Friday, November 30, 2012

The Art of Condensing and The Jealousy Glass

I write big novels. What I can't do very well is write poetry, short synopses, short blurbs, or come up with taglines and slogans.

Maybe I'm just naturally verbose.

I needed to work on a much better blurb for my upcoming novel, Dragonfly Warrior. I have one, but it's just not very good. Also, I wanted to somehow condense 400 pages into one little tagline, which is like trying to poop out a watermelon.

After some help from a fellow writer, here's my blurb so far:

Off in the West, the ambitious Iberian Empire dominates kingdoms with never before seen technology, and all who oppose their dominion fall swiftly against their might. When the eyes of the Empire turn toward the exotic lands of the Orient, it is up to a young warrior prince to find the means of averting their greedy gaze and bring salvation to his people. Kanze Zenjiro embarks on a seemingly quixotic quest and endures an alien and unforgiving world ruled by machines and criminals.

It's much better than the five paragraph one I originally came up with. I'm a perfectionist, so I'd appreciate any help from all of you. Please. HELP!!!

Here's my tagline: Savage Machines Are Afoot

I'm really happy with that one. It's a little spin on a Sherlock Holmes quote, which plays on the steampunkiness of my book. It also focuses on the main theme of my series, The Mechanica Wars.

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I'd love to introduce you to Gwen Perkins. She's an amazing fantasy writer with Hydra Publications, and her latest novel, The Jealousy Glass has just gone live. Get it HEREGwen is a museum curator with a MA in Military History from Norwich University. She has written for a number of magazines, exhibitions and nonfiction publications. Her interest in history fueled the creation of the world of The Universal Mirror, inspired in part by people and events of the medieval and Renaissance periods.

BOOK BLURB:

"We came to stop a war before it came to Cercia.  And it seems the war has come to us."

Responsibility and patriotism spur Cercia's new leader, Quentin, to protect his beloved country at all costs and he assigns Asahel and Felix to serve as ambassadors and secret agents to Anjdur. Their journey quickly turns awry and Asahel and Felix barely escape a devastating shipwreck, walk a tightrope of political tension, and rescue an empress before they learn they must face an enemy closer to them than they thought.

Will they be able to uncover an assassin's plot before it's too late? Will Asahel be able to unearth a secret that is vital to their mission? Will Cercia survive its own revolution? In The Jealousy Glass, Perkins boldly continues a series of unforgettable characters and events that will leave you begging for more.


Isn't this a gorgeous cover???


Check out this incredible book trailer. It's fantastic!




The Jealousy Glass is the second book in Gwen's Artifact of Empire Series. You can find the first book, The Universal Mirror HERE.


You can also learn more about Gwen below.

Website & Blog: http://artifactsofempire.com
Twitter: @helleder
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gwen-Perkins/227456783969902
G+: http://gplus.to/gwenperkins

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Formula For Awesome Stories: 7-Point Story Structure

Quick NaNoWriMo Update. Winner Winner Turkey Dinner! So glad I did NaNo after putting it off for so many years. I got to join 25 other writers at a fun "write-in" two weeks ago where we had raffles, enjoyed two large tables of goodies, and got to write together for seven hours. Current word count is near 85,000 words. I plan on continuing to write this rough draft, currently titled Shadow Warrior, and finish it by Christmas.

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I hope all of my fellow Americans had a wonderful Thanksgiving. This year, I am proud to say that I did not partake in ANY shopping this past weekend. I decided to enjoy myself and just hang out with the kiddos.

Looking at my blog, I noticed that I have not written about writing is a very long time. So I thought I'd share a little nugget of knowledge that I hope will help my fellow writers. Even if you're not a writer - it's still cool to know that almost all successful stories (movies, books, etc) follow this 7-Point Story Structure.

This blueprint for creating a fantastic story that will engage the reader (or viewer) is from Dan Wells, science fiction author of the Partials series and other books. Like many speculative fiction greats, this guy was born in Utah (seriously, what's up with that?).

The 7-Point Story Structure

1. Hook: This is where your main character is billions and billions of light years away from where she will end up eventually. Great examples I can think of are Luke Skywalker toiling on his uncle and aunt's moisture farm, or maybe Harry Potter stuck in an abusive family that hates him and he's stuck living under the staircase. Neo is just a hacker. Batman is just Bruce Wayne, a kid with a billionaire father. Superman is just an orphan baby shot through space.

2) Plot Turn 1: Something happens that pushes this main character forward. It's a call to action.

3) Pinch 1: An element of danger presents itself here. Pressure is turned up.

I have decided to become, Superman!
4) Midpoint: Turning point in the story where the main character goes from reacting to acting. This does not necessarily happen in the middle of your story, but it's where the character decides to do something.

5) Plot Turn 2: Failure and despair despite your main character's resolve. But, there's something to learn from that failure, and now our main character has whatever tools he needs to succeed.

6) Pinch 2: Oh crap! Shit hits the fan and there's little hope now. Main character might think of giving up, but finds the inner strength to keep on going. You can dooooooiiiiiiiit!

7) Resolution: Maybe a huge final battle happens. Or whatever profound plot climax propels your main character to be at the complete opposite of where she was in the Hook. Luke destroys the Death Star.

What about complex stories?

I LOVE multiple story lines. It's probably why I write in 3rd person limited episodic. I enjoy telling the story from different perspectives, and keeping it 3rd person allows me to give the reader intimate insight as if it's written in first person. So EACH can be stacked on top of the 7 point structure.

Often, the resolution of a subplot comes at the pinch point of another subplot. So there's always rising action, climax, and falling action all within the larger 7 point structure you've built. You are guaranteed to put your reader through the ringer and on an awesome ride.

Also, your hero should try and FAIL AT LEAST TWICE. Otherwise, the reader loses interest when the goal is achieved too easily. I love the analogy of making your main character climb a tree and throw rocks at him. Suffering is how we grow....and how we can relate to the hero. So make your hero suffer like a sonofabitch.

I actually begin my outlining process with this 7 Point Story Structure, often starting with my RESOLUTION. I need to know where I'm going, and begin to figure out how to get there as I continue to outline and write. During the editing process, often times, if might be because you're missing one of the plot points, or maybe you didn't do a good enough job defining a plot turn or a pinch.

What's really fun is watching a good movie and identifying one of the points. I did that while watching The Matrix a couple of weeks ago. When Neo gets filled with bullets and those nasty Sentinels breach the hull of the Nebuchadnezzar, I said to myself, "Oh, that's Pinch Point #2!"

Sometimes, being a writer kinda ruins things...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankful Post #3, I Miss You Blogfest, and a Cover Reveal

Thankful Time: I'm thankful for this awesome blogfest I'm participating in today: I MISS YOU BLOGFEST. Thanks to: AndrewMatthew, and Alex for organizing this great blogfest.

I have to list three bloggers that I miss dearly, and list three bloggers that I would miss BIG TIME if they stopped blogging.


Three Blogs I Miss (All three blogs' links are still working!) And all three are non-writer blogs!

1) David Amulet: This intelligent and funny blogger started his blog right around the same time I did back in 2005. He had a great run, blogging for four years, but he quit in 2009. I was hoping he'd come back, but alas, he never did. Miss this blog!

2) P:fuzzbox: Another blogger that started the same time I did, but quit back in '08. His blog was dirty, raunchy, and could border on Rated X at times. But there was an underlying intelligence and a much appreciated sense of humor in his writing. I was sad to see him just suddenly stop.

3) JD (Jamie Dawn): I am fortunate that this blogger is still in my life (via Facebook). We started reading each other's blogs back in 2006. She quit, but I get updates from her all the time. Her daughter is a talented filmmaker now. JD's son is rockin' out with a fantastic rock group, Crown Jewel Defense, that has toured the UK. It's been cool to watch her kids grow up - from high school to superstars.


Three Blogs I WOULD Miss:

1) David Powers King: Not only is the man witty and funny, but his blog is full of all kinds of helpful and useful information for writers. His outlining method was KEY to my shedding the pantster persona and learning to get my stuff organized.

2) Michael Offutt: Smart, interesting, fascinating, and a real resource. That's how I would describe Mr. Offutt. We might differ in the politics and religious departments, but there's always mutual respect during our discussion. Check out his newest book, Occulus. I'm excited to read the sequel to Slipstream.

3) Alex Cavanaugh: One of the first new blogger buddies I "met" after I returned from a year long blogging hiatus. I'm honestly floored that this man has time to visit my little corner of the interwebs. His blog is just crammed with all kinds of announcements, kudos, and fun trivia. This Ninja Captain is a blog staple, and he founded the Insecure Writers  Alex is the author of CassaStar and CassaFire (which I still need to read).

Bonus: My LONGTIME Blogger Buddies. Going on EIGHT years with these guys. So glad these bloggers are still in my life after all this time.

1) Angel Jr.: This guy has been blogging for even longer than me. He started way back in May of 2004. He was the very first blogger buddy I got to meet - in a small airport in West Virginia. He even got my oldest son a gift. We have lots in common: we're both handsome Filipino boys and were nationally ranked tennis players.

2) Mr. Shife: I have had soda spew from my nostrils from this guy's writing. When we started reading each others' blogs, he was a newlywed. Now he's got TWO kids. He's a big fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, despite living in Idaho, and he decided to finally write a book!

3) Phats: Another tennis ninja. We were both teachers and both coached girls tennis teams, so we can relate. Phats is a big time Purdue Boilermakers fan, and he's pretty vocal about it. He's also an overall sports fanatic, and someday, we're going to have to go out onto a tennis court and hit around...oh, and I want to watch him do his infamous back flip.

4) The Weirdgirl: I remember when her son, Chance, was a little baby. Now, he's a rough and tumble big boy. It's so cool to watch my blogger friends' kids grow up. The Weirdgirl is just weird enough to be cool (not the kid of weird that makes you scratch your head). I thank her for introducing me to the word "STEAMPUNK."

5) Arch Phoenix: This blogger used to live right here in St. Louis, but she moved onward and westward to California. We still miss you here! This blogger might not blog as much as she used to, but I make it a point to visit her site on a regular basis. She's super creative and runs a company theater over there in Cali.

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Speaking of blogs, I want to introduce you to a "new" blogger friend of mine: Erin Danzer. Her book is about to come out, and I get to help reveal the cover of her new YA paranormal novel, Into the Spiral. Her cover is not finalized, but here's what her publisher, Hydra Publications, has so far:



Fifteen-year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Lambert wants to get out from under her older brother’s shadow. When Ronnie gets a tattoo and then is struck by lightning, she suddenly finds herself able to see and hear things in shadows that don’t appear to others. Then Ronnie meets Gavin Clearwater, the hot new guy in all of her classes and finds out he can see and hear the same things she can.

Gavin tells her about the Spiral Defenders, a group of warriors that travels through space and time to defend the planets of the Spiral. After meeting the Commander of the Spiral Defenders and realizing his intentions might not be pure, Ronnie struggles between following her destiny to become a Spiral Defender and trying to regain the life she had before being struck by lightning.

Author Bio:
Erin Danzer wrote her first book at 10-years-old for a Young Authors competition, where she was awarded an Honorable Mention and discovered a passion for the written word. She’s written several novels and short stories since that spark ignited. She writes a monthly short story serial, The Cassandra Serafin Chronicles, posting alternately on her blog and in Literary Lunes bi-monthly online magazine. Into the Spiral is Erin's debut novel. Erin resides in Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and their cat.

Twitter: @erindanzer

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful Post #2 and More Stuff

Thankful Time: Sunday was Veteran's Day, so I have to give my thanks to all those that have served and/or currently serving. It's so easy to take for granted all the great freedoms I enjoy...like blogging for example. I'm thankful that I live in a country where I'm allowed to write whatever I damn well please on here. And it's our armed forces that remain vigilant in the protection of these rights we exercise every single day.

I attended my very first military funeral just two weeks ago. It was a somber, yet incredible experience. I think everyone should go visit a national military cemetery. I think you will find it to be humbling, moving, and most of all patriotic.

Quick NaNoWriMo Update: I worked my ass off to stay ahead of the daily 1667 word quota. But I kicked it into high gear all this past week - especially the weekend. My oldest son had a robotics competition which lasted ALL DAY. So with all of that downtime, I brought my laptop and got writing.

This week is going to suck, as I'm going to be crisscrossing the Midwest for my job. But I'm already pretty close to the 50,000 WriMo goal. I will hopefully surpass that, as my first drafts tend to exceed 100,000 words.

M. Pax's The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear is HERE!

I always do a double-take when I see the title of Ms. Pax's latest work. I always think it says "Heather Locklear." Huh. Must be a mix of 80s nostalgia and adolescent hormones kickin' in.


A New Adult Urban Fantasy, The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear is the first book in a new series. And it’s now out! The main character, Hetty, is a twenty-two-year-old, stumbling about in an effort to become a full-fledged adult. She struggles with self-esteem, weight, relationships, and making the transition between college and the real world.

Graduation from community college isn’t the magic elixir Hetty Locklear counts on for becoming an adult. Her parents, who work the Renaissance fair circuit, insist she spend part of the summer with them. Hetty doubts pretending to live in the Middle Ages will help her find her way.

 To make it worse, an entity haunts her at her dead-end job, warning her of a dangerous man she doesn’t know. The ghost leads her to a lover who has a lot of secrets. He pulls her farther into peril and into a strange, hidden world of genetic experimentation.

New Adult Urban Fantasy with a contemporary sci-fi twist. Mature content.

Available as an ebook at Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords / iTunes / Kobo

Visit www.mpaxauthor.com for more links.

M. Pax is celebrating her latest release with a jousting tournament and contest at www.mpaxauthor.com. Cheer for the knights to help them win the grand prize, and you’ll be put in a drawing to win an ebook copy of The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear. Five will be given away. Huzzah!

Links:
M. Pax website
Amazon
Amazon UK
Smashwords
iTunes
Kobo

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thankful Post #1 and Other Shtuff

Quick NanoWriMo update: I've done pretty well, and I'm proud of myself. I put up a little WriMo widget over at the top of my sidebar. So far, I'm at 8800 words after Sunday. Hopefully I can keep up the pace. Work is about to get very crazy with lots of travel, so my hope is to get ahead of the game.

Amazon: This has been making the rounds all over social media. Joe Konrath's article in the Huffington Post propelled the story, and it seems many authors are pretty pissed off. What do you think? My take is that I completely understand why they're doing this - and HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of reviews have been purged already. There are lots of "writers" that game the system. But lots of indie writers also buy and review books too. It doesn't stop authors from paying for reviews (yuck). We'll have to see how this latest change to their policy works out in the end.

Thankful Time: It's November, and I want to focus on all that I have. Life may kick my arse sometimes (many times), but I think it's always good for the soul to focus on what is going right in my life. I bitch and complain about how much travel I do for my job (drove just under 4,000 miles during the month of October), but you know, I'm DAMN lucky to have a good job.

I'm moving in January. Moving a tractor trailer's worth of stuff is not fun. And the move will happen the first week in January, so yeah, my holidays are shot to hell. On the other hand, I'm fortunate enough to have found a nice place to live. So the move is a good thing.

Finally, I'm thankful that tomorrow is Election Day. I'm so sick of these political ads. I've forgotten what a real commercial is. I'm at a loss. I have no idea what to buy. This consumer is confused.

I'm Jay Noel and I approve this message.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NanoWriMo...I Have Taken the Plunge!

I first learned about NaNoWriMo back in 2004 just before I started blogging. It seemed like a cool thing to do, but I never committed to doing it and told my blogging buddies, "Maybe next year."

The last couple Novembers have been especially difficult. I had just moved in late June. And then I was almost transferred to Pittsburgh last Fall. So I found another job to prevent the big move soon thereafter.

This year, I find myself in a similar situation. The job thing is good, but I'm moving AGAIN in the first week of January. So of course, NaNo just seemed like the impossible.

But I have been in a big writing rut as of late. I haven't written anything new since late August. Instead, I've worked on editing and doing some work for others - which I loved doing. But now it's time for me to get back on track. And despite my better judgement, I've decided to enter NaNo this year.

November is going to be both awesome and suck atomic donkey balls.

I hope I survive.