Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Random Rant 1916: Kindness & Dirty Words

Dirty words are rarely considered good. Despite that, I use dirty words a lot. There are few who can dispute that. The other day, there came an instance where the dirtiest words I have were my repayment for a true act of humanitarianism. And I couldn't be prouder of the fact. Here's why.

Everyone has shitty days. Anything can make a person's day turn from okay to utter crap in the span of, like, three seconds.

For me, the fact I'd just spent twelve of the worst hours possible with people I have nothing in common with was unpleasant but not horrible. It also wasn't terrible that I was broke for another five days. (Although it wasn't exactly a rosey cup of tea, there's Netflix, the public library, and tons of free shit to do in the city. Plus, of course, my writing.) Even that I needed a massage (anyone who knows about my car accident knows why this is vital) and couldn't get in for one for another two weeks didn't make the day awful.

What was the capper, you ask? A flat fucking tire. But, wait, there's more.

A flat tire sucks, yes. I had a spare, however. A "donut" tire isn't the most reliable means of transportation but it does in a spot. I could replace the tire. Inconvenient financially but not ridiculous.

I limped the car out of rush hour traffic into a gas station. I lifted the spare, jack, and tire iron out of the trunk and set to the half crank, just enough to raise pressure off the tire so I could loosen the lug nuts. Then I inserted the tire iron and - TWIST! - found the tire iron is too large for the lug nuts. Fuck. A man asked if I'd like help. Thinking I'm defective, I let him have a go.

TWIST! Nothing. The tire iron was too large.

It's at that stage that my day went from crummy to crappy. It started raining.

Rain isn't so bad. It's just water. Normally I'd agree. But I live in Arizona. We get a grand total of two feet of rain a year. Two feet of rain isn't much when you consider it. But, when you live in the desert, you get all two feet within the span of, oh, four days.

My flat tire day was one out of four.

The skies opened, rain poured for about twenty minutes, then the sky cleared, leaving me and my would-be rescuer wet. I was left wet, broke, tired, irritated, and had a flat tire. But, wait, there's more.

My would-be rescuer (Jason is his name) proceeded to spend the next hour asking every person who rolled into the station if we could try their irons. I called the Doctor to see if he could arrange a ride to my location and bring a borrowed one. Two dozen plus were asked for assistance. Most didn't bother to look (most of them sporting brand new, or only a year or two old, vehicles. So I call bullshit they didn't have a spare and a jack with tire iron).

They weren't the worst though. The terrible people were the ones who said "Just let me fill up my gas, and I'll come over and try." Once their tanks were full, they drove off, leaving us wet, broke, and having every tool I needed to help myself except one. Those people were the dicks. The real reason my day went from crummy to shitty.

Then there was Jason who, despite having more important things to do with his time, despite having little more than two nickels to rub together, in need of a job and on the hunt, and without a permanent place to live, spent over an hour trying to get me help.

The person who had the least had the most to give in my time of need.

Jason and I talked a lot while we worked. I learned the details I've already imparted. During our talk, even with his troubles, he rarely stopped smiling, wishing only for a little break so he could work for something better. As I've said, I didn't have much to give but I did have knowledge. A small place I pass by almost daily (a day labor place is all it really is, but work is work) had signs out front looking for help. I told him about it, and he agreed to arrange transport.

By this point, we'd been rejected by twenty-eight people. Yes, that's 28 people who are dicks.

Enter Xavier, a young college-aged kid in a nice car.

When Jason said he was asking that guy for help, I was dubious. I mean, we'd been turned down by dozens of people already. The 'poor snob' in me saw the somewhat preppy looking kid in his nice, new car and thought he'd never help out a person like me in my shabby (and I ain't talking chic) Lola. To my surprise, Xavier popped his trunk right at the pump, helped Jason dig out his tire iron, and let Jason take it to work on my tire while he finished gassing up.

And the damned thing FIT!!

After fueling, the young guy came over. Jason was putting the final tightening on the tire, and I was almost ready to go (having called off the Doctor and his ride when we found the iron worked). I didn't have anything to give but my gratitude to Xavier, who told me he only expected me to pay it forward, accepted his tire iron, and took off to whatever destination.

Jason helped load the tire and jack and, worthless, iron in my trunk. I still didn't have anything to give. Except...

In the trunk I'd found a copy of one of my anthologies - Quixotic: Not Every Day Love Stories. It had wiggled under the trunk liner, into the crevice where the spare is kept. I remember the copy. I had it at the 2012 Fright Night convention. I'd spilled tea or coffee on it after signing it. When I'd gotten home from the trip and picked up my car (I'd borrowed my sister's nice, shiny one), I'd tossed it in the trunk, keeping it separate from the promo merch. There, I'd forgotten about it and it buried itself.

Jason and I had talked about my three jobs. I hadn't talked about my books though. I was flustered and irritated and mentioning my art right then wasn't forefront in my mind. Now it was. Now I had something to repay his kindness.

I offered the book and explained the deplorable condition. Normally I'd never let anyone have that copy; it was bent, crumpled, and stained. But that day I had nothing to give but my less than pretty, less than ideal, and dirty words - in both verbal and written forms. That day I was happy and proud to repay a true act of kindness with dirty words.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

New Release: Heart's Last Chance by Kenzie Michaels/Molly Daniels



“How do you get your ideas?”



“Are you a plotter or a pantser?”



These are the two questions I’m asked the most and the easy answer to the first is simply, ‘Life’.  I’ve gotten ideas while shopping, waiting in the dentist chair, from news blurbs on the radio, and even from my own experiences.



The second question isn’t so easy to answer.  I’ve had books come to me, fully formed, while others started out with nothing more than a vague idea.  I’ve sat down at the computer with a brief outline or simply a character telling me what to write.  I have noticed most of my completed work is when I have some idea of where the story is going, whether it be HEA or some sort of plot line.



My latest book, and the upcoming sequels, came about simply because I decided to try something new.  I had read Water Lust by Mary Winter back in 2002, and since hers dealt with a merman, I decided to try an imaginary friend.  I had no idea Brock would reveal himself to be an alien; my initial idea was ghost.  I put it away for a few years, since I didn’t want to write about space aliens; hadn’t I learned my lesson in the 9th grade, when I tried to write my own ending to Star Wars?



Last year, I came across those handwritten pages, and decided to finish the story.  The result was Heart’s Last Chance, and two months later, Brock’s brother Niko demanded his story.  When I pitched it to my publisher, I mentioned the possibility of four or five sequels, since Brock has four siblings and a widowed mother.  My publisher sent me a contract for the entire series.  What the hell had I done?



My class reunion approached.  Five years ago, classmates pitched ideas at me left and right, which I turned into Class Reunion (published last year).  I jokingly wondered if anyone would talk to me this year, since I had taken liberties with personal stories, and hoped I’d disguised them enough.  This time, a character and a title were pitched, and since I have aliens on the brain, you guessed it….I’m now writing the 4th book in that series, even though Niko’s not finished, and #3 is still an idea!



So that’s how my series was ‘born’, and maybe it gives you a glimpse into the strange life of a romance writer. 

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Heart’s Last Chance released Sept 12th and is available on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, ARE, and IBooks the following week.  Here’s a spicy excerpt for your enjoyment.



Everyone has an imaginary friend at some point, right?  Well, what if you discover yours is actually an alien who is fascinated with Earth? 


Tricia Alexander's dreams are haunted by a mystery lover.  When she discovers the man she met in a nightclub is from another planet, will she accept his story or kick him out?



Brock was young Tricia's imaginary friend and confidant, and watched her grow up over the years.  After gaining permission from the leaders of his planet, he sought to bond with her twice before, but with little results.  When he's given a final chance, will he succeed?  Or will a family crisis prove too much?

Excerpt: (spicy rating)
“Hurry up, I have another surprise for you.”

Brock scrubbed his body and hair, then shut off the water. Wrapping his towel around him, he paused at the sight of his Chosen spread-eagle on the bed, stroking herself with a small object. His throat went dry as she let out a gasp and repeated the action.

“See something you like?” Her breathy voice was heavy with passion.

“Keep going…that is so hot.” He dried his skin, never taking his eyes from the erotic scene in front of him.

She brought the object to her face and turned the base, causing a low buzzing sound.

Brock’s cock sprang back to life when she plunged it back onto the lips of her glistening pussy. Her pretty face contorted with passion as she cried out. She gasped, her legs twitching as she came down, then moved it to a new place, using a circular motion.

“Put it in.” Stroking his rod, Brock threw the towel on the floor.

Tricia obliged, and drew her legs up while keeping them apart. “Want to do this?”

“Hell yes.” He experimented with the smooth vibrating object, moving it around to gauge her reaction before placing it right on her clit.

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Thank you for having me today BC!  Here is where I can be found:



Website: www.mollydaniels.wordpress.com (The Chosen series has its own page!)





Blog: http://kenziemichaels.blogspot.com



Face Book Page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Kenzie-Michaels/248105468603737



Twitter: www.twitter.com/kenziemichaels



Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kenzie-Michaels/e/B004TYM7FE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1



Nook:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/kenzie-michaels?keyword=kenzie+michaels&store=eb\

ook



ARE: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html

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Bio:

Kenzie is the 'wild child' of author Molly Daniels. They cohabitate nicely

inside the brain of a woman in Indiana who's the mother of three and 'Aunt

Molly' to the entire neighborhood. A devout chocoholic, her hubby has learned

to watch out when the characters in her head take over and not get too upset

when the words are flowing and all concept of time is lost. (LOL)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Meaty Characters

Stories are easy. The world is full of millions and millions of tiny stories begging to be written. Settings are easy. The world is chocked full of scenes, places, and settings to choose. Twists; twists are easy. Have you ever known a story, one worth telling, that went exactly as planned? Of course not. 

What's not so easy, when it comes to writing, are well defined, unique characters. People that make the reader suspend disbelief long enough to think maybe, just maybe, that voluptuous redhead in the story is a vampire AND a real person. There's only one way to do that.

Well written characters.

How do you know, for certain, your characters don't wind up flat, stale rehashes? Attention to detail and follow through.

Writing is hard work. That's well known. Plucking plot, setting, characters, twists and turns all from thin air isn't easy. If it were, everyone would write that novel they claim they've been meaning to write for years in an instant. It takes an attention to detail that most people lack. One of the most important things a writer can pay attention to is how they present their characters.

Know your world. By having a thorough knowledge of your world, how it works, and its ends and outs, you'll find who will fit best in the world. They become a well fit puzzle piece, completing the picture you present readers.

Appearance. Keeping the details of your character's looks is important. This can include anything from their hair and eye color, to birth marks, and even clothing choices. Let's face it, there are only so many different hair and eye color combinations that can be made (not counting, I suppose, oddity choices like blue or pink or whatever). But staying away from stereotypes (think Gingers in leather, ugh! it happens so often, or raven tresses with blue eyes boring!) lends a reality to a character. It also means to take care that your characters' appearances don't suddenly change throughout the story, unless there is a damned good reason (for example: scars/wounds, tattoos/piercings).

Nuances. Also known as 'tics' or nervous habits, these minor details carry HUGE weight. These can be portrayed in any manner you choose - finger twitches while idle, slurring the letter 'R' in spoken words, twirls a lock of hair when thinking. They all lend depth. Adding customary habits to characters lends believability. Everyone has tendencies and habits, include fictional people.

Vocabulary. Speech is a defining trait. It's hard to believe someone with a Jamaican accent in 1888 London in any realistic setting. Thus the reader trying to suspend disbelief that the Jamaican is also tracking a shape shifting Loch Ness monster through the streets might have a little trouble swallowing that tale.

World Role. This goes back to knowing your world. You wouldn't bring a Tibetan monk into a technologically advanced post apocalyptic society and expect him to be the story's hacker. Once you get to know how your world works then you can figure out what role your character is most likely to play.

History. Good writers know more back story for their character than they EVER put into the story. They know how their heroine got the scar on her cheek (a playground accident where she fell from a slide as a child), knows why the hero wears his hair short at all times (once got it caught in a machine at work and was nearly scalped in the process), or why the mage is terrified of water spells (accidentally drowned her pet rat with her first ever spell). Great writers, however, know when and what history to use in their stories. Is it relevant to use all that information? Probably not, unless it happens to get mentioned in passing how the heroine got her scar. The point is, it is vital to know a ton of information about each character. It is not correct to put ALL of that information in your story.

In short, it's easy to come up with your character in five minutes. And there isn't anything wrong with the fact you started a story with a character you thought about in five minutes. The injustice to readers and yourself is if you finish a story with that character the exact same way.



BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every bad deed in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate other writers through humor and simple instruction.


She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Get her books here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guest Post: Magic Will Happen by Norm Hamilton

Don’t give up on your manuscript before the magic happens.

We’ve all heard about the writer who doesn’t trust his own ability, who thinks his material is insufficient, who wonders if or why anyone would read his work. I get that. No matter how many times I’m published or how many great reviews I get on my books, I still have questions. But I’ve learned what I need to overcome.

Fear is a major stumbling block for many of us. Fear that the piece won’t be good, fear of ridicule, fear of failure … fear of success. Courage will overcome fear.

My favourite definition of courage is “facing your fear but doing it anyway.” The next step is simple, albeit not always easy. Get on with it. Believe it or not, time will pass whether you write your piece or not. If you don’t, you end up with nothing. Conversely, if you persevere you will succeed. So, create it anyway.

Follow this simple edict and you will have a manuscript, even if you are not satisfied. Congratulations! Now go over it again. Read with the eyes of a reader, as if it was written by someone else. Then rewrite where necessary.

Once it’s perfected … remember that it isn’t. Have it edited. Chances are you need to pare material from the narrative, reword some areas and shift things around. None of us can do this alone. Find an editor you can work with. Check their credentials and previous work, and then trust in the process.

The editor’s task is to ensure that your piece maintains a specific direction, removing what inhibits that focus or isn’t essential. They will help your readers remain targeted.  A good editor can also assist with the structure of the piece so it is chronologically or logically delineated. Your story gets refined and then polished to a sparkling lustre.

Remember, the editor’s suggestions are intended to help make your work better. They are not condemnations. That said; they are only suggestions. You still own the power to accept or reject their ideas. Use the opportunity to learn, but stay in control of your work and your voice.

Follow up with a strong proofreader. Don’t try to proofread your own work. It is said that if you do you will read what you thought you wrote. The result is missed errors, omissions and typos.

Whether submitting to a publication, on social networks or posting on a blog, your baby is now ready to share with the world. The next step is easy.

Start your next piece.

Bio:

After 40 years in Yukon Norm Hamilton now lives on Vancouver Island where he is meeting new friends and experiencing new adventures to write about. His popular novel, “From Thine Own Well” is a dystopian account of Canada’s future. Find him at http://normhamilton.ca/writer and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NormHamiltonWriter.

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Books by Norm Hamilton

From Thine Own Well Enter a dystopian Canadian society that reviewers agree is frighteningly feasible. Corporations control the government. Deaths and destruction result. Fracking and irresponsible mining contaminate watersheds and citizens have lost their rights. 

The Digital Eye Do you want a fun, simple way to improve your photography? Within minutes, each article in this book helps you make better images.