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!

*          *          *

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. 8

Featured Site of the Week

PhoebeDarqueling

Good morning, friends and followers.  Today it is my pleasure to feature the fabulous steampunk site of one Ms. Phoebe Darqueling.  I’ve known Phoebe for a few years now, and while we haven’t had much contact, her site is a joy for a steampunk to explore!  It lists no less than ten tabs and thirty topics to keep your mouse clicking for hours to come.

She is solidly immersed in the steampunk genre, so if that’s your bag, there’s no sorting through reams of unrelated material to find it.  She does interviews, book and movie reviews, how-to features, original stories, collaborative works, conventions, and still finds time to manage a Facebook page and a Twitter account.  If steampunk is your area of interest, this is a most-favored site for exploration; she’s right up there with the Steampunk Ambassador when it comes to focus and quality of content.

View from the Blimp

Updating my own activity, the project de jour for the foreseeable future will be story 1 of The Darklighters.  For those not yet up to speed, The Darklighters will be a series of novellas published in similar fashion to Beyond the Rails.  It is, in fact, a Beyond the Rails spinoff that follows the further adventures of Jinx Jenkins, who appears in two of the Beyond the Rails stories.  My description of The Darklighters is that it is a steampunked Victorian Man from U.N.C.L.E.  The first story can be read as it develops under the Works in Progress tab above.

In a somewhat related issue, with the help of some encouragement by a friend, I now have an Amazon author’s page.  You can visit me in all my magnificent glory here.

In Other News…

Unsubstantiated2

William J. Jackson continues his promotional sale prices, offering An Unsubstantiated Chamber, first book of The Rail Legacy series for 99¢ at http://sffbookbonanza.com/99c-books/

Part of the reason for the sale is to promote Chamber’s new cover, created by Bryce Raffle Designs.  If you’re a writer in search of a cover, Bryce’s page is a good place to start!

My next scheduled post will be Saturday.  Join me for a wide-ranging discussion of the various permutations of that elusive creature known to writers as The Muse.  As usual, it will be epic!  See you then…