Monday, February 27, 2012

Readers wanted!

I read an editorial in the paper this morning that quoted a Robert Kantor--who fancies himself something of an expert, though of what the editorial didn't specify--as saying the average male reads only one book past high school. The writer of the editorial, like myself, wondered what that one book was, and how many books the average female reads, since Mr. Kantor didn't mention their habits.

I don't know about anyone else, but the males I know read quite a lot, and the books they read are all over the map as far as genre or content. I guess that makes them non-average or better than average, at least in Mr. Kantor's world. It does make me wonder, though, if I asked them to name only one book they could have read since high school, what would that book be, and would it be the same book Mr. Kantor's average guys are reading?  This is all academic, of course, because Mr. Kantor, self-professed expert in male reading habits, is more than likely having a joke at our expense.

Personally, I read about two books a week, unless I'm crunching a deadline. That may or may not be more than a lot of females or right on point, though I'd like to think both women and men enjoy reading as much as I do. What writer wouldn't? However, I do have a female friend who swears she hasn't read a book since high school, which makes me wonder if it's the same book the single-book-reader guys read, and if so, does that make her an average guy? This could be a life-changing question, so if anyone knows, please drop me a line.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pirates

I was watching TV last night and a Captain Morgan commercial came on (the one where the good cap'n is sitting at a dinner table with a bunch of 18th century bores) and I thought, you know, I need to have a pirate character in a book. Or a book about pirates. Naturally, that lead to the problem of how to bring pirates into urban fantasy. I'm sure there's a way to get the two together. Maybe just have a dashing, hard-living, devil-may-care, slightly legally-challenged hero who happens to own a boat. And then what ...?

I don't think I've ever even read a pirate story, though I've watched plenty of pirates in movies. Of course, Johnny Depp comes to mind, along with the debonair, swashbuckling Errol Flynn, and my personal favorite, a youthful Tommy Lee Jones as Bully Hayes in 1983's Nate and Hayes. Then again, I'm a diehard TLJ fan, craggy face and all. But I digress...

I think this is a subject worth pondering. Maybe I'll make a list of things that remind me of pirates and find a way to weave them into a character. I'm sure all this sudden obsession with pirates is at least partially the result of the calendar. For those who may not know, February in Tampa is pirate season. That's when we begin our annual month-long siege by the dastardly Jose Gaspar and his many ribald krewes. You can't throw a rock in South Tampa this time of year without hitting a pirate or a pirate flag. And why not? Pirates stand for everything that means fun to an adult--hard partying, carefree, and irresponsible.

Yep, I'm seeing a pirate story in my future.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Plugging another indie writer

I just finished the Zero Sight series by B. Justin Shier and I have to say, this is one of the best new writers I've read. For those of you who haven't heard of or read his Zero Sight series, B (as he prefers to be known)  is a med student who writes in his spare time. I can't even imagine where he finds that spare time, but if his doctoring is as good as his writing, he'll have some lucky patients.

The series centers around Dieter Resnick, a Las Vegas kid cursed with the Sight that allows him to see what's coming before it gets there, among other things. There's a lot more to Dieter than meets the eye, and B does a great job of bringing the reader into his world.

I loved the characters in these books. So much, in fact, I read the first book, Zero Sight, in two days, then downloaded and read the second one in a single day. It helped that I was home sick at the time, but what a great way to distract me from the aches and pains of the flu.

The odd thing, for me, about reading these books is the sense of kismet I got. I'm sure other writers have had this happen to them as well. You're working on a book and you read something in another book that mirrors something in your own. In this instance, there were aspects of Dieter's character that run parallel to my own current WIP's character, Laec Matthews. It kind gave me this weird sense of deja vu for a minute.I don't want to go into details, but anyone who read both would know what I was talking about. Suffice it to say, those parts were written in my book before I read this one, so I guess I can console myself with the old adage, "great minds think alike."

If you're looking for some new urban fantasy with a new voice and a different spin, check out the Zero Sight series.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Have eReaders made you read more or less?

Like with most new technology, I fought getting a Kindle for the longest time, falling back on the standard argument you hear from all holdouts; "but I like the feel of a book." And as with every other new technology I finally gave in to (cd and dvd players, smartphones, laptops), I don't know how I ever lived without it. I take my Kindle everywhere. It's great always having my books handy. If I finish one while I'm away from home, I can just pull up another one.

 But the best part of owning a Kindle (or any eReader) is that it encourages you to read more, something every writer should do.How else can you expose yourself to the best of what's available in the world of words? I find I read at least two books a week now, many of them indie books, because they're so accessible. I spend a couple of hours on Amazon every week trolling for new stuff and downloading samples, most of which turn into purchases for these writers. Most indie books sell for $.99 to $3.99, which, by any calculation, is a bargain worth taking a chance on. Granted, you might find the occasional stinker in there, but that's the great part about eReaders. You can read a sample before you buy. Face it, how many businesses give out free samples these days?

For the most part, I've been pleasantly surprised by both the quality and the originality of the ebooks I've read. Stuff that, ten years ago, probably never would have seen the light of day because it didn't fit into some publisher's business model. I can overlook a few typos or grammatical faux pas for a good story, especially considering that even traditionally published books aren't flawless. Think of indie writers as the garage bands of literature--raw, original, and uncensored--and eReaders the van that brings them to your hometown.

If you're still sitting on the fence about buying an eReader, you can always sample that, too. Just download Kindle for PC. It's the same interface, and you can sync it to your smartphone as well. And later, when you decide to buy (and you will), you can sync all your samples and purchases to your eReader.

As far as I'm concerned, there has never been a better time to be a reader or a writer--especially an independent writer. I've read stuff I never would have considered before because it's so easily available, and that, in turn, has influenced and enriched my writing. How about you? Does your eReader make you read more? Write better? Or are you still holding out?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Soundtrack for the Year

I've decided this is my them song for this year - time to get off my a$$ and get stuff done!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cover for Lucid

I just finished designing the cover for Lucid. I managed to get Laec looking just like I imagined him, and the background really gives a feel for Lower Erebus. Now my only problem will be if I decide to change the title of the book.

Cover designed by Nytshadow Designs, which happens to be my design company.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Random Mind Fluff

Sometimes it takes awhile for the flotsam and jetsam of my life to rise to the surface, so I’ve stopped being surprised when stuff like this randomly pops into my head and starts waving its arms for attention.

Last weekend my Dad and I were dropped into an alternate universe.

Yeah, I know, you’ve probably heard that before, and to be honest, it’s not as exciting as it sounds. Turns out it was just Wesley Chapel, but for a few giddy moments, I knew what it must feel like to be a starship captain. Or Christopher Columbus.

“What do you mean this isn’t India? Isabelle is going to be pissed if I don’t come back with spices!”

Once the truth of my mistake was revealed, I had one burning question: Who gave the FDOT the right to go willy-nilly changing the numbers of highways in midstream? Isn’t stuff like that chiseled in metal, like one of those truths uttered by people like Stephen Hawking and Maury Povich?

Okay, bad example.

At least I reacted responsibly and pulled into an Arby’s before bringing up Google Maps on my phone to figure out where the hell I was. Dad wisely suggested, as long we were there, we might as well go inside and use the facilities and grab something to drink, just in case the universe pulled any more funny stuff on us before we got back to his house. And I figured, as long as we were inside, I might as well verify our location with the kid behind the counter, on the off chance Google was pulling one of their hilariously refreshing practical jokes (funny the first dozen times, not so much after that). Not wanting to draw anyone else into my confusion, I kept the inquiry simple.

“Is that big road out front Hwy 54?”

The kid got a glazed look in his eyes and turned to the guy hunting and pecking at the register next to him for guidance.

“Um, yeah, I think so,” the guidance counselor answered.

Why the hell did I need to remember that now?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kick off

Pristine territory, the first post on my new and improved Blogger blog. After the disaster that happened on WorodPress, it took me awhile to get this baby up and running. Life, work ... you know the drill.

Anyway, I wanted to make myself write, so at least I can do this every day.

Been hard at work getting Lucid finished. After taking a year off from it, it took me a couple of weeks to figure out where I was going with the story. Usually I keep better notes on stuff like that, but I've changed computers three times in the last year, lost hard drives to crashes, and have stuff scattered between two external drives, a Passport, and my Dropbox (I refuse to go through that again, so multiple backups all around). I'll probably find those notes after I finish the book.

Anyway, I plan to be around here more often now, so hopefully I can catch back up with my old readers.