Cartoon: “Stuck in a Book”

If you can’t relate to this cartoon, not only aren’t you a reader, you aren’t a writer either!

In other words, not only does Grant Snider know stuff…and feel stuff, he also reveals stuff.

Grant, dood – is what you’re really reading my mind?

StuckInABook-web

More Grant Snider Insight on Incidental Comics – HERE

Conversation with Novelist & 2009 People’s Pilot Winner John Adcox

Back in 2007, TVWriter™’s People’s Pilot Competition declared John Adcox’s spec pilot script, CHALLENGERS OF MYSTERY the overall contest winner. Since then, John’s veered off the TV writing path and become a highly regarded writer of books and short stories.  Recently, John gave the following highly informative interview about writing, marketing, and everything in between:

5 Questions with Fantasy Author John Adcox
by Will Bly

I interview John Adcox and receive some of the most-detailed answers to date. We explore John’s varied background, relate his marketing background to john adcoxwriting, and ask him to predict the future.

he first impression I have of you is that you are a man who wears many hats – publisher, author, and screenwriter for starters. You also boast a solid background in marketing and communications, and have helped some notable companies develop their brand. As a writerly person how important is it to be flexible in the age of the internet?

Well, with the economics of publishing changing, it’s incredibly important for authors to be able to promote and market themselves. The publishers, even the larger ones, really don’t do that anymore … at all. Even when they did, they never did it well. By and large, publishers have always marketed directly to booksellers, not book readers. That means, out of all the people in the world who might fall in love with your story, publishers are, at best, marketing to the few who happen to wander into bookstores.

In marketing, we call that “white hart” marketing. That’s a term that comes from mythology — the white hart is the object of the quest, a sort of walking Holy Grail. It grants wishes. The point is, they are (at best!) few, and they’re really, really hard to find.

The better way is to concentrate on all the other harts, the plain old brown ones. There’s lots of those, and no one is after them.

In this case, think of white harts as the people who frequent bookstores, and buy two or three books a week … pretty much every week. That sounds like the ideal audience, right?

The thing is, there are hundreds of new books published every week, and this white hart is buying three.

Books like, say, The Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter series reach way, way beyond the audiences that usually buy books. Those people are hungry for stories, too. They are the brown harts. Go after them. Of course, the publishers will never do that.

So it’s pretty much up to writers. That’s not something we’re necessarily comfortable with, but I think it’s easier if you think in terms of building genuine relationships with audiences, or potential audiences, rather than selling.

Technology gives you amazing tools for communicating, and participating in the kind of communities that develop around stories. When you write, you’re writing for an audience. As much as we all like to think of ourselves as writing for the entire world, we’re actually writing for a smaller, specific audience — at least to start with. You might every well grow beyond that base, but you have to start someone.

The people in this audience share things in common … interests, passions, hobbies. There’s something in most of us, I think, that yearns to meet people “like us,” people who understand. C.S. Lewis put it like this in The Four Loves: “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” So those people tend to congregate somewhere.

For example, my agent is shopping a book of mine that’s set at a Renaissance fair. At least five million people go to a fair somewhere in the US every year … twice. Now then. Count the ones who go once a year, or every other year, and you have a fairly significant audience. You can use, say, Facebook to find people who love Renaissance fairs and, again for example, fantasy and/or paranormal romance, and you start to have a group that you can start interacting with.

You’ll find that most of them will say, “wow, here’s someone like me!” And they’re eager to help. Treat them with genuine respect and gratitude, and pretty soon you’ll have an audience. Just be sure to give back.

Your bio mentions that you are now focusing on storytelling, how do you bring everything together and streamline your efforts?

Mostly, that was a case of eliminating all the things that weren’t focused on storytelling. Sounds simple, right?

My company, Gramarye Media was lucky enough to be accepted into a business accelerator, Georgia Tech’s Flashpoint program. That program is designed to eliminate years of startup mistakes (and literally millions of dollars of wasted money). As a result, we were able to attract the attention of major investors….

Read it all at Will Bly’s blog

Diana Vacc sees “Independence Day: Resurgence”

independence-day-film-header

by Diana Vaccarelli

Twenty years after the iconic film Independence Day opened to not only box office success but critical success as well, much of the original gang both before and behind the cameras has returned to our screens.  It’s sequel time, with Independence Day: Resurgence telling the tale of how, a generation after our victory over alien invaders Earth is in big trouble from a new threat. Well, actually it’s the old threat. Except…

No, I’ll stop now. No point in me spoiling things for you. The film handles that all by itself.

THE GOOD:

  • The CGI and physical sfx are incredible. Watching this film I got a great sense of the world Director Roland Emmerich created for us.  The way the ships look and the appearance of the new technology created from what our characters acquired from our invaders last time around are visually stunning.
  • The performance of Bill Pullman as former President Whitmore feels genuine.  As the viewer, you can feel his pain over what happened in the first invasion as well as what he foresees will happen this time around. I feel this is Pullman’s career-best performance.

THE BAD:

  • Where to begin? Let’s start with the writing. Writers Emmerich and Dean Devlin (among others, which may explain all the problems – except why wasn’t somebody coordinating all their changes?) concoct a story that is almost identical to the original.  It feels more like a remake then a sequel. And Emmerich has remade it badly at that.
  • Then there are the performances by every actor who isn’t Bill Pullman. These weren’t phoned in, they were sloppily texted. And the predictable twists and turns and overwrought background music and – well, there’s this: An alien ally that appears in the form of a sphere stating a prophecy and how humans can help them.  The scenes with the sphere were laughable.  They should have had an actual alien creature and not a bouncing ball.

THE CONCLUSION:

There may be more to say about this film, but, disappointingly, Independence Day: Resurgence is so forgettable that it’s already out of my mind.

Happy Summer Blockbuster Season!


Diana Vaccarelli is the TVWriter™ Critic-at-Large and, in case you haven’t noticed, a HUGE Outlander fan. Learn more about her HERE

CARGO 3120 Chapter Five

More CARGO 3120.

If you’re not up to speed on this fine s-f novella and the series it’s designed to introduce, please start from the beginning HERE

by Aaron Walker Sr.

Marcus and his crew exited the facility arguing all the way.

“Nice, Max. But ya nearly leveled the place,” Tony said. He was quite impressed with the destruction that took place back there.

“Ya’ll quit complainin’,” Max responded to the entire team. “You’re still alive, ain’t ya?”

Though there was plenty of blame to go around for the poor performance of Raven Squad that night, but Marcus was most upset with his second in command, and most trusted friend: Daren.

“What was that about?” Marcus yelled at Daren. “I said: Target crates only,”

“I was doin’ us a favor. That stuff was worth…”
“I don’t wanna hear it, D,” Marcus yelled while cutting him off.

Suddenly shots rang out, narrowly missing Marcus and Daren’s head. Tony deactivated the anti-grav rods to provide a little more cover in addition to the debris from the blown out wall. Everyone on the team took cover, and returned fire. Marcus could tell these aggressors were not the timid guards they faced inside the facility. The way they moved and communicated led him to believe they were the real deal. Realizing they wouldn’t be able to make it to their rendezvous point, Marcus contacted Jason.

“Six, Do you Copy?” Marcus shouted into his comm unit. “It’s gettin’ real out here. Need immediate evac.”

A short time later, Jason’s voice responded over the comm. “Copy that. Raven Six, inbound.”

Marcus knew it wouldn’t take long for Jason to get the ship airborne, but the minutes felt like hours. To make matters worse, they were running out of ammo. No one expected this level of resistance, and they needed to travel light on a job like this. Marcus used hand signals to direct Tony to lay down suppressive fire with his XR-19 Heavy Repeater; a large energy based machine gun, designed for suppression. Tony took up a good firing position near a large metallic section of the blown out wall and let loose with his weapon. The constant barrage of golden colored energy bolts from his rifle forced Donald’s team to fall back a short distance.

Marcus hoped that his team could hold out long enough for Jason to arrive with close air support and a much needed extraction. Marcus pulled out a pair of electronic binoculars to get a better look. After a quick adjustment of the zoom, Marcus was able to see exactly with whom they were dealing, and he wasn’t happy.  Marcus had known of Donald for quite some time. He had a close encounter with the guy about a year ago during a solo operation. Donald didn’t realize just how close he was to nabbing him that night. No one had ever gotten that close to Marcus and lived, so he had much respect for this exceptionally talented soldier. Marcus lowered his binoculars, shaking his head in disbelief. “Great,” Marcus said to himself. He reached out to Jason again… “Any day now, Six.”

At that moment The Indicator thundered onto the scene, firing its dual nose cannons toward Raven Squad’s attackers, forcing them into cover. But little did Jason know that Donald sent one of his ace engineers inside to manually force the mining facility’s air defenses back online… and his timing was impeccable. After squeezing off a few more shots toward Saber Team, the anti-aircraft batteries situated along the perimeter walls of the complex went live, immediately locking onto The Indicator. The massive cannons lit up the sky with its crimson colored fury.

“Oh, crap,” Jason said after picking up the incoming fire. With lightning reflexes, he initiated a series of death defying evasive maneuvers. Jason pitched, yawed and rolled his way out of trouble, escaping with only a few minor grazes in the process. The intensity of the incoming fire was so great, Jason was unable to get a solid lock on the cannons, so he was forced to back off from the facility, beyond the range of The Indicators cannons. And firing missiles would be useless since they’d be easy targets for the station’s missile defense system. He was effectively out of the fight. “Leader,” Jason radioed to Marcus. “The facility’s air defenses are active… You’re gonna have to move to Bravo. How copy?”

“Solid copy, Six. Leader, out,” Marcus replied. He looked at his crew, then at their assailants and knew what he had to do. His mentor: Jax told him a while back, that if he always took care of his crew, he’d never have to worry about mutiny. And that’s what Marcus did since forming Raven Squad, he took care of his crew. He wasn’t about to let his entire team go down when he knew Donald was after him only. If he could just buy them enough time to rendezvous with Jason, he could possibly give Donald the slip on his own.

“We’re movin’ to Bravo,” Marcus yelled to his team. “I’ll cover you guys,” He then turned to Tony. “Give me that thing,” Marcus said regarding Tony’s heavy repeater.

Daren knew Marcus all too well, and he knew exactly what Marcus was saying. His first instinct was to tell Marcus that he was crazy and that they were all leaving together. But on the other hand, he was so close to completing the only mission that truly mattered to him, the mission that would finally earn him the money and respect that he deserved. Besides, Marcus was the most talented mercenary he knew. If anyone could make it out on his own, it was Marcus. So he was good with moving on without their leader.

“Sounds good, let’s move,” Daren blurted out.

The team looked at Daren as if he were crazy for being so quick to leave Marcus behind.

Skye ceased firing and moved to Marcus’ position. She stared intently into his eyes. She wasn’t a crier, but tried in vain to suppress the tears welling inside. But at that moment, she didn’t care. She would gladly give her life for this man, and wasn’t content with leaving him to the wolves firing on their team in the distance.  “There’s no way I’m leavin’ you,” she said.

But there was no time for sentimentality. He didn’t want Skye making this decision any harder than it was. So Marcus interrupted her and addressed the team.

“They’re not here for you,” Marcus shouted to his crew. “Now move.”

As the team reluctantly prepared to fall back, Skye remained by his side, ready to go out in a blaze of glory if necessary. But Marcus grabbed her by the shoulders while trying to contain his own emotions. “Go, Skye,” he shouted. Then he noticed the tears rolling down her cheeks, and quickly wiped them from her eyes. “That’s an order,” he said softly.

In that moment, Skye saw something in his eyes that she had never seen before. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but she was certain there was no turning him from this path. So she slowly backed away as Tony moved in to give Marcus his weapon. Tony then grabbed Skye by the arm, pulling her away from the fight. Marcus turned toward Saber Team and prepared to fire. As Skye retreated with the rest of the crew, her sadness swiftly turned to rage, as she glared at Daren.

Marcus stared downrange toward Donald and his advancing team.

“You want me? I’m right here,” he yelled to Donald. Moments later he opened up on Saber Team with his newly acquired weapon.

Forget the rules of engagement. Marcus did his best to cut every last one of them down; especially Donald. It was supposed to be in and out, he thought. He struggled to suppress the hatred he was feeling for Daren at that moment for putting him into this situation. He forced himself to calm down because his aim was being effected by his fury. Though unable to hit Donald or his team, he successfully pinned them down while Raven Squad made their escape.

Donald watched Marcus from behind the cover of the outer buildings. He prepared to have his team flank Marcus, when the sniper he previously sent to find a high perch outside of the mining complex, finally reported in.

“Watcher Two, in position,” The sniper radioed in a calm voice.

“Report,” Donald replied.

“I have eyes on four mercs heading away from Alpha, dragging what appears to be the stolen crates. Orders?” The sniper asked with the crosshairs of his scope aimed firmly on Daren’s back.

Donald had only a short time to make a decision. He would have loved nothing more than to have his sniper take down Marcus’ entire team, just to show his resolve… but he had orders to follow. His boss: Brigadier General Thomas Kirkland had made it abundantly clear that Marcus La’Dek was the sole target on this mission. He wasn’t concerned with a bunch of low level rock brigands. Kirkland wanted Teric Winters, and his intelligence officers told him that Marcus was his best shot. Like Donald, Kirkland too was eying promotion. He desired ascension to the title of Supreme Commander of the Interstellar Guard. So the General’s instructions were to be executed without the slightest deviation.

“Negative, Watcher Two,” Donald replied over comms. “Bring only the subject down,” he finished, relieved that he could bring a swift end to this tedious chore.

The sniper moved the scope of his rifle from Raven Squad to Marcus. Sure he could have fired an ordinary shock round, but Donald wanted to send a message; so a standard round fired from the rifle of one the preeminent snipers in the entire Saber Brigade was the order of the day.

Watcher Two was a little disappointed as he locked onto his largely stationary target. He wanted more movement out of Marcus so he could claim bragging rights among the few sharpshooters on his level. But like the rest of the team, he was sick of Titan and its unforgiving surface conditions… he wanted to go home, so he centered his crosshairs on Marcus’s left shoulder, hoping to produce a clean shot, while missing vital arteries. Providing he survived the bullet, it would take his target months of rehab to regain full use of the arm again; but at least he wouldn’t be dead, which would really suck, Watcher Two thought.

And with one perfectly aimed shot that could be heard for miles, Watcher Two let loose a round that passed cleanly through Marcus’ shoulder, sending him tumbling to the ground. Watcher Two smiled as the rifle that Marcus had been firing toward his colleagues was at last, silenced.


Originally published on the CARGO 3120 Blog

60 Things For Your Characters To Do When They Talk Or Think

One of the things that drives experienced writers and directors and actors and producers crazy is being given scenes that are all about what the characters in them are saying (or thinking) and not about what they’re doing.

Sitting and talking. Standing and talking. Eating and talking. Driving and talking. These are just about the dullest possible things that could be happening in a story, be it on the big screen, the small screen, the even smaller screen, or even in a book.

Fortunately, one of our favorite blogs, South Africa’s Writers Write, has a few suggestions for how to give your characters something to do that will make what they’re saying seem more interesting. Wait, did we say “a few?” Try 60. God, don’t you love it when writers writing about writing write so thoroughly?

medium_Characters_in_fiction

by Kathy B

One of the easiest ways to show and not tell is by making your characters do things while they are talking or thinking about something. It could be anything including a chore, a daily grooming ritual, a hobby, or a group activity.

When you do this, you show who the character is by the things they choose to do or have to do. You also have to think about their body language, because the way a character does something says as much as the words they are speaking as they do it. [Read Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language}

Try to avoid the act of scrolling through cell phones. Even if many people do this, it is passive and does not allow for movement, thought, and changes in body language.

Choose activities that fit naturally into your characters’ lifestyles. Do not force them to do things unless you mean to make them uncomfortable.
If you are stuck for ideas about what your characters can do when they are thinking about something important or while they are having a conversation, I’ve put together a list of suggestions:
  1. Colouring in a book
  2. Shopping for groceries
  3. Working on a car or a motorbike
  4. Trying on clothes – at home or in a shop
  5. Taking a dog for a walk
  6. Playing a board game
  7. Playing a game of cards
  8. Giving a dog a bath
  9. Cuddling a cat
  10. Feeding pets
  11. Walking through a museum or art gallery
  12. Knitting, sewing, needlework
  13. Having a bath….

Read it all at Writers Write