Writing Genre: Nigel Shinner

Of all the genres I could write, I focus on contemporary thrillers. I take inspiration from real-life crime stories and put my own spin on them, trying to twist the basic elements of fact into an engaging, suspense-filled roller coaster ride of a story. I would never be a cloned soldier on a space battle cruiser, so I can’t write about it with the conviction I desire. I also, do not mix with Elves or Dwarves and so while I may enjoy a little fantasy story, I cannot find the common ground. However, I can put myself into the mind of a hero character, who comes up against criminal characters, terrorists, or killers, in everyday situations. Horror lurks around every corner, and what occurs behind closed doors is often far more frightening than anything in a fictional world.








A Primer on World Building

This initial primer to World Building will be followed with weekly excerpts by published and emerging writers in our World Building Wednesday blog series. If you would like to contribute, please feel free to submit excerpts from your worlds. Please subscribe to our blog to make sure you get all the wonderful and weird things Introvert Press has to offer.


I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in worldbuilding. Many people build worlds for different reasons. The most common ones I’ve encountered are for tabletop RPGs or personal fantasy world. I find the ladder super interesting, but I won’t get into that. Personally, I’ve only encountered a few people who are building worlds for elongated, story-telling purposes.

Those people seem to know what they’re doing. I often feel like my own world is inferior to say, Middle-earth or Elder Scrolls. And that’s what I want to talk about it.

When you are first building your world, design so it pleases you and only you. Obviously, through the writing, editing, and publishing process you will have to tweak the setting, characters, and plot so it is coherent enough for your audience to read and enjoy. But I’m talking about when you are starting from scratch when you are endeavoring on the long, frustrating, and hugely rewarding process of building your very own world.

Don’t listen to what others are saying, or what they would say. Create only what you find beautiful, what you find stunning, what you find undeniably cool.

If you want to have unicorns and aliens in the same world, so be it. If you want your character to switch gender identity three separate times, go for it. This is the time where your imagination can explode into the infinite colors and creation of your own design. Nobody else is looking over your shoulder unless you let them. This is something you can build without any physical effort. It’s something you can create on your own without having to hammer down walls and cut up wood. It’s something expansive and beautiful made from the musings and daydreams of your mind. So treat it like you would be tending your own garden or decorating your own house. Fill it with things you love.

Take it from me, if you try to create your world with more consideration on what others think instead of you think, eventually the world you’ve built will feel dull. It will feel hollow. You could have a solid plot, a solid world, solid characters… but if you are designing it to please anyone else but yourself, eventually, that world can lose its colors. It can lose its life. You will look at all the stuff you built and something inside you will be whispering you don’t want to write what you have created.

That feeling is so heartbreaking.

It’s devastating, but it’s a strong learning experience. You kind of get a “screw it” attitude and you grant yourself the freedom to create what you want to create.

I like to think your audience can sense your passion through what you create. I like to think that’s why titles like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones do so well because the person who created them poured all of their creativity and all of the passion into their own paper-and-ink worlds. The transfer of passion from writer to reader is a really important and intimate experience. I think that’s a big reason why creators should start off with what makes them happiest.

A piece of worldbuilding that I’m proud of and I’m passionate about in my books is this clan of elves called the Solvaryn. Along with other elves in my verse, they are very protective of nature. The one thing these elves hold sacred to their heart is a special, isolated grove filled with an arboreal plant-life called the “Sun-Spilled Trees”. These trees collect sunlight in their dew early in the morning, reabsorb the light into their systems and at night, they glow with the light they absorb. They aren’t blinding, though, they glow like those calming, yellow lights you see around the holidays.

I’m really proud of them and so is the Solvaryn clan, because they protect those trees fiercely. They rarely ever allow any outsiders within the fold and when they do, those outsiders aren’t allowed to touch those trees. These trees are fragile and rare because people cut them down to mine the sunlight from their systems. But the other thing that is a big enemy to these trees, the only trees left in the world, is the season of winter.

Going off of this, next in line to lead the clan is a male half-elf named Ro, short for Rowan. He’s witty, charismatic, dutiful, and loyal to his clan. The clan, and Ro, only know that his father is an elf. Blood purity isn’t a big thing for these people and up until the day before his coronation, they had no problem with Ro leading the clan. However, that night, there was an assault on the grove and in a last act of desperation, Ro pulled out this surprise winter power that only he knew about. He managed to save everyone and everything in the grove.

Now, the Solvaryn clan is pretty progressive. Before Ro, there was a female elf leading the clan. They don’t care about blood purity or gender/racial superiority. But when it comes to those damn trees, everything goes. Even though it wasn’t his fault for having winter abilities, even though no one was more dedicated to the clan than him, even though not a single tree was harmed by his powers, within the hour of using his abilities he was banished from the tribe.

He has two brothers; Dillon who is a full elf and Morgan, who is half-elf, half-tree nymph. With Ro’s banishment, the crown is handed to his younger brother Dillon. Morgan, however, had always had an aloof attitude towards the clan and towards his brothers. So when he saw his oldest brother show a secret that got him banished, Morgan left with him because it humanized Ro for him.

Ro is different from my other characters in that even though he is suffering, he tries his best to be funny and positive. He tries to keep a smile on his face and bring light to the people around him. Morgan and he grow closer in exile and despite how much he misses his clan, Ro now has this great opportunity to explore a part of himself that he always knew about, but never gave himself permission to understand.

I am very proud of everything I just shared. However, I’d say the most important part in all of this is Ro, my character. Pretty trees and special names are great, but the characters are what catches the attention of the audience the most—at least that is what happens with me. I think the passion the writer feels is delivered to the audience through the characters and the more relatable they are, the more the audience will care about the world that was built.

So seriously, have fun with the project and the world you are building. You are doing a favor for yourself and a favor for your audience by choosing to focus on what inspires you because your audience will get the very best of you and what you can create.

* * *

Victoria Folch-Pi is a dreamer and has a tendency to pour her fantasies onto the page. She’s got a proclivity for the emotional and the fantastical, but she still explores different avenues of writing (and life), even if it’s scary. She has been everywhere from Boston to England in her studies of writing, receiving a B.A. in English from UMass Amherst for this very purpose. All in all, she ultimately hopes that what she writes—fiction or otherwise—will inspire others on their own life’s path, wherever that may lead.

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A Life in Mexico: Signs

Mom was in the doorway. It was Sunday. It was her big outing. Auntie Pia was coming to collect her to go to Sunday services. The church was only three blocks away, but the stones and the uphill path was too much for her old feet and bones. Pia was younger by twenty years and drove a blue pickup truck. During the week Pia hauled bananas and other fruit she grew to the markets nearby.

Mom always stood in the doorway a good hour before Pia arrived. She wore her almost white dress. It used to be white, but years and years of washing had faded it to more ivory. I never asked her why she stood so early in the doorway. Was she so eager to get out of the house? I wouldn’t blame her. All she did was cook for me and care for my brother who was plagued by the devil. All my brother did was lay twisted on his bed all day. His arms were contorted into odd angles and his left leg was stiff too, toes pointed and all. I thought it was ironic that his name was Angél. Mom’s life wasn’t a very good life, but that was what life was like for a poor, old lady in this part of the world: caretaker.

I’d gambled the money away Mom gave me to get eggs and potatoes so breakfast was beans, tortillas, and jalapeños- again.

I heard Pia’s truck pull up outside. She and Mom started talking loudly, Pia through her car window and Mom at the doorway. They would continue talking the entire trip to the church. They had known each other a lifetime yet still chatted as though they were school girls.

I heard their car doors slam shut, waited for the truck to pull away, and picked up my satchel. I left just a few minutes after mom and began walking down the central pathway of the rancho. The old adobe homes were painted all the colors of Easter. Some were newly painted, other were scarred with time and erosion. Skinny, feral dogs ran through the street in packs. From this vantage point, Lupé could see the Pacific Ocean. It was a good 10 km away, but it might as well be 1000 km for all the times he had gone to it.

Once he got to the edge of the rancho Lupé held back the jungle and walked down a small path. His machéte hacked at the encroaching foliage as he made his way down the path. It wasn’t long before he was wet with sweat from the humid air and physical activity. It took him an hour or so but he finally arrived at the Rio El Corte. It was summer so it was running full fueled by the regular monsoon rains they experienced every other day or so.

He had heard the rush of the river long before his eyes saw the river. He loved that sound.

Finally, he broke out of the jungle and his eyes took in the power of El Corte, water rushed dangerously from the mountain system behind him on its way to the Pacific. The river didn’t have beaches; rather, large boulders formed the banks. There was a large flat rock that he sat upon whenever he made the trek down to the river. He reached into his satchel and removed the home rolled joint and searched for the lighter with his other hand. His felt along the bottom of the satchel and searched again. He pulled his hand out and let his head drop. He’d forgotten his lighter. After a pause,  he thought he left it sitting on the concrete block beside his bed.

He swore under his breath.

He swore under his breath again.

He put his hands behind him, propping up his body. His fingers felt the rock below him and he turned to look at the engravings that covered most of the rocks. No one knew where the engravings came from, they’d been there longer than his town had been there, and that was a long time. Every once in awhile gringos would come to their rancho with new clothes and shiny cars. They’d pay someone in town to lead them to the engravings. Those were good days. They would sometimes pay 200 pesos, an entire days’ wage for the hour walk down to the river.

He looked at the carvings and wondered where they came from or what they meant. The gringos would talk about the carvings being called “hieroglyphs”. That was a word 

He looked at the carvings and wondered where they came from or what they meant. The gringos would talk about them being something called “hieroglyphs”. That was a word he’d heard and largely forgotten. To him, and the people in the rancho, they were just signs. The old people, higher up in the mountains, who called themselves The Cora, had said from time to time the carvings were signs.

Lupé wondered for a few seconds about what kind of signs these carvings were. Did they mean their town would be given gold from the gods? Did it mean they would be lifted up into the sky with aliens? Lupé laughed to himself and thought ‘maybe they could tell him where his fucking lighter was.’


René Moreno, State of Nayarit, Mexico

Super Sperm

I’ve been thinking about sperm today. Not ordinary sperm, but super sperm–the kind real men used to grow. When I was in high school, one of my classmates got pregnant. Back then, getting pregnant outside of the holy bonds of wedlock sucked. It usually implied sexual intercourse. But not always.

The girl who got pregnant—I’ll call her Deborah—was a virgin. And yet, she was with child. Knocked up. Bun in the oven. She was in a family way, through no fault of her own. It was very sad. Very unfair.

Deborah got pregnant sitting on toilet seat some guy had recently pleasured himself on. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Sperms used to be so powerful. Hell, a young woman could relieve herself in a public restroom, and leave defiled. After hearing Deborah’s story, I never sat on a public toilet seat again; I knew a sperm could break through one those flimsy paper seat covers, waiting to get at one of my unsuspecting eggs. Though my childbearing years are far behind me, I still don’t sit on public toilet seats. Over the years, I’ve perfected my aim.

Annie Aronson: grandmother, writer, fabulous.

Review: Unhappily Ever After – A Villain’s Tale

I love fairy tales, and this is a great take on the traditional stories. It gives you a different perspective of the heroes and villains. There are always more than one side to a story and this book gives us the so called bad guys side. Things are not always what they seem, and people can hide their true selves. What would you do when you found out that you have been lied to all this time? Our hero must decide what us right when he finally learns the truth about everything.

This story grabbed me right from the start. It is a fun and charming read. The author does a good job of bringing the characters and their world to life. I loved seeing the Prince figure out what he truly wanted and fight for it. I was quickly immersed in this story and would love to see more from this world and those that live in it.

See Amazon reviews here


Manic Monday: Domesticating the Tapeworm

MANIC MONDAYS is a weekly feature concentrating on writing that is odd and quirky to assist in breaking up the dreaded return to the work week. This series is an open submission series, so if you have something off-beat to contribute send it our way!


One of my Face Book friends–who’s also a Real Life friend–is whining and sniveling about a story she’s sick of seeing at the top of her feed. Sharon is not referring to a story about our government closing its doors. Who cares about the Shut Down a man ate sushi six-months ago and grew a 5-foot tapeworm?

Now, Sharon recently ate sushi for lunch, and is now convinced she is growing a tapeworm. Knowing her as well as I do–like 30 years–she will worry so much about growing a tapeworm that she’ll grow a God damn ulcer. Sharon is a nut.

I, on the other hand, am brilliant. I read the entire thread–she has well-informed friends. I learned that eating sushi made from wild fish, cod in particular, is a surefire way to catch a tapeworm. So, I told Sharon I went looking for wild cod sushi after reading her post, hoping to catch a tapeworm. People with tapeworms lose weight. Doesn’t matter how many calories, carbohydrates or fat grams they eat. They’re really eating for two.

I will name my tapeworm Larry, and if he does his job well, I will reward him. Here’s the deal: after I lose 20 pounds, I will again eat sushi made from wild cod hoping to grow Lucy. Lucy will be Larry’s significant other. Working together, side-by-side, they will allow me to eat whatever I like for the rest of my life. My part of the deal is my promise to keep them well-fed.

Yep, I’m domesticating the tapeworm. Sharon is so excited by my idea that she’s already started a Face Book group called Wormers. Like I said, she’s a nut.

Annie Aronson

Amazon Preview Feature

Self publishing has many steps. I’m currently preparing for a book launch in May. I’m working on my Amazon Preview with Create Space (the facilitator of book prep for Amazon). This feature allows you to preview your book on their website. They provide options for the intended audience of your preview. Essentially you can create a Private Preview available only to people you select; or there are two types of Public Previews to target audiences or to the whole of the Amazon readership.

I chose the latter.

If you want to see what the Preview feature looks like, I shamelessly give you the link for my PREVIEW of SHELTERED, the story of Joe a homeless man with mental illness as he finds his way back to security. It is due out in May

Disclaimer: there is some tough language.