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One Week Left to Earn a Free Review Copy of My Short Story Book! + Guest Posts Still Wanted!

Hello, dear readers! I’m back with another weekly notice for you all! Seems even after two weeks since announcing my upcoming blog relaunch, I still can’t go a week without blogging! Don’t worry, though, I promise this will be brief! So on to the announcements!

One Week Left to Send Beta Reader Feedback for a Free Review Copy of My Book!

First, this is a friendly reminder about my notice from last week regarding my final call for beta reader feedback. There’s still time to earn a free review copy of my upcoming book featuring short stories about dragons!

Continue reading below for a brief refresher, or go ahead and sign up for my beta readers’ list now!

To earn your free review copy of my book:

  1. Sign up for my beta reader list here or through the form above. Remember to confirm your email!
  2. Read the short stories you’ll receive in the welcome email. A brief synopsis of each story can be found here.
  3. Send your feedback on at least one story by following the instructions in the email. Feedback on all three stories would be great, but if you don’t have the time, just one or two is enough. 😉

After I receive your feedback, I will add you to my pre-launch list—regardless of whether your feedback is positive or negative, promise! When my book is ready to be launched on Kindle, you will receive a free copy in your email!

If you’ve already sent me feedback on at least one of my stories, don’t worry about having to send it again. You’re already on my pre-launch list! Thank you! 🙂

If you haven’t sent me your notes yet, the deadline to submit your feedback and earn your free book is Wednesday, April 25, 11:59 pm PDT. Sign up today and earn yours!

Guest Posts Still Wanted!

In case you missed it, my call for guest posts to promote my blog relaunch is still open!

If you’re interested in submitting a guest post, read the guidelines first, then sign up for my list below!

Join My Blog Relaunch Street Team!

You should receive a welcome email plus another email in a few days with instructions on how to pitch me your guest post.

Thank you to everyone who’s signed up to help me make my book launch and blog relaunch a success! You’re all awesome!

Talk to you again soon! Until then, happy reading/writing!

Earn a Free Review Copy of My Short Story Ebook! + Blog Relaunch Guest Posts Still Wanted!

Hello, dear readers! How have you been? It’s been one week since I announced my upcoming blog relaunch, and I admit it already feels strange to not be blogging three times a week anymore. Still, I will have the occasional weekly notice until my new blog is up and running, and that includes today!

So without further ado, here are a couple of announcements for this week!

Submit Feedback on My Short Stories for a Free Review Copy of My Book!

First, while I’m already editing my dragon short stories for the final draft of my book, I’m still welcoming comments from beta readers to help me make them better. However, I can’t stay in the editing phase forever, which is why I’m now sending out a last call for feedback.

Send me your notes on my stories within the next two weeks and I’ll send you a free review copy of my book before I launch it on Kindle!

To earn your free review copy of my book:

  1. Sign up for my beta reader list here or through the form below. Remember to confirm your email!
  2. Read the short stories you’ll receive in the welcome email. A brief synopsis of each story can be found here.
  3. Send your feedback on at least one story by following the instructions in the email. Feedback on all three stories would be ideal, but if you don’t have the time, just one or two is enough. 😉

After I receive your feedback, I will add you to my pre-launch list—regardless of whether your feedback is positive or negative, promise! When my book is ready to be launched on Kindle, you will receive a free copy in your email!

If you’ve already sent me feedback on at least one of my stories, don’t worry about having to send it again. You’re already on the pre-launch list! Thank you! 🙂

If you haven’t sent me your notes yet, the deadline to submit your feedback and earn your free book is Wednesday, April 25, 11:59 pm PDT. Sign up today and earn yours!

Guest Posts Still Wanted!

Second, this is a brief reminder that my call for guest posts to promote my blog relaunch is still open!

For more information on the update, be sure to check out the original post here.

If you’re interested in submitting a guest post, read the guidelines first, then sign up for my list below!

Join My Blog Relaunch Street Team!

You should receive a welcome email plus another email in a few days with instructions on how to pitch me your guest post.

Thank you to everyone who’s signed up to help me make my book launch and blog relaunch a success! You’re all awesome!

Talk to you again soon! Until then, happy reading/writing!

Blogging Break + Blog Relaunch Coming Soon! + Guest Posts Wanted!

Dear beloved readers,

Hi! First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post. What I’m about to say is kind of a big deal for me, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a big deal for you, so the fact that you’re setting aside this time means a lot to me. Thanks!

So this week marks a special occasion for me because it’s the fifth anniversary of when I started blogging! Yay! On that positive note, there are two announcements I’d like to make…

Blog Relaunch Coming Soon!

First, this post is an announcement that some major changes are coming to my website and online presence… eventually! Hooray!

Those of you who follow my blog know that I post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as I have been for the past five years.

Well, the changes I’m planning to make will involve a lot of work on the backend, which means I’ll have to take a break from blogging for a while. When I return, expect a major blog update, complete with my new author name!

Now don’t get too excited: these big changes won’t be coming for several weeks at least. In fact, the earliest time to reasonably expect an official relaunch is June, but it could just as easily be a whole year away. In the meantime, I still plan to share updates on my current WIP featuring my dragon short stories.

So why am I telling you all this now?

Limited Time: Guest Posts Wanted!

I will be the first to admit that I haven’t exactly been the most selfless blogger on WordPress. My bad. That’s one of the many things I’d like to change following this update.

This brings me to the real point of this post. After all is said and done, I’ll need some help broadcasting my blog relaunch. What’s the fun of moving house if no one shows up to your housewarming party, right?

Simple links and shares on your blogs and social media pages will be much appreciated, of course. But while that would be very generous of you, I understand that most writers prefer a quid-pro-quo setup. That’s why for the first time ever, I’ll be temporarily opening my blog to guest posts!

Awesome! Where do I sign up?

If you think this is something you’d be interested in, be sure to take a look at my guest post guidelines for this relaunch before signing up below.

If you’re interested in hearing about my blog relaunch and/or want to submit a guest post in the future to help me promote the update, go ahead and sign up for my mailing list! (You should receive a welcome email after you sign up.)

Join My Blog Relaunch Street Team!

It’s important that you subscribe here because aside from still being several weeks away, the relaunch will involve a domain name and hosting change, and if anything goes wrong during the migration (*knock on wood*), email will be the best way for me to keep you in the loop.

Disclaimer: This is a temporary mailing list that will only be used to contact you about promotional help and guest post opportunities related to my blog relaunch. After the update, you’ll be given the option to stay on my main list or unsubscribe. If you choose to stay, you’ll continue to receive emails from me about my published books and other updates on my work. I will never send you spam. You can unsubscribe at any time (no hard feelings, promise).

If you choose to sign up, thank you so much for your help! It seriously means the world to me!

Even if you don’t join my list, you can still help me get the word out about my upcoming relaunch and call for guest posts today! Please feel free to share this post on your blog and social media channels! Many thanks!

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, thank you for your time and attention!

And to all of you who have been reading my blog for years, thank you so much for letting me share my writing with you! I hope to connect with you again soon!

Until then, bless you all!

Love,
JC Wolfe

Update on the Dragon Story Experiment: More Beta Reader Feedback + Final Draft in Progress

It’s been another month since my last update on my dragon stories! Last time, I shared some of the feedback I’d received from beta readers on my first two stories while the last one had yet to be edited and sent out. After sending out all three stories and receiving more feedback from readers, here’s another quick update on my project and where I plan to go from here!

Beta Reader Feedback

So far, all three of my stories have been very well received! Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re perfect, and my beta readers certainly had some great notes to share over the past several weeks!

Based on their feedback, it seems a couple of my biggest weaknesses in writing are passive voice and awkward sentences. This isn’t really a surprise; I’ve caught myself favoring passive voice over active voice more times than I’d care to admit, and even I find some of my own sentences awkward after a few rounds of editing. Despite everything I’ve learned about writing, I still have a handful of bad habits to break!

One thing that did surprise me was someone’s comment that the action in “Defender” was written very well. Action scenes have long been one of the areas I’ve felt least confident in, so hearing that my extra effort paid off definitely put a spring in my step that day! I was also surprised to hear that “Beastly Pains” is very reminiscent of the fable of “The Lion and the Mouse” (not that this is a bad thing, I just hadn’t realized it), and that “The Silver Queen” made one of my readers cry!

Overall, although there have been a couple of comments here and there that were hard to hear, I’m extremely grateful to the readers who have taken the time to read my stories and give feedback. Every comment, both positive and negative, helps me become a better writer!

Final Edits + Publication

Although my stories are technically still open for feedback from beta readers, I’m already getting started on the final drafts. Once those are done, I plan to assemble them into a single ebook and publish it on Kindle!

Now before you say anything, I know this sounds a little crazy. What am I thinking publishing these stories without giving them to an editor first?

Well, as I’ve hinted at before, this isn’t so much a true self-publishing venture as it is an experiment. I’m planning to use these stories to test certain aspects of self-publishing and see how readers respond to my writing so I can learn from the experience. I promise I have no intention of publishing my future “real” books without handing them over to a professional editor first! That would be insane!

The main reason I’m okay with putting this book out there in such a raw state is that I’m going to be rebranding myself as an author soon. This will be the only book I publish under my current name; after my upcoming blog relaunch, I’ll be focusing on a fresh series of stories to properly self-publish under my new author name, hopefully with a little more wisdom about the process!

What blog relaunch and new author name, you ask? You’ll have to wait until next week to learn more. 😉

Thanks again to all my beta readers for your feedback! If you’re not one of my beta readers yet but would like to be, you still have time to sign up for my mailing list! Once my final drafts are nearly ready, I’ll be closing my list, so be sure to sign up soon!

3 Pieces of Advice No Writer Should Ever Forget

Writing is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be extremely challenging. Every artist is unique and every writer has their reasons for wanting to write, yet there are some pieces of advice that hold true for all creative spirits. Whenever you find yourself at a low point, reminding yourself of this advice may be the motivation you need to get back to writing!

So for those of you who so nobly chose to be writers, here are three pieces of advice you should never forget. Enjoy, and stay motivated!

1) Writing isn’t always easy, but you should do it anyway.

I hate writing. I love having written. – Dorothy Parker / every writer ever

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: writing is the hardest thing ever! Not always, but enough of the time to disillusion the most resilient of idealists.

Writing has its ups and downs. Sometimes inspiration strikes and you stay up until 3 a.m. finishing your latest chapter. Other times you get stuck or work for days straight only to have to throw all those pages out by the final draft. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy!

And yet you keep writing anyway. Why? Because deep down you know that even at its worst, writing is worth doing. It’s liberating. It exercises your imagination. It’s one of the greatest ways to express yourself. And you just love it. As much as you hate it sometimes, you love it. And if you can turn that passion into something beautiful? Well, congratulations: you’re a true writer!

Why do you write? Only you can answer that question for yourself. But whatever the reason you became a writer, it matters. So make it count.

2) The first audience you should ever try to please is yourself.

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. – Cyril Connolly

This may seem obvious, but at some point in the writing process, many writers fall into the trap of people-pleasing. Will my friends and family like this? Will my editor like this? Will my target audience like this? What if nobody likes it? Maybe I should change it.

Yes, writing with an audience in mind is important: we want readers to love our work so we can sell more books and be successful. The trick is finding the overlap between what people want to read and what you want to write.

Maybe you want to capitalize on the latest trends in fiction or adjust your style to appeal to a wider audience. But if you try to write an edgy dystopian sci-fi novel when you only like writing Christian historical romance, the quality of your work will suffer. Readers can tell when your heart isn’t in it.

Whenever you sit down to write something new, make sure it’s a story you want to tell. Otherwise you’ll end up with a book that you didn’t want to write and that no one wants to read—nobody wins. Write for yourself first, worry about everyone else later.

3) It doesn’t matter if it’s been done before; if it’s never been done by you, go for it!

There is no one alive who is Youer than You. – Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!

Human beings are funny creatures. We encourage individuality and freedom of expression, yet we do everything in our power to fit in with everyone else just so we can be accepted by our peers.

As much as art thrives on individuality, writers suffer from this conflict too. We want to stand out, but we can’t be too different or no one will read our books. As a result, many of us find ourselves caught in the dilemma of wanting to tell a story but worrying that “it’s been done before.”

But here’s the truth: it’s not so much about the story you tell as it is about how you tell it.

Think about it: if Shakespeare already wrote the quintessential story of forbidden love with Romeo & Juliet, then how did West Side Story win so many awards? If anyone can just read a history book or a Wikipedia article, then why is it virtually impossible to get tickets to see Hamilton? Why do people continue to write novels and make movies when every work of fiction can be boiled down to one of seven basic plots?

Simple: the story may be the same at its core, but the way it’s told makes it different and interesting. In other words, it’s your voice that will make your story unique.

The fact is that every story told since the Age of Antiquity has already been done. What matters is that it’s never been done by you. No one else has your voice, so don’t be afraid to let the world hear it.

What advice about writing do you find most helpful? What other pieces of advice would you add to this list?

Five More Awesome Female Video Game Characters

Last week, I celebrated International Women’s Day by sharing a list of five awesome female protagonists in video games, characters who lead their games with the strength and style that make us gamer girls proud. Now I’d like to acknowledge five more female characters in video games who are just as amazing, even if they’re not the main characters of their games. Badass women come in many forms and character roles!

So continuing from last week’s theme, here are five more awesome female video game characters! Enjoy!

1) Princess Zelda (The Legend of Zelda series)

Link… You may not be at a point where you have fully recovered your power or all of your memories, but courage need not be remembered, for it is never forgotten. – Zelda before the final boss battle in Breath of the Wild

After Lara Croft and Samus Aran, Princess Zelda may be one of the most famous female video game characters of all time. Since the release of the first The Legend of Zelda in 1986, both Zelda and Link have undergone various incarnations, though a few traits remain the same across all games in the series: while Link is always a brave hero, Zelda is always a kind and wise ruler.

Though it’s easy to dismiss her as yet another princess akin to Mario’s damsels in distress, Princess Zelda has a lot more going for her than a pretty face. The mortal incarnation of the goddess Hylia, every Zelda is extremely benevolent and wields the Triforce of Wisdom, making her wise beyond her years and a highly capable leader of Hyrule. In fact, the reason she even needs rescuing in the first place is usually that she willingly sacrificed herself to protect her people, a selfless act that takes immeasurable strength. As Zelda clearly demonstrates, kindness is not weakness.

Of course, the beloved princess of Hyrule is not completely defenseless. Several of her incarnations have magical abilities that she often uses to seal away evil and help Link defeat Ganon. She also shows great intellectual prowess in Breath of the Wild, as several of Link’s memories of her reveal she was a curious and devoted scholar. Link may be the player character of the series, but there’s a good reason the games are named after Zelda!

2) Undyne (Undertale)

For the sake of the whole world… I, UNDYNE, will strike you down! You’re gonna have to try a little harder than THAT. – Undyne in the Genocide Route

Heck yeah, I’m Undertrash! Released by Toby Fox in 2015, the indie RPG Undertale took the world by storm for its unique take on video game violence and morality: the only way to “win” the game is by not killing anyone!

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, some characters make this harder than it seems, and the most notorious of all is the Captain of the Royal Guard, Undyne.

About halfway through the game, players are forced into a battle against this super-powerful fish monster, who by now has chased your human player character across a sizable stretch of the monster world. From this point on, it becomes clear that Undyne values justice and honor above all else: she offers you a spear for self-defense to make the battle fair, she lets you go when she no longer sees you as a threat, and she later admits that she was conflicted about fighting an innocent human but chose to do so for the greater good of all monsterkind. Heroes have to make tough choices!

Lucky for us that Undyne turns out to be so cool, because with her incredible fighting skills and sheer determination, she could easily kill us if she really wanted to. No wonder all the monster children look up to her!

3) GLaDOS (Portal)

Okay, look, we both said a lot of things that you’re going to regret. But I think we can put our differences behind us. For science. You monster. – GLaDOS after your “reunion”

Sing it with me! “This was a triumph…”

Okay, maybe the whole “The Cake is a Lie” meme has been overplayed, but GLaDOS is still one of my favorite video game villains ever. When a supercomputer is out to kill you, you at least want her to have a sense of humor about it!

The original Portal is very simplistic in its design: you play as a test subject named Chell navigating an empty lab with nothing but a portal gun and the voice of the AI GLaDOS to guide you. The game starts out as a series of fun puzzles as you progress through the test chambers, but takes a dark turn when GLaDOS’s true colors come to light—unless, you know, lowering test subjects into an incinerator was standard practice for Aperture Laboratories.

Despite her obvious psychopathy, GLaDOS has achieved fame as one of the most popular video game villains ever created. Her dry wit and sarcasm make for some hilarious one-liners, and the fact that she’s the only other character in the game besides the silent human protagonist amplifies her passive-aggressive nature to fill the entire game. She also seems to have a genuine interest in science and even shows some signs of admiration and affection for Chell by the end of Portal 2. To say their relationship is complicated is a bit of an understatement.

Thanks to the lovable personality behind her murderous tendencies, it’s only too easy to get attached to this sassy robotic serial killer. Indeed, the final encounter with GLaDOS is considered one of the hardest boss battles in video game history—not because it’s technically difficult, but because players are very conflicted about killing her, myself included. Can you say Stockholm syndrome?

4) Tracer (Overwatch)

Cheers, love! The cavalry’s here! – Tracer’s “character selection” catchphrase

Overwatch is so popular that even if you’ve never played the game yourself, you’ve almost definitely seen this character before. Though she’s part of a diverse cast of characters, each of whom is awesome in their own right, it’s easy to see why Tracer is the face of the game. Cheerful and badass make a lovable combination!

Born Lena Oxton, Tracer’s backstory reveals she was the youngest pilot in Overwatch’s experimental flight program. After an accident left her desynchronized from the flow of time, she was anchored back in the present by Winston’s chronal accelerator, which gave her the ability to speed up or slow down her own time at will. Talk about a cool superpower!

Even after Overwatch’s dissolution, Tracer continues to be a hero and fight for justice everywhere she goes. She is fearless and determined while always remaining positive and energetic. And to top it all off, she has a girlfriend, making her a strong role model for the LGBTQ community! Tracer represents a lot of different character types, but most notably of all, she represents the optimistic hero any one of us can be!

5) Ms. Pac-Man (Ms. Pac-Man)

Okay, so this entry is more about the game than the character, but I still think it’s a noteworthy addition to the list. Samus Aran may have been the first female protagonist in a mainstream console video game, but Ms. Pac-Man was the first female video game protagonist ever!

Following the success of Pac-Man, Midway Games produced their own version of the Namco smash hit in 1982, which featured a female protagonist, new mazes, and several gameplay improvements. The result was Ms. Pac-Man, an even more challenging and entertaining version of Pac-Man that became the most successful American-produced arcade game of its year.

While Ms. Pac-Man may not have been the game to draw large numbers of women to the arcade scene, it was a tribute to all the female gamers who helped make the original Pac-Man such a success. If anything, Ms. Pac-Man brought more recognition to female players in what was often perceived as a male hobby; after Pac-Man, the most popular arcade games among women were Berzerk and Space Invaders, but Ms. Pac-Man was the first game that unapologetically catered to a female audience and pushed gaming a little closer to a gender-neutral future.

To be fair, Toru Iwatani intended for Pac-Man to be asexual so as to appeal to men and women equally; it was only after the release of Ms. Pac-Man that players were forced to think of the original character as male, which has sparked some controversy around the newer character. Still, the fact that Ms. Pac-Man was the first unequivocally female character in a video game was groundbreaking, and her game remains one of the most popular arcade games of all time. Say what you will about her character design, but Ms. Pac-Man marked a significant step forward for gamer girls everywhere!

Who are your favorite female video game characters? What other characters would you add to this list?

Five Awesome Female Video Game Protagonists

International Women’s Day is this week, a time to celebrate women and all the awesomeness we bring to the world! Last year, I wrote a series of blog posts about awesome female characters in fiction, most of which focused on Disney princesses and heroines. So this year, I figured it would be fun to continue that series into the theme of video games!

So to celebrate Women’s Day, here are five awesome female protagonists in video games! Enjoy!

1) Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)

I would have wanted her to be curious. And willful—unstoppable, even. But with enough compassion to heal the world. Just a little bit. – Dr. Elisabet Sobeck

Shortly after its release in February 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn quickly became one of PlayStation’s best-selling games of all time. And with good reason: it’s amazing! This masterpiece by Guerrilla Games boasts everything from a compelling story to an engaging open world to awesome gameplay, but the greatest feature at the heart of the game is undoubtedly its player character, Aloy.

An outcast since birth in a post-post-apocalyptic world, Aloy has been determined to find out where she came from for as long as she can remember. The game introduces her character as a child, and by the time she becomes the young woman we were shown in the E3 trailers, we’re already fully on board with her quest for answers.

Aloy turns out to be an important piece to the puzzle of what happened to the world, so it’s no secret that her story eventually shifts from a personal journey to a quest to save humanity. Fortunately, the game’s excellent pacing keeps us thoroughly engaged with her character as we guide her toward the answers she so desperately wants. We come to love Aloy as much for her strength and determination as for her intelligence and compassion, until her triumphs are every bit as emotionally satisfying for us as they are for her.

Rarely has a game ever pulled me in as deeply as Horizon Zero Dawn has, and I know beyond a doubt that Aloy’s character is to thank for that. With such a strong spirit and a big heart to match, it’s no wonder she’s now one of my favorite video game characters of all time!

2) Ellie (The Last of Us)

Everyone I have cared for has either died or left me. Everyone… f***ing except for you! So don’t tell me that I would be safer with someone else, because the truth is I would just be more scared. – Ellie to Joel after he tries to leave her with Tommy

If you’ve played through the prologue of The Last of Us without crying, then congratulations: you officially have no soul.

Among the many factors that have earned this game over 200 Game of the Year awards, The Last of Us has been praised for its fantastic story, which follows the journey of middle-aged Joel and 14-year-old Ellie across a post-apocalyptic North America.

While the opening quest that reveals Joel’s backstory is tragic, most of the emotional weight of the game lies in his growing relationship with Ellie. What starts as an escort mission soon becomes a bereaved father coming to see this brave young girl as a daughter. Ellie, in turn, comes to see Joel as a father figure, and by the time they reach their destination at the end of the game, their bond has become unbreakable.

Though Joel is the main player character of the game, Ellie is an equally interesting character to whom we can’t help but become emotionally attached as we play through the story. Time and again, she proves herself courageous, clever, and resourceful. Her tenacity and attachment to Joel are most evident in the Winter act of the story, the only part of the game when we play as her and experience firsthand how mentally and emotionally strong she is as she struggles to save his life. She may be a teenager, but Ellie is nothing if not a true survivor!

3) Samus Aran (Metroid series)

But among the stars, there is one light that burns brighter than all others. The light of Samus Aran. Her battles extend beyond her life, and etch themselves into history. – Metroid Prime intro

You can’t write a list of noteworthy female video game characters without including Samus Aran! If you only know one thing about the Metroid series, it’s probably the reveal at the end of the original game that the super-powerful player character hidden in the power suit was a woman all along. Talk about a jaw-dropping moment!

Video games have come a long way since the androcentric ’80s when this twist was a big deal, but Samus is still revered as the first female protagonist in a mainstream video game, paving the way for the rest of the characters on this list and many more.

Throughout most of the Metroid series, this galactic bounty hunter is typically portrayed as powerful, brave, and tenacious, with a wide array of abilities and enough skill with them to defend the galaxy from the Space Pirates mostly by herself. Controversy and recent revelations about her character aside, there’s no doubt that Samus is one badass lady!

4) Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)

A famous explorer once said that the extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are. I’d finally set out to make my mark, to find adventure. But instead, adventure found me. – Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (2013)

With a new Tomb Raider movie coming to theaters next week, it only makes sense to include this character on the list! Mention female video game characters and Lara Croft is one of the first names to come to mind. It’s no surprise, really; when you’ve been portrayed in a film by none other than Angelina Jolie, you know you’ve hit iconic status!

Admittedly, Croft has been a subject of controversy since the first Tomb Raider‘s release in 1996. She’s been described as a tabula rasa-type character in earlier games and even a negative role model for girls due to her widespread status as a sex symbol in the video game community. However, she does deserve some praise for being an archeologist/adventurer, a line of work that requires a great amount of independence, intelligence, courage, and resourcefulness, all of which she has in spades!

Sure, Lara Croft’s adventurous spirit may not be the reason young boys have hung posters of her in their bedrooms for years, but it is one reason she shouldn’t be written off as just another over-sexualized female video game character with zero personality (God knows there are too many of those as it is). Hopefully the upcoming Tomb Raider film will do this awesome character justice!

5) Red (Transistor)

Look, whatever you’re thinking, do me a favor: don’t let go. – The Transistor to Red

I’ll be honest: Transistor is one of the few video games that have ever made me cry. And not just a few tears, either; I’m talking waterfalls. Supergiant Games are masters of emotional storytelling.

Set in a futuristic city called Cloudbank, Transistor follows a singer named Red on her quest for revenge against the people who stole her voice and killed her lover. Armed with the Transistor—the giant sword-like weapon with which she was almost assassinated and which now contains the consciousness of her fallen lover (it makes sense in context)—Red fights her way through a robotic army known as the Process. As we guide this mute singer through the city, we uncover details about the world and her backstory in the files she collects in the Transistor. We also get to watch her kick some serious butt after setting up an attack sequence for her in the Turn() function. Awesome!

As the story unfolds, we learn that Red was a highly influential figure in Cloudbank, her music being powerful enough to stir controversy and even trigger altercations at her shows. In the present, she proves to be as strong-willed as her voice was intoxicating, ignoring the Transistor’s initial pleas for her to escape the city and fearlessly charging into battle against the Process to avenge him and uncover her attackers’ mysterious motives.

What’s especially interesting about Red is that, unlike the other characters on this list, she wasn’t trained in combat or raised in a hostile environment that left her hardened and cynical. She was a successful artist who had the two most important things in her life taken from her. The fact that she chooses to face her enemies, despite the odds being stacked against her, instead of hide in a corner and cry speaks volumes about her strength of character. You don’t have to be a soldier to know that love is worth fighting for!

What are your thoughts on these female video game protagonists? Any others you would add to this list?

Beta Reader Feedback: Update on the Dragon Story Experiment

It’s been a month since I called for beta readers for my short stories about dragons. (Calls are still open, by the way! If you’re interested, check out my original post here.)

After sharing what my self-publishing experiment is all about, now is a good time for an update on my stories and the feedback I’ve received from beta readers so far! So how have my stories been faring?

Short Story #1: “Defender”

The first story I lined up for my beta readers is “Defender”, a story about a battle between a dragon and a knight as told from the dragon’s point of view. This one is the most recent of the three; I first published this story on my blog in January 2017. It started as a simple 1000-word story, but after expanding on the action during editing, it doubled in length to 2000 words!

Of my three dragon stories, this one may be my favorite. The feedback on this story has been overwhelmingly positive so far! Obviously, the exclusively positive comments have come from family and friends, but I did receive some constructive feedback from a couple of readers, which was great! I’ll definitely be sure to consider their notes for the final edit!

Short Story #2: “Beastly Pains”

My second story is “Beastly Pains”, a story about a boy who is cornered by a dragon and has to negotiate his way out of being eaten. This one is the oldest of my three stories; I first shared it in a writing community in early 2014. It started at about 2000 words long, but after editing, it grew to around 2200 words.

This one took me over a week longer than I expected to edit, mostly because my writing has greatly improved over the last few years, so there was a lot to delete and change! I sent it out to my beta readers at the end of last week, so I’ve only received constructive feedback from one reader so far (again, family and friends don’t count). Her notes were very helpful and I look forward to using them to improve the final draft of the story!

Short Story #3: “The Silver Queen”

My third story is “The Silver Queen”, a story about an outcast dragon looking for a way to fit in. I’m particularly proud of this story because it won an honorable mention in a short story contest back in 2014. It’s currently sitting at about 2000 words but may end up slightly longer in the final beta draft.

I’m still editing this one (thanks to the delay with “Beastly Pains”), so I haven’t yet sent it out to my beta readers. Though I have no feedback to report right now, I am confident it will be well received, if for no other reason than I was definitely inspired when I wrote it! I plan to send it out within the next week. Hopefully my beta readers will like it!

To those of you who have been beta reading my stories this month, thank you so much for your time and feedback! You’re awesome!

Not my beta reader yet but interested in being one? Sign up for my beta readers’ list!

10 Signs Your Dad is the Biggest Supporter of Your Writing Career

Support comes in many forms and from many different people, but one of the few people you can count on to always support you is your father. A while back, I shared ten reasons that your mom is your biggest fan. Now that a special occasion has come up for that other awesome parent in my life, today I’d like to share ten signs that your dad is just as big of an influence on your career as a writer!

So for your consideration, here are ten signs your dad is the (other) biggest supporter of your writing career. Thanks for all your support, Dad!

1) He’s your number one patron – Since my earliest days of writing, my dad has been extremely generous in supporting my dreams, especially financially. He even bought me my domain and hosting when I started blogging! I wouldn’t consider myself a “starving artist” now, but having such a great patron in the beginning was a huge help in kickstarting my career as a writer!

2) He insists on giving you writing advice you didn’t ask for – My dad loves giving me tips on how to find success with writing, which I find both frustrating and hilarious because he’s not a writer. Not all of his advice is gold—like “Save money by editing your own books”—but I still appreciate the thought!

3) He’s always referring you to courses and writing resources to help you improve your writing – I couldn’t tell you for sure how many books and courses my dad has recommended to help me become a better writer, but I can say many of them have proven quite useful for improving my skills!

4) He can’t stand to see you waste any of your God-given talent – My dad always hated seeing me “doing nothing” when I could have been writing stories that would someday turn into bestselling novels. The fact that I was still a child and that much of that “nothing” involved brainstorming book ideas were not viable excuses; any time not spent writing was time wasted!

5) He wants to read every one of your stories and articles – Sure, he may be a busy man, but your dad will still try to find the time to read anything you write. His inbox may be flooded with unopened emails about your newest blog posts and book promotions, but at least his heart is in the right place!

6) He buys a copy of every single one of your books (even if he’ll never have time to read them all) – Of course you’re willing to give your dad free copies of all your books, but he knows that one of the best ways to support you is by paying for them. Happy thoughts and positive feedback won’t help you make rent!

7) He’s a terrible beta reader – But in his defense, how can he point out what’s wrong with your stories when he thinks every word you write is perfect?

8) He gets mad when anyone criticizes your writing – All writers face criticism and rejection, but while you have to learn to deal with it, that doesn’t mean your dad does. Expect him to get angry any time someone dares to reject your manuscript or leave you a one-star review on Amazon!

9) He’s the first to tell you to pick yourself up and get back to writing – Lack of inspiration and stretches of low self-confidence are normal for writers, but your dad doesn’t care what excuses you have. No author ever became successful by sitting around not writing!

10) No matter what, he’ll always see you as a successful author! – Impressive book sales and dozens of positive reviews are great, but even if your numbers are low, your dad is still proud that you’ve made your dream of being a published author come true! You know he’ll always be one of your biggest fans!

Is your father your biggest fan? How many of these signs fit him? What other signs would you add to this list?

Today’s post is dedicated to my father, whose love and support have always kept me going on my writing journey. Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!

What I’ve Learned about Romance After 8 Years of Being in Love

Happy Valentine’s Day! February is the official month of love, so what better time of the year for writers to think about romance? Love is one of my favorite themes, and when I think about the best romantic stories I’ve ever written, I often find hints of the real romance I’ve been living with my boyfriend over the last eight years. I’ve learned many lessons about love in my personal life, and I like to think they’ve made me both a better writer and a better person!

So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are three lessons I learned from being in love that have served as inspiration for my romantic fiction. I hope they’ll inspire you too! Enjoy!

1) The greatest romance is with your best friend.

I know some guys still have a hard time believing this, so let me clear something up right now: there is no such thing as the “friend zone”! Trust me: this is coming from a woman who’s never dated a guy she didn’t consider a friend first. Just saying.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you should always establish a friendship with someone before you start dating them. I’m just saying that when you do fall in love, it should be with someone you consider a true companion: someone who makes you laugh, who makes you feel safe, and who will always be there for you no matter what.

In other words, your best friend.

Me when my boyfriend is playing PC games while I’m writing
Illustration from the comic “Soppy” by Philippa Rice

I had the good fortune of falling in love with a man I already loved and trusted as a friend. This took a lot of pressure off the beginning of our relationship, and it’s only gotten better ever since! It’s no wonder so many of my fictional couples start out as close friends; it’s worked out so well in my real life!

2) True love isn’t in extravagant gifts and declarations; it’s in everyday words and gestures.

Any woman who grew up watching Disney princess movies from the 20th century probably reached adulthood with unrealistic expectations of men. After all, Disney princes are valiant heroes who give magic kisses and go to incredible lengths to rescue the women they love. Real-life guys can hardly compare, right?

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my current relationship, it’s that the so-called true love in fairy tales is very different from true love in real life.

Love is in the little things
Illustrations by Puuung

I know beyond a doubt that my boyfriend loves me, but not because he showers me with gifts or writes me poetry that would rival Shakespeare’s. I can see it in the little things: the way he looks at me, the way he smiles at the sight of me when he comes home from work, the way he tells me I’m beautiful even when I’m wearing sweats and my hair is a mess, the way he knows exactly what to say or do to make me laugh.

In turn, I do my best to show him how much I love him in the same way: I compliment him every day, I constantly remind him how proud of him I am, and I do whatever I can to cheer him up when he has a bad day. Love is a two-way street!

Drawing inspiration from personal experience, I often add the same details to the relationships between my characters. True love means making each other happy, and in the long run, isn’t that much easier with small everyday gestures than with grand declarations of love?

3) You deserve someone who loves you just the way you are.

There are too many stories out there about girls who change everything about themselves just to please their guys, like Twilight or Grease or The Little Mermaid. Personally, I prefer the kind of story where the guy falls for the girl because she’s already everything he needs and vice versa.

The Difference between Love and Lust
Illustration by Karina Farek for CollegeHumor

I like to think my boyfriend and I found each other at the right time in our lives. I was in college and constantly feeling lonely and frustrated because I couldn’t seem to fit in with my classmates, while he wasn’t exactly at the highest point in his life either.

The initial connection we had and the relationship that followed have since found their way into some of the best romantic stories I’ve ever written. My favorite of these was about two young people who, despite being fine enough on their own, completed each other and made each other stronger. I didn’t have to look far for the inspiration behind that one!

There’s no better feeling than having someone who always supports your dreams and loves you just the way you are (besides your parents, of course). So if you love writing about love, I highly recommend experiencing it yourself. With a true romance in your life, you’ll never run out of inspiration!

What about you? What lessons have you learned about love in your lifetime? How have they inspired your writing?

About J.C. Wolfe

J.C. Wolfe is a fiction writer, biologist, and aspiring novelist of science fantasy and romance. A natural-born American and graduate in Marine Ecology from a university in Brazil, J.C. now writes for a living in California while spending free time blogging and penning stories and poetry.

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