My Funny (and True) Ghost Town Story

Colorado Ghost Town

Nice to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

Here in Colorado, we have our fair share of ghost towns. GPS and smart phones make them easier to find these days, but years ago you had to get there the old-fashioned way.

One summer day, my wife and I were exploring a decently intact ghost town deep in the mountains. The roofs of the buildings were caved in, but the storefronts were still standing. After hiking around and snapping photos, we sat on the tailgate of the Bronco to share a sandwich.

In the distance, a wispy dust cloud appeared, accompanied by the growling of a motorcycle engine.

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Discover New Fantasy Reads at Knaaks Knoll

Black City Demon by Richard KnaakWhen I was a kid, DragonLance was the first series of fantasy novels that totally hooked me. I still get chills thinking about Raistlin changing his robes from red to black.

Now, my friend and fellow author Richard A. Knaak (longtime DragonLance author and New York Times bestselling author of Black City Saint and Black City Demon) has started up a Facebook page focused on spotlighting the undiscovered gems of fantasy and science fiction.

Check it out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KnaaksKnoll/

Want a chance to win a signed paperback book? Join my author newsletter. >

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The Best 80s Game You Probably Didn’t Play

Advanced Fighting Fantasy - Stellar Adventures RPG

Look closely and you’ll also spot Rebel Planet on the right, which shares the same cover art. Hey, the more giant sword-swinging space lizards, the merrier!

Way back in the 1980s, there were gamebooks, those choose-your-own-adventure type of books where you made a decision and then turned to a specially-numbered paragraph to find out what happened next.

Now, they’re back.

Ian Livingstone, who (along with fellow Games Workshop founder Steve Jackson) sold millions of Fighting Fantasy books worldwide in the 80s, has just penned Port of Peril. It’s the first brand-new Fighting Fantasy adventure in many years. I’m completely psyched.

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6 Easy Steps to Writing Unforgettable Characters

Salem - A Kiss Before Doomsday

This is Salem, one of the most powerful sorcerers in the Dru Jasper series. Whatever you do, don’t make fun of his hat.

Every writer knows that creating interesting characters is one of the toughest parts of the job.

I don’t feel like an expert on characters by any means, but RT Book Reviews said this about my latest book: “MacNaughton has a real gift for developing quirky and crazy characters.”

Nice to hear, but I’ll tell you: it’s not really a gift. Nobody is born knowing how to write great characters. It’s a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned.

Want to know how I do it? I’ve laid out how to create your own characters, step-by-step.

You can read it here on Fiction University.

What elements of writing do you struggle with? Leave me a comment below.

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The Best Worst Summer Bookstore Trip Ever

Best Worst Summer Bike RideAs I kid, I was a voracious reader. My sister was too, so between the two of us, we went through books at an astonishing rate. One summer, when I was probably nine or 10 years old, I realized I had run out of good things to read. Uh oh!

There I was, out in the middle of the country, at the height of summer vacation, and we were out of books. Can you imagine the horror?

So I hatched a mad genius plan. We would ride our bikes to the bookstore!

The nearest bookstore was a place called the Paperback Trader, and they were pretty much the only affordable option for a kid on my particular budget. Besides, I was absolutely certain we could get there and back before anyone noticed we were gone.

Somehow, I convinced my sister to go along with me in this scheme, even though it hadn’t occurred to me just how far away the bookstore really was.

In fact, round-trip, it was a full 25 miles.

Still, we knew the way by heart, since our parents had driven us there and back so many times to buy books.

We were ready for the journey. My sister’s bike had a banana seat and a white plastic basket decorated with flowers. I had a black fixed-gear Huffy bike with checkerboard padding. I also had my backpack, two Whatchamacallit candy bars, and a whole pocketful of quarters for buying books.

What could possibly go wrong?

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It Happened at the Tattered Cover

Life is so weird. Steven Tyler from Aerosmith was at the Tattered Cover on Friday, when I had my book signing. I did not, in fact, get a chance to ask him if “Dude Looks Like a Lady” was actually about Vince Neil from Motley Crue. (But I have my suspicions.)

As always, the Tattered Cover was a fantastic place to do a book signing, and I’m eternally grateful to all of the wonderful people there for having me. Sorry about the mess.

I did get the chance to make new friends and talk about the inspirations behind A Kiss Before Doomsday, including secret underground bunkers, magic crystals, go-go boots, demon-possessed muscle cars, and the fact that zombies don’t drive. At least as far as I know.

Then I read one of my favorite scenes, answered a bunch of questions from my endlessly smart readers, and gave away handfuls of brightly colored crystals – in this case, sucrose crystals. (Rock candy!) Afterward, we celebrated at the scrumptious restaurant next door, modestly called The Goods.

None of it would’ve been possible without my unstoppable agent Kristin Nelson, my tireless editor Rene Sears, all of the good folks at Pyr, and most of all, the support of readers like you. Thank you so much for making this book a success!

Kristin Nelson and Laurence MacNaughton at Tattered Cover - A Kiss Before Doomsday

Funny, I thought the Tattered Cover would have maybe four or five books on hand…

the actual kiss before doomsday

The real kiss before doomsday. (Or at least, before the book signing.)

Laurence MacNaughton and fans at Tattered Cover

I’m a fairly tall guy, but my friend and fellow Colorado author Kevin Wolf is six-foot-six.

2017 Book Signing at Tattered Cover - with boots

True story: my lovely wife’s go-go boots are so fabulous that I actually put them in the book. Watch for the scene where Dru goes undercover at a sorcerer’s masquerade. These are the boots.

Kristin Nelson and Laurence MacNaughton cut the cake at Tattered Cover

Now available in paperback, ebook, and my favorite format of all – cake!

Tattered Cover bookmark

The coveted “golden bookmark” from the inestimable Tattered Cover. This is seriously cool. I don’t feel worthy.

Don’t miss out on more fun events, giveaways, and other cool stuff! Subscribe to my author newsletter. >

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New Author Interview on Blog Talk Radio

Wooden Pants - Daily Author podcastThe Daily Author turned out to be one of my favorite live interviews ever. Richard and I got into some pretty in-depth discussions about:

• What it takes to overcome creative anxiety
• Connecting with your creative support network
• The importance of knowing good advice from bad
• Independent vs. traditional publishing – there is a third way
• The long journey from freelancer to author
• And much, much more!

Plus, I’m doing a special giveaway just for podcast listeners. Listen here.

Don’t forget to subscribe for bonus content and an extra chance to win. >

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Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Friday July 14 at 4pm ET

Reddit Books - urban fantasyJoin me on Reddit today and ask me anything.

Seriously. Any questions you may have about writing, publishing, crystals… muscle cars… cheeseburgers… whatever. Hey, I’m happy to help. Continue reading

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There Are Two Kinds of Book Reviews (and Not the Kinds You Think)

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Photo credit: Guido van Nispen

Authors have a love-hate relationship with book reviews. Some reviews make you light up and glow. Others make you feel like you’re dying an agonizing death.

Reading reviews of your own books is fraught enough to make even the toughest writer quiver. But what most people don’t realize is that there are actually two distinctly different kinds of reviews. Continue reading

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Top 10 Underrated Books of 2016

The BibliosanctumUpdate: Read the brand new review of A Kiss Before Doomsday from The Bibliosanctum. >

I love top 10 lists. Maybe I just love reading them and trying to think of two or three things they left out. Or maybe that’s just me.

At any rate, this is a list that you definitely need to check out.

The marvelous Mogsy over at The BiblioSanctum has put together a thought-provoking roll call of hidden gems from 2016: Continue reading

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