Tag Archives: Guest post

Writer’s Ramble: Jason Fedora

It’s that time again where I bring you another edition of Writer’s Ramble. Today I am interviewing Jason Fedora. Please feel free to check out his bio and his book, available on Amazon AND at MidSouth Con 34 THIS WEEKEND. Regional folks, I’ll be there too with a special promotion, so stop on by and get your geek on!

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  • How did you discover your passion for writing?

It was two things actually. The first happened one day while in grade school. It was Monday after Easter Sunday. The teacher asked the class to write a story of how we spent Easter. At the time I was getting inspired to write. I was also huge into Transformers. While the other kids wrote about hunting Easter eggs and such, my story revolved around Spike, the human in the Transformer’s TV show, showing the Autobots the customs of hiding and finding Easter eggs. While the Autobots were hunting for the eggs, the Deceptacons attacked. Lasers, rockets, and fists were either shot or thrown between the two warring parties. In the end, the Deceptacons were defeated and the Easter egg hunt resumed. My teacher gave me a C and my mother fussed at me, but to me at the time it was one of my proudest moments. It showed me I could tell stories.

The second was while I was a teenager and my best friend showed me how to play Dungeons and Dragons. My mother had the game but would never play it with me. My friend came along with the books and taught me to play. Eventually several others joined us and we had all night marathon sessions of D&D. It’s funny or maybe sad, depending on your point of view. While the other teenagers were riding around and going to parties, we were sitting around a table killing Orcust and Githiyanki. Once I got the rules down I tried my hand at Dungeon Mastering, which turned out to be my downfall as a player. After a few sessions my friends thought I was good, which meant i hardly ever got to play a character after that.

  • Do you approach story telling from a character building perspective and then world building or vice versa?

My ideas always start with a character and a problem that must be solved. I don’t think I have ever created a world and then built the character–seems kind of backwards to me. When I get an idea for a story, the character is doing something cool while solving the problems. I then start expanding on the character, which in turn creates the world. Before long the character is a living breathing entity and the world is a physical place.

  • Which part of the story tends to bog you down? The blank white page, the murky middle or wrapping everything up at the end?

Oh my God the middle. Writing the middle is like driving on a deserted road needing to use the bathroom but there is no store. You just know if you stop to go in the woods someone will suddenly appear, looking to see what’s going on. The middle seems like it goes on and on. The blank page has never intimidated me. As I have not had the problem of filling it up. The wrap up is to me the best part. It’s the climatic part of the story where everything you have been working towards come together, not to mention the end is now in sight. It’s a great feeling to type out the last word and then lean back in your chair knowing you have accomplished something special.

  • Tell us about your book and what inspired the story?

My book is about a man who betrayed everything he lived for, loved and fought for. His friend, who is more like a brother, must hunt him down to find out why. It’s about the true meaning behind people’s actions and the events that caused them. The story itself was one I wrote while in high school, using elements and events I came up with while I Dungeon Mastered. The story evolved over the years as I tinkered with it. When the dam broke so to speak, I said to myself “I’m going to be a writer.” I pulled the story out and worked it until it became fleshed out. It was Tommy Hancock, my editor, who drew out the full potential in me. With his help the story became rock solid, the characters became living people with feelings, wants and desires, and the world became a place you could touch, experience and walk in.

Bio

Jason Fedora’s writing career started when an elementary teacher had her students write an Easter story. While everyone else wrote of fluffy bunnies and family, Jason wrote about an Easter egg hunt that became the battle ground between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Jason has come a long way from that five page short story. He has recently had the Truth of Betrayal, a high fantasy, published by Dark Oak Press. Jason has one up and coming short story to be released by ProSe Press and is currently doing edits for Unknown: War Drums, a paranormal fantasy with his father, as well as Pillars of the World, the sequel to Truth of Betrayal.

 

Weekly Writers’ Ramble: Bobby Nash

UPDATE: Because the day job has apparently eaten my brain, I left out material in the initial post AND the title. This has been remedied.

Today we welcome Bobby Nash as our author guest, and the last for this months topic.

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PROS AND CONS OF CONS

I love a good con.

Not the kind where someone steals all my money though. Those are only fun to watch on TV or in the movies. What I love are conventions. From the small one-day shows to the big four day events, conventions invigorate me as a creator even as they wear me out as a person. When H.C. asked me to make a list of the pros and cons of attending cons, I leapt at the chance.

The Pros:

1. Meeting the Pro’s. As a creator myself, I love talking with other creative people and the convention is a great place to meet like minded peers, fans, and friends alike. Some of the best relationships I’ve made are with people I first met at a convention.

2. Finding out what’s new or uncovering something you didn’t even know existed. Conventions are great ways for local and lesser-known creators to get their works in front of potential fans. As a writer, I love introducing people to my work. With so many different books out there, conventions are a good place to see what else is out there. More often than not you’ll find a few gems you didn’t even know you were looking for.

3. Travel. I love to travel and attending conventions has allowed me to visit places I might not have had the opportunity otherwise.

4. Getting out of the house. I know this sounds like a joke, but it’s not. Writing is a rather solitary job and I spend so much of my time in a room alone with my laptop. Stepping into a convention center with a few thousand of my closest friends is a nice refreshing change of pace to my sitting alone in my office for days and weeks at a time.

5. Cosplay, fans, and fun. Cosplayers, fans, actors, writers, artists, etc. are there to work, but also to have fun. The evening events at conventions are a fun time to socialize outside of the dealer’s room where people can hang without trying to sell stuff. It’s a great time for photos, chatting over drinks, or just hanging out. Have fun and introduce yourself to someone new. Just don’t stop in the hallways or at the top of escalators for photos. That leads to disaster.

The Cons:

1. Conventions are expensive. All of the cool things like paying for a badge or a table, food, hotel, travel, books, supplies, and whatever you see at the con that you just have to buy can eat up a good bit of cash so you have to be prepared. Budget is key. I usually try to carpool and/or split a room with someone when I can. That certainly helps out with those expenses.

2. Crowds. As cons continue to grow in popularity, the crowds grow right along with them. If you don’t like crowds, this is something you’ll have to bear in mind.

3. Know your surroundings. I mentioned earlier taking photos. Be aware of where you’re standing when you ask for a photo. Blocking doors, stairs, and escalators never ends well and either creates a back up or a collision. Just take a moment to step away from the walkways.

4. Dehydration. Drink plenty of water. This is key. Also, at least once a day, take a shower. Cons are hot and sweaty.

These are just a few of the pros and cons of attending a convention. Personally, I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons. No matter what convention you go to, try to have a good time. Remember, the people working the dealer’s room, panels, booths, etc. are there to have a good time like everyone else, but they are also working so check out their stuff and say hello.

I’m often asked what kind of con people should attend. That’s a tough one as there are so many different kinds of conventions out there for many different fandoms.

There are smaller one day shows that are usually more laid back with little stress. These are usually shows where you shop with a handful of guests you can meet, usually writers, artists, or actors.

Hotel shows are generally relaxi-cons, which means they run day and night over the course of a weekend. Look for a good number of parties in the evenings, plenty of opportunities for meeting your fellow fans.

Convention Center Cons take place during the day in a convention center. That means the evening is usually unscheduled, although if there is a hotel attached to the con, it’s probably where most folks from the con will hang out in the evening. In other cases, people scatter when the convention closes down for the day, depending on the venue.

No matter which type of show you want to attend, check their website first to see who is there you want to meet, what panels you would like to attend, things like that. Have a plan, but be flexible. It is impossible to do everything at the cons.

Most of all, no matter which con you attend, have fun.

###

About Bobby Nash:

From his secret lair in the wilds of Bethlehem, Georgia, 2013 Pulp Ark Award Winning Best Author, Bobby Nash writes a little bit of everything including novels, comic books, short prose, graphic novels, screenplays, media tie-ins, and more.

Between writing deadlines, Bobby is an actor and extra in movies and television, including appearances in Deviant Pictures’ Fat Chance, FOX’s The Following, USA’s Satisfaction, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, and more. He is also the co-host of the Earth Station One podcast (www.esopodcast.com) and a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers and International Thriller Writers.

Bobby was named Best Author in the 2013 Pulp Ark Awards, his first professional writing award. Rick Ruby, a character co-created by Bobby and author Sean Taylor also snagged a Pulp Ark Award for Best New Pulp Character of 2013. Bobby was also nominated for the 2014 New Pulp Awards and Pulp Factory Awards for his work.

To find out more about Bobby Nash, visit his blog
or his website.

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Weekly Writer’s Ramble- Enough about me

Beginning next week, I will have the good fortune of hosting an author on Fridays for a guest post I shall henceforth call our “Weekly Writers’ Ramble”. Each month will feature a new topic, so we’ll hear a number of different viewpoints on each topic. In addition, it isn’t just little ol’ me sharing my fledgling author knowledge.

This month’s topic is “The Pros and Cons of Cons” and the calendar is already full! July will be “I heard that!: Audiobooks”, and there’s still some slots available, so if you are interested, shoot me an email through my Google+ or FB page!

Spread the word and feel free to ask questions!

So, check back next week, same bat time, same bat….errr, website.

Holy Internet, Batman! Everyone under 30 just went, "Huh?"
Holy Internet, Batman! Everyone under 30 just went, “Huh?”

 

Guest Post: Stephanie Osborn

Today I heartily welcome Ms. Osborn, a fellow scientist and writer as she shares some writing tips on American vs. British English. I confess that I read so much classic British literature as a child that I got in trouble a few times for spelling words using the British spelling rather than American. Not everyone, though, is as familiar with the similarities and differences.  I’ll let Ms. Osborn go into it.

Stephanie Osborn

American English and British English, and Learning to Write Both

By Stephanie Osborn

I’m sure you’ve all seen it.

We in America would say, “I don’t recognize this caller ID on my cellphone; I thought this app specialized in emphasizing identification. Could you wake me up at seven in the morning? Everything has been taken care of, but I have to run over and see Mom before the announcement is publicly known.”

But a Brit would say the same thing like this: “I don’t recognise this caller ID on my mobile; I thought this app specialised in emphasising identification. Would you knock me up at seven in the morning? It’s all sorted, but I have to pop over and see me Mum before the announcement is publically known.”

It’s the difference between the American version of English, and the British version of the same language. Sometimes people who travel back and forth between the two countries — the US and the UK — have been known to remark, “We speak the same language, but we don’t.”

And the difference encompasses terminology, slang, and even spelling.

Did you know that J.K. Rowling was made to change the name of the very first book in the Harry Potter series before it could be published in the USA? The original title, the title you’ll find on bookstore shelves in London, is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. But publishers felt that Americans might not recognize the alchemical reference, and so it was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. And you may, or may not, be familiar with the use of “trainers” to mean athletic shoes, or “jumper” to refer to a pullover sweater. Cell phones are “mobiles” and refrigerators, regardless of brand, are “Frigidaires.” (I suppose this is analogous to our referring to all disposable facial tissues as “Kleenex” and cotton swabs as “Q-Tips.”)

Americans may call it a plow, but Britons call it a plough — that was even a major clue that Holmes found in one of the original adventures, denoting the suspect wasn’t British as he claimed. There is, it seems, and has been for something like a century and a half at the least, a tendency for Americans to eliminate so-called silent letters and spell more phonetically than our British counterparts. But at least Sir Arthur Conan Doyle only had to write in one version thereof.

When I started writing the Displaced Detective series, which has been described as, “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files,” I made a deliberate decision: If the speaker was American, dialogue (and later, thoughts and even scenes from that character’s point of view) would be written in American English. If the speaker (thinker, observer) was from the United Kingdom, dialogue etc. would be written in British English. This has held true right down to the book currently being released, A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, book 5 in the series (with at least 3 more in work, and more in the planning stages).

The series itself traces the exploits of Sherlock Holmes — or one version of Holmes, at least — when he is inadvertently yanked from an alternate reality in which he exists in Victorian Europe, into modern, 21st Century America. In his particular alternate reality, he and Professor Moriarty were BOTH supposed to die at Reichenbach, so if he is returned, he must die. Thus, he wisely opts to stay put and come up to speed on the modern world. Working with Dr. Skye Chadwick, her continuum’s equivalent to Holmes and the Chief Scientist of Project Tesseract (the program responsible for his accidental transition), Holmes ends up being asked to investigate unusual and occasionally outré situations.

In his latest foray, after an entire English village is wiped out in an apparent case of mass spontaneous combustion, London contacts The Holmes Agency to investigate. Holmes goes undercover to find a terror ring. In Colorado, Skye battles raging wildfires and mustangs, believing Holmes has abandoned her. Holmes must discover what caused the horror in Stonegrange and try to stop the terrorists before they unleash their bizarre weapon again, all the while wondering if he still has a home in Colorado.

The cast of characters includes an American FBI agent, several members of the US military, two entire units of MI-5, and more. All of whom have to be rendered in their appropriate version of English.

Simple, you say? Just set Word to use the British English dictionary.

Right. Except then Skye, Agent Smith, Colonel Jones, and the other Americans would then be speaking Brit.

“So set both dictionaries operational,” you suggest.

Great idea. I’d love to. But Word doesn’t have that option — the two dictionaries would conflict. And even if it could use both, how would it know whether an American or an Englishman were speaking? More, one of those characters — Holmes himself — actually uses a somewhat archaic form of British English, in that he is a man of the Victorian era, and speaks in such fashion. So I am really using three different forms of English.

Well, the end result is simply that I have to make sure I read back through the manuscript very carefully, looking for places where either I’ve slipped up, or autocorrect replaced the British with the American equivalent (which it does every chance it gets). I’m also pleased that my publisher has assigned me a regular editor who is quite familiar with the British version of English, to include the euphemisms, exclamations, and general slang. She’s been amazingly helpful, and I do my best to stay up to speed on the latest version of slang in both the US and the UK.

So what has been the response?

Well, I’ve had one or two Amazon reviews refer to “misspellings,” and there’s one venerated author (of whom I like to refer as one of the “Grand Old Men of Science Fiction”) who is currently reading the first couple of books in the series and is amazed that I even attempted to pull such a thing off, let alone that I’m doing it.

Other than that, it’s rather strange; not one reader has volunteered the observation that I am writing in two different forms of the English language. Yet the sense among fans of the series is that I have captured Doyle’s tone and style, despite the fact that I do not use a first-person Watson narrative, or the fact that we see what Holmes is thinking, at least to a point.

I believe the reason is because, subconsciously, readers are picking up on the fact that Holmes speaks, thinks, and observes in proper, Victorian, British English. Even when referring to more modern conveniences, he maintains a solid British presence. Consistently. Throughout.

That’s precisely what I intended, from the very beginning.

I love it when a plan comes together.

A Case of Spontaneous Combustion (Displaced Detective)-  Excerpt

Prologue — Changes in Routine

 Stonegrange was a little old English hamlet in the County of Wiltshire in the Salisbury Plain of England, much like any other such ancient British village: a tiny central square in the midst of which crouched a hoary, venerated church, surrounded by a few small shops, and residences on the outskirts tapering off into the surrounding farmlands. On Sundays the church was full, and on Thursdays the outlying farmers brought their produce in to market. The occasional lorry carried in other supplies, and the Post Office ran every day but Sunday. So small was the village that the constable wasn’t even full time.

Still and all, it wasn’t very far from a main thoroughfare, the A338, that ran through Salisbury and on down to Bournemouth and Poole, and it wasn’t uncommon for lorry drivers to stop for a bite in the local pub, or even park their rigs in an empty lot just off the square for a good, safe night’s rest. Sometimes they even used the lot to hand off cargo from one freight company to another.

So no one thought twice when a flat-bed trailer showed up overnight in the lot, a large wooden crate lashed firmly to its middle. The locals figured it was either a hand-off, or someone’s tractor rig had broken down and been hauled off for repair, while leaving the cargo in a safe place.

* * *

Dr. Skye Chadwick-Holmes, horse trainer, detective, and one of the foremost hyperspatial physicists on the planet, answered the phone at the ranch near Florissant, Colorado.

“Holmes residence,” she murmured. “Skye speaking.”

“Hi there, Skye, Hank Jones here,” Colonel Henry Jones, head of security for Schriever Air Force Base, greeted the lady of the house from the other end of the line. “If you don’t mind, grab Holmes and then hit the speaker phone.”

“Oh, hi, Hank,” Skye replied warmly. “Good to hear from you, but I’m afraid I can’t oblige. Sherlock’s not here right now. Billy Williams called him down to the Springs to update him on some new MI-5 HazMat techniques; I completed my certification last month, but Sherlock had a nasty little cold and missed out.”

“Oh,” Jones said blankly. “Well, are YOU available?”

“Um, I guess so, for whatever that’s worth,” a hesitant Skye said. “Depends. Whatcha got?”

“Murder in the residential quarters at Peterson,” Jones noted, grim. “Suspects and victim were all Schriever personnel, though, so I get to have fun with it. Joy, joy.”

“And you could use a bit of help?”

“‘Fraid so,” Jones sighed. “As usual, I’m short-handed right now. The Pentagon never seems to get the fact that ‘Security’ means ‘document control,’ ‘police force,’ ‘guard duty,’ ‘investigation,’ and half a million other different jobs all rolled together, on a base like this.” He sighed again. “Listen, is there any chance you could meet me down there in about an hour or so, have a look around the crime scene yourself, then call your husband in when he’s available if you need to? As a favor to me? I need to get rolling on it A.S.A.P.”

“Um, okay,” Skye agreed after a moment’s thought. “Yeah, I can at least get started on it, and collect the initial data for Sherlock. Maybe even come to some basic conclusions and formulate a theory for us to work on. Gimme the address and I’ll buzz on down…”

* * *

The trailer remained where it was, off Stonegrange’s central square, for two days, and still no one thought to question. After all, tractors had mechanical difficulties just like the residents’ own autos and lorries, and sometimes those difficulties took a few days to repair. So no inquiries were made. The trailer was ignored.

Until, at precisely 11:02 p.m. three nights after its arrival, the crate emitted a soft, reverberating hum. No one was near enough to hear it, however—at least, no one curious enough to bother checking it out. Exactly five minutes later, a loud zap! sounded from the box.

Stonegrange was as silent as the tomb the rest of the night.

The next morning, the flat-bed trailer was gone.

~~~End Excerpt~~~

Check back soon for a review of the talented Ms. Osborn’s “A Case of Spontaneous Combustion”.