Ultimate World Builders Giveaway!

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Nov 132017

In celebration of the release of Creating Places (The Art of World Building, #2) I’m doing a massive giveaway of world building tools, training, and advice! All you need to do is enter and get a chance to win $200 worth of stuff!

It gets better: once you enter, you’ll get an email with a link just for you. Send that to your world building friends, and if they click it and enter the contest, you’ll get an additional three chances to win! How cool is that?

What can you win?

  1. Three of the best programs from ProFantasy, allowing you to draw maps of land features, cities, and dungeons!
  2. A world building course by David Farland/Dave Wolverton!
  3. A bunch of world building ebooks, including mine!
  4. And even if you don’t win, all contestants get a free copy of THE EVER FIEND!

You can forward the contest to anyone who does world building and improve your own chances.

 Posted by on November 13, 2017

Podcast Launched!

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Nov 102017
Art of World Building Podcast LogoIt’s been months in the making, but The Art of World Building podcast has launched this week! You can hear the first three episodes now. Episodes are free and are scheduled to release every two weeks.
You can listen here:
The Art of World Building
Google Play Music
Stitcher (coming soon)
You can see a listing of all episodes, and each has its own page that includes a transcript at the bottom for those who prefer to read it.
 Posted by on November 10, 2017

Another Ed Greenwood Endorsement

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Nov 102017

Ed GreenwoodI just received another endorsement from Ed Greenwood, creator of The Forgotten Realms® and dozens of other imaginary worlds:

With CREATING PLACES, Randy Ellefson has penned a sequel to his CREATING LIFE that walks story creators through worldbuilding along an entertaining road that runs everywhere, making sure nothing is missed. Plentiful examples are provided, and a veteran worldbuilder can find just as much fun and comprehensive reminders in these pages as a novice. Some books are nice to have, and a rare few are “must haves.” Like Ellefson’s preceding book, CREATING PLACES is one of that rare breed: an essential reference work. Unlike most references, this one is fun to read. Not to mention a goad and spark for the imagination!


 Posted by on November 10, 2017

Creating Life Audiobook Released!

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Sep 132017

The audiobook of Creating Life (The Art of World Building, #1) is now available at iTunes, Amazon, and Audible. Running time is 5 hours and 13 minutes and it’s on sale for between $17-19. Now you can have it read to you while you go about your day!

Buy at iTunes! Buy at Audible! Buy at Amazon!
 Posted by on September 13, 2017

Creating Places TOC Updated

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Aug 262017
Creating Places (Vol. 2)

Creating Places (Vol. 2)

Now that the writing of Creating Places is largely finished and only needs editing, I’ve updated the table of contents (TOC) to reflect the final contents. This includes a new chapter on “Travel in Space” and some rearrangement of other items. This isn’t final as I might still move a few things, but you can certainly see what’s covered in volume two of The Art of World Building.

 Posted by on August 26, 2017

Creating Places on Pre-Order

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Aug 222017

Creating Places (Vol. 2)

You can now pre-order the Kindle format for Creating Places (The Art of World Building, #2), which will be published on November 14, 2017. Pre-orders don’t work for other formats, unfortunately, but the book will be available in paperback and ePUB as well. The audio book may be ready at that time, but I’m still working on the one for Creating Life.

The manuscript is almost done. Then it goes off to beta-readers for about 2-3 weeks, leading to a week or two of changes based on that feedback. Then it goes to my editor for another few weeks, then another week or two of me tweaking it. After that comes formatting, which takes another week.

I’m excited to get this volume done and move on to the finale, Cultures and Beyond, which is slated for spring of 2018. Meanwhile, you can expect audio books, a podcast, more blogging, and a big giveaway I’m arranging for the release of Creating Places.

 Posted by on August 22, 2017

Ed Greenwood Endorsement

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Jun 192017

Ed Greenwood

I just received an endorsement from Ed Greenwood, creator of The Forgotten Realms® and dozens of other imaginary worlds:

Worldbuilding—creating a fictional setting—is THE biggest job of a storyteller. It can be done badly or minimally, but doing so risks robbing a tale of richness and impact, by leaving the audience uncaring or making “the stakes” less clear or dramatic.

So, after “once upon a time,” where to begin this devastatingly big job? With CREATING LIFE by Randy Ellefson, even the first volume of which is THOROUGH. This book raises ALL the points, and asks all the questions. Not just recommended: essential!

This is super cool! I consider Ed to be one of the Four Horsemen of World Building, along with Tolkien, Gary Gygax (“The father of role-playing games”), and Dave Anerson (co-inventor of Dungeons & Dragons with Gygax). Sadly, Ed is the only one still alive.

World Building Podcast

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Jun 172017

PodcastI started recording The Art of World Building Podcast this month. I’ll be covering much of what’s in the three volumes but not everything (sometimes more, sometimes less). In addition to learning more about world building, you’ll have the chance to hear my lovely speaking voice. A transcript of each episode will also be available on the official site (note this one).

Most podcasters need to find royalty free music to use for opening and closing credits or other announcements, but not me. I’m just using my own!

The podcast will launch in July 2017 once I have a few episodes ready for release on day one. After that, the schedule will be every other week, usually Tuesday mornings.

 Posted by on June 17, 2017  Tagged with:

Guest Post: Unconventional Writing Tools

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May 302017
4 Unconventional Tools to Fix Common Creative Writing Problems

by Guest Blogger Ethan Miller

Once upon a time, there lived a writer who churned bestsellers after bestsellers without breaking a sweat. Words flowed out of him with such ridiculous ease that he was rumored to be unaware of the phrase ‘writer’s block’. And his name was……..

While most of you are busy guessing who this mystery writer is, let me tell you that the aforementioned lines are the start of my fantasy fiction book on writers (if I ever write one). The reason I call it fantasy fiction is because every established as well as aspiring writer knows that writing is not a piece of cake. One has to face lots of hardships, phases of self doubt, fear of failure and the proverbial ‘writer’s block’ to write a few pages, let alone a complete novel.

Though there are problems aplenty that plague an author’s mind, most writers have to deal with similar hurdles, and luckily, there are ways to cross these hurdles. Today, I am going to address 4 common problems of creative writing that cripple a writer’s mind and how they can be resolved by using unconventional tools. Before you roll your eyes and dismiss this piece as just another run of the mill article on writing advice, check out how writer’s can find solutions to their troubles in most unexpected ways:

Problem 1: The idea well has dried up
Solution: Mind mapping – a Pandora’s box of ideas

Generally, a writer’s block can be classified into two types: one where you are unable to write what you are thinking and the other where you are stuck in a story with no idea of how to proceed further. If you are suffering from the latter case of writer’s block, then mind mapping might be the tool that could save you and your story.

Many times, a writer starts to write when he or she gets an exciting idea, but soon hits a roadblock when the idea well dries up. Every time I get stuck in my story, I use the technique of mind mapping, which is basically just allowing your mind to run wild with imagination.

For those who are unaware of mind mapping, it is an ideation technique where people start with the central idea and explore all its possibilities in the form of pictures, images, numbers, etc. All you need is a paper, a set of different colored pens and an open mind that will help you explore your central idea and connect it with other sub ideas through logical flow of thoughts. In short, mind mapping sparks creativity in the mind that is struck by a drought of ideas.

This is just a very basic example of mind mapping that I have used to show how one can explore different genres and plots through a one line central idea.

Problem 2: Character depth is superficial
Solution: Flashcards – get your characters’ traits and backstories on finger tips

Imagine this. After hours of doodling and brainstorming, a writer hits the keyboard as soon as he finds an exciting idea to write about. With hours of hard work over the next few days, the pages of his unfinished novel start to fill, but he finds that something is not quite right. After pondering over it, he concludes that his characters lack depth and their traits seem to overlap with one another. Every fiction writer has gone through this phase where they are dissatisfied with their one dimensional characters who are hampering the effect of storytelling.

I was recently re-introduced to the magic of flashcards. During my schooling years, I relied heavily on flashcards to memorize math formulas and develop my vocabulary. I have found flashcards to be extremely useful in developing living, breathing characters. Before I start the writing process, I assign a flashcard for each of my primary characters and make a note of their respective traits / backstories on other sides of flashcards. It helps me get under the skin of the character and understand the emotions behind the motives that drive their actions. There are many websites that can help you with creating flashcards. To give you an idea about how flashcards will work for characterization, here’s a screenshot of a flashcard that I created from Cram.com:

Front side:

Back side:

 Image Courtesy: Cram  

Problem 3: Can’t put your thoughts into words
Solution: Thought Journal – a platform that lifts the pressure off your writing

As writers, we all strive for perfection. We want our writing to be on par with the best in the business. But, there are times when words fail us and no matter how much we try, those perfect words that create literary magic evade us. I have seen writers struggling to express their thoughts in words and I have experienced it first hand as well. When I thought about it, I felt that it is the pressure to deliver our best that hampers our efforts to put pen on paper. One simple way that I devised to lift the pressure off my writing is to start a thought journal. There are plenty of online spaces like Journalate.com where you can go and pour your thoughts in the form of words without the pressure of giving your best. Once you have written what you had in mind, you can always chop and change later, and create literary magic through a web of words. And the best thing about these online journals is that they keep your entries secret i.e. no one can view it other than you.  

Problem 4: Bitten by the procrastination bug
Solution: NaNoWriMo – Sometimes deadlines can inspire great work

I have wanted to write this piece for way too long, but have been putting it off for a while now. I love writing and would be more than happy to share my techniques of overcoming writing trouble. Then what was stopping me? Ah yes! The curse of procrastination.

Nothing affects a writer’s work more than the procrastination bug. And one way to stop procrastinating is setting a deadline. It was only after I set a deadline of writing this article within this week that I was able to get on with my writing.

One of my friends introduced me to this great platform called NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month), which is a perfect cure for procrastination. By setting a deadline of one month to write a novel from scratch, NaNoWriMo inspires thousands of writers from across the world to shed procrastination and turn their ideas into books. One can form their own writing circle and inspire one another to write their book in a month. NaNoWriMo spreads the flow of infectious creative energy that is hard for any serious writer to discard.

There are many more ways to resolve the writing problems listed above, but trying something new can be fun and exciting. So I request all the fellow writers to try a few of these tools, if not all, and let me know it they worked for you too. Let’s beat the demons that keep us from writing our masterpiece, fulfill our destinies and have fun while we are at it!

Ethan’s Bio

Ethan Miller is an online ESL tutor. Apart from his passion for teaching, he loves to write and is currently working on his first book. When he is not teaching or working on his book, Miller loves to blog and is a huge fan of educational technology. You can follow Miller on Twitter and check out his blog.

 Posted by on May 30, 2017
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