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Ever wonder what it's like to be in that moment between struggling artist and published author? Read on and find out.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Interview with Donald J Carey - Part II

Randy: What is your favorite part of Bumpy Landings?

Donald: Wow, favorite? Hmm... At the risk of sounding like a narcissistic fanboy, I like everything.

I have a rather dry sense of humor, and that really carries through in the narrative voice and some of the characters. I think that understated humor--and the fact that readers seem to actually get it--is one of my favorite elements.

When it comes to actual scenes, I guess I'd have to say the part where Jordan and Kehau fly to the
Big Island. Each time I read through the manuscript, I got excited when that part came around. There is a lot of emotional tension there, and I think it works well.

Randy: What was the most difficult portion of Bumpy Landings for you to write?

Donald: I'd say the opihi scene was probably one of the hardest to write. It's a somewhat unconventional love scene, and finding the correct balance of physical/environmental/emotional energy was tricky enough, and then to put it into words was a real challenge. It took quite a few drafts to get it to the point it is in the book, and I'm very happy with it.

Another thing that made that scene tough was the decision to change the way Kehau gives
Jordan the opihi. I really like the original, but decided to tone it down for readers who might have thought it a bit too much.

Randy: You recently mentioned a review of Bumpy Landings on Twitter that was somewhat mixed. If you don’t mind my asking, what goes through your mind when you read something like that?

Donald: First, I wonder why everyone can't be as smart as the people who gave Bumpy Landings 5 stars and declared it the best book ever. No, just kidding.

I'll admit, I eagerly take in the praise, while the criticism stings just a bit. I like my book, and I think it's great. But I know it isn't perfect, and I want to grow and improve as a writer, and so I look at the less positive parts of the review as an opportunity to learn.

The worse the review, the greater my determination to really do well on the next book.

Randy: Do you have any advice regarding mixed reviews that you could pass on to up and coming authors?

Donald: Bumpy Landings went through a lot of beta readers, so I have a pretty good idea what the strengths and weaknesses are. I also know that opinions vary from person to person, and not everyone will like what I've written.

So when I read a bit of criticism, I first disregard anything that is opinion. "I don't much care for this kind of book." Okay, fine--not everyone does.

Next, I look to see if the complaint matches what others are saying. If it does, I file it away as a verified issue that needs to be improved in the next book.

If it's something that goes contrary to the bulk of the feedback I've already received, and contrary to what I feel myself, then I give it a little less weight. For example: "One-dimensional, emotionally superficial characters" vs "The characters feel amazingly real" and "Carey’s vivid characters". I think I did the characters well, but still, I'll be extra careful in the next book.

And that's pretty much how I handle a negative review. Also, chocolate and/or ice cream help, too.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. The funny thing about answers is that they often lead to more questions. If anyone else has some questions of their own they can send them in to me and I’ll see if I can’t convince you to answer another batch.

And just in case talking with Donald got you interested in paper airplanes you can check out this site for 10 designs you can make at home.

Or if Hawaiian chocolate is more your thing here is a site for you.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Interview with Donald J Carey - Part I

            Donald’s first book is out and available in stores. Bumpy Landings is about a young man, Jordan MacDonald, who moves from a failed relationship on to a new love. A love of flying. The story is set in Hawaii.

I met Donald at LDStorymaker11. In a crowd of authors, all offering to sign their books, he stood out to me because he had these great looking paper airplanes at his table. They’re an eye-catching green and the kid in me loves paper airplanes. (Although, I’m willing to put my design up against his any day of the week.)
            It struck me that this was an excellent way to promote his book and thought I would pick his brain on the subject.

Randy: At your signings you have some amazing looking paper airplanes that you fold and give away. What’s the purpose of that?

Donald: The paper airplanes are really just there for fun. It’s a way for me to connect with potential readers, and to help build awareness about the story. Plus it gives me something to do during the slow part of the signings. And I had a great time designing them.

Randy: How did you come up with the idea to hand out paper airplanes in order to promote your book?

Donald: I wanted something a little different that I could use as an unusual give-away, and since flying is a big part of the Bumpy Landings story, my fist thought was getting some foam or balsa planes custom printed. However, since each one would be significantly more than my per-book royalty, I decided to use paper airplanes instead.

Randy: Do you have any suggestions for new authors who want to do the same thing for their upcoming books?

Donald: Play to your strengths and the strengths/uniqueness of your book, and be creative. But make sure it's something that sounds like fun. If it isn't fun for you, then it probably isn't going to have a positive effect.

Randy: I notice that you also have chocolates to hand out at your signings. Why do you include them along with your airplanes?

Donald: Chocolate is kind of a universal attractant. Also, since the book is set in Hawaii, I use chocolate macadamia nuts when I have them available. The chocolate is more of a draw, while the airplanes are more of a fun novelty. They compliment each other well.

Randy: How effective do you feel this is in getting people to stop and take a look at your book?

Donald: I think it's good to have some kind of low-pressure draw. I find most people are hesitant to go out of their way to talk to me or find out about my book, but they are willing to accept something as innocuous as a piece of candy or paper airplane, and this opens the door to further conversation.

Randy: Who else has a method of getting readers attention that you think is especially effective and what is it they do?

Donald: A few years ago, Dan Wells gave out buttons with the name of his book on them. It was memorably funny to see all these people wearing buttons that said, "I Am Not A Serial Killer."

Randy: Do you have any ideas yet on what you might use to promote your works in progress; Into the Wind and Space Corp General?

Donald: Well, Into The Wind is a sequel to Bumpy Landings, so I'll probably stick with what is working. I haven't yet decided if I'll do another book trailer--those were a blast, but took A LOT of time.

I'm still far enough out on Space Corp General that I haven't really given promotion much thought.

Randy: Can you tell us anything about the two upcoming novels?

Donald: Space Corp General is a concept I came up with for a humorous middle grade book, and it quickly evolved into a more serious YA. It's intended as a national-market Sci-Fi, and it won its category in the 2009 LDStorymakers first chapter contest. I got halfway through a first draft before revisions to Bumpy Landings pulled me off. I still really like the idea, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to get back to it.

Speculative fiction has always been my first love, but my muse saw fit to give me a contemporary LDS story first. I also didn't intend to write a sequel, but I realized after Bumpy Landings was accepted that there are plenty of unanswered questions and unresolved conflicts and there is room for a second story with the same characters. Into The Wind starts about an hour after the end of Bumpy Landings.

Where Bumpy Landings was coming-of-age with strong romantic elements, Into The Wind is a true romance with a heavy dose of family drama.

(Watch for part two of the interview.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alternate Endings

            With the Rapture media event recently past, I thought it might be a good time to look at other world ending scenarios. It isn’t my desire to add to the anxiety bonfire started on Saturday; so, if you feel overwhelmed with doom and gloom stop reading and immediately watch Mary Poppins or even an episode of The Brady Bunch. When you feel better you can come back and read the next item on my list of gruesome endings. 

            Chocalypse Now

            In a dark, mirthless lair an evil scientist develops a genetically engineered blight that causes the world’s cocoa crop to wither and die. Within weeks housewives and children turn into confection-starved zombies that wander cities, towns, and hamlets in search of hidden hoards of sugary gold. Husbands and fathers work tirelessly to save their candy-craving loved ones from a fate of chocolate undeath. When the last stockpiles of chocolate are depleted civilization collapses into bitter heaps.
            What kind of a fiend could contemplate unleashing this sort of madness on the Earth? Ask yourself that next time one of your family, friends, or co-workers turns down a heavenly chocolate morsel.


            The mild form of this viral infection is known as Bieber Fever. Teenage girls are especially susceptible to this plague. Onset of the condition usually manifests in loud screaming and wild gyrations of the body until they eventually swoon into an unconscious euphoria. The virus is unique in as much as potential victims seem to seek out the means to self-inflict the disorder and flee all attempts to treat them.
            Unfortunately, Justinestis-bebierium, as the disease is scientifically known, has reached pandemic proportions. In the advanced stages, secondary infection can target the family and friends of the primary carriers of this pestilence. These collateral victims lose their appetite, become feverish, and eventually lapse into a coma. During this period of inactivity the bacteria swiftly act to transform the pseudo-dead into exact duplicates of the idolized singing sensation.
            Riots are known to ensue whenever two or more of the Bieber clones come together. The carriers are drawn to any Bieber-esque figure they see; however, the transformed victims have a wide range of reactions to one another. The most common interaction is to take turns performing and admiring the experience that is Justin Bieber. In other cases screeching, hair-pulling fights may ensue in an effort to prove that they are the one and only real Justin Bieber.
            Inevitably, society devolves into a single multi-continent concert that never ends.

            Clown Wars

            It isn’t always disaster or disease that accounts for the Earth’s last days. Sometimes hubris brings about the downfall of mankind. In this case, a cable network with a penchant for comedy announces “The World’s Funniest Joke” contest. When it was over – no one was laughing.
            Contestants paired off in gladiatorial style matches. They started with comedy basics; slap-stick at ten paces. The comedy rolled off the battlefield like bad toupees off Donald Trump. Then things got serious. Seriously funny that is. Barbed innuendos were broadcast into homes all over America and then Europe. Other countries retaliated against the laughable assault. Entire arsenals were launched against the unwary citizens of the world: stealth limericks, aerosol dispersed punch-lines, and bomber dropped monologues.
            As nations crumbled under the unstoppable power of raw humor, people on the street took up the cause. Joke dealers made fortunes catering to people’s funny bones. Puns, quips, and one-liners became the tools of comicality for the average man and woman on the street.
            It all stopped when a satire impeded Minnesota retiree shouted, “That ain’t funny. It ain’t funny at all.” The world teetered on the brink of cosmic absurdity and was brought back to the safe haven of theatrical tragedy by Bob Johnson, a bitter seventy year old.
            Way to go, Bob.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rapture Playlist

     I had wanted to do a little more for this special occasion, but worked a double shift instead. Here is a few musing about the anticipated event and I'll wrap it up with my own personal Rapture Playlist.

* Starting Monday, will the street preachers be able to start collecting unemployment?

* Will the "The End Is Here" signs be replaced with either "The End Is Over" or "Told You So"?

* Will those caught up in the rapture take the money in their pockets with them, or will there be a bunch of naked people floating in the sky?

* For football fans used to tailgating, will there be a pre-rapture, Rapture?


“It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” – R.E.M.

“Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin

“Beds are Burning” – Midnight Oil

“Bat Out of Hell” – Meatloaf

“Fire” – Ohio Players

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – Simple Minds

“I Melt With You” – Modern English

“Welcome to My Nightmare” – Alice Cooper

“Ghost Riders in the Sky” – Johnny Cash

“Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash

“Who Wants to Live Forever” - Queen

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” – Billy Joel

“Mama, I’m Coming Home” – Ozzy Osbourne

“Devil Went Down to Georgia” – Charlie Daniels

“Burning Down the House” – Talking Heads

“Disco Inferno” – Bee Gees

“Pray” – M. C. Hammer 

Paradise by the Dashboard Light” – Meatloaf

(Especially good news for the guy who is ". . . praying for the end of time so I can end my time with you.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Movie Review: Thor

THOR     $$ ½
114 Minutes
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman
Director: Kenneth Branagh

            At long last, the god of Thunder has arrived in theaters. This is an event I had been anticipating since its filming was announced. After all, this is Thor. A man’s man. Or rather, a man’s god. Okay, a really macho dude. You get the point. I love Viking stories and the Norse mythology so my expectation for the movie was high.
            The film takes a step from the traditional Thor legends by setting Asgard in a land of combined magic and science. I didn’t mind the departure from the standard mythology and admit that it allows for a visually amazing blend of old and new.
            Thor, the movie that is, starts off with a recap of the war between the Asgardians and the frost giants. The giants are defeated and the source of their power is taken by Odin. This sets up an uneasy peace between the two races that lasts until a small party of giants sneak into Asgard and attempt to retake their “power casket” by force.
            Even though the giants are thwarted in their efforts, Thor decides this is an act of war and, against his father’s wishes, travels to Jotunheim to seek redemption for the attack. Loki, Volstagg, Vandral, Hogan and Sif assist Thor in his battle against the entire giant race. The giants prove too much for the reckless band of heroes and Odin has to save them.
            Odin is none too happy about Thor’s disobedience and strips him of his powers and banishes him to Earth. From there it’s the age old story of god falls to Earth, god meets mortal girl, god beats up bad guys and a few good guys too.

            I was disappointed with this movie. My favorite part was when Thor and his friends fight what seems to be the entire giant world. Unfortunately, the scenes are dark and the editing jumps from shot to shot in a way that made it difficult for me to follow what was happening.
            The rest of the film amounted to watching a spoiled child throw a tantrum. I thought this was supposed to be the God of Thunder - not the god of petulance. If this movie is targeting teenagers then I can see they have hit the appropriate level of resonance with the audience. Thor disobeys his father, is sent to his room (Earth) until he learns to play nicely with the other children, and meets a swell girl there. He certainly spends plenty of time without a shirt to give the young female portion of the audience reason to swoon.
            I gave Thor a 2 ½ rating. For the action scenes, you will want to see it on the big screen with accompanying high-definition sound, but as far as story goes I could have waited until it hit the discount theaters, or even as a rental. Overall, it was an amusing movie and the actors / characters were entertaining enough.

            Randy’s Rating System

0         = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.
$         = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
$$       = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$$$   = Full Price   See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

First Novel Done

            Once upon a time you had an idea for a story. You reached down into the creative well of your soul and pulled forth an embryonic plot. You nurtured it, you prodded it, and you molded it into a rough manuscript. Then you guided it into a fine looking fully developed novel.
            Now what?
            Lounging around the beach writing whenever the muse fills you. Bracing yourself as adoring fans mug you during countless book signings and convention appearances that are more gala than obligation. Spending hours responding to fan e-mail.
            If you think that any of the above are likely to happen then a good reality check is probably in order. I recommend sitting back for a few moments and savoring the accomplishment you have achieved. Writing a novel can be a daunting task and having finished it you have done something significant.
            When you’re done breathing in the heady feel of accomplishment you can begin the real work. Becoming a successful author involves a lot more than cranking out prose. And as I am finding out, it requires you to move beyond the solitary process of word crafting and start reaching out to people.


            These are the people that are going to help you publish your novel. And regardless of which one you get first both are necessary and will require that you cultivate your interpersonal skills and a whole new set of writing proficiencies. Any one of these could be the subject of dozens of posts and I don’t intend to go into detail about them right now.
            For the moment, just keep in mind that you will need to know how to solicit agents and editors with your authorial arsenal of pitch lines, query letters, synopsis, and outlines. Each has their own format and peculiar writing requirements that you may have to learn. Just because you wrote a wonderful breakout novel doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to sit down and craft a query letter that is going to grab their attention.
             I recently had the opportunity to attend a writing conference and have my query letter reviewed by a published author who knew a bit about such matters. When I sent it in I thought it was fairly good. Then I had the chance to read what the other workshop attendees had sent in. If that had represented the batch of queries an agent / editor received during the week I don’t think they would be asking me for my manuscript. These other queries were good. Really good. 

            FANS AND AUTHORS

            Not only will you be seeking editors and agents to sell your book, but you will need readers to buy your book. As I’ve recently learned that process begins even before the novel goes to print.
            It may seem weird that I listed your fellow authors along with the fans. However, you are going to want authors to be among your fans. Not only that, you’re going to want them to be among your friends. Reach out to the writing community and get to know some of the authors. Published authors have a lot to offer the pre-published writer. They have been through the process before and can share their insights with you. They have contacts in the industry and a reader fan base. They also share a common interest with you and can be a great source of moral support.
            In order to do this you need to make yourself visible to the public through the various social media that are available: Twitter, Facebook, and your own blog. Each of these will allow you put you and your writing talent in the public eye. This is the opportunity to show everyone what you offer as an author. That means you’re going to be making a LOT of posts. Every day you’re going to be out there and connecting with people.

            I realize that this post hasn’t solved anyone’s writing dilemmas. It wasn’t intended to. What I hoped to do is show you where I am in the writing process; in fact, where all of us are if we are at the pre-publishing stage. This is meant to be a teaser of what you can expect me to be looking into in the months ahead.
           I hope you'll join me.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Exploring the Eerie Landscape of Pre-publishing

I guess they'll let anyone have a blog.

That's a given. Sign up for a g-mail account and you can create your own web-log. The real question is whether I have anything worthwhile to say. You will have to be the judge of that.

While considering what I could contribute that might be interesting, or even educational in some way, it occured to me that the topic I was best versed in was - Me. Not "Me" as in how wonderful I am, but "Me" as where I am in life. Specifically, what I'm going through as an author.

I had considered calling myself the Inbetweener for my blog, but that's already the name of a Marvel comic character. It seemed appropriate because I feel that I'm on the verge of going from artistic unknown to published author. Maybe that's a little presumptuous of me. I hope, rather, that it will be an interesting ride for anyone who's willing to come along with me. Some of you may currently be in a similar situation. Some of you may soon be in a similar situation. For a few of you it may be a nostalgic journey.

Am I really at the doorway to publication? You judge. I have an editor interested in my latest novel. I was just awarded First Place in the LDStorymakers11 First Chapter contest, in the speculative fiction category. And I have a few rejection letters encouraging me to continue submitting my first novel to agents that are better suited to the genre. I feel that I could be published soon. Even if I'm not the sort of preparations I am making should resonate with many of you who are.

I hope this will not be a trip I make alone. Make comments. Give me suggestions. Participate in the inbetween experience of authorship.

Randy Lindsay - Author In Training