Monday, February 28, 2011


I have been working hard on my current project, trying to get it finished before my self imposed deadline of the end of march. I'm currently at about 17,000 words. I have found myself taking it slower than I normally do because of it being critiqued as I write it, so I go back and edit previous chapters as I get feedback.

Have you ever set yourself with a personal deadline? What did you treat yourself to when you reached it? What did you do when you missed it? Should you set deadlines like this?

Writing Strong Male Characters

Continued from Monday, I wanted to flip the coin and write about strong male characters. I have written the male character from the macho doesn't fear anything POV, as well as the timid and reclusive boy. The one thing that I noticed in both of these characters is that they both reach a point where they have to make a choice to either be the same or make a change to overcome the obstacle.

For the hero it was realizing that he wasn't at his strongest until he learned to accept help and together they were stronger than he was by himself.

The reclusive boy was that to make things write in his life he would need to journey outside of his comfort zone to realize his full potential.

I enjoy writing male leads for a different reason than female leads. They can be strong, confident, yet have a softer side, I don't usually give them any sort of special powers, except for what they are capable of based on that character. Also it's fun to write a male character because I can share some of my experiences and can relate to them on a different level.

What are some of the things that you think make a strong male character? They don't have to be super macho, but my genre usually has one of them in there somewhere. Who is one of your favorite male characters?

Writing Strong Female Characters

Even though I'm a guy, I like to write female leads. Maybe because my older sister and mom made sure that I always respected women. I treat them like ladies regardless of how they really act.

So I think that is why I like to write from a female 3rd person POV. It's also challenging because I'm male and have to personal experiences as a woman. :)

The possibilities of making a strong female character in my sort of stories, supernatural, are fun to play around with. My current project I have a few female characters, but one of the protagonists is a telekinetic. It is a strong power and at the start she isn't strong enough to control it, and it controls her more and more until she gets over the barrier of no return. I have another story where my female character is a cat burgler who is possessed.

So one of the things that I think makes a strong female character is the vulnerability that they can start with, not that men can't either, but I like to watch them grow and become self confident. Someone to be reckoned with despite them being female. I also enjoy writing them having an older brother or father that continues to treat them like "their little princess" which they shatter by the end of the story.

What are some of your favorite strong women characters? What makes them appeal to you?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Passive Voice

I recently had my first chapter critiqued by an agented author. It was a contest that I won over on The Operation Awesome blog. If you haven't checked it out, the website is and it is completely awesome.

Besides that, after I recieved my feedback, one thing that was absolutely clear was my use of passive voice. My book is an action book so having a first chapter riddled with passive action isn't so interesting.

I took a hatchet to my first chapter looking for those passive verbs, "was" "as" "were," etc. and after done that I realized that it does work better if I use the active voice. It had more punch, more immediacy, more power. All good things when writing a book. Now I am going through my first few chapters punching them all up like this.

So my question to you is, what is your pet peeve in terms of writing first drafts? Do you use a lot of passive voice, too much telling? What makes you look at your book and go, "What the heck was I thinking? I know better."

Let me know in your comments, because I'm curious what my blog buddies think are their flaws, since I might have some of the same ones.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

WiP Update

My current project is going along smoothly. Being critiqued at the same time I am writing the first draft is helping me out. It's making the draft go slower, but I am really fixing some of the major issues in the earlier chapters, so that I know details that are important.

For example: The father of my main character is the mayor of the city. So I've been trying to show two sides to him, and have been failing pretty bad. I get it right sometimes, but after getting some excellent feedback recently on a chapter, I think I know how to proceed with him that will help him become a better character for the rest of the book.

Have any of you guys written a first draft while having it critiqued? What did you think about the change to your process?

Handling Feedback

I've been writing and getting feedback for the better part of my life and I have noticed one thing...

You can't take it personal. I've been reading a lot of blogs and tweets about people reacting to their negative feedback. It's okay to feel down and bummed out. It's natural, but really it's not about you. It's about your product. I know you put your heart and soul into it, but it's still not directed at you.

Now I've never received a comment saying that I suck, but maybe other people have. If I received someone saying that to me in a group setting or directly, I would pretty much never respect their opinion because they aren't critiquing the product, but they are critiquing me.

Granted it is all in the way that it is worded, and some people can't make the negative constructive than I don't think they are worth your time.

Right now I have an awesome crit group who I've been with for a few months now. Nothing but good has come out of their feedback.

How do you react to someone who gives you back negative comments? Do you take it personally? Do you talk to them privately? What to do?

Friday, February 18, 2011

A little bit about me.

So I decided to share a little bit about me so you guys can get to know me better.

You know my name and what I enjoy, so hopefully this will be new stuff.

My crutch word is "so" I've already done it twice above in two sentences.
I enjoy watching TV shows such as "House," "Bones," No Ordinary Family," and "Chuck"
My wife and I get along well together and are best friends. I think I get away with a little too much me time some weeks, but I don't take advantage of it. Just last night I went out to poker and she didn't complain.

I have written 3 complete novels, and shelved 3 complete novels. I am working on my 4th now. about 20,000 words in so far.

I started writing comics back when I was 7, but stopped when in High School when I thought I wanted to be a Computer Science Major, that switched again my Junior year when I learned screenwriting. I watch a lot of movies so I felt that it would be a good fit. That has led me here. I have 3 completed screenplays and 2 short screenplays.

I don't enjoy writing poetry.

My scariest moment in my life was an in home invasion when I was 11. The second moment was my wedding :)

I enjoy shows and books with super powered kids, which is why I write in that genre most and I think best.

I have been trying to find a job working in the publishing field as an editor or copywriter, but haven't found much in the Northwest. (Any tips I'll test it out.)

This was sort of fun and I might do this again if I get the urge. Hope you enjoyed a little bit about me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hunger Games

So I finished these three books about a week ago or so. Please note that there will be spoilers so if you don't want to know anything about the story ending and such, please stop reading now.

Okay for those of you that are still here I want to discuss the story and how it works and how I think it doesn't.

First of all, I really enjoyed the series. I felt that the first book was the strongest and best paced, the second has good for what it was setting up and the third I felt was a little sluggish and didn't pick up until about 2/3rd's through it.

I have to respect Mrs. Collins for developing a full world where there are so many working parts. The characters were very believable, especially the main ones. Kat, Peeta, Gale and Haymitch. I liked the relationships that went on between them all. However, the main catalyst to this story, Prim, I felt wasn't quite as believable as the others. This sort of hurt because the ending is supposed to be shocking, but after all is said and done I wasn't attached to her like the others. I felt worse for Peeta than Prim.

The way that the plot unfolded was well done in the first because it sets us up for the world and really gets us involved with the whole Hunger Games world and how the rules work. The second was more of the same except for the fact that now she has the President pressuring her. The tension is raised in the second book, and then in the third when everything hits the fan, I was sort of confused. I think the problem with that is that there is so many different things that Kat is going through, the new environment, the many new characters, her inner conflict on whether to be the mockingjay. What her feelings were for Gale and Peeta. Things that like made it very slow and when she finally went through the one or two chapters of training I was thinking that this is going to be a fast climax and it was. Once she got into the city, people start dying off all around her and some of them we barely got to know, so their deaths are sort of footnotes to her journey.

Now there were some characters from the second book that were stronger like Finnick and his subplot.

Back to the first book. I think that it worked on so many levels because of the fact that I got to know Katniss before and during the games, and I could understand her struggle in the first book.

The struggle is different in the second book as it is a deeper point of the first and then the third book sort of goes in a different direction. In the first book I never really got the sense that she was trying to do any of this uprising stuff, yet by the second book she sort of becomes a pawn of others to start this entire revolution.

The revolution was in full swing by the ending of the second book, and it works well with the third book. However, the first book could stand on its own as there is little to do with the uprising in the first book and I liked that.

So what are your thoughts on these series? Do you think I'm completely out there for my interpretation? Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading them all, just fel that the third book was the weakest of them all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What next?

So today is Valentines Day, and I wrote my wife a poem... no I'm not going to post it here. I also bought my two daughters Cards which they loved. But I'm on here to ask a simple question.

What next? Do you want me to start another choose your own adventure story? If you do, what genre do you want it in? If not, what are some things that you would like to have instead? Please vote on the poll and let me know what you think in the comments.

I hope you and the people you love have a great Valentine's day.

Monday, February 7, 2011

You can't call them Zombies!

“What’s your name?” Anna asked. Her stomach still twisted with terror at what she just did. The smell of decay caked her hands as she rubbed them together. Kyle’s blood stuck her fingers together.

“Cal, that’s what they call me.” Cal offered his hand to Anna.

“Nice to meet you.” She shook his scabby hand. His grip squeezed down on her fragile quivering hand.

“So to the Army base?” Cal raised his eyebrows. A sly grin curled on his lips and a friendly glint in his brown eyes.

Anna became lost in his gaze and nodded. “Yeah, anywhere away from here.”

Cal helped her up and together they started down the road. Silence overtook them for most of the journey until they approached the large chain link fence. Creature bodies were strewn about starting at about thirty yards away. Chunks of their skulls were gone; flies had devoured what had remained of their brains.

Anna stopped, gasped and stared at the fence. She remembered the last time she came here and Kyle was shot. The memory shook her. They didn’t stop shooting even after they showed no interest in entering. Her knees quivered and Cal turned back to her.

“You okay?”

“They tried to kill me last time I came here.” Anna squeaked out. Her throat seizing on her and her vision blurred with terror.

“Don’t worry. They won’t do it again.” He said and helped her up.

“You don’t know.” Anna tugged back.

“Trust me. I know.” He said and started toward the gate.

Anna flinched the moment Cal stepped within the first circle of bodies. No bullets fired off or alarms sounded. He strolled up to the gate and it opened for him. She stared at the sight. The blood still fresh on her mind she remembered Kyle screaming in pain at being shot. The fear, confusion, and anger had consumed her as she sped Kyle away before they were gunned down.

“Come on.” Cal waved her toward him.

First one step, then another and before she knew it, Anna was streaking toward the gate. Safety at last. Her heart ran rapidly as her feet slapped along the blood soaked pavement. If only Kyle could have made it this far they would be safe. Tears trickled down her cheeks as she entered the gates. They shut silently and locked with a buzz. Anna grabbed at the stitch starting in her side and coughed. Hunger pains returned in vengeance making her light headed.

“You brought her.” A familiar voice said.

A chill ran through Anna’s spine and she glanced up through the tears. She saw the General that she left for dead back at the town. How? Why? He should be dead. She heard him dying.

He stood before her. His arm in a sling, but the same angry glint in his eyes. He smirked and scratched at a scar on his neck. Teeth marks, healed, but definitely a bite. “You are probably wondering how I got here.”

The General stepped forward and pinched down on her shoulder with his good hand.

The pain shot through Anna like an electric bolt dropping her to her knees. Confusion swirled through her mind as she tried to grasp how he was here.

“Bring her with us son.” The General said to Cal.

Son? Anna pushed Cal away, but he drove his fist into her stomach. All the air and fight went out of her in one fell swoop. The world spun as Cal flung her over his shoulder. Gagging for breath which refused to come, Anna hung over his back like a sack unable to control her tears of rage.

“Why did you do this?” She finally got out of her burning throat.

“I knew you wouldn’t trust me, so I asked my son to follow you.” The General said.

They entered a building. Its pine scent fueled Anna anger, but she couldn’t break free from Cal’s grip.

Her head whipped back as Cal threw her into a chair. The cushion long gone didn’t provide any reprieve from the stiff shot up her back. She winced and kicked out with her feet. Cal didn’t flinch when she struck him in the gut and the chair slid back into a wall.

The General stared at a dark window. “You had something I wanted, but were too selfish to share.”

The light in the window went on and Anna saw the girl. She sat in a single rocking chair; dead creatures strewn about her. Two remained, but most were shriveling under the pressure of her red hot touch. As the two approached, the girl slapped each of them and their decayed flesh blistered and melted off the bone. They collapsed into quivering messes on the tile floor.

The girl would have been screaming, except for the gag that kept her in silence. Her eyes were in narrow slits full of fury. The General pointed at the bite mark on his neck. “She saved me. Lucky that you abandoned her, because I would have never been able to get her help otherwise. She was just a scared little girl.”

“Why are you doing that to her?” Anna stomach twisted with hunger, but she glanced at Cal. He stood guard, a gun in one hand. She recognized the same slender nose from the General and wished she wouldn’t have trusted the man. He seemed so nice. That was their plan.

“I am doing what is necessary for the survival of the planet.” The General said. His gaze locked on the girl.

“The survival of the planet?” Anna tried to stand when Cal brought the gun to her forehead. The same evil glare took up residence in the man’s eyes.

“Yes.” The General said. “You were the last obstacle to that goal. Now that I have the girl, you aren’t needed.” He pulled a gun and shot Anna. The bullet tore into her chest. Pain hit her like a train. Warmth spread over her stomach as blood ran from the wound in the center of her chest. She would only have moments before she bled out. She had no idea what to do and slumped to the ground as the chair was pulled out of the way.

The cold pavement felt good against her blazing skin. She tried to speak, but her mouth became awash with the coppery taste of blood. The General’s gaze never softened as he bent before her. “You should have taken my offer earlier. You wouldn’t be dying now.”

Anna spat blood into his face and grinned. A chill ran through her as breathing became harder. She refused to shut her eyes. He would have to have her gaze on him forever. He deserved much worse; he deserved to die for doing this. She had tried. She took her last breath and darkness enveloped her.

In the distance, Kyle stood waiting for her. He called for her. “Anna come on. They are waiting.”


“Those we love.”

“What about the zombies?”

“You can’t call them zombies. They won’t like that.” Kyle laughed and took her hand. All pain ceased except for the low growl deep down in her chest.

The End.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl XLV

So the big game was this past Sunday and I watched it along with however many millions did, but it made me think about something.

Those players put in all they have for a single moment in their career, some breaking their bodies to the point of not having a great life in the future just to be a hero for one moment.

So what is your main character's goal in life. Doesn't have to be the point of your current book, but in their life beyond the pages. Now good books tie this goal into the plot of their book, but think about it. Harry Potter's life isn't all about defeating Voldemort, he wants to live his life to the fullest and Voldemort just happens to be in the way.

So if you take the obstacle out of Harry's way he would still get to live his life to the fullest, now don't get me wrong, without Voldemort, their would be no books. And that's the point of a book, the conflict and resolution. I am talking about something more though. What is your character's life goal? Its the key to their being and showing what they want is important to their development.

So what is your character's goal in life? To be a teacher? To solve the space time continuum? To be a stay at home mother? To be a police officer? What is it they want more than anything else and would still strive for even if they weren't in your book?

Favorite Book adaptations into Movies

This is the post that I was thinking of posting last Friday, but since I was sick, here it is.

I don't know if any of me or my friends books will ever turn into movies, but I thought that the process would be pretty cool to think about.

What are some of your favorite book into movie adaptations? We all know most books are better than their movie counterparts, so we won't get into that debate.

Some of my favorites are the easy to think of:
Lord of the Rings
Harry Potter
The Mist
Shawshank Redemption
The Green Mile

I know I'm missing a lot, because it seems like 9 out of every 10 movies made is adapted from something else. I remember the days when more movies were original, wonder what happened to those days.

Anyways, back to the point.

Some of the ones that I felt the movies didn't do the books justice are:
Salem's Lot

As you can see, I have seen a lot more of the Stephen King variety book conversions, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some, so what are some of your favorites and least favorites?

Let me know in the comments.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sickness strikes

So I had a blog post planned for today, but in my drug induced stupor, I have decided to forgo trying to write and just rest and come back stronger next week.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Creating Tension

My most recent WiP has brought up something that I think every book needs, but they all do it differently -- creating tension.

This is needed because if there is no tension there is nothing for the reader to keep the reader guessing. You want to keep tension in different ways, plot wise, internal struggle of the characters, the relationships between characters, and the antagonists own impact on the main character.

My most recent example of creating tension is internally. My character is struggling with ways to reveal her secret to her family, because she isn't sure how they will accept her. Now I have set up the parents as loving people, yet her secret is so world changing that it might even change the way her parents view her.

Now this works on the internal level, but I've also added some external plot points that take this tension even further, which I won't get into here as it's still a Work in Progress.

So my question to you is, what is your most recent example of creating tension in your writing? Are any of you working on a horror book that has a lot of tension for scares? Romance books where the characters are separated by their own devices? Let me know, but don't let the tension get to me...