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.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Welcome back!

Time for the latest installment of BOOTCAMP! This month’s lesson is called Adapting, and will focus on how a character finds a solution to a difficult scenario, and changes in order to overcome it.

We are shaped by the world we live in. Our environment influences our decision, lifestyles, and affects how we grow as individuals. Similar to my previous lesson on Integration, which focused on plausibly integrating a pre-established character in various environments, this lesson focuses on how environments affect individuals. A good example is the story of Superman; how would Kal-El have turned out if instead of the quiet farms of Kansas, he would have grown up in the crime infested streets of Gotham city? Odds are he would have had a much darker demeanor.

Lesson 16: Adapting

We are all born the same, but yet as we get older, we become different. These differences stem from when and where we come from. Our personalities, intelligence, opinions and morals are dictated by what we experience growing up. A person born in Canada during the 1600’s will be different from a person born in Canada during 2000’s. Just as a person born in Canada during the 2000’s will be different from a person born in Brazil during the 2000’s.

The goal of today’s writing game will be to take one of the offered settings, and explain how they would have affected the characters mentioned below.

So, here are today's guidelines!

  1. Below are 3 public domain characters. Choose ONE to work with.
  2. Next are 5 "Settings".
  3. Write a short description of a story based on the selected character, for EACH environment, as if they lived there their entire lives.
  4. All 5 short story descriptions must have a limit of 20 phrases each!
  5. Within each short story description you will write, you must include: WHO the character is, and demonstrate how he/she was affected by this environment.
  6. The candidate you selected must have adapted to fit the environment you selected, BUT must remain true to the original design.

Candidate 1: King Arthur
Legendary leader of the Knights of the round table. Known as a courageous fighter, an intelligent tactician, and a noble King. Has lead armies of great men, against odds that were considered insurmountable.

Candidate 2: Sherlock Holmes
World class detective, known for a great sense of observation, forensic science, a talent for disguises, proficiency in various forms of combat and a logical reasoning that borders on the fantastic.

Image result for public domain Tarzan
Candidate 3: Tarzan
Raised in the wild by animals, Tarzan has learned to survive in harsh conditions on minimal ressources. He is known to be physically strong, incredibly agile, but socially awkward. Also has the ability to communicate with animals.

Setting 1: World War 1
A global war that originated in Europe and lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. The war included two opposing alliances: the Allies versus the Axis forces of Germany.

Setting 2: Futuristic
Influenced by the scientific and social awareness of the present, this world displays incredible technological advancements and reflects the best humanity can hope for.

Setting 3: Deserted Island
Being stranded on a deserted island, the character must to live off the land by finding food, water and shelter. Characters may also be forced to deal with isolation, or else face possible insanity.

Setting 4: Mordern City
Dark alleys of modern day, highly populated city. Law enforcement attempts to put a stop to illegal activity or investigating mysteries by tracking down  various sources or suspects.

Setting 5: Post Apocalyptic
The world has gone through a terrible change. Civilization no longer exists and those who managed to stay alive must now scavenge for supplies and fight other survivors for resources.

For those who aren’t afraid to share their entries, feel free to submit your entries as a reply to this post. Remember, this is a game, so no posting bad comments about other people's entries. If some simply want to share in private, send me a message via twitter @OzmosisCoH.

Now go! Create! And most importantly, have fun!

Until Next time!


Patrick Osborne

Friday, January 13, 2017


Welcome back,

           Inspired by the recent events in my life, I decided to dedicate this writing article to a specific element in storytelling; Adversity. Stories are about how characters deal with hardship and conflict, rarely focusing on positive things that happen (unless it's a happy ending). Without adversity, there is no story to tell.

Image result for public domain ladder
Overcoming obstacles

Not to be confused with the story’s Conflict, Adversity is more of a complication than a confrontation. For example, a conflict would be a fight between the protagonist and the antagonist, whereas adversity would be the protagonist having to deal with a hindrance during said fight; a physical injury, a time constraint, having to protect an ally, etc.

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 Adversity play into this equation? Adversity helps add tension and drama to the story. It can be used as a tool for character development, showing how your characters react to and deal with adverse situations. It can also emphasize elements of the conflict, making it appear significantly more imposing.

Adversity can take many different forms in literature, here are but a few examples taken from popular sources.

In the case of storytelling, Displacement is the instance when a character encounters a change in their natural situation or location, forcing them to adapt. Stories using this form of adversity will see characters dealing with elements such as the unknown, unfamiliar, isolation, disorientation, vulnerability, confusion and so on. Displacement can be as commonplace as starting a new job or moving to a different country, as dramatic as suffering from amnesia or being stranded on a deserted island, or as outworldly as being abducted by aliens or getting lost while time travelling. Classic literary examples of stories featuring displacement are Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

This form of adversity is very common in literature, as it is easy to relate to. Discomfort forces the characters to face physical or mental pain, and to either endure it or adapt to it. Physical adversity usually appears in the form of injury, illness, incapacitation, death, or the threat thereof. Stories having Discomfort adversity can be as mundane as going to the dentist or suffering from an old sport injury, as significant as being tortured or undergoing cancer treatment, or as bizarre as mutating into a grotesque creature or being subjected to scientific experiments. A well-known example of a story depicting copious amounts of pain and discomfort would be the Bible, whereas a more contemporary one would be Fault in our stars by John Green.

Treachery and deceit are classic plot complications in literature. These types of stories have protagonists who are mislead in some form by another character, and must then deal with the consequences. Stories featuring Deception will include elements such as miscommunication, betrayal, unfaithfulness, confusion, motives, disguises, lying and such. Stories having Deception adversity can be as trivial as playing a prank on someone or being polite to a coworker you dislike, as significant as cheating on a partner or lying while under oath, or as blatant as performing magic tricks or a politician giving empty promises. Deception works well in mystery stories, such as Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, or Cross Fire by James Patterson.

Unfulfilled wants and needs are not only powerful motivators, they can be great sources of adversity as well. In stories where Desires have an adverse effect, we see characters trying to acquire what they want, or trying to cope with its absence. This form of adversity will focus on elements such as longing, hunger, lust, greed, jealousy, motivation and so on. Desire in the form of adversity can be as basic as being very hungry or an overwhelming urge to sleep, as straightforward as being overly career driven or having relentless competitive spirit, or as complicated as lusting for the partner of a friend or being driven to crime to fuel one's greed. Desire is key to romance novels, classics like William Shakespeare’s classic love story, Romeo and Juliet, or the more recent Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

Many of us are creatures of habit; repeating the same activities on a daily basis. But when something breaks that routine, a situation that was once normal becomes irregular, possibly even chaotic. This form of adversity is noticeable in most stories, especially during the transition between the Exposition and the Rising Action. Disarray is when a story will focus on a character or settings normal state of being, then observe when said state is forced to change. Adversity in the form of Disarray can be as minimal as missing the bus or dropping the groceries, as considerable as a car accident or house fire, or as monumental as a war or natural disaster. A literary example of stories featuring Disarray are the novels A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Those interested in a cinematic example, the series The Butterfly Effect does a great job of showing different variations of a normal setting, and how a small change can have devastating repercussions.

Adversity in the form of Dynamics relates to conflict in relationships. Dynamics are not limited to interactions between humans, but can include elements such as animals, nature, objects and the setting. Relationship adversity will focus on themes like power, respect, dominance, authority, love and so on. Dynamics can be as commonplace as a child challenging their parents authority or training a dog to do tricks, as dramatic as being in a hostage situation or trying to save a wounded person's life, or on a bigger scale, a king being overthrown by his subjects. A classic literary example of stories featuring Dynamics can be the legendary story of Tristan and Iseult, or the more recent Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.

While they might be dealing with a major threat or dastardly villain, characters should have other issues to deal with as well. Show their reactions as they try to with various forms of adversity while trying to accomplish the stories main goal. And don’t be afraid to pull from your own experiences with adversity.

           That is all I have for this month’s lesson. I hope it has proven useful to you and your writing. So until next time.


    Patrick Osborne

Monday, January 9, 2017

Interview - Patrik Hill

Welcome back!

This month we have an interview with published writer, Patrik Hill. My encounter with Mr. Hill was a bit different than my other meetings. Usually I would post an ad on Facebook or Twitter, asking authors to contact me.

This time however, I ran across a post from Patrik on a Facebook writing group, where he was offering encouragement to fellow writers. At that point, I contact him, asking if he would be interested in sharing his knowledge with my readers. He gladly volunteered to participate and answer some of my questions.

With only a few short interactions, Patrik came across as very positive, enthusiastic, considerate, and readily offers advice. He is also a perfectionist, and pays attention to details.

Now on to the interview!

Bio:  Patrik Hill is the author of Downtown Noir, as well as the essay and poetry collection entitled The Five Aces of Israel: reshuffled. A self-described adventure geek, he has traveled all over North America, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands, exploring mountain trails, back country lakes, jungle canopies, and ocean reefs.  A certified SCUBA diver, Patrik is as at home on land as he is beneath the water.  Patrik often uses these experiences and people he meets to mold and shape the characters of his books.

Patrik has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Montana State University emphasizing on Criminal Justice.  He has worked as a draftsman, a restaurant manager, and a healthcare professional.  Patrik currently lives in Bozeman, Montana, with his family, and is working on his next novels, Thru the Glass Darkly: Retribution, and Detective Stories After Dark.

Starting as early as the age of eight years old, Patrik has been writing short stories and producing fiction in various lengths. Stories of mad scientists and mechanized robots led to narratives experienced throughout teen years and early adulthood.

While in college at Bismarck State College, studying journalism, Patrik realized that corporate writing just wasn't his cup of tea, and while the experiences at BSC proved to be invaluable, serving to provide a foundation on which his current writing is based.  He left BSC in 1999.

Published Works:  Downtown Noir

Current Projects:  Detective Stories after Dark, and Thru the Glass Darkly:  Retribution

When did you begin writing?

I was eight years old, writing on my dad's IBM PC, using old 5.25" floppy discs and dot matrix printers.  I had always been writing and daydreaming and scribbling things in my notebooks when I was supposed to be taking notes in class, but those became foundations for stories, and they became the backbone for my writing technique.  So as early as grade school I was "home publishing" various projects and making my own short stories and characters.

Did you receive any special training or attend a school?

I have never been formally trained as a writer, so to speak.  I originally went to college in 1997 to study journalism but I felt that it was too corporate and that I wasn't always able to express the ideas that I wanted.  I felt that by being told what to write it was conflicting with what I wanted to write and coupled with other reasons, I chose to leave college and basically find my way in the world.  I went back to college in 2010 and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology.  I minored in Writing, so for that I guess you could say that I was formally trained, but the minor was really just to help satisfy requirements for graduation.  During this time I was expecting to go into law enforcement so I hadn't thought about using writing as a career that much.  Funny how a few years change things.

Where do you get your inspiration from?  

I grew up reading authors like Stephen King, Tom Clancy and Neil Gaiman.  They helped mold my writing style and they really helped to give me some direction and the foundation of writing.  I guess mechanics would be a good word, here.  However, I use a lot of life experiences, from working in a hospital, being a delivery driver to sketchy neighborhoods, etc.  I've always heard that truth is stranger than fiction so I figured that it wouldn't be a bad place to start.  When I was studying sociology, it really clicked with me, and with the emphasis on criminology, it led to a lot of case studies that were just too crazy to believe.  It provided a lot of source material for when I sat down to write Downtown Noir.

Do you use any special resources when writing? (other books, computer programs, etc)  

When I was first studying journalism I held onto my AP Stylebook and I still have a copy of Strunk and White's book floating around.  I feel that they are great resources to help guide and to mold the creation, especially if you are trying to convey thoughts in  a clear tone.  However, I also like to write as if the thoughts were shotgunning out of my head, just one after another, and so sometimes I will throw the rulebooks out the window and just go for it.  I think that it allows the author a bit of creative latitude on how they want their characters and their scenes to be perceived.  I figured, if I do that, and I own it, well then, that's my truest form of creation.

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

In my opinion, the most important thing to remember when writing is to make no apologies for it.  I was hindering myself for so long because I felt that if I put a novel out there, and it "swear words" and "sex scenes" I was going to have to apologize for it, and backstep over myself, and try to explain that it's not me, it's the characters...  But when I stopped making apologies for my work, and I put it on paper, and put it into the world, it was amazing how refreshing that was.  I still have to chuckle because at the age of 37 my mother will call me to gently chide me about the language used by certain characters in the novel.  I guess the parental thing never goes away.  But after that, be open to advice.  Ya know, make no apologies for what your write and what you create, but if you have someone who is willing to help you mold that into something better, whether that's a creative editor, or a dialect coach, or any subject matter expert who can elevate your work to a higher level, do it.  Use the resources at hand, and be open to them guiding your work to a better state.  It's hard to let go, but when the raw product becomes a polished novel, man, that's just awesome.  But, never, ever make apologies for your work.

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

Following up directly with what I just said, the hardest part is putting my work into someone else's hands for editing.  A lot of times the editor has no idea what thoughts or emotions were running through your head when you put a sentence down on paper, and so to have them start going to town with the proverbial red pen, it makes it hard.  But it's something that has to be done.  I must have gone through my novel five or six times looking for grammar mistakes, punctuation mistakes, spelling mistakes, etc.  And then I handed it off to an editor and she found all these other things and I'm thinking, "Good Lord, was I drunk when I went through this?"  But then she goes through it and starts to rearrange stuff, and correct stuff, and it's in those moments when you feel like a failure because it wasn't perfect the first time, or the second, or even the third or fourth time...  But you go with it, and you allow your editor to help you.  Sometimes I would have to fight for what I wanted, and I would have to put my foot down and say, "No, this needs to be this way, and this is why..."  So sometimes you compromise and other times you trust that the editor is going to make it work for you.  I have to always remind myself that my editor doesn't know what I am thinking, and she doesn't know the story line the way I do.  I can see the streets, and the buildings, and the cars, but she only sees what I show her, and so to have her read it from the reader's point of view, it really helps me to expand upon the base that I've already created.  It's still oh so hard to hand it off to my editor, whatever project I am working on, because even though I am a grown man, I still feel as if I am a 3rd grade student hoping the teacher doesn't rip my essay to shreds.

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

When I first published the book I didn't use an agent.  In my naivety I felt that I could do it all on my own.  Looking back I find myself laughing because as I now search for an agent for the book, ultimately a publishing house to look at it, I have to chuckle because I think that if I had gone through an agent in the first place, this process might have been easier.  Although, I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason, and so as I continue to be the end all guy for the novel, it's funny because you meet certain people, you work with certain groups, and it all seems to fall into place.  The short answer is that I would love to have an agent to help take the burden off my shoulders, but for the time being, I'll wear the cap of the writer, the agent, the whatever I need to be guy...

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

I did use and editor.  I knew that up front I wasn't going to be smart enough, or clear headed enough, to catch all the errors that I made in the book.  So while I tried to edit while I worked, and I did go through the novel when it was all done, I did also send it off to an editor, someone who would go page by page and red pen the hell outta it.  I didn't use a professional editor, but rather a gal who I knew through college who is deep into writing, and she was able to catch even more mistakes.  I probably should have used a professional editor but at this point in the game, I'm kind of proud of the random spelling and grammar mistakes that weren't caught.  I am going to own them because even though the novel isn't perfect, it's a little rough around the edges, and frankly I feel that goes well with the content of the novel.  I could probably go back and reedit everything, but to what end?  The novel has been out for over a year.  I will own the imperfections that are the novel and I will get to enjoy the way it's slightly off kilter either through printing, or through those tiny mistakes.  Like the author, the novel will never be perfect.  But, it's good enough for now.

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

I originally used an online company to publish it, so that I could see what it would be like to actually have a printed, finished product in hand.  When I had that done, and I could see what it was going to be, I then talked to a friend of a friend of a friend who knew a guy, who could help me publish the work.  It's easiest to say that it's self published, but I also use Amazon to publish both the print book and the eBook format.

Do you handle your own marketing?

I mainly use social media to market the book.  Listen, free is good.  So with the availability of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, it makes it very easy to reach a wide variety of audiences.  However I do also pay for a web domain so that I can have a professional site to market the book.  Also whenever there is a local event that I can be a part of, I try and utilize that, because local exposure is often the best way to get your name out there.  So when local bookstores like The Country Bookshelf offered to let me come in and do a book signing in downtown Bozeman, MT, it seemed to be a bit of a no brainer.  I'm currently working with a graphic designer to get postcards and mailers made up, but I also use traditional business cards and handbills to market the novel.  Take a stroll through downtown and there are so many places that allow you to hang a handbill on their community corkboard, I justify that it's worth the two hours to walk the streets once a month, hanging signs, sipping coffee, talking with people about the novel.  Always have at least one book on hand.  I always have my shoulder bag with me, what my kids call my man purse, and there is a copy of the book in there.  Don't be afraid to part with a free copy to someone if they are genuinely interested in the book.  I'd rather be out the cost of the printing of the book for a potential fan, than to try and haggle on the street over the $20 cover price of the book.  And besides, it offers a lot of street cred when you have a book that you can autograph and hand out to a potential fan.  People see that, and especially in Bozeman where everyone loves local, they remember that the author is a stand up guy.  He took care of a fan.  I may be out the cost of one book, but I can generate a few sales via the internet or the local bookstore.  Conversely tho, I also carry my smartphone and I have a credit card app that I can swipe people's cards if they so desire.  Always be ready to make a sale.  Don't be afraid to talk your book up, or use social media.  In addition to the mailers, I am working on press kits to send out to newspapers, magazines, and TV stations.  I did one interview with Bozeman Magazine over the summer and that was what helped pave the way for the book signing.  Be ready to put yourself out there to talk about your book.  It's scary as hell to be the guy who is comfortable behind the keyboard, to now have to be in front of people and cameras, but it's also really exciting to have people be excited about your work.

What is your best marketing tip?

I guess I kind of covered that with the previous question.

Do you have any advice for other writers?  

My advice to all future and potential writers is to write.  It doesn't matter if it's in a dime store notebook, a leather bound journal, a PC, or even if you speak your thoughts to a voice recorder and transcribe them later.  Just write.  Start putting words on paper.  People may try and stop you from publishing your work, but they will never be able to stop you from being a writer.  There is an inherent power in that ability to create something magical with the power of words.  To be able to sway people with your thoughts, it's better than any drug.  But for the love of God, just start writing.  Seek counsel from others who have been where you are at.  I once heard a quote that says, "If you are the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room."  Always be willing to learn and be willing to accept the guidance offered.  Never throw any of your writing away, no matter how terrible it might seem.  If you felt it was good enough to put on paper, your mind is telling you that it can be used, maybe not now, but certainly later on.  Keep notes, files, take pictures of places that inspire you.  Travel, if you can, see the world and experience different cultures.  Every one of these things, these experiences, is absolutely necessary to writing a great novel.  A five year old could describe a country diner out on Route 37, but until you've sat in the diner, and felt the sticky soda pop on the floor gluing your shoes to the sun faded tiles...  Until you've smelled the lard on the hot flat top as they cook bacon and eggs, well that is what makes the novel...  Be a student of the world and a person of humanity.  Learn others' stories so that you may further your own, and broaden your own horizons...  For the love of God, take notes.  Take pictures.  Create your own worlds within your dreams and meld them with the real world.  And don't ever stop writing.  Write all that you can stand every day, even if it's only one sentence.  Write what you can when you can and perfect your craft.

In closing, I would like to thank Patrik Hill for taking the time out of his busy schedule to take this interview. Sharing his knowledge, experience and insight are truly appreciated. Hoping everyone found it as helpful and informative as I did. I wish him well in his future endeavors, and look forward to hearing more from him in the future.

Until Next time.


Patrick Osborne