How the Lord of the Rings…Should Have Ended

Some things are just too funny. Fellow writer Joanne McAlpine brought this little gem to my attention. It’s a very interesting video that’s been floating around Facebook and YouTube.

The deliberate overacting from the voice talent really punches up the humor in this one.

Posted in A Little Inspiration | Leave a comment

Immerse or Die: Most Common Writing Mistakes

So, a writer friend of mine, Dominick Daunno from far-off Texas, pointed out the ImmerseOrDie review site to me. The picture below sums up the philosophy of the site in one memorable tagline:

Immerse or Die: The Web Site for Writers With No Fear

The site is the brain child of Jefferson Smith, a writer who admits he’s disenchanted with the professionalism of a lot of the indie-published ebooks he’s seen. So he reads an ebook while he’s on the treadmill each morning. He gives each story three strikes (which he calls WTF’s) against reader immersion before he stops reading. Then he reviews the story and tells what pulled him out of the story, if anything did.

This is what Jefferson Smith says about his review process:

If somebody is charging us money for their books, we have the right to expect a few things. They should be good stories, well told, with proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The logic of the story should be consistent, the choices and behaviors of the characters should be plausible, and they should actually be doing something. Something interesting. Something worth telling stories about. A book that gets all those right will probably go the full 40 minutes with me. Sadly, a great many indie books do not seem to get those basics right.

The really cool thing is that he analyzed his results after he hit 50 reviews, and wrote an excellent article detailing the flaws he was seeing in ebooks, as well as some reasonable grouping of the flaws into categories. His conclusions are startling, but also very useful to writers.

Check out the article. And definitely check out the reviews…he’s brutal but fair. Reading the reviews is sort of like a condensed course in what not to do in your own stories. As for me, I’m sending my next ebook to Jefferson Smith…’cause I’m willing to take the “Immerse or Die” challenge. How about you?

Posted in Science Fiction, Writing Tips | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“Bitter Days” Goes to Beta

Let the Beta Readers Begin!I just sent my latest story, “Bitter Days,” to my beta readers. Many thanks to those members of the Loudoun Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers who volunteered to be beta readers. The story is 14,500 words, so it’s solidly in novelette territory. It’s Episode 1 in the Pageeda & Scuffee serial, which I’m projecting to run for five episodes (for this first “season”). This series is, in turn, part of a larger canvas that I’m working on called The Thousand Kingdoms.

Here’s my elevator pitch for the story:

Somebody once said: “Our enemies define us.”

A young homeless girl, raised on the streets of a grim fantasy city by her older sister, vows revenge when her sister is seized by the Nazi-like religious cult that is steadily taking over the kingdom.

She’s so overmatched by her enemy, she has no choice but to become extraordinary. Anything less is unacceptable.

Posted in Writing Tips | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Public Speaking for Writers – Slides Now Online

Here are the slides for my recent workshop, “Public Speaking for Writers,” which I told a number of people at Capclave 2014 that I would post online.

So far, I’ve conducted the full workshop at Capclave 2014, and an abbreviated version of the workshop for Ashburn Toastmasters. I anticipate running the full version again here in Northern Virginia at one of Loudoun Country’s libraries, probably in early 2015.

Posted in Writing Tips | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Operation Eagle: Practically a Military Maneuver

Spy MissionWhen you’re a writer, you get to do unusual things, and it’s all right. Apparently eccentric behavior is expected for writers. A situation arose this weekend which allowed me to exploit this principle.

My sister-in-the-law had to go to Florida on a business trip. Her husband, Steve, my brother, already had a cross country motorcycle race he was scheduled to be in with some of his friends. So there was a twenty-four hour period where they had to do something with their daughter.

They arranged for their daughter, Bailey, to stay overnight and for most of the next day with the family of Bailey’s best friend. Everything was planned in detail, and then the plan fell apart.

Bailey got sick.

The family that was taking care of her was unsure what to do with a sick child that wasn’t their own. Many phone calls ensued between Virginia (where we’re all from), Florida (where Bailey’s mother was) and West Virginia (where Steve was). Operation Eagle was therefore created out of necessity to retrieve Bailey from the family that was taking care of her.

Everybody had a code name. The mission was set in motion by Control, in Florida. Bailey became the Package, located at the Target Site in Ashburn, VA. I was Liberator1, accompanied by Liberator2 (my wife) for backup. We drove over to pick up the Package and take her to the Safe House, otherwise known as our house. Bonehead (Steve) cruised in a few hours later to pick up the Package and take her back to Home Base.

My niece, Bailey, thought it was all pretty amusing, as well as being yet more proof that her uncle was crazy. Being the crazy writer uncle is kinda fun.

Posted in A Little Inspiration | Tagged , | Leave a comment