Every Dollar Goes To Save An Animal!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Your Character In Short Fiction by Karen M. Gross

In short fiction it is vitally important that you convey a strong character as quickly as you can.  Your reader needs to be able to identify emotionally with your character within the first couple of paragraphs.  To do this you need to know as much as possible about your character.  

So where do you begin?

In the first stages of story development, your plot will often fill in some details of your character.  To play the starring role your character is going to need special skills or knowledge.  Does your heroine need to run up 50 flights of stairs or fly a spaceship?  Jotting notes about how these skills were acquired can give you the seeds of your character.  You might even get a name for your hero or heroine.

Physical description can be peppered through a story to build an image.  The Internet is the world’s greatest tool and the world’s greatest time waster.  When I need to see a character, I can spend hours searching galleries to find just the look I want for my character.  Magazines, sketches drawn on scraps of paper and other visual aids can help you keep your character’s appearance fresh in your mind.  

There is nothing worse than a character who goes through several different eye colors without the aid of contact lenses or a girl who’s hair bobs around her shoulders on one page and curls down her back on another.  A picture goes a long way towards keeping these details straight.  

Beyond job skills and looks, your character needs to have a personal history.  This is what brings fictional characters to life.  Snippets of back-story can be used to provide motivation.  Motivation is what makes your character move forward through the action of your plot.  You can also consider any racial or cultural issues.  A fifteen year old girl in the 15th century is going to have a very different on than a girl from America in 1960.
Example: You build up a lot more tension having an off-duty police officer walk in on a fast-food joint robbery than if your character was a librarian armed only with a book…although that has possibilities.

Your character also needs a name.  If you didn’t get one you liked earlier, try again now that you know a bit more about your character.  Does he/she have a defining character trait that is important to the story?  Is there something that defines your character? Example:  Is your character strong willed?  Brea, Bryan, Dickon, Godrick or Melissa. Is beauty what defines him/her?  Ami, Hatsumi, Sherman or Tiara. For last names a census report or a telephone book can be extremely helpful.  

Now you are dealing with a person, one with feelings and desires that your reader can connect with.  Now when your character walks into a fast-food joint in the middle of the robbery your character’s reactions draw your reader in and through their actions and perceptions bring your story to life.  They care about the out come and will follow along breathlessly as our heroine saves the day.

The final ingredient in creating a short fiction character is choosing how you are going to tell your character’s story?  Are we going to see into the minds of several characters?  Third person point of view allows the author to describe multiple characters by using he and she. Example: He stood on the porch, the wind blowing drops of rain to sting his bare arms and upturned face.  Being outside just made him feel better.  Of course, not a lot made him feel worse than one of her rants.

Do you want to tell the story looking through the character’s eyes?  This is harder, but can be very rewarding, putting your readers right into your character’s shoes. Example: I had seconds to take in the scene, the cashier with his hands up, the two men dressed in all black even to the stocking masks that covered their faces.  The situation could go south, fast, if I didn’t act.  Anger flooded me.  Didn’t these scumbags know I was off duty?  Hell, I had just finished a double-shift.  “Everything is okay.”  I said, raising my hands to show that they were empty.

Do you want to write it from the reader’s point of view?  This is the style that was used a lot in twist-a-plot stories. Example:  You open the door and the scent of dry dust and the stink of rotten wood carries to you on an outward rush of air.  The house seems to have been vacant for a long time.  To the left of the door is the light switch.  You reach out and flip the small lever. 

With a strong character you can convince your reader to suspend their disbelief, to shut out the rest of the, and come on an adventure with you.  Romance, Horror, Sci-fi or Fantasy, your reader will feel what your character does and experience your tale vicariously.

Title: The Killer Wore High Heels
Author: Karen M. Gross
Author Group
Publisher: XOXO Publishing
Buy Link

BLURB: She's a vampire with a penchant for high heels and feeding on bad guys, with a band of hunters close on her trail.  When she decides to turn the tables on the hunters who stalk her, the results are...fiendishly appropriate.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Under The Sun by Frances Pauli

IS THERE anything new out there, really? As an author, and especially one who writes Speculative Fiction, the goal is always to stretch toward uniqueness, to invent something completely new and original.
     Maybe thats stating the obvious, but a lot of the time, the goal is a lot harder to reach than you might imagine.
     Sometimes you hit it out of the park, a thought so purely and distinctly yours tickles you into action. Success. Youve hit on something new. Finally. Until you go to the movies a few months later and see something so similar it makes you want to weep openly. You thought of it first, right? Didnt you?
     Sigh. Tell me this has happened to other authorsplease? Im not ashamed to admit it. It happens to me all the time. I invent new technologies only to find shades of them in the latest Consumer Electronics. I create creatures so bizarre they have to be unique, and then see a cousin in the newest Scyfy series. (Dont get me started on the Sci-Fi thing.) Am I unimaginably predictable? So average that my brainwaves only fluctuate in the obvious range? Or are we all tuned into the same, giant, universal wavelength?
     Heck if I know. What I do know is that creating something completely unique is a challenge. Even the pros struggle with it. Ive read that there are only a finite number of story themes possible, and that all tales ever written are merely a version of one or the other of them. While the thought gives me shivers, I imagine its close to the mark.
     So should the Speculative author give up? Well, wheres the fun in that? Theres more to a tale than one element, and how a story is told can be equally important as anything else. Maybe its enough to have a unique perspectivesomething we are all inherently gifted with. Even if the most original thing an author can manage is their voice, I think thats a pretty good start.
     As for that new technology…I intend to keep trying. Somewhere out there is a device or gadget, or ship’s drive that belongs to me alone.
     I’ll let you know when I find it.

Roarke by Frances Pauli
Published by Devine Destinies
Short Science Fiction Romance
      They have to be lying when they tell her she was dead. With no memory of her past, and no idea who she actually is, Nora has little options. Alone, and at the mercy of the Mercenary Defense Conglomerate, she searches for clues into her past, and the truth about her supposed demise.
      If she is a prisoner, robbed of memory and held against her will, then she must trust no one. If she has, in fact, returned from the dead, then who could possibly help her? Armed with only her wits and her inexplicably sharpened senses, she is forced to play along, to search for the holes in their story, and to piece together the flashes of memory that serve only to taunt her.

     But the visions seem to confirm the impossible. The man who is supposed to be her fiancĂ© seems bent on confusing her, and the one person she is desperate to be near may very well be responsible for her death. If the silent Roarke is her enemy, why do her visions draw her closer to him? And why, when nothing else seems remotely familiar, does Nora find herself remembering, or wanting to remember only him?
Author Bio: 
    Though she always held aspirations to be a writer, Frances originally chose to pursue a career in visual arts. Her stories, however, had other plans for her. By the time she entered her thirties, they were no longer content existing solely in her head.  Compelled to free them, she set aside her easel and began to write in earnest
    She currently resides smack in the center of Washington State with her husband and two children. When not writing she dabbles in insane things like puppetry, belly dance and playing the ukulele. She collects rocks, and is a firm believer in good wine, fine chocolate and dangerous men.
     Her short fiction has appeared in Alternative Coordinates magazine.  
More information on Frances and her writing can be found on her website.
She also offers free reads online.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Touch A Soul by Brianna Martini

XoXo Publishing presents Touch a Soul(TM) – Literature Fundraising for Charity
By: Brianna Martini 

How many people have wanted to donate money to a fundraising campaign they have seen on television or when at the mall? How many of us cannot help ourselves when we see someone in need?

I am sure that there are many more like me who feel that way.

While many of us readers still enjoy a good paperback novel, there are a growing number of people who are into reading books on their computer. Our website http://www.xoxopublishing.com, offers both paperbacks, e-books and Books on CD for sale, with stories ranging from Romance to Erotica to the Paranormal. We offer something for everyone.

“Our company mission is to let the reader explore a private place for reading pleasure, where they will be transported to a world of infinite possibilities.”

What makes XOXO Publishing so great? It’s not just because we are a publishing company who sells books; it is because we love helping others.

XOXO Publishing has created a division specifically for helping others. “Touch a Soul” (TM) is a non-profit part of the company, in which we feature fundraising paperbacks and e-books, where proceeds go to a charity of our choice or the author’s. We feel it is important to help others when we can and as much as we can.

Last spring, our company put out an Anthology called “Hate the Sin: Love the Sinner,” which was very successful. It combined a variety of short stories and poems. This book was featured at the Toronto Small Press Book Fair. Proceeds from the sales of this book went to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.
The success of “Hate the Sin: Love the Sinner” has prompted Touch a Soul(TM) to produce even more this year, allowing XOXO Publishing to help even more organizations. Who wouldn’t want to donate?

As of right now, there are six fundraising projects in the works, in which 75% to 100% of the sales will be going to charity. Authors from around the globe have become interested in producing stories, in the hopes of raising money for a variety of charities, and will donate a percentage of their own sales.
Books such as  Must I Remember by Dr. Tim B. Watson is donating all of his royalties to an African charitable organization, while author Brianna Martini is donating 100% to the Convoy for  Cure (Truckers  with Cancer) off her upcoming release I’m Big, I’m Sexy and I’m Me.  Author Victoria C. Blake is donating a percentage of her royalties to a local woman’s shelter, while author Amelie Court is allocating a percentage of Nobel her latest novella to the Canadian Diabetic Association. 

XoXo Publishing's next project is to raise funds for all of the earthquakes Haiti, Chile, Turkey Orphanages via Unicef Canada, and a third project underway is for the Cancer Society Ovarian and Prostate Cancer. We have a list posted on our website at http://www.xoxopublishing.com.
It is not out of duty or obligation that we have created Touch a Soul(TM), but out of love for others, and our wanting to help. It is our way of giving back. We want make a difference in people’s lives, no matter how big or small.

Look for more to come from Touch a Soul(TM) and XOXO Publishing(TM).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dull Crap Becomes Important Crap by Ed Williams

Dull Crap Becomes Important Crap When You Get Older!

God, I’m almost embarrassed to write this article, as I’m really gonna be telling on myself in a major way…..I have to do it, though. It’s too late for me to be rescued from my own fate, but perhaps it will help someone out there avoid the same in years to come. Hey, it might even be used to aid in the cause of anti-aging research, at least I hope so.
Bottom line, the reason for today’s article is both simple yet profound. It’s also undeniable. So, without further ado, our reason for being here today is:

I’m finding, as I get older, I want to talk about drivel, stuff that in years past I’d never have mentioned to anyone. I’d not have found it important or interesting enough.

Bear with me, it’ll make more sense in a few, unfortunately. This past Saturday, I needed to get the oil changed in my truck. Around 2 pm or so, I ran it over to the garage that does such things for me. And since Ole Black (my ’98 Toyota Tacoma that I love more than God) was a bit on the dirty side, I whipped her into a car wash and cleaned her up a bit. Then, we both went home.
As soon as I arrived and walked in the front door, my son Will asked where I’d been? I then proceeded to launch into a long, impassioned explanation of how I’d just taken my truck in for an oil change. That wasn’t enough, though. I launched into yet another impassioned recounting of how I took Ole Black for a good washing afterwards. And as I was telling Will all this stuff, the thought hit me, “Just how boring is this? And why do I give a damn about giving him such a long-assed explanation of either item?”
Right at that point it didn’t bother me too much, but about an hour or so later my son-in-law Dave walked up. He mentioned that he’d noticed I’d been gone earlier, and wondered why. I then launched into yet another impassioned speech about how I’d taken Ole Black in for an oil-change and a car wash. And as I heard myself  yet again go into all this detail about two such mundane events, the reality of what I was actually doing hit me, and my mind screamed out,
“We’re getting old, dammit! Oil changes are now a big deal So are car washes! Look at us, we’re getting mossy and mentally skanked!”
The bad thing about all of it was my mind was telling me the truth. I am getting old, and that’s a sure tell-tale sign, getting long-winded about trivial crap that even a tse-tse fly couldn’t care less about. And if I’m already caring about car washes and oil changes, then the following things are probably on the horizon:
Talking to my neighbors about their favorite garden fertilizers and why.Discussing out loud stuff like dry skin or scalp flaking problems and what the best means of addressing them are.
Discussing what types of vitamins best promote good health.
Getting into earnest discussions with my male friends about toupees vs. the natural (bald as a damn eagle) look.
Arguing that music was only music back when it was on vinyl, not on these damn MP3 computer files that are so prevalent today.
Bemoaning the loss of pay phones and empathizing with the postal service’s current problems.
Whispering under my breath to my male neighbors about how the lady down the street does yard work in far too skimpy outfits.
If I start getting verbally long-winded on any of those things, especially that last item, then I’ll know I’m getting older than the pyramids and I might as well start hiking my pants up under my armpits. I’ll truly know that old age has set in, and that park benches and clogging in those awful square dancing outfits are in my future. A future even more dismal than being given the complete works of Perry Como in MP3 format, and that should make any adult with a reasonable set of eardrums moan the blues.
Time to wrap this up, my friends. I know this week’s article was pretty much a downer, but y’all will be much happier with next week’s. In our next epistle we’ll talk about why prunes are an incredibly wonderful food, why they’re misunderstood, why our elected officials ought to aggressively promote them to their constituents, why Post should start making “Prune Toasties,” why……

Title: ChristmaSin': A Juliette Christmas Epistle
Release Date: 11/1/2009
Author: Ed Williams
Author Website: www.ed-williams.com; www.christmasinthebook.com
Publisher: Champagne Books
Buy Link: http://www.champagnebooks.com/books/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=82&zenid=66c36dcf505f1d76085a6dee1e364f98
Genre: Mainstream Fiction/Humor


"The walk back into the house is a lot longer on account of toting this heavy-ass wood, and by the time we both get inside,we are hassling pretty hard. Ed Jr. turns, looks at us, laughs, and then tells us that he is going to recite an old Christmas poem for us that he’d heard many years ago. We know that it is going to be good, when he tells us to sort of listen out for Mama, and that if she happens to come into the room, mum’s the word. Once we all understand the ground rules, my dad clears his throat and recites this tender rhyme for us:
“Santa’s outfit is red and white, it’s all that he has, but it fits just right, his boots are black, his balls are blue, being cold all night does that to you. 

He has a doll for Cindy, a dog for Fred, and a New Orleans woman, sittin’ in his sled.

He laughs so jolly, never sad nor whiny, now he’s off in his sleigh, to hone some Louisiana heiny.”