Real Dreams Featured in the Foreign Service Journal


dreamscoverThe Foreign Service Journal has featured my book Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories in its annual “In Their Own Write” compilation of books published by Foreign Service-affiliated authors in 2012. The Foreign Service Journal writes of Real Dreams (p. 49):

Mike Edwards wrote these 15 short stories over a period of 30 years, beginning in his youth. He covers a wide variety of themes and topics inspired by dreams and experiences over those years.

These stories encompass a boy’s fantasies and an adult man’s maturation. A young boy finds himself the protector of genetically modified army ants that have escaped from the military. An old woman considered to be mentally ill may have reason for her outbursts, while a prisoner of war writes letters of hope from his Nazi concentration camp during World War II. And a gloomy maintenance man turns out to have a terrifying history.

 

Real Dreams is a collection of stories I wrote between 1981 and 2011. Each reflects changes in my writing style and interests over time. I wrote the earliest story, “How Little Big Chief Calmed the Mountain,” as a young student, and the latest, “Evil | Live,” three decades later. The book is a story sampler rather than a cohesive anthology. The stories are grouped by genre. You will find some common themes, including hope, dreams, light, darkness, perseverance, and spirituality, wrapped up in some novel ideas. In some stories, the reader is left to ponder their deeper meaning. I hope you enjoy these diverse and timeless works three decades in the making.

Thank you, Foreign Service Journal, for including Real Dreams on your 2012 list. I am grateful that my book joined other superb works written by Foreign Service colleagues and alumni. I encourage readers to browse the books featured in “In Their Own Write” and read the Journal to learn more about the Foreign Service.

Real Dreams is available to purchase as an e-book or in print from these booksellers:

U.S. Booksellers

dreamscover2Available to purchase as an e-book for US$2.99:

Amazon.com for Kindle

Apple iTunes for iPad/iPhone

Baker & Taylor for Blio e-reader

Barnes & Noble for Nook

Diesel Ebooks for iPad and other e-readers

Google Play for Android

Kobo Books for Kobo e-reader

Smashwords for iPad and other e-readers

Sony ReaderStore for Sony e-reader

Available in print for US$8.99:

Amazon.com

Createspace-

International Booksellers

Available as an e-book or in print (prices vary by format and local currency):

Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)

Amazon.fr (France)

Amazon.de (Austria and Germany)

Amazon.it (Italy)

Amazon.co.jp (Japan)

Amazon.es for Kindle (Spain)

Available as an e-book:

Barnes & Noble for Nook (United Kingdom)

Visit my websitefor a complete list of booksellers.

 

About the Foreign Service Journal

The Foreign Service Journal covers foreign affairs from an insider’s perspective, providing thoughtful articles on international issues, the practice of diplomacy and the U.S. Foreign Service. The Journal is published monthly (July/August issues combined) by the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA). The November issue features its annual “In Their Own Write” compilation, the largest edition yet, with some 90 new books by Foreign Service-affiliated authors. The list spans almost every conceivable literary genre: from history and foreign policy to memoirs and biographies, and from novels and short stories to mysteries and how-to books.

About the American Foreign Service Association

Established in 1924, AFSA is the professional association of the United States Foreign Service. With close to 16,000 dues-paying members, AFSA represents over 28,000 active and retired Foreign Service employees of the Department of State, Agency for International Development (AID), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), and International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB).

Click here to read the original post on my blog, World Adventurers.

dreamscoverM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories and Alexander the Salamander, a children’s story set in the Amazon. His books are available to purchase as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

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Elements of a Book Phenomenon (Part Two)


bookphenomIn part one of a two-part series examining what transforms a book series into a cultural phenomenon, I identified three such series: Harry Potter, Twilight, and with its March 23, 2012, debut as a major motion picture, The Hunger Games. Each one contains common story elements that transformed them into literary sensations.

If you aspire to write the next book phenomenon, you should consider adding the following elements to your story.

Warning — this post includes a few plot spoilers.

Genres: The series should be in the Young Adult genre with crossover appeal to an adult audience. It should attract readers from both genders. It should have elements of Speculative Fiction (Fantasy or Science Fiction) with Romance between the lead character and one or more supporting characters. Love triangles work.

  • Harry Potter: Young Adult and Fantasy with Romance in the later books.
  • Twilight: Young Adult, Fantasy, and Romance.
  • Hunger Games: Young Adult, Fantasy, and Romance in the first two books.

Setting: The setting should involve contemporary society with elements of fantasy. If the story is set in the future, it should be realistic enough to appeal to a large audience.

  • Harry Potter: A magical world co-exists with the muggle (human) world of Great Britain.
  • Twilight: Vampires and werewolves co-exist with humans on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.
  • Hunger Games: Post-apocalyptic world set in the former United States with remnants of American culture.

Protagonists: The lead character must be young with a strong personality and power(s) that makes them special, yet human with vulnerabilities that make them unforgettably unique. Readers should be able to identify personally with the protagonist.

  • Harry Potter: Harry Potter, the boy wizard.
  • Twilight: Bella Swan, a girl with a unique connection to vampires and werewolves.
  • Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen, a girl who possesses extraordinary survival skills that help her thrive in a post-apocalyptic world.

Supporting characters/sidekicks: The protagonist should have close, loyal friends who will help him or her achieve an epic goal and defeat a formidable foe. They may be romantically involved with the lead character. A trio usually works, and both genders should be represented. The three should have distinct personalities but be compatible.

  • Harry Potter: Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
  • Twilight: Edward Cullen and Jacob Black.
  • Hunger Games: Peeta Mellack and Gale Hawthorne.

Sage: The series should include a sage who helps guide the protagonist and their friends on a quest. The sage need not be old, wise, or male; they simply have to be the primary source the protagonist turns to for guidance.

  • Harry Potter: Albus Dumbledore.
  • Twilight: Carlyle Cullen.
  • Hunger Games: Haymitch Abernathy.

Family tragedy: The protagonist should experience a major family tragedy, perhaps losing a parent or both parents, which forces them to seek revenge, retribution, or reconciliation. Although the tragedy should be dramatic enough to build sympathy for the character, the emotional scars should not be too great for the character to overcome.

  • Harry Potter: Harry lost both parents.
  • Twilight: Bella’s parents divorced; she moved in with her father who had little experience caring for children.
  • Hunger Games: Katniss’ father died in a mine blast, leaving her to care for her mother and sister.

Strong villain: The antagonist should be a strong and memorable personality at the center of the protagonist’s struggle. There may be more than one antagonist in the series, but one should be the principle villain. They should have at least one redeeming trait or quirky behavior that makes them appealing to readers.

  • Harry Potter: Voldemort / Tom Riddle.
  • Twilight: Aro the Volturi.
  • Hunger Games: President Coriolanus Snow.

Coming of age: The protagonist needs to grow up and mature as the series progresses in a literary rite of passage. It’s better to start the story when the character is younger so that by the end of the series they have reached adulthood.

  • Harry Potter: Seven books; each one representing an academic year at Hogwarts School.
  • Twilight: In the first book, Bella is a 17-year-old high school student. In the final book, she is an adult and married with child.
  • Hunger Games: Katniss is 16 in the first book and 18 by the end of the series. Each book shows her rite of passage from innocence to fighting in the Hunger Games and leading a rebellion.

Epic tension: The story should include an epic quest, conflict, struggle, or tension that drives the story. Good versus evil is an old standby that works, but the story can also involve shades of gray that address contemporary moral and ethical issues. The story should have a decisive goal that, if met, will resolve the conflict.

  • Harry Potter: A good versus evil struggle between Harry Potter and Voldemort that turned gray when they learned that they shared a magical bond.
  • Twilight: A human entering the world of vampires and werewolves disturbed their fragile truce and violated accepted laws and customs. The imbalance led to an epic struggle to find a new equilibrium.
  • Hunger Games: A good versus evil struggle between Katniss Everdeen and President Snow. Growing up in a violent, oppressive world, Katniss was thrust into a struggle against the existing world order that culminated in an epic battle between the Capitol and the rebels.

Action and emotion: The story should balance action and emotion. It’s no coincidence that Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games were written by women who excelled at bringing out the emotion and affection in their characters and as well as delivering action and adventure needed to move the plot. Each deals with difficult topics such as death; at least one major character dies or is near death in all three.

  • Harry Potter: Dating and the deaths of several major characters.
  • Twilight: Dating, marriage, child-birth, and some deaths.
  • Hunger Games: Dating and the deaths of several major characters.

Original reinterpretation of popular themes: The series should exploit a theme in popular culture that appeals to readers. All three reinterpret familiar stories in an original way that attracts a large audience. Many of the authors’ ideas are not new, but the way they package them is new and exciting to readers.

  • Harry Potter: British history, magic, myths and legends.
  • Twilight: Myths and legends, particularly about vampires and werewolves.
  • Hunger Games: A post-apocalyptic world, war, and reality TV.

These are a few of the story elements common to the Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. Adding them to your own story won’t guarantee that it will be the next major book phenomenon, but they will improve your odds. If you plan to write an epic series, make sure that you’ve included all of them in your story. Rather than mimicking their elements, try something new, and you might just find yourself on the cusp of the next big literary sensation.

This is part two of a two-part series examining what transforms a book series into a cultural phenomenon. Click here to read part one.

bookphenom2

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He recently published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. His upcoming book, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be released on March 31, 2012. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Real Dreams Now Available in Print


Real Dreams Front CoverA French prisoner struggles to survive in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

A delinquent youth is obsessed with a cemetery ghost.

Good and evil fight for the soul of a zombie.

A grandmother thought to suffer from mental illness predicts the future.

A mysterious maintenance man haunts a college dormitory.

Car trouble leads to an encounter with an angel.

The Greek god of the unknown fights his nemesis, the god of light.

A chief must calm a volcano before it destroys his village.

A human tries to dissuade elves and dwarves from going to war.

A bride confronts deception in an effort to reunite with her bridegroom.

A child dreams of an alien invasion.

Humanity races to colonize a second moon orbiting the earth.

A boy encounters superhuman army ants that escape from a military laboratory and move into his closet.

A foreign exchange student learns baseball and tries out for a championship team.

These stories and more are featured in Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories, a collection of 15 short stories written between 1981 and 2011. The stories are from multiple genres with some common themes, including hope, dreams, light, darkness, perseverance, and spirituality, wrapped up in some novel ideas.

Enjoy these diverse and timeless works three decades in the making.

Now available to purchase in print at Amazon.com and Createspace. Also available to purchase as an e-book for the Kindle at Amazon.com and for the Nook at Barnes & Noble.

To read more books and stories by M.G. Edwards, visit www.mgedwards.com.

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