Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Writing an Awesome Novel; The Book Writing Basics

Hey Guys!
Since there are so many creative people in the world,  a large percentage of people at some point in their lifetime think about writing a fiction novel, and since I happen to be the world’s youngest fantasy novelist, I figured I would make this week's post on novel writing.
Now unfortunately, of that large percentage of people who want to write books, only a small percentage of them ever do, and only a fraction of a percent ever publish and see success.  If you want to become one of those small percent, keep reading.
The first part of writing an excellent novel comes from inspiration.  Inspiration can strike at any moment.  I’ve had book ideas in the middle of class, while walking in the woods, while sitting in the living room, and even while writing other books.  Keep yourself in a mindset which is open to creative ideas at all times because you never know where inspiration will strike.
Once you have your initial idea, build it from the ground up, think about the sequence of major events throughout the book.  Most of the time, I have the ending of my novel in my mind before I ever even write anything down!  While building up the idea, think about all of your main characters; what do they look like? What kind of personality do they have?  Think, also, about your main villain.  What is his/her goal? How do the main characters plan to stop him from fulfilling that goal?  What are the motives of the heroes? What about the villain?
It’s not a bad idea to use some sort of mind-mapping at this point so you don’t forget your ideas.  Some people have more organized ways of doing it, but I usually just get a piece of paper and write down different sections; “Plot Overview,” “Setting” “Characters” and “Elements/Morals In The Story”
That last section on the page is perhaps the most important.  Wanna know what makes Harry Potter, Les Miserables, Charles Dickens, The Disney Stories, and Aesop’s fables classics?  It’s the fact that they ALL display elements of the human experience that the reader can relate to or learn from.  If you want to write a book that people will enjoy, write a good plot, if you want a book that people will still love and relate to ages from now, write a good message.
When you have all of these planned out, it’s time to write your first draft.  A lot of people will advise you to just write what comes to your head when working on the first draft, without worrying about grammar, spelling, logic, etc. My only problem with this is that it’s a lot easier to catch and fix a mistake while you’re writing than while you’re reading.  If you finish a draft with hundreds of mistakes, you’ll have to re-read and edit it many more times, and it’s likely you’ll still miss things.
When you finish your first draft, re-read, re-word, re-write, and re-arrange until everything is perfect, then you’ll want to have family and friends read through it and give you feedback.  It’s also probably a good idea to tell them not to just read it and say “it’s good,” because there’s no way you can learn or fix anything about the book from that.
When self and peer-editing is done, it’s time to move on to actually publishing, which I’ll talk about in a later post.

It’s likely that one or more of your twitter followers or Facebook friends is also an aspiring author, if you think this post was useful to you or could be to someone you know, please use the share buttons below to post it to your social media so other people may make use of it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How the Harry Potter Stories Changed My Life

Four years ago, my life was a wreck.  My self-esteem and confidence were almost non-existent due to a bully who wouldn't get off my back and almost every other part of my life suffered from it; including my spirituality and social life.  With all that stress, I felt the need to sit at a gaming console for hours a day, which in the end, when things didn't go right in the game, left me with even more stress.

The stress also paid off in the form of immaturity when it came to getting things I needed to do, done.  I was young at the time, so between my age and my laziness, when summer vacation came around, my parent's needed to get childcare.

Although we were never poor, my family was in no way rich either, and Virginia Beach is an expensive city, especially in the area we live in, so to spend the whole summer in camps with the richer kids at the local rec center wasn't financially practical.

As an alternative, they paid less for us to go to a cheap camp at an elementary school in a poorer area of the city, and we hated it.  The camp was mostly low-class, rude, loud kids, who were likely there because their parents couldn't stand having them around all summer.  (It was actually probably because most of the parents, when you saw come pick their kids up, had bad jobs that would require them to work all the time)

Anyway, every time the kids started to act up, the Parks and Recreation employees who were running the camp would make us all grab a book from the basket in the corner of the room.  As someone who had always enjoyed reading, but read less and less over the years as my life fell apart, this normally wouldn't have been a problem; I liked reading a lot better than what we normally did at the camp.

Unfortunately, it turned out to actually be worse.  The basket was full of only very basic, kiddy, books because a majority of people in the camp were very young kids, and since this was a poor area, education wasn't nearly as good as the part of the city I live in, so even the older kids couldn't read all that well.

After the counselors called for silent reading time a times, I figured I'd had enough and decided to start bringing my own books.  I found a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets under my bed and decided to bring that to camp.

I had already seen several of the movies years before my life had taken it's turn for the worse, and liked them, but when I first saw them I was really too young to understand much of the plot, and even though I've always had reading skills well above my age level, at the time when I first saw them, I still couldn't understand the books.

This camp, which in the first month I had thought of as a horrible place, I look back on as an extremely valuable portion of my young life.  I fell in love with the world of Harry Potter there.  Through finding my love for reading again, I saw the immaturity of my gaming addiction and put the controller down.

The stories themselves carried so many moral and spiritual lessons, and I found my love for spirituality again. To this day, I honestly think that this one series of fictional stories has more moral value than any religious text.

Through my love for reading, I found my passion; writing.  In December 2012, a little less than two and a half years later, I published my first novel The Runaways at age 13 and became the world's youngest fantasy author.  You can buy it here.

So much more in my life has changed so radically thanks to these wonderful novels, and I really do owe my life to Miss Rowling for writing them.  If you haven't read the Harry Potter series yet, you really need to, so much can be learned from such a fantastic escape from reality.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

4 Steps to Finding and Following Your Purpose

Every single one of us is put on this earth with a three-part being; mind , body and soul.  The mind and body exist only in this physical plane, but the soul is our highest, truest, happiest self.  The soul comes complete with a knowledge of purpose, but throughout our lives, our egoic mind separates us from the soul, and our purpose stuck to it.  With loss of purpose, comes loss of happiness, and the point of this post is to help you find your way back.


 Work with the talents that you were born with.  Many natural, God-given abilities aren't just there because of your genetics.  Remember the phrase "Everyone's good at something, but no one's good at everything."  If you can't make it work, stick with what you're good at.  I'm not saying don't learn new things, but just do what you're best at.


Do what you love.  It's far better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable. Recognize that money and success are NOT the same thing.  You'll find often with people who follow the calling of their purpose that passion equals purpose.  Think about it, do you think your soul, the part of you that knows what's best, wants you to do something you hate?  Even if that thing you hate pays well, riches without fullfillment is failure.


When you realize your purpose, write down your goals.  Writing down your goals will allow you to see how easy it is to clarify on what you want.  It also motivates to to fulfill them and when you come back and find them, years later, helps you realize how successful you are.  It seems that what you put focus on, the universe will manifest into your life.  If you think depressed thoughts, depression will come looking for you.  If you think happy thoughts about success and fulfillment, happiness, success, and fulfillment will find you.


Think of ways you will fulfill those goals.  A vision will build a road, but working to manifest that vision will drive you down that road.  I posted a tweet way back in October of 2012 that read "Don't just wish for it, work for it"  Combining both is the formula for success, fulfillment, and finding your purpose.

I am currently in the process of writing a book that goes into further details on how to find your purpose and how to work towards it called "The Path of Purpose; Living the Life You Were Born to Live" which will be released on Kindle within the next few months.

I also put a video up on YouTube yesterday where I discussed these things.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Two Chapter Sample of New Epic Fantasy Novel "The Fallen Kingdom"

I've been accumulating ideas for fantasy stories in my mind for awhile since The Runaways and Edward were published.  Lately, my writing's been focused around spirituality-related topics, but I'm taking a turn to start writing more fiction again.  Among the ideas for these fantasy stories was "The Fallen Kingdom," which featured a prince named Gareth, who's kingdom of Herros was betrayed by their war ally Torros, forcing him off the throne and on the run with a small group of soldiers set on taking the kingdom back.

I'm really excited about this one, so I felt like doing you all a favor and giving out a sample of the first two chapters, which are both prologues taking place about seven months before the rest of the story.

This sample has NOT been edited yet, so their may be some errors in grammar, plot, or spelling.  Nevertheless, this IS still copyrighted work and all rights are reserved.

The Fallen Kingdom 
Brandon Grant 
Copyright Brandon Grant 2013. All Rights Reserved. No part of this written work may be copied or reproduced by any other means without prior written consent of the author with the exception of quotations no longer than four (4) paragraphs. 

Prologue I 
Another Day 
The sound of a knock echoed around the gigantic room I called my quarters. Looking for an excuse to break away from the letter I was writing to a foreign general, I actually walked to the door instead of having a guard open it. 
"Lord Gareth," the man outside addressed me, bowing his head respectfully to his Prince. "Sir Kiltmann is ill today and he wanted to know if you could handle squire training for him today." 
"Does he?" I said, with surprise in my tone. "About time he starts trusting me with something." 
"I take that as you'll do it?" The messenger asked. 
"Well, I've nothing better to do." 
Now let me tell you, being royalty is a lot harder than you give us credit for; at least in a time of war, that is. Two months ago, a nation called Torros next door to us saw the end to a bloody civil war. Northern Torros decided that the opposition was too strong to let southern Torros keep killing their men, so they wrote a treaty allowing southern Torros to succeed. After that, Southern Torros built a wall across it's northern border and renamed itself Kyros. Kyros, with a rush of blood-lust left over from their civil war, attacked my nation, Herros, seeking to steal money, land and power from our prosperous country, 
What was left of Torros settled our differences and formed an alliance with my dad, Gareth II, knowing that they could not have their nation back together without his assistance. 
Long story short, Dad often ran back and forth between the castle and other countries to lead the war effort meanwhile I was stuck at home running odd jobs around the castle. He was always telling me how I was too young, despite the fact that I reached the level of skill required to be knighted at a younger age than anyone in Herros ever had. 
I left my half written letter and quill pen on the desk in my quarters and walked through the corridor and down the stairs three floors on my way to the small courtyard in the northwest corner of the castle, where the squires were usually trained. I could have swore somewhere along the way, I saw Sir Kiltmann, who usually trained the squires, but when I turned back around to get a closer look at him or whoever it was that I saw, they had turned around and were walking quickly down the hallway with a group of men around him. 
In a pond on the grounds, I checked my appearance via my reflection. It was still relatively early in the morning so I hadn't gotten the chance to comb my long, bushy brown hair, which resembled my dad's closely. People constantly told me I looked like a miniature version of him, with the exception my eyes, which they told me were like my mother's blue ones. My mom died giving birth to my younger sister, Eva, who they say has more of mom's elvish appearance. 
When I made it to the northwest courtyard, I spent several minutes trying to calm down a group of twelve squires between ages eight and twelve. The younger ones were wrestling and beating each other around with sticks. The older ones stood on the other side of the courtyard flirting with my sister and her friend Sarah. 
"Alright, knock it off," I split up the wrestling young ones. 
I crept up behind the older squires. 
"Well knights and squires are pretty dedicated people," A sandy-haired squire of elvish descent said to my sister. "If you go out with me, there's a lot of things I'd do for you..." 
I grabbed him by the neck of his tunic, "You say another word and there's a lot of thing's I'll do to you." 
A look of terror stretched across his face as he stared into my angry face. I started cracking up. 
"I'm kidding, but really, we need to get started." 
When the group was all back together, I drew my sword confidently, ready to begin the training session. 
"Alright, let's get this party started." 
Prologue II 
Meanwhile Upstairs 
Sir Eugene Kiltmann, in a condition of perfect health, strutted confidently down the upstairs corridors of. A group of seven men, all heavily armed with crossbows, swords, spears and bows stood around him, all wearing the hard, determined grimace that stretched across his own face. Among the seven men were Sir Darius, his assistant in the leadership of the castle guard, Sir Nehroe, one of the castle's blacksmiths, and Sir Korrith, who delivered the false message of his master's health to Prince Gareth that morning. 
"Nehroe, you have made sure the king's weapons are in the shop, correct?" Kiltmann said in a serious tone. 
"Yes, sire." Nehroe responded. 
"He's under the impression that he's about to go on another mission," said Sir Darius. "He'll either be in the throne room, or just leaving to his quarters to start packing. I've arranged shifts so the soldiers in both rooms are all insiders. In other words, no matter where we find him, Gareth II will be dead in the next ten minutes. The time between his passing and the arrival of the Torroan army will be only moments" 
Kiltmann hissed his response: "This country's killed my family, now it's time I kill it's." 
The seven Torroans kicked open the door and a shocked King Gareth turned around and gave them a look of disbelief. 
"What is the meaning of this that you knock down my door? Is there any news you can bring that is that urgent?" 
"Let's see," said Kiltmann in a deadly whisper. A hateful glimmer shone in his eyes, one that his king had never seen.  
"Good question! What news could it be? Maybe the betrayal of Torros, your allies; maybe the fact that your kingdom will fall in a matter of hours; maybe the use of the will of a traitor nation to allow me to get revenge for a childhood of misery." Kiltmann cut off for a moment of tense silence. "Maybe the fact that you haven't got a friend in this room." 
King Gareth's guards recognized their signal and swooped into their rehearsed positions; men in each corner of the room formed a 'U' formation with Kiltmann's team, which faced the throne. The other two, standing directly on each side of the throne, crossed their swords over Gareth's chest and pinned him to the chair. 
"PLEASE!!" The king begged. "Let me live, I'll do whatever you want! I have a nation to look after! I have kids to take care of!" 
Kiltmann pulled from his belt the long, silver throwing knife that would fly, in just moments, through his king's chest and pin his limp body to the throne. 
"My parents did too." 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Life is Very Short" Poem

Life is very short

And we have far to go,

So don't go and dumb up yourself,

Knowledge is ours to know

Life is very short

And there is love that we must share

So do not go close off your heart

Give tender love and care

Life is very short

There are places we must go

So don't sit around on the couch,

Live for something to show.

Life is very short,

So toss it your best throw

'if you didn't go a good one

Why did you even go?

Life is very short,

How short we'll never know

So make the best of what you have,

Before it's time to go.

Copyright Brandon Grant 2013.  All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How to Design an E-Book Cover (For Self Published Authors)

If you're like me, a broke ass-kid with a love for writing and Kindle, then you have probably chosen to self-publish your book through Amazon's KDP program.  One of the few disadvantages of self-publishing is the responsibility for having your own cover designed, so I'm posting this article today on how to have a professional looking cover made for free.

The two most important things when it comes to selling your ebook are 1. Getting people to your book and 2. Using an attractive cover to turn browsers into readers.  If you're like me and have no talent whatsoever in drawing or design, than you probably have the initial thought of going on deviantART, making a forum post that you are an author in need of a well-designed cover, and spending a few hundred dollars commissioning one.  What's that, you also share the striking similarity to me that you are cheap and/or broke?  If that's the case, than you are going to have to put together your own cover.

I can not tell you how many times I've been searching for a good read and I find a book with a cover that I, a thirteen year-old non-professional, could throw together in Photoshop in about three minutes.  I will often click on these just to check their sales ranks, and they are always horribly low.  Moral of the story: If you are not a Photoshop natural, realize that and don't try to convince yourself that you are.  It will hurt you in the long run.

The secret to a professional looking cover is using creative commons or public domain photos already on the internet.  I am a category bestseller, and I didn't pay a cent on any of my book covers.  The cover for "Edward" I found in Wikimedia commons.  The covers used for the Black Lord's Trilogy were based off of a picture called "glory" that I found on flickr and then later tweaked with in Photoshop.

You can find some really great CC pictures out there and are legally allowed to use them commercially provided that you give credit to the original creator of the picture. (snake3yes in the case of my image)  You can usually find even more proffessional looking pictures on websites like ShutterStock which are available for five dollars or less.  So before you go out and dump your money on a cover, consider these alternatives.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Authorgraph; Now You Can Sign an Ebook!

I signed up for a service yesterday called Authorgraph (which I am told was originally called "kindlegraph") Which allows self-published authors as well as those traditionally published by an independent publisher to conduct electronic signings of their books to their fans.

Unlike the old days of book signings where if you wanted the author's autograph where you would have to wait for years for them to come to your city and if you lived in a small town you were out of luck, Authorgraph works entirely through the internet, so you could recieve an autograph from your favorite author without either of you ever leaving your homes!

I have already tested the service myself and I really like the way that it works. You start by signing up and entering the ASIN for your Kindle books.  After that, the website recognizes the ASIN with the book that it's connected to, and your book is added to their system.

When a fan goes on authorgraph.com to look for your book, they hit the green button below to order an Authorgraph of the book.  You get a personal message with the request, where you can type a personal message to the person.  You sign your name via your computer's trackpad or touchscreen, and your signature is saved into the system so you don't have to sign your name again next time.

Reader's set up their accounts with their kindle document adresses, so a PDF with a picture of your cover, your message and your signature is automatically zapped to their kindle over the internet.

Here's an example of an Authorgraph I recieved from Joseph Lallo, author of The Book of Deacon.

Unfortunately, the Authorgraph doesn't appear in the front of the book.  It is saved as a seperate file, so if the reader wants to see your autograph, they will have to go in the "docs" section of their kindle instead of going to the front of the book like a normal signed book.

With that said, could Authorgraph be the future of book signings? I hope so, it's pretty darn cool, and a hell of a lot more efficient than the old way.

Anyone want a signed copy of "The Runaways?" How about "Creeper; a Short Horror Story?" "Edward; a Fantasy Short?"  All three of my books are now on authorgraph, so if anyone wants a copy signed, you know how easy it is.