Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catch Fire Blog Party

Since I'm a Writer on Fire, it only makes sense that I help host Alex J. Cavanaugh's premiere party for his new book, CassaFire. It's a sequel to his first book, CassaStar.

I just finished CassaStar in anticipation of the second book coming out, and...how do I explain it? If you took Ender's Game, Star Wars, Top Gun, Battlestar Galactica, and The Last Star Fighter, put it into a giant blender, and after cranking it up, you get CassaStar.

It took me back to all the science fiction I grew up with. It was a fun ride. I finished the entire novel in two sittings. Despite all the awesome battle scenes, Cavanaugh's book is built around strong characters. So even if you're not a big sci-fi fan, you will still enjoy this book. 

Without further adieu, I'd like to introduce you to CassaFire:

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities. 

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available today!
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Warsnovels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

You can visit the author’s site at HERE.

You can buy CassaFire here:

And here's a cool trailer for CassaFire:

* I will be traveling the next couple days, but I do hope to catch up with all of you on Friday!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nearly Forgotten TV Shows, Part One

I grew up on TV, there's no denying it. It fostered my love for everything fantastical. Many shows were copycats of very successful films, others were so completely original that it held my fascination for each episode's full 30 minutes (which includes commercials, because as a kid I loved commercials too).

Here's just a small sampling of shows that seem to have been forgotten by most of us. If you're a child of the 80s, I'm hoping to jog your memory of some fun shows that I enjoyed as a kid.

Automan. 1983-84. Tron had been a huge hit the year before, and Automan attempted to capitalize on the film's popularity.  I remember being mezmorized by the hero's awesome Lamborghini. The computer generated car was capable of turning at 90 degrees...just like Pac-Man. I remember that Desi Arnaz Jr. played the computer whiz and Automan had find blowdryer styled feathered hair. And somehow the two could actually combine to form Voltron, er, one super-hybrid being. What a winning combo! But alas, the show only lasted 13 episodes.

The Greatest American Hero. 1981-83. I remember re-enacting this TV show on the playground, although I was always cast as the villain. I was in the 3rd grade when this show premiered, and it looked like a goofy take on Superman - which was pretty astute for an 8 year old, as the show was hit was lawsuits by the the owners of the Superman franchise. Anyway, this show was about an English teacher named Ralph that receives a superhero suit by aliens. But the idiot loses the instructions. So he sucks at being a superhero, often flayling around in the sky rather ungracefully. I can recall almost all of the words to the show's theme song, "Believe it or Not."

The Phoenix. 1982. It was the Summer of '82. My St. Louis Cardinals were on their way to an incredible World Series Championship, and the TV show The Phoenix came on the air. It had such a fantastical element, and I loved mythology as a kid. And this show combined my love of sci-fi and fantasy - plus with a nice superhero twist. Basically, this alien dude named Bennu is stuck in suspended animation in some ancient Incan tomb, only to awaken by the work of archeologists. Bennu goes on a quest to find his fellow alien love, who is buried somewhere in America. But the Feds want to use his powers for secret missions. Sucks that the show only lasted the 90 minute movie premiere and another four episodes.

I love YouTube...allows me to wax nostalgic when I get to thinking about my long lost, nearly forgotten TV shows. More fun and obscure shows are on the way, so stay tuned.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Next Week: The Premiere of Alex J. Cavanaugh's CassaFire

Thursday, February 23, 2012

First Campaigner Challenge

Here is our assignment:
Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. 
First of all, this is my VERY FIRST attempt at flash fiction. Ever. As a person that is accustomed to writing 100,000+ word novels, this was much harder than I thought it was going to be. Since we were to stay in our genre, I did a little sci-fi steampunk piece. It's exactly 200 words, and that was a huge accomplishment for me.

If you dig my little ditty, please click give me a "Thumbs Up." I'm #167 on the Linky List. Gracias!

# # # #

Shadows crept across the wall, and Cyrus spied the police continuing their pursuit through the crowd. He waited a moment before leaving the security of his hiding place underneath the metal stairway. The warm vibration from the metal box concealed from his thick wool coat gave him comfort, only to be replaced by absolute dread.

Stealing it was easy, but he didn't exactly know what he had taken. Cyrus had never been educated in the world of clockworks and machinery, and now, he had the urge to toss it and take the next airship out of town.

He took hurried steps out into the square, only to squeeze himself into a tight alley. With his back turned towards the marketplace, he brought the small machine out to study it. It was constructed of smooth brass with two holes at the top and two ports underneath. Inside, Cyrus could feel the box pulsating rhythmically.

"Give it back," a coarse voice reverberated from behind.

Cyrus barely had enough room to turn around and face the man with the pistol leveled at his chest. "What is this thing?"

The man cocked the hammer of his revolver. "It is my wife's new heart."

# # # #

Phew! Hope you enjoyed that, and I'm looking forward to being stretched and challenged with future assignments. It's fun getting out of my comfort zone.

On another note, my debut novel: The Mechanica Wars: Dragonfly Warrior is slated for release by Otherworld Publications on July 20, 2012. This is nearly fifteen years and one-hundred and twelve rejections in the making.

So I'm reaching out to you on this one. I'd like some ideas from you folks concerning ideas as to what kind of promotion should I do to get the word out on my release date and beyond. I've helped others with hosting a couple blog tours and such, but I'd like to get more suggestions on other creative things I can do.

Especially for those who have been through this before, I'm hoping to get some great words of wisdom from you.

Thanks so much, as always.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Point of View, Part Two

I hope you're getting a nugget or two of things to think about when it comes to point of view. At the very least, just being more conscious of the different types and what it means for your writing can be just another tool for you to use if things aren't going well.

Second Person POV: I grew up reading those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Loved them. With these books YOU become the protagonist. Rare these days, but still fun.

Third Person Limited POV: I personally write most of my stuff in this POV. I feel it gives my reader a chance to still get cozy with my main character without limiting them to just one protagonist. I write stories with subplots and such, and I like using the episodic (multiple) version of 3rd Person Limited. Some authors will change the viewpoint (not the POV) with each chapter. Other times, if an author is changing viewpoints, they might denote that with a hard break of some sort. I use # # # #, for example.

Third Person Limited Pros:
1)With this POV, the author gets to show you the viewpoint from multiple characters, which can also give the story and characters more development and dimension. You can get into the mind of the villain and/or secondary characters. This POV is great for bigger stories with multiple story arcs.

2) It allows for a lot of dramatic irony - the reader might know something the protagonist doesn't know.

3) You get the best of both worlds: you can still create that closeness between your reader and your protagonist(s), like First Person POV, but you can also give us the thoughts of other characters, similar to 3rd Person Omniscient.

Third Person Limited Cons:
1) I don't recommend this POV for beginning writers. It is very difficult to maintain the limited nature of this POV at times. I'm constantly having to go back and edit things. For example:

Tom smiled. (If you're writing in 3rd person limited, and we're seeing things from Tom's perspective, this doesn't make sense).

So we have to change it to: Tom felt a smile creep across his face.

2) You have to keep track of so much stuff (if writing in 3rd Person Episodic/Multiple). Since you're entering the viewpoint of multiple characters one at a time, you're giving the reader multiple perspectives...think about that. You not only have to keep plot straight, but each character's thoughts and perceptions straight as well.

3) It's a lot of work to make each characters' voice distinct. If you're using multiple viewpoints, it will take a lot of skill to make sure each voice is different from each other. Not as easy as it sounds.

Third Person Omniscient POV: Still very popular, where the narrator is an unknown all-knowing being. Here, we get the perspectives of any and all characters in any given scene. There's two main types of Omniscient: Subjective and Objective. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is to think of Objective as a "fly on a wall." Just an outside observer that doesn't delve into any of the characters' minds. I'm going to focus on 3rd Person Subjective, since it's much more common these days.

Third Person Omnicient Pros:
1) It's one of the oldest forms of storytelling, so the reader is already very familiar with this mode of POV

2) The reader gets to know multiple characters at the same time. From a writer's standpoint, it's very liberating to not be so confined.

3) If you're writing a gigantic, epic story, this is the POV you should really use. If your story spans years, worlds, and tons of characters, this is the way to go.

Third Person Omniscient Cons:
1) Since you're entering multiple characters even within one scene, it's easy to confuse the reader. Hopping from one person's thoughts to another can make for a mess.

2) Sometimes, your story will lack that intimacy they might have with their protagonist. Since you're giving us everyone's thoughts, the reader might feel that distance.

3) Since your narrator is all-knowing, the reader can be left in the dark with some things to build suspense, but it can be tricky in this POV, as we've all read stories with surprises and twists and we felt manipulated by the narrator. So the risk of being gimmicky is always there with 3rd Person Omniscient (think M. Night Shamalanalannadingdong).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Point of View, Part One

I just finished Mockingjay, the third book in the Hunger Games. Overall, I'd give it a solid B. The first three-fourths were a good B+ or even A-, but that final quarter of the book was where it kinda dropped off. It bothered me for a little while, wondering where did Suzanne Collins go wrong.

After contemplating the third book and comparing it to Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I figured out what irked me about her final installment - it was the point of view (POV) she employed. It worked just fine for the first two books, but in book three, it doesn't.  Without giving away the plot, just know that the story needed to be told from a perspective of someone that was ACTUALLY involved in the plot, since Collins wrote all three of her books from the first person POV.

Having worked with young aspiring writers, point of view seems to be a pretty easy concept to grasp. But when you sit down to write, it's one of those things that can either make or break your story. And then you get to over-thinking things. So I'd like to just talk about point of view, the strengths and weaknesses of each, and why you might use one POV over the other.

First Person POV: The entire story is told through the eyes of your main character. Easiest way to identify this POV is when you see the narrator using the pronouns I, me, us, we.

Some people might argue with me, and I don't mean to diss First Person at all. But it is the EASIEST POV for a beginning writer to write in. Think about it - we experience the world through First Person, so writing in that voice comes more naturally. Just because it is easier doesn't make it easy, however. But it is the least complex from a juggling-all-of-your-literally-elements standpoint.

First Person Pros:
1) The reader connects to your protagonist easier. First person is super intimate, making it easier for your reader to really get caught up in your narrator and your story.

2) Your main character's personality is allowed to develop more deeply. Since you're telling the story from your protagonist's POV, it's very liberating for a writer in working to make that character more three-dimensional.

3) You get to build suspense. Since this POV is limited to one person, you're able to conceal clues much easier. This is a helpful device when you want to surprise, shock, or get your reader to throw your book across the room.

4) If you write Young Adult, your readers will love it. Most teens are naturally self-centered and First Person satisfies that innate mode of thinking. If you disagree, you haven't been around teenagers enough. I taught 9th and 10th graders...oh man. Seeing things from multiple perspectives takes a certain amount of maturity. First Person is just easier for them to settle into.

First Person Cons:
1) Because you are limited to your main character, other characters might not feel as well developed. So your reader is relying on your protagonist's single perspective.

2) If your protagonist is unlikable. Maybe your main character is a jackass. Many readers might get turned off if they're repulsed by your protagonist's thoughts, feelings, and words. I personally enjoy reading a book with a main character I don't necessarily like - it shows just how strong the writer is. First Person makes that kind of dynamic almost impossible (i.e. Bella in Twilight. She was so boring and stupid, which is why I hated the books).

3) No subplots. With the limitation of First Person, you're really not able to develop subplots. I've seen writers try to get around this by changing the viewpoint to another character (split point of view). I will say that 95% of these efforts usually fail, as it's really tough to pull off.

4) It's easier for you to do more telling instead of showing. Because you're stuck in that one person's mind, it's all too natural to keep doing all of this introspective writing and have nothing going on. Sometimes, when I'm reading a book in First Person, and the writer has gone through four or five pages of the protagonist's innermost thoughts, I get bored. I want stuff to happen.

All in all, First Person is a growing POV and more books are using it. Young Adult, mainstream fiction, mysteries, thrillers...these are genres that generally are First Person friendly.

For more complex plots with multiple layers (i.e. epic fantasy or science fiction operas), I'd stay away from First Person POV.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

11 Semi-Random Questions

My new blogging buddy and fellow Campaigner from the Science Fiction Gang has tagged me to answer her eleven semi-random questions. Check out Elizabeth Twist's blog if you don't know her yet and give her a shout. She is fantastical.

What are you reading?
I am reading the third book of the Hunger Games Trilogy, Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins. I enjoyed the first book, the second book was a little slow but got better midway through, and with being 75% of the way through Mockingjay, I will say there are great parts and parts that drag. But overall, it's been a really good series and can't wait to see the movie.

What is your favorite creative activity that is not writing?
Two things - painting murals in children's rooms and karaoke. Art was my real first love growing up, and I thought for the longest time that I was going to be an artist. But reading and writing took over in high school and I got that English degree instead. And all Filipinos do karaoke. It's a stereotype, but one that is backed up with empirical data.

Where or how do you get your best ideas?
I draw a lot from all kinds of mythology: Greek, British, Asian, and even American folktales. But getting those little tidbits of inspiration usually come to me when I'm doing something monotonous like waiting in line at the DMV or going for long walks outside. It seems I get struck by my muse when I empty out my brain.

If you could magically and painlessly change one thing about your mind or body, what would it be?
That's easy. I'd like my heart repaired. I had a close call about 10 years ago with a virus that attacked my heart muscle. I got very lucky, as most people in that situation need a heart transplant right away. My heart remodled itself and found a way to work with the damaged muscle. Doctors are a little baffled. If anyone you know has any kind of heart issue at all, tell them to take Coenzyme Q10. Ubiquinol is the best form absorbed by the body.

What is the scariest movie, story, novel, or scene you can recall?
I think I was 10 or 11 when I secretly watched The Exorcist. It's a miracle I didn't soil my pants! As an adult, the story freaks me out even more since the real-life events that inspired the movie happened right here in St. Louis. The house where half of the exorcisms took place is home to a lot of paranormal activity.

What is the weirdest thing you believe?
I believe in reincarnation. With my old blog, I also did podcasts about the paranormal. I underwent past lives regression hypnosis and recorded the whole thing for my podcast. Oh. my. Gawd. I was able to recall three past lives of mine. Maybe I'll post the podcast up on my new blog for all of you to listen to!

Super strength or super intelligence?
Super intelligence. Then I could maybe help cure deadly diseases and figure out how to pay down our national debt.

You're granted the ability to become invisible. Where do you go and what do you do?
Robert Cormier's Fade is an awesome YA horror/sci-fi book that deals with this question. But I don't think I'm sick or twisted. So I think I would make my way to the Nevada desert near Groom Lake and check out Area 51 for myself. I wanna see some UFOs and alien bodies!

What one change do you think would have the most positive impact on the world as a whole?
Damn, that's a profound question. I'll keep it simple: thinking of others too with every thing you do every day. Imagine if everyone became thoughtful and helpful to each other. I think many of the problems our world faces today would disappear.

What is the crappiest advice you've given?
I once told someone, "What harm could it do?" Big mistake.

What is your favorite song right now?
My oldest son has me hooked on Skillerex right now, and it's one ear worm after another. Can't get the song "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" out of my head.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest - Where It All Began

For this blogfest participants were asked to post your own origin story.  Tell us all where your writing dreams began.

I was six years old and just learning how to read when I was able to enjoy a book that I had owned since I was four. It was titled Ma Liang and the Magic Paintbrush. There have been hundreds of incarnations of this ancient Chinese folktale done over the years, as the story is not only enduring, but universal.

Ma Liang is a very poor young boy that loves painting, but cannot afford a paintbrush of his own. An old man gave him a magic paintbrush and tells him to help the poor, as whatever he paints would materialize and come to life. And that's what he does - he paints oxen to help with the fields and a river so his people could get clean water.

But a corrupt and greedy official hears of Ma Liang and his power, so he imprisons the boy and steals the paintbrush - which wouldn't work for him. So he forces the boy to paint a mountain of gold, but Ma Liang draws a sea surrounding it. The official orders him to paint a ship so he could get to the gold, which the boy does. And when the official and his soldiers climb on board the ship filled with riches, Ma Liang paints a massive tempest, which destroys the ship. And Ma Liang returns to his village where he continues to paint things to help those who need it.

I think it was the combination of the gorgeous artwork and the story of being bullied and the power of creativity and art. From that moment on, I was hooked on creating stories about similar struggles. Growing up, I was drawn to myths like The Iliad, The Golden Fleece, and everything King Arthur. I would make up stories and draw the illustrations, and then staple all the pages together to make my own books. And I've been writing stories ever since - and anyone who reads them can see what a strong influence mythology has had on my writing.

And yes, I still do own that old book. And I bought another (newer) version for my own kids. And now they're writing stories too. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Phoenix Has Risen

One year ago, I decided to start up this new blog. I wanted it to be a little more personal, and although it is a writer's blog, I still wanted to have the freedom to pretty much write about whatever the hell I wanted to. Many of you know I had another blog going back to 2005, and although I do miss writing about the funny side of science, I like this format better.

Okay, I admit, I miss writing about Bigfoot, El Chupacabra, UFOs, and everything weird science.

Back then, not many of my readers knew my real name, and I just went by the alias The Phoenix. It was fun being anonymous.

But as you can see, you know know my name (my pen name anyway), and you can see a picture of me. I've pretty much thrown anonymity out the window.

Many of my fellow bloggers that I started out with are pretty much all gone. And even those that still remain barely come by here. Maybe they liked me better as The Phoenix. But with my one-year blog anniversary here in my new home, I want to thank you.

I'm reaching out much more, and I'm finding such a warm and fun-loving community of writer's and bloggers welcoming me. It's easy to get stuck in your isolation when you're a writer, and I find the exchange of ideas and war stories not only refreshing, but inspirational.

In the coming weeks, I'm joining a couple blogging projects, AKA blogfests, to share a little bit more of myself and to learn more about you other writers out there. I love being a writer, and connecting with all of you makes the journey fun and less lonely.

I'll be doing the ORIGINS blogfest, and I'm eager to tell you how I got into storytelling so many moons ago. We're talking over thirty years ago. Don't let my Filipino skin fool you - I am getting old.

And of course, I will be participating in the Writer's Platform-Building Campaign - you'll find me under science fiction. Looking forward to getting to know my fellow sci-fi writers.

However, don't be surprised if you do see an occasional Bigfoot or UFO post here and there in the coming months. Old habits die hard.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Weirdo Vending Machines

I've always had a fascination with vending machines as a child. Whether they were the little red ones that took quarters and dispensed gumballs, or even the modern day snack machines...as I watch the swirly metal thingy spin and release my soon-to-be-savored bag of goodies, I'm completely enamored with the entire process. Oh, and don't get me started with those cool soda machines with the robotic arms. I am transfixed watching that thing in motion.

But recently, there's been a new wave in vending technology, and some of them are cool while others are pretty controversial. All of them have one thing in common: they are all very weird.

No pudding fo' you!
Kraft Food's Discrimination Machine. My younger sister alerted me to this one (and inspired this post). We all love samples, but it costs the manufacturer a lot of money - and there's no guarantee the sample will go to the desired target consumer. But this new machine scans your face and can decide in seconds whether you're a child or an adult. If you're an adult it will say: "Sorry kid, you're too young to experience an indulgence like this. Please step away so the adults can get their free treat."

But if the machine decides you're an adult, it will immediately dispense the new Temptations Jell-O, which is obviously being marketed to adults. This discriminating machine rolled out in Chicago at the Shedd Aquarium before Christmas, and when my 27 year-old sister gave it a try, it scanned her and refused to give up the sample.

So this machine thinks Asians are children! Yeah, we look young, but damnit, we want our free pudding.

Swap-o-Matic. This thing has me intrigued. It's a vending machine that allows you to swap whatever item you have for something else inside the machine. You enter you email address, and it gives you three credits. And you can earn credits by "donating" things to this machine. To swap, you simply exchange your credits for whatever is being offered in the machine's little windows.

The Swap-o-Matic is currently at the Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn, NY. And if you go to the website, you can find out what the machine is offering RIGHT NOW. I just checked the site, and you can choose between a brand new candy cane, a 3 month onesie, condoms, and a spoon. Genius!

Morning After. We've all seen those vending machines that offer ibuprofen, Tylenol, and other over the counter meds. But how about contraception? As if the Morning After Pill wasn't controversial enough! Students at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania can give this vending machine $25, and in return, it will dispense the contraceptive also known as Plan B.

The machine has been available on campus for TWO YEARS now, but has just recently started getting some press. We'll see how this one pans out, as it is illegal to offer this contraceptive to anyone under 17. Everyone at this small school is older than 17, but as soon as one does enroll, I'm curious to see if they will have to remove the machine.

Pot Box. No, it's not Redbox. This machine dispenses pot! Er, medical marijuana. You'll find this vending machine in California (duh). To receive your helpful herb, just slide your prepaid/registered card. And the computer will scan your fingerprint. You choose your cannabis, the amount, and maybe any other accessories you might need.

Incidentally, a standard snack machine offering Doritos, Cheese Puffs, Pizza Combos, and Funyons sits right next to it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

You Wanna Piece 'a Me? Part Deux

Writing fight scenes if fun, but very difficult. And if you don't find it tough, you're probably doing it wrong. One of the best things you can do, if you're going to write fight scenes - especially hand-to-hand combat - you need to get in the ring yourself. Sign up for a karate class and spar. You will realize how difficult fights are, and how it feels to get your bell rung.

I first wrote about how to write hand-fighting scenes HERE. So I wanted to continue with more tips to keep in mind when writing a great piece of action, but keeping it realistic and believable.

Flippy Do: Okay, no matter what you see on The Matrix and Sucker Punch, people don't do all kinds of flips and somersaults during a fight. It's more for aesthetics and cinema fun. But in your book, don't have characters doing all kinds of flips and other stupid acrobatics during a fight. If my opponent is doing a flip, guess what - EASY target. A good way to get your ass kicked is to do a flip during battle. (A couple caveats - if you're writing sci-fi and there's zero gravity, doing flips and all kinds of stunts can become part of the battle a la Ender's Game).

It Hurts to Hurt: I wrote about getting punched in the face, and how that can really just knock you out of a fight immediately, unlike in the movies where actors can get a crowbar over the head and they're just fine. But let me tell you, if you hit someone in the face with your fist, it not only hurts the hittee, but it hurts the hitter too! If you punch someone square in the face, their teeth might even scratch your knuckles.

There is a technique to be able to strike someone with your fist and it not hurt too bad:

1)Make a fist and stick it out with your arm just slightly bent. Now look at which knuckles are jutting out - most people will punch someone with that middle knuckle and the ring finger knuckle. That will hurt your hand.
Proper fist alignment

2)Adjust your wrist slightly so that your pointer finger and middle knuckle are the knuckles facing your opponents face - have that little dip between these two knuckles line up with your forearm - I always think of the fangs of a python sticking out. That alignment is what allows real fighter to hit people with little or no pain.

3)With everything lined up, your arm becomes a steel rod. No bend at the wrist. Go ahead and practice hitting someone with this alignment - pick someone you don't like, as you will rock them into next week.

If your character is taking a big ass John Wayne swing (a giant hook), lining up your knuckles, fist, and wrist is impossible. So keep that in mind too.

Sentence Structure. Many experts tell you to write short sentences during actions scenes. And that sounds like pretty good logic. I'm of the opinion that even during fight scenes, you should continue to vary your sentence lengths. Writing short sentences, one after another, might make your fight sound like movie script direction. In fact, go for long sentences in the middle of it - this would be a good time on using a comma and conjunction to join two sentences. Longer sentences during fight scenes is a great way to keep the writer reading one continuous piece of action, making it more exciting.

"Your mother was a hamster..."
Dialog Red Flags. Okay, there's a temptation to do little psyche-out talky-talk before a rumble. It's one of those tropes we're used to. Throughout history, the leaders would congregate in the center of the battlefield before the fight and trade insults. This is called a parley. Often, they'd try to work out their differences during a parley, but usually they just do their versions of "Yo' Momma Jokes." Although these can be fun, just be VERY careful you don't slip into old, tired cliches. Lines of dialog to avoid before a fight:

"This ends now."
"The game is over."
"You will lose."
"Go for it."
"One shall stand, and one shall fall."
"Your powers are weak, old man."

Okay, I was having some fun with the last few there. How can you not include a little Rocky or Star Wars? Dialog before or even during a fight can be a good way to show further characterization, but just make sure it's not hokey. Villains don't really reveal their evil schemes during a battle, and heroes don't really have flashbacks of their training when getting their asses kicked.

Thinking Cap. You want the fight to be personal, and you definitely want to capture the battle so that your reader feels like he/she is actually there. And I've read many fight scenes where I am inside the fighter's mind. However, this is another red flag where things can go wrong very quickly. Have YOU ever been in a fight? Let me tell you, you're not really thinking about anything. If you're wounded, the pain and the flash of wonder if you've broken something or if your flesh is ripped open is on your mind. But you're not thinking about stuff during a fight. In a fight, you just DO. You don't think about it. Unless your character is a thinker and NOT a real warrior, don't overdo the internal thoughts. The internal dialog should be super short. Quick.

Bruce Lee had a word for this: mushin. It's Chinese for "without mind." Real fighters train so that the movements became as involuntary as breathing. Thinking too much will get you killed.

"I'm blind! But I will still beat you up!"
You Have Health Insurance? In a scrap, all parties either end up hurt or dead. If your main character keeps getting into fights and walks away with hardly a scratch, your reader just won't believe your story. No one is invincible. Injuries are a part of fighting. Injuries can also play a neat part of your plot. Make it work, but leave no one unscathed. (There are exceptions to this in the fantasy and sci-fi worlds, I understand. But even these two genres seem very stupid with one-sided fights at times. Not fun to read).

As I wrote last March, when you get hit in the head, you do see stars. It's probably the brain the optical nerves misfiring. And you do see double and triple vision. It's freaky, and it doesn't just go away with a shake of the head. It lingers for a long time depending on the power of the blow.

In fights, people get hurt. Wounds are a great way to provide yet another challenge and move the plot along. Injuries build character!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The World Among Us - Blog Tour Stop

I must be going Blog Tour crazy! I'm very fortunate to have Ms. Beth Ann Masarik here on the old bloggity blog today. She is touring the blogosphere to promote her Urban Fantasy/Mythology novel titled, The World Among Us, published by Otherworld Publications.

I grew up on mythology, particularly Greek, so I was already intrigued by Beth's book. If you love taking classical characters and seeing what would happen if we put them in a contemporary setting, this book is for YOU!

And as this is Super Bowl Weekend and everything (Go GIANTS!), I wanted to pit the main characters of The World Among Us against each other in a head-to-head Battle of the Immortals. And it's a great way to see how Ms. Masarik has put her own modern-day spin on our favorite Greek gods, goddesses, and everything in between.

Battle of the Immortals: Team Hades vs. Team Damien…which side are you on?

Thank you for having me on the blog today, Jason. This is a very exciting post, if I do say so myself. You all have heard of Team Edward and Team Jacob right? Well, this is my version of the whole “team thing.” Jason has asked me to split up my characters into teams, and to tell you a little bit about them. I have split my characters up into two teams: Team Hades & Team Damien.

Why those two teams? That is because they are two of the most important characters in the book.

On Team Hades we have:

Birthdate: N/A.
Occupation: Lord of Tartarus.
Hobbies: Torturing humans, plotting evil and throwing parties.
Personality: Ruthless and mean, he never coddles or sugar-coats.  The only time he's nice is if he thinks he can gain something from it.

DuVessa Abana
Species: Vampire/Demon
Brief Bio: DuVessa is Damien’s sire, and used to be his mistress. That was until she bit him and forced Damien to lose his soul. DuVessa is pure evil, and doesn’t care who she hurts. She absolutely hates humans and anyone who opposes Hades and the Angels of Fire. She is the one who kills Endymion in the first chapter of The World Among Us: Prince of Darkness.

Donegal Stone
Species: Vampire
Bio: Donegal is not like the other vampires in the book. He is horrible, and doesn't care if he kills a human.  He likes to intimidate Selene, and push her buttons.  He runs with the werewolves, and is just plain evil.

Derek Greene
Plyby: Zac Efron.
Birthdate: September , 1980.
Occupation: Student.
Hobbies: Bullying those weaker than him, shadowing his father.
Personality: Leader of the pack while Leon is in jail and he's enjoying every second of his reign.  He's manipulative, but he's lazy when it comes to school work and is barely passing his classes.

Tabitha Aysel
Birthdate: May 17, 1990.
Occupation: Student.
Hobbies: Looking in the mirror, shopping, dating, picking on Selene and her friends.
Personality: Vindictive, mean, cruel, fashionable, bitchy, ego-centric, narcissistic, conceited, spoiled, selfish.

On Team Damien we have:

Damien Wicklen
Occupation: Prince of Darkness
Bio: Damien is a 3,000-year-old vampire who has a not so secret crush on Selene.  He also happens to be the son of Hades, and Selene's bodyguard.  Damien was there the night Selene's stepfather; Jason Aysel was murdered, and has vowed to earn Selene's trust at any cost.

Selene Aysel
Birthdate: May 17, 1990 (reincarnation).
Occupation: Student, Goddess of the Moon, leader of the Creatures of the Night tribe.
Personality: She's kind of quiet at first, then she is outspoken. She has a habit of falling in love with the wrong people. Ever since her husband, Endymion was murdered, she has been skeptical of men. It takes a lot to earn her trust.  Selene is the Goddess of the Moon reincarnated on Earth.  She's carefree and outgoing, trusting and sociable.

Occupation: Is Mother Nature, etc... she is the first Goddess in existence.
Bio: Gaia is the Great Spirit, and the creator of everything. She is one of the main characters in The World Among Us, and is Hades’ sworn enemy. She is very protective of her family, and her close friends. While she does not approve of Selene and Damien being together, as long as her granddaughter is happy, then she is happy. Gaia just wants everyone to get along, and to put an end to Hades.

Occupation: Titan of light, Father of Selene, Eos and Helios.
Hobbies: Being with his wife, Theia.
Personality: Hates Earth and humans, but loves his wife more than anything.  He is completely devoted to her and their children.

Occupation: She is the goddess from whom light emanates and considered especially beautiful.
Hobbies: Visiting Earth.
Personality: Sweet-tempered and loving, Theia loves her family and loves Earth and the humans who live there. When she first found out she had to marry her brother, Hyperion, she ran away to Earth and got sick by one of the diseases that could afflict Gods and Hyperion found her and brought her to a cottage on Earth and nursed her back to health.

Occupation: God of War.
Hobbies: Relishing in war, talking to his sister.
Personality: He is a murderous and bloodstained, but also a coward when it comes to standing up for himself.  He was hated by both his parents and almost everyone, the only people that like him are Aphrodite and his twin sister Eris.

In The World Among Us, Hades, the god of the Underworld, plots to take over the world, and remove Gaia, the head Deity, from power.  In order to do so, he plots against his own son, Damien, and cons him into killing his soul mate, the beautiful goddess of the moon, Selene.  Hades does so, because Gaia is his natural enemy, and Selene is her favorite grandchild.  He thinks that by killing off Gaia’s favorite grandchild, he will weaken her.  With Selene out of the way, Hades then moves in on the Creatures of the Night.  He wants to kill off their leader, Jason Aysel.  Jason is the go-between person between worlds, and another person that Gaia highly regards.  Hades manipulates and cons Jason’s best friend, Leon Greene, into murdering him, by offering him Jason’s position as his reward.  Because of these actions, a war is to take place on earth between the gods and other Creatures of the Night.  During this time, Selene is reincarnated, and kept hidden as a secret weapon to win the war against Hades.  In order to win the war of wars, the gods and some of the demons will have to fight together, and learn to co-operate with each other.  Will the Titans and Olympians be able to set aside their differences, and take back the world from Hades?  Or is the world as we know it, doomed to fall under dark shadows, forever?

Go on the The World Among Us Blog Tour !

2/1/2012 James Peercy at Stories to Tell

2/2/2012 DiAnne’s Place-the vampire saw his shadow!

2/4/2012 Jennifer Otherworld

2/6/2012 Musings-birthday bash

2/10/2012 Lizzy Ford

2/11/2012 Vanessa Booke at Boekies Book Reviews

2/14/2012 Erin Danzer (Valentine’s Day special interview with Damien & Selene)

2/15/2012 Danielle

2/17/2012 Cassie Kelley McCown

2/20/2012 Giselle from Xpresso Reads

Possible blog hosts but without a date yet