Monday, January 30, 2012

01/30/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello! I hope you all had a fun and hopefully more productive than mine, weekend. We aren't quite up to 1000 hits yet, but let's see if we can get it up there by the 1st! That would be super exciting.

I think I need to get myself back into a better writing routine, because this is just getting silly. I bring my laptop with me, and think about how awesome it would be to get something done, and then a whole lot of nothing happens. I have so many projects either in progress or still in my head, and the less time I spend working on anything, the longer it's going to take to get anything finished. My hope is that when I finish at least one of them, I'll be more motivated to give myself more time to get everything else done.

I think taking October off, then Nanowrimo really messed with my writing routine. I know it was necessary so that I could actually get through November without having to consider when I should get surgery done on my hand, but I really need to pick myself back up. I had hoped to be finished with "Rending the Seal" by the end of January, but something tells me that won't happen unless that consideration wants to happen. My goal is to be better in February, SOMETHING will be finished (the writing portion, not editing, more editing, and oh, editing! potions) in February. "Daughter of the Shackled King" is in its last scenes, so that's a goal I know I can accomplish.

Thanks for stopping by again, come back Wednesday for the epic conclusion of Phillipe's example life-story! Until then, I hope you all have a great couple days.

Friday, January 27, 2012

01/27/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone, it's Friday and I have power, so you know what that means! (That I'm warm, have internet access, and have the ability to try to work, of course.) Since we missed last week, let's get right to it shall we?

Today we look at "Masters of the Sacred Fire" by R.S. Atkin, it's about two friends who live in a small farming community that is transformed into a world of monsters and magic. Things just keep getting weirder when one of the friends is changed into a scarecrow and the other finds themselves hunted by an evil warlock. Everything revolves are an ancient prophesy, and it's up to the friends to try and save their home.

Sometimes adventures are super fun, and absolutely needed, especially after a hard week at work. I can tell the author has put a lot of thought into make their story as unique as possible, and I like that. I love new spins on timeless story ideas, especially when they end up not feeling too cliche.

"Masters of the Sacred Fire" is available on Smashwords for $2.99, though not yet on Barnes and Noble, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it gets into the Premium Catalog.

I recommend picking up this story if you want to read something incredibly entertaining to help take your mind off things that cause you stress for a while. It's very fun, and you actually care what happens to the characters, and frankly I think more stories should be like that.

Thanks for stopping by again this Friday. I'm glad I was able to post something up today after missing last week, and I appreciate your patience and support while I got things back together. I hope you all have a fun and productive weekend, and I look forward to seeing everyone back here on Monday!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

01/25/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello all! I'm happy you've come back to check out the blog again. We're well on our way to have 1000 visitors, and I'm curious to see if we can hit that mark by the end of the month! Right now though, let's get to work.

Last week we got up until the point in Phillipe's whirlwind of a life right up until the antagonist and final side character, for all purposes let's say love interest, would be introduced. It's up to you when you want these two to come into play. Sometimes it's nice to see the big antagonist reveal later on in the book, that way who's been putting up roadblocks for the main character is a mystery they need to solve, that way meeting the antagonist is also a reward for the characters. That's not to say it's also not fun to meet them and watch how they make life difficult for the main character, and they know exactly who they're dealing with. There's a lot of drama in that because it shows the protagonist just how much that character knows about them, and how it can be used against them.

For our example let's say the antagonist is the former number 2, he worked with the previous Don before his death and wasn't too happy some no-name kid was given the job that by all means should have been his. He's spent his days plotting his revenge, working from the inside out to figure out exactly how to take down Phillipe's empire, and now he's decided to make his move. Things start simple enough, a failed job here, police giving questioning looks there, that was all to figure out Phillipe's weaknesses and other such things he can exploit. One day he gives one of his boys an order, one that the man will likely not live through, but he doesn't care he just wants to see how Phillipe handles himself; at a bar, the man is to take whatever waitress is working Phillipe's table hostage and start making demands of the mob boss.

The situation needs to be tense, the hostage taker as has been given very clear instructions; he has demands and questions he needs to ask Phillipe, and they need to be as damning as possible. Questions like "Aren't you working with the police to shut down the crime syndicate?" and other such things will start bringing dissension within the ranks and start putting Phillipe's own people against him. In the end of the scene, the man holding the hostage will likely die, however, because she's also been exposed to a Q&A session of mob workings, the woman can't just be left to talk to police. After some debate, and time running out before the police show up, in a hasty decision, Phillipe takes the woman with his people as they go to their safe-house.

Now, these scene could happen several different ways, for the sake of having a blog and not wanting to get to the 'too long did not read' length, we'll say the woman is the last remaining side character. You could also have him kill the waitress, and it's her sister that comes along for revenge, either way! Anyway, after talking with the woman, and also making sure she isn't a complete tool and/or spy for the police of the antagonist, Phillipe learns she's suffered a fate much like his own, but rather than seek revenge she was pushed to the streets and survived anyway she could. The woman is cunning, witty, smart, and will have to be a match for Phillipe as well. Much like the antagonist, this character should be a good match for Phillipe and be a reflection that shows something he desires, rather than despises. If she's boring, flat, and just seems like a set of legs that walks around, that's not going to make anyone care whether or not she lives or dies, and that never makes for a good read.

Thanks again for reading though this, next week we'll get to the conclusion of the outline for Phillipe's story. I really hope these posts have been helpful and I would love feedback on them. Feel free to post comments or send me an e-mail if you have questions or would like to see anything in particular on the blog. Barring I have power I'll be back Friday with another ebook to review for you! See you then!

Monday, January 23, 2012

01/23/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello! Before anything else I would like to apologize for the lack of post on Friday. For those who are in western Washington, I'm sure you know what happened, but for those who don't, we were hit by a snow/ice storm that knocked out power for a majority of the area. We lost our power Thursday morning and didn't get it back until Saturday, and once it came back my time was spent trying to make everything warm/charged again. I'll try to make sure the post for this Friday is super awesome to make up for it.

I've been through ice storms before, but this was the first one where I've lost power, and damn was it awful. My little car is bad in snow, so I couldn't really go anywhere unless my bf came home, and the rest of my time was spent wrapped in blankets and cats in a desperate attempt to stay warm. Ended up having to put a hand-warmer in my snake's tank to try and help him out a bit too. The whole time I kept thinking about how I could totally be productive, then I would remember the laptop that had died charging my phone and went back to trying to be warm.

Tons of trees fell all over my area, which was one of the reasons it took so long to get power back, and there are still people that don't have it yet. I feel bad for them, and hope they get it back up soon. If anyone who's reading this is still without power, please stay warm and safe, hopefully it'll be up soon!

Thanks for stopping by, and for your understanding about Friday. Please stop by the facebook pages for "The Light Rises" and also "Uncrossed Paths" and tell your friends where to pick up the e-pubs at Smashwords. I hope to see you all on Wednesday!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

01/18/2012 Writing Wednesday

Welcome back, to those who are currently residing in Washington state, welcome also to Snow-Mageddon 2012! I know there isn't much on the ground compared to Minnesota, or let's say Alaska, but we aren't exactly used to it up here, so it's our turn to panic. I hope everyone that's experiencing any kind of snow right now is at least bundled up and warm. Please forgive the later post today, with the snow I'm not going into work, which meant I was able to spend a little more time wrapped in blankets and cats in bed. I'm up now though, so let's get to it!

If you've been visiting the last several weeks, you've been seeing the progress of Phillipe's story; the farm boy turned mob boss. Last week we talked about fitting all the characters together, today we work out how to weave them in with the plot itself. We already know when they're getting introduced, so we have vague notions of when the readers will meet them, we also have a decent idea of the plot of the story, now it comes time to start throwing everything together and see what happens.

For all intensive purposes, let's say the readers have already seen Phillipe's childhood/tragedy in the prologue. We already know his mother, we saw him lose his father, and we saw him develop his motivation to prevent it from happening in the future. Let's flash forward to present day (or whenever you're having your story set), he's a grown man, strong build, stone-like eyes, and a mouth that no one knows if he's smiled since his childhood. In this opening scene he could be doing several things; over seeing a meeting, listening to someone give their report, going to a funeral for one of their fallen comrades, of even performing an interrogation. This is going to tell the reader the person he's become, they aren't going to see the scared little boy, or the naive new recruit with his ideals for freedom. No, this is a hardened criminal that has learned that in order to get things done, consequences must be taught, tough decisions must be made, and lines must be cut.

In this scene you'll also likely introduce the number 2, this is Phillipe's second in command, the one he talks to each and every day, likely more than anyone else in the gang. The number 2 is his go-to guy for just about everything, and the one he trusts with even the most delicate of jobs. This character will begin to show the since of loyalty people feel for Phillip, and will also give light to the bond between the other gang members. Remember, when they aren't on a job, there is a strong possibility they are guys who act like normal people. Give them hobbies, favorite things, things they dislike, maybe there's a poker night, or a night where they all watch the local sporting match, or even go to it. For those who are in this gang, they are an extended family, remember to make sure the readers know it.

The first chapter or two are going to give an insight to the world they live in. Show the other members working, coming or going to a job, their living environment, where they live, things like that. They likely don't all live under the same roof, but major meetings and get togethers likely happen at Phillipe's home, and if you're setting him up to be powerful and successful, is probably some extravagant mansion. This is your chance to show the reader some of the world you've created, so that for the rest of the book the reader knows what they're in for.

This will also be helped with the introduction of the newest member of the organization. That plucky street urchin that was mentioned before is the example I'll be using. This character will function as the 'audience' in that he will have things explained to him, he will be the one asking questions, and learning the ropes along with the reader. However, don't forget this is Phillipe's story, he needs to connect with this character, which can be done in the form of a flashback, dream, thought, whatever you need. This is going to be the point where he starts remembering his initial reasons for joining up in the first place, though it will likely be subtle at first, this will be the gateway for his journey to take back his life.

Sorry for making this long again, next week we'll talk about introducing the antagonist and the love interest. Thanks for stopping by again, I wanted to let you know that I made a facebook page for "Uncrossed Paths" so place check it out, and/or stop by Smashwords to pick it up. Remember, this is absolutely free, and is the stories of the main characters from "The Light Rises". I'll be back Friday with a review for you all. Until then, stay warm!

Monday, January 16, 2012

01/16/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello all! I hope you had a good weekend. Mine was spent trying to decide whether the threat of snow was something I feared or hoped for. My final decision was that I wanted an extra day off, but sadly it didn't do nearly well enough for that. Now it's just freezing cold and kind of pretty, so I'm now hoping for a day off tomorrow.

The facebook page for "The Light Rises" is doing fairly well, though sometimes I wish the little functions for it would work just a tad bit better. I really like the idea behind showing me how many people are talking about it, however if I could see those apparent conversations I would enjoy it a lot more, and would feel it would a much better resource for me to use. I'm debating whether or not to set one up for "Uncrossed Paths", mostly due to costs with the advertising.

Right now though, my biggest issues is patience. I have two stories that I'm working on, one is almost finished, the other is just over half way done. I feel that I've been working on them forever and they should already be completed, and this is causing me to not be very motivated to work on them. I know it's a problem, and the only way to fix it is to make myself work on them more, and that anyone who writes goes through this, but let me tell you it is frustrating. Not that I'm going to stop anytime soon, but there are days I just don't want to look at either of them, which means nothing gets done on those days. I will get over it (hopefully soon) it just means that for right now I'm not making much in the way of progress. This is the other reason I need a snow day, I got so much done on my last one!

I hope you all enjoyed my ramblings for today, please come back Wednesday where we continue the process of putting Phillipe's story together. If you have any comments/questions/emotional outbursts, please feel free to comment or e-mail me about them, and I will do my absolute best to address them. Until then, I hope everyone stays warm!

Friday, January 13, 2012

01/13/2012 Fantastic Friday!

It's Friday the 13th everyone! Hope that didn't scare anyone, I personally like this day. It's hard to be superstitious about certain things sometimes (like the black cat thing, and Friday the 13th apparently). I'm glad you've all come back to check out the story we're featuring today, so not to let you wait any longer, let's get to it!

Today we look at "The Cloaked Man: Life of an Antagonist" by AshleyNicole Shelton. I thought this appropriate seeing as we were talking about how to work with antagonists this week and a bit last.

This story is incredibly short, so I won't go into too much on the specific details, since I don't like giving out spoilers and such. However, what I will say is that this story does a delightful job of showing you the life the antagonist had before turning 'evil', and also what drove them to go the lengths they have. Something that makes you feel bad for the villain has obviously done something right.

It reminds me, in a sense of 'Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog' in that the character had this desires for power, but everything began to hinge on a woman, and when it comes time for him to make his big power play, he has to choose between her, and the life of a villain.

"The Cloaked Man: Life of an Antagonist" is available on Smashwords for absolutely free, and which this being such a short story, that means there's no excuse as to why you can't go pick it up. Please go check it out, I recommend it at the very least for getting an idea of how to work out your own antagonist when it comes to figuring out back story and motivations, since this gives you a good sense that they are people too.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again, I really do appreciate all your continued support! If there's ever something you'd like for me to feature here, feel free to drop me a line by e-mail, twitter, or comment below. I'll be back Monday, as I hope you will be too! Until then!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

01/11/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello again. I'm glad you have come back to check out my blog. As you know, for the last couple weeks, I've been working on how to put a story together from scratch, and last week's post needed to be cut a bit short. I did this to make sure it didn't get to the TLDNR (too long did not read) length. Today I will be picking up where I left off.

We ended when we were talking about the villain, and how they need to be a good match for the protagonist. As I said before, (if we're using the same example of Phillipe) it would be a rival from another gang, someone who isn't too happy he was put in charge and not them when the previous don died, like a son or previous number 2, I personally like the idea of it being the police officer, who's honestly just doing his job, and happens to be getting in the way of Phillip in his quest. Maybe similar to Willem Defoe in 'Boondock Saints' except with less awesome and more antagonist.

When making your antagonist, make sure to put just as much effort into making them as you did your protagonist. Give them just as much back story and motivation as the main character, because this is the person they are going to be butting heads with. If you have them just be a speed-bump, or against Phillipe for the sake of being against him, they are going to come off weak and almost worst of all, not memorable. For example, if it weren't for Loki, I wouldn't be so incredibly excited for 'The Avengers' coming out soon.

Once you have your basic plot and characters in order, it's time to start putting everything together. You already know Phillipe's background, now you need to decide how to show that. You could go the flashback route and have him remember things throughout the story. If you do that, make absolutely sure you're putting down that it is a flashback, or a memory, or a dream, whatever, just make sure the reader doesn't get confused. You could also have his childhood be the prologue, and begin the story with him already in the gang, about to get his big new job. Or also just after, once he's lost sight of everything he was doing.

You also need to figure out the order the other characters are going to be introduced in. If you have the number 2 side character, they'll likely be the first, followed by the street urchin to tug on the heartstrings a little and get Phillipe's mind wandering back to his past. Keep in mind story is still happening between the meetings, if you just throw all the characters out in the first 2 pages, that's going to be kind of overwhelming for the reader. You must then decide if your antagonist is going to be brought in before or after the love interest. This order doesn't matter so much, since this are the two that are likely going to have the biggest impact on the main character. You could even bring them in at the same time, as part of some hostage scene, or something similar.

Thanks for stopping by again, next week we'll pick up where we left off and start throwing in more plot and character development times. I appreciate everyone for their continued support, and visitations. As I said before, I made a facebook page for 'The Light Rises' please come check it out, Like it, and then hopefully head over to Smashwords to see the book. I'll be back Friday with another book to review, until then!

Monday, January 9, 2012

01/09/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hell and welcome back! I hope your weekend was fun and productive. I had planned on working, but sadly I got distracted. Apparently I tend to do more writing on a schedule, which means I need to get one set up for the weekend. Or at the very least do more during the week. Though the story I'm working on at work is almost done (finally!) and that feels great.

Today marks day one of my diet as part of my New Years Resolution. I don't normally make one, but this year I decided to go ahead and try it. It took some thinking, since I was all "I'll make one that says I'm going to finish the stories I'm working on!" but I decided that I didn't want to make on that was super easy, since they're both almost done with the initial writing stages anyway. I know a bunch of people make them to 'lose weight', however I mostly would just like to go down 2 dress sizes, and my boyfriend is doing it with me, so hopefully we'll be able to make this work!

I also made a Facebook page for "The Light Rises" and sent out an ad for it, so if anyone sees it, please click on it, check out the page, Like it, and hopefully head over to Smashwords to check it out. That would be great! I will be putting up coupons and such on that page that will be exclusive to it, so keep an eye on it!

For those who may have noticed, I got my Badge from SWAG to actually work, it took some finagling, but I did it! They are a great group of people and incredibly supportive. If you're a writer of the Steampunk genre, like the art, or make items for it, I encourage you to stop by and join up!

I hope everyone has a good week! Wednesday I'll be continuing my on-going segment of throwing a story together, and then Friday will be another book to review. Thanks for your continued visits, and support. If you ever have questions, or topics you'd like me to bring up, please feel free to e-mail or post here, and I'll do my absolute best to do so! Until then, have a good couple days!

Friday, January 6, 2012

01/06/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone! I hope your week has been productive and at least a little entertaining. I for one am looking longingly towards the weekend so that I may relax and not have to care so much about having to do work. For now though, let's get down to the book for today!

Today I look at "The Clockist" by Ben Godby. It tells the story of a clockwork golem that was designed to destroy beings known as the Celestial Courtesans, which it has done so rather well. Now it must travel back to its creator, the Artificer, but on the way it starts to unwind, and the Artificer can see what has become of her work as time starts getting involved.

I like this story not just because it has a nice steampunk element to it, but also because it shows the ramifications of a major decision that may or may not have been for the best. "The Clockist" is .99 right now on Smashwords, and is a rather short story that introduces you to a world that is much different from our own. I hope the author does more, if for no other reason than for world building, I would like to know more about it.

"The Clockist" is interesting because of what it does with the aspect of time. This is something that I tend to stay away from because, in my opinion, time travel should be done by the very few, and only those who actually know what they're doing. To quote my friend, "Only Doctor Who". It's something that complicates things to a degree that I do not agree with, and this story has worked with it in such a way that makes it easy to understand, keep up with, and also work along side. Not many things can do that.

I hope you enjoy this installment, I look forward to seeing everyone here on Monday as well. This has been a tiring week, so hopefully when I wake up on Monday I'll be ready for the day and also to get some work done! Until then, I hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

01/04/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello all! It's the new year and hopefully everyone had a great weekend. Mine was spent being as relaxed as possible, and let me tell you, after working 2 straight weeks in crazy proxy-retail (I realized that last week, it's strange) I needed it. Hopefully this year will be a good one, full of accomplishments and apocalypse specials on the History channel (yay those are always fun!).

Today I wanted to combine what we've looked at the last couple weeks (plot and main character) to try give a sense of how to get a good groundwork for a story. Your main protagonist and plot are going to be what you use to figure out the other characters, since you will be able to get a better idea of what the world actually is like. You can't just say that you're making a set of rather specific characters, but not have them fit into the world you created, that's just awkward. (Unless of course there's parallel universe travel involved, if that's the case, run with it!)

Right now, let's take Phillipe, our farm hand turned mob boss (who I have decided I NEED to use at some point for...something) and throw a plot balloon at him. We already have the basics for his back story, which tells us the world is likely either set in the recent past, or modern day. We already know his motivations too, so just for the sake of simplicity, let's say the main plot is getting Phillipe to remember where he came from, and him having a change of heart, bringing down the mob from the top down in order to save his family.

Now that's fun and all, but this is where supporting characters/antagonists come into play. There needs to be resistance, if Phillip just wakes up one day and says "Heeey...I was supposed to do something!" followed by him just, well, doing it without any problems, while that's a quick story, it's not so much fun. There has to be people that motivate him to remember, and also act. There could be the young street urchin the mob took in that reminds Phillipe of his youth and innocence he lost. The number 2 who brings comic relief and also companionship and loyalty, and then the woman, with enough moxy and wit to keep up with him who has a dark past she's running from. These are the people that will likely influence him in a positive way.

After them comes the antagonist. This character needs to be on par with the main protagonist as much as possible. I love a good villain, sometimes more than the main character. This person needs to be strength, confidence, wit, tenacity, charisma, power, essentially everything the main character has just used in a completely different way. This is your resistance Phillip is going to face in his quest to regain his honor. Maybe it's the son of the boss that appointed him on his death bed, or the former number 2 that for demoted, or the head of the enforcers, even a police chief who wants to bring down the gang. That doesn't matter as much as long as they are a good match for the protagonist.

Next Wednesday I'll elaborate a bit more, this started running a bit long and I apologize for that. Come back on Friday, when I'll have another book up for review. I hope everyone has a good week. Remember, keep writing, it's the only way to practice and also to finish what you're working on.