Archive for the ‘The Write Stuff’ Category

From now through May 9th, I’m giving away three signed copies each of my four published novels through Goodreads.

Beginning today: Yeager’s Law and April’s Fool

Beginning April 24th:  Yeager’s Mission

Beginning May 1st: Working Stiffs*

*I’ll add the link when the giveaway goes live.

(You’ll need a Goodreads account, but they’re free for the price of a click or two.)

Now available for pre-order from Amazon, Working Stiffs. Here’s a look…

Chapter Three: I Can Quit Anytime I Want.

Coffee.

Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee. Where was the fucking coffee?

We had coffee yesterday, didn’t we? I rummaged through the last cabinet in the kitchen, the one where we kept the dishes, as if the packet of coffee might have snuck under a chipped plate or snuggled down in one of the three mismatched cups. All the other cabinet doors hung open, having been raided, pillaged, and left for dead.

No coffee in the plate cabinet, either.working-stiffs-sci-fi-2-draft

It’s a law—federal, state, and natural—when in doubt of an object’s location, ask the woman. “Chelle!”

“Joe!” Her voice came through loud and clear from her permanent place of residence in the john. In a three-room government apartment with Xerox-copied walls, we did not need an intercom to communicate.

“Where’s the coffee?” While the question traveled across time and space, penetrated Chelle’s hard crust of annoyance and generated a response, I checked under the sink. Nothing except for a bottle of liquid soap (so old, it had cemented itself to the cabinet floor), some Drano, a can of unopened greenish powdery substance (for cleaning?), and an empty box of scrub pads.

Somebody should throw that out.

Legal Disclaimer

If you’re not a writer, and don’t care about the writing process, skip right over this go on to the next entry. If you are a writer and still don’t care about the writing process, move on. In fact, take up another trade … like bomb testing. For the rest of you, this might hold some interest. Dialogue encouraged.

This post attempts to answer a nagging question that crops up in writerly circles over expensive coffee drinks as writers twiddle with their laptops and wear out the elbow pads on their tweed jackets.

What in Neptune’s blue balls is head hopping?

Head hopping is a term used to describe an author’s shifting the point of view (POV) from one character to another with little or no warning. It requires a reader to follow and understand whose perspective is being used to tell the story when that perspective shifts during the middle of a scene, and often several times during the scene.

Head hopping doesn’t make the writer a bad person. It’s not on a par with, say, drowning kittens, or fondling yourself in public. Some authors can make it work well enough, there’s no real danger of the reader suffering whiplash, or needing schizophrenia medication.

It is not the same as Omniscient Point of View. More on this later.

Reasons to use head hopping:

  • You’re not strong enough at writing to convey the emotions and reactions of non-POV characters through observation of the POV character.
  • You desperately need to let the reader know what more than one person is thinking during a scene and you can’t wait for a scene break to shift POV character because you’re a hack and should consider knitting instead of writing.
  • Your name is John Grisham and you’ve gotten a huge writing contract despite your poor command of prose.

Reasons to avoid head hopping:

  • Avoid reader confusion. Without sufficient clues, the reader gets lost trying to figure out who is thinking what, and who’s telling the story.
  • Using 3rd Close, or First Person POV immerses the reader deeper in the story and is easier for the author to connect them more strongly with the character.
  • POV restrictions leave unanswered questions for the reader. Little bread crumbs to follow. With head hopping, there is no longer any dynamic tension. The reader knows what everybody is thinking and feeling, so there’s no mystery left.

Differences between head hopping and Omni. This is where it gets hard to explain and most new writers say, “Man, you’re getting into writer arcana here. Get a life,” and return to the special snowflake school of writing.

  • Omni: There is never a doubt about who’s relating the scene. The author. Period-dot-turn-the-page. You know it, I know it, and Aunt Matilda senses it from beyond the grave.
  • Head hopping: Everyone is relating the scene. The author, the protagonist, the antagonist, the side characters, the protagonist’s dentist, and the editor’s niece who needs a break into show business.
  • Omni: The author guides the reader very carefully through the scene, orchestrating the characters and demonstrating their thoughts and actions the way a director focuses the camera to reveal the story.
  • Head hopping: Characters babble their thoughts and feelings like a kindergarten class.

Examples*

#1. Boris stood by while his wife packed for their vacation. Natasha’s thin frame and narrow features gave her a Slavic look that had attracted him from the beginning of their relationship. He smiled, remembering their first meeting at the Belgrade dead drop. The moment he saw her pinched lips and distrustful gaze, he had fallen in love, and believed she had always loved him in return.

His smile dropped as Natasha threw a second suitcase on the bed.

“Why do you need so many clothes?” he complained. “It’s a two-day trip!”

Natasha didn’t spare him a glance.

Boris always complained; it was his default setting. He had a whiny voice that tended to grate on everyone’s nerves, and Natasha had slowly been building a castle of hate with Boris’s name over the door. She smiled where he couldn’t see. Her nasty surprise at dinner tonight would take care of everything.

Boris threw up his hands and left the room to watch football on TV.

 

#2. Boris stood by while his wife packed for their vacation. Natasha’s thin frame and narrow features gave her a Slavic look that had attracted him from the beginning of their relationship. He smiled. She had looked so beautiful at the Belgrade dead drop where they first met, with her pinched lips and distrustful gaze. We have loved each other ever since.

His smile dropped as Natasha threw a second suitcase on the bed.

“Why do you need so many clothes?” he complained. “It’s a two-day trip!”

Natasha didn’t spare him a glance. What a pain. What was wrong with Boris that he couldn’t understand her desire to always look her best? I hate his whiny voice so much! She couldn’t wait for dinner, when she could drop the bomb on him. Literally.

Aw, what the heck, Boris thought in disgust. He threw up his hands and left the room to watch football on TV.

 

#3. Boris stood by while his wife packed for their vacation. Natasha’s thin frame and narrow features gave her a Slavic look that had attracted him from the beginning of their relationship. He smiled. She had looked so beautiful at the Belgrade dead drop where they first met, with her pinched lips and distrustful gaze. We have loved each other ever since.

His smile dropped as Natasha threw a second suitcase on the bed.

“Why do you need so many clothes?” he complained. His voice had taken on a whiny quality that he couldn’t seem to stop. “It’s a two-day trip!”

Natasha didn’t spare him a glance. Her back stiffened and her hands took on the jerky motion of a robot wound too tightly. He’d annoyed her, again, it seemed. It was all he did these days. Hopefully dinner tonight would help. She told him earlier it was to be a special going away dinner, which sounded to Boris like a peace offering.

Aw, what the heck. Time for football on TV. Boris threw up his hands and left.

 

Which is which?

Which is head hopping, which is 3rd Close, and which is Omni?

#1 __________ #2 __________ #3 __________

*Grading my examples on quality of writing will earn you a visit from the Kissmyass Fairy.

 

Yeager’s back and he’s hotter than ever.

After a number of earthquakes hammer the Sierra Madre region of Mexico, Grupo Verdugo, a Yeager's Missionsplinter group of cartel enforcers, takes control of the drug shipping routes through that territory. Caught in the middle, a small orphanage high in the mountains, desperate for supplies to care for the children and the battered earthquake victims, reaches out to Abel Yeager for help.
Yeager and his friend Victor agree to deliver the needed food and medicine. But Grupo Verdugo seems to have a special interest in starving out the clergy and forcing them to bend to their will. They send a man known as the Executioner to stop anyone daring to assist the people.
Yeager and Victor are in for the biggest fight of their lives as they are forced to move forty children, a dozen sick and injured patients, and one feisty doctor out of the mission and through mountains infested with vicious killers.

E-reader release day today, June 21st. $2.99 for a short time only

I was pretty sure this would never happen. But it did. Yeager’s Law just cracked Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers (Kindle Paid), hitting #74 today.

Thanks to everyone who bought a copy, suffered through an early draft or ten, edited, proofread, and encouraged me to keep going.

YL @ 74

Yeager's Mission

It’s here. Or it will be on June 21st, at least.

Yeager’s Mission is now available for preorder on Amazon at the release day price of $2.99 in Kindle format.

The official release of Yeager’s Law is set for July 21st.  Read an excerpt here.

Are you ready?  I know I am.

UPDATE: The print version is ready now, for those of you who can’t wait for the ebook!  (Look at that, just in time for Father’s Day.)

I hit triple sevens on the publishing slot machine.  For those following along at home, Yeager’s Law will be published in August of this year.

Synopsis:  Abel Yeager is dead broke, down on his luck, and suffering from a serious case of what-the-hell-does-it-matter. His transition from active Marine to stateside long-haul trucker hit a wicked speed bump when his rig was involved in a wreck that claimed the life of a pregnant woman and laid him up for several months.

Back at work but deeply in debt, Yeager meets bookstore owner Charlie Buchanan in St. Louis and jumps at the chance to haul a load of remainder books to Austin for her. On the way south, a crew of truck thieves tracks his every move. But none of them know what Charlie’s ex has smuggled inside the book pallets, who he stole it from, or how far the owner will go to get it back. Charlie’s the first person Yeager has cared about in a long time, but as their bond deepens, so does the danger they’re in.

With enemy forces closing in, Yeager battles greed, corruption, and his own fatalism in a bid to hold true to Yeager’s First Law: come home at the end of the day.

~~~~~

May Day is in early edits by Divertir Publishing, to be released in early 2016.

Synopsis:  The first in a planned series of novels featuring Sam Cable of the Texas Rangers and Rita Goldman of the FBI.

In “May Day”, Cable is detailed to fly with Trooper Boggs to California to escort Jade Stone, a woman accused of murdering her love.  The victim is a Dallas Police Detective, Tommy Grace.  Unknown to Cable, Grace is connected via his half-brother, John Bartlett, to a group of rogue federal agents with secrets to hide.  Secrets they want buried with Stone at any cost. 

In an attempt to kill Stone, Bartlett’s men sabotage the Cessna being flown by Trooper Boggs, which crashes in a remote part of the Gila National Forest.  With Boggs severely injured, cut-off from help, Cable alone must protect Stone against Bartlett’s team of trained agents.  

When a good friend of Cable’s, FBI Agent Rita Goldman, hears of her friend’s plane crash, she is desperate to help.  She pursues the clues related to the dead detective’s ties to Bartlett and begins to unravel the web of deceit surrounding the organization. 

As Goldman works to link the missing aircraft to Bartlett, and the ground team continues its search, Cable and Stone are hunted over the rough terrain of the Gila Forest while carrying the injured Boggs.  But Stone has more than evading pursuit on her mind; she has an agenda of her own.  One that she’s determined to keep hidden from Texas Ranger Sam Cable.

~~~~~

AND…

I’ve just signed a contract with Driven Press for Working Stiffs, release date probably also in early 2016.

Synopsis Working Stiffs is a Science Fiction (pre-dystopian) novel of the near-future United States. 

Civil liberties have been eroded.  Government has replaced initiative with dependence.  Unemployment has exceeded Great Depression levels. 

And now, technology has created a workforce able to undertake simple, routine tasks, further displacing unskilled labor.  A breakthrough in nano-technology has given us the ability to reanimate the recently dead and modify behavior of the living.  Far from zombies, “Revivants” provide a ready source of cheap labor. The economic impact and social impact is potentially devastating. 

Joe Warren is a college drop-out, somewhat self-absorbed and disinterested in the world’s problems. Unemployed, broke, and with no prospects, Joe only wants a job, food in his cupboard, and his girlfriend cured of the lingering sickness she’s been fighting. 

Instead, he winds up in jail, tracked by government agents, forced to become an informant, and pushed into a tight crack between the federal government and a band of self-proclaimed freedom fighters.

He is forced to examine his me-first attitude and, in the process, learns some things are worth fighting—and dying—for.  He must choose to sacrifice himself to save an ideal.  In the end, can he muster the inner conviction to meet the ultimate challenge?

Get your reading chair ready!

Cover Reveal

Posted: March 27, 2015 in Books, The Write Stuff
Tags: , , , , ,

In case you missed it in one of my 2.000 other posts, here’s the official cover reveal for Yeager’s Law, due out in July.

YL

That is all.

The following is a fictionalized account of a true story.  I first heard the story of the Edens-Madden Massacre from fellow writer Pat Haddock and I thought she was putting me on. I did some research and…turns out she was right.  This is my version of Lucy Madden’s story, a Texas pioneer woman and survivor of the Edens-Madden Massacre, San Pedro Creek, Houston County, Texas.

Survivor

~~~

October 28th, 1838

Frost rimed the banks of San Pedro Creek on that blackest of moonless nights.  Screams echoed through the forest of evergreen sentinels, shrouded with needles and indifferent to the blood soaking their roots.  Blazing pyres soared, illuminating the pines with a flickering orange glow, before subsiding to embers and returning the forest to darkness.

~ ~ ~

Stuffed in one room of drafty dogtrot cabin, fifteen women and kids slept.  Their menfolk had gone to answer President Lamar’s war cry.  Lucy, along with her sister-in-law, Nancy, moved to John Edens’ house to fort up with the other wives and children.  Four men, asleep on the opposite side of the dogtrot, protected them from the angry Kickapoo war parties.

Creak…

Lucy stiffened at the sound.  Her skin crawled as though covered in spiders.

~ ~ ~

Inkinishit’iti, so-called Little White Man because of his mixed parentage, detailed four men to guard the room where the white men slept.  Inkinishit’iti towered over his fellow Kiikaapoa warriors, his face hacked from mahogany and his eyes imbued with the spirit of Nenemehkia, Thunder Beings.

He commanded respect.

His remaining warriors gathered close, muscles flexing, weapons honed, teeth gleaming, breath quickened by the promise of blood.

A solid kick splintered the door, sending it crashing open to swing from broken hinges.

~ ~ ~

Mary Sadler died first.

“No,” Lucy screamed.  She scrambled from the floor, hands extended.  “Not my children!”

Women’s shrieks and Indian war cries battered her ears.  A tomahawk split Lucy’s collarbone and she collapsed.  Sarah Murchison implored her with dead eyes, her face in a pool of blood, her hair cut away.  Lucy tried to get up.  A blow to her back knocked her down again.

A devil from Hell, maybe Lucifer himself, loomed in the door, arms braced to the frame, legs spread.  He laughed while women’s screams called the tune and murder danced a jig.  Blood splattered the walls, soaked the floor.

Another powerful strike slammed the back of Lucy’s head, setting off an explosion of white light behind her eyes.  Sounds came and went, blurred scenes flashed through her eyes, but none of it penetrated the ringing in her head.  Mercifully, she didn’t hear or see the Kickapoo hacking apart her sons, Seldon and Robert, or witness the infant, Sophia Sadler, gutted with a butcher knife.

Like a wounded animal, Lucy crawled through the gap between the devil’s legs.  His booming laugh vibrated her nerve endings, more felt than heard.  If he saw her, Ol’ Scratch gave no indication.  Maybe he let her go, knowing her time was short.  Lucy made it outside, then to the fence, where she buckled.

Cold.  So very cold.

~ ~ ~

Lucinda Edens Madden survived that night and lived to the age of 77.  A broken collar bone, split ribs and a massive head wound caused severe blood loss, and it was likely Mrs. Madden passed out, but she was often heard saying she’d never had a better night’s sleep than after she crawled between the Devil’s legs and escaped from Hell.