“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Profound words spoken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his inauguration speech on March 4, 1933.
But what do those words mean? What truth do they carry?
There is truth there; weighty truth.
Fear is a master who knows no mercy; it is not a respecter of persons; it doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, famous or infamous, successful or limping along in life. It is out to imprison, to cripple, to paralyze.
Fear has the power to make a grown man stand still in indecision, cause him to second-guess his every move. It inhibits action, stalls progress, brings forward motion to a complete stand still.
Fear produces grisly images in our mind, conjures thoughts of evil and malintent. Promises death, destruction, torment. It’s an uninvited guest who comes with tales of woe and sorrow and harm and injury.
Fear causes the young boy to see hideous beasts intent on maiming and worse in every innocent, impotent shadow. Fear stirs the woman to accuse her husband of cheating on her, though his actions have been nothing but pure and wholesome. Fear drives a man to work endless hours, convincing himself he’s doing it for his family, when his family only wants him present.
Because of fear, men do not act. Because of fear, children do not sleep. Because of fear, leaders fail. Because of fear, societies collapse.
Fear is a foe that has haunted mankind since the beginning, showing itself in the coverings of Adam and Eve, the jealousy of Cain, the exile of Moses, the insecurity of Samson, the paranoia of Saul, the ruthlessness of the Caesars, the hatred of Hitler, the inactivity of you and me.
But fear has no body, it is not of flesh and bone, there is no blood coarsing through its veins. It does not have a soul or even a heartbeat. It has no eyes through which to watch its victories, no mind in which to gloat in the destruction it causes.
Fear is not real; it is entirely a product of our imagination.
Fear only resides in our minds. It is created from our weaknesses and paranoias, our uncertainty of things to come. It feeds on thoughts, drinks heavily from past experiences, and craves possibilities, but it has no substance.
Fear has no power because it is not real. Fear has no authority because it tinkers in what may happen, not what will come to pass. Fear speaks lots of words about failure and pain and heartache and embarrassment and loss; it is a beady-eyed, round-faced little man who sits in the shadowed corners of our mind and whispers tales of doom and tribulation, but it can offer no promise. It does not speak with certainty, only with conjecture.
And we buy it. We take the bait. Hook. Line. Sinker.
Realize this: fear has no power if we don’t listen to it. It can only burrow into our mind and heart and do its dirty work if we give it the attention it craves.
Yes, some fear is good, normal, and healthy. A fear of fire and its ability to burn may keep us from harming ourselves. A fear of heights and the sudden impact at the end of a long fall may keep us from doing irreparable damage. But that same fear, overfed, overconfident, and bloated on itself will keep the firefighter from climbing the thirty-foot ladder and rescuing a child from a burning home.
That’s the ability of fear to paralyze and render man helpless and hopeless. And that’s the ability we must fight against.
With every trial, every obstacle, every challenge, comes fear. Its there, riding the coattails, chasing the ambulance, hovering in the background. It sees fresh meat and begins to drool, its appetite stirred. And no sooner have you recognized the challenge than fear is there with its dark warnings and groundless promises.
Don’t ignore fear. That is the way of of the fool, the reckless, those who rush into battle headlong and without restraint and cause harm to others. But control fear. For if you don’t, it will control you. It will keep you on a short leash and hinder your ability to live life to the fullest. It will handicap you and relinquish you to the sidelines where you’ll be nothing more than a frustrated spectator.
Fear, when it is controlled, is meant to protect us. Out of control, it only harms. Controlled, it sharpens our skill and focuses our vision; out of control, if dulls the senses and clouds the mind.
We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Wise words to live by, profound words to succeed by.
I’m going to make this short and to the point. Reader reviews are what they are. Writing is art and reading is subjective. That whole beauty in the eye of the beholder thing. That’s what is wonderful about it. There’s something for everyone.
Yes, there are certain rules writers should follow that make for “good” writing but even those rules can be broken and broken with success.
But as for the reviews themselves, I put reviews into four categories: Positive about the story; Positive about the craft; Negative about the craft; Negative about nonsense.
I’m not going to dwell on the positive reviews because everyone enjoys positive reviews. For some readers the story captures their imagination or heart and they just love it. For others, the skill of the author impresses them. Positive reviews are awesome. Simple.
Negative reviews are another kind of bird. There are the negative reviews that actually mean something. They touch on the craft of storytelling or the skill of word weaving. Pacing, character development, plotting, etc. This is called constructive criticism. I take these reviews to heart and seek to learn something from them.
Then there are the moronic reviews. Like this one for my family drama, A Thousand Sleepless Nights (written under a pen name, Michael King): The reviewer gave it 2 stars because “I ordered this book because my brother was recently diagnosed with Colon Cancer, I thought this would be a resource book.” Really? It clearly says “A Novel” right on the cover. My heart goes out to the brother and . . . he could still use it as a resource book.
And then there are comments like this attached to 1-star reviews: “Gives you the impression it’s going to be a horror novel, and ends up pounding religion into the reader.” And this: “This book is all about finding God, how your problems will all be solved and all will be right with the world. What a crock. If I want to find religion, I can do it without being tricked into reading a religious book. Shame.” Uh, did they read the book? Yes, it’s about finding God but all is definitely not right with the world. And these are the folks who accuse Christians of being closed-minded. Shame.
These moronic reviews really don’t bother me. They’re part of being a writer and you take ’em as part of the journey.
But sometimes negative reviews hurt. This one for Frantic still puts an ache in my heart. It’s honest and respectful and I appreciate that. I wrote a post on it before that discusses why it hurt so badly.
Other times I’m just baffled by positive vs. negative reviews. The two following reviews exemplify perfectly how subjective reading is. Both are for my short story The Last Hunt.
The positive one: From the first line of the story, Dellosso’s craftsmanship shows through. The story begins with boyhood memories of hunting trips with his dad, his uncle, and his grandfather. The tale includes anecdotes of how the narrator grew up on these hunting trips and approached manhood. Then the story delves into the fateful night and the hunting trip that was the final one. The story is narrated at just the right pace. It is a masterpiece.
And the negative one: I really enjoy Mr. Dellosso’s books, so I thought I would try this short story. It was very disappointing and definitely not worth the dollar I spent on it. The story was rushed and the conclusion just left me confused. Questions were not answered and storylines weren’t finished. I think this would make a good full-length book so that more things could be fleshed out. As a short story, however, it fell way short of the mark.
Did they read the same story? Obviously they did. But you see how the same story can affect people in two totally different ways. For a writer, this is frustrating.
Now, the negative one here would fall into the “Negative about the craft” category and is worth learning from. Except one thing that, I’m sorry, just irks me: “definitely not worth the dollar I spent on it.” I wish this reviewer would have used his real name because I’d gladly track him down and refund his dollar. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Okay, that was a little more than short and sweet. Sorry.
Hey, if you haven’t read my newest thriller, Fearless, yet I’d suggest getting a copy and leaving a review when you’re done. And I’ll thank you ahead of time for any positive or thoughtful negative reviews. But please, if your review is going to be moronic, save your time and skip it. Or don’t use your real name.
The creation of villains is a delicate process.
You wouldn’t think it would be. You’d think it would be akin to ramming a half-ton pickup through a shop full of glassware. You’d think it would be messy work, all murders and mayhem and carnage and cursing.
But it’s not. Not if you do it right.
Fictional characters are a bit of an oxymoron. They’re fictional, only they’re not. All writing originates from what we experience. What we see, hear, feel, taste. Stories we hear, research we do, memories we have, nightmares we dream. It all derives from our experiences.
So the characters we develop are mostly collages of people we’ve met, folks we’ve observed, and/or bits and pieces of our own psyche/personality/concoctions.
And this is where it gets hairy with villains. You see, I’m not a villain, at least as far as you know. I obey laws, respect other people, follow rules, and basically try to stay out of trouble except those times my big mouth gets away from me. And generally, I try not to rock the boat too severely.
So how do I create villains who are serial killers, psychopaths, narcissistic nutjobs, and all-around bad guys? And how do I create them in such a way that they walk right off the page and urge you to not only hate and fear them, but feel sorry for them and understand the world they live in?
I tap into my own inner villain. He’s in there. In fact, he’s in all of us. That little Adolph Eichmann waiting for permission to show himself.
The trick to creating believable villains is to get in touch with Eichmann without letting him roam free. And it’s a balancing act. Very delicate work.
To give my villains texture and personality and believability I have to see what they see, hear what they hear, think what they think, and feel what they feel. And it’s not a pretty place to be. It’s brutal work, depressing, sorrowful . . . and dangerous. To spend too much time there is to toy with evil and that’s never a safe thing to do.
So I walk a line, that line between doing my best to remain pure and upright and innocent and delving into carnality and selfish desires and murderous thoughts.
The work of creating villains needs to be handled with care. It’s claimed more than one victim.
Post script: Mitch Albright, the villain in my new novel Fearless, is a man tortured by his past and his desire to be respected. He has many sides to his personality and much difficulty controlling any of them. And while Mitch was difficult to write, I believe he’s one of the most pathetic villains I’ve created yet.
Yes, you can get my newest thriller FEARLESS for free.
My publisher, Charisma House, recently created a website called Booketeria where you can request books for free and all you have to do in return is promise to write an honest review.
FREE book (and a new release at that). A $14.99 value. For a simple but honest review.
Not a bad deal.
Just go on over to Booketeria.com, sign up, and get your copy of FEARLESS for FREE.
And if you don’t mind, please share this great deal with all your social media friends. FREE is good!
Oh, one more thing . . . you can still get my novel FRANTIC for only $1.99 on Amazon. Hurry, though, this price won’t last too much longer.
Wow, I can’t believe the week is over already! What a whirlwind. I truly had a blast reading all the comments. Here’s a quick rundown on how things played out for the week.
Books given away: 29
Pretty awesome! THANK YOU!!
Okay, here are the winners of yesterday’s giveaway . . .
MIRROR IMAGE: Dennis Morris
THE LAST HUNT: Kevin Hill
THE HUNTED: Shana Montgomery
FEARLESS: Troy Tennard
Congrats to all the winners!
And again, a big THANK YOU to everyone who participated this week. Keep spreading the word about FEARLESS!
And HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!
Wow, I can’t believe this week has already come to an end. THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the giveaways, especially yesterday’s. It was so interesting to see who those favorite villains were. I think Darth Vader and Marsuvees Black were the most popular. Lots of Star Wars and Ted Dekker fans out there, huh?
Okay, here are the winners from yesterday’s giveaways:
MIRROR IMAGE: Judy More
THE LAST HUNT: Sarah Hallam
REARVIEW: JoAnn Armstrong
FEARLESS: Vicki H.
Congratulations to all the winners!
And now for today’s giveaway . . . Simply leave a comment to this post. That’s it, nice and simple. Anything you want to say. Books on the table are MIRROR IMAGE, THE LAST HUNT, REARVIEW, THE HUNTED, and 2 copies of FEARLESS.
And if you’re a mother may I just say HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Thank you for all you do!
I’m often asked about the villains I write. When writing villains I try to keep in mind that they are real people too. There is a reason they turned to evil; at some moment in their life there was a decision made, a turning point happened. That’s what I try to explore. I want to dive deeper into the psyche of the villain, show the reader that under the exterior there is a hurting person there. And if the reader feels some sympathy for the villain, then I’ve done my job.
In FEARLESS, Mitch Albright is one such villain. Wounded, he has chosen the path of destruction and is desperate to get what he craves the most.
Enough of that, now on to the winners from yesterday’s drawing:
MIRROR IMAGE: Jason Sessions
THE LAST HUNT: Nancy (@ciclodiva)
DARKNESS FOLLOWS: Annie VZ
FEARLESS: esdluquillo (Betsy)
FEARLESS: Brian Stansell
FEARLESS: Cathy Groover
Now, for today’s giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment stating your favorite villain of all time. I don’t care who it is or where he’s from. Favorite villain of all time. Let’s have it. Mine? Max Cady, Robert De Niro’s character in Cape Fear. That guy seriously creeped me out.
One of the characters in FEARLESS, Louisa, is a child with a very special gift. If you’ve been reading my books you may have noticed I’m on a kick with including children in my stories. This is for a couple reasons. One, I enjoy writing children. They provide a unique canvas for creating very colorful, interesting characters. And two, the innocence of a child offers the perfect contrast for evil. Louisa’s character is rich with both of these aspects.
Now, down to business. The winners of yesterday’s giveaway are . . .
MIRROR IMAGE: Ann Carawan
THE LAST HUNT: Whitney Woodmansee
REARVIEW: Gary Hough
A THOUSAND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS: Reggie Greanleaf
FEARLESS: Tom Farr
FEARLESS: Anna Urquhart
FEARLESS: Patrick Cox
Whew! Congratulations to all the winners.
Okay, more giveaways on the way. Today, I’d like you to go to my Facebook fan page and “LIKE” it. Then leave a comment below this post stating you did so. If you’ve already liked it, that counts. Just leave a comment saying you’ve liked it already. That simple.
Please share this giveaway with your friends and followers via all your favorite social media sites. If we get to 1,000 likes on the Facebook page I’ll throw in another copy of FEARLESS and increase your chances to win!
Today is the official release day for FEARLESS and we have a lot to cover so let’s get started . . .
Yesterday’s winners. Below are the winners from yesterday’s giveaways. Congrats to all!
THE LAST HUNT: Greg Sutis
MIRROR IMAGE: Pal Davenport
FRANTIC: Lois Hudson
FEARLESS: Cindy Snider
Want to help promote FEARLESS? Wow, thank you! Below are some links you may find interesting. Just copy and past them in your Facebook status or Twitter feed.
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Fearless-A-novel-Mike-Dellosso/dp/1621362418/
Fan video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha04CiaDJxA
Fan Pinterest page: http://pinterest.com/jojosutis/fearless-by-mike-dellosso/
Okay, here’s how to win more books! See the “Share this:” section directly below this post? Just share this post on one of those sites and then leave a comment saying you did so and you’ll be entered to win one of 3 copies of FEARLESS, a copy of MIRROR IMAGE, THE LAST HUNT, REARVIEW, or A THOUSAND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS.
You have until midnight. Winners will be announced tomorrow.
Please share this!
FEARLESS, my newest thriller officially releases tomorrow and in my book (pun inteneded) that calls for a celebration. And to celebrate I want to give away some books.
Today, leave a comment to this blog post and get in on the drawing to win a copy of THE LAST HUNT (an e-short story), MIRROR IMAGE (an e-short story), or FRANTIC (my 5th thriller). Contest ends at midnight.
Come back tomorrow. I’ll be giving away copies of the short stories and FEARLESS as well as another book!