Sunday, November 25, 2012

Asking a favor from my readers

I have a favor to ask of my readers.

If you have read and enjoyed my novel The Day After Yesterday, could you take a few moments to post a review on its Amazon page? If I can get the number of reviews to a high enough number, it will open up some good advertising and marketing opportunities for me.

It doesn't have to be lengthy. Just a star rating and an honest opinion is all I ask.

Thank you so much. When one of you enjoys my work, that makes all the hours of writing and editing and getting the book out there worthwhile.

Friday, November 23, 2012

White meat, dark meat... all will be carved

Well, it was another fabulous Thanksgiving house at Casa del Cozy. I'm in too much of a food coma to go into much detail, so i'll let these pictures do the talking.

Good food, good company, good times. I love the holidays!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Day After Yesterday: Now available at Smashwords!

My novel The Day After Yesterday is now available at Smashwords, in a variety of ebook formats. If lack of a Kindle or Nook has been keeping you from reading, go check it out! Same great price of $2.99!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: The Yellow Wallpaper

My review of the disappointing adaptation of The Yellow Wallpaper is up at Horrorview.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Writing craft: No such thing as flawless

One of the trickier things in fiction is creating characters who are likable and sympathetic, but still believably flawed. The worst thing you can do with a hero is make him or her perfect. Perfect people don't exist in real life; perfect people in fiction are unbelievable, obnoxious, and boring.

Fiction derives from conflict, and whether your story is a mainstream coming-of-age novel or an edge-of-your-seat zombie apocalypse thriller, the conflict has to derive at least in part from your characters' flaws. Their insecurities, foibles, and issues must help drive their actions.

A few things to think about when creating good-but-flawed characters:

1. Flaws must be large enough to affect the story and the characters' interactions with each other, but not so great that they tip the character over into villain territory. A good-but-flawed character can have problems communicating with his wife about their relationship. A villain beats his wife.

2. Flaws must not be so minor as to have no effect whatsoever on the story. It does nothing for the story if a character's flakiness about finances has no greater consequence than being unable to join coworkers for Friday lunch at the tapas restaurant. It's another matter if the character's financial flakiness means she couldn't get a flight to Omaha and see her father on his deathbed. I tend to allow my characters one Colossal Mistake per book - two at the most. More than that, and people will start to lose sympathy. But one is all you should need, provided it's in the right time and place for the character. And as long as it's in character, which leads us to...

3. Flaws must be organic to the characters. If a character has always been conscientious about his schoolwork, it makes no sense for him to suddenly skip a semester's worth of classes and miss out on graduation.

One way to create flawed-but-sympathetic characters is to look at your friends and family. What are their tics and foibles? Use those for inspiration.

And of course, you can look to see how other writers do it. For a quick and excellent example, watch the movie It's a Wonderful Life (it's about that time of year anyway). Pay attention to George Bailey, and you'll notice he's far from perfect. He's a hero in a quiet sort of way, but he's also bitter and resentful at times. He's focused on the missed opportunities of his life, so much so that he doesn't see the good he's done until it's almost too late. Director Frank Capra and actor Jimmy Stewart aren't afraid to let George Bailey be flawed, even to the point of unloading his anger on his family. But because we understand George and why he has his flaws, and because we understand he's a good man driven to the  breaking point, he never loses our sympathy. And that's why we are on board with the friends and family who do everything to help him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ashes publication pushed to Spring 2013

Can't recall if I'd mentioned it here, but my original plan was to publish Ashes, the first in my two-part suspense series, this fall.

However, the edits have taken a bit longer than I'd planned, so rather than rush things into production for the Christmas buying season, I am going to be prudent and target release for the spring. Most likely March, but an exact date is still to be determined.

Delay aside, I am very much looking forward to publishing Ashes. Together with its sequel Reckoning,  it's probably the story with the most satisfying story and character arcs of all my fiction. Ashes focuses on two characters: Jennifer Thomson, an admin in a government building who survives an Oklahoma City-type terrorist attack and tries to rebuild her life; and Sean Kincaid, a retired black ops agent who goes rogue to find the people behind the attack.

More details about publication to come. Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Watch this now: Tom Waits/Cookie Monster

I knew I wasn't the first to make the Tom Waits/Cookie Monster connection (it's mentioned in The Day After Yesterday). But there's a video showing Cookie Monster singing to Tom Waits' "God's Away on Business." Brilliant, and very well done! I can't stop watching this!