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Monday, May 26, 2014

Writing Tips with Jack Bauer: The Gift of Being (Un)Agreeable




I've been watching 24, and in it, the President of the United States has a very obvious character foil: his brother. I'm pretty much convinced that the brother's main purpose in the story is to be a foil. See, the President has really high morals. That's great. But the audience doesn't know that unless the President is constantly faced with immoral opportunities.

That's where his brother comes in. While they love and care about one another, the brother is often trying to get the President to play dirty. So we get to see the President face immoral choices again and again and listen to him talk about doing what's right again and again. Without his brother, we wouldn't see that. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

8 Spoof Trailers You Wish were Real Movies

First off, congratulations to the winner of our signed Ender's Game giveaway: g0st! One of my tumblr followers. The winner was selected by random.org.

Yay! We had 102 entries. While I don't have another Ender's Game to give away, I will for sure be doing more giveaways in the future. Now, let's celebrate with some good laughs (or let's get over your tears if you're heartbroken). I took a break from my usual posts and compiled my absolute favorite movie trailer spoofs. You have to laugh through at least one of them.

Minesweeper: The Movie






Monday, May 19, 2014

Writing Tips with Jack Bauer: A Glimpse of the Stakes

One way to create suspense in your readers is to let them get a hard, real glimpse of what's at stake in your story. When writers talk about "stakes," they're referring to what the character has to lose. What's at stake? What will your character lose if she doesn't achieve her goals? In most romances, a relationship is at stake. In superhero stories usually the fate of the world is at stake. If you let your readers glimpse the seriousness of the situation first, you can raise suspense and tension in your story. Let me explain.


I gained an understanding of this technique from watching 24. It's one of the shows I've dived into in my attempt to watch and read more outside my usual genres. At one part in the series, the protagonist Jack is trying to break villain Ramon Salazar out of prison (that in itself is an interesting situation). But when their plan goes awry, they are taken by cellmates as hostages along with two other men. The cellmates decide to play Russian roulette with their hostages. But when one man refuses, they shoot him in the head.

Stake 1: If you don't play Russian roulette, you'll get killed. So Jack's life is at stake.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Interview with Author Derick William Dalton

Last week I interviewed author Derick William Dalton. Mr. Dalton is the author of Houses of Common, a science fiction thriller released earlier this year. He's a former high school biology and anatomy teacher, and currently works as a family practice physician assistant. Though happy with his life, he wonders how it would be had Hogwarts or Starfleet Academy accepted his applications. He's currently at work on a collection of short stories parallel to Houses of Common, and is also working its sequel, Meaner Sort.

Who is your all-time favorite character?

Of those I've dreamed up, it's Ranyk. He's a 22nd century alien terraformer working for the US Department of Agriculture. An extra-terrestrial working for the USDA. That just strikes me as funny. I also love that he's brave, brilliant, and gets away with saying things I never could. And who doesn't want a bulletproof exoskeleton?

Of other authors' creations, I'm an enormous fan of Bill Watterson's Hobbes. How can someone be so enthusiastic and forgiving? And look so good in orange? “Sometimes it's a source of personal pride not to be human,” Hobbes once said. That statement was in response to a bunch of garbage strewn in the beautiful woods, and aside from insults when fighting with Calvin, it's the meanest thing he ever said. Hobbes the tiger is my attitude hero.


Where did you get the idea for your latest novel?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Win a Signed Copy of Ender's Game! Leave a Comment to Enter!

This giveaway is now closed.

I'm giving away a signed copy of Ender's Game! For a chance to win, just comment on this post! (Please note, you must be a follower of mine--either on Facebook, Twitter, TumblrGlipho, Google+, or this blog--to be eligible to win).



I am happy to ship outside of the U.S.A. if you will cover the shipping costs.

You can enter more times by liking this Facebook post, retweeting this tweet, liking and/or reblogging my Tumblr post, commenting on my Glipho post, or +1 this Google post--that means if you do all of that, you can enter to win seven times!

The winner will be selected in 2 weeks!

How I'll Pick the Winner

I will assign a number to each person who enters and use Random Number Generator to select a winner.

In the future, I'll try to bring something back to give away every time I go to a writing conference.

Monday, May 5, 2014

LDStorymakers Highlights: Learning from the Pros

First off, small announcement. I'm moving my Facebook Page to a Facebook Profile. So if you "like" my page, please make this less difficult for me by "following" or "friending" this profile. I'll eventually be deleting my page.



A week or so ago, I attended a writing conference called LDStorymakers, and I'm sharing some of what I learned by request. For those that don't know, a writing conference usually lasts a few days and provides attendees with the opportunity to learn from professional writers, editors, and literary agents. Some conferences, like LDStorymakers, also offer critiques from professionals and pitch sessions to agents. Every conference is a great opportunity to meet, befriend, and network with other writers.

This year, I was particularly excited to take classes from the author of Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card, and the author of Wheel of Time and Mistborn, Brandon Sanderson--both bestselling professionals.  

Here are the highlights of my experience.

Slush Pile Simulation

The first class I chose to go to was a slush pile simulation with literary agents and editors. "Slush pile" is jargon for "submission pile." People call it a "slush" pile because there is so much slush and junk in it. Here, the pros listened to an attendee's first page and, just like on some reality t.v. show, raised their hands when they would have decided to reject the manuscript. When all four judges had their hands up, the reader stopped reading, and each pro explained why they would reject the manuscript. Do they really reject a manuscript based on one page? Yes. My first page didn't get read, but it was interesting to hear why they rejected certain novels.

First Chapter Contest

Every year LDStorymakers holds a first chapter contest. I entered, and although I didn't win, I at least got feedback from five judges.  Unfortunately, some of the feedback was completely contradictory. Here are some short examples: