The Adventure Continues

Hello?

Anyone still here? Hey. Hey, you! Yes, you at the buffet table. Look, I appreciate you hanging around, but I wouldn’t eat those finger sandwiches. They’ve been sitting there since July. I don’t think they’re-

What’s that? You’ve already eaten three of them? Okay. No problem. Just have a seat. No, not there. I was thinking maybe you could sit in the port-o-potties in the parking lot. Trust me on this one. You’ll thank me later.

Okay, so… Oh, good. Some people coming in. Welcome! Anybody have the number for Poison Control? No? Okay. No problem. That’s completely cool.

How about a tow service? A REALLY discreet towing service. Yes? Good. I won’t ask how you got this… Yes, and I won’t make direct eye contact with the tower. Got it.

Well, alright! Let’s get things started! Please, everyone, have a seat. Refreshments will be made available, just not right now. And don’t mind the cobwebs. Purely for effect. Spooky, right?

 

Personally, I can never pull off spooky. I never get past "I really need to dust."

Personally, I can never pull off spooky. I never get past “I really need to dust.”

 

Anyway, thanks for coming. I really appreciate it. I know it’s been a while since I’ve hosted one of these things. Sorry for not being around this summer. Time went by crazy fast, right? How was your summer? Was it crazy like mine?

Yeah? What’s that, now? Oh, that doesn’t sound good. Should you even be telling me… Oh, you buried the hatchet with someone? Ohhhhh. I see. And then you burned the midnight oil, but not anything else… or anyone else. Good, good. Sounds like a summer to remember.

Well, my summer was… What?

Yes. Yes, you’re right. It should probably be printed on the label that a fifth of Jack Daniels won’t put out a roman candle stuffed into someone’s jeans. Like, both labels, probably.

 

"If you've consumed anywhere close to even half of this in one night, you're going to do some stupid shit. There. We warned you."

“If you’ve consumed anywhere close to even half of this in one night, you’re going to do some stupid shit. There. We warned you.”

 

Anyway, I don’t mean to cut you off, sir. If you’d like to make a guest post, then we can arrange something, but tonight I just want to do my thing and then… ummm… go do something else. Sound good? We good? Alright! Have a finger sandwich.

So, I’m back with news for you! Book Four of The Adventures of Grant Scotland is in final editing! I’ve passed it off to my beautiful and talented editor so she can correct the thousands of mistakes I’ve made before I expose them to the public. She knows how eager I am to expose myself, so she’s always great about making sure I’m covered.

What’s that? No, I don’t know if she’s single. Sir, please. I promise I’ll get done shortly and then you’ll…. Yes, karaoke starts right after this. All the more reason to let me finish, right?

So… Oh. Well, thank you for saying so. I haven’t really paid much attention to my mouth, but thank you for saying it’s pretty. That’s… Well, that’s really something.

Sorry, everyone. WordPress has started renting out my space to people who use it more frequently. They promise they’ll give it back to me full time once I start posting more regularly.

Yes, sir. Thank you for the suggestion. I will consider hosting my own karaoke night. Sounds like a good idea.

Ummm… but where was I? Oh, yes! So, Book Four is almost ready for publication. The design of the cover is currently under the deft hand of my most trusted and professional artist, so I can’t reveal it yet. However, I can tell you the title of the book will be…

Drum roll, please.

Oh. I see that I don’t have a drummer anymore… No, sir. You don’t have to…. Yes, I’m sure you were in a band in high school….

Okay, that’s not really a drum roll so much as the machine-gun evocation from Metallica’s “One.”

Yes, it’s awesome… Yes, awesome and deep… Deep like most people would never understand, you’re absolutely right. Please, stop crying.

Anyway, Book Four’s title is Spy for a Greedy Villain!

RIM-JOB

Wait. That’s… That’s supposed to be rim-shot. You meant rim-shot, right? You see, that’s only supposed to come after a joke and…

Well, that’s a fair point, sir. Perhaps I am a joke.

Wait. How did you even get a drum to make that sound? It doesn’t seem like a percussion instrument should be able to make a slurping-

Oh… Oh… No, you don’t have to show it. I’m sure you’re instructional video is wonderful. Maybe you can share it after karaoke? Okay? Honestly, I’m almost done here.

Look for Spy for a Greedy Villain (TICKLE-SLURP) to make an appearance on virtual store shelves this fall! You won’t want to miss what Grant Scotland gets up to next! And stay tuned to this blog! More delicious details and well-aged appetizers to come!

 

——————————————————————————————————-

 

Okay, we’re done. Seriously, though… Sir? You still awake? Send me the link to that video. That shit is cray-cray.

Save a life! Give an honest Amazon review! Save a car! Tip your delivery driver!

Want to sign up for the mailing list and be eligible for the next giveaway? Sign up for the newsletter!

Want to see my author profile and my books on Amazon? Check it out!

Want to see more posts and tour the blog? Go to the Home Page!

 

 

Advertisements

Bad Words: Badder Writing That I am Too Madderer!

Hello and welcome to another installment of “Bad Words” (actually, I just made up that name – the first installment didn’t have a series title, but guess what? It does now!) where we take a look at some common mistakes many writers make and how YOU the reader can learn to identify them for fun and profit. Just kidding. There’s no profit here for you. About the best you can hope for is to get a laugh or two and look at the pictures. On the other hand, if you’re an author, you might see something you do from time to time that you never knew bothered me. And, OF COURSE YOU’LL WANT TO CHANGE THAT BEHAVIOR! Pleasing me should be of paramount importance in your everyday life and so it is a matter of course that your writing should also take my tastes into consideration.

I have wants, people! Needs! They must be satisfied or… or… they will continue to be unsatisfied! And that is unsatisfactory!

But seriously, some of the stuff I point out below is just me making mountains out of molehills, but I thought I’d take the time to explain what bothers me about them because I’m seeing them a lot lately. I’ve been doing some intense reading of other self-published works in my chosen genres (mystery, fantasy/sci-fi) and although most of the stuff out there is garbage, there are a few writers who are quite good and I’d like to read more of their work. However, even though they are clearly talented and can make words do pleasing things on the page, they still make very aggravating mistakes that make me want to pelt them with Cheetos and slap them with deli ham! I want to grab them by the nipples and shake them and scream into their faces “Don’t you know how close to awesome you are? Don’t you know how many truckloads of ham and Cheetos I want to dump on you? DON’T YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU?”

But I’d likely get arrested for that, so instead I’ll just tell you how I think some writers could be soooo much better if only they’d stop doing dumb shit like…

The deus ex machina: You’re probably already familiar with this term, but for those of you who may have slept through a few too many English classes, I’ll explain. It’s a Latin term meaning “God from the Machine” and it refers to any sort of resolution to a conflict that seems to come out of nowhere. This is easily forgivable if an author just uses it to tie up loose secondary plot threads, but is unforgivable when it appears in the main action of the story.

Ridiculous Example: Our swashbuckling hero is busy bravely fighting the forces of doom and destruction at the climax of the book, but things take a turn for the worse and he finds his back against the wall and his feet in the doo-doo. His every strength has been countered and now the enemy is about to destroy him by exploiting a known weakness! Lament! Oh, lament! But wait? What’s this? Our Doubting Thomas of a hero can reach down deep within and summon the strength of a god? One of the allies he thought lost suddenly and inexplicably bursts in and aids him? The spirits of his ancestors distract the enemy just long enough to provide an escape? The evil-genius villain decides to walk toward the hero instead of just shooting him from across the room? Our sword-wielding hero can suddenly cast magic missile?

And on and on. You see what I’m getting at. A final confrontation only ends satisfyingly when our hero uses the tools and experiences he picked up through his journey to defeat the final boss. Nothing should suddenly appear. The reader should be able to trace the solution to the problem to something (or things) that happened earlier in the book or else it all just falls flat.

 

Just like this guy!

Just like this guy!

 

Getting lost on a tangent: This is where the author attempts (as all good authors should) to weave a multi-threaded plot line, but ends up losing the main thread, either for too long or permanently. This is incredibly easy to do, but is also fairly simple to spot on revision. While you can afford to spend perhaps a whole chapter devoted to a secondary plot point, any more than that and you risk confusing the reader regarding what’s actually important. Unless you use those one-sentence chapters, then I suppose you could spend a chapter or two or nine. God, don’t get me started on one-sentence chapters. What an arrogant waste of reader attention.

Ridiculous example: Our hero is hired to rescue a kidnapped princess. After investigating for a chapter or two, he finds she’s more or less a willing prisoner of her captors. She tells him to get lost. Unsure what to do, he spends a day thinking it over and during that time he receives a message from an old friend in need of some help. The hero shrugs and leaves to go aid his friend and for the greater part of the book, the action revolves around that new plot point. After more or less resolving the problem, the hero eventually comes back to convince the princess she shouldn’t hang with the bad guys and that brings the story to a close. Maybe the author makes some loose connection between the two conflicts, but FAR too much time was spent away from the “rescue the princess” plot to have it be at all meaningful anymore.

 

"...if you still care about that sort of thing, that is."

“…if you still care about that sort of thing, that is.”

 

Stretching suspension of disbelief to the breaking point: There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief in genre writing. The reader is often expected to believe in time travel, instantaneous communication through space, magic, fantasy worlds, etc. All of this is generally accepted as de rigeur, but I’ve noticed in one area – specifically dystopian sci-fi – authors seem to take just too many liberties. If you’re dealing with Earth or even an Earth-like planet with human-type peoples, you have to keep in mind that your readers will have certain expectations that can’t be disregarded.

Ridiculous example: The world is going to die within a handful of generations and humanity’s only hope is to gather up its smartest people and lock them away so they can tech our way out of it, hopefully. But the organization behind such a noble effort turns out to be nefarious in its designs. When the smartest people enter its secured compound, they are never heard from again! And… nobody wonders why. Not one single lonely boyfriend or worried mother picks up the phone to call. Nobody. Everyone just simply accepts that the smarty pants people need to “concentrate on their work.” Our hero only finds out that something is amiss when one of the smarty-pants finally manages to sneak a message out… YEARS LATER.

Seriously? You’re talking about humans here. Humans on Earth. No one would accept such an obvious kidnapping for any length of time much less for years. Well, unless there is already a clearly established system of gulags and work camps in your world. That might pass inspection. Or maybe everyone has been pacified with some sort of chemicals in the contrails of planes or something. Or perhaps a really taste brownie mix tainted with hallucinogens that trick family members into believing they’re still in contact with the smarty-pants relatives could work… Anyway, the point is – don’t forget the human condition. Never forget that. No matter how much your writing revolves around zombies or vampires or robots, your readers are all very human.

 

I don't care how many dragons you birth, you're still just a lost little girl looking for a home. Fuck you, George R.R. Martin, you brilliant bastard.

I don’t care how many dragons you birth, you’re still just a lost little girl looking for a home. Fuck you, George R.R. Martin, you brilliant bastard.

 

 

——————————————————————————————-

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you today, except to announce this week’s winner of the T-Shirt giveaway.

John Cataldo!

Congrats, John! Look for the newsletter in your inbox (or possibly junk folder) and reply with desired size and mailing address.

So long everyone! Don’t forget to review a good book and tip a nice delivery driver!

The Unlikely Spy

The first Grant Scotland omnibus is finished and available for purchase! You can grab it HERE or HERE or get it on Nook/Kobo/Apple in a few days. It includes the first three books of the Adventures of Grant Scotland, lovingly bound in this collector’s edition cyber-volume. Order now and we’ll also include this attractive virtual slipcase!

 

Made with the finest virtual materials and rarest digital ingredients.

Made with the finest virtual materials and rarest digital ingredients.

 

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest to come up with a name for this collection. I received many responses, both on the community page and through email. Some were creative, some were funny and some were unabashedly ridiculous. Although I didn’t find this exact title among the submitted entries, I do have to credit one person with directly contributing to the final decision. So, congratulations to Daria Liston, whose several recommendations revolved around Grant’s profession as a spy and his seeming perpetual state of being unready for the role of protagonist that we keep demanding of him. I think she really captured the essence of our hero in these first three books.

So, I included a special thank you to her in the acknowledgements and will be sending a signed print copy as soon as those become available. When will that be? Hard to say, but rest assured that it will happen. I will contact Daria for shipping info as soon as it does.

I decided on the title  “The Unlikely Spy” because it spoke to one of the central themes I wanted to explore in this series. The idea of “the unlikely hero” is a common one in genre fiction, but all too often I find that even though I am promised an unlikely hero, the protagonist is generally quite capable and even extraordinary in one or two ways. I remember growing up this was everywhere in fantasy fiction. The books that stand out in my mind most are the Dragonlance Chronicles. We were told on the back of the first book and at several times throughout the narrative how “unlikely” these heroes were, but in fact they were anything but. Even when we first meet them they are already accomplished at their various talents, widely traveled and almost always more experienced and gifted than most everyone else in the world. Is it any wonder they were drafted by one god to fight another?

So, while I loved those books, I was always a little put off by the constant assurances from the writers that these people were just like me. No way. Not in one single way. In fact, the only thing I could point to that made them seem unlikely is the fact that they were outsiders. Well, I guess they would be, right? If such a heavily armed troop of death dealers were ever to settle down anywhere, they would instantly become the de facto ruling party of that area. Then you’d have to admit that they were not in fact unlikely heroes, but instead exactly the right guys for the job. Who is going to investigate these weird lizard people that keep eating our children? Well, I guess it’s probably going to be that Tanis fellow and the Majere boys. After all, they live here. This effects them, too. And, seriously, what am I supposed to do? Go into the swamp and start poking seven foot tall lizard men in the nose with my rake?

 

'spose I could try baking him a pie. He does look hungry.

‘spose I could try baking him a pie. He does look hungry.

 

So, when I set out to write about Grant, I wanted a hero that wasn’t just paying lip service to being unlikely. I wanted a well and truly unlikely hero. I not only wanted the ordinary man in the extraordinary circumstance, I wanted my hero to have very big, very obvious faults and weaknesses that would battle him just as hard as any enemy. I wanted the reader to be genuinely unsure Grant was going to be up to the task of solving difficult situations. Added to that, I also wanted the reader to be protective of Grant and sympathetic to him because they recognize he’s battling with common everyday internal and external pressures, just like us. In short, I wanted people to worry a little bit about him, to see him attempting something heroic and think “hey, wait, if he’s just like me, there’s no friggin way he’s going to pull this off.”

You see, I’m never all that interested in how a book ends. I’m really not. I always assume that the end of the book works out just the way the author intended. How could it not? I’m more interested in tracking how he gets his protagonist/s through the trials. This was one of the things that always amazed me about Robert Parker. Spenser was incredibly tough – the obvious hero – and could easily shoot his way out of most situations, but he was also a deeply sensitive man constantly worrying about his antiquated code of ethics; a modern knight errant. So, while he could just kill everyone who bothers him, he very rarely allows himself to do it. The drama from most of the Spenser novels comes from the hero finding a way to solve his problems and lead an enriching life without always reaching for the gun. Obviously, he ends up reaching for the gun quite a bit, but that’s because a good book needs its doses of action and Parker probably knew he couldn’t let his series get too cerebral. Anyway, the point is that most of the plot of each book revolves around Spenser making life difficult for himself by holding on to his code.

I took this idea and turned it on its ear for Grant. Instead of having a code to wrestle with, he makes life difficult for himself by holding on to his own trauma. He is haunted and bedeviled and when the rapidly changing world brushes his shoulder as it goes by, he gets spun around a few times and falls down.

But then he gets back up. After all, he’s just like us.

A new Adventure for Grant Scotland

The third book in the Adventures of Grant Scotland is now available! Spy for a Wayward Daughter can be purchased NOW at Amazon and Smashwords and over the next few days it will also arrive at virtual store shelves for Nook, Kobo, Apple and several other fine online e-tailers. Is that a thing? E-tailer? I can’t possibly have just coined that… (Google-y sounds) Nope. No, I didn’t.

Well, I already engaged in a massive bit of reflection in my previous post, so in honor of book three’s release, I’ll do the opposite. I shall with crystal ball and soaked tea leaves look into the future and divine what shall come to pass preordainedly. Is that a thing? Preordainedly? I don’t think so. Probably a good reason for that.

With three books out in our captivating adventure series, I have a good feeling about where the overall story is headed and am still excited to write about Grant and his world. So, look for book four by the end of the year. I can make that guarantee without even looking into the crystal ball, which is good because it shows a funny reflection of me that makes my chin look fat. I’ve been doing great with my diet recently and don’t need that kind of negative reinforcement. Stupid ball.

Like this, except my turban is WAY cooler.

Like this, except my turban is WAY cooler.

Also, I have decided to combine the first three books into an omnibus edition! I’ll put them together in a giant e-book and of course price the whole thing to be less expensive than buying all three individually. This will make the series much easier to get into for the teeming masses of Grant Scotland fans that will arrive, curious and adventure-starved, upon the nourishing shores of my prolific works in the years of success that are no doubt to come. See? Can you see that in the tea leaves there? Ah, well. Don’t be discouraged. These things take a certain amount of undefinable talent and desultory practice. Just trust me – I know what I’m doing.

The omnibus edition will most likely come out in a few weeks. Not much actual work to do on it, but I do have to figure out a title. If you’re interested in submitting an idea for a title, please join my contest on Grant Scotland’s Facebook page HERE. You can also just comment on this post. That would work, too. If I choose your title, you get a Special Thank You in the book’s Dedication or thereabouts and also a signed copy of the print edition, whenever I get around to actually printing editions. Contest rules and prizes are all meticulously spelled out, so don’t even bother trying to cheat.

Unless you can get away with it, of course. That’s the Grant Scotland way. 😉