Rethinking a character

Tom Weston-Jones as Detective Kevin Corcoran in the BBC-AMerican Show Copper.

Tom Weston-Jones as Detective Kevin Corcoran in the BBC-AMerican Show Copper.I

RE: 20 Hours to Atlanta.

I admit to being influenced by the various Netflix I watch, and one of my characters was inspired by Kevin Corcoran of Copper, played by Tom Weston-Jones, a pretty man and a heck of a good actor.  My character knows the dark side of the street, the  deals and compromises that life sometimes imposes and yet is driven by a sense of justice and truth.

Ian McShane as Al Swearengen on Deadwood.

Ian McShane as Al Swearengen on Deadwood.

But I’ve been thinking that maybe I want a character with a bit more experience and hard times, one that would have the knowledge and often tarnished optimism of having survived going through hell on frequent flyer miles.  Ian McShane has this kind of look, possibly what Weston-Jones will look like in 20 or 30 years.

The years a person spends marks them, and my characters bears a number of scars both on his body and his soul. I’m thinking an older man might make the story have more depth and traction.

How do you go about choosing your leading male?

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Making a New Book

I’m learning how to outline a book, making all the decisions ahead of time instead of just seeing where the characters go. This is not my usual way of working, but I’m finding that I have a lot more depth of character this way.  Each character has to be designed with his or her motivations, quirks, personality and goals. This is fun.

Today I am working with my villain, a complex guy who has a need for revenge and for recognition. This causes a conflict because he works undercover as a freelance asset, so that he is never recognized outside of the few people who know his secret, his handler, and his handler’s people. He does not know who the big bosses are, but they give him access to the information he wants, so he does their dirty work.

Dennis Quait

Dennis Quaid in Dragonheart

I visualize him as looking like Dennis Quaid, and his code name is Quaid Golden. Since the genre is steampunk, he’d have his top hat, cravat and frock coat, probably in a lush shade of green with a brocade vest of gold. his hair is about this length but much better groomed, as he is something of a dandy.

He has daddy issues, and plans to spread his revenge not only on his biological father, but on all the father’s cronies and associates. He thinks that my heroine is part of that network, and she is, but not in the way that he thinks. It remains to be seen if they can be allies, since neither of them is likely to trust the other, but they share a common enemy.

I haven’t picked out a quirk as yet, but a person with such deep emotional conflicts has to a twitch of some kind,  a quick trigger or short fuse in certain circumstances. I’d appreciate any suggestions or thoughts.

A Smidgen of Magic

Five Encounters with Magic in the Mundane

On another note, one of my short story collections, Just a Smidgen of Magic, will be free on Kindle just in time for Halloween on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.  Five stories of magic in the everyday world range from comedy to horror to redemption. They’ve been described as reading “like a set of beautiful long poems” and “beautifully written little gems.”

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Posted in Character Development, Steampunk, Writing | 3 Comments

A Free Read for a Sunday Sfternoon

Walking off Heaven's Shore

Walking off Heaven’s Shore

My new short story collection, Walking Off Heaven’s Shore, is free at Amazon today only:   Grab a copy, even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can read on your phone as I do, or you can convert for  a Nook or iPad instead of a Kindle:
Use the download to computer option.

This is a different take for me–southern fiction instead of fantasy. Feel free to share with anyone. Post a review if you like it! ;-)

I’d appreciate any comments on the stories themselves or on the cover, which comes from a couple of free stock photo sites.

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New Short Stories

A Smidgen of Magic

A Smidgen of Magic: Five Encounters with Magic in the Mundane

Walking off Heaven's Shore

Walking off Heaven’s Shore: a Ten-piece Bucket of Southern Fried Flash Fiction

Believe it or not, I’ve been writing, and here’s the proof.

Check them out at Amazon.

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On Playing Silly Games And Not Giving Up

Jewel Pirates

Just clicking away

What makes for a worthwhile past time? Lately, I’ve been playing a match-3 game on facebook. I’ve reached the end of the second tier (level 45 or so) and have hit a snag…I’m pretty sure you can’t win this level without buying something. What make it interesting is that I’ve come this far without really learning how the game works.

Now it isn’t too much of a problem, in that I only get four lives or so, and therefore, can’t play very long at a time, at least as long as I am stuck at this level, or as long as I refuse to give them any money. So in my many attempts–probably over 100 on this level alone–I’m finally learning some strategy.

Until now, I’ve been playing mindlessly. but this level is much harder than the previous ones, and my just-click-anywhere strategy does not work.

Interesting. When there is nothing at stake, I can fail without self-incrimination. I’m even learning to recognize when I’m not going to win long before I run out of moves.

I have to wonder what else I’m doing mindlessly instead of paying a little attention to what actually works and when, learning some strategy, and making the effort to do well instead of just doing.

I’ve made the effort to write something, anything, on as discipline, with complete permission to write crap, braindump or even notes for the current work in progress. It’s amazing to me that the Muse will show up to play when she does not show up to work.

There’s a lesson in that, somewhere.

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Review: Strange Arrivals by Holly Lisle

Ten Tiny Twisty Tales – Fabulous Fantasy Flash Fiction

Holly Lisle wrote the first two fo these stories as part of an exercise to teach folks like me how to write flash fiction: how to find a story, characters, a conflict and a twist, and write it all in 500 words  Each of these stories is a gem…a fairy, a dragon, an alien, a princess, a possessed ring, a skeleton, a room of one’s own.

Each story is complete in its tiny crystal, and it shows how well-trained Holly’s story building is. If you needed a reason to choose her other products, like the How to Think Sideways class I’m now taking, this would reassure you  she knows whereof she writes. This book is a lot of bangs for one buck. Get yours today.

Yes, I get a nickel if you buy from my link. Literally, a nickel. Thanks! ;-)



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Review: The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter

I waited a long time to start reading this book, although I pre-ordered it the day I saw that it would be available. I don’t like to read about war, and having read the first book, which ended on a very sour note, I did not want to spend a lot of time there. I won’t comment more on that, but this is not Starship Troopers, the first science fiction book I ever read (1960?), though I can hear echoes of the Grand Master here and there.

But I started reading, only 100 pages a day, to give me time to keep up with some other projects, and I’m glad I did. I feel like the story has just started, not at the beginning where the point was to walk through the world and see what there was to see, but to be in the true Long Earth.The sequel starts out ten years later, having allowed the story world to marinate in its own juice and bring out the flavors, like lasagna or banana pudding eaten on the second day.

Unfortunately, as much as I loved moments of the book, the over-arc did not happen for me. The book is episodic in ways that kept me from really getting involved with the characters. Individually I love each one, but overall, it’s like watching a security camera from a distance. I could see what was happening but I kept waiting for a story to emerge, not that they just braid together like a bunch of mouse cords thrown in a box for a year, all tangled up but not functional. I got the feeling that the point is that the world is just so big that we can just surf through it like stressed-out tourists on a 500-worlds-in-a-week tour.

That’s not what I wanted.

The thing that I most love about Terry Pratchett, my writing hero, is his way of twisting the narritivium to include allusions to the Round World in whatever he writes, especially when it is set in the Round World. This book has me cackling every so often with a smirking bit that makes sense in the context, on many levels but is so much funnier if you are in on the joke, a twist on a favorite phrase from Robert Heinlein:

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LAUNCH.” (p. 190) as a corporate slogan of Gap East 1, an experimental space station in the universe near the Gap, where some random asteroid took out the entire Earth, not just the dinosaurs. One character notes that this earth is like an on-going science fiction convention (a con) with the same constellation of nerdy personalities and brilliant problem-solvers. I so want to go there, just to be in that heady environment.

Pratchett and Baxter must have cut their eye teeth on the same books that I did, and they are much more famous in the nerdosphere than I even aspire to be. All through this book, like sesame seeds on a bun or nuts in banana bread, are little references to here and now, things that will likely be so dated in 20 years that nobody will know what it means, and somebody will write a thesis on it, like the book I once saw on the allusions in Ulysses by James Joyce.

I so wanted to love this book, but just didn’t.

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