What does a character know, and when does she know it?

I recently attended the LTUE Symposium in Provo, and one of my favorite panels was the one on getting your firearms right.

Now, you may not be a gun nut, and you may not care, but I can practically guarantee that just about every author who’s written about guns has gotten some–ahem!–feedback on what they got wrong.

So let me lay it out as (a) a gun-nut, (b) a writer, and (c) a reader. These states of mind are not separate. They overlap.

Let me take off my shooting hat (yes, I have one to keep the brass out of my cleavage) and put on my writer hat (let’s say it looks a bit like a crown).

Just because I know the difference between a magazine and a clip doesn’t mean that every character I write does. Just because I know the difference between an auto-loader (semi-automatic) and full-auto doesn’t mean that every character I write does. Got that?

Let’s say I’m writing from Lizzie’s viewpoint. She is Mark’s girlfriend. Mark is a gun-nut. He wears Hoppe’s as after-shave. He carries a bore-snake in his hip pocket. Lizzie on the other hand knows which end is the shootie end and that there’s a thingie that you pull and it makes the gun go boom.

Lizzie settled into Mark’s bed, all alone. He’d gotten called in for overtime on a mid-shift. She’d fallen asleep easily enough, but the sound of glass breaking woke her as if someone had tossed a bucket of ice-water on her body. Over the thundering coming from her chest, she heard footsteps. She scrambled for her cell-phone. No signal. None. Lizzie grabbed at the nightstand drawer and pulled out the gun just in time to shoot the big, bad guy barging through the door. He dropped to the floor.


Notice how I didn’t get into the muzzle, cylinder, or cocking the hammer, or sighting in? Notice how I didn’t even tell you it was a revolver? Why didn’t I? It’s not because I didn’t know the proper terminology. It’s not because I don’t know what it feels like to experience this exact scenario.

I could’ve quite as easily written this:



Lizzie lifted the Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum with its six-inch, weighted barrel. She’d loaded it with 38 Special ammo to further reduce recoil and had custom grips made. Its more than 56 ounces was a reassuring weight in her hand. She looked down through the adjustable rear sights and placed the partridge dovetail of the front sight right where it needed to be–between the rear sights and on the intruder’s center of mass. She cocked the hammer. The cylinder made that satisfying click. The trigger pull was smooth as silk; the report, as quiet as a whisper. So, this is time distortion. This is auditory exclusion. This is surreal.


So, why didn’t I write the second version? Because Lizzie is not me. Lizzie is not a gun person. She doesn’t know these details (that’s actually a competition gun, BTW, but the use of 38 Special ammo in a 357 Magnum is deliberate). She doesn’t know about time dilation and compression. She doesn’t know about auditory exclusion.

Does genre matter?

No. It doesn’t. Even in the gun-nut genre, if you are writing from Lizzie’s point of view, you have to stay in Lizzie’s head, or else you’re going to have a world populated by gun-Mary-Sue’s. All your characters will read the same.

The second version is actually far more appropriate to Mark’s viewpoint, although even there, it’s arguable that he’d go on and on, describing his gun in THAT moment. Now, he might well describe it in such detail if he’s putting it away in the drawer, just before he leaves. Maybe he was cleaning it and got the call to go in to work. Maybe he loaded it just in case, because the self-defense gun was still on the kitchen table being cleaned and he figured that it was better to have the competition gun ready than have none at all. But he wouldn’t describe it in detail as he was shooting it. He might think about lining up the sights just right, but he wouldn’t tell us about the type of sights. He might not even notice the time dilation or auditory exclusion as it’s happening. Later he might, though.

Point of view matters.

5 Days to Go: Intellectual Property Tracker Kickstarter

I’d like to thank Jamie Ferguson for giving our Kickstarter a boost with this interview. Time is running out. Our Kickstarter ends on Feb. 13th. Make your pledge now in order to save money and unlock bonuses available only while the Kickstarter is running.

The Kickstarter has met its funding goal, so what’s the advantage of someone supporting the Kickstarter at this point?

There are three advantages: 
1. saving money; the pledge levels offer you the plans at a savings.
2. Dean Wesley Smith’s Magic Bakery Workshop on copyright and intellectual property is a $150 value on its own; you’re going to learn so many amazing things about copyright and how important it is to manage your rights in this class. Honestly, if you don’t know why stories are intellectual property and the value that intellectual property (IP) has to your success as a writer, you absolutely NEED this class, even if you’ve never published anything or if you’ve just had your first story accepted.
3. for those that already have a few (or a dozen or a hundred) titles out and know about copyright and IP, the $500 Lifetime Plan is a Kickstarter special.

Creative Penn podcast

Many thanks to Joanna Penn for the shoutout about Intellectual Property Tracker on her Creative Penn podcast. Joanna is a successful author and entrepreneur, with many, many, titles (both fiction and non-fiction about the business and craft for writing) to her name. 

Remember that our Kickstarter ends on Feb. 13th, so don’t delay. 

Please help us spread the word by sharing this. Thank you.

Intellectual Property Tracker update:

You asked. We responded. We added a requested feature to the demo version.

In response to the request for a feature that allowed the tracking of  images related to covers and merchandising, I’ve added that functionality to the demo version and recorded a brief (4′) video to give you an idea of what it might look like. This new feature allows you manage the data associated with images as well as the licensing associated with them. Whether you’re just using images for covers or not, we think this feature will streamline your process and free up your time.

Thank you again, everyone, for your support. We’re very excited to see this project come together. You can help this project by supporting our Kickstarter here.

Intellectual Property Tracker Working Demo

A working demo on the initial concept of Intellectual Property Tracker. You’ll see some of the BASIC functionality and how the software can be used. The final product will be easier to use and have more features.

Please consider backing our Kickstarter as well. In addition to the final product, you’ll also get WMG’s Magic Bakery Workshop, a great self-paced course on copyright and intellectual property (that’s a $150 value). Check it out.

Demo of initial concept (NOT the final product)

2019, A year of changes

First of all, Happy New Year, one and all.

Last year saw the words “The End” go on my space opera. It came in at a respectable 150,000 words. It’s a mix of futuristic nanotech, genetic engineering, the clash of cultures, feudal politics, sexy romance, and swords.

The new year is also supposed to see a new short story and two novellas, all as part of anthologies.

On the self-publishing side, I plan on re-releasing a short story in June and a novella in February. The novella is a bit of conundrum. I’m tempted to expand it and make it a second edition, one with additional content and some added steam (i.e. that means sexier), along with a sexy cover that I can’t wait to show you.

The major change this year is that all my self-published ebooks will be available to my newsletter subscribers two weeks before they are released to the rest of the world. So, if you want to take advantage of this, you have to be on my subscriber list, i.e. my super-fan list.

If you’re not on the list, you can sign up under “Newsletter Opt-in” on the right-side of the screen. Go ahead and do it. It’s easy.

I’m not into making new year’s resolutions, but I will say that my goal is to make 2019 a more productive year overall, with sequels and side stories for my space opera and a sequel to Promethea Invicta. Speaking of Promethea, I’m eagerly awaiting a better microphone (due here next week) so I can produce an audio version. I’m also very excited to announce a collaboration with Tom Kratman. More to come on that.

Meanwhile, my short story, Equality (first published in MAGA 2020 & Beyond) is live as of today directly from me via Bookfunnel (in your favorite format), as well as from these vendors (Print, Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Scribd, D2D). And of course, it’s available through your favorite library as well; just ask your librarian.

Kal Sprigg’s review of the Aquaman Movie (no spoilers)

I watched Aquaman last night.  I’ve got to say, I haven’t been this hyped up about a DC movie in… well, ever.  Which is pretty amusing considering Aquaman has been sort of a joke for a long, long time.

The movie manages to live up to that hype.  It’s fun, it’s got good action, an understandable plot, and motivations for the characters that actually make sense.  They do a great job showing Aquaman’s character, in little things he does, not just the big dumb hero stuff of saving the world.  Some of it is sort of check the box, (save the nuns, check, save the trapped guy, check), but a lot of that stuff is cliche for a reason: it shows that he actually cares enough about people to risk himself to save people caught in the middle of his battles.

Read the rest: King of the Seas: Aquaman Movie Review (no spoilers)

Why I’m the exclusivity contrarian

Exclusivity is one of those words that conjures up images of fashionable, stylish clothes, of expensive shopping, of status symbols. It also conjures up images of being part of a carefully selected group, of prohibiting the unworthy from entering.

Thing is, that first type of exclusivity, the one that conjures up designer clothes and shoes, exclusive clubs, requires a barrier to entry–usually price. Sometimes there’s value to go with it. Sometimes there’s not, just a polished turd with fantastic marketing. Those tend to fade away pretty quickly. The things that stand the test of time tend to be well-made as well as well-marketed, although the most exclusive need not advertise at all. It’s a bit of that “If you need to ask the price, you can’t afford it.”

Then there’s the type of exclusivity that sounds great, but isn’t. It’s the type of exclusivity that’s all about limitations–you cannot leave, you have no say, the other party can alter the deal at any time. You may have entered into the agreement willingly, but if you can’t withdraw consent, you’re at their mercy, aren’t you? If you’ve ever entered into a bad deal, whether in real estate or in a personal relationship, you have a good idea of how things can turn for the worst, and unfortunately, often do.

So now, let’s talk about Amazon’s Kindle “Unlimited” (KU) program. Although readers pay $9.99 a month to be in it, the amount of times it’s referred to as “free” tells me that people have conditioned themselves (and others) to think of this subscription service in a flawed way. It’s the same mentality that some people have that that tax refund at the end of the year was not their money in the first place; they don’t realize they’ve given the government an interest-free loan all year. While it’s called Kindle “Unlimited” it does NOT mean that you can read all the ebooks in Amazon’s inventory. Quite the opposite. If anything, it’s a limited program rather than an unlimited one.

To be clear, I’m going to focus on this from the perspective of an author, not a reader although my own experience as a reader was negative as well. The KU selection was limited mostly to people I didn’t read and the few that I read, it was cheaper just to buy their books, which I did.

 

The subscription model is not the issue. The exclusivity requirement is.

Continue Reading

Equality: A Short Story Re-released today

I’m happy to announce the release of the ebook version of “Equality: A Short Story.” To get your free copy, click here. It will remain free until the end of the year, so get it now.

Libby lives in a peace enclave for a reason. Here, her beliefs live and breathe, forming a cocoon. They embrace her like a mother’s loving arms. Peace. Security. Social consciousness. All in one place. Twenty-four-seven.

Coming home late one night, she walks through the park, happy and secure.

Until a man with a mask and a knife jumps in her path.

Will Libby survive the aftermath and the shattering of her beliefs?

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