Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Over So Shut Up

There are certain topics that get banned from conversation during family get togethers for one reason or another:  religion, sports, politics etc.  Usually because the passion involved makes even the most likable person a true ass.

We all just suffured through another presidential election.  I think in many ways we suffered more than ever before.  In one sense, I am lucky.  I live in the state of Oklahoma.  In the grand scheme of things, Oklahoma doesn't matter.  We aren't one of those states that can decide an election, so no money isn't wasted on television commercials.  For that matter, if you are a democrat in Oklahoma, you may as well stay home on that one Tuesday every four years.

This time around it seems that social media was just littered with election garbage.  And it was just that; garbage.  The falsehoods propogated on Twitter, Facebook, etc. were astounding.  The sad part of it was that people presented these falsehoods as fact.  This of course makes them no better than the morally lacking candidates that ran for office.

Republican, Democrat, or whatever other not-a-chance party, it didn't matter.  The lies spread like an egg in a lopsided frying pan.  What really throws me off is that people that I thought were intelligent human beings shared, retweeted, reposted stories that were just outright lies, or misrepresentations of photographs.  So, either these intelligent people are liars, or they are dumber than I gave them credit for.  Either way, a lot of people, from all sides, lost a lot of my respect for them.

It all goes back to something I have said before on this blog:  Don't believe everything you see on TV, read in the paper, or find on the internet; research the facts.

If you share, retweet, repost a story without finding out whether or not it is true, then you have been made the fool.  Don the cute little hat with bells on it and do a little jig, because you are qualified for one thing, acting the fool.

And now that the election season has passed, I still get inundated with propoganda on the social media outlets.  It's over.  There is nobody that needs to be convinced that your side is the only side to be on for another four years.  And really, do you actually think that your lies will change someones mind?

It's over, so shut up.

My favorite line this election season, that says more about the speaker than it does about who they are speaking too:
"If you don't vote for Obama, then you are racist."

Shameless plug:
Blood of Two (Drums of Rallinwar:  Book One) is available in electronic format at your favorite e-book outlet, including Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Diesel, and Smashwords.  Buy it, rate it, review it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sometimes it just works

Since the release of Blood of Two in August, I have had conversations with readers (some friends/family, some not).  To my pleasant surprise, some elements of my story worked how I wanted them to.

When I created Tarimot, he was to be the comic relief, but he didn't agree.  He became more of the advisor to the group and not so much funny, though he does have his moments.  But, one of the things that I used to round him out was his speech pattern.  I actually have a file called Tarimots cadence that I revisit from time to time just to make sure I write his dialog correctly.  In my mind, this wasn't really a big thing, but many of the readers picked up on this and were complementary of it.  I was told by one reader that he felt like I could write a paragraph of Tarimot's dialog, and it would be apparent that he was the speaker without the use of a speaker attribute.  If I could pull this off with all of my characters, I would be ecstatic.

Blood of Two had its share of unexpected events, at least I hoped it did when I was writing them.  Again, I was happy to find out that they worked as I wanted.  One character was expected to go off the deep end, but most of the readers didn't expect the degree of the dive.  There were a couple of deaths in the book, and one in particular that made a reader or two really ticked at the author (mission accomplished).  I wanted to create characters that got the reader hooked, and for the most part I succeeded.

One death scene received the greatest complement I could hear.  The reader told me that the emotion and reactions of the characters around this one death was so spot on that he assumed that I had suffered the same loss.  I was so taken aback that I failed to tell him that I hadn't.

And finally, there was the end of the book.  I agonized over it for months.  It still bothers me from time to time.  It came across as so damned altruistic, but the readers liked it.  That's what counts in this business of sharing the imagination.

The point of this post?  I once read, in one of my many writing books, that if you are particularly proud of a scene, or phrase, get rid of it.  Balderdash.  If after a few edits, you are still proud of it, then it must be good.  I have several readers that will back me up on this one.

Sometimes, it just works.

Shameless plug:
Blood of Two (Drums of Rallinwar: Book One) is available at most e-book outlets.  Check it out at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Diesel, Smashwords, and other electronic retailers.  Buy it, rate it, review it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don't It?

I am a sucker for a story.  Notice I didn't say 'good' story.

I have sat through countless very bad movies just because of the story.  I like to see what the story teller does, where they fail, where they succeed, where they were original, where they were cliche' (Avatar).  Was there a beginning, middle, and end, or was it beginning, muddle, and end?

I have done the same with books, moreso seeking knowledge on a professional level.  Why is Moby Dick a classic?  Why are Steinbeck and Hemingway celebrated?

I can wander through art museums and dream up stories for paintings that catch my attention.  Most likely they aren't the same stories the artist's had in mind, but that is the beauty of art.  Each rendition tells a different story to different people.

The same goes with photography.  There are stories to be found in pictures.  I absolutely love a photograph that conjures a story in my head.  Many photographs don't trigger that story for me, but they may for other's.

My brother is a photographer (Question Mark Photography).  Some of his pictures speak to me, other's don't.  I found one that did, and I couldn't resist the urge to type up the story it told:

The rising sun cast its light across the water and filtered through the steel beams of the old bridge. She hugged her knees up close to her body and pulled her sleeves over her hands. The fight was so stupid she hadn’t bothered to cry; she just seethed. How could someone so perfect be so damned insensitive?

Footsteps crunched across the dormant grass. She looked up. It was him.

I'm not posting the photo here for a couple of reasons.  The first being that I didn't ask permission to do so, the second because I have an exercise for you.  Click the above link and find the photo that matches the story.  It should be easy enough, but there is something else you need to do while you are there.  Look at the other pictures.  What stories come to mind with each photograph?  Is there a particular picture that inspires you to write?

And, it wouldn't hurt to "Like" his page.

Every picture tells a story.  Not the same story to everybody, nor does it speak to everybody, but it does tell a story.
Shameless plug:  Blood of Two (Drums of Ralllinwar: Book One) is available where e-books are sold.  Check it out at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and several other venues.  Buy it, rate it, review it.

Monday, November 12, 2012


1. belief in perfection: belief in and pursuit of perfection as an attainable goal

"youthful idealism"

2. living by high ideals: aspiring to or living in accordance with high standards or principles

3. belief that material things are imaginary: the philosophical belief that material things do not exist independently but only as constructions in the mind

In my mind, one of the catalysts to progress is Idealism, or "belief in perfection".  We see something that can be improved, or performed in a more productive manner and we pursue a goal of perfecting the process or thing.  I love it.  Idealism drives a lot of what I do at work and at home.  To some extent, Idealism has driven me to write fantasy that does not conform to the cliche's or formulae that have been prevelant in this genre.
Idealism rocks.
However...   It is one thing to be idealistic, and quite another to be condescending.
Idealistic does not necessarily mean "better".  In some cases your pursuit of perfection may lead you down a less productive road.  In many cases, your pursuit has been tried and been written off as counter-productive.
We see this in all walks of life.  Take my path of publishing, often referred to as Indie Publishing.  At some point in time, Indie Publishing (not to be confused with Vanity Publishing) was an idealistic pursuit.  Not a better pursuit, just idealistic.  In a broad sense, it was actually not a new idea, considering Vanity Publishing has been around for a long, long time.  In a narrower sense, Indie Publishing is idealistic.  E-Readers and the potential audience (by far greater than the old Vanity route) has created this idealism.  But it is not better than traditional publishing, just different.

At work, you may be flooded with a new method of reaching point 'x'.  Idealism at work.  Is it better than the traditional method?  

Maybe it's raising a child.  Idealistic methods of child rearing have been around forever.  As mentioned before, this is how we progress.  Are these methods better?  

The better mouse trap?  

Methods of lawn care?  

Washing a car?  

Idealism is great.  Just be careful how you present it.  Idealism can quickly become freak hippy voodoo, expecially if you choose to be condescending to those who don't share your methods of progress.   After all, who is smarter?  The one who believes their way is the best way, or the one looks at many methods and decides which one works best for them?  

Now, how about we tie that into a character or two in story.  A character who is idealistic, yet narrow-minded and condescending.  A character who is idealistic, yet constantly get distracted by bigger and better ideas.  A character who is idealistic, but is appreciative of those who choose to do things differently than them.   Characters abound.  We just witnessed a few examples of idealists pursuing several different government offices.  And there were more than one or two that were viewed as freak, voodoo hippies.

Shameless Plug: Blood of Two (Drums of Rallinwar Book One) by C. Hollis Gunter is available through most electronic book outlets including: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ibooks, and Smashwords.  Buy it.  Rate it.  Review it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

An Artist Needs Feedback

For those of you who know me, this post may appear to be entirely out of character.  I have lived most of my life bearing little concern for what people think of me, or what I do.  And then I wrote a book.

To this point, sales of Blood of Two have been as expected.  As I peruse the reports, numbers from the different outlets are beginning to come in and they are good, not great, but good.  What I am lacking is reviews.  Currently, Blood of Two has three reviews on Amazon.  As a percentage of books sold, this is a very low number of reviews.  This is where my personality takes an about face.  I want to know what you think.  Make that, I NEED to know what you think.

I have received feedback from those close to me, and even a handful of people that I don't know.  Overall the feedback has been good.  Most importantly, I have heard a few comments about how the story could be improved.  And that is what feedback is all about.

While positive reviews and feedback is awesome and extremely encouraging, the negative feedback is just as important.  When someone has something not so complementary about Blood of Two, I carefully weigh the criticism.  Is it personal taste, or is it something that I can use to improve the next project?

There is not much I can do about someone's taste in books.  There are multiple genre's out there and varying styles of authors.  If you didn't like Blood of Two because it's just not for you, then it's just not for you.  However, if you didn't like the book because there was not enough swords in the neck, or the imagery wasn't clear, then if I feel like there is validity to your argument; I can improve the next book utilizing your input.  We both win.  You get a book that is more enjoyable to you, and I get a book that sells.

Here's the other part.  I won't walk up to you and ask what you thought of the book.  Why?  This puts you in an awkward position.  Do you tell me the truth, or just tell me it was great and change the subject?  Right or wrong, this is how I am.  If you read my book and see me on a regular basis and never mention it, I can assume you didn't like it.  I'm curious.  I want to know why.  But, I won't ask.  I don't want to put you on the spot.  Just realize, no matter what you thought of the book, I NEED to know.

An artist needs feedback.  No matter the medium; paints, photography, words, chalk, or yarn.  An artist needs feedback.

To improve.

Shameless plug:
Blood of Two, book one in the Drums of Rallinwar series, by C. Hollis Gunter is available at most e-book outlets including: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iTunes, and Smashwords.