Welcome To My Blog

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meme Quiz - Part I

            The good news is that Shelly Brown tagged me for the “Meme Quiz” challenge. I didn’t even know what that meant. (Meme is an idea that spreads from person to person within a culture – isn’t that what they call a virus in medical circles? ) This is a good thing, because it means I don’t have to come up with a topic to write about. Good for me anyways. Maybe not so good for whomever I tag next. You can check out how I got involved in this here:

            I’m going to go one better. First I’m going to answer all the questions Shelly responded to. Then I’m going to make up five of my own to pass on to my five victims, I mean writing acquaintances.

1. Show us the cutest, most adorable picture of your favorite animal:

A: No. I don’t do cute or adorable. I’ll just leave you with a mental picture of two stuffed animals tearing each other to their stuffing-level components. You choose which two cuddly toys get mutilated.

2. You have five seconds to survive the zombie apocalypse. Choose one friend who would save your butt and then tell us why you chose them.

A: My buddy Scott. He’s big and strong and slower than me. (I’ll refrain from adding any more hilarity to my response because he is big and strong and not that much slower than me.)

3. Share a quote with us:

A: “No matter where you go – there you are.”  Buckaroo Banzai

4. Using exactly twenty seven words, tell your life story:

A: Born. Cry. Hungry. Cry. Hurt. Cry. Grow. Not cry – as much. Ant feast. Dog bite. Eat foot. Texas. High-school graduation. Work. Cry.  Man up. Marriage. Teens. Crying.

5. All dead rock legends live again. You’re standing in a fifty mile long line for:

A: Bachman-Turner Overdrive (The original grouping.)

6. Describe yourself using six words that start with the third letter of your middle name:

A: Wise-acre. Weird. Wonky. Wacky. Waddle. Whimsy. (It is entirely possible that I made up one of these words like I make up almost everything else.)

7. What do you think of when you hear the word wombat?

A: My first thought is the animal world’s most natural comedic talent. When I thought about it more, Roller-Derby came to mind. That’s what you get when you combine women and combat. Wombat.

            That’s it for the first batch of questions. On Friday, I’ll put out my questions and a challenge of my own.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Interview with a Would-Be-Author

            Last week I pretended to interview my wife. This week, I thought it only fair for me to pretend to have my wife interview me. Here it is, again without any actual input from her, the interview of a would-be-author.

Randy: “Hey sweetie, I need someone to interview me for my blog?”

LuAnn: “How about Wednesday, three weeks from today?”

Randy: “Stop kidding around.”

LuAnn: “You already interviewed me.”

Randy: “Right. Now I need you to interview me so my readers can get the other side of the story. Go ahead, ask me a question.”

LuAnn: “Do you plan to take out the garbage any time soon?”

Randy: “As soon as the interview is over. Next question.”

LuAnn: “Couldn’t you have the kids ask you some questions?”

Randy: “I need a perceptive and poignant point of view.”

LuAnn: “So, they already told you they weren’t interested.”

Randy: “Absolutely not. I couldn’t find any of them.”

LuAnn: “How about your friends?”

Randy: “They said no. Heck, I can't even get them to read the blog.”

LuAnn: <Taking a deep breath and looking trapped.> “Sure. I’d love to interview you.”

Randy: “Excellent. Let’r rip.”

LuAnn: “What do you think the readers of your blog would want to know about you?”

Randy: “Probably the worthwhile insights about the writing profession that I’ve managed to pick up so far, along with an interesting tidbit that will reveal some of my personal nature.”

LuAnn: “And what would those be?”

Randy: “Since dialogue is one of my strengths, I would explain how it can be used to interweave conflict and backstory into a quick paced and exciting scene.”

LuAnn: “What else?”

Randy: “I love to interview my characters when I’m plotting a story because it helps me to really flesh them out fully and keep them from being two-dimensional, or boring stereo-types.”

LuAnn: “What about that interesting tidbit.”

Randy: “Well, that embarrassing story about when we got married would be right out. I’d never be able to show my face in public if everyone knew that. If I wanted wow them with my accomplishments, it would have to be the time Upper Deck offered an incredible amount of money to promote a game I designed. Or if I wanted to give them a deeper insight into who I am I could let them know how I turn everything into a story. I can’t tell about what happened at work, or how my dentist appointment went, without it becoming some sort of fantastic tale. Then again, it might be better to build a sense of camaraderie by retelling of one of my funnier moments. Like the time when my sister and I were playing hide-n-seek with our father and I kept pushing her out ahead of me because I knew my dad was going to jump out and scare us.”

LuAnn: “I think that should do it. Thanks for answering all my questions and thank you for the opportunity to interview you.”

Randy: “You’re most welcome. Are you sure you don’t want to ask me a few more questions?”

LuAnn: “I’m sure.” <As she bolts through the door.>

Randy: “Good. That completes this week’s blog. Now, I just have to figure what to do next time!

<Ponders if there’s a way to stretch out this phony interview scam for another couple of weeks.>

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to Blog: Building an Audience

          As you might guess from the graphics above, I am involved in the third Writer's Platform-Building Campaign. And this has prompted me to blog about one of the best method's I've found to draw a following to your site.

         You may have found it a little tough to get noticed (unless you're Shelly Brown). That is where the blog party comes in. Rachael is calling it a "Campaign", Tristi Pinkston calls hers a "Blog Hop", and Shelly Brown called hers a "Blogfest". Regardless of what they are called, they put together people who want to become part of a bigger writing community. That means people are going to sign up for your blog site and you are going to do the same in return.

         Initially, I didn't think this would help me advance my writing career. After all, how did it benefit me to have a bunch of my fellow authors-in-training subscribe to my blog? It struck me as being the literary equivalent to Amway.

          I believe (and keep in mind I'm just an author in training) that the advantage that is gained in the early, pre-published segment of your blogging career comes from the increased networking that results. Participating in blogfests and attending writer's conferences will expand your network of resources. Each one will have a unique perspective on writing and the writing business. All of them together will provide a wealth of knowledge that you can draw upon.

         Your network of influence extends beyond the obvious following of your fellow authors. All of us know other people that are not part of any given circle of companions. Some of you will know agents, or editors, or have contacts vital to anyone wanting to self-publish. Nor do these connections have to be directly tied-in to publishing. Artists, web-designers, programmers, and even fans who would be willing to serve as Beta Readers for your upcoming novel.

         Sometimes working to be a published author can be a lonely endeavour. My immediate and extended family support my decision to write, but they don't really understand it. Gaining a respectable collection of other authors, in the same position as you, can help give you the support you might need to get through a tough spot in your writing. Not only that, it's fun. What can be better than discussing hooks, plot and character development with someone who understands what the terms mean? I can certainly vouch that I've met a couple people through my blogging that I think are great and exchange tweets with them all the time. Hopefully, I will make even more friends with the people that are new to my blog and reading this post now.

          Finally, all of us hope that the "pre-published" status that many of us find ourselves in will be a temporary situation. As those in our community of writers advance in their careers they will gain fans of their work. Because of the connection you share with them a certain number of people who follow them will eventually discover you and become your followers too. Think of it as getting in on the ground floor.

          I know there are several blogfests going on right now. I am going to provide a couple of links to the ones I know about and see if I can't add buttons for them along the side of my blog. If you can handle participating in multiple blogfests, please do. If you're more time restricted, like me, you can choose one that seems best suited to you.

          As a final word, I highly recommend that you participate in a blogfest and get yourself immersed in the writing community.

Tristi Pinkston’s Awesome August Blog Hop

Christine Tyler Spark Blogfest

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Movie Review: Captain America

Captain America: The First Avenger    $$$ ½

124 Minutes

Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci

Director: Joe Johnston

            This is the last of the pre-Avenger movies that focus on the origin of the characters before they are all assembled into a might bastion of Super-Herodom. In this case, Steve Rogers is the oft laughed at 90-pound weakling. He is determined to enlist in the army and fight the Nazi war machine, but has a decent sized list of conditions in which any of them, by itself, is enough to classify him as 4-F and unfit to serve his country.  Combine all of them together and you can see that this guy operates on heart and determination.

            As chance would have it, Dr. Erskine notices the heroic effort Steve puts into joining the military and includes him in his secret program to develop         a unit of super soldiers to go against the advance technology of the German science division known as Hydra. Without a secret weapon of their own the Allies will soon lose the war.

            Dr. Erskine is successful with his experiment on Steve Rogers and Captain America is born. Unfortunately, Hydra agents assassinate Dr. Erskine before he can repeat the experiment and Cap remains the lone member of the super army intended to stop Hydra and its leader, the Red Skull.

            I eventually decided on a 3 ½ rating for Captain America, but struggled with the decision more than any other movie I’ve reviewed. I felt it was a good solid movie and at the end I felt like marching down to the nearest recruiting center and joining in the fight against the world’s despots. For that reason, I wanted to give it a 4. They nailed the setting and the feel of the period. I suspect that they really captured the essence of the Golden Age of comics from which this story is taken. I don’t collect comics at this time, but this has made me want to see if I can’t get my hands on some of the original Captain America issues.

            The movie industry has really moved forward with special effects, both visual and audio. In that move, I feel that they have lost some of the art of character and dialogue that keeps the old black and whites dear in my heart. That being said, I found myself immersed in the early story of this film. I knew the origins of Captain America and still found myself enjoying the interaction between Chris Evans and Stanley Tucci.

            So, why not give it the full four bucks on my scale?

            As good as this movie is, I’m not convinced that it needs to be seen in the theaters in order to really enjoy it. I didn’t have to see awe-inspiring pyrotechnics in order to get my money’s worth with this film. A smaller screen is just as likely to convey the warmth of a budding friendship between Rogers and Dr. Erskine, or to heat up the temperature between Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter as they flirt their way towards romance.  Captain America was an excellent film and I don’t encourage anyone to wait to see it. See it right away. Maybe the fact that I plan to add it to my limited collection at home is reason enough to add an extra half buck to the rating and give it a perfect score.

            Randy’s Rating System

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.

$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.

$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.

$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.

0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Interview with the spouse of a would-be author

            It might seem as if creativity is creativity and the outlet doesn’t matter. That isn’t true. For the last three weeks I have been eating, sleeping, and dreaming my other creative line – game design. Now, I’m sitting here on Friday desperately searching to a topic to blog.

            No luck. Nada. The writing muse has been hamstrung by the more structured game design element I have been focused on.

            Fortunately, I happened to have stockpiled a few blog entries in case this happened. I actually wrote this when I first had the idea to start blogging and knew I wanted to throw in a few interviews about writing.

            This interview is with my wife and was meant to take a look at the writing life as seen through the eyes of a spouse to a would-be author.

Randy: “Honey, can I interview you for my blog?”

LuAnn: “I’d rather you didn’t.”

Randy: “Great. It’ll just take a minute.”

LuAnn: <Nods while she rubs her temples.>

Randy: “What do you think about me becoming famous?”

LuAnn: “I’ll love you no matter how famous you are.”

Randy: “What will be the most exciting thing about me becoming successful?”

LuAnn: “The increased shopping benefit.”

Randy: “No. I mean about me.”

LuAnn: “Oh. That you’ll be able to do more shopping for me.”

Randy: “What published author would you compare me to?”

LuAnn: “Is that the doorbell?”

Randy: “The doorbell doesn’t work.”

LuAnn: “I meant, I think I heard someone knock at the door.”

Randy: <Checking out the window.> “Nope. Nobody there.”

LuAnn: “How weird. Thanks for the interview hon.”

Randy: “Wait. I still need you to compare me to a published author.”

LuAnn: “I haven’t read enough books to make that comparison.”

Randy: “Really? You read all the time. How many books do you read a month?”

LuAnn: “Six to twelve.”

Randy: “That seems like a lot of books. There’s bound to be someone who reminds you of me.”

LuAnn: “Nooooo.  You’re . . . unique.”

Randy: “Thanks. Next question. What do you consider my finest authorial quality?”

LuAnn: “Did you hear that? A bear is eating the children!”

Randy: “I don’t hear anything.”

LuAnn: <Dashes out of the room.>

Randy: “Hey, there are no bears in Phoenix.”

LuAnn: <In the distance.> “Quick kids, get into the car.”

Randy: “Well folks, there you have it. The wife interview.”

* Disclaimer – My wife actually won’t let me interview her. This entire post is comprised of my speculation of how the said interview would go if it were permitted. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Movie Review: Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens     $$$

118 Minutes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Clancy Brown

Director: Jon Favreau

            This genre crossing movie opens with the main character (Daniel Craig) waking up in the desert. He’s wounded. He’s nearly naked except for a strange bracelet on his left wrist. Worst of all, he doesn’t know who he is or why he’s there.

            While he, and the audience, are still trying to work through the situation a trio of horsemen arrive and we gain our first revelation about the mysterious stranger. The horsemen decide to take him prisoner and see if there’s a bounty to be collected. He has different ideas on the matter and in quick order the three would be bounty hunters lie dead on the ground. This is obviously a dangerous man.

            Now clothed, armed, and with a horse the stranger rides into the nearest town just in time for an alien invasion. And wouldn’t you know it – the aliens are the key to discovering who he is and to finding the woman that keeps flashing into his thoughts.

            I gave Cowboys & Aliens a solid 3 rating because it was entertaining, original, and looked good (most of the time) on the big screen. Craig, Ford, and Brown did a good job with their characters and this was a story that caught my attention. I especially loved that we learned about the main character as he regained bits and pieces of his memory.

            However, I thought this film had some problems. This movie is violent. I’m not necessarily put off by a bunch of shooting and punching, but there was an almost excessive amount of it here. More problematic for me were what I feel are logic and continuity flaws. Why does the protagonist spend most of the time using an alien weapon to kill unarmed aliens? And shouldn’t the aliens be more proficient with their technology than some hick on a backwater planet? Most viewers will probably not care about any of that.

            I also found the alien CGI to be difficult to watch. Action scenes with them were too fast and too jerky for me to follow along. I ended up enjoying the western portions of this story than the alien ones. Still, it was a pretty good film overall.

            Randy’s Rating System

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

Monday, August 8, 2011

Look Ma, I've Been Immortalized

It's not very often that you get immortalized in literature. When that happens you have to shout about it. Here I am folks, in my true guise as captured by Michelle Simkins.


Thanks Michelle.

* * I'm doing the happy dance. * *