Sunday, 28 April 2013

I'm Still Here

It's been a little while since I put up a blog post.  The days seem to go faster and faster when you have a deadline that you aren't ready for.  There are about 5 or so chapters left to write in my second novel, RED SERGE, and I am really excited about what I have planned for the ending.  I am still waiting to see what the RCMP's decision is on the cover I have made up.

As for RED ISLAND, it is going through the process of being edited yet again - not only for content but also for style.  The plan is still there to have it out in print at the beginning of June.  It will be going into the Kindle Select program which I am really excited about. 

In other writings I am working on THE CISTERN, as well as ideas for other stories involving the characters that will appear in there.  There is also going to be an interview with Elizabeth Frances in the near future.  She is in a new play so her time is a little limited.

I'm looking forward to the future.  I'd look to the past, but my neck hurts.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

What's In A Name?

When you’re writing a novel you have to come up with a lot of character names and descriptions.  This isn’t a movie about a lone guy stuck on a deserted island with just a volley ball, you know.  For my writing style I like to briefly give descriptions and then let the reader’s imagination take over and fill in some of the blanks.  I’ve read many stories where in my head I picture one thing and then suddenly there is a line of description that completely messes up the picture that was in my head.

For names I often get a name that just appears in my head and I have to write it down.  Other names are from friends and family that I throw in there.  If anyone is going to be in a major role I try to make sure I talk to them first.  For instance a victim in RED ISLAND is named after a former co-worker of mine.  I don’t remember if she asked if she could be in the book or if I asked her to be a character.  Either way Nicolle became a murder victim in the novel along with the tattoo on the back of her shoulder.  The killer was already focused on women with tattoo’s on the backs of their shoulders.  If I remember right this was not why Nicolle became a vic., just a lucky coincidence.

I see using someone’s name as my way of showing respect to people I know and people I look up to.  My main character is Sgt. Reid, named after the character Dr. Spencer Reid from the television show Criminal Minds.  My character looks nothing like the TV one and his first name is completely different.  (True, the reader doesn’t actually get to know what Reid’s first name is, but I can guarantee you it is not Spencer….but Spencer is the main character in mu upcoming novel THE CISTERN)

RED ISLAND characters who’s names are taken from reality, sorta.

Hillary Reid…I was watching a name with Hillary Swank in it at the time I needed a name.

Leigh Reid…this is Reid’s daughter.  Her first name is my daughter’s middle name

Sgt. Deborah English…her last name is taken from Chef Todd English

Corporal Al Dispirito….Chef Rocco Dispirito

Corporal Gordon Longfellow…Chef Gordon Ramsay

Constable Husk…named after my Granddad

Staff Sergeant Barry Tulloch…named after my father-in-law

Ted Mosby…a very small character named after the character Ted Mosby from TV show How I Met Your Mother (can you guess what show I was watching)

Dr. Ferron…at the time I wrote the novel my boss was Kyle Ferron

Hanni Van Uden…my wife’s Grandmother

Mr. Nowe…named after a former co-worker and one of the best cooks I know Jason Nowe

Casey Marsh…the last name is the last name of a character in Stephen King’s IT

Kenneth Oliver…this is my father’s name.  When I origionally wrote the novel my father’s name was used for the character that is now my father-in-law’s spot.  My father’s dream was always to own a ranch called the Circle K Ranch…so when it was time to write in the owner of a horse stable I was able to give my father his dream.

Heather Blais (Colicchio)…named after Chef’s Richard Blais and Tom Colicchio

Dr. Brandi Mooney…Brandi is my wife’s name.  She named our daughter after Elizabeth Shue’s character, Jordan Mooney, in the movie Cocktail, so I gave her the last name.

Wylie…my son

Ben Cooper…last name is from the character Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory

The one thing I am usually strict about is that unless an acquaintance tells me they are okay with it I do not plan on naming a victim after someone I know.  Though I do have Nicolle in RED ISLAND and in the upcoming novel RED SERGE the main victim is named Kayla Schofield after a friend of mine.  My son is also back as a different character and the character of Cassie Michaels is introduced.  Around Christmas time I joined a group of other Indie Author’s in a blog hop to get our names out there.  One of my prizes that I was giving was to name a new character in RED SERGE.  The winner picked her daughter’s and husband’s names giving us Cassie Michaels.  There are other characters in the new book who are named after real people, but we’ll deal with that later.

And for THE CISTERN so far I am going the other way.  Instead of using names the characters seem to be based on people.

If you are going to use friends names for your characters you have to know the person and know whether they are going to get offended or not.  You never want to hurt someone's feelings.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What Mom Says

When I was younger I was secretly jealous of my parents.  Both of them read novels like it was the sustenance they needed to go on.  Grandma or Aunty Joni or someone my Dad worked with would drop off a shopping bag full of books that the two of them would read through, write their initials on the first page so they didn’t repeat books, and then the bag of novels would go onto the next person.  To this day I have no idea where the bags of book originated.
I was a very slow reader.  Every page I wrote made me want to fall asleep, so no matter how much I knew it was good for my writing I wouldn’t read a lot.  Only in the past few years have I truly found the joy of reading.
My Mother can get a book and tell me in two or three days that she’s done while I still struggle along trying to read the same book for weeks.  So I thought, why not have Mom write some reviews.  Only problem is she doesn’t think she has much to say so I’m going to ask her the questions and write the reviews for her.

For her first review I asked Mom to read Nowhere to Run by Nina D’Angelo.  For this book I was reading it to do a review and it had received such great amazing reviews that I couldn’t understand why I didn’t like.  I haven’t done a review for it because I stopped reading it.  I reached a scene where the main character does something that I thought was stupid in the movie I Know What you did Last Summer. (the throwing your arms out and challenging the unseen, unknown killer to come get her)  There is a lot of backstory that seems to keep repeating itself over and over and what seemed to me like a lot of soap opera action.  I wondered if maybe this isn’t really a guy’s book, so I asked Mom what she thought.

Book................Nowhere To Run

Author...............Nina D'Angelo

Rating...............4 stars out of 5

Was the story believable for you?... in this crazy world anything is possible, would you go or be able to go after the killer yourself, I don't think so.

Would you recommend it to friends?.......Yes

Did any part of the book stand out?........I didn't like the ending.  They got the killer but someone else is watching.  You have to wait for next book to see who ends up with who.  I'm not one for sequels

Would you read more books from this author?........Yes, I would read more of this Authors books

Synopsis from Amazon
A dominatrix is murdered; her body displayed in a show of dominance. An actress is found dead beneath the Hollywood sign. There's a murderer roaming the streets of Los Angeles and he's having far too much fun to stop. Stephanie Carovella is a woman of fire and ice. She left her career, her friends and her home town of LA but she couldn't outrun the demons of her past. When she is lured back by the death of her best friend she enters a world where no one's safe. Can Stephanie find her friend's killer or will she discover that she has nowhere to run?

So that's what Mom Says.  Maybe I was in a bad mood when I started reading Nowhere to Run.  I was struggling with my own writing a tthe time.  So to be fare I am going to wait a little while and then try reading the novel again.  If you want to see what others had to say about the novel click on this link, Nowhere to Run.


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Review of ICE COLD by Tess Gerritsen

It’s another fast exciting read by Tess Gerritsen.  There’s a reason her books sell all around the world.  In this one there is a mystery, but it’s not one the reader has to worry about.  All you have to do is hang on and go for the ride.  Dr. Maura Isles gets caught in a storm with some friends and after that it’s a case of survival.  When a burned up car is found and one of the bodies is ID’d as Maura, Detective Jane Rizzoli is a bulldog ready to do whatever she needs to do to find out what happened.
I have to give it 5 stars all the way.

From the back of the book:
A spur-of-the-moment ski trip becomes a bone-chilling nightmare when a wrong turn leaves Boston medical examiner Maura Isles marooned--far from home and help--in the snowbound Wyoming mountains.  Seeking shelter from the cold, she and her traveling companions stumble upon Kingdom Come--a remote village of identical houses that seems to have bcome a ghost town overnight.  But the abandoned hamlet has dark secrets to tell, and Maura's party may not be as alone as they think.  Days later, word reaches Boston homicid cop Jane Rizzoli that Maura's charred remains have been found at the scene of a car crash.  But the shocking news leaves Jane with too many questions, and ony one way to get answers.  Determined to dig up the truth, she heads for the frozen desolation of Kingdom Come, where gruesome discoveries lie buried, and a ruthless enemy watches and waits.

I know what you're saying, "why is this guy reviewing yet another Tess Gerritsen book?"  Because they're DAMN GOOD BOOKS.  Enough said.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Ultimate Title: Misery

The saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”  We all do anyway.  If people didn’t then writer’s wouldn’t pay big bucks to get covers made. 

Not only do we judge books by their cover, but we also judge them on their title. In my opinion the novel with the best title of all time is Stephen King’s Misery, first published in 1987

Not only does the title tell you that the book is about Paul Sheldon’s state through the entire novel, but Misery is also the name of his main character in his novels.  And Anne Wilkes’ pig.  You know just from the title that this book is about pain and anguish.  (as a side note the movie version is also one of the best adaptations of a novel and Kathy Bates IS Anne Wilkes)  ((it also has one of the best openings))

 Part 1, Chapter 1 of Misery

Umber whunnnn
Yerrrnnn umber whunnnn
These sounds:  even in the haze.



What is your favorite book title?

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Journey to a Story...Part Seven: Prologue/Chapter One

In Part Six I said the next part would be the prologue.  I had it written and then I was trying to write Chapter One, but I just couldn't figure out how to start it.  Your first chapter, hell the first line of your first chapter, needs to pull the reader it.  It has to make the reader want to get into the story, but I had to much to explain in the start and just two posts ago I wrote about not boring the reader with backstory.  What to do?  What to do?

Why do I have a prologue?

A prologue is something to introduce the reader into the story.  It's an action that leads you to the main story the writer wants to tell.  When I was a kid I wasn't even sure that I had to read the prologue in novels, especially those prologues that were dated way in the past when the rest of the story is set in the present.  Not long ago I picked up a novel where the first chapter actually took place sixteen years before the main story.  You can do that?  No prologue?  Shazam!!!!  So I took my prologue and rewrote it.  I found a first line that got one of my test readers to say, "That first line made me want to lose my lunch."  Score!!  It's a strange world I live in.

So here is Chapter One...

Possible cover
Maeve scrunched her face as her teeth tore at the flesh of the other woman’s arm.  She chewed quickly and swallowed hard.  She tried not to think about what it tasted like.  Her stomach lurched wanting to reject what she was putting in her body.

She closed her eyes and tried to remember what daisies smelled like, what sun on her skin felt like.  She imagined the ocean’s water lapping against her belly.  She could almost feel the breeze coming in with each wave.

Her chest suddenly burned.  She felt the fire shoot up through her throat.  On instinct she turned fast.  The brick wall scratched hard against her forehead.  Pain and heat cracked through her skull.  Her body fell back.  Water splashed up over her naked skin.  She opened her mouth and everything she had taken inside came shooting out in one heave.  She heard it hit the water covering the floor.  Her body pitched as she tried to expel what wasn’t there.  With each thrust pain scorched her throat.

The sweet daisies were gone.  The soft breeze wasn’t there.  The only thing remaining from her dream was water.  It covered the floor and up about a foot or so, enough to cover her legs when sitting.  All she could smell was rot.  The body of the other girl gave off a foul smell that seemed to soak into Maeve’s skin.  Only when she drifted to sleep did the smell go away only to explode in her senses the moment she woke.  Just thinking of it again made her body toss forward with more dry heaves burning her chest.  No matter how much she tried to remember the smell of flowers, but it was barely a memory.  The water was stale as if it had been in this room for a long time.  It left a metallic taste in her mouth.  Every time she drank the foul water it came back up.  Her throat hurt so much from vomiting it was hard to breathe.  Even light was quickly being forgotten.  How long had she been in there?

She pushed back with her feet and hands until her body was in a corner.  Cold damp cinder block pressed against both shoulders.  It was there in the corner that she felt okay to fall asleep and sag against the two walls.  She knew the ceiling was a good jump above her head.  There was a trap door above the rotting corpse and a pipe on the far wall that had once drizzled water. 

The sound had echoed through the square room and she leapt across the room drinking the water coming down.  The other woman had screamed.  She wanted a drink.  She needed a drink.  Maeve needed to drink.  How long ago was that? 

Maeve closed her eyes and put her head back.  She tried to focus on something other than the darkness she saw with eyes open.  Her body tried to pull in a new breath.  The smells stuttered through her nose and down to her lungs.  Her eyes opened.  She saw his eyes in the darkness.  They were blue with yellow in the whites.  She remembered those from when he took her.  Those eyes would never leave her mind.

Where was he?

He had come three times.  He opened the trap door and dropped down into the water.  He was tall enough that he could reach the door without having to jump.  Light cascaded in blinding Maeve for a minute as her eyes tried to adjust.  She heard the water move as he lifted the other woman to see if she was dead.  Her limp body splashed as he dropped her.

Maeve didn’t want to open her eyes, but she had to.  She watched him slowly walk through the water toward her.  His hand reached out for her.  She let out a scream and tried to scramble away, but he was too fast.  He grabbed her shoulder and pushed her.  She fell against the wall, her palms scraped against the blocks.  He hit her.  He threw her around the room until she fell into the water and couldn’t get up again.  Then for no reason he reached onto the ledge around the trap door opening and pulled himself up and out.  The door closed with a slam enveloping Maeve in darkness.

The last time he came he opened the trap door and poured fresh water down.  Maeve was paralyzed with fear in the corner, she didn’t want to get hit again, until the moment she heard the water pouring down hitting the water covering the floor.  She pushed herself up off the floor and stumbled across the room, her body fell over the other woman as she hungrily drank the falling water.  She let the water fill her mouth and throat until natural instinct made her pull away.  She took a breath and opened her mouth again.  The water stopped.  The trap door shut.  She knelt there for a long time staring up at the door.  He didn’t come back.  He hasn’t been back.

She couldn’t think of what he had done to her.  She needed him.  She needed him to come back.

She felt the heat of bile rise inside her chest.  How could she need him?  She had to do something.  She had to save herself.  She tried to reach the trapdoor by jumping when she first got in.  She almost touched it.  If she could jump up and grab him when she looked in maybe she could startle him.  Maybe she could pull him down.  If she was lucky he would hit the concrete floor with his head and break his neck.  Or if he didn’t maybe he would be so angry he would end it all.

Save herself or welcome death.
Who is Maeve Campbell?  I didn't really know.  Even after writing the above I didn't know.  Then I saw this picture from a friend of mine, Trinky.  At first I thought it would be a good cover for a book, but then I thought it might be good for a CD cover.  Wait, my plan for Maeve is that she is a singer/songwriter who was taken while traveling across the country.  Trinky would be the perfect Maeve Campbell.  She's care free and earthy.  A little asking of permission and there we have it, I now know what Maeve Campbell looks like.  Ad I even have her first CD.
To find out how the Journey has started and the steps that have been taken follow these links.
A shout out to Wendy Hilderbrand for this amazing photo of Trinky
Let me know what you think of Chapter One.