Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gust Front and Farmville?



What do they have in common? Well, while I play Farmville, I usually listen to audiobooks. Currently I am listening to John Ringo's second novel in the Posleen War series.

Some people suggest that playing games like Farmville is a waste of time. Well, maybe so, but a lot of things people do are not overly productive, right? Well, what's wrong with listening to a book at the same time?

One thing audiobooks do is provide an alternate version of story the story in print. (Yes, I have read Gust Front twice). For me, beyond entertainment, listening to audiobooks helps me improve pacing and dialogue in my own writing.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Storylines and How the Lord of the Rings Should have Ended?

I came across this video a while back:

While quite humorous, and while ignoring a few important plot lines in JRR Tolkien's work, it does allude to a concern that I and other writers constantly remain aware of:
The actions and decision of characters must fit their desires, goals, and the circumstances of the world around them. Not what rigidly makes sense in the context of an anticipated storyline.

Just like people do in everyday life, characters make illogical, shortsighted or just plain old bad decisions. While those decisions move the plot forward, character choices and actions must fit what the reader has come to learn about the characters involved, and must read and feel like a good fit.

Definitely avoid: "I know it doesn't really make sense, but if the character doesn't do _______, then ______ can't happen, and the story totally falls apart."

Planning, flexibility and logic are key when confronting this potential issue. Otherwise an author risks readers scratching their heads, becoming frustrated or annoyed, and possibly setting the novel aside--never to be picked up again.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Author's Roundtable: Creating Fantasy Worlds with Sherry Thompson and Terry W. Ervin II

Stop on over at David Wood's Blog where I am featured along with fellow Gryphonwood Press author Sherry Thompson discussing: As a reader and as a writer, what makes a memorable fantasy world for you?

Don't hesitate to join in the discussion.

Link: Author's Roundtable

Note: David Wood is the author of the very popular action-adventure novels Cibloa and Dourado, as well as the historical fiction adventure novel Into the Woods, for which I had the honor to read and provide a cover blurb.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fonts: Do they say something about you?

Most markets where a writer might submit a manuscript prefer Courier or Times Roman. There are, of course, exceptions.

In any case, here's a humorous--even if stereotypical--look at fonts (whether you're a writer or not):

Font Conference

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fantasy & Sci Fi Blogger Award

I received this award from writer Angie Lofthouse. Very cool and much appreciated!

Aubrie Dionne created the award for blogs that promote the genres of Fantasy and Science Fiction through writing, reviews and interviews. The rules to pass on the award are that recipient must state five favorite sci-fi/fantasy books or movies that have inspired them in some way.

There are many to select from, but here five of them (books only) from the top tier, in no particular order:

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks: Many years back my sister borrowed this book from the local library and I was the one who read it (and re-read it) for the better part of the month--and I borrowed it again on my card a month later. It really sparked my imagination and put me on the path toward reading fantasy.

The Illearth War (actually the first entire First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) by Stephen R. Donaldson: He created The Land, a world as broad and intricate as Tolkien's Middle Earth, but totally unlike Middle Earth. Populated with unique peoples and creatures (the Haruchai and Ur-Viles, for example) the story's scope, conflict and language really kept my attention. There's a reason the wedding bands of my wife and I share are white gold. ;)

Jhereg (part of the ongoing The Vlad Taltos series) by Steven Brust: A friend mentioned this series when I was in college, but I didn't pick up on them until much later. The snappy dialogue and the way each novel in the series is a bit different in structure and focus has kept my interest and has helped me along as a writer through the different techniques used.

The Guns of Avalon (really the first five books in the Chronicles of Amber) by Roger Zelazny: Although I've read these, the audio versions read by Roger Zelazny himself, really brings the story and characters to life. A great read that involves mystery and politics (in the royal court sense) matched with a creative storyline and characters. His use of first person POV to create a world (actually universe) with such diverse characters and conflict provided me with a host of ideas how to write in that POV.

The WorldWar series by Harry Turtledove: A great alternative history series based around an alien invasion during the height or World War II. I really enjoyed the historical aspect and characters combined with science fiction. The way Turtledove used different characters (human and alien) to bring so many aspects of the global conflict to the reader, I found very effective. How he introduced so many characters, and made them memorable to the reader, provided a great example for me to employ (but on a smaller scale).

I would like to pass this award on to:
Erica Hayes, Urban Fantasy Author (The Shadowfae Chronicles)

Kim Smith
, author of the recent release, A Mirror in Time.

If you get a chance, visit their blogs and check out their works!

--- --- ---

In addition to the five, I want to mention just a few of the other authors who've had a big influence on my writing: C. Dean Andersson, Elizabeth Boyer, Michael Moorcock, JRR Tolkien, Sterling E. Lanier, Dennis McKiernan, Fred Saberhagen, and Frank Herbert (among others).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Roger Zelazny Quote

"I try to sit down at the typewriter four times a day, even if it's only five minutes, and write three sentences." --Roger Zelazny (May 13, 1937 – June 14, 1995)

Roger Zelazny remains one of my favorite authors and I find both inspiration in and have learned more than a bit about writing through reading many of his works.

Some of my favorites are:

All are available through (distributed by) his current publisher, HarperCollins.

If you ever get the chance to to listen to his works (he narrated most of them that are available) it is a great experience. Currently Speaking Volumes is reproducing and distributing his audiobooks.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Scene of My Second Murder

My short story "The Scene of My Second Murder" is a mystery spiced with a tinge of horror.

Fear and Trembling published it in April of 2009, but sadly the ezine is soon closing up shop. Thus, I am posting the link before it becomes unavailable.

"The Scene of My Second Murder" is one of my favorite shorts I've written and it's also one I occasionally use in the classroom.

It's pretty short, only 2800 words, so give it a read if you have a few minutes and let me know what you think.

Monday, June 7, 2010

ConCarolinas 2010

I had a great time at ConCarolinas 2010!

I got to meet my the managing editor of Gryphonwood Press and Gryphonwood authors David Wood, Ryan Span and Jim Bernheimer, all who attended the convention.

I participated on two well-attended panels discussing various aspects of writing. (Here is the link of the first part of a discussion on Archetypes and Themes in Speculative Fiction--the parts will be posted/uploaded by Jim Bernheimer later this week.)

(Two Panel Attendees who arrived early for a front seat)

I met a ton of readers and science fiction/fantasy enthusiasts, many of which purchased signed copies of Flank Hawk. I even picked up some semi-official endorsements:

I also got to meet and chat with author John Ringo (who signed a few of his books for me):

And Actress Claudia Christian (of Babylon 5 fame):

And Richard Hatch (of Battlestar Galactica fame). The picture below caught him (on a cell) speaking with my wife, asking if it was okay with her the women I seemed to be hanging out with--see the barbarian woman endorsement and Claudia Christian above, among others ;)

ConCarolinas 2010
was a well-run con with a constant array of activities and events for fantasy/science fiction enthusiasts and fans to attend. I'm already planning on attending ConCarolinas 2011!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

ConCarolinas 2010

I will be attending ConCarolinas 2010 this upcoming weekend (June 4-6) along with several other authors from Gryphonwood Press.

It's being held at the Hilton Charlotte University Place. There will be tons of games, artists, authors, television and movie personalities, and more.

If you're in the neighborhood, stop by and say, "Hello." I'll be participating on a few panels, maybe playing a few games, and hanging round the Gryphonwood Table in the Dealers Room.