Saturday, May 28, 2011

Made of Awesome Contest Entry - Technical Difficulties

Thanks to everyone who has commented on my entry for Shelley Watters Made of Awesome contest so far. I wanted to let you all know that for some reason, the hotel wireless is causing my Google account to have issues. Basically, I can read your entries, but when I try to post (both on Blogger and WordPress), it creates a loop demanding I sign in again and again. Long story short, I'm read-only at the moment.  I'm trying to resolve it, but I apologize in advance if I cannot fix the issue before the end of the critique period.

Made of Awesome Contest Entry - Opening Round

Per Shelley Watters guidelines for her Made of Awesome Contest (LINK), below are the first 250 words of my manuscript.  Good luck to everyone invovled!

Title: Undead Chaos
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 82,771 words

Every so often a single event changes your life forever.  For some it’s the appearance of a lost love.  For others, it’s discovering your inner passion. 

For me, it was killing a woman’s husband. 
“I’m looking for Marcus Shifter,” the lady on the phone said.  There was a muffled banging noise in the background.
“That’s me,” I said, pausing the movie I was watching.

“My name is Carly Banks and I was told you were the magician to call for unusual problems.”
“We call ourselves Skilled, Ms. Banks,” I corrected, grabbing a notepad off my coffee table and jotting her name down.

“Whatever.  All that matters is whether or not you can help me.  I need an experienced fixer who doesn’t ask questions.  You aren’t a government magic-guy, are you?”

I pinched the bridge of my nose.  Technically I am a licensed Combat Warlock for the Delwinn Council, but I do a lot of freelance work.  Odd jobs are my specialty.” 

“How odd?” 

I’d heard that many times.  “People have different definitions of the word, Ms. Banks.  What’s yours?”

“My husband died a month ago and now he’s on my lawn with a shotgun.” 

“That works,” I said.  “Give me the details.”

“Anthony, the cheating bastard, had a heart attack the day I kicked him out.  Three nights ago he showed up on my lawn. He was gone the next morning, so I figured it was a just a bad dream.  Then he returned last night and chased my boyfriend off the property.  Tonight he’s armed.”

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend which, for many, means time with family, great deals on cars and mattresses, and for a lot of us, an extra day off of work. It’s a chance to not only run errands, but also enjoy some much need down time.

But buried beneath the noise of hot bargains and cold beer lies a deeper, more somber meaning. 

According to*, “Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. [. . .] Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.”

Unity and remembrance: the hallmarks of Memorial Day.

As a nation,we were born in combat, fighting for our independence and then tearing ourselves apart in a bloody civil war a mere 75 years later. Through horrible violence on our siblings, we carved the names of such places as Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, Antietam, and thousands more into the history books. We suffered together and then struggled to heal together. 

In the century and a half since, we have lost sons and daughters in places like Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, Africa, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and countless other lesser-known regions. Some battles saw the deaths of thousands while others, only a few. Yet even the loss of one life means that places like Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, the Ia Drang Valley, and more recently Fallujah and Helmand Province, will never be forgotten.  

Nor should they.

But Memorial Day is more than just a day to honor those willing to stand in harms way for our nation.  It is also a day to honor those back home that make sacrifices to love and encourage America’s military men and women. Spouses, children, parents, siblings, and friends all deal with the day-to-day struggles and stresses to support their loved ones when they leave on gray-bottomed ships or large, multi-engine planes. Some stay glued to the news while others do their best to continue with their normal lives.  But each carries the heavy weight of worry and fear that their loved one will return home draped in a flag. 

Combat is hard on those in the military, but it is no easier on the ones who wait and pray every night for their safe return. As a nation, we should remember to honor those who spend countless hours worrying, crying, and laughing over our military men and women. 

So to Nate, Jennifer, Seth, Scott, and the others, I will never forget you.  To the Travelling Parson, to Granddaddy, and especially to Dad (who was both a hero to his men and to a young boy in need of a role model), I thank you. To my bother and sister Warriors and Misfits, and to each branch of the military, I salute you.  And to my family, as well as all the others who stay up late at night, wishing and praying for their loved one’s safe return, I honor you.

And we, as a nation, will remember you.  

*For more information about the history and traditions of Memorial Day, please visit

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What's in a Name?

I’m always fascinated by the names authors come up with for their characters. On one side of the spectrum, there are the Tolkien-esque ones that are juicy morsels of literature and which pleasantly roll off the tongue. Who doesn’t enjoy saying names like Gimli, Frodo, Legalos, Gandalf, etc. They are names that have texture and feeling to them.  

On the other end of the spectrum are the common, everyday names.  You know what I’m talking about. These are the ones that are just “there.” Ones that feel as if the author went, “How about Bill? Bill’s good, right?” Not that there’s anything wrong with a Bill or an Anne, of course. Depending on the genre, these names may fit perfectly and there are thousands of books that you just can’t put down at 2 in the morning that has a MC with a “basic” name.

Which begs the question, how do authors come up with the name for their characters?

More likely than not, the answer is, “It depends on the writer.” I get that, but I’d love to know what motivates them to sit down and dub a character “Bill” or “Legalos.” Was there a “Bill” in the author’s life that they picture in their heads when they write or is it just a name they picked from thin air? Did Tolkien dream of a future Orlando Bloom when he penned “Legalos” for the first time?

The reason I ask is because, as readers and writers, there is a connection to our characters. A lot of people want their MCs to stand out (one way or another) and a catchy name is certainly helpful. But the side-characters are also our creations. “Amy,” may just be a waitress pouring the MC coffee at a diner, but is there a back-story in the writer’s head about her? Did he/she picture a red-haired beauty they ran into at the Cracker Barrel several years ago? Or is it just a filler name for a shapeless husk that ultimately means nothing to the story?

Names define people. They provide identity and uniqueness even if someone else shares the same one. Maybe our parents spent ages trying to think of the right name or, like my folks, maybe they just picked something on a whim. Either way, once it’s ours, we own it.  

And our characters are no different.

So, writers, how do you come up with the names in your stories?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spreading the Word - Made of Awesome Contest

For those interested, Shelley Watters, of the infamous Twit-Pitch, is hosting another contest. This time, contestants will compete with the first 250 words of their completed, fiction manuscript. The winner receives a 10 page critique from Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson and Associates. The festivities begin 28 May and run though the 31st.  All the details can be found on her blog at Shelley Watters "Made of Awesome Contest".*

Good luck to those who enter.

*Great name for a contest, eh?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Motivational Alert Code Color Chart

Back in my previous career, some buddies and I developed a “Tactilocity Alert Code” to assess how tactical and motivated the day was. It started as a joke based on the Terror Alert Code system, but as weeks turned into months, we found the need to dig deeper than just primary colors to try and define how things were going. What developed was a chart that covered the entire spectrum of motivation. 

(Of note, it was not intended to offend any particular color from the color wheel, but rather names were (mostly) chosen at random when asked how tactical and motivated the day was.)
Having moved on from that life, I’ve found that the Color Coding chart still applies to life and its application to writing is very appropriate. At the behest of an AW friend, I have re-formalized the chart and added the Hex Triplet Codes to ensure easy look-up when scouring the spectrum.

 And now, without further ado, I present unto thee:

CMs Motivational Alert Code Color Chart. (copyrighted, trademarked, surrounded by claymores, translated into 7 foreign languages, this is not the list you are looking for, etc).

Hopefully you can find a color to better define your writing day.

Motivational Alert Code Color Chart:                                        
Hex Triplet Code

*head ‘splodes from the epicz*
Too amazing to classify.
The color of car bumpers and other epic-ness. Knows only one other is better. Knows you're not it. 
Doesn't feel the need to be defined by your "code."
Very motivated! Thingz has a on fiyah!
Pssh. Name says it all.
Cool name. Knows it. Knows you know it too.
Knows it rolls off your tongue. Says, “You’re welcome.”
A semi-precious stone for a semi-precious experience.
The color of royalty. Please bow when you address it.
Almost as cool as Purple.
Primary color. Doesn’t need to impress you.
Aaaaalmost red.
*snickers* For those times when you are enjoying a childish-good laugh.
Revels in the fact few can pronounce it.
At least it’s not Chartreuse.
Sounds sissy, but kicks butt.
Sad that no one knows it’s a real color, but likes that it has an awesome-ish name.
"You named me after a fruit? For realz?!"
Found it in the vegetable aisle of your local grocery store. 
Better than Fuchsia, so guess that’s something.
Things getting’ better, I suppose. Still kinda meh.
Very sad that no one knows it’s a real color.
Who kicks butt with the name Periwinkle," huh? No one, that's who. Blegh.
“Hey, the stones are cool. Does that make me cool?”
It’s like a beige soup all up in here.
Wishes it were “Red”. Haz a sad.
Tries to act like Topaz. Fails.
Shoot me. Shoot me nao.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Getting the Word Out - Kat and Mouse: Guns for Hire

We inturrupt our current potifcating programming to bring you a promo for a fellow AWer:

__________Begin Message___________

2042. Bay City, California Free State.

Kat and Mouse are ronin--street mercenaries--who like cake runs. Simple jobs with quick and large payouts.

That's what these were supposed to be. Cake runs.

But when the Duo sign on, they suddenly find themselves targeted by a biker gang, a team of corporate commandos, a cybernetically-enhanced special ops agent, a stalker, a band of kidnappers, and a Japanese crime syndicate.

And they all want the Duo out of the way. Permanently.

Now these sassy sisters-in-arms must survive the onslaught and still get the jobs done. Because in the Biz, it's get paid or get dead.

As usual, Kat and Mouse are going to do things their way.

Heaven help Bay City.

__________End Message_______

Kat and Mouse, the cyberpunk serial from Abner Senires is available today (May 2). 

I was late to the series, so I'm still catching up (forced myself to start from the beginning), but the writing is tight and the characters well drawn. 

For more details, check out the Kat at Mouse homepage either through the link in my "Writing Links" section or through Kat And Mouse: Guns for Hire book.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogosphere programming.