Blimprider Times, No. 12

Featured Site of the Week

This week I’m going to take you to the site of Elle Schroder, a New Zealand blogger whose backstory makes her an exceptional friend.  She is a writing.com moderator, and when I broke from them in a snit a few months back, she offered me a friend request on GoodReads, thus becoming the first of my WdC acquaintances to offer me their friendship independently of that site.  I have been far too cavalier about putting her front and center, and with this post I shall rectify that oversight.

Elle’s blog contains poems, short stories, photos, book reviews and her thoughts on a variety of topics, and has won a Versatile Blogger Award; it is very much worth your time.  You can get down with Elle at The Road to Elle.

View from the Blimp

This week my “writing” time has been spent working up a map of Railroad City for William J. Jackson, whose name appears here with alarming frequency.  His Rail City trilogy is a thrilling read, and William has a love of running specials, so keep an eye on his site, The Rail Baron, for nearly constant freebies and reduced prices.  And, reduced prices or not, watch his work for fantastic reads.

But I digress.  This map will be a good one, and I’m happy to do it for a delightful young man who has called me his “brother from another mother,” but it is very time-consuming. and I won’t be saddened when I’ve put it behind me.  I had just finished A Visit of State when I was hit with two requests for maps.  I was happy to provide them, but it’s time for me to get moving on The Darklighters series.  I still have room for a couple of beta-readers for those stories, and anyone who signs on to the project will be looking at a few modest rewards, so drop me an email and join the group.  It might be your only chance to see what my work looks like before it gets polished for public consumption!

In Other News…

You’ve seen quite a bit of press here over the last few posts about Karen J. Carlisle and her upcoming new release, Aunt Enid: Protector Extraordinaire.  The launch date is May 29th, and she will be celebrating it with a launch party on Facebook, during which she will be on the site all day to chat, answer questions, and just generally have and contribute to a great time for everyone.  Take note that she is in Australia, which fairly likely means that the date she has scheduled is very likely to be Monday the 28th for those of us on the east side of the Date Line, so check in Monday, and if she isn’t there partying hearty, then come back Tuesday.  You can find the lovely and talented Ms. Carlisle’s Facebook page here.

And that’s 30 for today.  Join me next Wednesday, the 30th, when I plan to talk about my personal philosophy of being a writer.  Until then, smile like you’ve gotten away with something!

The Language of Deceit

“…a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma…”

~ WINSTON CHURCHILL

Ever notice something funny?  How many people have you ever asked a question, only to have them ask another question in response?  Usually, they repeat yours back at you.

“Where were you at ten o’ clock last night?”
“Where was I at ten o’ clock?”

“What are you doing in here?”
“What am I doing in here?”

Welcome to a more detailed look at using deceptive dialogue to give clues about a character.  I find it hard to believe that anyone who isn’t in managed care can hear a question like this and not understand what it means.  That leaves us to draw the conclusion that they have no good answer, and are stalling for time until they think of one.

I suspect that most writers wouldn’t write a piece of dialogue like the examples above, because they think that readers will see it as laziness in the author.  Certainly, they can if you overdo it, but all things in moderation, as I’ve read somewhere.

Consider the examples above:  The first is being asked by a detective of the character who he thinks might be the criminal.  The criminal doesn’t want to say, “I was murdering John Smith.”  Maybe he didn’t, but he also doesn’t want to say, “I was holding up the corner liquor store.”  Or maybe he was in bed with his partner’s wife.  He won’t want to say that, either, so he’s going to play for time while his mind frantically races to cook up a story that he can support later.

And who are the players in the second example?  Has a brother invaded his sister’s bedroom, perhaps looking for her diary?  Is he older and used to bullying her?  Maybe he’s younger, and she dominates him pretty badly.  Are they middle school-age?  High school?  College?  Maybe they’re adults, and live in separate houses, and she finds him in her personal space.  Why is he there?

Or maybe they’re both someplace they aren’t supposed to be, perhaps their parents’ bedroom.  Or maybe a detective has caught a uniformed officer poking around in the evidence room.  It could be a military situation, or two crooks before or after a job.  Where is this conversation going?  The possibilities are endless.

The point is that answering a question with a question is far from bad writing if you use it correctly and sparingly.  You can readily see how, using the above examples in a wide range of situations, you can speak volumes about a character just by having him repeat a question that he’s been asked.  The reader will immediately flag that character as someone suspicious, and watch him like a hawk from that point on.  You can lead said reader wherever you want from there, and he will eagerly follow, looking for the next breadcrumb.  That, my friends, is immersion at its finest, and you all know that immersion on the part of your reader is the holy grail of writing.

This will be a short post this week, and not because I can’t think of anything else to say.  There are some chestnuts that I want to drop clean for you to pick up and examine without a lot of background noise and clutter, and this is one of them.  Take this concept, think about it, modify it for your own use, and look for places to slip one in.  The effect on your readers will show up in your comments and reviews, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be amazed at the results.

View from the Blimp

Since we last met, I have become a freelance cartographer of sorts.  I shared the new map for the Port Reprieve anthology last week, and I am now working on a polished map of Railroad City for William Jackson’s series of the same name.  The map will be as detailed as a map can be for a Kindle display, and it is both time-consuming and pain-inducing, bringing on muscle fatigue and occasional cramps from fingertips to elbows.  In addition, time I spend on this map is time I would be spending on The Darklighters, although  I am plotting, planning, and making the occasional note as I work.  William is a very good friend, and I never want to say no to friends, but I’m going to have to limit this to one or two a year if these last two are any indication.

Speaking of The Darklighters, I still have slots for beta-readers.  I’m going to try to create something if not unique, at least unusual in the world of steampunk.  Read the completed story above, and if it holds your interest, join the team.  Free books and shout-outs are on the table.

In Other News…

If you happen to be in the New Orleans area this Friday, May 25th, you might want to include a visit to Boutique du Vampyre at 709 1/2 St. Ann Street to meet multi-faceted author David Lee Summers, and pick up your signed copy of one of his four vampire, New Orleans, or just generally creepy books, “creepy” referring specifically to The Astronomer’s Crypt, which I reviewed here.  Make it a visit to remember!

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Readers of recent posts will know that good friend and talented author Karen Carlisle has a book release party coming up next week.  I’ll be covering that in detail on Saturday’s blog, but while you’re waiting, catch her interview by Amanda Howard, true crime and crime fiction author.

And that’s 30 for this issue.  I’ll be back Saturday with another edition of Blimprider Times; who’ll be in the spotlight this week?  Until we meet again, sing your song so the back row can hear you!

Blimprider Times, No. 11

Featured Site of the Week

Good morning, all, and welcome back to the exciting world of whatever this is…  This week, I’m going to introduce you all to Richie Billing, a fairly new friend I met in a Facebook group, The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writing CollectiveHe is the administrator of said group, a collection of like-minded writers of various levels of experience who get together daily to discuss our Craft.  As anyone who has spent time in an internet group knows, its success or failure rides on the attitude of the admin, and Richie is proving to be a most admirable example of that particular life form.  We hit it off immediately, and I have joined his website, Richie Billing.  His approach to his web page is very much like my own:  He talks about his writing projects and offers insights into the various lessons he has learned in pursuit of the Craft.

I don’t have much personal information on Richie.  He’s from Liverpool, though whether he’s still there is an unknown.  He comes across as being about half my age, and my current understanding is that he has several short stories out there in anthologies while he edits his 47-chapter novel.  He has some very good ideas about the Craft, and is friendly and open with his opinions about the same.  My recommendation, if you have an interest in writing or writers, is to read his work at the group or his page, then drop him a line and get acquainted.  This young man is fun to talk with, and a worthwhile contact.  Don’t pass up the opportunity to meet him.

View From the Blimp

Regular readers will be aware that I completed A Visit of State, the first novella of the first collection of Darklighter stories, and that it is available to read for free by clicking the corresponding tab below the blog’s title above.  Think of it as lightly steampunked alternative history concerning a Victorian-era organization similar in concept to The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  If that sounds in any way interesting to you, read the story above, and when you come back, I have an offer for you.

All right, finished?  Good.  Here’s the offer:  Over the course of the next eight to twelve months, I plan to be writing four more similar stories connected by a story arc which will become a book titled The Darklighters: Hong Kong.  Those four stories will only be released to the public when they are published for sale on Amazon.  But I’m offering a select few people the chance to read them free as they are being written.

Writers need extra eyes on their stories as they are under construction.  You may be shocked to hear this, but writers aren’t always infallible.  We make typos, use erroneous grammar, even leave gaping plot holes in our haste to complete that all-important first draft, and one of the most important tools we have to combat those shortcomings is a pool of beta-readers.  I would like to have about a half-dozen knowledgeable readers for this task, and here’s what I’m offering to anyone who would like to join my team:

  • Obviously, you’ll be the first people to read these stories, as I’ll be sending them to you for comments and suggestions before publication.
  • You’ll be mentioned by name with your web addresses, for those who have blogs or other sorts of pages, on the book’s acknowledgement page.
  • When the book is published, you’ll receive a signed copy for your library.

I’d love to pay $100 per chapter, but I don’t have that kind of cash to throw around.  I’m hoping that this offer can attract a half-dozen readers with some experience in the action, spy, or steampunk genres.  Interested parties may use the contact form or my Facebook page to set it up.

In other news, I recently blogged about the upcoming Port Reprieve anthology, and posted the beautiful map that we can’t use because I don’t know who owns it, nor how to apply for permission.  Factually, we couldn’t use it anyway, because any map we attach to our book has to be in black-and-white, so I put this together:

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Primitive though it is, it shows all the pertinent locations around the port that might appear in the stories.  We’re hoping to produce stories with a wide assortment of styles, tones, and moods, so keep an eye on the Blimp; I’ll be announcing its release here.

Yesterday, the 17th, this site sailed past the 1,000 visitor mark.  That’s over the first three months, which puts it on track for 4,000 in the first year.  Not much in the grand scheme of things, but that’s a better pace than any site I’ve had yet.  Now all that remains to be seen is where the balance lies; will more people find it and speed the pace, or will the people who found it and didn’t find it interesting enough to come back predominate?  Guess which outcome I’m hoping for…

Finally, in the Ain’t it a Small World department, I went to the clinic yesterday to leave a blood sample; can’t be too careful when you have pre-diabetes.  Well, I wore my patrol cap with goggles, as I always do when I go out in public, and one of the technicians asked if I was a steampunk.  She was an older lady, so I was a little surprised, but always happy to answer.  “Yes,” I said, “I’m actually a steampunk author.”  She replied that she is the mother of one of the members of Steam Powered Giraffe, so no surprise she knew about the punk; she has better cred than I do!  I was suddenly answering questions about being an author, and I won’t pretend that it was in any way annoying, but between the conversations and having a needle stuck into my elbow joint, I’ve lost the name of which member it was, but I gave her one of my classy cards, and hopefully, she or her son will stop by soon and get me sorted on that.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

In Other News…

Regular followers will know that one of my favorite authors, Karen Carlisle, is about to launch a new book series, Aunt Enid, Protector Extraordinaire.

AuntEnidPromo

I’ve posted about the subject matter a couple of times, but what I want to tip you off to here is that Karen is having a Facebook launch party on the 29th of this month.  She’s in Australia, so she’ll be coming to US and European audiences from the future.  I’ll leave you each to work out your local parameters, but this will be the 28th in the US.  She’ll be on Facebook all day, chatting, answering questions, and making new friends, so drop in at your convenience and get to know a great person who really knows how to write.  There are some other associated events listed on the announcement, so you don’t have to wait for the main event.  Click the link and go visiting!

And that’s thirty for today.  Join me again Tuesday when I’ll be looking at the words we use to deceive one another.  I promise I won’t use them on you though, so be sure to drop in and add some new tools to your writer’s bag of tricks.  Now, get out there and live life like you mean it!