Comicality: Welcome back, Imagine fans! A very happy new year to you all! This month, our featured author is ‘The Story Lover’! He has been around for quite some time now, and chances are you’ve come across one of his stories at one time or another. Well, he’s here to share his talents with us for the month of January! So let’s dive in and see what he’s got to tell us!
So tell me…how exactly did you get started, writing stories online? And when did you decide to move into editing and eventually creating your own website space online?
The Story Lover: After reading several stories for several years, I decided to write down an idea that had been floating around in my head for awhile. I started off as I was taught by creating an outline and then started writing. I mentioned one day in a conversation with the current owner of the Corner Café that I had started a story, he liked it and offered to host in on The Café. So I finished the first chapter and he posted it.
As to getting involved with editing, that came about as a result of many e-mails that I had sent to authors regarding errors that I found in their stories. Particularly how ACFan couldn’t spell the name of one of his main characters the same way more than once. I joined the The Fort Family Forum as a reader and soon, over my objections, became a Moderator and then shortly after an Admin. I soon became a Ghost Editor for several authors and their stories and was given the title of Fort Chief Editor. As I became known for editing I started editing more and more stories, and eventually became The Clan Short Archivist as well.
I was given my website by Uncle August AKA August Christopher our benefactor as he didn’t like my email address, he said I needed my own email address, at that time I had two email addresses one was story or storylover @ my ISP at the time the other was firstname.lastname@example.org. I received an email from August with my site login information and my email address email@example.com. I had no idea that he was going to give me a site and was stunned. I was given two weeks to bring my site live, somehow I did in spite of the fact that ACFan was out of town and Jeff’s Fort was having Internet connection issues. With the help of Akeentia and some software help from Jeff, I was able to launch my site by the deadline. At that time it was my personal site with links to my favourite authors and a few other personal pages. The only story on my site was mine, I slowly added other stories and authors and over time it became a Story Site that had Personal Pages as well. My site now has One Hundred Authors, Seven Hundred and Thirty~Four Stories, and Seven Thousand Nine Hundred and Nineteen Chapters. Never in my wildest imagination could I have imagined how it would grow, and it is still growing.
Comicality: HOLY SMOKES! That’s HUGE! Congratulations! How do you keep a site like that running smoothly? And has it affected your writing at all? I assume it must take up a pretty big chunk of time and energy.
The Story Lover: Keeping my site running at its size would be almost impossible without the Story Management Software created by Akeentia that we use. Without that software I would be writing very little, which had happened with my original site. Our software allows our authors to post their own stories, and have them live immediately. They can also edit their chapters live online. With some of my authors posting their own stories , I only have to post the stories of those authors that don’t want to post their own stories. I can usually post all of the chapters that I need to in a single day, instead of three or four. I can add an author and their story in approximately five minutes, instead of the hours that it took me before. I now have more time not only to write but to look for authors and their stories to add to the site. I want to keep bringing quality stories, that are based on characters, and story-lines not gratuitous sex. I must be doing something right because the sites readers didn’t abandon the ship during my hiatus and almost all of my authors stuck with me as well. Lately those as my age creeps closer to sixty~five I have realized that we need to get younger authors on our sites to keep things going and to attract new readers. Imagine Magazine is also attracting new and younger authors, and that is an awesome thing.
Comicality: So you were simply inspired to sit down one day and express yourself through your writing?
The Story Lover: Well, sorta, I started writing poetry back in seventh grade more years ago than I want to admit. I had one poem published in a magazine in eighth grade. I started creative writing during High School, however, real life got in the way until one day I couldn’t keep the ideas out of my head, so yes I just sat down and started writing. I try and keep a pen and paper with me so I can write story ideas or story arcs down as they occur to me. I will be starting a brand new story later today that kept me awake all night. however, it like several others I am working on will be published under a different pseudonym than The Story Lover. These stories aren’t based on saving children or improving their lot in life, so I decided they needed to be written by someone else. As I said last night; I write because I have stories to tell and I enjoy telling stories, I also write because I love to write and I enjoy sharing my imagination with others. I also love feedback, however, it isn’t the sole reason that I write, nevertheless, I do love getting feedback. Feedback lets me know that I actually reached someone, and that is an awesome feeling.
Comicality: About “Hearts Across Space”…writing a science fiction story of this magnitude is quite an ambitious task for any experienced author, such as yourself. Can you give us any insight as to how you went about ‘world building’ and creating this lore around your story and its characters?
The Story Lover: First of all, when I began writing Hearts Across Space I was completely inexperienced as a Sci-Fi Author. I hadn’t done any creative writing since High School, the writing that I had done over the last couple of years was all Technical Writing, How to Articles and Help Files. The idea for Hearts Across Space had been floating around for a while in my head, so one day I sat down and started writing, I got lots of encouragement from the Fort Family Admins and Authors. I was indirectly influenced by you as you had encouraged several of the Fort Family Authors to bring their stories to the Web. I did start with an outline and I had originally planned on the story spanning three books. The First Book was supposed to focus on Sean and the Planet Gemini, Book Two was supposed to focus on Alexander and Terra AKA Earth. The Third Book was to cover the merging of the two stories. I had done some basic plotting for the planets, ships, weapons, and technology. I also read every Space Opera Book that I could find and re-read all of the Honor Harrington Series by David Weber multiple times.
I figured out while writing this story that an outline is just that, it is a guide only, it is not the end all be all that some folks say it is. I learned the hard way that characters can’t/won’t be restricted by an outline. Since I prefer character and story-line driven stories, I gave my characters free reign in my mind and wrote what they came up with. Because of that Alexander joined the story in Book One and not Book Two. The ‘Imps’ also drove me crazy until I told their story.
I use the Errata to add information that is necessary for the overall story, but that might slow the reading of a chapter down. I also use the Errata’s to convey information that I came up with as the story went along…
When I started writing this story I had no idea how large this story would become. I have read lots of Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories and I have used lots of what I have read to form the Universe. As to the characters, I let them define themselves and their interactions.
Comicality: I made an agreement that I would finally write my very first ‘sci fi/fantasy’ story in 2019, and I’m still a little intimidated by the idea, personally. What advice would you give to me and any other authors out there who want to give this genre of writing a shot?
The Story Lover: First of all I would start with an outline, a short list of main characters, and a brief idea of the technology involved. The outline will give you a list of things that you want covered in the story. I still refer back to my original outline to make sure that I am covering what I had planned, how and when I cover them is fluid. One of the things that I am still developing is a measurement system, time, distance etc.. Some authors try to develop their own complete system, there are some problems with that as you need to give some frame of reference. In Hearts Across Space, I am currently using a hybrid system some created measurements and some Terran. Above all the author must know completely that the Universe is theirs and not someone else’s. By this I mean that they don’t have to conform to someone else’s ideas of what a Universe should be. Let your creativity and your characters be your guide. And always remember that ‘Google’ is your friend.
Comicality: Now, I’ve also noticed that you’ve added your shorter poems and social commentaries to Imagine Magazine this month as well. I’ve read through many of them, myself, and I was wondering what inspired them. What can you tell us about the creation of these poems and why you chose to share them with your readers?
The Story Lover: I write my Poems and the Short Stories in my Societal Commentaries; as a result of reading a news article or seeing something on TV, or as a result of a story that I have read. In my poems and short stories I try to express how what I just read or watched made me feel, I try to convey those feelings to my readers and by doing that, hopefully, at least open their eyes and ultimately get them to think. The One’s You Left Behind has accomplished that purpose several times and that is why I continue to write what and how I do.
Comicality: Through some of our talks, you mentioned that there was a significant gap in your stories. A long hiatus where you didn’t write anything at all. If it’s ok to ask…what made you stop? And what made you start up again?
The Story Lover: During my ‘Hiatus’ a very nice way to describe a very dark period in my life I went through several periods of moderate to severe depression. I was taking medication for a short period until I became unemployed again. I was caught in the after effects of the crash of 2008 and went through several long periods of unemployment. In Silicon Valley the effects of that crash lasted far longer than in a lot of places. On top of that I was in my fifties with a long work history at several places, finding a job under those conditions was nearly impossible. I basically dropped off the face of the earth and quit communicating with people other than my co-workers when I was able to find employment. I had no desire to write or interact with anyone, I wasn’t responding to phone calls or emails unless I had to. I was basically a robot.
Things got really bad when my landlord decided to sell his house and gave me a thirty day notice. During this period there was also some things going on in my online life that made things worse. During this time I continued to read and expand my knowledge of Sci-Fi/Fantasy and it was that reading that began to slowly pull me out of the deep dark hole that I was in. In 2011 I moved up North to where my family was living, however, even then I was still basically an automaton. Slowly, the itch to get my site back up and running and to return to writing became too much to ignore, so I gave in and began rebuilding my site. I got back in touch with Akeentia and Darryl the Radio Rancher and eventually got back in touch with ACFan. I was spending a lot of time rebuilding my site and I had basically ignored it for five years other than posting a few chapters every year or two. I slowly got back on Skype with a lot of old friends and began to write small things here and there, including a few chapters of Memories Part Three with ACFan. I was slowly getting back into the swing of things but I was being overloaded trying to rebuild my site and it had began to take a toll on my mental health again. What I didn’t know at the time was that Akeentia and ACFan had been plotting on how to resolve my site problem. One night while chatting with ACFan on Skype he gave me the keys to his newly remodeled site designed by Akeentia. He gave me Admin Access to his site and told me to look around, to basically take it for a test drive. I was hooked and fell in love with the simplicity and power of the software, that Akeentia had developed. Many years before I had fallen into my pit of despair Akeentia had offered to design a site for me using his new Story management Software.
However, at that time he wasn’t able to offer me something that I really thought I needed and that was the curly buttons of my Original Site, something that Uncle August loved. The next night when Akeentia came on Skype I asked him to build me a site with his software, I think he fell out of his chair. He gave me a test design in about forty minutes, he didn’t have the curly button yet, however, as I was talking to ACFan and The Eggman about what I needed to do to start transferring content, Akeentia was working on making my buttons curved. In less than an hour I had a brand new custom designed site and I was off and running. I did recruit some help in getting the files transferred, Zarek Dragon, True Fan, and Akeentia among others helped me transfer over five thousand files. It took us a few months, however, we did launch new site on May 14th, 2017. At the same time that I was working on the new site I was working on a few stories every now and then. ACFan kept bugging me to write more and slowly writing began to be fun again. It took about a year and half, but I am now back to writing the way I used to write. Currently, I have five stories in productions and several others that I work on occasionally. For a period of time I tried to write like everyone else in a linear fashion and it was extremely hard for me to do. In fact. my writing suffered as I thought it was a bit stilted. Thanks to Akeentia and mainly ACFan’s constant harping I slowly started using Scrivener and I have now completely adopted Scrivener for my writing. With Scrivener, I can write the way I used to by adding scenes as they pop into my brain while I am writing and then rearrange them on the fly if needed. I currently have three projects open in Scrivener. Once I made peace with myself and returning the writing style that I loved things began to come together. Plus talking to people that care about me and my writing really helped. I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help and encouragement of Akeentia, ACFan, Darryl The Radio Rancher, Jeff P., and The Eggman. They continue to encourage me and give me a kick in the rear when I need one. If it wasn’t the encouragement from you to ACFan and Jeff P., I wouldn’t be writing now and I wouldn’t have the site that I do. One thing that I have learned while going through this mess was to not cut myself off from my friends and that when they offer help to take it. I am writing this to let anyone else going through a time like I did that there are people around you, that want to help, you just have to say yes! Don’t do what I did and lock yourself away from those people that can help. So thank you, Comicality, for all that you have done and continue to do for our community.
Comicality: Thank you for allowing me to be a part of a community. Honestly. I’m sorry to hear that you went through such an extended period of hard times, but I’m happy to hear that you were able to work your way back to what you love. Did you find getting back to writing therapeutic in any way? Perhaps getting a lot of frustration from your past troubles off of your chest?
The Story Lover: Yes, getting back to doing what I love, has been very helpful and therapeutic, especially since I took ACFan’s advice (nagging) and went back to writing as they film a movie. Finishing a chapter of a story that I had been working on for over ten years was a wonderful feeling as well. I didn’t write a Christmas Story this year because I was trying to finish that chapter, which in fact, became two chapters. Every time, that I tell someone or write about that period of my life another bit of weight is lifted from my shoulders. Thank you for giving me this venue to do that.
Comicality: So what’s next for you as a writer? Any other projects that you’re looking forward to working on and bringing to the small screen?
The Story Lover: You really shouldn’t have asked that question, nevertheless, since you did. I am currently working on Chapter Eleven of Hearts Across Space of which Chapter One appears in this issue of Imagine Magazine. I am also currently working on Chapter Two of one of my Haven Universe Stories, my pseudonym, is also currently working on a brand new Space Opera in a totally new Universe. I am also working on some chapters of some of my other older stories. The biggest project that I have on my plate is a complete revision of my Fantasy Universe Story, I will be combining some to the spin-off stories back into the main story-line, and probably splitting the story into two books. The intention is to make reading the whole story easier to read without having to consult a list about what story to read when. If someone asks nicely, Imagine Magazine may get that premiere.
Comicality: Then this is definitely me asking nicely! Hehehe!
One last question. Where can people find your stories online, and possibly get in touch with you if they want to send feedback or ask any questions?
The Story Lover: All of my stories are available on my site The Story Lovers Home https://storylover.us/ and I can be emailed at, firstname.lastname@example.org A’lexii from Hearts Across Space can also be reached at email@example.com
My stories can also be found on the other Fort Family Sites as well including F.R.E.D. which is at https://events.csuproductions.com.
Thank you for giving me the chance to share my story.
Comicality: And thank you for sharing some time with us! I wish you all the best! And to everyone reading, make sure to support your fellow authors! It only guarantees more great stories for you to enjoy in the future!