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Monday, February 27, 2012

New 6 Goals Podcast Episode

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I do a podcast about productivity and getting in shape and I finally uploaded a new episode today. I talk about my writing, my art, running, and a few other things. Here's the notes from the show: This week I talk about finally going for a run after buying some brand new running shoes, and doing some eBook and podcast artwork for some fellow authors. It's great to be running and podcasting again!
Here are links to the podcast and authors I mentioned:

Friday, February 24, 2012

TV Memories 04 | Michell Plested
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Growing up on the farm, television was always a means to connect with the outside world. We lived more than twenty miles out of town and the nearest neighbor was a couple miles away, so it also served as a social outlet.

The fact that we only had three channels for the first several years of my life meant we watched whatever was on at the time and we liked it. Especially if the weather was bad and one or two of those channels were unwatchable.

Still, there were several shows that I never missed: The A-Team, the original Battlestar Galactica, “V”, Charlies’ Angels. They showed me worlds that I never dreamed I could be a part of. Whether it was outer space or some foreign country, I was able to put aside my rather mundane life and experience something totally different.

I think it was the fantasy and spectacle of those shows that really made me gravitate towards Science Fiction and Fantasy writing. Through that fiction I was able to go wherever and whenever I wanted. It also had the additional benefit of being portable so I could go to those worlds anywhere I was. That was probably the real beginning of my love affair with books. I read all the time.

I don’t think I really realized what effect some of the shows had on me. Some were obvious, like Dark Shadows (reruns – I’m not THAT old). I never quite looked at the dark the same way. Every time I had to cross a dark yard I would wonder if something was out there watching me.

Other shows impacted me in ways that weren’t quite so obvious. The one show that I now recognize as an important one to me is a little known show called Cliffhangers.

Cliffhangers was one of those television shows that was totally different. Instead of one story, it had three. Instead of one genre, it had several and the music the show used in each of the three stories? Well, let me say, I really grew to love the moodiness of “Moonlight Sonata”.

The show made me see things in a different way. My favorite of the three sub-shows was Dracula. I wasn’t a big fan of horror then, but the writers made Dracula into something different. Instead of a simple predator, he had feelings. He had depth.

It wasn’t until last Fall that I even remembered the show. That memory was sparked by two of my online friends, Scott Roche and JR Murdock. They were talking about their writing plans for 2012 and I thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be cool if we did something together?”

Then the show, Cliffhangers, came to mind (and I didn’t actually recall the title until another online friend reminded me). That’s where the idea of the Action Pack

Podcast came to life. Perhaps the three of us could share a common goal of writing an episode of our own story each month and podcast it together?

We met, talked about the idea and you will now see (in multiple eBook formats) and hear the Action Pack Podcast beginning February. I’m thrilled because it is allowing me to write a story partially inspired by some of the more recent television shows and movies about zombies. My story is Boy Scouts of the Apocalypse and I’ve wanted to write it for more than two years now.

So television has been good to me. It provided me with an escape and window to the world when I was young. It made my imagination soar so I had to fuel it with reading and now, it is giving me ideas for more books to write and podcasts to produce.

Is there nothing television can’t do? ;)

Michell Plested is a writer and podcaster living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I came to know him through his excellent writing podcast called Get Published. I have learned a lot about writing and the writing business from listening to his show, and on top of that he has great interviews with authors and people in the biz. If you haven’t checked it out you need to, Michell is a great interviewer. His other podcast of note is a novel that had me laughing out loud each and every episode. Galaxy Billies is the story of five humans from the Appalachian Mountains who are abducted by a semi-sentient starship named Grokmar who he needs an intelligent crew in order to function properly. Hilarity and all sorts of adventures ensue. Go have a listen for free Michell’s website or at Podiobooks. Also, this year Michell has a young adult super hero novel coming out through Five Rivers Publishing called Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero. I can’t wait to have that one on my shelf. Also this year from Michell look for the Action Pack Podcast over at http://www.actionpackpodcast.com/. I’m really excited about this and did a lot of the artwork for them. Go subscribe and get your helping of sci-fi, western steampunk, and young adult zombie survival action. With all his writing projects, full time job, family, and scout trips with his son, let’s just say that Michell is a busy guy. You can follow him on twitter, and many other social media sites. Find out more at http://www.michellplested.com/.

Friday, February 17, 2012

TV Memories 03 | Tim Ward
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I could write about living in Korea for six months, and the only thing I could watch was 24 hour loops of UFC fighting (with Korean announcers). I could write how I'd spend hours in the local video store scouring the shelves for anything serviceable to watch. Instead, I think I should write about what happened last night when a friend and I watched the last two episodes of The Walking Dead.

One reason why I highlight this memory is because I can't remember being this excited about and during a show. Two "hour" long episodes felt like twenty minutes, the last hour feeling like five minutes. I don't really know why, because there is a lot of dialogue and only a tiny fraction is zombie hunting. Maybe it's that anticipation of the large zombie fighting scenes that keeps me on the edge of my seat.

The other strange thing is that The Walking Dead is the epitome of what I'm looking for in a zombie experience. Since I don't have AMC (extremely bummed about this fact, but oh well) I've been watching it at my friend's house, sometimes a month or more between getting together. In between, I'm building anticipation and trying to satisfy that hunger by reading books, playing Resident Evil 4 on Wii (not the best zombie escape, but that's what I'z gots), and watching whatever post-apocalyptic movie or zombie flick I can find. The thing is, nothing compares to the experience I get from The Walking Dead. Resident Evil movies have lots of zombie action, but I don't care about the characters, so it's a yawn fest.

I guess that's what The Walking Dead has going for it, a combination of engaging characters with the ideal survival-amidst-zombies setting. The result is me feeling like I'm in elementary school when I didn't have many responsibilities outside of chores and Cub Scouts. Watching The Walking Dead makes me forget about all my responsibilities because I'm enjoying the best entertainment man can make.

My friend and I even had fun searching the AMC store with covetous hearts after every shirt, action figure, and zombie valentine's day card we could find. You know a show is good when it gets an adult to start collecting action figures again.

Timothy C. Ward writes Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror that reveals what glory can be found on the other side of pain. He also hosts two podcasts on writing, AudioTim and the Holy Worlds Podcast. Tim used his bachelor’s degree in English to send him to live in Australia and South Korea before he earned his Master of Divinity at Faith Baptist Theological Seminary in Iowa. His stories reflect his love for adventure and observations on how trials shape character. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or his website, TimothyCWard.com.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A New Book Cover for My Novella

Happy Valentine's Day! Show that special someone you love them today. I don't mean just buying them something, I mean sitting down and snuggling and just telling them how wonderful they are and how your life is so much better because you have them.

As many of you know I'm revising what will be my debut novel right now, and I'm getting closer to finishing it, but something I haven't talked about is the novella I'm currently writing. I've been writing the first draft of a middle grade adventure novel. I wanted to write something like the fun Hardy Boys books I read when I was a little kid.

Here's the synopsis from my Projects & Progress page:

A boy goes to stay with his grandma for the summer since his mom works full time soon after his grandfather's death. Grandma tells him that she doesn't know where their cat goes all day, but that he only comes back in the house at the end of the day to eat. He investigates and finds the old cat goes to grandpa's old tool shed where he spent most of his time. Sometime later the cat never comes home and is discovered to be badly injured. The vet keeps him overnight and says he's been in a fight with a wild animal. Soon after the cat is home and felling better it goes out and doesn't come home again, but this time it can't be found anywhere. Our hero attempts to find the cat, and what has happened to him.

Anyways, last fall I took a ton of pictures of the old shed next to my back yard in hopes I could use one as the cover for this story. In creating the cover I came up with a final title as well. I like the angle and the way the grass sticks up at the bottom. It will be a fun story to record in podcast form. I think I'm going to try something that I've never done before for the podcast version too. I'm going to write and record songs for it. It will be like in a Disney film, where the story is moving along and then all of the sudden the character busts out in song. It's an idea that just sounds like too much fun not to try and I'm excited about it.

Thanks for stopping by the blog. I hope you enjoyed Jeff Hite's TV Memory guest post as much as I did. There another one from another awesome guest for many more Friday's to come. Next up will be my friend and fellow writer Tim Ward.

Friday, February 10, 2012

TV Memories 02 | Jeff Hite
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“Good Afternoon Baltimore. It’s 5 o’clock.” I have no idea who he was, or what station he was on but this man was my very first TV Hero. It may sound silly that the anchor for the 5 o’clock news was my hero, but you have to remember I was three at the time, and when he said those words, it meant it was only minutes until my dad came home. And like most three year olds my dad was my real life hero.

Times moved on, so did TV and so did we. By the time I had reached the more informed age of seven we had moved to Ohio, and had gotten our first cable box. Scooby Doo was on this new cable box, and the first of the muscle bound super heroes started to appear. Thundarr the Barbarian and Blackstar. I often wonder how the writers of Thundarr felt when 1994 came and went with nary a comet in sight. But Blackstar would leave more of an imprint on me as his double sword would be the basis for my very first written story. And no, I will not share it with you.

All these fantasies formed who I was in ways that I can’t begin to describe, and probably don’t even want to think about. At the same time I was introduced to Star Trek and Star Wars, between these and the real life heroes of the NASA astronauts I am still inspired today. With all of these factors it is easy to see how I became the person I am today. But there was one more strange turn that would alter my life.

In 1984 my family moved to Germany and due to a space time continuum that was called AFN (Armed Forces Network) we were warped back to the 50’s. We watched Classic TV before it was cool. I was raised (for a number of years) on Mchale's Navy and Hogans Heroes, and for 45 minutes in the afternoon we got Touche Turtle, Atom Ant and Roger Ramjet. My TV life went from the amazing 25 channels of that first cable box down to one. I rather quickly learned to speak enough German to watch the more up to date channels but it had been an experience. I mean who knew that two dimensional planes could fly.

Some time in the late 80’ Sky Network came online and we got a satellite dish, I was introduced to cricket, which I still don’t understand, but at least we got more channels again. After that a lot of it is a blur until Star Trek The Next Generation.

This show cemented my already deep devotion to the Trek universe. I can honestly say that when nothing else in the past 20 years has grabbed my attention, I have been able to go back to Star Trek. When we didn’t have cable for a few years I would sit and watch the snowy images of Enterprise over the other clearer channels that were on. This universe more than any any other in the TV world has captured my attention, and given me countless hours of entertainment. I have all 4 series in my Netflix instant queue and watch them far too often after the kids have all gone to bed.

I honestly don’t know who influenced me more Mr. Rogers or Mr. Spock, but I think they both taught me a valuable lesson. Be nice to your neighbors, and live long and prosper, but I think they both speak volumes to the person I have tried to become.

Thank you both, and thank you for the TV memories.

Jeff Hite is primarily a husband and father, but when he is not at home playing with the ever growing number of kids he is an IT professional by day. In his "spare time" he is a writer, one of the co-founders of Flying Island Press, a co-editor of A Method to the Madness a Guide to the Super Evil and the managing editor of of Pirate's Cove. He lives by the motto : "I am a pirate your rules don't apply."

Friday, February 3, 2012

TV Memories 01 | An Example & A Call for Submissions


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The first TV show that made me realize how cool the medium can be is Ed. I was in college and tbs was playing reruns on weekdays. It's the show about the guy who moves back to his home town, buys the bowling alley, and practices as a lawyer from inside its alley filled walls. One of my housemates was really into it and bought a device for his computer to capture every show to his hard drive. Its still not available on DVD, otherwise he would have just bought the disks.

At the time I had a Netflix account that sent me three disks at a time. I usually watched at least all three movies in a week. I love movies. Just like books, they were a way for me to hang out with cool characters and go to fun places. Other than cartoons, I just never got into any TV shows - until Ed. I discovered a new joy that a two hour movie couldn't supply. I got to hang out with my beloved characters for a much longer time. I could experience way more of their story - even more than my three extended Lord of The Rings disks could offer! I was hooked. After that I watched the first season of Scrubs several times, sometimes in one sitting.

When I got married my wife introduced me to 24. We would watch at least a disk, with four episodes each, every night. We breezed through the first five seasons. It was awesome. It sucked when we had disks through the mail because we'd finish them all before getting new ones, so we switched to Blockbuster online because you could trade in the disks that were mailed to you at your local store for another disk. Even then we spent a pretty pennie when we just needed the next few disks that very night so we could keep watching the story. Since then I've learned a lot about long story arcs from watching shows like Lost and Prison Break.

Now we have Netflix which makes it even easier with instant streaming, and how nice is it to not have any commercials interupting your show? Plus no more trips to the video store for us. There are so many shows, many of them science fiction and fantasy, that I still have yet to watch. I've only seen one Star Trek episode. That's right, only one. I love Star Wars, but Star Trek always looked boring when I caught glimpes of it. I'm pretty sure I will love Star Trek when I find the time to watch it though. I liked the very first episode. It was dated, but still awesome.

I started watching The X-Files last week and have been through the first seven episodes now. I love it. I'm at a time in my life where I don't have much free time. What free time I do have I spend writing. Recently though, I've been doing art for some fellow authors, and unlike writing I can watch shows while drawing and painting. I look forward to going through all the shows I've missed that I've heard are great. I'm glad Netflix has a catalog with a lot of old shows so people like me who have a lot of catching up to do can get to it.

Let me end this by saying that I'm a big proponent of going outside and getting excercise. We take our kids for walks to the playground most week nights, and go camping a ton in the summer. I'm not condoning a life on the couch here, but when you find a show you love it's a blast to power through it in several marathon sit downs. Know what I'm talking about? What are your favorite TV memories? What shows do you remember falling in love with and why?

Write down your memories and send them in to me. My email address is danabso[at]hotmail[dot]com. Write "TV Memories" in the subject line, and paste your story into the body of the email. Include a brief bio, and any links you want listed at the end of your post - like your website. If you're comfortable with it, I'd love to put your picture next to your bio too. Just attach it to the email or paste a link to where one is. If you've written a guest post for me before, then I've got all that stuff and you don't have to send it too me unless it's updated from your last guest post. I look forward to your favorite TV Memories, the title of my next guest blog post series.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Getting Closer To A Dream or
How Revision on my Novel is Going

I have been using whatever free time I can scrounge up to work on revising my sci fi novel. I'm getting closer. I just started in on chapter 19 this Tuesday. There will probably be about 30 chapters. I'm ending the book at a later place than it's first draft. I'm really excited to see the revised draft finished, as the story will be much stronger and have a lot more emotional impact. Before starting the revision process I reread my first draft and then made a new outline to reflect the changes I had made while writing the story from the original outline. Then I read over that outline every chance I had for three weeks. Finally when it was all in my head I sat down and banged out a new outline in ten minutes. It was an awesome feeling. I found the weaknesses in the story and swapped them out for more dramatic events that would take a much bigger tole on the characters. My ending stayed the same, but the main motivation of the characters changed. I can't wait to finish revising it and getting it in front of beta readers so I can get some feedback on it and give it another draft with their feedback. Then I will be podcasting the entire novel, and selling it as an eBook. That will be the realization of a dream I've had for many years. I've done it with short stories, and one novelette, but releasing a full novel will be a whole new thing. Most people are not looking for short stories, but books. Finally I will have one to offer. After that I have a novella to revise, another one I'm currently writing to finish, two other novels to revise, and two novels I'm really excited about writing. It's going to be a great 2012!