Friday, December 30, 2011

12/30/2011 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone! It's the last Friday of the year (wow that went by fast) and I hope you're all looking forward to this weekend and the new year as much as I am. For now though, let's take a look at the last book review of 2011!

Today I look at "Crimson Rain" by Vanessa Finaughty, it's from the first person perspective, and tells the story of how vampires were created from blood that fell from the sky. I liked it because of the different origin story for them, they weren't just undead hunters of the night, but they also weren't drastically changed to be something a tween would be interested in (you know what I'm talking about, but I'm not going to say it.) They still drink blood, they're still super powerful, and they are still things that bring fear to mankind. Those are the vampires I'm talking about.

I also have always been interested in first person perspective. In my opinion it lets the reader fully involve themselves with the work, since everything becomes from their point of view rather than the sometimes nameless main character. Whenever I read something like that, I tend to get more drawn in, and more attached to all of the characters in the story, and "Crimson Rain" does that rather well.

The story focuses on one vampire that was turned as a young man and the decisions he must make. His choices are either save the humans or save the vampires. It deals with their constant struggles with Mother nature, and how she has a streak of vengeance that shouldn't be ignored.

"Crimson Rain" is free on Smashwords, and according to her insert at the end, is available in print via Barnes & Noble and Amazon. I good fit for the end of the year I say.

Thanks for checking out my blog all of you, and I hope you'll still be stopping by well into 2012. Monday will be another off day for me, so I'll see you all on Wednesday. I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday weekend! See you in 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

12/28/2011 Writing Wednesday!

Welcome back! The year is almost over and man has it been a productive one! Thanks for your patience with my lack of post on Monday, after last week at work I really just needed a full day off after it and the holiday. If anyone is familiar with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and/or Rifftrax, I highly recommend checking them out, they can make any terrible movie enjoyable.

Today I thought I would continue the trend of last week, this time focusing on characters rather than plot development. Remember these are characters that are being made from scratch, so they take a bit more time than ones you're let's say, basing off characters that someone else made like from a weekly tabletop game, or fanfiction.

The first, and sometimes the most difficult choice is do you want your character to be a man or a woman. Writing styles are going to change rather drastically depending on which one you pick, since men and women think in different ways. This is for the main protagonist too, you can have your main protagonist be a male, and have another character be female and jump between the two, this is just the starting point.

Next you need to figure out what they do, nothing too specific, but at least so you can get some idea of the world they live in and also the skills they may have. Your character, let's say his name's Phillipe, maybe a farm hand turned mob boss, that is going to tell you he's likely diligent, good at organizing, and always able to get the work done. Maybe he runs things on a strict schedule, and always knows where his people are, and also how to solve the problems they're in. You know he's going to be decent with heavy machinery, various farm tools, and weapons. In the right circumstances he can be terrifying.

After you know the basics, it's time to work out some kind of back story. This can be long or short, depending on how detailed you want to get, either way it's important to know where the character comes from. Let's use Phillipe again for all intensive purposes; he was orphaned and left in a barn as an infant, he was raised by a loving couple who couldn't have children of their own. When the father came into debt, Phillipe could only watch as the man was killed before his eyes by the powerful crime lord, and he made it his goal in life to become powerful enough to protect his adoptive mother from the same fate. He stole some money from people on the street until she could pay back the mob, then used himself as a bargaining chip, saying they could take him if they left her alone. They then trained him, taught him the ways of the hardened criminal, and somewhere in that time, Phillipe started to lose sight of what his true goals were, and success became the only option. He rose through the ranks until the Don, sick and dying in his bed, proclaimed that his successor would be the young man. Before anyone could protest, the elder man passed away, leaving Phillipe to carry on his legacy.

Something like that will tell you also what kind of personality the character will have. Sure you have the criminal boss who is ruthless and likely a killer, but on the other hand, he was raised by two very sweet people, there's likely going to be some kind of soft spot there, it will just be hard to bring out unless someone tries incredibly hard, or tugs at what little heart strings he has left. Now, I know that at this time, the 'jerk with charisma' is the cool thing to do, but in my opinion, that only works in TV/movies. When it comes to reading a book, if the main character is constantly cruel, uncaring, non-sympathic, and so forth, it's going to make it incredibly difficult to actually feel attached to that character, especially if it's the main protagonist, because that's the person the readers are supposed to focus on. If they don't have any redeeming qualities, they're going to get mad and throw your book across the room.

When you have their background figured out, it's now time to figure out how they will be fitting into that plot you figured out last week. This will also help you decide other characters, secondary and antagonist as well. It's up to you if you want to toss in the love interest, since they will likely be a driving force for a lot of character development/background reveling, but that is also something that a new 'second in command' or protege can do as well.

Thanks for stopping by! On Friday there will be another book posted up here for you all to look at. Next week I'll go into melding the character into the plot a bit more as well. I hope everyone had a fun holiday weekend, and I look forward to seeing you all again in a couple days!

Friday, December 23, 2011

12/23/2011 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back! It's the day before Christmas Eve and wow are things crazy at work! I am going to blame that for why this is up kind of late, but I'm writing this quickly so that you can see what we're looking at today!
Today we're looking at "Hunter's Heart" by Christine Pope. If that name sounds familiar that would be because a few weeks ago I looked at "High Noon at Hot Topic" by her as well. This story is also short, and free at Smashwords. It's the story of the Huntsman from Snow White being given his assignment to kill the beautiful princess for the evil Queen.

I've said it before how I love new takes on myths and fairy tales and this is a fun example of why. When things are taken from a perspective they aren't often done from and you can see the other side of the story, even if it's from a character that was relatively small in the scope of the much larger story, it adds depth to the character and gives you a sense they too are a real person thrown into something that is much bigger than they are.

Since this is short and free I won't go into too much detail, I don't want to give spoilers, but I do recommend looking at this story. It's very touching and you get an idea of the choices the Huntsman made when he took the job, and also let Snow White go so she could meet the Seven Dwarves.

It's almost Christmas and to those who celebrate I wish you a good one. Monday will be an off day so I will be posting again next Wednesday. For those who are doing some last minute shopping, "Hunters Heart" is free on Smashwords, and using the previous coupon code "The Light Rises" can be too. I wish you all a good weekend, happy holidays, and a happy new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12/21/2011 Writing Wedneday!

Welcome back! Congratulations on making it to the middle of the work-week. I have received my new glasses, and though looking at a computer monitor is (strangely) fine, it's when I look away the world looks strange. Yay for transitioning time!

Today I thought I would talk about starting a story from scratch. This is often both the easiest and hardest portions of the work since obviously you have some sort of idea or else you wouldn't be thinking 'Maybe I should write a book!', but you know there are things like characters, plot progression, character progression, and such that need to be done as well.

Sometimes I wonder what's more important to start with; characters or plot? Today we are going to start with plot, since the character need to fit in somewhere (but for those who disagree, characters also progress some aspects of the plot, I understand they are equally important, but I needed to start with something, and plot won the dice-toss.)

Now then, for your story-to-be, you already have something along of lines of 'These characters are like this, then something happens, and they have to go do this thing too!' That's pretty much the basic plot to most movies/books/TV shows/everything ever. That's the standard three-part writing style, so that's cool. What you need to do is make sure your plot is as original as possible, or if it's something standard, make it work in such a way that grabs the attention of anyone looking at it.

Since you have your basic one-sentence description of what your future plot is, now it's time to figure out how things will progress. This includes the pace you want the story to flow in, so you need to decide if you want it to be short or full novel length. A lot of stories can work out just fine on a shorter scale, so don't feel the need to make everything an epic novel length, it's not always necessary. If you want things to be a fast pace 'every scene opens with an explosion!' kind of story, you're likely going to want to go for something a bit shorter, because there's only so many times you can do that and have your readers take you seriously.

Once you have your basic plot and pacing figured out, now it's time to do an outline, it's hard to do that without characters, so right now just take basic forms of them like 'main protagonist' and so forth and put them into your outline so you know where they're going to fit. If you know how they are going to be effecting the plot, it'll be easier to incorporate the details with them later.

Something else you will be forced to do, if you're writing a story from scratch and not using today-time Earth as your basis is world creation. You need to figure out the rules your universe plays by, which would include but aren't limited to: magic vs technology, man vs alien, man vs animal, man vs man, man vs magic, and man vs technology. For instance, your world has technology rather than magic, humans are the major force in the galaxy as compared to other alien races (not to say they aren't there), man still uses animals for domestication purposes, but the animal population is diminishing because of ecosystem destruction, the humans are at war with each other are are in 3 factions, there are a handful of people who use an ancient art to live their lives that could be called magic, and humans are relying on technology to do almost everything, but there are some groups of AI that have started to demand rights.

I hope this helps, at least to a point. Next week will be about characters, so that will be lots of fun, I love character development, I'm a total sucker for it. Also remember, with so little time left before Christmas and other Holidays, "The Light Rises" is still free to my blog readers with coupon code: UQ59B from Smashwords. Happy Holidays to all, and to my Jewish readers, happy first day of Chanukah! I'll see you all Friday!

Monday, December 19, 2011

12/19/2011 Magnificent Monday

Welcome back, I hope you all had a good weekend. Mine was filled with much money spending, and wanting for the holidays to be over. This time of year is a stressful one, and once it is done I can go back to not freaking out about money. (yay!)

I hope to get more writing done this week, and hopefully your projects are going a bit better than mine. My initial goal was to get the story done by January, but I don't think that's going to happen since now there is less than 2 weeks left and I'm just past the half-way point. Maybe I'll finish in January, that will be the new goal. I have learned that giving myself until 10:30 to write something has been working, the issue is I look at the time I go to start and realize I won't even get anything significant done, and decide to not do something that day. It also doesn't help that looking a screens lately has not be a fun one.

Maybe once I can see better I'll be able to get more done after work, but for now my time will be spent writing in the morning and not looking at a screen when I get home. I'll be calling my eye doctor (again) today to see if my new glasses are in, then once I do get them, I'll proceed to hate my life for roughly a day, then finally be able to get something done.

For now though, I must be off. I'll see you all again on Wednesday! I hope this week finds you all well in whatever holiday you celebrate. See you then!

Friday, December 16, 2011

12/16/2011 Fantastic Friday!

Hello all and welcome back for another Friday! I hope your week has gone well, with new product launches and such, mine is rather hectic, but luckily I have still found the time to get this all done for you, so let's get to it!

Today we have "Eventual Revolution" by Benjamin Cheah, it follows the story of a magician named Michael, who's kind of down on his luck. Look for a few extra dollars, he does odd-jobs on the side, and this time he is just bringing a runaway home. It should be easy enough, but this job will force him to face demons, monsters, and his own past.

As I said before, I always like stories that cause a character to look back on his life and atone what mistakes he's made. It also helps there's magic involved, which gives this story a sort of "Dresden Files" feel. Michael is somewhat jaded with his life, and is just trying to make some extra cash so he can continue on living. It makes me wonder just how expensive it is to live as a magician in the modern world.

"Eventual Revolutions" is available via smashwords for $3.99, so with the holidays almost here, it's an inexpensive gift to give someone for their e-reader. It's not available on Barnes & Noble yet, so I'm not sure if this book has been submitted into the premium catalog or not.

Thanks for stopping by again, I hope everyone has a good weekend and stops by again on Monday. Remember, next week is crunch time for those who celebrate the holiday season, and any of the books that have been showcased here would make wonderful gifts! I'll see you next week!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12/14/2011 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings all! We're almost half way through December, which means the holidays are fully upon us. It also means that we're close to the end of a very busy year. I hope it was as good for everyone else as it was for me. Right now is about the time to start figuring out New Years Resolutions, if you do that sort of thing, and the best way to keep them. I generally don't, but I may try it out for 2012 and see what happens.

For the writing portion of today's post, I wanted to look more at editing/proofreading, since that has been a key topic the last few days in my life. I've said it multiple times that it is probably the hardest part of writing, since it means you have to take the thing you've worked so very hard on, and chop it up into little pieces to make sure they fit together right. Doing a few reads will help limit how much you have to work through in the big copy-edit, but also having someone else look at it is important.

The reason for this is simple: You've written something, you know how it plays out, you know everything that happens, how, and why. You will not be able to see small errors in grammar or spelling. You will not be able to see where things don't quite make sense. It's simply a fact, having a fresh pair of eyes look over it is the only way to make sure those things aren't missed. Hopefully you have friends or family who are willing to take that plunge to help you out, because depending on how long your work is, if you look for a freelance/professional reader, be prepared to shell out a sum of money you were not expecting to see. Now for shorter works, that might end up being a bargain, and if that is the case, awesome for you! Several of the places I saw had prices ranging between $4 to $7/page, and if you're story is 20 pages long, it's not that awful. "The Light Rises" however, is 202, and some places wanted the files to be double-spaced, this is money I do not have.

Networking helps with this as well, since you will have people you can reach out to, who you hopefully trust, that will assist with proofreading, and in some cases even do copy-editing as well. My recommendation is to at least do some on your own, and basic formatting as well, since that way they'll at least be looking at something that had almost be considered a final product.

I appreciate you all coming back today, remember, the previous post has that free coupon for "The Light Rises" as a thank-you for getting this blog to the 700 mark. Come back on Friday where I showcase another book I find!

Monday, December 12, 2011

12/12/2011 Magnificent Monday!

Welcome back and I hope you all had a very fun weekend. Mine was spent relaxing while seeing friends and family. Sadly I didn't get much done, but that is what the week is for, since that is when things related to work happen.

I have been trying to find editing services that are affordable, and let me tell you that is incredibly hard to find. The cheapest one I found would only do a proof-read of my story for $2000, yay! I either need to make some friends, make lots more money, or become an editor. These are the only options. I only think I need to have a proofread done, but even still finding someone to do a read-through on an ebook that isn't exactly short for a reasonable price is difficult to find.

In other news, I think the story I'm handwriting at work is almost to its finish point. I'm excited, but also a little sad because it'll be weird not to have something to work on while I'm there. Realistically I'll just get another notebook and start its sequel, but I don't know when I'll be able to type up the story itself, so that'll be the challenge. I'd like to get everything out, at least from this point on, in chronological order, for the most part (the last story that will be written actually takes place in the middle, but that's intentional), and with my prequel not finished, the sequel not started, I'm not sure when I'll be able to get this taken care of.

Also, I saw the ticker at the bottom, and thanks a bunch for getting this blog up to the 700 mark! As a token of thanks I have created a special coupon specifically for my readers: VJ78M will get you a copy of "The Light Rises" for absolutely free! This coupon will last until the 31st! Thanks a bunch for making this blog a success, I'll see you all on Wednesday!

Friday, December 9, 2011

12/09/2011 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back! I hope you all had a good week, either way it's my hope that we end it on a good note. I'm writing this relatively quickly, so let's get right to it shall we?

Today's work is call "The Troll Hunter" by Keith C. Blackmore. The reason I picked this as my selection is because amongst other things, I am a sucker for mythology, and when it's thrown into fantasy I find it incredibly enjoyable.

It follows the journey of a group that's been given the duty to delivery a relic to another land. The area they are going to is dangerous and live with peril, and it's up to their leader to get them out safely. However there are monsters that dot their path, and not all of them are the ones that can be fought with a sword.

There are warnings of graphic language and violence on the main page for the book on Smashwords, so if you aren't into that, I recommend looking away or maybe glossing over those parts when you get to them. "The Troll Hunter" is $2.99 through Smashwords ad I was unable to find it at B&N, so I'm not sure if it is available in the premium catalog as of yet.

This is a good story if you're looking for a longer read, the author lets you know it is approximately 475 pages, so it will definitely keep your interests for quiet some time. I always enjoy stories that are more than just hack and slash, and if it involves deep character back story/development I'm all in. So I say check this one out!

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you all have a great weekend. I look forward to seeing you all back on Monday, let's see if we can get that hit counter up to 700 by then, if we do I'll put up a special coupon specifically for my blog readers to use as a big 'Thank-you' for being so great. Until then, have fun!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

12/07/2011 Writing Wednesday!

Welcome back! After my harrowing day yesterday, I am hopeful that today will be more of a success. I'm looking forward to when my new glasses come in, let me tell you. At least I was able to get some writing done yesterday, that was something.

Today I would like to take a look at criticism, it's not really writing technique or anything, but it is important because you need to expect it. I am bringing this up after my own experience with that reviewer, sometimes people say things because they want to complain, and some of my favorite article writers on Cracked always say don't read the comments (then they point out they have some masochistic joy from reading them anyway), but no matter what, taking a look at what was said and trying to learn from it is important. Even if it's hard to find sometimes.

When I took an art class in high school, we had what were called 'critique days' and that taught us all how to give constructive criticism, and also how to receive it. The important parts were a) don't take it personally, even though it's about something you made, b) listen to everything, even if it's something you don't necessarily want to hear, or completely disagree with, and c) find something in it to learn from it and apply it in the future. This all applies to writing as well, which is why when people send stuff to editors/friends/family and ask them to mark it up what comes back to you is something that look vaguely like what you wrote but now covered in red pen.

Remember the first thing is to not take it personally, there are many reasons why someone could be telling you something, and while there are those that only want to hurt, we're not talking about them right now. We're talking about the ones that honestly want to help you succeed and do so by pointing out places that need improvement. You also don't need to change something just because someone says you should, if they say something doesn't seem to fit, but you really like it and are attached to that point, you can always say you aren't changing it and move on. On the same note, if you are told something by several different people, for example, you need to add more descriptions to your work, that may indeed be something you need to work on, and you can take that back to your drawing board/computer/paper and start adding things to brings your world to life.

Learning how to accept criticism is incredibly hard, and sometimes even when you think you have it down, one or two words can send you into a spiral that's hard to come out of. When/if that happens, sure you'll look at something and be convinced they are wrong, or are mean, or so forth, but eventually when you calm down enough, try to find something to take from it for future reference. Sometimes that last bit is impossible to do, that's fine, that's when you take it with a grain of salt and move on with your life. The important thing is that through it all you are proud of what you've created, and I understand completely that when someone says something about your work that you think is insulting and uncalled for, you get offended and hurt because it's like they are saying those things to an extension of yourself, and most of the time in the writing world they have never met you. I suppose what I'm trying to say is to never lose love and pride for the things you've done.

I'm glad you were all able to stop by today, Friday will be normal with another book up for review. I hope to see you all there, as is the normal, "The Light Rises" is still 50% off at Smashwords with coupon code: UQ59B until Christmas. That combined with "Uncrossed Paths" makes a great gift if you ask me! See you all Friday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

12/05/2011 Magnificent Monday!

I hope your weekend found you all well. My eye appointment went about as painless as it could be, and now it is all a matter of waiting for my new glasses to be ready. I just need to deal with almost daily headaches until that point, then go through one more massive one as my eyes adjust to the new lenses, then POOF! I'll be able to see clearly again.

Something I had to re-learn this weekend is that I can't please everyone, some people are just going to be harsh and negative no matter what I do, and that is just how the internet works. I received a rather scathing review on B&N in regards to "The Light Rises", and while I won't quote it here because I'm trying to look beyond it, there were rather hurtful things written in it. While it made writing over the weekend difficult, I understand that this is how it's going to be from here on out. I can't please everyone, some people aren't going to be happy with what they've read, and they are going to feel the need to not only tell the world, but also be insulting when they do it. The important thing to remember at times like that is that not everyone in the world agrees with them, and there are people who do like your work who will support you and help you when things get hard.

I'm over the 110 page mark in "Rending the Seal", which I'm hoping means I'm close to half-way since for some reason this project feels like it's taking absolutely forever. I think that's partially because with Nano last year I finished "The Light Rises", but this year I only added about 80 pages to the new one, and it's nowhere near completion. I want to say I'll be done by January, but I make no promises there.

This month brings holidays and such, and I hope you all enjoy every one of them. For those still shopping for gifts, I recommend "The Light Rises" for 50% off at Smashwords, just use coupon code: UQ59B and you'll get it! I will be back Wednesday, so until then keep up the good work!

Friday, December 2, 2011

12/02/2011 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back! I can see again, well ,mostly, my appointment went well and the eye drops have worn off to the point where I can see letters again. As soon as I was able to, I got right over here and found a story to show you all today, so let's get right to it!

Today I bring you "High Noon at Hot Topic" by Christina Pope. I found this free ebook on Smashwords, and though it is short I feel it is absolutely delightful. I always love stories about monster hunters, and with all the recent hype of vampires, ones that turn them into dust get special attention from me.

The story is about Kara, an assistant manager at a Hot Topic location at a Southern California mall. A little jaded with her current position in life, the English lit. major runs into some unexpected excitement when a man shows up who isn't the normal tween-goth-hypster shopper. His name is Gregoire, and he most definitely doesn't belong in a Hot Topic, or does he? I don't want to say too much since it is a relatively short story and I'm worried about spoilers, but let's just say there is vampires turning into dust.

"High Noon at Hot Topic" can be found at Smashwords, and is a recent addition so will likely be available in the premium catalog soon. For now though it is absolutely free, so you can load it up in your browser for some good short reading, and also a good Christmas present for those with e-readers!

Thanks for coming back. I look forward to more posts and such. Come back Monday, and hopefully I will have made some more progress on my prequel. Also, to all that finished NanoWriMo with your 50,000 words, congrats and good job! Now comes editing! Also, another note, "The Light Rises" is still 50% off until Christmas with coupon code: UQ59B . Until then, I hope you all have a good weekend!