Monday, January 30, 2012

MMWUC - New Year's Resolutions

Okay, it's the end of January in the new year, specifically 2012. Do you know where your protagonist is?

What? You have touched your book since you had the flu on January 2nd, and now your protagonist is hanging off the Matterhorn with the only known vile containing the antidote that can save the world from a deadly virus being injected by evil alien dinosaurs into all the deciduous trees in the world so that when the leaves fall and deteriorate they will cover the earth with the virus' toxic vapors! Get back to the pen and pencil, typewriter, computer, or tablet and save your protagonist. Send up a former female American Gladiator with the strength of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the looks of Megan Fox, nah, not her, too pouty, how about Christie Brinkley at 30, better. Have her rescue him so he can rescue her and they can rescue the world. Show Clive Cussler how it's done. It's time to recharge those New Year's resolutions and take a bite out of the alien dinosaurs.

I hear they taste like chicken.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Danger of Sun Beams on a Writer's Protagonist

I fell today over sun beam. We haven't had much sun as of late, and I guess I forgot the strong winter rays have a tendency to trip people who don't pay attention. I also fell last November. Same reason. Sun beam. I hit hard last November. I actually thought I'd broken my knee, because I had nothing to brace myself with when I went down. It's still discoloured, and I don't walk right, but I think that's more the arthritis then the fall, though it hurts. But today's (Thursday) fall got me worried. Aside from the grapefruit looking ankle, a few marks on my side, and the glancing blow to my head when I head butted the car (car won), I find my wrist starting to hurt. It's several hours later, and writing this is painful, and I'm not sure that everything I wrote will make sense tomorrow.

I don't write about superheros. I must remember that when my detective has to hit someone, he might knock them down, but his hand is really, really going to hurt soon after, if not immediately. Writing lesson tucked away that's not part of Elmore Leonard's top ten rules.

#11. Dangerous sun beams and knockout punches have to hurt the protagonist as well as the villain. And the best example of it ever was Indiana Jones in the hull of the ship with Marion Ravenwood trying to find a place that doesn't hurt to plant a kiss on poor Indy. I could use her now.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rick Bylina Interview - Indie Writing

We interrupt your daily activities to alert you to yet another interview of, well, ME, by Kris Wampler, author of "Love Train", on his Indie Writing blog. He can also be found also on Facebook and lurking on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review: Child of my Heart

Everyone's search for what is most precious to their heart takes twists and turns. Some twists are devastatingly tragic, some turns are lovingly wondrous, and some events in life are just plain magical. For Annie Lancaster in "CHILD OF MY HEART," the touchstone of her journey is being a nurse for damaged children with little hope of making that journey. Heartbreak co-mingles with joy in Annie's professional life as she nurses children suffering from the worst that life can dish out. Disappointment and hope punctuate her personal yearnings, which seem destined never to be fulfilled as time marches on. The combination would break a weaker person. Yet, Annie faces the day-to-day challenges head-on with an innate kindness in this literary novel that reads more like a heartfelt memoir of someone for whom you could really care.

A Heartfelt Read - 5 Stars

Monday, January 23, 2012

MMWUC - Super Bowl of Writing Awaits

Within the family at the start of the playoffs I wrote, "Whoever won the New York Giants versus Green Bay Packers game would be in the Super Bowl and lose to the New England Patriots." Well, it has come to pass and the final battle is set, even though both the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers gave the winners all they could. Four evenly-matched titans fought it out, but someone had to fall. The games kept me in my seat through dinner, the desire to go to the bathroom, and all the work that I needed to get done. It's a lesson to all the writers. You want drama, re-run the Giant/49er game. Just like this game, in your story the antagonist and protagonist must struggle to the bitter end, keeping the reader on their toes, giving them thrills and chills along the way, unexpected victims along the way, heroes rising to the challenge, and someone snatching victory from defeat, until the last kick in the ass at the end of the story, and the vanquished lay down before the victor.

I want to write the way they played. It's Monday. Let's get out there and write something masterful.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review: Little Mountain

Little Mountain has a big story. Who is this Bob Sanchez and how did he write such a well-crafted story? "Little Mountain" mixes a sad piece of personal Cambodian history with the need to solve a present day murder for Detective Sambath Long. He has to try and bring closure to both his past and solve a heinous murder that dig into his haunting memories. The story has twists and turns that this mystery writer appreciated. His characters come alive on the page, the dialogue is crisp, and the descriptions of the backstreets of Lowell and the noirishly oppressive weather make you feel like you're on a ride-a-long.

Sanchez has carefully interwoven Sam's sad past with his desire to do the right thing in spite of significant obstacles placed in his way. Married, with a small child, he teeters precariously as many cops do between ensuring family security and doggedly pursuing his duty. Politics and priorities clash with the right amount of give-and-take until Sam has to do what he believes is right. And like all great stories or baseball games, "It ain't over until it's over." Sanchez pulls the story strings tight until...well, you'll just have to read this 5-star novel to learn the harrowing ending.

Monday, January 16, 2012

MMWUC - Surviving without Twitter, Facebook, and Linked-in.

Stop the train. I want to get off. Well, you can't. However, you do have options. You can step off the communications train for a day per week. And I plan to do so.

I've been thinking about spending some time with my protagonist sans the Internet, which means no email, Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, blogging; my brand new Kindle safely tucked in it's cover; and, dare I write it, my cell phone in the recharger. I want to go for a long walk with my protagonist without electrons pulsing through my body. Find out, what he would do if totally cut off from the world, able to just think about the important things in his life or my life, not be at beck-and-call for 392 emergency queries that each day brings. I did not know I was that indispensable.

Sometimes it is okay not to have to answer the tweet, the Facebook message, the Linked-in update, the 243 emails that arrive every day. Sometimes your protagonist has more to say to you than your sixth cousin, four times removed who found you on Facebook and now wants you to buy a spot of prime land in Chad. "Need a decision today." Funny how tomorrow, the ability to make the decision is still available.

"Let's go fishing, Stark."

"Hear they're biting down at the coast."

And so we talk or not and find out that sometimes a quieter life leads to better thoughts about a story than an avalanche of information.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interview: Kim Kardashian Wasn't Available But Rick Was

Sometimes people interview me. Why? Gee, I don't know. I think it's because someone like Kim Kardashian or Snooki or Steven King wasn't available. Lindsey Lohan is still working in the Coroner's Office, fretting how to settle her $90,000 IRS bill without dipping into the million dollars that Playboy gave her to pose nude so they could airbrush her sculptured body to make it perfect. So, it's easy to find an interview of KK, S, OR LL out there. Little harder for SK. As for me, it's getting easier each month, and this month you can find me on The Muriel Reeves Mysteries blog. I ain't pretty, but I writes okay. Check it out. Leave a note for me, or Kim or Lindsey (Wasn't she so cute in "The Parent Trap."). Maybe you'll even be enticed to by one of my novels. Wouldn't that be a novel thing to do. Did you see how I used both definitions of the same word, novel.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review: The Girl in the Blue Beret

History buffs looking for insights into the resistance and readers of literary fiction who like to read about protagonists searching for their emotional centerpiece will enjoy Bobbie Ann Mason's novel "The Girl in the Blue Beret". Ms. Mason spent considerable time and energy trying to bring alive the stepping-on-egg-shells existence of those who helped the allies in a time when resources were scarce, but courage abundant. She did a fine job though the on-page tension lags at times. Marshall peels back time, revealing his past as he meanders through his present. He searches for post-retirement meaning and a measure of understanding about what he and those who risked their lives to save him went through to save him as a downed pilot in WW2. And at the center of his searching is the girl in the blue beret. I could fall in love with her. While I appreciated the back-and-forth of time and space, it sometimes felt abrupt, as did the ending. I even turned the page thinking there was more, sadly, there was not. This is a solid and enjoyable read. 4 stars.

Monday, January 9, 2012

MMWUC - Resolutions, Goals, and Promises

Ah, the freshness of a new year, which always coincides with my birthday and the making of resolutions, goals, and promises. First, thanks for all the birthday wishes in 2012 from my Twitter, Facebook, and assorted other friends. In the rear view mirror, 2011 was a somewhat bizarre year, which started out with a semi-reluctant re-emergence into the corporate world at a promising job in a "recession-proof" industry. Two months later, I was let go before my probationary period ended. No harm, no foul, no paycheck. It was a blessing in disguise, acting as the final push to take my future into my own hands and self-publish my novels. Plus, the vegetable garden was well-established and promised much in the way of back-up food stores.

Along with my buddy, Ron, we examined the horizon and decided to publish our respective books, found out that marketing is hard, and girdled our loins (gee that sounds nasty) after examining what worked and what didn't work to be better prepared for 2012. To quote Yoda, "There is no try, only do." No real resolutions need be made, no goals for anyone else to understand, or promises to make to family and friends about 2012. There is only do; and, I intend to do when it comes to my life as an author.

It's January 9, 2012, do you know what your protagonist's goals are?