The Mysterious Stranger

Today, while looking for pearls of wisdom I found Michael Levin, the author of “Books are my Babies.”

Honestly, he is brilliant. Well worth following. In this case I disagree with him so completely that I am doing the opposite of his advice in this video. I am writing about the stranger that suddenly showed up and gave me needed advice.

Out of respect for his wishes, I will not point to any of his other videos. He is a mysterious stranger that suddenly showed up and gave me advice. Apart from this particular video, all of the others that I have seen so far have given me instant free and wonderful insight. You will have to search for that wisdom on your own, Grasshopper. I am told that it would be bad writing for me to hand you wisdom too easily. To me this rule seems pretty irritating.

Michael Levin advises you to avoid putting the stranger who provides advice in your story. He is right, it is overused. It is how things happen in real life. We don’t invent everything. Giving a character a problem that needs more than just himself to solve is giving a character a good problem.

I think that some of Michael Levin’s advice may help me get published. If I do really well, I will consider myself in debt to him the tune of one trip to Majorca. He is really, really smart, but I don’t think that his advice is going to solve all of my issues between here and my desired destination.

Even with simple issues, I disagree with Michael Levin on the grounds that all things are new again. I also disagree on the grounds that good writing is above such limits. Unless you manage the magical mysterious advice of a giving stranger well, it is going to be trite. It is also a weak shortcut. Well done, Yoda.

Obi-Wan and the Fairy Godmother are icons that should not be left out. If needed, make things a bit hard. At the very least, have the mystical stranger live in a swamp on a remote planet and have him hit your character with a stick repeatedly. In stories we like characters to have to pay a price for wisdom.

I can’t tell you how many fairytales, myths, legends and great authors have mysterious strangers appear and help the character. Don’t listen to this advice and leave the Fairy Godmother out of Cinderella. Let’s not ignore the writing of Dickens. His stories consist of brutal events punctuated by encounters with odd strangers with wisdom and assistance. If you dared to  edit J.K. Rowling using this rule, you would be hunted down by an angry horde carrying long sharp sticks. You just eliminated half of the good characters. Hagrid kicked the door down so he could tell Harry what Harry needed to know.

As a writer, it is wise to examine the limits that people advise you to take on. Don’t follow the advice. Instead, examine your work and make sure that you are doing it well. We all have limitations. A lot of the advice people give you is good. If you follow all of it, you might as well give up writing.


Never Give Up Your Dreams


One wannabe author to another, I beg you to never give up your dreams. The common advice these days is to avoid dreams in your stories. I fear that editors and agents have read that advice and will now ignore stories that start with or contain dreams. I fear the next “Apocalypse Now” or “Where the Wild Things Are,” will be pushed aside and condemned to the reject pile. It is true that dreams handled poorly are horrid wastes of a reader’s time. Kind of like those long bits of poetry that really don’t move the story along or the science fiction lecture about how the engines work. There is a reason that there is no manual of style for writing. One hack’s rules for what to avoid may be what propels another to greatness. Well done, poetry, explanations and dreams are wonderful. Back to the subject of leaving out dreams. Without dreams, the story of Joseph becomes a really sad one and the Bible only has one book. The book of Daniel doesn’t really work either. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” falls apart at the title page. Without dreams, one of the greatest books of all time, The Zhuangzi, is left in shreds.

Book Seven Was Just Started.

I have been a serious about my writing and not my blogging. Book Five and Six are finished but they have not been edited. I am working on book seven. I am blazing away despite being a bit sad. The outline that blew up from what I thought was going to be a single seventy thousand word book is now approaching the end. There is perhaps more that I could say, but I fear that once I let go of these characters they will fade from my mind. They will still be dear friends, but they won’t be running off doing their own thing and showing little respect to the outline anymore.

There are other characters and other stories. For the next book I will try to keep my outline much simpler so the story does not expand as much as this story did. Soon I must devote myself to editing, making covers and promoting the words I have written.

Finished Cover Art for All Seven Books

Headgames I Cover

Headgames II Cover

Headgames III Cover

Headgames IV Cover

Headgames V Cover

Headgames VI Cover

Headgames VII Cover


I am getting very close to finishing the last book of this series. I am going to miss these characters. To put off the writing of the last half of the seventh book, I went ahead and spent time on the graphics. I also need to compile the rest of the quotes for the beginning of the chapters and do four additional graphics. Then I suppose I won’t have any excuses. The plot is finished. The content has been lain out. It is time for me to finish this work.

I have had these characters buzzing around in my head ignoring my outlines and going above expectations for so long, I think I will be a bit lonely when they are gone.

Not for long though. I have other books to write and other characters to befriend.


Hearts in Wood favicon

Headgames I Stone Cover

Headgames II Stone Cover

Headgames III Stone Cover

Headgames IV Stone image

Headgames V Stone Cover

Headgames VI Stone Cover

Headgames VII Stone Cover








My Other Website,

Open Tool Box

I have for many years been posting tool making projects, woodworking, metalworking and gardening articles on my website, last year I have sadly almost totally neglected it. I love making tools, but I started writing the Headgames series on February 24, 2015 and have been seriously focusing all of my spare time on writing these books. So many wonderful projects are on hold until I finish. Who knows though, I have so many book ideas scrambling in my head waiting for their turn to be written.


Headgames IV: Spirits and Space

Book4 Kindle Cover

I have just started working on the fourth book in the series. I have a lot of editing work still to do on  book three so I will be shifting my time between the two books for a while as we shake the bugs out of the third book.

There is so much to cover with this book. 1977 is an amazing year and August of 1977 is an interesting month for Space exploration.


Lots of interesting things planned, Ben visits Space, Japan and Korea. The Elf wars continue and Ben is getting ready to visit a Japanese bluegrass festival.

I am still researching Korean lore. Lots of interesting things. For example, Hwang-gung ruled for a thousand years before becoming a stone that spoke and reminded men of their path to innocence.


As an update, Happy New Years! I am now at 50,000 words on this book!

New update, it is January 25. Despite having to spend too much time editing book III, writing a submission page and writing a synopsis, I am now at 63,000 words. This is probably a bit more than half way done. I may have to alter the book title. ‘Spirits and Spies’ seems to be a better description of far. In any case I am enjoying the book and can’t wait to see what happens next. You would think I would know, but the characters in this book have no respect for the outline.

Update, January 29, I have passed 70,000 words and finally Jewels younger sister makes her appearance!

Update January 31, 76,000 words. In twenty four more days I will have been working on this series for a year. With work and editing I probably won’t finish this and have written four books in one year. I won’t rush to fit it in. I love these books and don’t want to compromise on the quality. But I do have a goal and with the fates willing, I might just finish book four before the end of February.