Divided. On this blog he'll interview other authors, review books, share nerd wisdom from popular sci-fi and fantasy, and occasionally share his insights on writing. See a list of his works or see what he's working on.
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