Thursday, December 5, 2013

Contest: How many errors can you find?

How many errors can you find in this letter to an author met at a book signing on a rainy day?

Everyone who gets it right will receive a free ebook copy of my novel, MIDNIGHT SUN

Deer Author,

I enjoyed meeting ewe at you’re book singing, I came with my made who is a compete fan of yores. She sed I must complement you on your choice of locals.

You have a wanderful friendly personality as evidenced bye all those pubic smiles, shakes, and even hugs you shared with strangers. You seam to have a talent for touching people in pubic that makes it the climax of a lifetime. For instance as you were packing up to go two pretty young sisters came in only too learn, much two they’re constipation, that they’d missed the singing. Butt you gave them a powerfully energenic three-way pubic hug that left them breathless with your firm grasp of their desire’s.

As it reigned outside, they stood in under wear the tall decorative plants kept you protractively close and you put your arms all over them saving them from the ailments. All of you like that, warm and cozy, inside their under wear you could affectively effect they’re effection’s in a physically touching way.

I stood their griping my newly singed addition of you’re latest navel, watching in aw you’re menny gentle ax of pubic kindness. I nearly spilled coffee on my khaki docker’s as the scene had me peaked, exited at witnessing the tender stroking of their needy soles.

I was truly empressed. I think it'd be grate to put two gather your talent for pubic appearances, your general willingness to touch other people, and your wonderfully deffective energy at book singings by staging what I wood caul “A Touching Pubic Singing” with other fallow authors, many of whom I am certain would come with their spouses and significant udders.

Wee, that is my made and me, are egg cited to have mitt yew, and are looking four word to meating you again in neer few sure.

Sinsinclty,

Literally Reeder
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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Regarding Editing First Drafts:

I often fight this battle in a bottle with a paddle and the paddle hits my noodle and my poodle in a panic piddles puddles on the ruggles and the words become all muddled, and the misses then insistses that I'm just a fuddie-duddle. It's the all to common, call yer mom'n, Sunday sermon bit'o learnin', whirly birdie, should'a heardie answer to the question that'yer askin'. I'm a put'm inner, take'm outer, turn-about & shout it louder kinda guy.

And there you have it, indubitably.
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kickstarting my New Series - ICE HAMMER

Ever wish you could help encourage your favorite authors to get their next book out faster? Well, here's a chance ... at least if I fall into that category that is.

Putting the Power in Your Hands

I have posted a new project on a website called Kickstarter.com . At Kickstarter writers, artists, inventors, etc are able to post projects to find folks willing to pledge financial support to help get the projects from dream phase into real life. Those who pledge get products in exchange for their dollars, ranging from books to audiobooks, to the writer pulling silly stunts like jumping into an icy lake in Alaska and putting it TV.

The New Series

ICE HAMMER. A new series.

Ice Hammer is a three book fiction series seen through the eyes of a family ripped apart by invasion and the ensuing war that consumes the North American continent, including their home state of Alaska. It is not about the bigger political game that stands behind all war, but it is about the lives, the loves and the bitter struggles of those trying to survive to see another day.
Waiting for my next novels to come out?

What Can You Do?
The pledges I collect from this project will go directly towards subject matter research, topic specific training, recording studio upgrades, book formatting, cover art, and distribution/marketing.
Want to help me get my new series onto paper? Here's how:

1. Click this link to go to my Kickstarter Project Page
2. Watch the video and read the text to make this is a project you want to support
3. Select a dollar amount / award level you think fits you
4. Make the pledge!

It's that easy.

You don't actually pay anything unless and until I reach my minimum goal. Once that is reached the pledges are collected and the project goes into over drive. If it is not reached, we all shake hands and say "Good-game, good-game." and walk off the field to prepare for another go at it in the future.

I am confident that you folks can make this a reality. Head on over to my Kickstarter Project Page and make your pledge. Then tell your relative, friends, neighbors, co-workers, strangers in the grocery store, and so on.

Thanks in advance.
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fists of Fury: Writing Action Scenes That Take Your Breath Away

I just got back from the Alaska Young Writer's Conference where I presented a workshop on the title of this blog. Wow, were those kids awesome. So much talent in their teenage minds I was inspired. There were a couple who I am certain will be household names in the not too distant future. What follows is the text of the handouts with notes and tools I hope you find useful.

Action scenes serve a powerful function in your fiction. A surprise phone call, an unexpected visit, or an ill-timed delay will force your character to respond quickly (rather than reflect), and allows you to advance the plot without miring it in long descriptive passages and explanations.

While physical contact, combat, fights etc are what comes to mind when we think of action scenes that is not the only kind of action scene that can become heart thumping. Action scenes can be any from those types, to a verbal argument between characters, a person struggling to climb a mountain, a car chase, someone hiding from the bad guys. 

The key to writing action scenes is to make sure that something happens that impels your protagonist to act, reveals their capacity to deal with problems, and affects future events in the story. “The only requirement of an action scene is that it rely in part upon physical movement through the space you’ve created, and evoke a sense of time passing,” says Jordan E. Rosenfeld, author of Make a Scene. To make your reader feel like he is part of the action, try these techniques from the book:

•Ensure that the events unfold in “real time,” allowing the reader to feel he is participating in the events of the scene.
• Make the pace quick, and include some kind of physical movement.

•Force the protagonist to make quick decisions or react—to run on instinct rather than intellect.

•Create unexpected consequences for the protagonist to heighten the drama.

The Rules For a Good Fight Scene
1. Have competent opponents. It won't be a very enjoyable read if your hero is a far better fighter than his opponents. A respected opponent makes for a good fight. Mindless minions getting mowed down gets boring, fast. Have the opponent pull surprises. This holds true for verbal altercations as well. 
  • If the enemy does come in seemingly endless waves, show the effect on the protagonists. The constant fighting is wearing them down, they're low on ammo, they're injured, etc.


2. Make it real. Real fighters don't stop to make speeches. In real life, while the adrenaline is pumping, people won't have the energy to compose devious and witty lines. Instead there will be grunts, growls and expletives. Swearing is common, instinctive and often violent. When someone gets kicked in the jaw, or hit with a headbutt, they're not likely to just shrug it off as though nothing has happened. When your hero gets hit, make sure your readers can "feel" the hit.

3. Word Choice. Consider carefully the effect that your words have on the reader when it comes to perceptions.
  • Long detailed sentences slow the pace and can make a death-match sound like a pillow fight. 
  • Short sentences with little extraneous detail create a faster, more frantic tempo. With short choppy lines you can make a reader breath to the rhythm of the battle, make them actually physically affected by what they're reading.
  • Let the reader use their imagination to visualize the scene. Less description and more action.


4. Spice up your verbs.
  • Verbs are the bread and butter of every action scene. After all, action scenes need action words. Thesaurus.com or some similar site is a wonderful tool for this.
  • If you just used the word block, try using “parry” next. Make use of energetic like “streaked”, “slammed”, or “punched.”


5. Show the effect of the fight once it is over
  • After the fight, is your hero injured? Is he bleeding? Did he break an arm? What about the other combatants? 
  • If your fighter walks away afterwards as though nothing has happened, then he is either a robot, or you are missing some detail.

Here is a sample scene from my novel MIDNIGHT SUN.

***
   Leka charged from behind, knife in hand. His ears ringing wildly, Warner barely heard the thump of boots on floor. He attempted to roll away from Leka's powerful hammer hands a moment too late. Warner's arm flew up to deflect the knife thrust. The blade came fast, slicing muscle and sinew between the radius and ulna. Warner let out a bellowing roar and jammed the butt of his pistol into the muscular Kosovar's skull. Leka roared back and hammered his fist into Warner's forehead, smacking the agent into the wall and jarring his pistol loose. It spun across the floor with a clatter.

   Leka jabbed a fist toward Warner's gut, and the agent raised his leg to deflect the blow. Leka’s knuckles cracked against Warner's knee. Both men shouted in pain-filled fury. Grunting back the agony in his arm, the knife had wedged solidly between the bones of his forearm, Warner grabbed Leka's shirt and used the man's own body weight to leverage him across and away. Leka countered by grabbing Warner's clothes. The two men toppled to the ground in a seething mass of grappling and growling like a cage-fight death match. Their faces pressed against each other, grinding jawbones into each other like weapons, using every part of their anatomy as a tool of inflicting pain. Fingernails gouged into skin. Knees pressed to thigh muscles and groin. Elbows dug into ribs. Warner bit Leka's ear, drawing blood and eliciting a howl. Leka grabbed the knife handle protruding from the other's arm. Warner let out a scream and drove a thumb into Leka's eye, then repeatedly jammed a knee into his groin. Leka reacted to the testicle blow, loosening his grip enough for Warner to roll into the upper position and drive an elbow into Leka's solar plexus.
***

So, with these tools now in hand it's your turn to give it a try. In the comments below post a fight scene, just a paragraph or two and let's see if you can make my heart thump faster.

READY!  FIGHT!!



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Friday, October 11, 2013

The #1 Rule for Writers

Now that we know some of the basics of getting the layout of the story it’s time to actually start writing the story itself. Way back in 2006 I wrote my first novel, Karl’s Last Flight. I was excited. I knew I had achieved the dream and was going to make millions when it sold, which would of course be immediately. I started submitting it to agents and publishers and got nothing but dozens of rejections. I couldn’t figure out why. Then one agent, who had requested the manuscript to read got back to me with the most confusing statement I’d ever heard.

“Learn show, don’t tell.”

As writers we tend to like to describe things with words. Flowery descriptions of beautiful landscapes, or character’s bodies, or the scene in a room seem to sound natural to us. When reading classical literature, or even modern ‘literary works’ (more on the difference between literary & commercial fiction in another post), we often find ourselves stepping into such descriptive texts.

The problem with overly describing a scene is that we are taking the reader out of the story and sitting them in a lecture hall. We are telling them what they are seeing, instead of letting them see it by engaging the visual part of their imagination.

Here’s an example of Telling:

Stressed from a long day at the office Bill opened the door and cringed at the sound of the hinges creaking as it swung inward. He thought about the need to fix that awful noise as he stepped into the house. The hallway was long and straight, stretching all the way to the other end of the house where he could see through the back screen door into the yard where his kids bounced on the backyard trampoline. Next to the door stood a tall wooden coat rack with a hat and an umbrella on the other hooks. He took off his coat and hung it on the nearest hook. Next to the coat rack was a dark wood table with a scratched surface on which he put his keys next to a china vase filled with porcelain replicas of roses. He stepped down the hallway, shoes clicking on the marble tiled surface as he made his way toward the kitchen. The smell of his wife’s cooking filled the air around him causing his stomach to gurgle in hunger.

And here’s the same story being Shown:

Bill cringed at the creaky hinges of his front door. The wrinkles in his brow deepened.

Gotta get that fixed.

He dropped his jacket on the empty hook of the old-fashioned coat rack between the hat and the umbrella that kept it company. A flick of the wrist and his keys skidded across the nearby wooden table adding a couple new scars to the surface as they chinked to a stop against a china vase, the vibration eliciting a tinkly song from the porcelain roses packed into it. A draft snaked down the long hall from the screen door at the opposite end, snatching the scent of his wife’s cooking from the kitchen and sending it swirling around his head. Reflected shadows rose and on the polished marble floor as the lowering sun back lit his kids’ wild bouncing. Their gleeful laughter vibrated the length of the house, erasing the stress that followed him home from the office. That trampoline was the best thing he’d ever bought.


See the difference? The key to writing a story people can get immersed in is letting their imagination build the pictures by showing action rather than describing the scene. This is something that takes a lot of time and practice to learn, but as you get it down it becomes the natural way to write.

There are many great resources out there that can help you get a really solid grip on how to do it, such as those written by my friends James Scott Bell and Jodie Renner that can help immensely. The biggest and best tool though is to read good authors who make it zing. Some of my favorite examples of well written fiction that hits the mark are the works of Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, Louis L’Amour, and Nelson Demille. Oh, and how could I forget the inestimable Terry Pratchett? Pratchett is able to paint wonderful pictures with actions of his characters that will have you alternately in awe and rolling on the floor laughing.


What about you? What authors have you found that hit the style that paints the pictures best in your mind?
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