Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner at Wendy’s House--From the Cutting Room Floor, a Scene from GO NO SEN

“Is she here yet?”

“No, Mom. That was just Dad on the porch.”

“Has he got the hot tub running? Remind him, Wendy, Okay?”

She slouched off into the backyard. Her parents loved that hot tub. They thought of it as some sort of family ritual. For Wendy it was just one more way for her mom to embarrass her about her body. A sort of belated hippie, she wanted her daughter not to have any hang-ups about sex.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blog Award !!!!

I was musing on the Thanksgiving Day festivities about to commence chez moi, when I happened to turn on my computer and discover that I had received a Blog Award. Whoa!

You can imagine how thrilled I am about this. My dogs are howling in the background at the news. I was recognized by fellow author Spencer Brokaw, who was in turn recognized by fellow author Emerald Barnes, who was in turn recognized by D. J. Lutz, etc. Okay, so it's sort of a chain letter, but without all the manipulative mysticism, and with some genuinely good sentiments towards others

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meet Alle Wells, Author of Lame Excuses

I first met Alle Wells several months ago on an online author's forum, and I was so impressed by her wit and wisdom that I had to read her novel, Lame Excuses, right away. It's a wonderful reflection on people, food and life, a truly unique literary effort. You can find it now on Amazon and Smashwords. Also, she will be interviewed January 5th at 5:00 PST by Monica Brinkman on the Blogtalkradio cast of "The Author Speaks."

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing?
I’m a history buff and live in a quaint historic district near one of the oldest established towns in North Carolina. I am the mother of three wonderful daughters in their twenties. Now that my daughters are on their own, I have a lot of time on my hands. I have been an avid reader all my life, many times to the point of being reclusive. I feel complete with a book (or iPad) in my hand and a story in my head. I enjoy a simple vegan lifestyle, cooking, gardening, bird watching and practicing Kundalini yoga.

2. How did you first get into writing?
I started writing a diary when I was ten years old. My mother found the diary and that ended my writing career for a while. I continued to write poetry as a teenager and served as high school correspondent for my hometown newspaper. After my children started school, I worked in development for non-profit organizations, writing appeal letters and publishing quarterly newsletters. Most recently, given the additional time in my life and the opportunity to self-publish, I decided to pursue writing as a second career.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ch. 3, Girl Punches Out (Sen No Sen)

Chapter 3
The Doctor’s Office

Emily couldn’t remember ever seeing a doctor before. She had always been healthy as a child, so perhaps there was never a need. She telephoned her mother who couldn’t remember the name of the family doctor. The connection wasn’t very good. She thought about it for a moment, and then tried to change the subject.
“Are you not feeling well, Chi-chan?”
“I’m fine, mom. I just think I should have a checkup every once in a while. Don’t you?”
“Of course you should, sweetheart. But is this really the time?”
“Well, I’ll need to have a physical if I decide to go to the Academy.”

Ch. 2, Girl Punches Out (Sen No Sen)

Chapter 2
Coming Home

“What’s the source?”
“The Aussie’s man in the Sixth Bureau. This is eyes only, understood?”
Don’t worry. I’ve got nothing in the works. Has Burzynski seen it?”
“No, and let’s keep it that way for as long as possible. If their contact gets burned it’ll come right back to us.”
“And Meacham?”
“He hasn’t seen it yet, but he will soon. We can’t keep it buried indefinitely.”
“Let me know when he finds it.” The line went dead.

Ch. 1 Girl Punches Out (Sen No Sen)

Chapter 1

Billy Codrow peered over his gloves at Marty Gibson. He waited for the feint. He thought it would  come from his right hand. Marty’s left foot moved. Billy was all nervous energy. A front kick! He stepped back and blocked the kick across Marty’s body. He moved to follow through with a sweep of the right leg, but the kick was the feint. Marty used the energy of the block to start a spin. As he came around he swung the back of his fist into Billy’s right ear. The force of the blow crumpled him.

“What the hell was that,” Danny Rincon yelled in protest.
“What’s your problem, Marty,” Billy moaned from the floor.
“I want the next match,” Danny said in a vengeful tone. He was a bit bigger than Billy, stronger too. But Marty was much bigger than either of them. They were all on the football team, but he was on the defensive line and they were only backs.
Sensei stepped in and growled. “Sit down.”
Emily was watching from the side through the whole match. Marty and his buddy, Jeff Schenk, joined the dojo last week. It was a special promotion: first two weeks free. They seemed wrong, somehow insincere. They already had some skills, especially Marty. But they had roughed up everyone they were paired with, apologizing each time for their seeming lack of control. It was getting to be quite annoying. The monthly sparring party was supposed to be rather more convivial. But for Danny this was the last straw.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meet Emma Woodcock, Author of Darklands

Emma Woodcock's new novel, Darklands, "draws on fairy tale folklore as well as ideas of parallel universes to imagine a world similar to our own, but in which technology is viewed as outlandish and miraculous, while people routinely use magic to do everyday things." You can read more about Darklands on Emma's blog. You can get Darklands at Amazon or Amazon.UK. And you can follow her on Facebook too.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing?

All I ever wanted to do was write books, but the need to make a living kept getting in the way. I have variously worked as a potter, librarian, and most recently web designer. By living on twigs and acorns, I have managed to survive working only part time for the past three years, so that I could finally have time to write that book. Everyone tutted, shook their heads and sucked their teeth – and when the economy immediately nose-dived, their misgivings seemed justified. But it was the best decision I ever made. Even if my career as an author comes to nothing, I am so glad that I've given it a proper chance.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Interview with Michael Cardano, Friend to Emily Kane’s Family

What can you tell us about yourself? That’s usually the best place to start.

I think you’ll find I’m not that interesting. I’m just a bureaucrat who’s been in and out of government service. Most of the time, I’ve worked with the State Department in one capacity or another. Right now I work out of a think tank where I specialize in forecasts about Southeast Asian economies. It’s pretty dull stuff on the whole.

Is that what you were doing in the Philippines twenty years ago?

Oh, you know about that. [Pauses] Well, I was working out of the embassy in Manila in those days. I mainly worked on the Trade desk, assisting with import/export contracts, foreign investment, that sort of thing.

Did you have any contact with someone named Meacham in Manila?

Ahhh. So you’ve done some homework. Ordinarily I would stonewall you about Meacham…, like I was worried about national security. But I don’t think that matters anymore. What do you want to know?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Interview with Mike Jordan, Author of Never Saw It Coming

Meet Mike Jordan, author of Never Saw It Coming, available on Amazon, Amazon-UK and B&N

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing?

Well, I work in the telecommunications field and maintain my own blog, I've got a background in humorous/seething with righteous indignation type Op-Ed pieces, something I started doing when I was writing for When I'm not writing or working, which isn't often, I can be found in front of a dartboard, not living up to my boasts of skill and accuracy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meet Cyndia Rios-Myers, Author of Rescued By the Wolf

Cyndia Rios-Myers is the author of three novels, the latest of which is Rescued by the Wolf, a wolfish fantasy about social workers. It's available on AmazonB & N and Smashwords. Get it today! But in the meantime, meet the author right here.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing? 
I am a Navy veteran, a Stay-at-Home-Mom, a home schooling parent, a Blogger, and a Navy wife.  I am also a big homebody, which is why writing and reading are so dear to me.  
2. How did you first get into writing?
It happened when I was a teenager.  I spied my sister and stepsister writing a book and thought that I could do that too.  I actually wrote my first book back then - a story about a group of teenaged girls who move to California and fall in love with members of a hair band.  I really hope that book never sees the light of day.  

3. Tell us about your latest book. 

My latest published book (actually a novella) is called Rescued by the Wolf 

4. Is it part of a larger series?

Yes.  It is book one of the Wolves series.  I have already written books 2, 3, and 4.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meet Yukiko Kagami, Emily Kane's mom? (Go No Sen)

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from?

Originally I’m from Kosai, the lake district. That’s where I grew up. Most of my family lived around there, though I don’t think there’s any of us left there now. But I haven’t been back there since I was a child. I went to university in Kyoto, and later worked with my father’s lab in Tokyo. But I’ve lived in Virginia for the last fifteen years or so. That’s probably the longest I’ve lived anywhere.

How did you end up in Virginia?

That’s a really long story. I’m sure it’s not very interesting. I came here with George and my daughter, Emily, for lots of reasons. We left Japan because it got to be too dangerous for us there, and Michael helped us out when we needed him. We’ve had a place in his family ever since.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Meet Sarah Williams, Author of Captive

Sarah Williams new novel, Captive, an Urban Fantasy story full of mystery, twists and turns. 

You can get it at Amazon or Smashwords. In the meantime, meet Sarah below.

1.  Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing?

I’m originally from England but have been living in Australia for the past three years.  The move gave me the opportunity to indulge my passion for writing.  A lot of my time is spent marketing my current novel and writing new material but I also do some freelance work.  I write content for websites, blogs, brochures, newsletters and other commercial literature.  As well as writing I also enjoy gardening, good food and wine, yoga, reading, films and music.  I have ambitions to become fluent in French and learn to play the piano but at present haven’t had time to fit any of this in.  I’d also like to learn how to surf.

2. How did you first get into writing?

Writing has always felt like a natural thing for me to do.  I write not only because I want to but because I need to.  I started writing when I was in primary school; some of my earliest memories are of putting pen to paper.  I loved sitting down and creating characters and then sending them on adventures.  I loved letting my imagination run free.  I started handwriting stories and reading them to my little sister.  I soon upgraded to a word processor and would spend hours writing out my stories, reading out each new chapter as soon as I’d finished.  English and Drama quickly became my favourite subjects and I went on to University to study Theatre and Creative Writing.  Writing is just something I’ve always done and always enjoyed.  It’s a major part of who I am.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meet Gregory J. Downs, Author of Mordred and Brother Thief

Gregory J. Downs is the author of two novels, Brother Thief and Mordred, both Young Adult Fantasy Adventure stories. Meet him below.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing?

My name is Greg, and my “author alias” is just my full name, Gregory J. Downs. Sounds more writerly, huh? I’m still a student, believe it or not, so that takes up most of my not-writing time. Also just the nitty-gritty of formatting and such is a big time-consumer…. Whaddya know.

2. How did you first get into writing?

Well I’ve always enjoyed stories, and the thinking-up of them. Only in 9th grade did it occur to me that I could write my stories down instead of think them in my head… I was that odd. Anyway, I wrote a few short stories that were total junk, then finally got around to writing a book… and then three more. I’m about to graduate high school at home. I’m young and inexperienced. SO? People like what I write, so I see no reason not to enter the indie-pub world.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dangers of Self-Promotion for Indie Authors, pt. 2

In a previous post, I said that patience was the most important virtue for a self-pub, indie author. But that left me thinking about the real meaning of an author's decision to go the self-pub route. I said then that I thought the chief motivation was impatience with the process of getting a traditional publisher's attention, whether through the medium of an agent or otherwise.

Self-pub can give a writer instant gratification, but it can also lead to premature publication. For the most part, writers need to rely on the assistance of others to bring a fully realized project to the public. In part this is a matter of not possessing or having access to all the skills needed, namely editing, marketing and promotion. These are the skills typically provided by a traditional publisher or agent.

But if impatience is the indie author's chief motivation, the counsel to patience might seem particularly unhelpful. And perhaps it is. But just in case it is still true, what follows?

Meet Andie Cardano, a close friend of Emily Kane

Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? What’s your name? Where are you from?

My name is Andrea Cardano, but my friends call me Andie. I was born in Philadelphia. But I come from a Navy family, so we bounced around a bit from base to base. I mainly grew up in Hawaii, when my Dad was stationed at Pearl. I worked there for awhile too for an Armed Services support charity. That’s where I first met my husband, Michael. Later, we moved to Virginia, where we’ve been living for the last fifteen years or so, off and on.

What do you mean “off and on”?

Well, Michael’s work requires him to travel a lot, and we’ve spent time in various places all over the world. Last year, we spent several months on Naxos, and later we were in New Zealand for a couple of months. Naxos was beautiful, and so was New Zealand. But I’m glad to be back in Virginia again.

Is this the house you’ve been living in for the last fifteen years?

No, unfortunately not. That house burned down while I was in Naxos. Michael arranged for this place while I was away. It’s quite nice, but nothing compared to the old estate.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Meet Eryn Lockhart, Author of After Midnight

Eryn Lockhart writes romance with plenty of adventure, danger, and intrigue to keep you on the edge of your seat. None of her heroines are your stereotypical damsel in distress--they're more than capable of saving themselves, and occasionally the hero as well. Her latest novel, After Midnight, is a historical romance set in the Napoleonic period.

You can get it now at Amazon or B & N now, and meet Eryn below.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing? 

I travel. I've back-packed solo through Europe, spent a month living in Greece, poured over Oxfords University's archives, dived the Caribbean, and toured the Southern United States. When I'm not indulging wanderlust, I'm all for urban exploration--I'll track down karaoke bars to belt out tunes, clubs where I can swing dance, salsa, or tango, or local holes-in-the-wall for some of the best cuisine. When I'm in the mood for a night in, I'll invite friends over for Battle of the Bands on Rockband or dinner & movies, read, play video games, or catch up on Dexter, TrueBlood, or Iron Chef America.

2. How did you first get into writing? 

When I ran out of bed-time stories to read to my younger siblings, I started making up my own...then as my reading tastes changed, what I wrote about also evolved.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Meet Connie X, Assassin and Friend to Emily Kane

Can you tell us something about yourself?

You know I can’t tell you very much. You can call me Connie. I’ve been working as an analyst with Naval Intelligence for the last few years.

How did you first enter the Navy?

I went to the Academy right out of high school, and then straight into the Navy as an Ensign. I served on an aircraft carrier for a few years, and then was posted to a desk at Yokosuka. A brief stint in San Diego followed, and then I found myself at Patuxent. There, that’s pretty much a map of my career. Anything else you wanna know?

I have this feeling that your map doesn’t really scratch the surface of your activities. Is there anything else you can tell us?

I’m pretty sure you don’t really want to know much more. Some things can be dangerous to know.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Meet SB Jones, Author of Requiem

SB Jones is the author of Requiem, The first book of The Eternal Gateway trilogy, a thrilling Action-Adventure Fantasy with "steam-punk" overtones. It's one of those books you just can't put down if fate somehow places it in your hands.

Check it out, if you get the chance. Until that time, meet the author now.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing?

Hello, I am SB Jones the author of The Eternal Gateway trilogy. Other than writing Science Fiction Steampunk novels, I am part owner of an insurance agency. I take random break fix calls from Chase bank. And lastly I test the quality of beer while sitting under the sun at a fresh water spring lagoon.

2. How did you first get into writing?

I got into writing after being laid off by Dell in 2010. I wanted to do something that was as far away from a cube farm as possible. I had story ideas bouncing around in my head for a while so I took the opportunity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meet Thomas D Taylor, Author of GEO-213: The Lost Expedition

I met Tom Taylor on an Indie Author forum, and heard about his new book, Geo-213: The Lost Expedition, a Sci-Fi Adventure novel with Environmental themes. The book takes you out into space, but then buries you underground. It's a thriller steeped in moral reflections.

Check it out! In the meantime, meet the author below.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing?

I paint and sketch. Prints of my artwork are hanging around the world, and art cards with my paintings on them circulate around the globe. I did the cover art for Geo-213: The Lost Expedition, the cover art for singer/songwriter Elyse Bruce's "Midnight In Chicago" and "Countdown to Midnight" CDs to name a couple of things I have done. I have made some attempts at songwriting, co-writing "Late Night in the Borough", "Somewhere in Detroit" and "How do I Begin to Believe? (Lying in the Arms of My Judas)" with Elyse.

I am an environmentalist and, along with founder Elyse Bruce, the Co-Creator of Midnight In Chicago, an international initiative that raises awareness for people with disabilities.

Trying to raise awareness for people with disabilities is very important to me. Often in my stories you will find characters with disabilities, or else characters that are facing some kind of medical obstacle that is difficult to overcome without cooperation between many people. There is an instance of the latter in Geo-213: The Lost Expedition, but if I said specifically what it was, it would spoil it for the reader.  

I write with these themes in mind because I want to show people--instead of telling them--how people can overcome their difficulties, or, more to the point, show people how to help other people overcome their difficulties. And of course also to demonstrate the need for people to be more accepting of those with disabilities.

Dangers of Self-Promotion for Indie Authors

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about self-pub and self-promotion. I mean, that’s really the doom of the indie author. And there are a few important things to understand about going this route as a writer.

1. Why do we go self-pub? Lots of reasons, I suppose, but a common thread is probably the difficulty of getting the attention of a traditional agent or publisher. But this means foregoing the editorial assistance of an established professional, as well as the promotional assistance (dubious as it may sometimes be) of a publishing house. We then have to supply both of these essential functions on our own, and most of us are not very qualified at either one.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Silence and Violence

As a writer of action/adventure stories, someone whose stories frequently contain descriptions of violence, I’ve been wondering about the meaning of violence.

First, does violence have a meaning? In a social context, it always seems to have an intention, even if we often term it “senseless.” People engage in violence when they have no other way to get what they want or need. Words won’t work for them. But their violence can serve the purpose that words would have. At least, that’s how they “mean” their violence.

We are all probably familiar with the rather cynical remark that diplomacy is war continued by other means. This identification is meant to bring out the threat of violence that underlies words between nations. It also highlights the interchangeability of words and violence. Words can do the bidding of violent intentions. But words can also cancel violence, either by heading it off, preempting it as it were, or by making amends for it afterwards.

Words, then, are like the alter ego of violence, the Dr, Jekyll to the violence of Mr. Hyde. Violence is the silence of words. It speaks when words no longer do. Of course, words sometimes speak violently, or in the service of violence. But we may well wonder if such words still “mean what they say.” They may only speak under compulsion. Can such words be true? Or must they be somehow false? Words that have no truth of their own to tell lack the eloquence of peaceful silence.

There’s a fundamental irony here: silence is peaceful, but it is also complicit in violence. Violence begins where words end, but it also somehow ends words. It silences them, forcing them to submit to its will.

I’ve probably only skimmed the surface of this difficult topic, and maybe overlooked the most important features of the relationship of words and violence. But I’m mainly interested in the meaning of violence in a narrative context. In a story, what does it mean when the hero engages in a violent confrontation? Or when the villain carries out a hideously delicious attack upon the hero?

The onset of violence in a story is both the end of words (for the antagonists) and the beginning of a new kind of description. The moment of violent conflict is a target of descriptive prose of its own kind. The narrative typically becomes compressed, events are packed together tightly, as are the passions that find expression in conflict. The compression of the description is essential to the depiction of a violent scene, not only from the point of view of showing rather than telling, but also in order to capture the hectic energy of violence itself.

Violence punctuates a story, both in terms of pacing and in terms of meaning. A story cannot sustain the pacing of a violent encounter continuously. It must juxtapose the energy of the violent scenes with the loping stride of the rest of the story. Without a contrast in pace, the constant energy of the story becomes turgid and oppressive.

The semantic dimension of violence also punctuates an otherwise smooth flow, and it does so either by confirming or inverting the sense of the surrounding events. Explicit violence is perhaps not a necessary semantic element of narrative, but it may be implicit in all stories. If what we said above is correct, that violence represents a sort of silent semantic limit of language, then we might suspect that violence is essential to any linguistic semantic achievement. Since in our inversion, war is the continuation of diplomacy by other means, it becomes the violence implicit in all diplomacy. Without it, diplomacy loses its meaning.

This mutual implication of violence and linguistic meaning shows why scenes of conflict can heighten the semantic energy of a story. It shows us the limits of the semantic capacity of language. But it is also clear that too much conflict can undermine a story, just as too many power chords tend to make heavy metal music tedious. Our fascination with descriptions of violence, with their semantic extremism, can distract from the narrative that they are supposed to energize and punctuate.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meet R. A. Pedersen, Author of The Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia

So.. I'm R. A. Pedersen - author of  The Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia in paperback and on Kindle/nook/etc. It's available worldwide and has sold in Japan, Italy, Norway, Germany, the UK, Canada, etc.. and of course the USA.

It occasionally hangs out in the top 10 of the genre and is generally
well reviewed. I also work/write as a blogger for the Unofficial Guide
to Walt Disney World and as well as my own website,

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing?

I have an affinity for theme parks and travel. I'm also trained a a
theatrical designer - sets, props, lighting etc. - and have worked as
a scenic painter. My interest in theme parks and themed design is
what got me into theater. I wanted to learn how to create entire new
worlds in the physical realm.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Character Interview: Wendy Williams, High School Student, former Goth, Emily Kane's Friend

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Who are you and where are you from?

I’m Wendy, and I’m originally from Baltimore, which was really cool. And then my parents decided like out of nowhere to sell everything and move out here. It was like sooo unfair. Now we live out in the boonies in this Bed and Breakfast they bought because it was their dream. And my brother and I have to work in it, you know, cleaning and arranging stuff, and talking to guests. It’s all really irritating. Sometimes I wish we never left Baltimore. I mean, we lived in this great neighborhood, and I had lots of friends and there was so much to do. And the food was so great there, Italian food, German food, Polish food, Chinese food. Out here nobody’s even heard of a canolli, or char siu bao, and the only place you ever see pepperoni is on a pizza. And forget about sausages. There’s no way you’ll find any of that stuff down here. I mean, they spell deli D-E-L-L-Y here! Sometimes I can get so angry just thinking about it.

It sounds like you’re pretty unhappy living in Warm Springs. Have you made new friends here?

Yeah, I’ve made friends here. When we first got here, I kinda found a few cool kids, you know, Goths. They knew how I felt, how phony everything was down here, and especially the people. Most of the kids just seem so phony, like they’re just pretending to be something to get approval. Well, I certainly didn’t want anyone’s approval. So I guess I really fit in with the Goths.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Interview with Ellis Jackson, Author of "Simon and the Wardrobe of Destiny"

The latest interview in our series of Author Interviews is with Ellis Jackson. His book, Simon and the Wardrobe of Destiny. It's a fantasy novel now available on Amazon and Smashwords right now. Also, check out his Author Profile at Smashwords and his blog.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing? 

By night a fantasy author, by day a humble Civil Servant... I actually work for Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service in London, England, but it really isn't as interesting as it sounds. My job is to force criminals to pay their court fines or face prison. As far as jobs go it’s pretty dull compared to what I have been: An Army Officer, TV Producer, Motorcycle Journalist and much more. It's always a worry knowing your most interesting years are behind you!

My hobbies - besides writing of course - include motorbikes and learning. I go to Latvian language classes most weeks, and am about to start studying for a post-graduate diploma in management. Not sure how much that will help the writing though! Oddly enough, for someone who spent 8 years working in television, I don't actually own one. Most evenings I write, or surf the web researching stories or just reading the news. It's amazing the freedom gained by not having a TV.

2. How did you first get into writing?

It's a very odd story I suppose. I started writing for a small motorcycle magazine in the UK, simply because I liked the idea. I've always enjoyed writing, and felt I was pretty good at it. Turning that into books took two very odd interventions: a facebook post and a foreign girlfriend.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Adventure Bread

Okay, it's really just Pumpkin Bread, but it's just the sort of thing to have as an afternoon snack, or a quick breakfast with a glass of OJ. A few bites and you're ready for whatever the world can throw at you. I thought I'd better release this secret recipe for the sake of world piece (er... peace). If more people ate this (or other breads like it), they'd be ready for more adventures, and maybe less fighting.

* * * * * * * 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Meet Wayne Turley, Emily Kane's Friend [Go No Sen]

Why don't you tell us your name and where you’re from?

I’m Wayne, Wayne Turley. I was born here in Virginia, and always lived in the same house. So I guess I’m from here in Warm Springs. I don’t think I’ve ever even left the state. Well, I suppose I’ve been to DC a couple of times with my Dad to go to football games and basketball games, and I’ve been to Annapolis once to see all the fancy boats and the Naval Academy. But other than that, I’ve hardly gone anywhere. I think the same goes for my parents. They were born here too. My dad used to travel a lot on business; he was an insurance salesman before he died. My grandparents live near Virginia Beach.

If you don’t mind, can you tell us what you remember about your dad?

I was a kid when he died, just eight years old, so I don’t remember everything. He was really big, I remember that. He would play ball with me. He could throw a football like a mile, same with a baseball. We used to play basketball and he would go easy on me, you know, ‘cause he could like dunk a basketball anytime he felt like it. Here’s the thing I remember maybe the most: he would pick me up and carry me places, maybe put me up on his shoulders and I would be so high. At parades and crowded places, I could always see everything really well. I really miss that feeling. I’m a lot bigger now, you know, and the idea that someone could pick me up, well that’s not really likely anymore.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Interview with Danny Rincon, Emily Kane's Friend (Go No Sen)

Tell us your name and where you’re from.

My name is Danny Rincon. I was born here in Virginia, but my dad grew up in northern California, and his dad came from Argentina. I have cousins in California still, but I haven’t seen them in a few years. My dad says we have cousins in Argentina, in Rio Negro in a town called Viedma, but I haven’t ever met them or gone down there. Some day, I’d like to go there, see my family.

How about your mother’s family?

They’re from San Francisco. My grandparents still live there. My uncle died before I was born. He was a Marine in Beirut and was killed in a bombing. My mom doesn’t like to talk about it. I think that’s kinda why we haven’t been back to California in a while, all the memories, you know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yoga, Meditation and Christianity

Since I'm on the subject of meditation, a question has arisen recently in several places across the web, and even in broadcast media, about whether Christians can, in good faith, practice yoga. Obviously, how we answer depends on what we mean by "practice yoga" and especially on what we mean by "in good faith."

The most straightforward answer would be that to the extent that Yoga is directed at enlightenment independent of grace it is incompatible with Christian faith. This may seem like a particularly Catholic answer, and Christian sects that think about the role of grace differently may come up with a slightly different explanation. But I don't think that there are any sects that will find yoga acceptable as a form of spiritual aspiration.

One might still ask whether practicing yoga is acceptable to Christians simply as a form of exercise. Here it is tempting to imagine that a mere exercise (just stretching and breathing) could not be objectionable to Christian faith. But there are two reasons to think otherwise.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bodhidharma and Kung Fu

There are lots of stories told about the relationship of the martial arts developed at the Shaolin temple (sometimes known as the "young forest temple") in Henan province and Bodhidharma. Many of them may be apocryphal, but that doesn't mean there isn't something to learn from them anyway.

New Cover art for Go No Sen

OMG! Just got the new cover for Go No Sen. I think it looks tremendous. You can see there on the left before the cover for Sen No Sen. It was done by James Junior, who seems to have been inspired by the task of creating the kanji for the title. He also created a wonderful image: a girl in a striking position, reminiscent of a Shotokan kata, perhaps Heian Yodan, against a beautiful sunset. He really seems to have caught the central themes of the book in this image: fighting (and all the ferocity that entails), but also the meditative side of martial arts that might help someone find a deep sense of identity.

James is starting a cover design business. Here's his website: Jimmy's Portfolio. He has more examples of his work here: graphic design projects for ebook covers . He can be contacted at this address,, or through his website. Thanks again, James, for all your hard work!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kung Fu

It turns out that kung fu does not really refer to a specific style of martial art, or even to martial arts at all. It means something like "the achievement of excellence" in some undertaking or other. You could have kung fu in baking or poetry or swimming or meditation, or even in martial arts. A more appropriate generic term for martial arts might be wu shu, which means something like fighting technique. English speakers are now used to associating kung fu with fighting, so perhaps one shouldn't try to change it now. But it is worth remembering that one can achieve excellence in other things as well.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Armed Forces Weekly Interview: Meet Emily Kane

Let’s get introductions out of the way. Tell us your name and where you’re from.

Michiko Tenno. Actually, my friends call me Emily, or Em for short. My dad’s name was Kane, so a lot of people know me as Emily Kane, and that name goes with some very happy memories for me. I was born in Japan, on a US military base. We lived for awhile in Hawaii when I was just a baby, but I mainly grew up here in Virginia.

Can you tell us about some of those happy memories?

I loved my dad very much. He was amazing. It’s kinda hard for me to get past losing him that way. But I suppose remembering happier times is a way of honoring him. We used to go camping in the woods behind the estate where we lived. We would pretend to be survivalists, you know, try to live off the land. It was only for two days at a time, so it was just for fun. You know, just an imaginary challenge. Though I did eat a bug once to prove to my dad that I could do it. We had so much fun in the woods. He taught me how to use all sorts of improvised weapons, like slings, arrows, spears, or just throwing rocks. It’s like we would do target practice when we were out camping, only more fun, you know, like a game. He was so good at stuff like that. I got to be pretty good at throwing and slinging. I think I can hit a small target with a sling at a hundred feet pretty regularly. But he could hit just about anything, even moving targets, with just about anything. He was so confident about stuff like that. Confidence is really important when you’re trying to hit something. It gives you a stable foundation, so to speak.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vampires & Werewolves: Why Can't They Be Friends?

I've been struggling to understand some aspects of the current fad in vampire fiction, including the rivalry with werewolves. Some things are easy to see, like the relationship of vampires and young love. Vampires have always been lovers, and especially seducers. The love that is practically indistinguishable from death is a marker for intensity. The whole bloodsucking thing is a transparent sexual allegory, including the bedroom eyes, the hickey, and the usual gender associations. In this case, the intensity of the passion is expressed by the lassitude  of the participants. The bloodsucker is sleepy because he's on a blood-bender, and the victim because, well, she's lost a lot of blood. What about the stake, the cross and the aversion to garlic? These are all icons of parental disapproval. The garlic is her mother's cooking, perhaps even a figure of her as a mother. The cross is the burden of parental responsibility the lovers risk incurring. The stake? That's obviously the greater sexual potency of her father, in the face of which the young vampire's urge seems to shrivel up and die, finally.

But why must vampires and werewolves be enemies? They are, after all, both unnatural monsters. So, what's the problem? Perhaps it's that the vampire is an image of dissolute desire, the aesthete, the rake. But your werewolf is more about ravenous desire, about eating, not drinking, about hunger rather than wan yearning. The werewolf seeks satiety in a feeding frenzy. In other words, he is indiscriminate in his desire. His is the desire that bears no scrutiny. This all leads to the conclusion that vampires hate werewolves because they think they are homosexuals. The vampire is a primal image of the narrowest form of homophobia.

Or maybe not. Perhaps I've completely misread this imagery. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Second Thoughts on Showing vs. Telling

There are two elements to the craft of narrative fiction that interest me just now. First, of course, is to be open to the way a story unfolds gradually as you write. It is possible to have a sense of the overall shape of the narrative at the outset. But it is important to let the particular scenes and characters you are working on at any given moment shape and reshape that narrative. Let the story grow as you go. Don't trap it in a too rigid form worked out in advance.

The second element is touch. The trick is to convey a complex experience, in a scene or a conversation, without stepping all over it. As a writer, you are not merely describing facts. You are primarily working with the imagination of your reader, planting suggestions, manipulating implications, inducing it to do the main work of painting in the details of the scene. Your descriptions have only a limited ability to paint a scene, but your reader's imagination has an unlimited power in this regard. 

The previous post brought up the difference between "showing" and "telling." A scene retold can be dry and flat. But showing a scene can be more vivid. It invites your reader to recreate the perceptual experience of an event in imagination. But it is important to remember that there is a limit to how much detail can be shown before the imaginative/perceptual experience becomes oppressive to your reader. Just as in living perception, you don't turn your attention to every detail of an experience, a writer should not try to overburden the reader with too many imagined details. It is possible to recall details in a perceptual experience that were not originally attended to. It is in the nature of perception that there is always more to it than you can articulate at any one moment. 

A writer uses the reader's imagination in the same way that the reader uses the powers of perception. Even though more detail will make for a more vivid depiction of a scene. This will tend to obscure the other dimension of perception, namely that there always seems to be more to it than we notice at first. Experience is vivid not only because it is rich with detail, but also because it always seems to exceed the limits of our powers of attention. If we ignore this other dimension, we risk producing a rich depiction that still lacks the feeling of limitlessness that we find in all genuine experiences.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

On Writing: Showing vs Telling

I ran across this fascinating discussion of the difference between "telling" and "showing" in your writing.

Check it out. It might just be a real revelation.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Interview with Spencer Brokaw, Author of The Impenetrable Spy

I first met Spencer on GoodReads, when he offered to interview me on his blog, When I checked out his blog, I realized what an interesting young man he is. He has been writing since he was six, and six years later has published his first novel as an ebook. For anyone trying to write for young people, Spencer's interview is a must read.

1. Tell us about your book: The Impenetrable Spy follows secret agent Zack Carter, a newly recruited CIA spy. Being a brilliant scientist, he creates a time machine from a vision he has. He constructs it to go back in time when his heart rate stops, making him nearly impenetrable. Wang Bo, the leader of China is in possession of a statue that makes your worst fears come alive. Wang plans on delivering it to the president at an upcoming meeting. Zack’s mission is to obtain the statue and make sure the United States of America remains a war free territory. His missions include traveling to an asylum, a mansion, a war torn D.C., France, New York, and a secret test facility.

2. Where can people get it: My book is currently available on Smashwords and Kindle. It is entering premium distribution so expect to see it on popular reading devices and apps soon. It will also be available on Amazon in paperback form soon.

3If this is part of series, tell us about your plans for the rest of the series: Well I recently finished The Impenetrable Spy 2: Future Dreamer, so I have started a prequel on the character Jack. Jack is introduced in The Impenetrable Spy at around chapter 8. He was recruited for his amazing stealth skills. He was a bank robber and an art thief, but the CIA changed him into one of their best spies.

4What was your inspiration for this book? My dad was my main inspiration. He suggested that I write a book when I was six years old; after I told him I was bored. I wrote it down on notebook paper and it ended up being 21 pages long. Two to three years later I typed my first book. A year after I started The Impenetrable Spy at age 10. I finished it last year and published it this year on KDP and Smashwords. My dad read it and told me how much he liked it and told me to keep it up. Without him, I never would’ve begun writing in the first place.

6. How has writing affected the way you read other people's books? Well, I am really picky now that I have finished one. But after the experience of self-publishing, I am finding that some self published authors are better than the ones who have their books in stores. After writing, it seems like I enjoy reading other people’s books that are also self-published.

7. How do you put a book together, from first ideas to finished product? I normally brainstorm ideas and do outlines of what chapters will consist of. Once I’m done, I print the book out and find as many mistakes as I can. I read it about 10 times. Then I read it aloud to find other mistakes. Then my dad reads it and finds mistakes too. I then fix them on the computer before self-publishing.

8. What advice do you have for beginning writers? One thing is to read a lot. It is very important to read because it gives you ideas and makes your writing better. Don’t worry about how good it is, just keep writing. Even if the end result is terrible, your next book will be better. The one after that will get better and so on. You should also maintain a schedule so you remember where you’re at in your book. If you’re writing every couple of weeks, chances are you will forget a lot and you will have to read it.

9. What do you love most about writing? I love that I am able to create a fictional world where I can make anything happen.

11. Tell us about yourself: I am Spencer Brokaw and I am 12 years old (2011). I published my first book this year (The Impenetrable Spy).Writing is something I enjoy and I plan on writing a four part series. I enjoy writing fiction because I have control over the characters and the world they inhabit. I currently reside inOhio. In my spare time I enjoy swimming, golfing, playing drums, and reading.

Twitter: @spencerbrokaw

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Feature: Author Interviews, Guest Blog Posts

As a result of many inquiries from fellow action adventure authors, I have decided to open my blog to guest posts from other authors, as well as to feature author interviews. Keep an eye on this space for exciting new developments. The world of epublishing is a dynamic place, changing and evolving rapidly. Here at Action Adventure Inc., we plan on staying ahead of the cresting wave, and eventually body-surfing it home!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Girl Fights Back (Go No Sen), ch. 6... Check it out!

When Emily came to the edge of the forest she had already seen the fire in the woodshed. She had only suspected that something was wrong from Promontory Rock, but now she could see that nothing at all was right at her home. She had seen Yuki drive off with Mr. Cardano, and then her father set fire to the main house. She noticed that the security guards were nowhere to be seen. But she had also spotted suspicious activity in the hedges to her left. There were several men moving as quietly as they could manage through some rather dense and noisy underbrush. She circled around to her right, always remaining concealed within the verge of the forest.

She made her way to the point in the north lawn where the woods came the closest to the estate buildings. She was about fifty yards from the corner of the garage. She had a very clear view of her father, crouching against the corner of the building, peering over a low shrub toward the hedges. “Thank God! He sees them too!” she thought with a palpable feeling of relief.

Just then, she saw him scatter some tools with a clatter and burst from behind the shrub towards the main house. They saw him too! He was running as fast as she had ever seen him go. He only had to cover twenty yards to get to the cover of the house. She hadn’t heard the noise of any gunfire, but she could definitely hear the sound of bullets ricocheting around her father as he turned the corner of the front portico. And then she noticed that the whole house seemed to be on fire! She desperately wanted to run to her father, to see if he was hit, to warn him about the fire, to wrap herself in his arms. But she knew that she should hold back, wait just a moment, see what those men were up to. They didn’t know she was there yet. She might need that advantage.

Girl Fights Back (Go No Sen), ch. 5

Cardano knew he had to hurry. The people who were on the way would be in an ugly frame of mind by the time they arrived. He needed to spirit everyone away before then, even the security guards. They were just contract employees, but he couldn’t leave them behind to be killed. He had already sent his wife and son away. He arranged their disappearance as soon as he heard about the attack at the concert. They had been living in a small house on the island of Naxos in the Aegean Sea for the last few weeks. But he had worked very hard to make it seem that they were in New Zealand. Every scrap of paper or digital information anywhere in the Border Control systems of several countries implied this, though he had been careful to make it appear that he wanted the authorities to think they were really in Valparaiso. He had also stationed a female operative in an apartment in Auckland with a small boy “borrowed” from a local orphanage. She was under instructions to flee to Adelaide at the first sign of trouble, deposit the boy in a safe house there, and leave a trail that would dead end in Hong Kong.

It was a clever sleight of hand that might distract his enemies for a little while. They would lose interest in his family before long. But they would hound him and George as long as they lived. The security guards would not be worth pursuing. They knew nothing. As long as they were not on site when the tactical teams arrived they would be safe enough. He gave them all cash bonuses, put them on a chartered bus for Las Vegas, and hoped their discretion would protect them.

George was a different story. He knew way too much. He knew as much as Cardano himself. There was no place he could hide him for long. He had already successfully hidden him for almost sixteen years as it was. Of course, Meacham knew he would keep George nearby. But as long as he thought the Predator program was worthless, he had no interest in either of them. They had all been safe as long as Meacham believed that. It was clear that he no longer believed it, for whatever reason. Cardano assumed that he had received intelligence about a Chinese program.

He was worried that George had not returned yet. He couldn’t leave before then, and Yuki absolutely refused to leave without him. After all these years, he had never quite fathomed the nature of their relationship. Were they secretly married? Just lovers? Friends? They seemed to have some sort of spiritual bond. Protecting Yuki was the main purpose of this evacuation. So it was deeply frustrating that he did not understand her motivations at this precise moment.

Girl Fights Back (Go No Sen), ch. 4... here at last. Enjoy!

By the time Emily got home from school Friday afternoon she had already planned out her weekend. She collected her gear: a change of clothes, a sleeping roll, a bottle, her hunting knife and a few utensils. Also a scope she had borrowed earlier from one of the guard posts. It must have belonged to a rifle at one time. This might come in handy. The weather was getting cooler, so she put on a jacket and headed out the back to the woods. Her father would be back Saturday or Sunday, and she wanted to have plenty of time to get dug in.

Naturally she headed straight for Promontory Rock. Well, not exactly straight. She took the most direct route she could imagine, while at the same time leaving no clues behind her, but as many false trails as she could think of. If it were possible to trace her steps from above, as a bird might see them, that is, if they were visible at all, they might seem to sketch out some sort of rune, or an arabesque. Was the pattern merely ornamental, or did it have some deep meaning? Or was it like a mehndi, with a ritual meaning as part of a wedding, or some sort of seasonal festival. She reveled in the path she was creating and concealing at the same time, using it to misdirect the gaze of her pursuer even as she set her heart on the promontory. Her father would not expect her to go there now that she knew he knew.

The rock projected from a cliff at least two hundred feet above the ravine below. A stream meandered among the maples and elms at the bottom. The trees gave way to smaller oaks and mountain mahogany further up until it finally thinned out to grass and a few shrubs around the rock itself. One large clump of shrubs several yards away from the precipice was dense enough to hide a small hollow within. There was just enough foliage to conceal her without the need for a lean-to or any other sort of covering. She could see out in three directions without much difficulty. The fourth direction was covered by a large rock and some thick brambles. No silent approach from there.

Girl Fights Back (Go No Sen), ch. 3... Here it is, at last!

“Mike, you’re gonna have to turn ‘em over to us. You know that, don’t you?” the voice on the other end of the phone said.

Michael Cardano reflected on the quality of the tone of that voice. Several million lines of code and a few hundred miles of fiber optic cable lay between him and the man on the other end. The code was written to ensure the security of the connection, dissolving the vocal noises made at either end of the connection into miniscule bits, whirling them into a billion randomized patterns and then, at the last moment, reconstituting them into a facsimile of the original vocal intonations. Most of the code was actually tasked with recreating as accurately as possible the sound of the original voice. The voice from the phone sounded like the man Michael knew him to be. He could hear the tonal indicators of his emotional veracity. The sound was true to the voice. He hoped his own voice would sound as true at the other end of the line. He felt the need to be able to control the shading of his voice, to shape the way he was perceived, and he didn’t want the nuance he aimed to create to get lost in the code.

“You gotta be kidding,” he snorted.


“You realize this is just more of Meacham’s bullshit, don’t you?” he needled.


“He’s gonna flog this turkey all over the hill, and we both know it’s bullshit. That’s not how real soldiers work.”

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Girl Fights Back (Go No Sen), ch. 2... Enjoy!

That day, her father picked her up from the dojo in the family car. That was their little joke. It was a black limousine, not huge or stretched out. But it was obviously solid. It belonged to the family her father worked for. He was their driver, though it was not clear exactly where his duties ended, or what he might be asked to do, or when.

He was not a physically imposing man. He was only a couple of inches taller than her and maybe thirty pounds heavier. He was wiry and strong, but deceptively so. He did not train extensively, just a few push-ups, a few sit-ups, a few pull-ups, a few laps around the estate where they lived. But she sensed that, like Sensei, he was much stronger than he had any right to be, than anyone might suspect. Of course, he hardly ate at all, seemed not even to like food. A few vegetables, maybe some beans, some fruit, a bowl of rice. That was his diet. They ate dinner together most nights. She wasn’t sure he ate any other meals. He was in his early forties, though most people on first meeting him would probably assume that he was ten years younger than that.

Emily knew that he remained young because he was essentially young at heart. She saw his playful side, she basked in his love. But to everyone else he seemed to be made of stone. A cool customer. He hardly spoke, never laughed. Just listened with an immovable expression on his face. When his employer, Mr. Cardano, asked him to do something, he did it, quickly, efficiently, without comment. Cardano had come to rely on his impassivity. It was as secure as the Catholic confessional. Sometimes, he was gone from the estate for a few days, never more than a week. He never told her what he did on these trips. She didn’t ask anymore. For the most part, however, he drove the family car.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Girl Fights Back (Go No Sen), ch. 1... as promised!

Here it is. Enjoy! Check back soon for the next installment.

Chapter 1
Kung Fu

It’s like a kid swinging a bat in his first little league baseball game. He has no idea what to expect, when to begin his swing, when to commit to it completely, not to mention where to swing the bat. Sure, he’s probably already practiced swinging at balls with his dad out on the local ball field or at a batting cage. He knows how to hold the bat--dominant hand on top, knuckles of both hands lined up, bat off his shoulder--maybe even how to step slightly into his swing, shift his weight to his back foot, swivel his hips and then his shoulders.

But facing the opposing pitcher in a real, live game; now that’s something completely different. That kid on the mound is not trying to teach him how to hit the ball. He’s throwing as hard as he can, trying to get him out. His throwing motion is different from his dad’s. It’s really hard to see the ball until it’s almost too late. His eyes don’t focus on the right things; they don’t look in the right directions. He doesn’t know what to look for. He closes his eyes and swings. Here’s what it sounds like in sequence: thud... swish. Thud (the ball hits the catcher’s mitt), then swish (the bat cuts the empty air). Later, after a lot more experience in game conditions, he learns how to train his eyes to look and his mind to attend to the right things.

That’s how sparring always seemed to her. It was just a matter of seeing, of knowing where to look and what to look for. She saw the telltale signs of her opponent’s intentions almost as soon as he had formed them, certainly as soon as he was committed to them. This was her third martial art. First was aikido, a beautiful, meditative discipline. All round, soft movements, deflecting the opponent, but also absorbing him, enfolding him in the subtle folds of her own movements, a caress, a rebuff. It was almost a kindness. Soothing the opponent, allowing him to expend his energy fruitlessly, turning him around, twisting him in an unexpected way. Perhaps he sees that his effort is going awry even as it’s happening to him, but there’s nothing he can do about it. The surprise she saw written across his face was a supreme satisfaction, better than victory and his admission of defeat. Tap.