When your character's in trouble, what's her go-to weapon? Is she better with cutting words, or with actual sharp-edged weapons? Does she carry one? If not, can she turn anything into a weapon?
Hair swords are a thing with me. No, not swords made of hair (creepy), actual pointy things that hold your hair up. Of course I could use a pen, or a chopstick - but where's the fun in that?
I now have around 7 different styles - from a pair handmade by my son out of old drill bits, to a katana, to this gladius replica I picked up in Italy (she says casually).
They make for good conversation pieces. They're not concealed weapons. Not concealed at all, officer. Look, see? Right there sticking up like an alien antenna. I'll let you in on a secret. Most aren't even sharp - pointy, yes, sharp, no.
However that doesn't stop them being useful. They make good letter openers, for instance (honest, officer). Of course, the point is (pun intended) almost anything handy can be used as a weapon by your character. (Some may debate the usefulness of cooked pasta, but it would, at least, serve as a distraction while she hit the badguy with something more lethal. And don't underestimate the pain-generating ability of a really hot pasta sauce in the eyes.)
Use your scene location description to add key details (sauce bubbling on the stove; the rich aroma of tomato pasta sauce). Then use that casually-mentioned detail as a weapon in the subsequent fight scene. Think outside the standard weapons array. (Jackie Chan movies are good at that.) Have fun with it. If you character is a think-on-her-feet kinda girl, use whatever's to hand and it will add either realism or comedy (or both) to your scene.
Having recently been interviewed by the awesome Greg Alldredge, I thought I'd turn the tables on him and ask him his own questions. Possibly I'm just lazy, but it's equally possible that I'm plain evil. Mwah hahahahah! (Cue thunder and lightning)
Greg lives and works in China, teaching theatre when he's not writing amazing stories.
Here's where you can find his work and annoy him
@G.Alldredge on FaceBook
@MrAlldredge on Twitter
greg.alldredge on Instagram
Before we start, Greg, any last words?
I never thought I'd have to answer my own questions!
Question 1: Tell me something about your book, not on your back cover.
In each one of my books, there is a little bit on me. Not so much in the voice of the characters but the way I feel or think, it is up to you to decide which part is me. Of course, this might change depending on my frame of mind while I am writing.
Question 2: Tell me something, not in your Bio.
My wife and I met when I was 18ish, we have been together for over three decades. That is something I am proud of.
Question 3: Tell me something about your process.
I’m supposed to have a process? I need to name my characters before I start. It grounds me to the story. I don’t outline per say, I name my chapters before I start and I add the main plot points that must happen in that chapter. However, I don’t always stick to the plan, and I often must add chapters as I go. I kind of write by the seat of my pants. I normally have the people in the story set, and the ending, there have been times the beginning, and the middle has changed on me during the writing.
Question 4: Inspiration comes from many different places. Describe your favorite working area.
We live in China. In our house, we have a sectional. I lay on it and write. I sit at the kitchen table to edit. I have found I love writing at one of the many places we have had the opportunity to travel to. Vung Tau Vietnam was a productive place for me.
Question 5: Many feel new experiences are important to writers. Where do you travel to find new motivation?
I love to travel. The places I travel often end up in my stories. Even if I don’t use the specific location, I use feelings, thoughts sensations I experience in the locations. In three weeks we are visiting the Mediterranean. I can’t wait for the new experiences waiting for me. This trip will take us to 26 countries visited.
Question 6: Many writers remember things from their past, if you don’t mind, describe your first date.
I will use the first date wife my wife. We met by a fluke, I am not sure you would call it a cute meet, she thought I was an ass. I was dancing with several female friends. She had come with a mutual friend, she left the dancehall with me… and other friends. She still tells everyone I was an ass when we first met, I was just having a good time.
Question 7: Describe something that most excites your imagination while you are doing it.
Listening to the correct music. I have five or six older bands I listen to depending on what I am writing. Something about the tempo or the sound really can get me going on a roll. I can crank out some words listening to Pink Floyd or the Moody Blues.
Question 8: What do you find yourself thinking about most days?
When not teaching, I think too much about books. Stories I have simmering waiting to come out. The good thing is once I sit down to write I normally have the story figured out in my head so I can crank out some words once I start.
Question 9: I have heard it told, writers, write about what they fear. What are you afraid of?
Funny thing I fear sharp objects, even though I am used to working with the most lethal cutting tools and knives, and I practice Stage Combat, but those weapons are blunt... I seem to have more cutting in my books or tearing. I don’t write a lot of gore into my books, but the cutting scenes give me the willies.
Question 10: Finished this sentence any way you want to. “And they all…”
Discovered they were more alike than different, eventually learning to live with one another. That is it much more fun to love thy neighbor that to constantly fight with them.
Thank you for your time. I hope you have a great end of the year! Any final thoughts?
I am a little light-headed after that.
Do check out Greg and follow him here
@G.Alldredge on FaceBook
@MrAlldredge on Twitter
greg.alldredge on Instagram
2017 has been a big year. Attended three conventions - at which I gave three well-attended workshops - spent a LOT of time editing various novels; edited a 100000 word short story anthology, finished writing the first draft of a new novel, wrote several short stories, got short-listed in the Writers of the Future competition, listened to a lot of writing-craft podcasts. Realised I still know nothing!
But 2018 is shaping up to be HUGE. Will be releasing IRON, the first in the Kalima Trilogy, come hell or high water. Also releasing all three of the Shadows trilogy. Cover release in January. 80AD book 1 is part of an amazing book bundle "On the Horizon" which will come out in May. (I have a fabulous artist working on new covers for 80AD).
Of course there's no guarantees anything will be a 'success' in the traditional, 'rolling-in-money' kind of way. But, to be honest, I'm just happy if a few people like my stories and enjoy my workshops and I get to connect with some like-minded souls in this isolating world we live in today.
See you on the other side of the New Year!
So you can probably tell - I've been working on updating my website. Saving money by doing it myself. AARRRGGHH! I can see why we pay people to do this stuff. Software is FRUSTRATING when you aren't familiar with it. Still, I've started and I'm one of those bloody-minded idiots who finishes things they start. Bear with me. It's going to take awhile to get all the links right and set up the store properly. In the mean time, pretend you're hearing muzak while you wait...dum dum de dum dum...
So having gone to the conference back in October, I spontaneously decided to pitch IRON to a publisher who was there. And they agree do publish, much to my astonishment. They're also interested in 80AD, which is equally amazing.
But I'm now ambiguous. Do I want the thrill of being 'traditionally' published and the simplification of all the 'stuff' that goes with that? eg: someone else doing the tricky bits, the distribution, the editing etc. Or do I want to have more control and try to do it all myself (retaining more of the income as well)?
I'm honestly not sure. So I figured, while I'm waiting for the slow wheels of traditional publishing to turn, I'll try out the messier side of self-publishing with different title..
Thus my first venture into printed self-published books begins. CreateSpace and Ingram Spark here I come.
Wish me luck
I've been learning. A lot. About writing and how to improve mine. There's still a LONG way to go, I know. I am far, far from being expert or even particularly good.
So that led me to wonder: when does one actually feel comfortable calling oneself a 'writer'?
Writing was just a hobby before. Something I'd always loved.
I sent 80AD in to half a dozen publishers, unsolicited, and got no responses. Probably because I didn't know how to format or what to write on the query letter. But who knows. Maybe it's awful and they all hated it.
So I e-published. And was astonished at the response. Over 300000 downloads of the whole series and it was in I-books top 100 for over a year.
that's pretty cool, I think. Not really having anything to compare it to, I don't know for sure.
They are up for free, because a) I had no confidence and b) I wanted to get them to an audience that had no credit cards - kids.
So does that make me a writer?
I recently went to a writers conference. It was excellent - full of interesting people, fascinating insight, excellent 'how to' tips and tricks. Worthwhile. But...
(Now here's where I have to apologise if I offend anyone who attended, because I really did love it and very much liked everyone I met.)
Being a newb at these conferences, I found it uncomfortable to meet new people and had to force myself to strike up conversations. Luckily, everyone was kind and polite. I was also (being insecure) watching reactions, perfectly aware that I did so in order to try and see where I stood in the hierarchy.
Because, as I discovered, there is a hierarchy. A 'Published author' means printed, paper copies done by a recognised publishing house, and is accorded much respect. E-books on their own are not as highly acclaimed though I suspect that may change over the next decade, though. Free books do not thrill writers, unless they're a lost leader to a chargeable series. (I totally understand as good, free writing sets unfair expectations in the minds of readers)
Writers who are earning a living from their craft also get higher cred than those who aren't - which is perfectly fair, really. They've worked freaking hard and ought to be respected for that.
What does all this mean? It means that writers are human. Often better-read, more self-aware and usually pretty damned intelligent, they are still subject to the ancient genetics of tribal/primate-troupe mentality. We still want to know who's the alpha and where we fit in. We still judge people, only it's on what they've written, what they've earned from it and how it's published.
I love learning from these amazing people, but I don't want to get caught up in the 'published-or-not' thinking. I just want to write. I don't want to spend hours scouring websites for story competitions to enter, or publishing houses to send manuscripts to. I don't want to angst over whether my story is deemed good enough by an editor I've never even met. I don't want to be judged by other writers based on whether I have a book in paper or in e-format.
So by the end of the conference, when asked the question 'so what do you write', I would answer 'nothing significant. I'm just learning'. Not through false modesty, because I am quite proud of what I've done and what I'm learning. It was because I really don't want to be compared to anyone else out there, inevitable though that is.
Do I care? Of course. Anyone who's on social media and says they don't care about what others think is... well, possibly unaware of the irony.
I'd rather not care, though.
I just want to write.
Getting published would just be a nice bonus.
It was so much simpler last time - I wasn't working and could sit and write for hours; really get into the groove of it. Now I'm doing well to snatch a few minutes at 11:30 at night. Consequently what I'm writing is disjointed and plain annoying. Thankyou to all the positive feedback you keep writing for the 80AD series. It gives me hope that there is still more in me to give back to you all :)
Well, the next book I'm working on is going rather slowly. Spending far too much time on boring daily work that pays money, as opposed to the fun stuff of writing books. Ah well, someone's got to pay the bills. Might take me awhile, but I'll be free to write full time one of these days soon. Then, watch out! So many ideas bubbling away. :)
OK, Christmas is over (quite a lot of fun, actually. Nerf gun battles and swordfights with my son, then a great family trip to New Zealand.)
Back to work and also trying to fit in a few hours of writing each week. Working on editing "Be Careful what you wish for" and also writing the next adventure novel. Sleep? Who needs sleep? San Dan grading will have to wait, too. Ah well.
Book 5 is, at long last, up at Smashwords and at Obooko.
Hope you all have a great Christmas and a fantastic new Year
I live in Australia - which tells you I have a sense of humour. We're a self-deprecating people, we Aussies. My aim is to, one day, vanish in a blinding flash of enlightenment. In the mean time, I'm doing my best to learn as many