Monday, February 25, 2013

A Writing Exercise...

Have you ever sat down to your computer and discovered that your mind was as blank as this monitor? Did you say to yourself: "Duh, I've got nothing!" Here's a little exercise that will titillate your brain and bring words to the surface as fast as a rocket firing from Saturn to beyond the Sun.

1. Calm yourself. It's only an exercise.

2. Begin with a fresh piece of paper and pencil or pen, which ever you are comfortable with.

3. Forget about that piece you've been grueling over, this is going to be fun!

4. Write about your favorite memory. The one that made you laugh or cry. The one that meant the most.
    Write at least a full paragraph, until you feel the words start to flow easily.

5. After that, switch over to that difficult scene and write all about the scenery. Then characterize it. Soon
    you'll find the entire scene coming together with all the bells and whistles. Add dialogue.

Did you wake up from your slumber and find the kinks in your scene? Sometimes stepping away and clearing your mind of the demanding stuff and replacing it with something relaxing is all it takes to open up the pores of the mind. Then your mind will sweat out all that is needed to create a winning scene. It's a simple exercise, but it works for me!

Friday, February 22, 2013

CassaStorm Cover Reveal

CassaStorm by Alex J. Cavanaugh
A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, his only struggles are occasional rogue pirate raids and endless government bureaucracies. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, shaking Bassan to the core and threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could be on its way back. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

Release date: September 17, 2013
Science Fiction - Space Opera/Adventure
Print ISBN 9781939844002
E-book ISBN 9781939844019

This is a fantastic cover and an exciting sounding book! I can't wait for it to be released. Alex did a great job and I hope he gets rave reviews. ~ Karen

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Writers 4 Writers Blog Hop

Stephen Tremp, from Breakthrough Blogs, is hosting a Writers 4 Writers blog hop. This group aims to help promote members' books via twitter. It's quite simple, each month (the third Monday) a few writers will be highlighted. By visiting their blog you can pick up the promotional tweet to be retweeted. The tweet will promote the book, include a link to Amazon and ask others to retweet for you. This should help create a buzz about the book, increase sales/downloads and lift the book in Amazon's ratings. Then, when it's your turn, you'll write a tweet about your book and members will retweet it for you.

It's worth noting that this at times will require tweeting about a book you haven't read. I will in no way mislead followers to believe I'm endorsing the book, but am happy to simply send out a link and description. If a tweet sounds like a review, I'd probably reword it. For example, I wouldn't send out a tweet that read: Best mystery fiction ever! You must read DETECTIVE ZOMBIE GETS HIS MAN if I hadn't read the book. I will still send out a link with a description of genre. I might add 'sounds like a fun read', or 'I'm keen to check this out'.
So if you're interested, sign up at Stephen Tremp's Breakthrough Blogs.

Remember, it's the 3rd Monday of every month!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, Mirror

Sharon tumbled over the edge of the couch, twisting her ankle until a snap was heard as well as felt. She had consumed enough alcohol so the break was hardly noticeable. Grabbing the phone, she dialed 911.
“Hullo? This 911?”
Sharon’s words slurred as she giggled at the operator, then belched.
“Yeah. I think I broke my ankle. Can’t get up.”
Sharon let the phone drop as she passed out. When she woke up, she was in the emergency room of the local hospital and a young doctor was flashing a light in her eyes. She batted it away.
“Too bright!”
He frowned. “How long have you been going on these binges?”
“None ‘o your business.”
“I’m Dr. Hayden. If you choose to drink yourself to death, that’s your business. But when you cause yourself injury and end up here, then it’s my business.”
Sharon struggled to get up. “I’m outta here!”
“Sorry, but you’re staying.”
He pushed her back down and rang for the orderlies.
“I’m placing you on a police hold until we get this sorted out.”
“You can’t do that!”
“I can and I have. Right now you’re going to the secure ward, where you’ll have a cold shower.”
Dr. Hayden turned and walked away, leaving Sharon aghast at her fate. She no longer needed a cold shower to sober up, she’d been dumped on by this young doctor and she could still feel the sting. Wait until my daughter hears about this. She’ll give him an earful.
But Sharon’s daughter wasn’t as compassionate as she’d expected her to be. When Sharon got her on the phone, she listened politely, and then gave her answer.
“No, mother, I can’t help you this time.”
“Annalese, you have to come down here and talk to these people. They are holding me against my will!”
Annalese sighed. “Maybe something good will come out of a few days in the hospital.”
“Sorry, gotta go. Call me when you’ve got this settled.”
Feeling lost and forgotten, Sharon wandered the halls of the locked ward on her crutches. A nurse came up to her and informed her of a group therapy session she was supposed to attend. She growled and reluctantly attended, determined to listen only.
“Hello, Sharon. I’m Stan and I’m leading group therapy today. What brings you to the hospital?”
Sharon was about to bark out her famous words that it was none of anybody’s business, but one look around this pathetic group told her these people were hurting too. She cleared her throat.
“I’m a binge drinker.”
“Do you want to quit?”
“Of course I want to quit! Do you think I’m crazy or something?”
“You must be, or you wouldn’t be doing this to yourself.”
Again, it was like someone pouring ice water over her head. She really did want to quit, but had never talked to anyone before who challenged her. Who held a mirror up to her and dared her to look. Her family was understandably tired of the whole mess, so now she needed to stand up on her own two feet. If she could make a go of it on her own, maybe her family would come to see her as their mother again and not just a liability. She had to try.
“Tell me what I have to do.”

I hope you enjoyed this flash fiction. It is the first in a new style of writing for me. Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Flash Fiction

Do you want to write a short, short story? Try writing what's known as flash fiction. This is a story generally told in about 500 words. I'm interested in expanding my writing styles by adding flash fiction to my repertoire.

For flash fiction, choose a moment in a character's life that you can tell a lot about them in a short amount of time. This could be telling a story in the amount of time it takes someone to ride the bus to work, sit through a 60 minute class, or sitting in a doctor's office. It shouldn't be the life story of a character. Save that for longer forms of fiction.

Outline your beginning, middle and end. It helps to put it down on paper when you begin to edit out the extraneous parts.

Begin to write. Write a concise beginning that shouldn't be more than a couple of paragraphs, if that long. Long explanations and multiple character development should be saved for longer stories. Your ending should be a resolution for the character and as like the beginning, it should be short and concise. One paragraph.

Edit everything out of the story that isn't essential to understanding the setting, the action, or the feelings of the character. You can also remove modifiers that aren't necessary such as "very," "quite," and "actually." Be intentional about every word in the story. Make each word count.

With these thoughts in mind and some of your own, if you haven't tried flash fiction, now might be the time. I know I will be experimenting with it from now on and I'll be posting my results on this blog. Good luck!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Is Your Writing Time Being Sucked Away?

So have you ever sat down to write and the next thing you know you've spent two hours surfing the web and playing Internet games? What just happened to that precious writing time? It got sucked away in a vacuum of Internet gimmes, Those "gimmes" are designed to dull your mind and suck your time and money from you. Am I being harsh? That depends on where you want to spend your time. Let's take a look.

We spend an average of 6 to 10 hours sleeping each day. And unless you have some special, juiced-up metabolism, that's not going to change much. It's a given, you're going to need sleep to perform your best.

This leaves 14 to 18 hours to divide between eating, daily chores and doing the things that help you survive. If you have a job, you can automatically take out another 8 hours, five to seven days of the week. That would leave 6 to 10 hours of "free" time. Take out time for daily necessities and you have 3 to 7 hours left.

What can you accomplish in 3 to 7 hours? If you get caught for 2 hours on the Internet with the "gimmes", your time is almost gone. You have 1 to 5 hours left to write. Give yourself an hour to get into your story and if you're on the bottom end, you have no time left. Zero hours to write. How can we change this to accomplish our goals?

Get rid of the "gimmes" and make a written out goal for your writing time. Start your writing when you are fresh and leave the "gimmes" until you are finished with your writing time. That way, when you feel exhausted from picking at your brain, you can surf the web or let the "gimmes" have the left overs. Your writing will be stronger and fresher and your ideas will flow from a renewed source.

What about doing research on the web for your story? That comes under your writing time, but be careful not to rationalize and play a game. That's not research unless you are writing a book about gaming on the web. Are there exceptions? You can always find loopholes to any argument, but I'm speaking from the point of view of someone who was caught in the Internet "gimmes". It sapped my thoughts and ate up my time. Don't let it do that to you. Write fresh and strong. Your story will be at its best and your readers will enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Excerpt: The Chameleon Effect # 15

Chavez works for The Agency and has been assigned to rescue Kira Rostropovich and return her to Vega Minor, where she resides with her parents. After being in prison and being 'bought' by Chavez in an auction, Kira is not happy about being searched by Chavez. But he finds a tracking device on her right before a mercenary, Captain Maddeson, finds them and demands that Kira be turned over to him. Chavez immediately makes a sudden jump across the galaxy, much to Kira's surprise! Kira continues to have nightmares and is haunted by the fact that her life is in danger. She demands to go back to Prison Planet 452, but Chavez has someone to add to his crew complement first.
Kira's dream keeps coming back. Is it a warning? All she knows is that her destiny lies intertwined with the prison planet. Will Chavez understand? It is six hours away from rendezvousing with Dr. Winters, who will attempt to help Kira with her problems. But Captain Maddeson is on an intercept course to capture them and return them to the warden. Will they escape? Dr. Winters has diagnosed Kira with the Chameleon Effect and in an attempt to halt its progress, he will use Chavez's DNA. But Kira has other plans and escapes off Chavez's ship, without a word to anyone. Chavez decides to go after her. Kira remembers that her sister is being held hostage and she must return to the prison planet in order to barter for her freedom. But before she can get there, she is captured by Captain Maddeson, who is demanding payment for her return to the warden.

Chavez had almost caught up with the shuttlecraft containing Kira, when it suddenly went off-screen. The only other ship in the area was Orgarian and Chavez knew by its markings that it was Captain Luthius Maddeson’s ship. By the ion trail he had followed, that intersected with the other ship, he knew she had been taken by Maddeson. Since he didn’t have the resources or the firepower to fight an Orgarian battleship, he decided to follow them to their destination. But that was not without objections from Dr. Winters.
“Are you out of your mind? We can’t get her back from the Orgarians. If they know you plan on trying to rescue her, they’ll blow this ship from this side of the galaxy to the next. And I don’t want to be here when that happens. Besides, you know without the antidote I made, she’ll probably die.”
Chavez whipped his head from the screen and glared at Dr. Winters. “You don’t know that! She could still live!”
“Okay, I’ll admit it, I don’t know. Now you admit something. Admit that you love her and that’s why you’re following her beyond all reason. Admit it!”
“Okay, I admit it! I love her! And even if I didn’t tell her, I think she knows it. That’s why I can’t understand why she left.”
“She left because there’s someone else on the planet that she’s protecting. That’s what I think. You can think whatever you want. If you fought off all those Orgarians and won right now, she still wouldn’t go with you. The Chameleon Effect is in her brain and she’s changing, Chavez. She’s not the same person you met a few days ago, or the same person you were looking for ten months ago. Her parents would be strangers to her. Let her go!”
“I can’t do that!”
Chavez straightened up from his maps and stomped around the bridge. While they continued to argue, they missed the red blip that announced a small vessel coming along side. They were being boarded! Suddenly, an airlock burst open! Two Orgarian soldiers, dressed in their drab grey and black, armed with blasters, ran through the ship and appeared on the bridge. One took aim at Chavez and the other at Dr. Winters.
One of the Orgarians spoke in broken Terran standard to them. “We have message from Captain Maddeson to you. Stay away!”
At that moment, one of the Orgarians looked like he was going to fire his blaster at Chavez, so Dr. Winters made a lunge to jump in front of him. This caused the two Orgarians to open fire on Dr. Winters. When they did, it gave Chavez time to draw his pistol and fire back at both Orgarians. They dropped instantly, but so did Dr. Winters. Chavez dropped on his knees next to him.
“Doc… can you hear me? Damn, Doc, what’d you have to go and do that for?” Chavez cradled his head in his arms, examining the two wounds on his chest.
“If you love her… go after her.” Dr. Winters whispered, pressing the tube with the antidote into his hand. He breathed one last heavy breath and was dead.
Chavez never cried at death. He’d watched a lot of slaves die when he was young and even had to kill others when they fired upon him. Still, he never cried. But as he cleaned up Dr. Winters and prepared to eject him in a burial tube, he felt tears brimming in his lids.
“I’m gonna miss you, Doc.” He fired the blast to eject the tube into space as his eyes blurred with the overflowing tears.
Chavez removed the two Orgarians and kept their shuttle, in case he might need extra transportation some time. Then he worked off his anger by planning his assault on Prison Planet 452. But he had to do something first. He had to report to The Agency. If they denied his proposed plan, he’d quit The Agency and become a mercenary. He’d fight fire with fire. Whichever way, these mercenaries and the warden had to come down. But first, he had to get to Kira before it was too late to inject her with the antidote. The clock was ticking and he had very little time.

To be continued...