Sunday, April 2, 2017

My dreams are so vivid I see tiny details.

Last night I could see the style of plug on an FBI agent's computer, a modem sitting dangerously close to a fish tank, and the sweat stain on the rim of a cowboy hat hanging, on a peg on the wall, near the back door.

I could hear the creak of a basement door, the thud of someone falling down the basement stairs, and country music muddling the whine of a drunk woman, at the bottom of those stairs, crying for help.

I could smell the chicken frying in the kitchen, a threat of rain on a cool breeze, and horses grazing in a field of fresh cut hay.

Most of all, I could feel the sadness of a young woman seeing a lost love in the arms of another. I could feel the jealousy bubbling up inside her like the potatoes boiling in the pot next to the frying chicken. I could feel the anger bottled deep within her gut. I could feel the satisfaction of that anger being released, into the dark vastness of that basement, as she slammed the door.

Still, I believed her as she turned off the burners on the stove, feigned a smile, and said to the FBI agent, "No officer, I haven't seen my cousin since she started dating my husband."

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Writer's Workshop

Recently, I had an opportunity to judge a local Fan Fiction Writing Contest sponsored by Southern Oaks Library. The talent exhibited by the young authors participating in the competition was impressive and humbling. 

The awards will be presented, Saturday, April 01, 2017.

As a part of the Writing Program offered by Southern Oaks Library, I will be presenting a Writing Workshop: Story Building Blocks: The ABCs of Story Structure 

Saturday, April 08, 2017

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Learn everything you need to know about the craft of Story Structure, and how to build ANY story in 15 easy steps. Then actually build a story, from beginning to end.  Ages: 15 & up.

Whether you write Non-Fiction, Fan-Fiction, Genre fiction, Short Stories or Epic Novels, Story Building Blocks: The ABCs of Story Structure will guide you through a Three Act Story Structure you can use, as a blueprint for building a strong foundation, for every story you write.  

Meeting Room A

Southern Oaks Library
6900 S. Walker Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK 73139

13 spots remaining

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just in case you haven't heard, my short story "Guardian" won 1st Place in the Genre Category of the 85th Annual Writer's Digest Competition!

I don't know about y'all, but I'm pretty darn excited. I've only entered the Writer's Digest Contest a couple of times. Last time, I won 68th place. Major improvement; IMHO.

The prizes included a subscription to the 2017 Writer's Market. So, I will probably post a few interesting links from there in the not too distant future.

There were ten categories in the contest. The first place winners of each category will be published in an anthology. They haven't sent a contract or publication date yet. I'll post more information on that soon.

Recently, I attended a Screenwriters meeting in OKC. One of the questions that arose during that meeting was, "Why should writers enter contests?"

The obvious answer of course is money. I've won more money from contests than I've earned from sales. Winning feels great, builds your confidence, validates your effort, and looks good on your resume. If you are lucky, you might even win some constructive feedback from the judges that may actually be useful for improving your craft.

While I am a strong supporter of writing contests, I also strongly encourage researching the contest before entering. Verify it is legitimate. Search for contesst that do not require an entry fee, i.e.  'Writers and Illustrators of the Future' 

Never pay more in entry fees than the grand prize pays out.

If publication is a part of the award, DO NOT sign away all your rights. Most contracts are negotiable. Don't be afraid to haggle.

I'll have much more to say on the subject of contests in the future.

Until then, keep writing!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Who is writing Nina Dobrev off The Vampire Diaries?

Rumor has it Nina Dobrev is leaving  The Vampire Diaries.
They've set up a scenario in which, the now human, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) could be killed off in the next episode, "I'm Thinking of You All the While", the Season 6 Finale, May 14, 2015. 
SPOILER ALERT: Tonight's episode, "I'll Wed You in the Golden Summertime", ended with Elena on the floor, surrounded by shattered glass, looking dead, again. 
Can the show survive without Elena Gilbert? 

The entire story revolves around the love triangle between Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), Elena, and Stefan's brother, Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder).

Damon's supernatural outburst of intense grief may hold the audience's interest for the first three or four episodes of Season 7. Interest could be piqued even longer if Damon is forced to hunt down Kai Parker (Christopher Charles Wood) before annihilating him in the most gruesome fashion allowed by censorship.  

Then what?

Will Ian Somerhalder's new vampire bride, Nikki Reed ,–aka Rosalie Hale, The Twilight Saga—make an appearance as Damon Salvatore's new vampire lover?

Will the romantic relationship between, Stefan Salvatore and Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola), boil over and keep the screen sizzling without the Damon/Elena heat around to fan the flames? 

Will the show fizzle out and fade away, like any well staked vampire series? 

I only watch The Vampire Diaries because I got hooked on The Originals.

I love the character Klaus (Joseph Morgan) so much; I started watching TVD from the beginning, on Netflix, just to learn more about him. I continued watching TVD after Klaus left the show, in case he made a surprise appearance, and because I like Ian Somerhalder's performance as Damon Salvatore.

Will I continue to watch TVD without Nina Dobrev? Probably. I'm curious to see what happens to Damon without his soul mate.

Can the show survive without the relationship between Damon Salvatore and Elena Gilbert? Probably not. 

It's dangerous to kill off major characters in a television series. Killing off the major love interest of two major characters, after 6 Seasons as the central love interest of the show, is bound to lead to disaster.  

Then again, we've learned from, too many, similar storylines, a human girl falling for a vampire always leads to disaster.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hugo, No Go

There has been a lot of backlash, bitching, and bulling over the 2015 Hugo Award Nominations. 

I am so sad over this whole Sad Puppy shit. 

Frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn about an author's politics.

If I am offended by their writing, I will not continue to purchase said writing.

No one forces anyone to read anything that offends them. 

No author should encourage censorship. 

I don't know if the nominations were fair, on the up and up, or deserve a big boo from the peanut gallery.

I do know they got a couple of the nominations right. 

Congratulations to a few fellows I know personally, like profoundly, and admire professionally:  Jim Butcher, Lou Antonelli, Mike Resnick, Jim Minz, and Brad W. Foster. 

Y'all rock! Good luck!

My favorite nominations for the 2015 Hugo Awards:
Best Novel: Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Orbit UK/Roc Books)
Best Short Story: “On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)
Best Related Work: Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:
Edge of Tomorrow, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, directed by Doug Liman (Village Roadshow, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment; Viz Productions)
Guardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form:
Doctor Who: “Listen”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (BBC Television)
Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper”, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss, directed by Alex Graves ((HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
Grimm: “Once We Were Gods”, written by Alan DiFiore, directed by Steven DePaul (NBC) (GK Productions, Hazy Mills Productions, Universal TV)
Best Editor, Short Form: Mike Resnick
Best Editor, Long Form: Jim Minz
Best Fan Artist: Brad W. Foster

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Norman Galaxy of Writers' Meeting, Saturday March 14 2015

10 am at University Lutheran Church, 914 Elm.

Please park in the back. Festivities will begin at 10 am. Join us and bring guests.
All meetings are free and open to the public.

Milton Smith will share some insights on photography from a writer’s point of view.

March white elephant/April poetry slam.

April is National Poetry Month. Those who wish to participate should bring one wrapped white elephant object to the March meeting and you can unwrap someone else’s object. You have one month to write a poem about it to read at the April meeting. Maximum 16 lines. Everyone reads their poem and a certificate will be awarded to the best one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's all about the story.

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, picture books or erotica, religious or super-natural books, the one thing they all have in common is STORY. 

Even a non-fiction book needs to tell a STORY.  If it doesn't tell a story, then it falls into the boring, only going to be read as a requirement, academic text book category.

Sometimes writers get so caught up in telling the story that we lose sight of what STORY is really about.

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines STORY as:
1.      archaic
a: history; to narrate or describe in story

2 :  an account of incidents or events
b :  a statement regarding the facts pertinent to a situation in question
c :  anecdote; especially :  an amusing one

3.:  a fictional narrative shorter than a novel; specifically :  short story
b :  the intrigue or plot of a narrative or dramatic work

4:  a widely circulated rumor
5:   lie, falsehood
6:  legend, romance
7:   a news article or broadcast

Every STORY must have a beginning, middle, and an end.

One of Jack Bickham's favorite examples of a simple, basic story was:  Girl sees boy. Girl wants boy. Girl gets boy.  
It's short. It's grammatically correct. It's non-superfluous. It's the basic outline for every romance novel ever written.  

The story begins when the girl sees the boy. Then middle of the story is the girl acting upon her desire to make the boy her boyfriend. The story ends when the girl and boy finally get together and live happily ever after. In a dark romance it would end when the girl decides she never really wanted that boy in the first place, so she kills him.

Every story is about desire.

The protagonist wants something. They spend the entire story doing whatever they need to do in order to get what they want. The antagonist tries to prevent the hero from getting what he desires. In the end, the major character either gets what they wanted or they don't.

The beginning of the story is the appetizer:

Just enough to whet the reader's appetite, but not enough to fill them up so much they won't have room left for the main course.

The story doesn't start when the protagonist is born, or two years before the main event of the story. It starts moments before the major event, or in the middle of the major event, of the story. 

What happens before the girl sees the boy is irrelevant to the story. It doesn't matter where she grew up, who was her best friend in fifth grade, or what she studied in college. It doesn't matter what she does for a living, or where she lives, or what she had for breakfast.

What matters is how she feels when she sees the boy.   

It's okay to set up the scenario. Set the scene. Show the reader where the girl is at, who she's with, what she's doing, and how she feels right before she sees the boy. Anything that happens more than a few hours before she sees him for the first time is back-story.  

Back-story should be treated like the "previously on" introductions to a television show: brief, concise, and related to what is about to happen in the current episode. The "previously on our show" portion does not recap the last five seasons of the series. The back-story of a book should not attempt to recap the last five years of the protagonist's life.

If back-story is relevant to what is happening during the story, then weave it through the story like a single thread in a tapestry.

Some authors use flashbacks to reveal back-story. Flashbacks interrupt the flow of the story the way commercials interrupt an episode of a television program. Consider product placement instead of commercials. What's happening in the current story can remind the character of something that happened in the past, but they don't have to relive the old story, they can just acknowledge they've been there done that before.

The middle of the story is the main course:

It should be filling and satisfying. It's the perfect sandwich smothered in limitless toppings, with skillfully trimmed edges, dripping with sloppy, special sauce, accompanied by a side of fries and onion rings.

Just because the girl wants the boy doesn't mean she's going to get him without a fight. He may already have a girlfriend. His girlfriend might be her sister, or best friend. When she first sees him he may be boarding a plane to some far away land, forcing her to climb mountains, cross oceans, or travel to the stars to find him again. Her journey should be messy, treacherous, adventurous, fantastic, and frustrating. Even after she finds him she may need to fight to win him over. There should never be a dull moment.

The end of the story is the dessert.

Nothing is sweeter than a happy ending where the couple kisses, at sunset, on a beach, as the credits roll up the screen.

The author is the Chef. They plan the menu, shop for ingredients, and add spices, to create a sumptuous, appetizing, satisfying meal for their readers.

The editor is the Sous Chef. They remind the Chef that white goes with the fish, red with the steak. They suggest which sides go best with the main dish. They make certain nothing burns, and soufflés don't fall. They clean up the messes and throw out the leftovers.

Together the author and the editor serve the reader an unforgettable banquet.

No matter how they spice it up, it all begins with a simple, basic STORY. Girl sees boy. Girl wants boy. Girl gets boy. Everything else is icing on the cake.

Bon Appétit.