Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kite, A Novel in Earth's Orbit

A blog tour book review by Keith N Fisher

Imagine if you will, we are in an exotic place and we get on a tour bus. Each time that bus stops, we see another fascinating site and hear another interesting story. Every site is designed to impress and give us the experience we’ve paid for.

Like the tour in exotic places, My blog is another stop on a book tour for Kite, A Novel in Earth Orbit. I hope you’ve been enjoying this blog tour, and learned more about Kite at each one. I’m grateful for the opportunity to read and write about the book.

Imagine you step from the bus, pick up your complimentary bag of Hershey’s Drops, and the free cup of hot chocolate. I have some caramel mocha for those who want it. Now sit right there in the lounge and I’ll tell you about the book. It will take only a moment.

It’s the old inquiry of the information age. What would happen if our computers became self-aware? This intriguing question is answered, along with a terrorist plot, in the newly released novel, Kite, written by Bill Shears.

The premise of the story is a good one, and speaks to the curiosity of a future world. When virtual personalities have become part of our lives. When space junk has become enough of a problem for the government to send a manned vehicle up there to fix the orbits of abandoned space equipment.

Into this future world, come the terrorist activities of self-interest. What has been affecting the cyber world of technology?

With all things considered, I liked the premise of the story, but I think the book could’ve used the services of an editor. It seems the manuscript was rushed to publication and should’ve been examined further.

Still, with that being said, you might like reading this novel because of the premise. It’s a fresh approach and the characters are drawn well.

You can find a copy of Kite here You can learn more about the author here

I hope you’ve enjoyed this stop and the chocolate. Thank you for coming. Have a safe trip going to your next stop on the tour.

Yes I Recieved a free copy of the book, But that didn't change my opinion of it. I call 'em as I see 'em.

She Loved Tara

By Keith N Fisher

How many of you grew up thinking Scarlett O’Hara was a real person and Tara was a real place in Georgia? Okay, I didn’t either, but that character was so well drawn, I feel I know her very well.

In learning the craft of writing, we discover two basic types of characters, protagonists and antagonists. Yes, there are different sub classes, sidekicks, walk ons, mentors. Etc, but basically you need two main types in a story.

In delving further, we learn that an antagonist can be a thing or a feeling. But basically, the protagonist is the good guy (the one we root for). The antagonist, of course, is the opposite, the villain.

What happens when the star of the book has more villainistic qualities then good?”

Many of you might remember the 80’s television show, Dallas. TV Guide once applauded a character from that show by saying JR Ewing is the man you love to hate. Now JR was clearly a real antagonist. He messed with everybody and everybody hated him. The writers never showed a good side to that character and justifiably so. He, after all, was the villain.

In Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell wrote many clearly drawn antagonists like General Sherman, although we never actually see him in the story. Another one is the Yankee soldier who slowly climbs the stairs to rape Scarlott. We let out a cleansing breath and applaud when she shoots him dead.

There are also many protagonists, Ashley Wilkes, Mammy, and who doesn’t admire Melanie? With all the good and decent protagonists, the Scarlett character seems almost enigmatic. She’s so selfish we want to slap her silly, but we love and sympathize with her, at the same time. The interesting part is she never changes. She’s just as selfish, spoiled, conniving, and despicable as when we see her on the first page. So why do we love that character? How can we, in good conscience, call her a protagonist?

I think the secret is in what she loves and how deeply she loves. Her feelings are clear from the beginning. We know she loves her home, and we know whom she loves. We also know she is willing to do anything to protect those people and things. The character has a strong personality that plays second to know one.

Okay, so, in the first half of the book, she marries one guy to get back at the man she loves, She doesn’t feel remorse when her husband, dies in the war. Then, she lies about her sister’s interest in another man just so she can marry him and use his money to go into the lumber business. She sent him to his death and gets drunk because she realizes she’s liable to go to hell for doing it. But does she show actual remorse?

Well, As Rhett Butler, another character put it, You're like the thief who isn't the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he's going to jail.

Yes she’s a real peach of a person and the antagonist to everyone else in the story, but she’s also a protagonist and we can’t seem to figure out why. Even Mammy can’t help but love her, Maybe it’s because she does what she wants to do and doesn’t care what people think.

Mitchell makes us feel sorry for her on several occasions. We even admire her when she rules with a firm uncaring hand in order to support her family after the Yankees decimate Georgia.

Writers learn to write characters with faults in order to make them real, but what faults can we give them and still make them believable? How far can we go before they they become laughable? What if Scarlott was ugly or had a speech impediment? What if she was weak and indecisive? Would we still love her then? Scarlott O’Hara is a wonderful character with shallow thoughts and deeds, but those shallow thoughts are very deep.

“Huh?” you ask?

Well, I told you she was an enigma. I. For one, applaud Margaret Mitchell for drawing her. She found the perfect balance. May you also, find this balance and write characters who jump off the page and take on a life of their own.

By the way, there’s a girl in the neighborhood named Margaret, who gives Dennis the Menace a hard time. What would happen if she married Dennis? Her name would be Margaret Mitchell.

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Comments Beget Comments

By Keith N Fisher

I want to thank all of those who leave their thoughts in the comment section of my posts. You provide validation to me in my struggle to perfect this crazy occupation of writing. In pondering my blog posts lately, and the number of comments I get, I was reminded of a networking axiom and coined the phrase, comments beget comments.

When I first started posting, I got a few negative remarks, but there were many more supportive ones. I counted on the perspective of my peers to help me determine if my writing was any good. Later, I discovered most of those who posted remarks were writers I’d met at writer’s conferences and other events somewhere. They were bloggers themselves, so I’d reciprocate by reading and commenting on their blogs.

I learned that networking wasn’t just chatting at writer’s events, it was taking the time to become invested in the work of fellow writers. For that reason, I began to follow the circuit. It was simple at first, because few writing blogs existed at the time. We were all one, big happy family and keeping in touch only took a few minutes a day.

Later, as time restraints set in and the number of blogs exploded, I visited the circuit less frequently. My fan base dwindled, but friendships grew, and I learned many of those friends were having the same problems keeping up that I was. It was hard to visit all the blogs and still have time to write.

I had to pick and choose which blogs I would visit. I also, depended on my friends to preview the postings and tell me about the good posts. I would read those, but I never seemed to make observations.

Now there is Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Many writers, I know, spend hours branding their work and making valuable contacts through the Internet. Some of you have become masters of the network and I feel left behind. I watch for notes attached to my blogs wondering what I could write in order to grab more attention.

I know, however, that comments beget comments, so I shouldn’t expect much. Still, I love to write blogs that might be helpful for struggling writers. Therefore, I’ve learned to gage my success by the number of new readers who comment. And, it’s nice to see the old fans stop by.

I have friends who shy away from the sociality of writing. They would prefer the writing climate of forty years ago, when writers were reclusive, and publishers did all the selling. Perhaps I would just rather write, too, but I like people. I love to chat and get to know them.

So, I choose to network in person, building others as I go. I really don’t have time to visit the circuit, much, but I try. So, if you see me at a conference, book signing, or other function, stop and say hello. Tell me you like something I wrote, and I’ll reciprocate. After all, isn’t that what networking is all about?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week. Oh, and, even though I might not have commented on your blog recently, feel free to comment on mine.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mangling Metaphors

By Keith N Fisher

We’ve visited this subject before. In fact, you might say, we’ve gone down that road. Passed the milestone, chewed that cabbage, hit the mark, rowed the boat, and saluted that flag. We’ve been here before, on this merry-go-round of writing lessons we call the LDS Writer’s Blogck, which is sort of an acronym for the purpose of the blog. It began as a help to overcome writer’s block. Hence, the word, blog was combined with the word, block. But I’m getting off subject.

Metaphors are wonderful, because the writer can use them to provide an image the reader can understand. Jesus used metaphors to illustrate his points. I just used an image to help illustrate mine.

In the locker room of all bad detective novels, however, there seems to be a collection of misused or poorly imagined metaphors. Good writers cringe, and comedians find punch lines in the text of a Sam Spade novel. Like a bad penny, overused cliché’s, cheap metaphors, and unrelated similes turn up in novels all the time.

Okay, you get the point. If you need to draw an image for the reader, think of fresh and meaningful metaphors. Doing so, is the mark of a good writer. Also, make sure it makes sense. I’ve been listening to a popular song while at work lately. It has a mangled metaphor that caught my attention and since I can’t think of anything else to write about . . .

In a song, Josh Turner sings the words, Please baby let’s unburn all our bridges.

Now, I know it’s an effective choice of words, because it gets my attention and I understand the meaning. But, he’s taken an old metaphor and turned it backward. When we burn our bridges we hamper the chances of someone following us. We also destroy our avenue of return.

In the story behind this song, the couple parted. They burned the bridges of capitulation. Now, The singer wants to go back and make things right. He wants to (un)burn the bridges.

Quite a magical feat, don’t you think? Unless you’re Harry Potter with the elder wand, you can’t make something come back after it’s been destroyed by fire. And I just provided an example of my point below.

For the song, I could suggest rebuilding the bridges, but you might say, “We like it the way it is.”

See? It’s an effective, mangled metaphor. It works, because it’s in the chorus of a song and the listener gets to hear it four times. The song moves slow, giving us time to contemplate the image. As a novelist, the last thing I need is to have a reader debate the placement of words or consider a metaphor. If they take time for that, they’re not engaged in the story.

In the example I used, of Harry Potter, you could’ve stopped reading to debate the point of the phoenix. “Aha,” you say. “Faux is reborn from the ashes of a total flame out and he does it all the time.”

As writers of best selling novels we might be able to get away with mangling metaphors, but only if our readers are patient, and if it’s effective. The rest of us, great writers, who struggle, must be careful. As I said if we use them at all, our metaphors need to be fresh, make sense, and must not cause too much thought. Unless you’re writing literary fiction, but that’s another subject.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Never Give Up

By Keith N Fisher

We had an interesting discussion during critique group recently. It was spurred on by Miley Cyrus’ song, The Climb. The idea is clear. If people don’t enjoy the journey, then getting to the top of the hill can be a big disappointment.

In critique group the connotation was about getting published. I tried to advocate the need to keep trying, because getting published is what writing is all about. The publishing business is so competitive, and the odds are so much against us, that writers can’t afford to take their eyes off the mark.

Therefore the goal is to get published, then promote and sell your book. Build your brand and get published again.

Now, before you misunderstand, let me say I get it. It’s like waiting for Christmas and being disappointed when the big event finally comes. Rather than enjoy the season we sometimes anticipate the event to the exclusion of other activities. Therefore, I think enjoying the journey is great advice. After all, if you aren’t where you are, you ain’t nowhere.

So, not that she isn’t right, I just think it’s easy for Miley Cyrus to give that advice, her brand is known all over, but for those who struggle to get where she is, stopping to smell the roses could be fatal. They could get passed by. Why not take the roses with you on your journey?

The truth is, we all have responsibilities. We all need to enjoy our life. It’s the only one we get. There are many authors (especially in the LDS market) who suffer major disappointment after the release of their first book.

With that being said, it’s still easier for a published author to get published again. Now, you’ll undoubtedly point out that everyone has to submit and be rejected, and you would be right. However, with all things considered, publishers do give preference to an established author with a proven sales record. The rest of us have to work harder and keep our eyes on the goal, even if the realization is not what we expected. If you take your eyes off your goal, you might never reach it.

As you know, I used to go backpacking in the mountains. It was great to get back to nature and find new vistas, but I discovered a propensity toward taking my eyes off the goal. Often, when I stopped to rest in a beautiful place, I’d get so caught up in the views, the greater goal was forgotten. I’d set up camp and go back home in the morning. Finally, I learned to take pictures along the way, and keep my goal in sight.

My advice to all aspiring Authors is, keep your eye on the prize. Yes, enjoying the journey is very important, but it’s hard to reach a goal if you don’t know where it is. Live a good, rich life and be prepared for setbacks, because they will come even after publication. Deal with it and move on. Enjoy the journey, but don’t get sidetracked, and never, never, give up.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.