Thursday, June 30, 2011

Your Organization Is Touching My Chaos!

Continuity is a bug-a-boo of mine in a novel series. Be consistent with your history & descriptions of a particular character or place or event. This is something I strive for in my writing, especially in the large series I am working on. If an author chooses to change a character's description, change hair color or the like, I can accept that.- provided there is an explanation for the change in the books. Don't make him sandy blond in one book, and have him dark haired two books later, without giving a reason why.

TV shows and lesser movies often give no thought to continuity. This bothers me, but not nearly as it does in print. I've seen good and bad examples of continuity in published print.

The Bad: I once read a book (which suffered severely from bad editing, or none at all. Really, it was a train wreck.) where the dog's name changed completely from one paragraph to the next. Not two dogs. One dog. Two names in two successive paragraphs. I keep this book as an example of what NOT to have printed with my name on the cover.

The Good: The various Star Wars novels that have come out over the last twenty years (well over a hundred, closer to two hundred) have shared an amazing consistency, given the fact that they are written by dozens of authors. Added to that are the 6 movies, the tv series, and the video games the individual units of LucasFilms has released, it becomes an even more impressive feat.

I've seen problems in my own writing. When you've got parts of a dozen different novels (or more, I lost count), plus several short stories floating around that are all in the same shared universe (and across a large span of time) it gets to be too cumbersome to keep everything in your head AND keep it straight. I have one alien species that I kept flip-flopping the ending of the species name from -in to -inian. Planet names that were written -ax in one piece, -axia in another.

I don't have George Lucas' money to hire my own continuity editing staff. Yet. Until then, I have to do it the hard way- myself! To combat this, I started a document to track all the references, characters, ship names, locations, ect that were going into my series. This isn't an entirely new idea, other writers no doubt do the same, with character bibles, three-ring binders, and whatnot. I call mine a compendium, and I went a little more thorough with mine.

I included things like a list of sector names (important because I give a header block for each new chapter giving the location, ship name the characters may be on, ect), a time-line of the major events so I can keep the history straight, and a reference guide for me to remind myself which projects use a given character, or reference. I broke all my references down into alphabetical order for easier searching. Here's an example page from the X-Corps Compendium:

A genetically engineered species. Rhinocerosi were two meters tall, bipedal and weighed approximately one ton each. Jailen Devorax took a rhinoceros DNA sample from ancient Terra, and had the DNA manipulated to grow himself a private body guard force. (RP)

Rowantree, Captain Rosina
Captain of the Starcorp vessel Starcorp Merchant. Barely 1.5 meters tall, with mousy brown hair tied up in an efficient if not exactly inventive bun, Rowantree had been moved over from the Starcorp Accountant fleet to command of the Starcorp Merchant shortly before the ship was raided by the Chorros de Corazón. (TAH)

RP Freight Line­
Render Paxon’s independent freight company. (RP)

- S -

Sánchez, Captain Ramón Juan Álvarez de la Vega
Captain of the privateer ship Chorros de Corazón. He was of Portuguese descent, with a darkly tanned skin that was a genetic gift from his ancient ancestors. He wore a goatee beard and a short pony tail of jet black hair that gave him a rakish, almost piratical air. A practical man, Sánchez operated on the principal that you never ruin that which you can raid again in the future. A stern but fair authority figure, Sánchez played no favorites and accepted no shirkers among his crew. (TAH)

Sanchez, House
Sanchez was the second smallest of the surviving houses to form from DrummondCo. Sanchez was named for Juan Raul Julio Sanchez, the head of the marketing division. House colors were white and orange. During Operation Telegraph the house was one of the major alliance members, pushing their spin-ward border well into former House Merker space, adding several systems to house control. (HSPP1,6,7)

Schwecshheimmer, Fregattenkapitän Fritz “Quicksilver”
Commanding officer of the Merker Navy aerospace fighter squadron Hell Hounds on board the carrier Cerberus during the first two years of the Fourth Border War between Merker and Donov. Fritz was killed in an ambush during a Merker attack on an unmanned border observation post in an uninhabited system. (HSPP1)

I broke it down this way: Entries are alphabetical (by last names for characters). Ship names are alphabetical by the name of the ship, omitting 'The' from a title. The (parenthetical) bit at the end of the entry is my project reference code, so I can track and update references. Some entries appear in more than one project. For example, House Sanchez is mentioned in books 1, 6, and 7 of the Hunt Starfire series.

I started this document for my own self-reference. It's grown into a document over12,000(!) words long at the moment. I'm sure that by the time I get all of these projects written, and hopefully published, the Compendium will be the size of a novel itself!

So, there it is. There's my organizational tip for anyone who's doing extensive world building or writing a series. If you have any tips, feel free to comment and share them!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Down Range: Pt 2

Continuing the tale of Interstellar Hit-man Quint Grousch. Part 1 can be found here.
Down Range (Pt 2)
Lately though, after so many years in the trenches, it was getting harder and harder for me to keep the distance between my work and my sanity. Mountain chains eroded over time to fill in the valley between them, and such was the case for me. The gulf I’d maintained was slowly silting in to become an ever narrowing space- from a gulf one month to a bay the next week to a river channel. If I didn’t watch myself, I’d allow it to become a shallow stream trickling through a ditch. I always told myself I would quit the job when it started to get to me. Go off and be a sheep herder somewhere in a quiet mountain valley, where I could spend the rest of my days counting the herd and contemplating my navel.

The day hadn’t come yet, but there were a few points in my life I always used to gauge whether or not it was time to buy those sturdy hiking boots.

Whenever I let myself evaluate these points, I always did so in a pro-con fashion, like I was working through them on a ledger book, or some kind of karmic spreadsheet. It was in keeping with the whole dispassionate way I approached my work.

The one job I usually turned to was a hit on a politician. The man was embezzling funds, but that wasn’t why his wife wanted him killed, just the reason she wanted it to look like one of his victims had had him killed.

"Why do you want your husband dead, Mrs. Drebuki?"

The other end of the commlink went quiet for a moment, and I thought she’s changed her mind and hung up on me until I hear her say, sadly and with great remorse "He’s a cheating bastard."

It was a familial reason, then. I understood that. "Is there an insurance policy in play on your husband, Mrs. Drebuki?"

"Yes. Double indemnity if his death is ruled as an accident. That is what I want you to make this look like, an accident. He’s been embezzling funds from the government. Can you stage it so the fingers all point to the local government taking him out as expedient method of reducing corruption?"

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but she seemed more worried about the collecting the insurance money than about her husband’s in ability to keep his rocket ship stored in the proper hangar. "Shouldn’t you be talking to a divorce lawyer, not an assassin?"

"I know what you charge, Mr. Voss. If you think I can’t afford to pay you, I can. In fact, I can arrange things so that a member of the government will contact you to perform this same job."

She wanted me to double dip? That was a rare opportunity, at least in my experience. I normally was only ever paid once for a particular job. However, I wasn’t against taking a double payday in the right situation. It was now up to her to prove that this was one of those situations.

"I have connections in the government. I can leave an anonymous tip about my husband with enough evidence to point the way to you." She really sounded determined to have her husband killed. Who was I to try to dissuade her?

"Fine, Mrs. Drebuki, you’ve made your point." Actually, she’d beaten me over the head with it. I got it. "My fee for either interested party is the same. I’ll need some details from you. I’ll send you an information request tomorrow."

That particular job turned into a boondoggle on several fronts, but I did get paid by both Mrs. Drebuki and her government to kill her husband, though for entirely different reasons.

I’d had to infiltrate the local police department, establish myself as a bona fide police agent- I’d never been, but I knew enough about their methods and mannerisms to pass myself as a convincing agent. After that, it took several weeks to work my way onto their local SWAT team. During this time I of course was turning down other jobs, so the double paycheck I would collect on this was starting to look better and better with each passing day.

The day for the hit was about as perfect as I could hope for. The weather was clear, calm breezes and the temperature was a comfortable degree, none too high or too low. That affects weapon performance for a sniper more than the average person would think. The SWAT team was covering the press conference for Mr. Drebuki, in case someone from the opposition party tried to be a nut and attack the platform. Little did they see the viper the unit had coiled to it's own bosom.

I was perched high on a roof top on the southwest corner of the plaza, with a clear line of sight to the crowd- and, conveniently to the platform- for the rally. The unit was one man short of having paired spotter-trigger teams, so I volunteered to work alone. I’d spun some line about having grown up hunting alone, that I was used to working without another person to distract me, and the commanders bought it.

Since I was alone, I switched out the ammunition in the police issued sniper rifle for something I used more regularly. I didn’t carry more than a couple of rounds of this ammunition on my, but it was easier to use their rifle than to bring my own and to try and explain why I was carrying two rifles on a call-out. I preferred to use my own rifle, as it was custom built, untraceable, and I was the most comfortable with it, but these are the little sacrifices I’d learned to make in the field. If it got me into position to make the shot and be inconspicuous doing so, I’d make do.

The target presented his self onto the platform at the appointed hour, and began his speech. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but his wife had cued me into a particular gesture Mr. Drebuki liked to use in his speeches. It was an arm movement where he swept his right arm out to point in emphasis on some point or other. That was my mark.

I watched the platform as I slipped a silencer onto the end of the sniper rifle. It would cost me range and I didn’t normally like to use one on a job, but this time sound suppression was necessary to continue my cover. The last thing I needed was for another SWAT Team member to notice me taking the shot and wonder why I’d hit Drebuki and not some nut in the crowd. Precautions were the name of the game in the assassination business. Cover your ass against all possibilities, or one of them would bite you in said ass when you least expected it.

I lined up the shot on Drebuki, and waited. Time seemed to compress and expand as it normally did on any job of this stripe. Seconds stretched into hours lining up the target through the moment you nudged the trigger. After that time came crashing in again and everything seemed to happen in the same instant. Drebuki staggered back from the podium and fell to the stage floor. My assignment completed, I fell into my cover role as a SWAT sniper.

"Where is he? Who saw the shot?" I called out over the radio, sowing confusion among the ranks. More subterfuge to cover my ass. It was a necessary and often useful skill to have in your arsenal. "I’ve got nothing on the southwest corner."
*   *   *
I never normally went into such elaborate preparations for a single job, but this one was different. Metering out personal revenge was always a minefield. Would the client change his or her mind, get cold feet, or chicken out? Each was a possibility. That’s what made personal revenge cases such sensitive animals. If it did, I was stuck, any preparations I’d made would be wasted, and my client was forfeiting a large portion of their deposit. That’s why I kept questioning Mrs. Drebuki’s resolve about the job she wanted to hire me for. She continued to be adamant about the issue. Which was fine with me. I could kill her husband any time she chose. I suggested she be out of town when it happened. The farther away the better. That was standard advice I gave to any client. The further away they were then the assignment was completed, the longer it took for them to return and hear of the news- feigning shock and surprise- and to then become a suspect in the inevitable murder investigation. By that time I was long gone. That’s the other reason I gave such advice to clients.

I’d worked my way into the SWAT unit, and had actually been involved on a few calls around the city, which helped me establish myself with the unit, and gave me an inside look at how that particular unit operated in the local environment. I’d confirmed some universal truths during that period, and I like to think I might have learned one or two more.

So, there were the good and bad points of that job. They didn’t exactly fit neatly on a spreadsheet, but there they were.
*   *   *
I ignored Aldo’s pleading and looked through the scope again. I didn’t like what I saw and I adjusted my aim. I let my finger find the trigger on its own accord. 
"Quint what are you doing? Don’t shoot!"

"Aldo, I’m doing my job. I was paid to assassinate the Butcher of Stromitz, that’s what I’m going to do. It’s called being a professional."

My finger caressed the trigger slowly and without hurry, like the two were new lovers discovering each other for the first time. The finger touched the trigger, touched it, and tightened smoothly…

Minister Mumbutu’ril took the round just below his right eye. Blood and brain matter splattered the steps behind him as the round created a large exit wound and buried spent itself on the stone of the steps.

"Quint! You shot the Minister!"

I didn’t answer him, not right away. Instead, I picked up my communicator and activated a small program I’d kept on the device in case I ever needed to lock an assistant out of my financial records. Now was the time. The program transferred all my credits to a separate account I’d held in reserve and never told Aldo about.

"I told you, Aldo, I was doing my job. And now it’s done, and so are you. Consider this your pink slip. You’re no longer employed by me and I’m going to inert the security device. You’ll be free and safe to have it removed at your leisure." I paused, and decided to tell Aldo two more things. "There will be an extra ten thousand credits on your last paycheck, as severance pay. Good bye, Aldo."

I wiped my prints off of the sniper rifle and anything else I thought I might have touched. I picked up my communicator, switched off Aldo’s babbled questions, and walked away. In my head were visions of a sheep ranch somewhere in an alpine valley.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Down Range: Pt 1

I decided to stretch the scope of this blog a bit and post  a little of my fiction. First up is a two part story that exposes the universe to Quint Grousch, Interstellar Hit-man
Down Range  Pt 1

I looked through the ‘scope of the sniper rifle and sighted in on the target. The wind hadn’t shifted any, which was important to me at the moment. From this distance, fifteen-hundred meters away from the target, even a kilometer shift in the wind-speed or a degree or two of direction could mean a difference of decimeters or even a full meter downrange. 
In my ear, I heard my assistant Aldo trying to tell me something. "Quint, Quint, Don’t take the shot. Warlord Knar’sh isn’t the man responsible for the attack on the refugee camps!" Knarsh stood at a podium on the steps of the Justice Building, several of his ministers standing behind him. It was kind of poetic, in a morbid sort of fashion, that he’d chosen the planet’s highest court building to hold his speech at. Someone else had already judged him as guilty, and paid me to be the executioner. I didn’t usually get philosophical while on the job, but sometimes karma was a bitch, you know?

"Quiet, Aldo. I’m working here."

"But Quint, it’s not the Warlord. He’s actually supplying the camps with medical supplies and foodstuffs. You can’t shoot him!"

Aldo really could be an annoying little prick when I let him get away with it. It almost pained me to keep him as an assistant. Almost. However, he was good at what he did for me, which was gather intelligence and provide logistical support when I was out in the field.

"Quint, Minister Mumbutu’ril’s the one behind the attacks. He wants to stage a coup d'état and overthrow the Warlord."

I ignored Aldo’s pleading and looked through the scope again, frowning. I didn’t like what I saw and I adjusted my aim. I let my finger find the trigger on its own accord.

"Quint what are you doing? Don’t shoot!" He practically screamed into my ear. I thought about shutting off the ear piece, but decided against it. I’d learned to work through worse distractions.

"Aldo, I’m doing my job. I was paid to assassinate the Butcher of Stromitz, that’s what I’m going to do. It’s called being a professional."

My finger caressed the trigger slowly and without hurry, like the two were new lovers discovering each other for the first time. The finger touched the trigger, touched it, and tightened smoothly…

I didn’t maintain a regular office or keep set business hours. My office tended to be wherever my communicator happened to lie at the moment it went off, whichever planet or station I happened to be on at the time. My line of work tended to keep me on the move anyway, so I never bothered to hang up a sign with my name and occupation on it: Quint Grousch – Interstellar Hit Man. Doing that would be a surefire way to ensure I had a short career that ended in a prison cell somewhere. Anonymity was a business policy of mine. My name- one of them anyway- was known in certain circles and I attracted a certain clientele with it. It wasn’t a name tied to any of my credit accounts or travel documents. It was easier and safer that way.

Business was brisk and I was having trouble staying on top of my work and keeping up with all the arrangements I needed to make. So I hired Aldo as an assistant.

When it came to Aldo arranging my travels and handling my credit accounts, it was a matter of trust- I trusted him not to screw up or screw me over, and in turn he trusted me not to kill him for any ‘mistake’ he might make. To that end, I’d had a device implanted into Aldo that would allow me to send a coded signal to the device and set it off should Aldo forget himself. As long as he didn’t push my wrong buttons, I wouldn’t push his. Aldo saw eye to eye with me right away. It may sound callous and cruel to you, but I looked at it as an insurance policy. In a perverse kind of way, I think Aldo saw it that way as well.

Aldo had actually heard of me, professionally, which helped the two of us understand each other. "Is it true you started the war between the Zouks and the Tressians? That the Zouks hired you to kill the Tressian Prime Minister?" He asked one day not long after starting to work for me.

"That’s right," I admitted nonchalantly. I didn’t ever brag about my work- mine was a field where your work spoke for you. I didn’t usually talk about my past jobs, but Aldo had caught me on a day when I was feeling relaxed and pleasantly pleased with the world around me. "I actually book-ended that war."

"What do you mean?" he asked me.

"The Zouks asked me to make it evident that they were behind the shooting, which I did. Near the end of the war, the Tressian High Council hired me to assassinate the Zouk dictator, which I also did. That brought the war to a rapid close." Yes, I’d worked for both sides. Wasn’t the first time it had happened either. Personal politics were a liability in this field. I left mine at home whenever I left for an assignment. It was baggage I didn’t need to cart around with me. And, try as you might, it never fit into the overhead bin on a passenger ship.

"Wow," he said, with a newly found measure of admiration in his eyes. "You’re a legend for that, you know?"

I usually ignored that kind of talk when it was associated with my name. Sure, I’d been in this business for close to three decades now, and I’d completed my share of fantastic jobs, but again, I didn’t brag about it. It went back to that business policy of mine: anonymity. The less attention I attracted to myself, the longer I expected to survive in this field, and hopefully retire.

"Not really," I told him, and I could see disappointment replacing the admiration in his eyes, like beach sand eroding one grain at a time into the ocean waves. "Aldo, I show up on time, do my work, and leave again. It’s like any regular job. I’m no different than Joe Shlub the factory worker, except I don’t punch in and out on a time clock."

"No, you punch other peoples’ clocks for them," he quipped. I couldn’t say I liked the style of gallows humor he obviously thought he imparted in such a statement, and told him so.

I tried to keep myself detached from my work, a sterile, clinical environment. I didn’t kill ‘people’, I completed assignments. The beings who came into the cross-hairs of my ‘scope weren’t people, but targets. Keeping things distant and detached from emotion or feeling kept me sane. If I allowed myself to think about what I really did, I’d go crazy.

I didn’t do it for the money; not anymore anyway. My fees were quite high and I’d banked so many credits now I could retire today and live out the rest of my natural life comfortably, even if I lived to be two hundred years old. I didn’t stop though, because I took pride in my work. I was good at it.

That’s not to say the odd job didn’t bother me in the quiet moments before I fell asleep at night, but I’d learned to deal with those moments; few and far between though they were.

Aldo came to understand a few things about me after having worked for me for a period of time. He called them the ‘bullet points’ of my personality. It was more of his gallows humor; and I could have done without it; but I did have to admit, it was kind of a catchy title.

Point number one: I wasn’t a good guy or a bad guy; I was just doing a job that needed to be done, and getting paid for it. Paid very well- after all, he knew my finances almost as well as I did. At the end of the day, I had bills to pay like any other sentient being in the universe.

Point number two: I believed in clean kills designed to dispatch the target and minimize the amount of collateral damage done to those around the assignment. I didn’t blow up buildings or take down space-planes full of innocent passengers to get the one paid-for target hiding among them. I was a paid assassin, not an in-discriminant terrorist.

I hated to admit it, but he’d correctly and astutely distilled my philosophy down to those two points. Those 
two lines of personal policy were how I had lived my life and got on with my job, no two ways about it. I gave him credit for that one. 

End Part 1. Part  2 is available here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nemesis Soundtrack

Characters are just like people. Each of them is unique, with his or her own goals, problems in life, and personal soundtracks. Instead of injecting my own insanity into the blog today, Twitter's own @Jinxie_G (Author N.L. Gervasio) is letting me "squeeze" her for information on her heroine Nemesis's personal soundtrack for N.L.'s new book "Nemesis", available now from Smashwords and Amazon.

Here's Jinxie -

When I first started writing Nemesis, and pretty much any book before it, I didn't listen to music like most writers do. I have ADD, so I'm distracted quite easily. I needed total solitude and mostly silence, so I sat outside on my back porch in a place I used to call my Sanctuary, and the only sounds I would hear were those of the neighborhood and city surrounding me.

Over the past two years, I've learned to write/edit with larger distractions, such as music or television, if absolutely unavoidable. You see, I don't have kids, so I didn't know how to block out the sounds before. It takes a lot of practice to get to that point without children running rampant through the house. I did have a teenage foster-daughter for a couple of years, but she knew not to disturb me during my writing time. And with my Sanctuary now gone, it was a much-needed skill I had to learn.

What I'm going to share with you today is the playlist I made up while working on the book. Some of these are the songs I listened to during edits, while others are merely perfect subtitles, so I made them all subtitles for each chapter. Most songs fit the chapter they're assigned to, such as Another Hole in the Head for chapter 10. The credit for finding that little gem goes to my dear friend H.C. Palmquist, who also helped me shape that chapter, as it was part of the major overhaul I did on the book.

Here's the actual list of songs, in order by chapter:
Nemesis Playlist

1. The Creeps – Social Distortion
2. Little by Little – Robert Plant
3. Wake Me in the Morning – The Bollox
4. Nemesis – Shriekback
5. No Man’s Woman – Sinead O’Connor
6. Devil’s Dance Floor – Flogging Molly
7. Next Contestant – Nickelback
8. Lick – Joi
9. I Will Possess Your Heart – Death Cab for Cutie
10. Another Hole in the Head – Nickelback
11. 3 Libras – A Perfect Circle
12. How You Remind Me – Nickelback
13. Something I Can Never Have – Nine Inch Nails
14. Not in Rivers, But in Drops – ISIS
15. Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing – Chris Isaak
16. Let It Die – Foo Fighters
17. King of Fools – Social Distortion
18. Foxy, Foxy – Rob Zombie
19. Winter Solstice – The Tea Party
20. You Do Something to Me – Sinead O'Connor
21. Head Like a Hole – Nine Inch Nails
22. We're in This Together – Nine Inch Nails
23. Feelin' Love – Paula Cole
24. You Know I'm No Good – Amy Winehouse
25. Tura' Lu – The Bollox
26. You Know What You Are? – Nine Inch Nails
27. Just a Girl – No Doubt
28. Weak and Powerless – A Perfect Circle
29. No, You Don't – Nine Inch Nails
30. Hour of Darkness – Social Distortion
31. Headstrong - Trapt
32. Feel Alive – U.P.O.

And here's the link to the playlist on Grooveshark.

As you can see from this list, I'm a huge Nine Inch Nails fan and an old punk. Be glad I didn't throw a bunch of 80s punk songs in there, although that'd be kind of cool. Oh, and by the way, I always call the Death Cab for Cutie song I Will Possess Your Heart the stalker song of the year decade. Seriously, listen to the lyrics!
My reason for not listening to music before wasn't that music didn't inspire me—it does on many levels. In fact, there's a Celtic song titled A Thousand Curses on Love by Richard Searles that inspired my first paranormal novel, The Vampyre Prophecy. It's not available at this time, but will be as soon as I dive into the edits to revamp it. I wasn't happy with the final product, so I retired the book and it's no longer in print. It should be out by this fall.

For now, I give you Nemesis, a sort of darker Cinderella story, if you will.
Prince Charming was a putz.

Prince Charming number two was even worse.

After the last prince ran off without any notice, breaking her heart and their engagement along the  way, Nemesis Mussolini swore off  men and passed the time kicking ass and slinging drinks, something her mafia father would never approve of. But, when her boss Clancy ups his flirtations, it’s difficult to remember she’s not interested, especially when he gets that delicious evil glint in his eye that has her melting. Just when Nemy starts to think all men might not be bad, she hears whispers about Clancy’s less than legal past, and wants to run like hell from the idea that he could be just like her father.

Great … Prince Charming number three may possibly be on FBI’s Most Wanted.

While Nemy and Clancy tumble down the romance road, hitting potholes every step of the way, Nemy discovers how much of her heart already belongs to Clancy, and how much of a Don’s daughter she really is. When Clancy’s daughter is kidnapped, they must work together to use every talent and connection they have to get her back, which means Nemy must learn to trust again. If they fail, Clancy could lose his daughter forever. Can Nemy surrender in time to get her happily ever after, or is she hell-bent on letting her past keep her from the one man who could be her true Prince Charming?

Nemesis has her own blog: Foxy’s Den

Nemy can also be found on Twitter: Nemy_girl

You can find Nemesis on the Running Ink Press website, which will direct you to the purchase points and desired e-formats. The book is not yet available in print form.
N.L. “Jinxie” Gervasio was born on Friday the thirteenth. Her dad wanted to call her Jinx. Her mom said no. It took thirty-four years for her to discover the nickname, and she’s grown quite attached to it. She lives in Tempe, Arizona with Umi (her mother) and Moon (her Alaskan malamute). She enjoys riding her beach cruiser “The Betty” around downtown Tempe, loves a good pub crawl, and has had the pleasure and the heartache of experiencing a love far greater than she could have ever imagined.
She welcomes you to her world.
Twitter: Jinxie_G
Facebook: Jinxi3G
Email: jinxieg13 (at) gmail (dot) com

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Devilish Party Playlist

NYT Bestselling author James Rollins' new book, "The Devil Colony" was released today. There's a 24hr virtual release party for the book on twitter, on the #DevilColony hashtag. Stop in and say hi.

That got me thinking. A virtual party needs a virtual playlist, a party soundtrack to keep the party rolling along. So I've put a few things together, keeping to the theme of the party, and listed anything I could think of with 1) 'Devil' in the title and 2) anything that referenced 'Hell' directly.

Van Halen - "Running with the Devil"
INXS - "Devil Inside"
The Charlie Daniels Band - "The Devil went down to Georgia"
Steve Earl - "The Devil's right hand"
The Grateful Dead - "Friend of the Devil"
Joe Satriani - "Devil's Slide"
Paul Sanchez - "Ride with the Devil"
Dash Rip Rock - "Hell's Scared"
Meatloaf - "Bat out of Hell"
Drivin' n' Cryin' - "Straight to Hell"
The Grateful Dead - "Hell in a bucket"
Jason and The Scorchers - "Hell's Gates"
Marvelous 3 - "Cold as Hell"

Feel free to add your own suggestions to the playlist. I know I've missed a few!


Programing Note: On June 23rd, Twitter's own @Jinxie_G (author N.L. Gervasio) drops by to share her new book "Nemesis" with Brain Drippings. Don't miss it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blog Stats

I'm new to blogging, and one thing I've found I really enjoy looking at is my blog's stats. Now, I'm not obsessive about it or anything (okay, maybe a little bit), but I find it interesting to see all the information I can track. Page views, views by operating system (including, smart phones, iPads and oddly enough, an iPod), views by browser, traffic sources and more.

The stat that interests me most of all though, is the world map marking countries that I have received page views from. Three days into this blog, I had already been viewed in six different countries - US, Canada, UK, Germany, South Africa, and weirdly enough Algeria.

I know the name of the game here is brand recognition, and the blog is a step on that path. Getting my name out there and recognized through blog readers, which I hope to one day convert to book readers.

Question is this: How can I increase my viewership? Especially those international page hits? I already post links to the blog on twitter 2-3 times a day when i have a new post up- don't want to become an annoyance with it, or blow my own horn too often. I've also had a couple of folks add my blog link to their facebook pages. What else can I do to (unobtrusively) put myself out there?

Programing Note: On June 23rd, Twitter's own @Jinxie_G (author N.L. Gervasio) drops by to share her new book "Nemesis" with Brain Drippings. Don't miss it!

Your Space

Space...the final frontier- No wait, that's a different blog post. I'm talking about space of a different kind.

Workspace is what I'm on about today. (And not your little plot in the cubicle farm Monday - Friday) Currently, my writing "workspace" is the end of the couch. In front of the tv. I don't have a dedicated writing space, and that's probably putting the brakes on my productivity. Some people can sit in an overpriced coffee dealership and work away, but that's not me. I work better in a more solitary environment. I've attended write-in events during NaNoWriMo, and they are great for socializing with other writers, but I get more accomplished when I'm at home.

Having a set space would keep me more organized, and I think I could focus better. Someplace where I can keep all my reference material in easy reach without having to get up and walk 10 feet to look something up. Somewhere I can set up two computers/laptops, one to write from, the other to pull reference documents without having to switch between windows Yes, I'm lazy like that.

My idea space would look something like this: Oversized bookcases would line the walls. A large desk top for the two computers/laptops, and room to spread hard-copy out for reference and editing. Small refrigerator for keeping tasty beverages cold. I haven't decided if I'd want a window or not. Without one I'd be forced to look through the windows of my imagination and describe what I see there. (Which is the whole point of this hypothetical room, right?) And, I may, or may NOT have internet in there. Certainly not on the laptop for writing.

There it is, my mythical, hypothetical, idealized workspace. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on your own spaces- dream, real, or otherwise.

Programing Note: On June 23rd, Twitter's own @Jinxie_G (author N.L. Gervasio) drops by to share her new book "Nemesis" with Brain Drippings. Don't miss it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Supernatural Soundtracks

A thought popped into my mind a few months ago, and I've tried to pass it off to others to blog about to no avail. So, I'll take a stab at it myself.

The thought is this: What type(s) of music do you associate with various supernatural/paranormal creatures? I don't read or watch a whole lot of supernatural/paranormal, but from my limited experience, this is what I've come up with.

Zombies - The only thing that readily comes to mind is Michael Jackson's "Thriller". (Haha - I know, cheap shot but I couldn't pass that one up.)

Vampires - I associate vampires with two things; classical music and whatever was popular when and where each was turned. I can see a 1920s-turned vampire continuing his/her interest in jazz, a Fifteenth Century vampire that still digs Gregorian chants, or an early 1990s vampire with a burning love for Nirvana & Pearl Jam.

Were-wolves - Despite the long lifespans were-wolves seem capable of, I see were-wolves as completely classic rock/ heavy metal guys (and girls). It's really all there in the song titles:
Bad Company - "Running with the pack"
Ozzy Osborne - "Bark at the moon"
Guns 'n' Roses - "Welcome to the jungle"
Duran Duran - "Hungry like the wolf"

Agree? Disagree? Think I'm out of my mind? What music do you associate with the things that go bump in the night? Let's here your ideas.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Lost Piece Of History: B-17 Liberty Belle

Liberty Belle  1945-2011
The B-17 Flying Fortress. Those words conjure up one of the iconic images of WW II. Four-engined bombers lumbering across the skies of Europe and the Pacific, facing enemy flak and fighters to drop tons of bombs on the Axis powers. B-17s were designed and built to be tough. Planes would take astonishing amounts of damage; holes blown through wings or fuselage,  one, two, sometimes even three engines non-functioning or missing completely, parts of the tail shredded with flak holes - or blown off - and still bring crews home alive.

12,731 units were built between 1936 and 1945. Fewer that 50 examples survive today, on display in museums, in storage or as partial hulks. Of those survivors, around a dozen were left in flyable condition, preserving history as interactive flying museum pieces. Airshow crowds could thrill to the sound of four Wright Cyclone piston engines as a B-17 flew past the show-line. Or, purchase sight-seeing rides and imagine what it was like to be a bombardier or waist-gunner facing down German Me-109s.

Over the years, I've seen B-17s at various air shows, in both static and flying displays. A few years ago I had the opportunity to take a guided tour through a B-17 at the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth. It was a special experience to be up close and personal with the type of aircraft one of my grandfathers had serviced as an Air Force mechanic in the post-war period.

On June 13th, the aviation community lost a piece of history. B-17G s/n 44-85734, known as "Liberty Belle", suffered an in-flight fire and made an emergency landing in an Illinois field before being destroyed by fire. True to her design's combat reputation, she brought home all seven of the crew and passengers on board without injuries.

Clear skies, Liberty Belle.

The Muse vs The Motivational Fairy

As I'm found of saying -
"The Muse overburdens me with ideas. It's the Motivational Fairy that's giving me the cold shoulder."
It's true too. Over the last few weeks, I've received ideas for two different novels,  a character description that fits neither of these novel ideas, and a piece of dialogue for that character (maybe?) in a possible sex scene - which is outside my norm. The idea locker is full to bursting. I've got more ideas than I could reasonably write out to completion.

What I am sorely lacking in is motivation. I haven't written anything in three weeks. I think part of it comes down to my inefficiency as a writer; I'm not getting the story out as fast as I want it to be. That's frustrating to me. If I could hook my brain directly into my word processing program and think the story onto the page, I'd be off like a shot!

How do you keep your ideas under control, and what keeps you motivated?