Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! This is my journey, my first steps into the world of fictional writing. This blog is an online journal of sorts, where I share the progress of my work as well as what I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy your time with me and that my experience may be of some use to you.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Interview 23 - Mark Alan Smith



Welcome back,
               For this month's interview, we have the pleasure of meeting published author, Mark Alan Smith. I have met Mark on one of the many Facebook writing pages. He has written many different types of publications, both in fiction and nonfiction.

               On to the interview!
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Short Bio: Former firefighter, emergency medical technician and corrections officer who also served in the United States Marine Corps. I have authored a variety of articles on a wide range of topics and I’m currently working on several writing projects. These include a non fiction preparedness guide and a fiction/fantasy series titled The Tales of Dohrya. I reside in western Oklahoma and enjoys hunting, cooking and taking part in IDPA pistol matches as I can.

Published Works: Roma Victrix (an alternative history novella) Preparedness The Basics and Beyond, The Tales of Dohrya The Southern War (Book one of a six book series)

Current Projects: I am currently writing 11 full length books and a number of short stories


When did you begin writing?

I started writing Dohrya in high school as well as original poetry and then slowly expanded my writing to included technical articles.

Did you receive any special training or attend a school?

No.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

With the poetry it was a form of therapy, I suffer from depression and the poetry was a form of self therapy. The poems were not dark, quite the opposite in fact, writing helped me to pull myself out of the depression. Writing fiction fantasy (which I was a huge fan of and still am) was an outlet for my creative side.

What is (in your opinion) the most important thing to remember when writing, and why is it so important?

A key piece of advice that a friend of mine gave me years ago that I often remind myself of when I am writing dialogue is that not everyone talks the same. I had a tendency for all my characters to have the same inflection, the same syntax etc. After he told me that it was as if I was suddenly seeing the writing in a whole new light and it really helped me grow as a writer.

What is (in your opinion) the most challenging part of writing, and how do you overcome it?

Staying true to who you are as a writer, I’ve written a number of different articles, poems and several books all the while not changing my core principles or beliefs. If I do that then I feel I can’t be true to who I am and therefore what I’m writing isn’t as good.

Did you use an agent? (why or why not?)

I do have a publisher.

Did you use an Editor? If not, what process did you use to edit your work?

I have changed how I edit. I formerly did it electronically, just read through it on the computer and made the changes there but with my current project (a three book series) I’ve taken to printing it out and going through the printed pages with a red pen and then making the necessary changes in the digital copy after. Yes it does take longer but for me seeing it in the hard copy printed format I am able to better visualize the story and I can do a better job of editing.  

How did you get your book published? (self-published, Vanity publishing, Mainstream publisher).

I am fortunate to have a friend who owns a publishing company and have a contract through her.

Do you handle your own marketing?

I do some of it but mainly my publisher (Auctoritas Publishing) handles it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Stay the course (pardon the cliché’) and keep writing.

I found Mark’s life experience and how it reflected in his work to be inspiring. I hope everyone found this interview informative, and I would like to thank Mark Alan Smith for taking the time to take this interview. Your participation was very much appreciated.

Until Next time.

Cheers,

Patrick Osborne

Friday, November 10, 2017

BOOTCAMP LESSON 20: Cross-Genre


Welcome back!



This latest edition of Bootcamp will be an exercise in Cross-Genre, the mixing of multiple literary genres into one story, and how it can be applied to your work. The purpose of this writing prompt is to help us experiment with different genre combinations, and how those pairings can affect a story’s setting and characters.

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Lesson 20: Crossing literary genres


The basics of a story is a plotline which follows the exploits of the main characters as they attempt to resolve a conflict while making their way to their intended goal. A genre is a label that characterizes artistic composition of a literary work by analyzing different elements like form, style, or subject matter.


As opposed to the conservatism of most single genre fiction, cross-genre writing offers opportunities for different approaches to telling a story, which can be both fun and a challenge. In the following exercise, you will have to create a synopsis of a story that has two different genres.


So, here are today's guidelines!


  • Below is a list of seven literary genres, pick two to work with.
  • Following the basics of a storyline, create a short summary which must include;
    • A protagonist
    • A sidekick
    • An antagonist
    • An obstacle
    • A goal
  • Demonstrate how your story is inspired from the two different genres you had selected.
  • The summary must be five hundred words or less.


Genres
  1. Action & Adventure: Story where a protagonist is placed in a desperate situation while facing seemingly insurmountable odds while trying to accomplish a specific goal.
  2. Comedy: Story where the events are told in a funny or comical manner. Comedy is versatile and can easily be merged with other genres.
  3. Fantasy: Story based on magic or supernatural elements, relating to outworldly characters and settings. Good examples would be Fairy Tales, Fables and Legends.
  4. Historical: Story which focuses on a real person or event. Often used in non fictional literature like biographies.
  5. Horror / Thriller: Story where harm and misfortune risk affecting the protagonist(s), told to deliberately evoke a feeling of dread and fear, through suspense, violence or shock.  The protagonist is often pitted against an unbeatable force;  common examples are ghosts, monsters or a merciless psychopath.
  6. Romance: Story involving a character's relationships or love interest. This genre is commonly seen combined with other genres.
  7. Science fiction: Story based on the impacts of actual, imagined or potential science (be it realistic or not). Common elements are futuristic settings or alien beings. Most notable space themed storylines are those set in the Star Trek and Star Wars universes.


For those who aren’t afraid to share their entries, feel free to submit your backstories as a reply to this post. Remember, this is a game, so no posting bad comments about other people's entries.


Now go! Create! And I hope you have fun giving this exercise a try.


Until next time!


Cheers,


Patrick Osborne

Friday, November 3, 2017

Current Projects Part 34


Welcome back,


            October proved to be another busy month on my end. I got more artistic work done on some sculptures, made some progress on writing, and started to put together a studio in my basement. Not to mention my yearly Horror Movie Marathon!


            Other than that, I haven’t been up to much, so this update will be shorter than some of my previous ones.


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As I write this, November is only two days away. Before we know it, winter will be upon us and the holiday season will be here! I’m already looking into Christmas shopping and making preparations for holiday get-togethers. For now, however, Mother Nature is wreaking havoc, as my hometown is going through yet another rainy period. This will be the second series of floods this year.


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            The bright side to all this rain, is that I get to stay inside and do some work! In terms of writing, I have almost completed the character sheet on main main protagonist. I only have his history section left to fill out, which might be a bit tricky, since I have to coordinate it with several other characters. I also chipped away at my second chapter, so at least I got some progress made.


I’ve been doing more art recently, mostly for hanging on my walls. I will be sharing pictures once they are complete. I’m giving myself a deadline of early february, and I want them up in time for my Birthday!


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Missing Worlds Media have been busy since my last progress report, since they have released three updates in the past month! The articles covers power designs, animation and one background story. You can read the full articles on our kickstarter page:








That is all I have for this month. In closing, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to visit my blog, your support is truly appreciated. I can be reached via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter (@OzmosisCoH), so don't be shy and send me a message if you have any questions or comments.


Until next time.


Cheers,


Patrick Osborne

Friday, October 27, 2017

By the Book - Death Troopers



Welcome back!
            In honor of Halloween, October’s book review will be horror theme. The novel in question is entitled Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber,  book inspired by one of the most popular sci-fi opera’s out there; Star Wars. This story was meant to be a sequel to Red Harvest, which I reviewed earlier this year.

            When I went to Amazon to order some new material for my library back in April, Star Wars related content was high on my list of interests. That's when I came across Death Troopers, a cross between zombies and a popular sci-fi franchise. I later selected Red Harvest when I found out it was its prequel.

The story begins in the Imperial prison barge Purge, as it breaks down in a distant, uninhabited part of space. Its only hope appears to lie in a seemingly abandoned Star Destroyer, drifting nearby. When a boarding party is sent to scavenge for parts, only half of them come back, bringing with them a deadly contagion. Within hours, half the Purge’s population die, come back as zombies and begin to hunt the survivors. In an attempt to escape, the survivors take shelter in the Star Destroyer, unaware of the horrors within.


Back of the Book:
When the Imperial prison barge Purge–temporary home to five hundred of the galaxy’s most ruthless killers, rebels, scoundrels, and thieves–breaks down in a distant, uninhabited part of space, its only hope appears to lie with a Star Destroyer found drifting, derelict, and seemingly abandoned. But when a boarding party from the Purge is sent to scavenge for parts, only half of them come back–bringing with them a horrific disease so lethal that within hours nearly all aboard the Purge die in ways too hideous to imagine.

And death is only the beginning.

The Purge’s half-dozen survivors–two teenage brothers, a sadistic captain of the guards, a couple of rogue smugglers, and the chief medical officer, the lone woman on board–will do whatever it takes to stay alive. But nothing can prepare them for what lies waiting aboard the Star Destroyer amid its vast creaking emptiness that isn’t really empty at all. For the dead are rising: soulless, unstoppable, and unspeakably hungry.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT

What I Learned From This Book:
  • Crossing genres: The most obvious aspect of this story, is how it crosses two very distinctive genres, Zombies and Star Wars. Each genre are pretty solid on their own, but combining the two is something that has been rarely seen. The author successfully managed to integrate both genres into one epic story. For more information on integration, visit one of my previous writing prompts on the subject.
  • Safe characters: One of the first rules of writing a zombie story, is that no character should be safe from getting killed. The promise of death should threaten all characters in a horror novel. That is why when these types of books suddenly include ‘’brand name’’ characters (in this case, Han Solo and Chewbacca), the story loses a large amount of tension, cause we know those characters aren't in real danger. Another prime example of this phenomenon is the Resident Evil movie franchise; at some point, the story loses tension because we know the main character will be back for a sequel.  
  • Futuristic vision: The story takes place aboard a prison ship. Seeing the author's futuristic interpretation of a setting inspired from a modern day establishment such as a prison was pretty interesting. It is a great example of how science-fiction writers take an idea, and push the boundaries. Please see my previous article for more details on writing science fiction

Joe Schreiber is an American novelist best known for his horror and thriller novels. His works include Chasing the Dead, Eat the Dark and No Doors, No Windows. In October 2009, Joe created his first contribution to the Star Wars universe; Death Troopers. Schreiber was born in Michigan (1969), but is currently based in central Pennsylvania, where he works as an MRI technician and lives with his wife and two young children.

For those interested in reading more books from Joe Schreiber, please check out these following websites:


In closing, I would like to thank you all for dropping by and following my blog. Your encouragement is always appreciated. Don’t forget to hit the like/follow buttons!

Until next time!

Cheers,

Patrick Osborne

Monday, October 16, 2017

Thrillers and Suspense

Welcome back!


Inspired by Halloween, I decided to focus this month's writing article on a genre that specializes in thrills, chills and spills! We will be discussing Thrillers and Suspense as a genre in fiction.


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The basics of a story is a plotline which follows the exploits of the main characters as they attempt to resolve a conflict while making their way to their intended goal. So how exactly does Thriller and Suspense differ from other genres? Suspense in fiction happens when dramatic tension escalates, and becomes charged with anticipation. So the genre isn’t necessarily about plot as much as it is about emotion, defined by using tension to create anxiety, uncertainty, or surprise. So it is easy to see how this can cause confusion, as these characteristics are applicable to a broad range of literary genres. Thriller/Suspense can stand on its own, but can also be incorporated into other genres, such as crime/thriller, western/thriller, fantasy/thriller, horror/thriller, and many more.


It is a very popular genre in writing, however it’s classification seems to elude many. They tend to get scattered around with other genres, being categorized as Horror, Science Fiction or even Mystery.


To understand Thriller/Suspense fiction, you need to understand it’s perspective. The storytelling approach when dealing with a crisis focuses on being proactive, with a hefty dose of drama. In order to be proactive, events need to happen in the beginning of the story, forcing the protagonist to react. To better understand, let us have a comparison:


  • Mystery: A crime happens, then we see the protagonist spend the rest of the story trying to find out what happened. He is therefore reactive.
  • Horror: Unspeakable terror happens, then we see the protagonist spend the rest of the story trying to escape it. He is therefore reactive.
  • Science-Fiction: Something out of the ordinary happens, then we see the protagonist spend the rest of the story dealing with the situation. He is therefore reactive.
  • Thriller/Suspense: The protagonist receives information about impending doom, then we see him spend the rest of the story attempting to prevent it. He is therefore proactive.
 
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The key to writing Thrillers/Suspense fiction is not to ask “What needs to happen?”, it’s to ask “What can go wrong?”. Four factors need to be taken into account when writing this genre: reader empathy, reader concern, impending danger and escalating tension. So the tension in the story needs to escalate, or else the suspense will evaporate before it reaches a climax.


Here are some important points to remember when writing Suspense Fiction:


  • Create a good hero. This may be true to any story, but the suspense hero has to be someone the reader will worry about. In Suspense, the hero helps create tension by having their life, needs or desires in jeopardy. We push suspense even further by keeping said aspects away from the protagonist, emphasizing how deeply the character wants it, and showing what consequences will result if they don’t get it.
  • Create a good villain. In a suspense novel, the identity of the antagonist is known early, and they are very visible to the audience. It is therefore important that the villain be a worthy opponent to the hero. Explore who the antagonist is; what is their motivations, background and character. Show the reader why they should fear this person.
  • Understand tragedy. It is important to understand the importance of loss. The goal of Suspense stories is to engage the reader's concern by heightening the impact of the tragedy. But if the story contains hundreds of murders, each explained in detail, then the act of murder will seem less tragic, and readers won’t feel concerned by it. To build tension, don’t emphasize the violent act, increase the reader's apprehension about the violent act.
  • Modulate Suspense. Building tension takes time. Suspense happens in the stillness of your story, in the gaps between the action sequences. Create a feeling of apprehension by slowing down time; use longer, more complex sentences rather than being short and to the point. This can help to increase suspense. Break the tension by inserting a pause into suspense; a moment of comic relief, reveal a clue that advances the plot or maybe character development. Use this technique of inserting a brief respite to give readers a break, then return to the suspense to keep them hooked.

  • Promises and Payoffs. A promise is anticipation that a dreadful event is going to happen; the payoff is the action taken against said event. There can be a suspense sequence early in the novel, and the tension should build up the farther into the story the reader gets. The bigger the promise, the bigger the payoff. It’s important, however, that those promises always be fulfilled, or else the readers will end up feeling disappointed.

  • Create dilemmas. Events in the storyline should come at a price. The protagonist needs challenging dilemmas to test their character, and must seemingly be a lose-lose situation. By their nature, protagonists can’t stray from their morals or promises, so they will need to face dilemmas, no matter how difficult.
  • High stakes. The story must be about a cause so important to the protagonist, that they are willing to do anything to prevent it from being in danger. Place said cause in some sort of peril, then raise the stakes by making the danger more imminent, intimate, personal and devastating. Postponing the resolution will help sustain the suspense, and ensures readers will empathize with the protagonist.
  • Apply pressure. A key way for writers to create tension is by pitting the protagonist against what seems to be insurmountable odds. Pile on the problems by giving the protagonist more things to do than they can handle; working against the clock, waves of enemies, elemental disasters, allies in distress, unexpected obstacles, etc. Push them further by removing their tools, escape routes and support system. The protagonist should be working every minute to achieve their goal, which should feel just out of reach. Heroes should be stretched to the breaking point in order to save the day.
  • Foreshadow rather than telegraph. The line between foreshadowing and telegraphing is a subtle one. Creating a scene that ends in foreshadow is meant to hint at something more sinister to come without out giving away the punchline. Telegraphing is when the reader guesses what’s coming, effectively ruining the suspense.

  • Point of view. The reader should have foresight into the actions of both the protagonist and the antagonist. By making the readers aware of the trouble before the protagonist, they get to see the lines of convergence between the protagonist and antagonist. This technique builds tension from the reader’s self-imposed fears of knowing the consequences of the perils ahead.
  • Turn up the Sensory Detail. Heighten anticipation by focusing on the right sensory detail. By making your character hyper-aware of sensations, you add a feeling of impending danger, which contributes to dramatic tension. The absence of sensory detail, such as stillness and shadows, can also suggest a hidden menace. Furthermore, using the protagonists internal dialogue allows the reader to experience the tension firsthand.


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In closing, the most important thing I learned today, is to be unpredictable. Make nothing straight-forward. Readers will try to predict what will happen, but they want to be wrong. The reader might know what the story’s endgame is, but not how it’s going to get there. Give them more than what they are anticipating.


Until next time!


Cheers,


Patrick Osborne