Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Box in the Mail

I received a box in the mail today. Books. My books. My books that I must sell. "Yippee," and "Oh, crap," collided in time and space like two electrons going around the CERN Superconducting Laboratory and trying to occupy the same slice of bologna that some careless worker left behind. It got me thinking though, as most things do in my overly-charged brain, about having a character in my story receive a mysterious package.

How would your protagonist react to a mysterious package ending up on his/her desk? Open it like a Christmas gift or call Homeland Security to blow it up?

P.S. I also can't believe this is the last day of the summer months.

Monday, August 29, 2011

MMWUC - Rain with that Hurricane?

Hurricane Irene came and went. The outer rain bands stopped at the county line, about 1/2 mile from my house. I got .15 inches of rain and two downed branches. Thirty miles to the east, they got 3 inches and some trees down. Near the coast, one town drowned under 19 inches of rain in just over one day. Reporting on Irene has been weird and reaction weirder. I could say, "Irene, a bust." I had to water my plants the next day. However, some of the media and individual-centric comments about the storm have been, well, stupid, calling Irene, much to do about nothing. Lift your head people. Just because your little island of reality wasn't affected, millions were. Just water your plants or ride your bicycle and be very, very thankful the storm didn't creep over the county line and put your life on hold for the next few months.

Writers: How have you used the weather in your story to enhance the readers experience?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Writer

Hurrican Irene. 'Nuff said. Write your hurricane story. Make your voice heard. If you're somewhere else, write an anti-hurricane story.

Eye of the Storm

I stood near the open garage door, as a garbage can flew past me. "Close one," I yelled, over the huffing and puffing noises. I should really take shelter inside and wait until this blows over, but I was hypnotized by the rage and fury. I wondered what next? I didn't have to wait long. A sturdy shrub, that had grown millimeters into my neighbors yard was yanked out the ground. Dirt and twigs slammed against the side of the house, then slid down like a figther who'd take his last punch. Paralyzed the the display, I squinted in defiance. A cop car cruised down the street, eyeing me. Without warning, a calmness overtook the entire scene.

My nextdoor neighbor came over. "I'll clean up the mess, but next time," he leaned into me, "make sure your herd of hamsters poop on your yard, not mine.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Inspiration has struck in the midst of trying to get A MATTER OF FAITH prepared for publication on Amazon, CreateSpace, and Smashwords. What if -- A dozen people are trapped in a high-rise building after an historic earthquake while a powerful hurricane barrels towards them, and one of them is disposed dictator bent on revenge. Oh yeah, and another one is a hunky vampire. Oh yeah, and there's the famous newly-weds who are paparazzi-crazed, because, well, that's all they're famous for, being in public. And don't forget the two old, fat, white guys who can't agree on any solution to their problem. It's like this story was ripped from the headlines. Can I have the NBA now?

Monday, August 22, 2011

MMWUC - Is Your Protagonist Is Mad At You

Book #2, A MATTER OF FAITH, is officially done. No more revising, editing, or tweaking. It's production time on Monday, which will spill over into Tuesday and finally wrap up on Thursday. In between, I have to replace the car that died on me, take another in for maintenance, visit my dermatologist so she can tell me I have more skin cancer, find an endocronologist, and prop up the loofahs that are overrunning the garden. Lots to do, but I really should spend some time with the co-protagonist (he really hates to be a "co"...thinks he can carry the whole book) of my next book. He's lonely and swears he won't cooperate with the writing.

What do you do when your protagonist won't cooperate? Bribe? Spank? False praise?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nothing about Nothing and That's Something

I'm going to rest today. I'm going to build an arch under my loofahs, weed whack weeds, finish mulching a section of the bush bed that is 95.34% complete, and I may even cut some errant small trees and the one that feel during the windstorm the other night. I may go to the dump. I may even move some of the dirt pile at the end of my driveway...yeah, right...dirt. It's good old, heavier than gold, red clay. I've got to have a day away from the computer. Will I be successful. Probably not. My name is Rick. I'm an addict. It has been three hours since I last touched my keyboard. The shakes aren't too bad, but...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Scaring Yourself With Sounds

I have a dentist appointment this morning, so why am I thinking about Marathon Man! You know the scene with Dustin Hoffman, the 64th scariest scene of all time. It's the type of scene that would make everyone cringe, except, of course, Jack Nicholson in the original The Little Shop of Horrors. (Not to be confused with Susan Goodwill's Little Shop of Murders, a most excellent cozy mystery novel.) There's something very unnerving about that high-pitched, whirling sound with which most everyone can associate.

What other universally disturbing sounds are there that make your readers cringe?

Monday, August 15, 2011

MMWUC - This the doctor in the house?

It's the start of the parade of doctors. I'm fasting for the blood test. Then comes the physical, dentist, eye examination, dreaded anal probe (I'm down to only three years in between pooper patrols), and dermatologist to slice and dice away more and more of me. Could be worse. Could be adding in a cardiologist or some other specialized -ist doctor. It's a real time suck to the schedule, but now I can use one of the marketing tips I've learned. I can leave behind my business card with the nurses and doctors and future patrons in the waiting room. I can sit there, waiting to be probed, while reading ONE PROMISE TOO MANY and extolling its virtues to anyone who passes by. Hmm. Maybe I should schedule more appointments.

How does health affect your protagonist or antagonist? Does a painful toothache cause them to react out of character?

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Rush of Publication - The Drag of Marketing

The e-book is on Smashwords, Diesel, B&N, and Amazon. It may be on Apple, Srollmotion, and other sites that I don't know about. The ratings have all been 5-star so far, and the private emails have all been upbeat, especially with regard to the portrayal of the schizophrenic suspect. The feeling last evening, when ONE PROMISE TOO MANY started to show up in all these places, was like a runner's high. Now, I'm waiting on the birth of the paperback. As a do-it-yourselfer, meeting the cover requirements was (is) difficult. But I know the hard work has just begun. I can't do anything more about the story, it is what it is, but it's time to make my book rise above the mass of well-done, poorly-done, and fakers, and attract an audience of readers beyond friends, family, and my meager following. The future is positive and daunting at the same time. I love it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Self-Publishig Struggles and Satisfaction

Successful self-publishing is not for the timid, tired, or easily traumatized writer. Two weeks into the ongoing adventure to self-publish "One Promise Too Many," I'm trying to do it without help. Professional help would be easier, but cost a few bucks. Using standardized templates and such would be easier, but I'd not stick out in the growing forest of quickly thrown-over-the-fence books by frustrated writers. So, I cobbled together my own cover, had the book edited a dozen times by sincere and helpful friends, and got lucky with Ron #2, 35 years of AP experience as an editor. I formatted the book nearly flawlessly the first time (I do read the instructions in the box). The real challenge is the paperback cover sans help and the $550+ recommended software. Did I do it right when I sent it at midnight last night? I will find out from Createspace today, then the book will be on Amazon. And then marketing plan phase 2 can begin.

It all reminds me of when I designed, drew the blueprints, engineered, and was the general contractor for my house with no "industry" experience. Terrifying, but ultimately, very satisfying. When was the last time you or your protagonist stretched their abilities and tasted the sweetness of surviving a hard fought challenge.

Monday, August 8, 2011

MMWUC - Inopportune Adventure

"The fan for the air conditioner was making this terrible racket," my niece said. She stood in the shade with three kidlets in tow when she showed up at her mom's house the other day as we were unloading a truck full of my in-laws worldly goods in 99-degree heat. "Dad's driving up to fix it. We'll stay here. I just shut the fuse and left." A couple days went by, and like Paul Harvey used to say, "And now for the rest of the story." Her dad, an expert handi-man drives 100 miles to her house and opens the super-deluxe air conditioner. Two beady eyes stare back at him. Then, he finds the decapitated body in the air duct. Not good, but on a positive note, the air conditioner isn't broken. The decapitated head was just rolling around in the unit smacking into the fan blades at irregular intervals. Seems that the intruder chose an inopportune time to get stuck, and when the suped-up fan started, off came the head. Yep, mice get into the strangest situations.

I can think of several plot lines out of this. Ever have a home repair that lead to a good story?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Changing Lives - Story Fodder

One week ago, I became an author when I published "One Promise Too Many" on Smashwords. It'll be available on Apple by this time next week. The paperback might be out by this time next week also. However, the most important event this week was Big Red's disintegration. Big Red was my 20-year-old Ford Explorer, a wedding present between me and my wife. It decided to try and burn up because a locked brake mechanism shot searing hot fluid against the engine causing a gray smoke screen. After being towed to the garage, the mechanic looked at it, spit on the ground, and said, "Shoulda burnt up. You was mighty lucky." Barreling down the street sans brakes in traffic trailing a smoky, gray fog didn't feel so lucky to me.

So, where did you get your latest story idea? Mine is about a guy whose car catches on fire, crashes into gas pump, and causes an inferno trapping four fleeing bank robbers who now risk capture or death while helping other people trapped with them in the aftermath. Maybe I'll blog about this again sometime in early 2013.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Moving Experience

The deed is done. The truck full of my in-laws possessions is emptied. 7-9 a.m. at my house, 9-11 at my nearby sister-in-law's house, and 11-12:30 at the assisted living center where my in-laws now reside, happy to have a modest portion of their worldly goods at their side. Then, the drive to my other s-i-l's house to unload the rest of the "stuff" that she gets. Thankfully, the third s-i-l said to leave her meager portion at the second s-i-l's house. Got that? Then, it was a mad dash to the rental dealership to turn in the truck and an even crazier drive to get the #2 s-i-l to work, which is the same place as my wife. So, after slugging it out in upper 90-degree heat, I slump in the passenger seat of my wife's car. She says, "Well, let me tell you about my crazy day." I pass out. There's bliss in the eternal darkness of an exhaustive blackout. No dreams. Sweet bliss.

Monday, August 1, 2011

MMWUC - Your Inner Voice

At six p.m. Saturday night, I flew from Raleigh to Chicago then took a bus to Georke's Corners (Waukesha, Wisconsin). At Six a.m. Sunday morning, I and a friend drove back to Raleigh, NC in a 26-foot rented diesel-guzzling truck full of household possessions of mostly emotional value that my parental in-laws were giving away to their eight kids, including my wife, because the in-laws are now living in an assisted living facility and the old homestead is sold. 959 uneventful miles later, we arrived on my street and turned into my driveway at 2:01 a.m. After 19 long and noisy hours of driving, I got stuck at the bottom of the driveway. It's now 3:43 a.m., and we've just dislodged the beast. The Monday morning wake-up call. Listen to your inner voice. Three hundred miles from home I said to my friend, "You know this truck is going to get stuck in my driveway because of the small dip. The loading ramp will get hung up." After 300 miles of listening to him, "No way," "Can't happen," "Trust me," we were stuck, because I didn't listen to what I knew was true. Don't make my mistake and get your protag stuck at the bottom of the story's driveway because, you didn't listen to your inner voice about what makes sense. See you in the afternoon. I'm tired.