Hello everyone! This week I’m happy to bring you a fantasy author I’ve known for a few years now. I asked him to pick three or five questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from Charles and his characters when writing fantasy.
Please meet my guest, Charles:
Author, Charles Yallowitz
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State.
When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day.
Truthfully, his tales of adventure are much more interesting than his real life, so skip the bio and dive into the action.
Thanks, Colleen, for letting me be a guest on your blog. So many fun questions to choose from, but these five questions just called to me. Before I forget, this is my newest release:
Hi, Charles, I’m glad to see you again. You have a huge series of books. Did you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I typically write a series, so I definitely want there to be connections between each volume. This is why I focus a lot on continuity and keep notes to make sure I don’t change core pieces of the story and world. This required that I come up with various tools to make sure things were carried over. For example, when I was writing Legends of Windemere, which reached 15 volumes, I began keeping a file of notes that covered descriptions of people, places, items, and monsters that were used repeatedly. This way, I didn’t make a mistake and cause any confusion for the readers.
This isn’t to say that I don’t want there to be storylines that stand on their own. Each volume has its own contained plot that helps to push the overarching story and character development into the next adventure. I found that this helped give each hero a chance to be in the spotlight instead of cramming all of them into one storyline.
For example, Delvin Cunningham was the focus of The Mercenary Prince (Volume 9) while Timoran Wrath took the stage in Tribe of the Snow Tiger (Volume 10). The main story continued, but now these two heroes had more individual growth.
This tactic also enhanced the world building of Windemere, which I plan on using for many of my series. In fact, I would say that Legends of Windemere acts as the foundation of my entire fantasy career because all future stories in that genre will be within that world and help to give it more depth.
Your world building is what makes these stories so fabulous. So, what was your hardest scene to write?
This is a really tough question because I’ve tried to challenge myself a few times by touching on sensitive topics. These always came with some trepidation because I worried about audience reaction. So, I second-guessed myself a lot with these topics and may have shied away from going too deep. Even with all of that, I don’t know if I would call any of them the hardest scene I ever wrote.
Thinking about it, I think the most emotionally difficult scene for me was the final one in Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age. It brought out a lot of tears and I had to walk away a few times to calm down. I had been working with these characters for 19 years and it was me trying to say good-bye. Those who survived may have cameos in future series, but they will never be in the spotlight again.
I had to get used to the idea that the next book I write will be me getting to know a new cast and storyline. Even editing this scene was difficult because it was one more step to the last good-bye.
Charles, I’ve been teaching myself to plot out my scenes in my novels. Do you begin with a plot written out in detail or do you prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I call myself a plotter most times, but I’ll admit that I end up doing a lot of flying by the seat of my pants during the actual writing. Years ago, I wasn’t able to get more than a few minutes or maybe an hour to write. That didn’t give me much time and I got frustrated, so I started doing more outlines and character biographies. This allowed me to set up multiple series and note various connections when I couldn’t work on my main project. It gave me a sense of progress during a busy period of my life. Once I gained more writing time, these habits developed into a more regimented process where I did the following:
This is very organized, but then the actual writing throws a lot of my plans into the dumpster. Characters will take on habits and personalities that aren’t’ exactly as I’d imagined at first so some plot points won’t work. The noble hero becoming more of an anti-hero means that his actions have to change. For a series, this also meant that I would have to rework future outlines to accommodate changes in the previous volumes.
In your professional opinion, is writing a book series more challenging?
Since I’ve primarily done series, I find them much easier to work on than stand-alone books. I always have this temptation to make things bigger. Every character needs a moment to shine and I love following subplots down rabbit holes.
This isn’t to say I will put anything into a book, but I tend to see ways that I can flush out a hero or villain that adds either another chapter or another volume entirely. For example, 3 of the 15 volumes of Legends of Windemere weren’t part of the original plan.
I came up with Merchant of Nevra Coil, The Mercenary Prince, and Path of the Traitors because there were 3 characters who were falling by the wayside. They had more story to tell and I needed to add volumes to do that. Such a mentality makes stand-alone books much more difficult for me.
That isn’t to say writing a book series is easy either. Maintaining freshness and continuity is a real nightmare at times. Unlike a stand-alone, you run a high risk of the story getting stale and convoluted.
As I said before, I had to keep notes on the details and follow the doubt in my gut whenever I felt it. If I wasn’t 100% certain that I had the right description then I went looking for the previous examples.
Another thing that helps is writing an ensemble cast instead of a single heroic lead. This allows me to cycle characters in and out of the spotlight to create new adventures within the big one.
A story that focuses on Nyx the powerful caster will feel different than the one that highlights Dariana the immortal telepath. So, there is a big balancing act involved in writing a series that brings in its own challenges.
Thanks for all the great tips. I have to know… How did you celebrate the publishing of your first book?
I’d love to say that I partied or relaxed for a week, but there’s an odd comedy that ensued within a few days of me publishing Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero. The day that I hit publish, I went out to enjoy some pizza and watch some television. This was more to relax and prepare for the marketing stage, which I didn’t have any knowledge of or experience with at this time.
That night, I worked with what I had and got a lot of my friends to pick up their copy and share the release on their social media sites. Of course, I wanted to sit back and plan a real celebration for myself. This is where the comedy comes in a few days later.
My wife and I were watching TV with some popcorn. I put a handful in my mouth, took a bite, and suddenly felt something weird happen. There was a crunch, which I figured was a kernel and then I swallowed something solid.
My brain had no idea what had happened, but my tongue went right for one of my wisdom teeth. An entire chunk and cracked right off to leave a rough edge that made it uncomfortable to chew. This was a Friday, so I spent the whole weekend in pain because I couldn’t find a dentist that took our insurance until Monday rolled around. That resulted in me spending the week getting it taken care of instead of enjoying my big accomplishment.
I needed to have both wisdom teeth on that side taken out, which meant I couldn’t eat much. By the time I had recovered, I needed to prepare for a trip to my old college to run a merchant table at a convention, so there was never an official celebration outside of the pizza.
That’s probably why I celebrate nearly every release with pizza, so I can’t say it’s a tradition that I’m entirely against.
Amazon Author Page HERE
Thanks for stopping by to meet Charles Yallowitz. If you love fantasy with lots of action you will love his books. Check them out! ❤
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Colleen M. Chesebro is an American Poet who loves crafting paranormal fantasy and magical realism, cross-genre flash fiction, syllabic poetry, and creative nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, tanka prose, renga, solo-renga, haibun, cinquain, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry. Colleen's syllabic poetry has appeared in the Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal, and in “Hedgerow, a journal of small poems.” She’s won numerous awards from participating in the Carrot Ranch Rodeo, a yearly flash fiction contest sponsored by carrotranch.com. In 2020, she won first place in the Carrot Ranch Folk Tale or Fable category, with her story called “Why Wolf Howls at the Moon.” Colleen is a Sister of the Fey, where she pursues a pagan path through her writing. When she is not writing, she is reading. She also loves gardening and crocheting old-fashioned doilies into works of art.