Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years!

   I like the holidays because it gives me a reason to post about something that's not about writing. One thing I am going to start is a New Year's blog resolution. I would like to post a lot more next year, but not all of the posts should be writing related. I would like to talk about what is on my mind, besides the casual thoughts I get about writing.

   I will have several surprises for my loyal blog followers next year. That list includes The Impenetrable Spy: Future Dreamer's release, Agent J's release, and a Christmas book I have been writing with DM Kenyon. I also guarantee that I will have more Impenetrable Spy and Agent J installments, but those are the projects I am currently working on.

Again, Happy New Years, and have a good time for the rest of your very short year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Combination of the Arts

There is film, music, writing, and so forth. These are the arts, but there are many more subcategories. When you put together film, writing, and music, you have a movie. Combine writing and music, you have a song. The combinations are endless, and without all of the arts, lots of things wouldn't fit right. How would a movie be without writing? There wouldn't be much structure. Some things can stand, such as music without writing. It would be an instrumental piece. But still, notes have to be written. Without the combination of the several arts, things would fall apart, because they need support. I am not a master of the subject, but felt that the thought of this was very interesting.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and My Gift to You!

First of all, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas. Thanks for supporting and commenting on my blog, it encourages me to keep writing and inspires me to continue publishing my novels. Christmas time is a time to spend with family, not on the computer. Tomorrow, I hope to distance myself from technology completely. Christmas is my favorite time of the year for many reasons. Yes, presents are nice, but what makes Christmas so special is the time you get to spend with your family. I do have a surprise for my blog readers though! Check out this rough draft of a Christmas Elf-Spy book I am co-writing with DM Kenyon.

You can find his website here: http://www.blog.lotusblossombook.com/2011/10/hello-world/


Chapter One:  The First Elven Dragoons


Nicholas looked out the window at the great expanse of darkness that was streaked with waves of green light squirming across the artic sky. It was dark here all day in the winter, but the Aurora Borealis, the “Northern Lights” as they called them further south, always filled his heart with joy. As he looked out the window he noticed that the usual frost on the window had melted. For the past fifty years, Nicholas had noticed that it just wasn’t as cold as it used to be in the winter at the North Pole. The human scientists predicted that there would be open water there soon as the planet continued to heat up. Humans could be so short-sighted. They want everything now. Their factories churned out mountains of items that were sold in stores only to be thrown into a landfill in a year or two later.
Nicholas wondered why they even bothered. They should just back their oil burning trucks up to the backs of the store and haul all that junk to the dump straight away and save themselves the trouble.  No one seemed to care about the hand-made quality of the toys that he and his elves made. Children did not seem to like toys that were not electronic. For years, he had delivered musical instruments to children who learned to play real music. Now almost none of them could make music at all. Oh well, if there was one thing that he had learned in his two thousand years, it was that things change.
There was a knock at the door. Miles poked his head into the office to make sure he was not interrupting anything.
“May I come in?” he asked with his usual politeness.
“Certainly, Miles.”
“I have the new Christmas lists that arrived today. Most of them are printed off of email.” Miles stepped into the office with a stack of paper two feet high.
“You can put the rest of them on the chair, Miles, I will be working late tonight as always,” said Nicholas still watching the lights dance across the sky.
“No need, sir, this is all of them right here,” said Mile as he turned to head for the door.
“What?” roared Nicholas. Miles turned around casually and looked his boss in the eye.
“That’s all of them. There are no more.   Kaput, finito, stick-a-fork-in-them-they’re-done.   That’s all folks…”
“I got the message. What is going on with this? It is December 10th. You should not be able to move in this office because of the millions of Christmas lists. Did Ray mess up the computer again?”
“No,” said Miles patiently.  “We are falling out of fashion.  I told you that we should have put up a Facebook page, but did you listen?  Noooo.  I told you that we should be tweeting children, but oh no,
we have to do it old school.  At least we have email, if you can call it that.  And at least we got rid of the
teletype machine – last year.”
“Miles, I swear I don’t know what you are talking about.  For centuries, children have needed only to write a letter and leave it almost anywhere and we would teleport them here.  We have never needed any of this human technology.  Our magical processes are far superior, even now.   I will put our snow globe projectors up against their big screen televisions any day.  We have real 3D, for crying out loud.  Humans have to put on funny glasses to trick themselves in to seeing three dimensions on their televisions.  Our snow globes use real 3D without tricks.  Of course, that is because we use space warp technology.  The people we watch on snow globe are really in the globe and, of course, they don’t know that.  I suppose that is sort of like playing a trick on them, but at least it is done without those stupid looking glasses.  Let’s see humans do that, by thunder!”
Miles turned around and headed for the door a second time.  “I’m just sayin’” was all he said as he passed through the door and out into the main office.
Nicholas stroked his long white beard.  Something else was happening.  He just knew it.   Children may no longer believe in him, but they would never admit it.  Human children, especially most of the children these days, were not going to give up a good thing over a small matter of faith.  They would at least fake it and go through the motions.  Something had to be wrong.  There was only one thing to do.
“Miles!” he shouted out the door.  Miles poked his head through the doorway, “yes, Mr. Claus.” Miles was starting to get on his nerves.  He only pulled the “yes, Mr. Claus” routine when he was trying to be a smart aleck.
“Get Buckshot up here, would you?”
“Yes, Mr. Claus” replied Miles in mock compliance.
“And Miles …”
“Yes, Mr. Claus …”
“You call me ‘Mr. Claus’ one more time and I am going to have you shoveling reindeer poop out of the stables for a month.”
“As you wish, Nicky,” scoffed Miles as we ducked back out of the door before Nicholas could say another word.
Nicholas scowled.  “Note to self: never hire your wife’s family, ever, ever, ever…” he said under his breath as he took a pile of printed emails off the top of the stack and started to read.  “Air Guitar Deluxe … aw come on!”  This job was starting to be a pain in the patootie.
Nicholas had only read Christmas lists for a few minutes, quickly making notes in his book as to who was naughty, not so bad and his favorite -- the nice children.  He had made his way through about twelve hundred lists in those few minutes when there was a knock at the door.  It was Buckshot.  Buckshot was not your ordinary pudgy elf.  He was buff.  He lifted weights and ran one hundred and twenty miles a day with his squad.  He wore a purple uniform that actually could change colors to fit his surroundings if he told it to do so.  Purple was the color of the First Elven Dragoons of which Buckshot was the commander.  Because he was reporting to his commanding-in-chief, he had told his uniform to present formal colors and that meant purple.
Unlike the other elves, most of whom had plump faces, Buckshot’s face was gaunt.  He had a square jaw and rugged features unusual for his people.  Over his left eye was a semi-circular scar.  In fact, he got his nickname on the day he got that scar.   He was on a surveillance mission in the stables to capture some rogue pixies that were stealing toys and burning them in their campfires.  He had taken a position in a stall with a young, rather rambunctious buck reindeer, named Rudy.  As the pixies made their way through the stables with a load of stolen toys, Buckshot pulled own his night vision goggles (NVGs) to get a better look.  They were almost in range of his Double-Bubble Bubble gun, know to the Dragoons as a DBBG side arm, which as everyone knows, has a range of about twenty feet if you want maximum stickiness.  DBBGs were special issue to officers and operators on special assignment.  Buckshot always carried one on missions.  Anyway, just as he was about to squeeze off the shot that would trap the pesky pixies in a wad of already been chewed gum, Rudy snorted.  The pixies shot a starburst in to room to see who was there. Buckshot’s NVGs flared out blinding him. Rudy panicked and kicked Buckshot, who in those days was called “Larry”, smack in the face and shot him through the stable wall.
After he had made his report, Nicholas said, “so as I understand you, Larry, the buck shot you through the stable planking which, in turn, caused the pixies to flee without the loot. Is that correct?” The rest was history.  Larry would be forever known as Buckshot and would forever have a souvenir of that night embedded in his face.  He never did come to like that particular reindeer even though he had once used its shiny nose as signal beacon for a weapons drop during The Great Witch Rebellion outside of Dublin, Ireland in 1711.
That was three hundred years and eleven hundred and twenty seven missions ago.  It was December now, which meant the Buckshot and his squad were on full alert.  If he had been asked to come and see the big man during this month, something serious was going down.
“Buckshot, I need you and your team to head south and do a little reconnaissance on the human population.  We have only received about a one thousandth of the Christmas lists that we were expecting.  Something is wrong.  We need to find out what.”
“Yes, sir, right away sir. Has the Facebook page been ineffective, sir?”
“Enough about Facebook, already. Sheesh.”  A voice could be heard outside the door that sounded disturbingly like Miles, “I’m just sayin’”.
“ Just get your men down to the United States and find out what you can.  We need intel and we need it now.  You are going to be airdropped by a sleigh drone at zero-one-thirty over Chicago.  You have forty-eight hours to get what you can.  You will pop a blue star flare at precisely twenty-two-thirty on the second day and the drone will pick you up.  Dust off is in Grant Park near the lakeshore.  Wear your skivvies because it is plenty windy in Chicago.  Do you understand?”
“Yes sir, right away sure. How many men do you want me to take with me, sir?”
“Four at most.  I would take Boomer, Wedgy and Hawkeye.  Boomer is a strong second in command.  Wedgy is accomplished at covert breaching operations and Hawkeye will be your eyes and ears.  He is the best tech specialist we have.”
“Yes, sir. I will get right on it, sir?”  With that Buckshot saluted his commanding officer, gave a smart pivot and stepped briskly out of the room.

Chapter Two:  Operation Cheese Drop


Buckshot was happy with his mission.  The elf squad hadn’t been given much to do for at least a month.   Buckshot didn’t like being home by himself much.   He wasn’t married and didn’t have kids.   The isolation was enough to drive him insane.   Buckshot dealt with his life, though.   Some said that making toys was more glamorous, but Buckshot and the other members of his team didn’t agree.   What they were doing sometimes determined the fate of the entire Christmas holiday and other times, it was a matter of defending the happiness of a single child.
Reginald Tinker was only three hundred and two years old.  For all of those years, he could not pronounce the “r” sound in his name.   For two hundred and fifty years, everyone understood that when he introduced himself as “Wedgy”, he meant “Reggie”.    And then one year, a human pulled the waistband of another human’s underpants up to his shoulder blades lodging said underwear in the crack of the victim’s behind.  “Wedgy” took on a whole new meaning.   No longer did the other elves understand “Wedgy” to mean “Reggie”.  Wedgy was now simply “Wedgy”.   His name, however, was somewhat appropriate.  When he joined the First Elven Dragoons he was quickly assigned to special operations because of his unique ability to crawl into tight spaces.   As it turned out, “Wedgy” was also a description of one of his best skills as a special operator.   He never did like being called by this new nickname, just the same.
Hawkeye was a medium sized elf who knew his weapons well.  He was an absolute menace with a variety of weapons and rarely missed what he shot at.  He was also particularly talented with explosives, but did not always make the other operators feel completely safe.  He was known to carry live explosives in his pockets and was once seen using a mirth grenade as a hammer as he beat a hobnail back into his shoe.
Boomer was a strong elf whose skills rivaled Buckshot’s.   The distinct difference was that Boomer didn’t have nearly the amount and experience with field work that Buckshot had.   Boomer was a younger elf, only two hundred and twelve years old, but had far more experience in special operations than Wedgy or Hawkeye.  He was Buckshot’s apprentice and was learning a Dragoon’s special skills very quickly.  He was physically powerful and well-built like Buckshot, but his youthful temper sometimes required some training when it came to keeping cool in combat and close range weaponry.

 The team of elves gathered in a hallway and moved towards the weapons room.  The room was quite small because most elves weren’t spies or military operators.   Only Dragoons used the weapons room.  While most of the others made toys, this team was considered special.  The longest wall in this room was covered with special weapons.  There was a selection of Candy Cane Rifles, known as the Cane X-7 with the optional mirth grenade launcher attachment.   There were L-Whack Light Guns that shot a dazzling, yet blinding, burst of Christmas lights and, of course, the standard issue 55 mm Stocking Launcher.  The Stocking Launcher shot large, netted stocking over people and objects.  These stockings enclosed around target and a second trigger was available to pull the projectile back towards the operator, or even lift the operator into the air, if necessary.  It was not unlike a grapple gun used by various crime fighters such as Batman.  
The team grabbed the ordinary load out, which included the Cane X-7 as a primary weapon, the Stocking Launcher as a secondary, and the mirth grenade launcher that attached to the Cane X-7.  They were also issued a belt of ammo, and headsets to keep in touch with each other.  Buckshot and Boomer were both issued DBBG side arms.  Boomer was a perhaps the best Double-Bubble Bubble Gun shooter in the corps.  Once fully equipped, the special ops team exited the room in a hurry, and moved to their secret staging room to prepare for the mission.
In a single file, the armed elves walked through the copy room where civilian elves spent their lives copying and printing Christmas lists.  They opened a hatch in the floor stepped onto a ladder below the floor.  They descended down through the hatch into what seemed to be pitch-black darkness .  Hawkeye flipped a switch to light the chamber.   A pair of doors appeared in front of them as they stepped off of the ladder.  It had a faded First Elven Dragoon emblem on it.  They pushed open the doors and passed through as the doors swung shut behind them.   The room was intentionally dark so as to see snow globe projections better.  The snow globe filled a large portion of the room and the team gathered around it.  Buckshot stared into it and hit a button on the wall. The snow globe filled with light and snow.  The snow began to spin around the globe at lightning speeds.  After a few seconds, the snow slowly dropped away and revealed a three-dimensional scene.  Large buildings were outlined in red and notes were written their sides.  The globe zoomed in on one of the buildings.   It was a Chucky Cheese.  Buckshot raised his voice, and narrated the scene.
“You should all hopefully know why you are here.  Santa is getting a very small portion of Christmas lists this year.   We need to find out why.  We will drop in Chicago.   We need to infiltrate this Chucky Cheese and talk to the children.   In order to do this, we will obviously need to disguise ourselves.  We will use helium from party balloons found on site to raise our vocal tones to that of human children.  Try to sound like a kid, and make sure you are not caught as being an elf, that would be the worst thing that could happen.   Make sure you wear your ear putty to round out the points of your ears.  If you need to blend and escape, so be it.   We suspect that this has something to do with VoldeMart, the large mega-retail store chain.  More than one thing does not seem right about that company.  If I am right, these kids will likely lead us to our number one suspect, Newton Greengrinch, the CEO of VoldeMart Corporation.   This is all the intel we have and it isn’t much.   I just hope it is enough to get us started.”
                “It will have to do,” Hawkeye said while smiling.
The snow globe made a whooshing sound as Buckshot flipped it off.  The team gathered their equipment and proceeded to a landing pad where a sleigh drone waiting for them outside.   It was outfitted with the same blend-in technology as their uniforms.  The driver who had flown the drone to the launch site had a candy cane stuck in his mouth and it made his speech sound slightly garbled, “jump in the back and be ready to drop in forty-five minutes.  The computer will tell you when to initiate your jump over Chicago.”
The team members nodded and crawled into the drone carefully stowing their equipment in lockers in the floor.  On Buckshot’s command, the sleigh slowly rose into the air.  In an instant, it shot the Elven Dragoons through the clouds, at speeds that would make a normal elf sick.  The team was normally used to these rapid departures, but this time it made Wedgy and Hawkeye a bit nauseous.   They were not fully ready for the intense speeds because they had gone an entire month without a mission.   In less than an hour the computer warned that they were approaching the jump site.   There was a pulsating beep.  This was the signal to jump.   The elves were ready.   Buckshot took a deep breath and stepped out of the hovering drone.   He was quickly followed by Hawkeye, Boomer, and Wedgy.  
As the special ops team fell to earth, they all met in midair and grabbed a hold on each other’s hands.   The goggles protecting their faces were pressed deep into their faces.   On the count of three, they ejected their parachutes and made their way to the ground.   They landed on a breezy frozen beach along Lakeshore Drive near some very expensive looking apartment buildings.  Quietly, they folded up their parachutes and stuffed them into small backpacks that each of them had on their backs.  Each backpack contained a few small items such as Christmas light flashlights, used to illuminate dark spaces and, of course duct tape.  No Elven Dragoon ever went on a special mission without it.  As they regrouped on the beach, Boomer produced a portable snow globe that indicated the location of a Chucky Cheese only a mile or so from their position.  The elves ran across the beach, until they found an abandoned Lincoln Town Car, a human vehicle that had been moved into place by forward operators earlier in the evening.  In the glove box, they found the mission dossier that provided them with additional details.
The elves clambered into the car.  The advance team had thoughtfully provided them with booster seats.  On the driver’s side, the pedals extended so that Buckshot could drive.  Because the elves were so much shorter than humans, the booster seats were essential to safe driving.  They also made the elves look taller in the car to help them avoid suspicion.  Buckshot wasn’t happy that they were driving a human vehicle, but it was inconspicuous and helped the elves blend in as the made their way along the city streets of Chicago.  He would have preferred a small sleigh, but those had not been inconspicuous in the human world since before the time of Henry Ford.  The team arrived at Chucky Cheese in a matter of minutes.
“Buckshot, can we get some of their pizza while we’re here?” Wedgy asked.
“No, we’re here strictly on business.”
With that said, the elves ran towards the door of the restaurant.  A man was stationed inside, checking to see that no kids wandered in by themselves.   Boomer noticed a family was getting out of their car and signaled to Buckshot.  The team quickly formulated a plan to blend in with the family and follow them inside.   The family moved towards the door and Buckshot signaled to move forward.  Just as they entered the door, they all joined hands with Boomer holding the hand of a distracted child and they slipped into the restaurant.  The elves felt out of place pretending to be part of a human family, but it was essential in order to get inside.
They separated upon entry, in order to find out as much as possible about the Christmas list ordeal.  Buckshot moved into the ball pit.  It stank of dirty diapers and sweat.   Instead of finding kids playing with each other, he noticed that they were lying in the sea of balls playing videogames on their phones or portable gaming devices.  Buckshot stumbled through the pit until he reached a small kid playing a violent video game.
“Hi.  My name is Larry.  Have you done your Christmas list yet?”
“No.  I already have great games, and VoldeMart is the place to be.  It’s better than Santa.”
Buckshot frowned and walked away, but the kid didn’t notice.  Hawkeye walked to a table and noticed that the parents were ignoring the complaints from their kids. They were updating their statuses and emailing people.  Hawkeye walked away while Wedgy ran to the arcade portion of the building.  He played a game until he realized that he should be saving Christmas.  He asked a kid about her Christmas list, but the reply was, “Whose Santa?”
The team regrouped in the middle of the building.  They declared that they needed to get to the bottom of what was happening and figure out what was going on at VoldeMart corporate headquarters.  Buckshot led his team toward the front door, but they were stopped from behind by a Chucky Cheese employee.
“Where do you think you’re going?  You can’t leave without a parent, boys.”
Buckshot shot him in the kisser with a Cane X-7 round.  It was completely necessary.  The employee giggled and fell over, stunned from the shot.  The team of elves ran from the scene and climbed into their car.  VoldeMart headquarters was just a short drive away.  Buckshot drove as civilized as possible, but sped up now and again.  VoldeMart headquarters was sinister-looking place, a shiny glass building that was almost completely black.  Hawkeye gasped when he saw it, “We’re going in there?”
“Yes, we are,” said Buckshot.   “I think we’ll need to inspect the surroundings to make sure we’ll be able to get inside without being detected,”
The team stared in awe at the ominous black building.  Buckshot parked the car in a parking garage and set out on foot with his team.   He spotted a rusted ventilation grate about 50 feet up the side of the building as they arrived at the building’s edge.  Wedgy and Boomer seemed to notice it as well.
“Sir, can we get into the building through that grate?  We can use the Stocking Launcher to gain entry.”
“Yes, fire the launchers on three.  One…Two…Three!”
As the team fired their stocking launchers there was a muffled “shplooop” sound as the mesh of the stockings attached to the grate.   They each, in turn, climbed the mesh and swung up to the grate.  Hawkeye ripped it off the building and let it fall to the ground below.  He signaled for the team to slide into the ventilation shaft while he hung back to keep a look out.  Buckshot was first in, naturally.  Boomer followed along with Wedgy and Hawkeye.  They crawled only a few feet and then dropped down into a dark office.  Immediately they spotted a meeting room across the hall.  It was well lit, and a window made up one of the walls.  The elves could see into the meeting, but they couldn’t hear a word.  Elven Dragoons, when on operations in the field, wear black transfiguration berets that they call “change-ups”.  They are voice operated and can change into any shape at any time provided that the owner of the change-up can at least whisper a command.  They are also equipped with special sound sensors that amplify sounds, even faint ones, that can then be heard in their headsets.  Boomer whispered the command to activate his sound sensor: “ears on”.    The change-ups allowed the Dragoons to zoom in on and hear the conversation that would normally never be audible to them.  They focused their attention on the meeting room and listened intently to the conversation.
“The children aren’t working hard enough.  Toys don’t grow on trees!  Make the children work harder, inflict punishment if you need to,” one of the men demanded roughly.
“I’ll get more men on the island, don’t worry,” Newton Greengrinch responded with a calm coldness in his voice. “It’ll take a few days though; the South China Sea is a long way away.”
Boomer did not like the sound of this.  Children working on an island in the South China Sea? Boomer had always suspected that Newton and his VoldeMart Corporation were using illegal child slave labor to make toys.  He immediately felt bad for the children on the island that he was yet to identify. Those kids were helpless.   Boomer noticed something else, though.  Newton was making an awful lot of suspicious looking hand movements.  These were not ordinary gestures, they appeared to be signals.  Boomer couldn’t crack the code and turned to Buckshot.
“Do you notice those hand signals?” Boomer asked.
“Yes, I did.  It looks like old Morse code from here.  Listen and watch the taps and try to figure out what’s he is saying,” Buckshot responded.
Boomer made note of the taps that Newton was making with his hand on the table.  It was Morse code!  He translated the code into language: “the toxin is working out great.  The water supply is absorbing it and the effects are better than expected.   Santa won’t have many customers this year.”  Then Greengrinch tapped out a word that Boomer did not understand: “dontgiveadarnium”.
The elf team was shocked at what they were hearing.  An evil toxin could explain the selfishness of the kids at Chucky Cheese, and their parents’ indifference to them.  The toxin must have infected those people and made them only think of themselves.  Churches were empty, community activities were failing, video game and TV watching was on the rise and children didn’t play with one other anymore.
The elves left the building the way they came in and swung down onto the ground, sucking the mesh stocking back into their launchers as they prepared to depart site.  They found their way back to their car and drove to a park near the beach.  Boomer shot a blue star flare over Lake Michigan requesting a dust off.  It was going to be a sleepless night as they planned to destroy the toxin and take out Newton Greengrinch before he could execute his evil plans. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Changing Up Setting

   Changing up your setting can be as easy or difficult as you like. It is up to your imagination really. I sometimes find myself captivating the exact same building in my brain when imagining a scene. You have to let your imagination go crazy. When thinking of a mansion, picture it with everything you would want. Chances are someone will like what you give to the setting. Be over the top, go crazy! You don't want to create the same exact visual for your reader, otherwise your book will seem repetitive, no matter how much the story changes.

   When writing, I love to draw out a blueprint of the buildings I am describing, and then go from there. I might have the same structural base for the design, but I try to change up the interiors as much as possible, that way the reader will grasp a better and different picture than before. The cool thing about writing a spy book is that the setting changes constantly worldwide. The bad thing about writing a spy book is that the enemies and the buildings that are entered can feel the same, if not given enough customization and thought. Next time your writing, take the time to edit up your setting, and don't let the picture of it stay the same in your mind. Change things up.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Choice of Paperback

   Your book can be electronically sold, but every author wants a paperback copy. No matter what you say, a paperback copy is worth it, and donating a few hours of your time won't hurt in order to see a real copy of your book. Sure, seeing your book on Amazon is amazing, but holding your book in your hands is that much cooler. Writing a book takes time, but then editing will take double the time that it took for you to write it. Then, you have to design a cover and get it formatted. Why not go the extra mile when you've already done this much work?
   There are several self-publishing companies that manufacture paperbacks. CreateSpace and Lulu are only the tip of the iceberg. You have the choice when publishing your book. Some people only want there book electronically sold, mostly because of a contract or better deal. KDP Select is a brand new service from Amazon that contracts you into only having your book available from the Amazon Kindle store. You get extra money for this. If you don't want to do this, choosing to publish your book in paperback could be a good choice. 
   There are tons of people that don't have Kindles, Nooks, or reading devices to read ebooks. There are some people that like to turn the page themselves, and grasp a book in their hands. A paperback for that kind of person will be a lot more memorable for them to read. Remember, you have the choice to publish in paperback.

Friday, December 16, 2011

100th Post!

Thanks to all of my blog followers, I have reached my 100th post and have had tons of pageviews. Without you readers, I would have never continued this blog and would have stopped in the beginning.

Thanks again,
Spencer

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Researching Process

   The researching process is crucial to any good story. Whether it is fiction or nonfiction, research needs to be conducted in order to provide accurate information to your readers. Yes, fiction is fiction, but you don't want to screw up the CIA's location, or information that might embarrass you. When writing The Impenetrable Spy: Future Dreamer, I had to research the location of Lagos, Nigeria, in order to paint a better picture of the city in my mind. Without the knowledge I found, I might have depicted the city poorly.
   Research is normally the least favorite part of the writing process for a writer, but I enjoyed it. Research is not limited to internet sources either. A documentary on Netflix might change your entire story, or even get you interested in another story plot. Documentaries help you see what you want to learn, but also hear. Research can also lead to books, such as encyclopedias, but those should be last resort. When you write your next paper or draft, take into account what you are writing, and conduct some research. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Copyrighted Images

A big problem with the internet these days are people stealing images off the internet. Copyrighted images are images that people have obtained rights over. You are not able use them legally, or you can get into trouble. I did not realize that taking an image off of Google Images and posting it on my blog can get me in trouble. Yes, putting a picture to words is helpful to the reader, but take one that you can legally obtain for a cheap price, or some websites will allow you to legally grab images for free. I have noticed several blogs that use pictures that are copy-written. Be cautious on what you use, and make sure it is not copyrighted before you use it. I used to use pictures to go along with my posts, but lately I haven't unless I have been given permission from the picture taker. So, be very cautious on what images you use on your website, it isn't worth getting into legal trouble over.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Fairs

A great way to earn publicity is to try and get your book in a book fair. As a kid, I grabbed every single book and looked at it. If you have written an interesting enough synopsis, chances are someone will buy your book at a book fair. Book fairs might be hard to get your book in though. The Scholastic book fairs only let books ordered from Scholastic to be in the book fair. No outside sellers allowed. So what do you do? Well, you find a different book fair. Even if you go through 40 book fairs and only get yours in 1, you are still getting a lot of publicity for something as simple as ordering some books.

The book fair is one of the most fun school events of the year for me. I love to talk with friends and chat while looking at books. Books are a part of my everyday life and a book fair gives me tons of choices on new books to read and new authors to investigate. If you can get your book in a book fair, then you will be sure to reel in some publicity and sales, so look for upcoming book fairs and events near you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

SilverFin: A James Bond Adventure (Book Review)

I recently completed SilverFin, a James Bond adventure. The book follows James Bond in his early teens. James is attending Eton, a school where fun is not tolerable and James life is made a nightmare by students such as George Hellebore. James is a great runner, and he wins a major race at the school. He is whisked away for Easter break, which sends him to his Aunt’s house. There James learns how to drive an Aston Martin, and spends time with his Uncle Max. A friend by the name of Red Kelly wants him to inspect the local castle with him, because Red’s cousin recently went missing in the area.

The book is like the Alex Rider series, but the novel has more depth, and I like this series considerably more. James Bond is paced carefully and chapters end at great spots that want me to keep reading. There are tons of cliffhanger endings and the descriptions are great. There were some wasteful descriptions though, such as how to drive; I really don’t need to read about that for a 10 page chapter. The book gets an overall 5 star rating, and I am very happy that I chose this. This book is for anyone, you don’t have to be a James Bond fan to enjoy it. But, if you are a James Bond fan, this book has things purposely told to you that will occur later in James’s adult life.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The New Kindle Family

Well, the new Kindles have been released, just in time for the holidays. It's a good time to be a published Kindle author right now. There are so many people that are buying Kindles now, mostly going towards the Kindle Fire because of its similarities towards the iPad. With more Kindle customers, chances are someone will buy your book for their new Kindle! The holidays are a great time for gifts (duh) and people are able to electronically gift Kindle ebooks to their friends. So, what do you think of the new Kindles?

I have the very first generation of Kindle, and quite frankly, the only thing I would EVER use it for is for books. It is impossible to search the Internet and is overall kind of slow. The new Kindles are supposed to be a lot nicer, and I would like some opinions. I don't have a new Kindle yet, but may eventually get one because of the cheap prices that are being offered. The Kindle Fire is a lightweight, colored, less expensive version of the iPad, and that is what I am most excited for. So, if you have a new Kindle, what are your opinions on it?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Your Writing Sanctuary

Everyone has a special place where they write. Whether it is the large, oak desk, the glass dining room table, or on the floor, everyone has a place where they write. For me it is a wooden desk in the corner of my room. It has a place for all of my journals, notebooks, writing logs, and books along with space for old CD's. The environment you work in directly affects the outcome of your writing. Working in a busy room at the dining room table may not give you results like sitting in a quiet room in an organized work space. Where you write is very important.

Keeping your journals, and notebooks in one place is essential. Some of my notebooks contain entire plot lines and losing them would make me devastated. Stay as organized as possible and keep writing in your favorite little spot. As I write this I sit at my desk and look at the books around me. I'm glad I have a writing desk that I can call my own. It is almost a second home, as much as I'm at it.

So, where is your writing sanctuary?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview with D.M. Kenyon

What is The Lotus Blossom about?


[DMK Responded: ] The Lotus Blossom is about a girl who grows up in a suburb of a city and like most of her friends gets into texting, gossiping about kids at school, tanning salons and fashion.  She has been raised to participate in our mass-media driven consumer culture and does not give a second thought about it until one day she meets a meditation and martial arts master named Rinchen.  When she first meets him, she does not think much of it other than that he seemed rather odd.   One night after a party, she volunteers to take a drunkclassmate home because he is not able to drive.  He tries to attack her.  The heroine of my story, Maddie, who later becomes known as "Lhamo", not only escapes the attack, but becomes very angry and beats the guy up pretty badly (he is so drunk he can't really defend himself very well).   This shatters her belief that the world is a safe place and that she is just a cute girl.  She comes to realize that she has real power and that she can be just as dangerous as the guy who attacked her.
She ultimately comes to train with Rinchen and learns many of the things that the ancient samurai learned including how to be aware of everything around you, how to deeply care about people and how to fight if you have to.  This wakes her up in ways that she could not have possibly imagined before meeting her teacher.   The idea of the book is to take a look at whether or not we are training children in the right skills.  What would happen if kids stopped playing Call of Duty and actually learned real warrior skills?  Real warriors are not murderers. They are protectors and heroes that save people even from themselves. To me, a true warrior does what he or she does because she loves people and never acts out of hate.  Anger and strength are not the same thing.  This is what Lhamo learns in the book.
It kind of sounds very rosy and nice, but eventually a couple of really bad things happen to her and she has to really dig deep to apply what she has learned from Rinchen.  Another thing that she has to struggle with is that the more she wakes up, the harder it is to hang out with her old friends.  She starts to see some of them as kind of foolish, but has to learn to love them just the same.  This is harder for her than learning how to fight.

Where is your book available?

[DMK Responded: ] Currently, The Lotus Blossom is only available over the internet at Smashwords, Amazon and The Book Patch, but it can be ordered through any major bookstore including Barnes & Noble.  Smashwords makes the book available in e-book format through most bookstores and websites.

Where did you get the idea for your book?

[DMK Responded: ] I am a father of four children, two are my natural children and I have two step daughters.  My two natural children grew up in a dojo because, at the time, I was the children's instructor for a large Aikido school in St. Louis.  I was also studying to be a Tibetan Buddhist lama, a type of teacher, as well as practicing law.  That is quite a mish-mash of cultural stuff.  As a lawyer, I started to realize that I was really expected to behave like a knight or a samurai.  In other words, there were ethical rules that could never be broken and people depended on me to fight for their rights and to protect them.   I also started to learn about Budo, the art of war, and that deeply influenced me.  I learned that conflict was an inevitable part of life, but it did not necessarily have to be destructive.  The most important thing to do in a fight is to try to destroy hate.  If you can destroy hate, peace happens all by itself.  
My kids started in the dojo when they were four years old and trained for about five or six years.  My son loved it, but my daughter not so much even though she was arguably better at Aikido than her brother was.  They both grew up to be very smart people, but more importantly, they are deeply, deeply committed to serving humanity.  My son is studying to be a doctor and my daughter is still in college. She just spent the summer working for the Children's Defense Fund and hopes to work for the wellbeing of families when she begins her career.  Secretly, I think that she will probably become a lawyer like her mother and her father.  In any event, both of my kids are warriors of the right kind and I am very, very proud of them. (Can't you tell?)
My two step-daughters had a different educational background.  Whereas my kids went to Catholic school (there mother is Catholic), my step-daughters went to a public school in the suburbs.   I noticed that there was huge difference in what they were taught and how their friends behaved.  I noticed that my step-daughters actually have a much harder time figuring out what is real and what is trivial fluff.  Their friends are more into buying things and having things than they are into making a difference in society.  Their world at school is all about safety, comfort and wealth.  And yet, the people in that world do not seem to be all that happy.  It is kind of shallow and sad to me. 
Now, you know that no kid is going to listen to their parents lecture them about putting down a cellphone or turning off the television.  If a parent can't get through, well, a step-father will be positively ignored.  So, I decided to teach them what I wanted them to know by writing a book about a girl just like them who learns what I wanted them to learn.  Sneaky, heh?  I threw in some romance, fast motorcycles and action to keep their interest and there you have it -- The Lotus Blossom.

How did you come up with the title?

In the Buddhist world, the image of the lotus blossom is very well known and very well understood as the symbol for enlightenment.  There is also a different kind of lotus blossom in the story, but they both make the same point.  You see, a lotus blossom is better known in America as a water lily or the flower that grows from a lily pad.   This plant has to plant its seeds in muck.  It cannot grow on land and it cannot grow in clear water.  It needs the muck to live, but it also needs the clear sunshine and clean water that is found at the surface of a pond.   It resolves this problem by growing out of the muck and rising to the fresh, clean environment above through struggle.  This is much like the human mind.  It needs turmoil and struggle to learn and gain wisdom so that it can grow into the clear emptiness of enlightenment. In other words, an easy life keeps you in the muck whereas a life of contemplation and hard work brings you to the ultimate awareness.  Our culture does not always understand that.

Who designed the cover?

[DMK Responded: ] I designed both covers.  The book was originally released with the photograph of a young woman's chest with a lotus blossom tattooed on it.  The readers of my book loved that cover because it has very special meaning in the story.  Unfortunately, people who had not read the book thought that the book was about sex and they were getting the wrong idea.  The new cover is based on a 19th Century ukiyo-e print (traditional Japanese wood block print) of Tomoe Gozen, a famous woman samurai.  A lot of people in our country do not know that there were women samurai, but there were.  Tomoe Gozen is among the most famous of them.  This picture, however, has been Photoshopped so that Tomoe Gozen is listening to an iPhone through a headset.  It is a very fitting image for this book.

Do you have to travel a lot for your books?

[DMK Responded: ] Wow! What a good question.  Well, actually I wrote the whole thing sitting at my dining room table much to the consternation of my wife who thinks I should have worked elsewhere.  I live in an antique house and I love my dining room and get great inspiration there.  But to get back to your question, to know the things that I wrote about in the book, I had to go all over the place.  I studied Aikido with some of the art's greatest masters.  I also trained with some of the world's greatest Vajra masters.  It would take days to explain what a Vajra master is, but they are a very special kind of meditation teacher.  I have spent weeks at a time learning from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and I have my own teacher, a very nice man named Lama Lodu, who has taught me for years and years.  I have spent days and days in retreats meditating and learning and days and days being tossed around dojo mats.  I have traveled extensively and met many wise people and seen many wonderful things.  I have also seen many horrible things too.  I once saw a man get killed by machine gun fire and it made me very, very sad.  But, all in all, the world is an amazing place full of wonders and wonderful people and if you are smart and learn from them, they will teach you to find unshakeable happiness.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

[DMK Responded: ] Ha!  This is my first book.  I have written many, many long essays on mostly professional topics.  I wrote my senior thesis in college about my theory that Shakespeare's Richard III and Macbeth are really the same play reworked.  That was about 140 publisher pages long, but never before have I written a stand-alone book.  And here you are at twelve years old and I believe you mentioned that you are on book number three already.  I have always been a late bloomer.

If your book was a movie, who would you pick to play the main characters?

[DMK Responded: ] Wow! Again, a really tough and interesting question.  Well, well, let me see ....  The character of Lhamo should be played by an unknown actress because I would not want people to have an opinion about her when the movie started.  This would make her evolution as a person much purer to the minds of movie viewers.  The character of Rinchen could not be played by just anyone.  It would have to be an actor that commands considerable gravity and reverence.  Sam Harris is probably too old to play the character now because Rinchen in the book is in his mid-forties.  You could take a different tack on this, however.  I could see someone like Robert Downey, Jr. playing Rinchen.  He can portray great seriousness and he has an immense hidden compassion, almost a sadness that could really be brought to bear in the character.  Rinchen is a character who has seen the world, good and bad, and is deeply in love with it, but also deeply saddened by it.  You would have to have an actor who is intimate with the extremes of joy and pain.  Mr. Downey probably fits that description. It would take incredible emotional range to play Rinchen effectively.  Tripp and Megan would be equally hard to cast also because of their depth.  You need thoughtful rebels for their characters and no one flashy.  These kids are humble.  

Do you plan on writing sequels?

[DMK Responded: ] I am not a fan of sequelization although it appears to be a necessary evil if you ever hope to go mainstream.  What I am playing around with is the idea of making the next book the biography of Rinchen which would technically be a prequel.  After that, I want to catch up to Lhamo as she tries to find a career and see what she is able to bring to the working world as a seasoned Budoka.  There is a whole book waiting to be written about a female samurai facing the sexism and a long list of other injustices and inhumanities in the business world.

How long did it take you to complete The Lotus Blossom?

[DMK Responded: ] The Lotus Blossom is 177,000 words long.  That is nearly twice as long as most modern novels, par for the course of novels written before literature was so ridiculously commercial. I started on May 5, 2011 and was finished with the complete draft manuscript around July 10.  Yeah, I know, that is a lot of writing in a very short time.  I got a little obsessed there for a while.  The editing and proof reading took another month and a half and I am still not sure that I have it where I want it, but you have to draw the line somewhere.  The book pretty much just poured out of me.  I broke two keyboards on my computer writing it.

What is your favorite book?

[DMK Responded: ] Well, I am liking The Impenetrable Spy an awful lot at the moment.  I can't say I have a single favorite book because I like most of the books I read for a wide variety of reasons and, if I tell the truth, the vast majority of what I read is non-fiction.  But if you are going to nail me down here, and I am pretty sure you are, I would have to say that it is a toss-up between Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger(all four versions) and the Horatio Hornblower series by C. S. Forester. I love well-researched historical fiction.  Oh yeah, I went bonkers for Across the Nightingale Floor and the Otori series by Lian Hearn.  You would like the Otori series.  Those books are real swashbucklers. 

About D.M. Kenyon:

[DMK Responded: ] I was born under a full moon as wolves gathered and howled at my arrival into this world ... no, wait, that was someone else.  As a teenager, I grew up on a farm in southern Michigan.  I spent a lot of time hiking and sitting in the woods thinking (and ducking out on chores).  I went to Kalamazoo College in Michigan and studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France.  Then came law school in St. Louis and soon after I got married and had two children.  I was a litigation attorney for about twenty years and got sick of it.  I got divorced when my kids were pretty young and that was a pretty rough time for me.  I really, really, really like being a dad.  I was always worried about my kids even though I had them half of the time.  I decided that I really did not know what I was doing in life so I did what I always do when I feel like I need to know about something -- I studied.  I started with Karate and was studying Zen Buddhism and then discovered Aikido and Tibetan Buddhism (they don't normally go together, but they do in my world).  I met my Buddhist master in the dojo when his students came to ask if he could use the facility as a place for him to give public teachings.  I was assigned by my sensei to take care of him.  I did not know how to take care of a Buddhist teacher, but I did know how to take care of a sensei, so I did that.  He was very impressed.  Several days later, I asked him to be my teacher.  He was sitting on the bench of a bus stop out in front of the dojo enjoying the cool night air.  I sat on my knees on the concrete and asked him to be my teacher. He was very happy and said, "I was hoping you were going to ask me that".  We have been friends now for seventeen years.

Eventually, I got older and it was getting harder to stay in shape.  I wanted to get into starting companies that helped the environment and created jobs for people who did not have them, so I did.  I am part owner of a company called Habitata Building Products and am part of a trade group that works on large green-tech projects.  And now, I write books too.  I am a pretty busy guy.  Lately, I have been thinking about starting a writer's circle of younger and older authors.  This would be a group that takes young authors seriously and gets everyone sharing knowledge and ideas.  When my son was in the dojo, I noticed that he really liked hanging with the older guys.  They always took him seriously.  He was a warrior with them and his age did not matter.  This did a lot for his evolution into the outstanding young man that he is today.  I think that there should be a writer's version of that.
Thank you for taking an interest in me and my book.  As we agreed, now, you have do an interview with me and I am cooking up some hum-dingers for you, young man.  

Your friend,
D. M. Kenyon (David Michael Kenyon)

His Website:
[DMK Responded: ] My blog can be found at www.blog.lotusblossombook.com.  I have a book site just for The Lotus Blossom that can be found at www.lotusblossombook.com.  I am going to be integrating that into the blog site soon and updating it.  I was just getting started when I posted the book site and I am not crazy about it. 

Social Media sites:
[DMK Responded: ] I only do Twitter and Facebook at the moment.  My Twitter name is @dmkenyon  and my Facebook page can be found atwww.facebook.com/david.m.kenyon 

Links to where his book is available:
 [DMK Responded: ] You can get my book on Smashwords: http://bit.ly/nMchLO   Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/u07wGQ  and in paperback at The Book Patch: http://bit.ly/pi5DPQ

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Character Journals

Character journals are a good way to interact with your characters, and discover things in their past that you, the writer, didn't even know. This is a tip I picked up in: How to Write a D--mn Good Thriller, a great writing book for any action writers. A character journal works like this, you start writing as you would a letter, but write in the character's perspective as if they are telling their own biography to you. An example of an evil villain's journal might be:

Dear Spencer Brokaw,
   As you have probably inferred, my life wasn't the best. As a child, my parent's were murdered by madman. I could tell there was something wrong with him before he committed the crime. I lived on the streets, refusing to be put in an orphanage...

See? I am able to uncover things that I wouldn't have imagined before, by writing in this perspective. This is a great tip that I hope you will use in the future for your characters.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Get The Impenetrable Spy-FREE

Until November 30th, you will be able to download The Impenetrable Spy for FREE, in honor of today being Black Friday, and I feel like being generous. You will only be able to get it for free by entering a coupon code on Smashwords: ZJ82N.  That is the code that will need to be entered. Thanks for all the pageviews, and the support you have given me. Enjoy The Impenetrable Spy and let me know what you think of it by leaving a review! 


Link to Smashwords page: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/73511

Two generous Black Friday Giveaways

Today is a day for deals, and I have come across two easy to participate in contests. The first is Black Beast Friday, hosted by R.S. Guthrie: http://robonwriting.com/2011/11/25/black-beast-friday/ and it gives away a Kindle!

The 2nd is hosted by Lee Broad. His contest is very simple: http://www.leebroad.com/2011/11/win-a-25-gift-card-from-amazon/ and it gives away a $25 gift card!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving- and a blog award!

Today is Thanksgiving! Time to stuff yourself with food and have a good time. Thanksgiving is a day to remember what you have and what you're thankful for. Spending time with family and friends makes it an even better day to celebrate!

2nd, I received a blog award from fellow writer Emerald Barnes today! I am excited for this award, and some rules follow.

The award is for blogs with less than 200 followers. I'm good there.

The award is to bring light to new and unknown writers. I'm new, and somewhat unknown.

The award is also to make new connections in the world of blogs!

1. Thank the person who gave you the award, so, thanks Emerald Barnes !

2. Give the award to five of your favorite bloggers, and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog!

3. Post the award on your blog.

4. Bask in the love of the most supportive group on the Internet – other writers.


5. Have fun and spread the karma.


Here are the people/blogs I chose for the award:


Unruly Guides is a blog and website that gives several marketing tips, podcasts, and other things that all writers should read and listen to. It isn't completely new, but a lot more people should know about it.

The Musings of a Book Addict is a blog that gives tons of book reviews out; my to-read list just keeps growing as I read it. I love the blog and you should too!

Tim Greaton Forum is a fairly new blog that deals out several interviews with different sorts of talents, including writers and artists. Check it out!

Lynette Gregory is a talented writer whose blog delivers humor and great advice. I love the posts she does, and I get excited when it comes time to read them.

Action Adventure Inc. is last but not least! A great website full of book previews and interviews.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Interview with Lee Goldberg


  What is your newest book about? Randy Disher is perfectly happy living with Monk's old assistant Sharona and working as the new police chief of Summit, New Jersey. But when the city's leadership is arrested for fraud, he suddenly finds himself appointed acting mayor and overwhelmed by the dual responsibilities...especially when the town is hit by a wave of robberies. In desperation, Disher calls on Adrian Monk to put things in order. 

As deputized officers, Monk and his assistant Natalie are ready to make Summit the cleanest city on earth—until the burglaries escalate to arson and murder. Now it's time to get down and dirty, before someone sends Monk and Natalie home in pine boxes. 


Where is your book available? It will be available everywhere in January.

Where did you get the idea for your book? From the corruption scandal in Bell,California. I thought it would be funny if Randy Disher, now police chief of Summit NJ, found himself running a town where all of the other officials are behind bars...and has to ask Monk and Natalie to help him run the police department. Once I started thinking along those lines, I thought it might be fun to actually make Monk and Natalie uniformed police officers. 

When did you begin working on TV shows and movies? Back in the early 1980s. I wrote an episode of "Spenser for Hire."

Is it hard writing for multiple shows? It must be hard to grasp the characters in a short amount of time. I've never written for more than one series at a time. And when I am writing a series, it's very easy for me to get wrapped up in the characters and the world they inhabit.

What is your favorite show and book you’ve worked on? Diagnosis Murder was my favorite TV show to work on....and my favorite book is probably "Watch Me Die."

Who designed the cover?  The covers for my MONK books are designed by the Penguin/Putnam art department.

Do you have to travel a lot for your books? No, not really. Most of my books are set in San Francisco or Los Angeles. The few that haven't been were set in places where I've either worked (like Germany) or where I have spent many vacations (like France and Hawaii)

When did you write your first book and how old were you?  I was nine. It was called "Tomorrow's Warrior" and was about a guy from the future who came to present-day to catch a bad guy. It was never published. My first published book was ".357 Vigilante," which I wrote when I was 19. I had a journalism advisor at UCLA who wrote spy novels. We became friends and talked a lot about mysteries, thrillers, plotting, etc. One day in the early 80s his publisher came to him and asked him if he’d write a “men’s action adventure series,” sort of the male equivalent of the Harlequin romance. He said he wasn’t desperate enough, hungry enough, or stupid enough to do it…but he knew someone who was: Me. So I wrote an outline and some sample chapters and they bought it. The book was called .357 Vigilante I wrote it as “Ian Ludlow” so I'd be on the shelf next to Robert Ludlum and had plenty of Letter-to-the-Editor-of-Playgirl quality sex in it. 

The West Coast Review of Books called my literary debut "as stunning as the report of a .357 Magnum, a dynamic premiere effort," singling the book out as "The Best New Paperback Series" of the year. I ended up writing four books in the series. Naturally, the publisher promptly went bankrupt and I never saw a dime in royalties.

But New World Pictures bought the movie rights to .357 Vigilante and hired me to write the screenplay. I didn’t know anything about writing scripts…luckily, I had a good friend who did, William Rabkin. We worked together on the UCLA Daily Bruin. So the two of us teamed up. The movie never got made, but we had so much fun that we were writing partners for over 20 years…and remain best friends to this day. 


How long does it normally take to finish your novels? About four to five months.

What are the differences when you write for a TV show, and when you write for your novels?  In scripts you have to show, not tell. Character and story have to be revealed only through action and dialogue. A screenplay is a blueprint, a working document for other professionals, like costume designers, location managers, and of course actors and directors. A book is very different. You can go into people's heads to tell stories and reveal character. You have to set the scene in great detail all the time. You are the director, the location manager, the actor and the director. You're creating a complete world with no limitations all by yourself. That can be exciting and daunting at the same time. I've encountered many screenwriters who simply can't write a book and many authors cannot write scripts. I've only met a few who can do both. They are different ways of telling a story and also different ways of thinking of story. 


 What is your favorite book? I have so many,but I think "Lonesome Dove" is probably at the top of the list.

About Lee GoldbergLee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar Award nominee whose many TV writing and/or producing credits include Martial Law, SeaQuest, Diagnosis Murder, The Cosby Mysteries, Hunter, Spenser: For Hire, Nero Wolfe, Missing and Monk. His many books includeSuccessful Television Writing, The Walk, Watch Me Die,  the Diagnosis Murder and Monk series of original mystery novels, and Amazon's The Dead Man series of monthly horrorAs a TV development consultant, he's worked for production companies and broadcasters in Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Mystery Writers of America and is the co-founder of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: Mr. Monk on the Couch

I recently read a great mystery novel based on the USA network TV show, Monk. The author grasped all of the characters, and the new characters like Amy Devlin were great. I am a HUGE, Monk fan, I watched all of the 126 episodes in a little more than a couple months. I always enjoyed the sarcastic humor, and the writer of this novel grasped it all. I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, feeling that the Walter O'Quinn case was a nice add on. From what I understand, the rest of the series isn't written in the same point of view. This book follows Monk's assistant particularly. I loved the descriptions; the writing flowed nicely. The book was very entertaining; I will be sure to read the other books in the series, and try to solve the impossible cases before the words,"Here's what happened" appear. All in all, this book deserves a brilliant 5 stars, for everything that I would have wanted in a Monk novel. I look forward to the future books in the series. If you are someone wondering whether or not to read a book based on a TV show, then read this book, it is great!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Quest of Ares (Short Story)

Here is a short story I did for class. Below is the description.


Ares is humiliated by Zeus constantly. On a mission to redeem himself, Ares must locate and save Athena from a group of terrorists who try to harness her powers for a powerful super-weapon.



Quest of Ares
         
Spencer Brokaw

“The meeting has begun!” Zeus yelled in a booming voice.
Ares grunted and listened as the God droned on and on about world problems. The room was bright white, and the pure light of the Gods would blind anyone that walked into the room. Marble Columns supported the magical ceiling that the Gods and Goddesses were enclosed in. Ares was bored with the meeting, and the other Gods in the room noticed.
            “Is there something wrong?” asked Zeus.
            “Yes, this meeting’s a bore!” Ares yelled with fury in his voice.
            “Have anything more important to discuss? How about what weapon you find fondest? You haven’t helped us in 1,000 years Ares. I don’t think you’ll ever lend a hand to us again. You’re too lazy and sarcastic to listen to anything I have to say.”
            Ares was speechless. He angrily yelled an obscenity and lunged at Zeus. Poseidon grabbed Ares and forced him to sit down.
            “You will be punished for that Ares,” Zeus began. He chuckled. “Did you really think you would have had a chance against the mighty God of the sky? One week of your “human form” will be your punishment. I know you hate it so much, I don’t blame you, seeing as how ugly your human self is.” Zeus chuckled again at his sick jokes.
            Ares cursed under his breath as he was transformed into the body he had come to hate. He instantly left the room, and transported himself onto the streets of New York City. He was furious. Being humiliated in front of a bunch of over-powered super beings, who thought so highly of themselves? Please, Ares had better things to do. He needed to ship guns and weapons to the several clients he had. He was a massive arms dealer, a man employed by both sides of war. He didn’t care about right and wrong, as long as he got his way. His cell-phone started to ring; the call was unfortunately from Zeus. Ares didn’t pick up. He fingered the gun in his pocket, eager for action. He looked at his cell-phone one last time, as: New Voice Mail popped up onto the bright screen.
            He clicked on the recording and listened to the startling message.
            “Athena has been captured. She transformed into her human self to greet one of her daughters in Nevada, but was kidnapped and has now gone missing. I want you to search day and night; the first person to find her will be rewarded with a magic spear. Continue your life, that is all,” the voice of Zeus said.
            Ares had an idea, a simple one that would make him very happy if he succeeded. If he found Athena, and rescued her, he would get a magic spear, and the chance to redeem himself to the other Gods and Goddesses. He looked at the recent messages he had received from his arms dealers. “Need weapons, has taken woman hostage.” The message was from Abe Balard, a man that Ares regularly delivered weapons to.
                                                                                                                                                                                    The woman was most likely Athena, or at least Ares hoped it would. He kicked at the ground, before reading the address from which the message was being sent. Ares dreaded the thought of boarding a plane, although he knew it was necessary. He would be traveling to Nevada, in a barren desert where a large terrorist base was located. Ares had everything he needed, a sniper rifle, assault rifle, a pistol, grenades, and a knife as long as his head. The guns were silenced, so he wouldn’t alert any enemies of his presence.
            Ares reached Nevada in a few hours’ time, which was nothing to him. He had been alive for centuries, hours were nothing. When he landed, he immediately rented a car and drove at full speed until finally spotting the terrorist base. He hopped out of his vehicle and grabbed the sniper rifle off his back. He looked through the elongated scope at the enemies he would be facing. The men were dressed as if ready for a fight, but there was something supernatural about them. They were human, no doubt, but they were dressed in peculiar outfits and bright colors. Ares looked upon the second floor of the main building; he could see multiple enemies patrolling the area. He wasn’t surprised to see several rooms leading off in different directions, one of which Athena was most likely in.
            Ares began moving forward as the hot wind blew across his rough face. He had a short beard and a buzzed cut head. He wore old, beat up clothing that looked as if it had seen better days. He smelt the burning of electricity in the air. It was a foul stench, mixed with the blowing of dirt in his face. The blowing desert sand would be perfect cover, along with the several dilapidated cars that stretched on for a few hundred yards. Ares ran from car to car, until he was able see the building clearly with his own eyes. He spotted two terrorists in front of him guarding the main entrance. Ares would find another way in. He spotted a window on the second floor, that looked plenty breakable. Ares stepped forward and grabbed a terrorist from behind while he kicked the other in the kneecap. The men fell to the ground unconscious. Ares grabbed an indent in the wall and began pulling himself up until he reached the window he desired.
            He pulled out his pistol, and slammed it into the glass. The glass shattered in an instant, alerting a guard. The man ran to the window and looked out into the barren desert. Ares grabbed the man’s shirt collar with his left arm while pulling the guard down and dropping him, letting him collide with the ground. The body of the terrorist was motionless. Ares climbed into the window and stared at three doors, all leading in different directions. He pressed his ear up against the first door. Voices echoed inside. Ares retreated to the middle of the room, looking for an alternate entrance. He saw a large metal grate that he would easily be able to fit into. He pulled it off the wall and threw it into the ground next to him. He entered the confined space pessimistically. His sweat ran down his face, obscuring his vision.
            He found a grate that led out into the first room. He silently pulled it off and placed it on the ground below. He dropped down onto the ground; that’s when he saw Athena. She looked immensely tired, as if she had no energy left. There were several cords that stuck into her body, draining the little energy she had left. She was enclosed in a bullet proof room protected with strong metals. She was being held against the ground by metal bars. If she struggled, they would crush her, plus she hardly had any energy to wriggle in the first place. There were five armed guards in the room; all of them strolled around the space that Athena was enclosed in. Ares pulled out his sniper rifle and looked through the scope. He positioned the crosshairs of his gun above one of the terrorist’s heads. He squeezed the trigger as the body dropped to the ground, silently. The other men were unaware of Ares presence, which allowed him to easily pick them off. Ares grabbed a nearby terrorist and snapped his neck. The man grabbed it before falling to the ground. Ares hid his body in a corner. The other three were all talking about Athena, and the powers that she had. The men didn’t know she was a Goddess, but they knew she was powerful.
            They planned on using her energy to power a new super weapon they invented. Ares wouldn’t let that happen. He pulled out his assault rifle and shot a magazine from his gun. The three men dropped to the ground, leaving behind a slow moving puddle of blood. Ares disabled the powering machine, and grabbed Athena. He took her outside and placed her in the passenger’s side of his car.
            “Thank you for rescuing me, you will be rewarded for your brave act,” Athena said before grabbing Ares hand, and transporting them to the council of the Gods. Zeus looked at Ares in revolt when he saw he had rescued Athena.
            “You? You rescued Athena?” he muttered.
            “Yes, can I have my magic spear now?” Ares asked.
            “Fine!”
            Zeus handed a large weapon over the table to Ares. The Gods and Goddesses clapped for Ares, it was a moment that Ares would never forget. His mind and personality had changed; he began work for the Gods, and actually listened to what they had to say.