Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Upcoming Book Giveaway

I recently realized I have a few paperback copies of two of my books, Way Over the Line and Ghost Betweens, sitting on my bookshelf. They're not doing any good there, so I've decided I'm going to have some giveaways in the coming months. The first one is going to happen next Thursday, July 4th. It's a big holiday here in the United States, but this giveaway is open to everyone around the globe. Obviously I hope the winner (and winners of future giveaways) will read the book and put a review up on Amazon, but that's not mandatory. I simply want to get my books out to new people.

Let's get to the meat of this first giveaway, shall we? Since, as I said, it's the Fourth of July (or Independence Day, if you prefer), and baseball is still considered America's pastime, I decided I'll give away a copy of Way Over the Line, a young adult (specifically targeted at 'tweens, though it's good for all ages) science fiction story about aliens and baseball. To enter to win your very own paperback copy, simply leave a comment below on this blog post (saying whatever you want - even if you just say "Enter me in the drawing," that's good enough for me), one on this Facebook post, or follow me on Twitter and retweet the appropriate tweet when I call for it (I'll specifically say to RT to win in that tweet).

I'll conduct my random drawing next Thursday, July 4, and alert the lucky winner soon after. I can sign it for you, too, if you'd like; we can discuss that when I get the address of wherever you'd like me to send it. Good luck, and tell your friends! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Writing Prompt #141

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so, as always, take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun!

The moon looks big in the sky. A little too big.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tumblr Posts

This isn't really any kind of post other than one to hold me accountable. A month or two back, I said I'd be using my Tumblr account to post reviews of short stories in free webzines. I did three such posts but have since slacked off a bit. I'll be honest, lately I've become a bit disappointed in social media. I've posted various things I thought would at least start a conversation or two, but instead received no feedback at all. It bothered me, made me feel like I was completely invisible, but I've since gotten over it. I enjoy posting things, and even if no one is paying attention, I'll keep doing so.

(The funny thing is that in the last week or two, I've seen almost a dozen people tweeting in one form or another that they feel ignored, too. Twitter can certainly be a hive-mind at times. Personally, I'd like to see a "like" function or button on Twitter so people can easily acknowledge posts they, well, like. I know some use the "favorite" function for that, but I don't like to do that because I use that to keep posts I want to read later handy. Retweeting also works the same way, but sometimes it's too out of context to retweet something, or not something you want to retweet anyway, but it made you laugh in the moment. A quick like would acknowledge that the post made you smile, was helpful, or something else. Just a thought. Now back to the post about Tumblr!)

So what's my point in this post? Like I said, basically it's just to make myself accountable. I'm going to get back to posting reviews of free short stories once or twice a week. And beyond that, I'm making it a goal to post at least one miscellaneous thing a day on Tumblr, be it the short story review, a movie or book review, a link I found amusing, or simply a joke or humorous story that is too long for Twitter. Maybe no one will see these or care, but maybe I'm wrong, and a few people will get a bit of enjoyment from them. Right now all I care about is that I'm having fun with it. Hopefully my passion will radiate out.

I've already started, so if you want to go check out my Tumblr page, it's here. If you decide to visit, I hope you enjoy your stay! (And, by the way, if you follow me, I'll follow you back.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Writing Prompt #140

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so, as always, take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun!

A minor cut won't stop bleeding.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fun with Vine

I recently downloaded the app, Vine, to my phone, and I must say, it's a lot of fun. For those of you who don't know what it is (though if you're reading this blog, I kind of doubt that fits anyone's description), it's an app that uses your phone's camera to take six second long looping videos. When the app is ready to shoot, you simply touch the screen and it records. You can lift your finger off to stop recording, and then put it back on to record more. Stop and start as often as you'd like, as long as it's six seconds.

So why am I writing a post about it? It's fun! I've created four videos so far, and each depicted a part of my writing life. And, as writers, don't we always want to see an inside view of other writers? I've not done anything profound with it (though, if I put my mind to it, I'm sure I could come up with some great little videos that would help my writing life), but the short, looping clips give a little insight. Why does it need to be anything bigger than that? I don't think it does. However you use it is great!

My first video was simply me sitting in a Carl's Jr. fast food restaurant after breakfast showing a filled notebook page that I'd written while eating. Just a little, "Hey, look, I was productive this morning!" Check it out.

I then took three videos that showed the decorations in my writing room. Sure, in various places, I have photos of my writing room, but I know my fellow authors. As I said above, we want to see the inner workings, the inner lives, of our fellow writers. So I took three videos for people to see.

Writing Room Decorations 1
Writing Room Decorations 2
Writing Room Decorations 3

Hope you enjoy these short glimpses into my writing life. I can almost guarantee you'll see plenty more. Probably not here on my blog, but on Twitter for sure. If you don't follow me on Twitter, here's my page in case I've peaked your interest/curiosity.

How about you? Do you have any interest in using Vine (or similar apps/programs) to give glimpses into your writing life? Or do you maybe have grand plans with said apps/programs that will push your writing career into high gear? Let me know!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Writing Prompt #139

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so, as always, take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun!

Something is scratching the inside of your closet door.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Friday Flash - The Duel

The Duel
by Eric J. Krause

The two master mages stared at each other, neither willing to give an inch. Their kings' armies clashed below in the valley, but the battle would be won and lost here on the mountaintops.

Power flowed from both. Each controlled a unique discipline, one not shared even with their most prized apprentices, and neither would tip their hand too soon. Both wove classic webs of magic with precise perfection, and that's how the majority of the war was waged.

Without a proper cue to commence, energy rained down on both combatants, enough to raze a small village. Neither so much as flinched. Kept to a strictly generic set of rules, this would prove to be a war of attrition rather than one with a knock-out punch. Once they realized this, that they were as evenly matched as could be, both fell back to their secrets.

The Master of Sunlight tore a hole through the smoke and haze, clearing a straight path for his magical life force to reach him. Once the power of the sun burst through, he readied a spell which would obliterate his opponent off the face of this world and any others he might hope to land on. Success, for him, his army, and his king would have followed if he hadn't hesitated that split second. The flash of crimson on the other mage froze his thoughts. A jab of pain deep in his skull drew forth a staggering fog, and then he felt nothing ever again.

The Blood Mage laughed, which was more of a wheezing sputter. His army took control in the valley below, and his king would enjoy the spoils of war that very night. He hoped his favorite apprentice could decipher the first clue to the quest to discover the discipline of Blood Magic and its almost limitless power.

As his life force bled out, he realized how limiting the magic really was. The most powerful, unstoppable spells could only be accessed by slitting ones own throat. It was a total victory, but with the cost of the Blood Mage's life.

The SFWA Controversy and the Disgusting Internet Culture

So this whole SFWA thing is a mess. Yes, I know I'm a week or so late on this, but hang with me; my points about what this has stirred up are and will continue to be valid. (If you're not sure what I'm talking about, simply Google "SFWA" and scroll down a bit. Depending on when you're reading this, you probably won't have to even leave the first page.) To be honest, I've basically just skimmed the situation, so I'm likely missing some points, but, again, hang with me; I'm more worried about the Internet Culture than the SFWA. First, though, I'll give my view on the inciting incident.

Truth be told, the controversy that sparked the outrage didn't land much on my radar. Yes, the conversation and subsequent bikini chain mail cover were both in poor taste. I'm not a member of the SFWA, so I don't have much insight into the group, but from what I've seen online (twitter, blog posts, etc.), it was a bad choice by an editor (or editors) who should have known better than to print these. The two dinosaurs who made the comments, from what I heard, didn't really know they were in the wrong - too many years of yes men and women parroting their points of view. Does it make it right? No, of course not. But my hope is that the current leadership, which looks to be rightfully offended by what has happened in their own organization, will clean this up and make not only a stronger SFWA (which, since I'm not a member, doesn't really matter to me one way or another other than it's always good to have people treated with respect), and, more importantly, a stronger, friendlier, and more respectful writing community as a whole.

So why am I writing this? As I said, my anger didn't come from the inciting incident at the SFWA (that was more of an eye roll and a mutter under my breath of "That was dumb"), but from what happened afterwards. It came from the Internet Culture (this time comprised of mostly, I'm assuming, immature males of any age) saying such hurtful things because of their anonymity behind their keyboard. I'm hearing (or, more appropriately, reading) too many cases of women (authors or not) saying they are being harrassed simply because they are making their feelings known about this controversy. Sure, a good discussion filled with facts and other constructive comments and opinions would be fine, healthy even. But from what I'm seeing, that's not the case. Too common feedback women are getting for simply stating their opinions are sexual harassment, threats of sexual violence, being called vulgar names, and plenty of other horrible things. This is not okay. It's sick, quite frankly. I know it isn't limited to this particular argument, but happens all too often on any type of argument and controversy on the Internet, but that doesn't make it right. It's as far from right as we can get. And that's my point. The culture of hate on the Internet needs to stop.

I dream of a world where Internet posters don't rely on hateful comments on anything they disagree with. It seems that is the first, second, and third option many anonymous keyboard-sitters have when faced with controversy. The cyberworld (and the world in general) would be a much nicer place if people would use intelligence and tact instead. Everyone deserves respect until they prove, without a doubt, differently. As Wil Wheaton says, "Don't be a dick." I wish everyone would live by those four simple words. Or, if you want a sanitized version, "Treat others like you want to be treated."

Whether you're online or unplugged, treat women with respect. Heck, treat everyone with respect! Until some of those science fiction tales members of the SFWA pen come true, we only have this one planet to share. Why not make it a nice place to coexist? That's what I'd like to see.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

First Drafts

Writers tend to write differently. Some come up with an idea and immediately start writing their story. This is their first draft. Others, like me, tend to plot it out first. But is this considered a first draft? Does it matter how much is plotted? For example, one writer might sketch out the chapters of a novel on 3x5 cards - a few sentences, maybe a paragraph, on each card - simply to get the writing flowing. Others like to write out a page (or sometimes much more) on each chapter before starting the actual writing process. I tend to write this way - a notebook or more is filled before I begin putting pen to paper on the traditional first draft. But is it a first draft? Or is that big outline actually considered the first draft? After all, when I'm done writing, the story is basically in place, meaning I don't change much of the structure in the editing process. Thanks to the outline I spent so much time on, the story is intact. (It still needs major editing, but that's basically for word and phrase choices and things like that, not the structure of the story itself.)

So what do you think? Is a big outline considered a first draft, or do you wait until the story is written before calling it a first draft? Chime in!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Writing Prompt #138

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so, as always, take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun!

Your life is on your phone, but you just dropped it into a pit of deadly vipers.