Writing Workshop Excerpts

Here is the first of our lecture excerpts from Editor in Chief Virginia Carraway Stark’s writing workshops. This excerpt is taken from her opening statements on our Writing in the Multiverse Series, which started in January and just finished up the last week of April. Congratulations on our 14 attendees’ completion of the course, and a big thanks to everyone who attended in addition to getting accreditation!

You can book for this summer’s courses on writing at StarkLight Press by checking back here the end of June, when our Fall Schedule will be posted. For more info before then, feel free to drop a query to starklightdesk@gmail.com

copyright 2015 Virginia Carraway Stark.

“What is the multiverse? The multiverse is the concept that places, times and characters all exist simultaneously regardless of constraints of the four dimensions. In writing, the mulitiverse is ultimate freedom and ultimate responsibility.

Many people are overwhelmed by the idea of creating one universe. This is fair because creating a universe requires not only dedication and the ability to multi-task, but also vision. Attention to detail is integral because a failure to possess such details makes the universe you have made a crude and uninteresting place that nobody wants to be stuck in. In order to create a universe you must have a crystal clear vision of the constraints of your universe and how that plays out in terms of locations, distances, resources and all the things that we learn in social studies class. Add to that that you must have a clear idea of timeline including the history that has made your universe different from the other universes and you begin to see how it becomes a complicated structure to hold steady in your mind.

Let’s say for the purpose of this exercise that you have created a science fiction universe. In this universe everything has been influenced by advances in nanotechnology. The main limitation on your universe is that they have remained loyal to nanotechnology at the expense of all other technologies.

This is a very basic universe. It is set in the not too distant future, say, 2070. Thanks to nanotech, humanity has found ways to terraform and make the majority of the solar system habitable. They don’t have the ability to leave the solar system, their technology simply hasn’t had enough time to evolve to that level but leaving the solar system is a major goal in this hypothetical universe.

Here I have created a very simple universe by keeping it within the constraints of what I know of my current universe. I only have a little over fifty years of history to discover and that comes with a lot of limits on how different things can really be from this universe.

We will call this little universe 2070. 2070 is a universe that is close to our own. This is a great jumping off point for making any universe because it is also the start of a timeline. It has very clear rules, no one has left the solar system and the only new technologies must be almost exclusively nanotechnology that could reasonably have been discovered and implemented in fifty years and a bit.

Lets say that I want to expand 2070. 2070 is now 2170. 2170 has discovered that nanotechnology wasn’t as safe as everyone had hoped. There are so many places that this can be taken to and 2170 begins to get far enough away to branch into multiverse options.

In 2170 they discovered that the nanotechnology had been hijacked by a hostile alien force in the year 2090. They have spent the past eighty years at war with an enemy that they can’t see. Since nanotechnology has been used in medicine, food, transportation and terraforming just to name a few, there is no safe place and no one is completely safe from being tampered with.


In a dimension not far away, in 2170b, it was discovered that nanotechnology was sucseptable to a rare form of cosmic radiation that disabled all of it in the year 2112. The result was colonists stranded throughout the solar system and a complete collapse of government. Many people didn’t survive and many of those who did were forced to live underground in a survival of the strongest ‘world gone mad’ scenario.

Now put a hero into each story.

In both universes the hero is a man who was raised according to vanished principles and ideas. His parents were through backs who didn’t believe in nanotechnology making life too easy and they avoided it as much as possible for both themselves and their son. The result: in 2170 Hero is one of the only ones who isn’t under the influence of the nanotech controlled by aliens. He has freewill and the courage and the resources to fight for the human race.

In 2170b, Hero has the courage and resources to teach the survivors of the nano-pocalypse how to survive without the help of the nanobots anymore. He rallies them together and finds a way to grow food, patch together habitats that may otherwise be exposed to the void of space, maybe he even gathers survivors from different planets, develops new science to replace what has been lost.

This is an example of what could be the start of a bigger multiverse.

Heroes and situations must be both credible and engaging and your understanding of both must be much more profound than merely creating a universe. This is the very basic start and it is deliberately simplistic to attempt to explain the complex reality that is the ultimate holy grail of writing: the multiverse.”

An Interview with John J. Higgins, Esq


Today’s interview is with one of the winners of StarkLight Press’ Third Short Story contest, John J. Higgins.

John J. Higgins is an author, attorney, radio host and former statewide prosecutor who has had a multi-faceted career and life. He has worked on farms, performed firearm repairs, and refinished and sold antiques, all before he finished high school. In between pursuing his college studies, he supervised industrial finishing operations and assisted in developing a powder coating system. After college, he worked full time and attended law school at night. He also filmed rock stars and celebrities for public service announcements and produced and emceed a play that performed before audiences that totaled over 170,000. In his career as an attorney, he researched and wrote policy papers for governmental committees, drafted legislation, and revised statutes. In his role as a statewide prosecutor he was involved in some of the highest profile cases in his state, from prosecuting multiple and complex crime rings to homicides, including those committed by a serial killer. Among other things he does in his private life, he can scuba dive and pilot an airplane. An avid student of history and spiritual development, he lives in New Jersey in an old Victorian train station he converted into his residence.

His piece, A Devil’s Find,  is contained inside the covers of StarkLight 3, available at http://www.starklightpress.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at starklightdesk@gmail.com

1. When did you first become interested in writing? 

A a child I had my own fantasy worlds and books opened up the fantasy worlds of others.  The first time though I really thought of writing fiction on my own I was 10 or 11 and wanted to write my own James Bond novel.  I figured out pretty soon I did not have enough experience in the world.  My poor 007 would have been stuck in the woods or baling hay at the time.
Then after years of being a statewide prosecutor and having written many reports, briefs, some laws, and position papers I could retire from that and write my own fiction in earnest. 
2. Where did your interest in angels and the supernatural arise? Could you tell us a bit about that? 
I had seen angels in my bedroom shortly before my father was killed.  They seemed natural to me and very intriguing.  I had some interventions where I was in dangerous situations and believe was saved from disaster by divine interventions.  When I went looking for their story, the history of the angels, all I could find was an assortment of partial stories.  That’s when I decided to research the whole subject further and assemble a story which made sense to me.
I have also had an interest in ghosts, I believe my grandfather’s funeral home was haunted and over the years I have been in some haunted places.  I even have some ghost pictures in my train station of one ghost in particular.
3. Did your interests in writing affect your career prior to your retirement?
In the law field writing is one of the main skills one has to possess.  I was never afraid of writing a motion or a brief or responding to one.  That made me a bit more fearless than some of my colleagues who found that to be a chore.  Not being afraid to stand up in court and argue also helped.  The difference between writing legal briefs and motions is that as a prosecutor you have to be truthful and honest so it was restricting in some ways.  Defense attorneys on the other hand… can be let’s say a lot more creative in their writings…
4. How do you use your writing to relate to others? 
I don’t know if I use my writings that way.  I am pretty good dealing with people face to face.  And at least so far writing about angels doesn’t affect my dealings with other humans, who knows what will happen when I get beyond the veil.  🙂
5. Who are your heroes and inspirations? 
Silly or not — James Bond has always been an inspiration to me…but Ian Fleming’s and Connery’s version.  Cool, calm, collected, yet witty and able to figure things out quickly, and do whatever it takes.  In real life JFK inspired me to work in government and try to change society for the better.  Abe Lincoln for his perseverance too, despite everything going badly in the early Civil War, he stayed true to his path, even made it better when he decided to rid the country of slavery once and for all.
6. What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
Just do it!  Say whatever you want to say.  Nowadays there are all these alleged rules of writing, don’t use adjectives, don’t use adverbs etc  Its important to find your own voice.  Hemingway, Stephen King and the rest found their own voice, but it should not control how you express yourself.  There are no Gods of writing. Follow your dream, but also remember that if you want to succeed –it has to be a commitment, there are no overnight successes  so don’t judge your efforts on that myth.
7. Could you tell us a little about your writing universe? 
My writing universe is actually the whole universe. 🙂  I start with the Almighty coming into  consciousness and creating the universe.  Then he creates the Beings of Light who assist him with the rest.  (I use he but dont believe he is a male – but the term “it” sounds disrespectful) I have fourteen archangels, nine species of angels, seven different levels of Heaven and seven Pits of Hell (coming in the next trilogy), pyramids, light weapons, spells, Humans, prehumans named Simians, and a love story entwined throughout between the lead archangel and the first human female named Lillith.
8. Do you have any rituals you use as an author to get into the writing zone? 
I generally try to get through all my social media demands before I start to focus on my writing.  But no, I don’t do any ritualistic dances in my office (naked or otherwise) — sorry to disappoint. I write in basic silence though.  Music or television in the background distracts me…the silence let’s me fully engage my senses as I write.  The story unfolds in my mind like a movie, I really try to put myself there.  And when my characters get to the point that they seem real to me, they come up with their own dialogue and behaviors.  its wonderful to watch.
9. What message do you think your writing sends to your readers? 
I hope my archangel books make the readers think about their own perception of the Almighty, how love really can be the driving force in the universe, and that when it gets misguided it can turn to what we call evil.  But still remains logically consistent.  Beyond that I hope my universe is beautiful and entertaining to the reader and allows them to go on a journey with me.
10. Any final thoughts that you would like to share with us? 
I have been working on some unrelated books, one of which is my memoirs.  It’s been a chore and yet a blessing. And I have a story in your anthology as well.   I also do my two radio shows a week.  Tuesday nights on Hanging With Higgins where I interview authors or creative people like yourself and Saturday nights with Barb Adams where we discuss problems in America and practical solutions to remedy them.  Would love for your readers to join me.
You can find John at www.john-j-higgins.com. His radio shows can be found at  www.hangingwithhiggins.com and radioamerikanow.com    Be sure to check out the great programs and books he has to offer!

His Amazon author page is http://amzn.com/e/B00AU76AOI, Facebook Author Pages https://www.facebook.com/TheArchangelJarahmaelTheWarToConquerHeavenTrilogy

StarkLight Short Story Contest 4 Winners


Here are the lucky winners of the StarkLight Short Story Contest, fourth edition!

Our congratulations to the following authors:

Jen. M. Duell

Van Fleming

Mike McCraven

Michelle Patricia Browne

Roxann Harvey

Will Norton

E.L. Caine

Ernest Samuel Llime

Congratulations to all our winning authors, whose stories are sure to make StarkLight Volume 4 our greatest anthology to date!

Tony Stark,

Publisher and CEO, StarkLight Press.

  Fourth Short Story Contest Closed- 

Great turnout of authors both new and known to StarkLight Press’ 4th Short Story Contest! 

We received our largest number of contributions for our short story anthology  

 spaces during this last contest interval- way to go independent authors!

StarkLight Press wants to thank all of the writers who took the time to send in short stories, flash fiction and standalone stories. 

We will be pouring over the great fiction we received and making our announcement as to our next winners the third week of May. Keep your fingers crossed-  fabulous prize packs loaded with StarkLight Press merchandise will be awarded to our winning authors. 

Congratulations to everyone for submitting and making this our greatest contest yet!

Tony Stark

Publisher and CEO,

StarkLight Press.