Overexposed

Exposing too much of minor charactersThis picture was taken at the 2015 Wizard Convention. Most of the pictures I took with my camera were actually pretty dim, as if each had a veil over the lens. It was, of course, the lighting of the room. This one, however was a bit over-exposed and I couldn’t tell you why.

Anyway, it brought to mind an interesting aspect of some of the books I have read for review. Often times I will know who the protagonist is, but not have a mental picture of him/her. If the book is part of a long running series, then I could understand why the author doesn’t put in a physical description of the main character, but if it the first in a series or a stand-alone book, why no description? The author doesn’t need to go into great detail, but just bits here and there.

Often times, too, in the same book where there is minimal description of the main character, there will be more details about one or more of the minor characters. The main character may be described as: a lawyer, wavy hair, medium build. Okay, that’s pretty good, I still don’t have a clear mental image. However, one of the witnesses he interviews will be: 6′, blue eyes, thinning hair, mole on his left cheek, walks with a cane, and wears glasses. His speech is breathy. That’s a wonderful description, but it’s almost wasted if that character has only one scene. Meanwhile the vague hero wanders around the entire book with nary anything known about his looks.

Why over-expose minor characters? In many books this doesn’t work for me. However, there is one series where the minor characters are essential and their descriptions and personalities are important to know.

In the Stephanie Plum series, Plum herself is, let’s be honest, a bit boring. Hold on, don’t write me emails, let me explain. I love the series but Plum has a hamster and is pretty. Other than that, what is she? A skip tracer who can’t seem to get a decent, easy case. She keeps running into weirdos. (Actually, my Mallory Petersen shares a bit of that life.) But for most of the stories, again, I don’t get a clear mental image of her.

But the supporting characters make the stories. Grandma Mazer, Ranger, Lula, Connie, Vinnie. I exclude Morelli because to me he’s just the part-time boyfriend and doesn’t get as involved in the action as much as the others.

Remove these supporting characters and you have an average series. But all of them are intertwined at points and all add comedic value. And all of them have enough description that I can see them.

I guess in one way, they are not ‘minor’ characters in the sense that they are here and gone. No, they’re not the main star, but all have their side stories and sub-plots.

So, in this series, over exposure of the supporting characters works, but only because they don’t disappear after one or two chapters. In other books, this over exposure doesn’t work because an interesting minor character may never be seen again after his/her part.

It’s a fine line sometimes.

Your opinion?

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Chapters – VIII

C08No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”

Unless there were piranhas in the pool, where do you live where no fish are in the water? Sheesh!

***

At the time of this writing, I’m one week removed from an accident that shook me up worse than I thought one would.

Now, I’ve had a few accidents in my years. I rear-ended a car while delivering pizza which screwed up my car’s steering and lost me my job. I also regretted that accident, not because of the ticket or the lost job, but because I really liked my first car. A 1975 Fiat Box (no, that wasn’t the actually model name, but it was basically a boxy car). The car used to cool itself by turning on the fan when I shut off the engine. Confounded a few people.

I’ve backed into a fire hydrant. I hit a deer when I owned my Daytona. That time wasn’t too bad. I tell people my psychic powers came into play because just after I thought the stretch of road I was on would be bad for meeting a deer, the animal came out of the ditch. Damaged my right headlight, but not much else.

I’ve pulled out from a parking place and hit a van. Minor damage was done to my car and nothing to his.

This latest deer accident was the worst in which I’ve been involved. I looked to my right and when I looked back a young doe was already in front of the car. There was no chance of slowing or avoiding it. No, the animal didn’t survive and I think that’s what shocked me the most. Not that I damaged my car or that I might have to call for assistance to get home, but that I’d killed a deer.

I’ve run over a fox, one or two squirrels and a family of raccoons and each of those affected me. I know mankind has intruded upon where animals have reigned and it’s inevitable that we’re going to encounter them with our autos. Sue me, I’m sensitive. I don’t have to like it.

So I pulled over and yes, I’ll admit it, I cried for a bit. Then I assessed the damage to the car, retrieved pieces of the car from the road and checked on the curled up corpse of the deer in the ditch. I told it I was sorry and drove home.

The next evening my friend wondered if I was feeling okay to drive to writers group. I was. I was fine the previous evening. I’d been fine to drive after my other accidents. I try to stay more focused but that’s natural.

Fears. I’ve had some close encounters at times. One evening I drove to announce a basketball game and the roads were slick with ice. I rounded a corner and the front wheel drive of the company car started to pull me off. Mere feet before I would have gone over an embankment into a creek, I recovered. My stomach didn’t return to it’s normal anatomical position for awhile. But driving home, I was okay.

I’ve flown a few times in my life and I’m fine with flying. However, there is one moment when the heart speeds up for a moment or two. I’m always leery of when the plane lands. Part of my mind doesn’t think it’ll be smooth. So much weight coming down on those tires and how much stress and pressure must the landing gear endure.

Fears. We all have them. Share some of yours.

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Reading List

summerreadinglist_istock_34481384_hires_983pxOne of the cool things about blogs is to ask a question at the end to entice comments. Well, I want to ask one at the beginning.

What are you reading right now?

Okay, don’t be literal and say, “Dude, I’m reading your blog.”

I mean your reading list of books.

Are you like me and have several going at once?

Currently, I am reading:

– A book I’m recording for a friend. I read a chapter or two when I get the chance. I use Audacity to make the recordings. Check it out, it’s a pretty neat piece of software and I’m not using even a small fraction of it functions.

– A book on my Nook.

– An audio book in my car. I’m also using Audacity to cut up unabridged audio books into hour long chunks so that I can burn them onto rewritable CDs.

– A comic book in the bathroom. You know, for those times when I’m sitting in the bathroom.

In addition, I may be reading a Nook book that someone has sent me for review. Currently, I’m working on my own stuff, but for most of February and March, I was reading other books for review.

Before I started on the reviewing, I used to read two books at once. At a former motel job, I had a lot of time to write and read. So I would read one chapter of one story, then switch to another book for a chapter. I don’t do that anymore and wouldn’t want to go back to it.

I’m also one of those who can pick up a book that I haven’t looked at for months and go right back into the story.

So, now that you’ve had time to think about the above question, I invite your answer.

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Student Attitude – Part III

attitudeThis week, I finish up the essays my students submitted regarding Attitude. I’ve enjoyed reading and sharing them. March’s theme has been Courtesy and I look forward to reading the essays regarding that subject.

ELIJAH

My paper is on attitude. Attitudes can be good and some can be bad. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will find that attitude means “ a feeling or disposition regarding one’s feeling.”

Attitude is very important. It shows what kind of person you are. Would you rather spend time among a bunch of ungrateful people that make you grumpy or with a group of cheerful people that make you cheery? (I would go with the second, but that’s just me.) Sometimes your attitude depends on your maturity.

Whenever I have a really bad day, I can notice others, and, if they are cheery, I can take after their examples. The same thing happens vice-versa. Your attitude can very well affect others. Just try to keep that in mind and be the best example you can be, especially to little ones.

So let’s review. Attitude is important, and it can affect others. It shows what kind of person you are as well. Let your attitude show that you are a good person.

NOELLE

The definition of attitude is “a feeling or disposition with regard to a thing or person, usually with the mind.”  I define attitude as the way you feel or think about someone or something. Attitude is important because it can shape the way you rule your day. It can completely change how you do something, good or bad.

A poor attitude is not good for your soul. It can ruin your day with just a single thought. If someone was running down the halls at school and they turned around to see the new kid walking toward them, they could choose to see what the person was like, which would be good attitude. Or they could just judge them for what they’ve heard about them. They’ve been having a bad day, so they choose to bear a poor attitude. They judge the new person rudely and storm off. That kind of stuff ruins your day and you can rarely recover from choosing a poor attitude.

Choosing a good attitude, however, can brighten your day. If you were strolling outside because it was a beautiful, warm day and storm clouds begin to form, choosing to the enjoy the walk you took and not being upset that you couldn’t walk longer makes you feel a whole lot better about it. It makes you want to enjoy the rest of your day, and it makes you want to have others feel the way you do.

To me, attitude is very important. I try to choose a good attitude, but a lot of times I fail. That’s okay, though, because with a good attitude, anything can happen! With a good attitude, it’s possible to keep myself and my emotions in control, keep myself always happy, and, even better, it’s possible to give others the gift of true happiness. Attitude is a key to joy – and you can share that with others, too.

Attitude is very important to me, and it should be important to you too. If I have a good attitude, I just know that God is with me wherever I go. I try to use my attitude to enlighten other people’s days. That is a good way to use your attitude. Any type of attitude can make an impact on your life – either good or bad. Which will you choose?

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Student Attitude – Part II

karatekidcirclesThis week, I present more of my taekwondo students’ thoughts on Attitude. Some are too young to write, so they have assistance from mom and dad to help them discuss the topic and to put words to paper.

Reece

Negative:

– You have trouble seeing good things

– You don’t have fun

– Nobody wants to be around you

– You will have bad things happened because you will not be able to see any good things

Positive:

– You see how good life is

– You have fun

– You have lots of friends

– Good things will happen because you can always see how things could be worse

My name is Reece. I am four years old. My family has talked about attitudes and how they can affect how you see life. Negative attitudes will only bring bad things like no friends, and getting trouble. Positive attitudes will bring friends and lots of fun, because having a positive attitude is being happy and looking at things in a positive way, like being happy and funny. I also love to help others by doing things for them. I help my dad a lot, we build out house and I hammer and use the screwdriver. I put my toys away when I am having a positive attitude, too. But when I am having a negative attitude I don’t help or put my toys away. I am learning that my negative attitude gets me in trouble and makes me sad. When I have a positive attitude, I am happy. So I will try to have a positive attitude and have a happy life.

Brant

Attitude is the way you think and feel about someone or something. My attitude affects my behavior. If I have a positive attitude, then my behavior looks like I’m nice, caring, responsible, respectful. When I have a bad attitude, it looks like angry, disrespectful, mean.

Tyson

The reason to have a good attitude is because you won’t get in trouble. A good attitude helps get things done and achieve your goals. People like to work with people with a good attitude. Everyone has control over their attitude.

Stella

Attitude is how you are feeling. When you are feeling good you have a good attitude. Having a good attitude means the people around you will see you are happy and be happy, too. I have more fun and learn more when I have a good attitude.

Bad attitudes make you feel bad and yucky. When you have a bad attitude, people see it and do not want to talk to you or play with you very much. If you have a bad attitude, you do not listen and learn as much so you teachers can get upset.

I like to bring a good attitude to class so I can learn and have fun. I like the beginning and end of karate when we bow in and out. It helps me have a good attitude for the class. I like the other kids to have goo attitudes too because it makes it easy to learn.

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Student Attitude – Part I

NEW-ATTITUDEI’ve written about attitude before, but February’s theme was attitude and I thought I’d share some of my students’ thoughts on attitude. (Actually, for testing, each student is required to write at least a one page essay on the theme of the month.)

Abigail

To me, attitude means the feeling with which a person does tings, and it is these feelings that affect every aspect of not only the person’s actions, but everything around them as well.

First is the actions themselves. If a person has a negative attitude about what they are doing, chances are they will not be able to accomplish the task as well as if they had a positive attitude. For example, take a board break. If the breaker has an “I can’t do this” attitude, or a “this is so stupid” attitude, I firmly believe they will either be unable to break the board, or will do it badly, maybe even to the point of injury. If their attitude is one of “YES! I got this!” or “This is awesome!” the break will be much safer, easier, and more enjoyable.

The second thing impacted by attitude is the experience itself. As I said, the break an be much easier and enjoyable if the person has a good attitude. If they have a bad attitude, they won’t enjoy the experience as much and will be less likely to try again, even if they had good results. It’s like going to a theme park and falling in the mud, it won’t matter how much fun they had throughout the day. The mud will be the only thing they remember.

The third thing attitude influences is the environment around the person. If two people have been fighting, everyone can feel it, even if they weren’t in the same room. Why? Because humans are naturally empathetic, and can pick up on those negative feelings, so they can’t help but be influenced. A negative attitude will spread to the people around the originator, and the result will be no one having a good experience, which no one really wants.

Attitude is much more than giving a sassy remark when asked a question or given an order. It influences both the person and their surroundings in many ways, only a few of which have been named in this paper. In a nutshell, however, attitude is, at heart, the feelings a person has and how those feelings impact the world around them, for better or for worse.

Sam

I am four years old, so I had help from my mom writing this essay because we talked about attitude. We have talked about how your attitude can be positive or negative. I try to have a positive attitude so my day is a good day. Having a positive attitude means to listen to others and be kind to them. Knowing others might be having a bad day so they could be mean to you, but if you stay positive and not let others’ actions make you negative is having a good attitude. Being happy that you have a loving home and many good things in your life will help you keep a positive attitude. If I do have a negative attitude I am going to try and fix it by looking at why I think things are bad so I can be more positive. Helping others and hearing my mom say how proud she is of my actions will make me have a positive attitude. When I have a good attitude others around me will also have a good attitude. Being active and around fun people help me keep a positive attitude. My mom will continue to help me understand the meaning of a good attitude over a bad attitude because she wants the best life for me and having a positive attitude will bring positive things.

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Around The Globe With Anna del Mar

Ruby Mountains, Kebler Pass autumn

This morning I leave the cool atmosphere of Iowa to pick up this week’s featured author. When we’re in the transporter, she sets the controls for…an even cooler place with no atmosphere. Well, less than what I’m used to. After a brisk hike (uh, can we stop for just a bit and rest?), she breaks out the Cabernet boxes and we enjoy some wine at the top of one of the many Rocky Mountain peaks. I see she’s also set the time control since we’re now six months ago in the midst of fall foliage. Golds and reds blaze the landscape. She mentions this area is close to the the setting in her first book, which reminds me, I have an interview to conduct.

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I’m not, by far and for sure, the most fascinating person in this place. Neither would I like to be. But I do feel like one of the luckiest persons in the world. First off, I’m sitting at the top of the world, literally and figuratively, and I’m here, talking to you. That’s pretty neat. Also, as a romance debut author, my first novel, The Asset, has just been released from Carina Press. This small milestone doesn’t make me fascinating, but it sure makes me happy.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

Okay then, we’ll leave the stories of angst and self-doubt for some other time. Something that may surprise people about me is that I didn’t want to write these stories in the first place. I was super intimidated about putting them down. So I held back for many years. And then one day, when I gave myself permission to write, they poured out of me like that waterfall you can spot with your binoculars across the way. I just couldn’t stop.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star?

The mere thought of ever being a rock star freaks me out. I’d freeze on stage. That is, if I made it onto the stage, which would be doubtful. I’m more suited for the quiet, peaceful ordinary life of a writer. All the turmoil goes on the page. No need to turn on for the adoring crowds. I don’t even have to brush my hair in the morning. The stories led me to become a writer and I’m at my best when I’m quietly interacting with my characters.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

It would be really cool to have a dinner party with romance authors from different times. It’d be something like Charlotte Bronte talking to Nora Roberts, Jane Austin discussing character development with Diana Gabaldon and Margaret Mitchell talking to Sylvia Day or Kristen Ashley. I’d just sit there, smile and listen.

The_Asset_High Res5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book be great company?

Because it would make you forget your troubles and not care about your four hour layover. I think you’d really get into The Asset as you meet Ash Hunter, a Navy SEAL wounded in Afghanistan who’s struggling to overcome his injuries when he finds himself staring down the barrel of Lia Stuart’s shotgun.

Lia is a fugitive, hiding in a small Rocky Mountain town, desperately trying to escape her terrifying past. She may not be a SEAL and she’s definitively keeping secrets, but Ash recognizes her for who she really is: a fighter and a survivor, the kind, caring, passionate woman he could love, if only she wasn’t so afraid to let him.

When she risks her cover to help him, Ash commits to a new mission: He will lay down his life to save hers. The way these two overcome their demons and evolve to become each other’s best assets will warm your heart and keep you rooting for them. By then, you won’t care about the layover.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

I have a very dynamic relationship with my stories. I travel a lot and those experiences spark my creativity and fuel my stories. I usually mull a story for a while before I put down a very general outline, which I’ll probably ditch on day two. Most of my creative writing happens late at night. I sit down after dinner and write until the wee hours of the morning. It’s a bit of a juggling act. I’m usually editing a couple of novels, shopping an edited manuscript, and researching and writing a new book.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin.” Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Sit down and write your story. That’s first and foremost. I’m pretty sure every human being I’ve ever met has a novel in his or her head. I know because, wherever I go, people tell me all about their ideas. So write it. Don’t worry about the rest. Push yourself and go all the way to The End.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

Seize the trouble and run with it.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I’ve tried giving up on writing before. It didn’t work. Maybe one of these days, I’ll take a two-week vacation, but there’s no chance I’m ever stopping.

This year, I’m launching two separate series and four releases with Carina Press. I’m in the final phases of editing At the Brink, my first erotic romance which comes out in May. Following on The Asset, book two of the Wounded Warrior series, The Stranger, is due for release in August.

The Stranger is about an Alaskan tycoon who flew helicopters for the Alaskan National Guard in Afghanistan before he got hurt, and the sun-loving Miami architect who sends him into a total tail spin when she sleepwalks into his life in majestic Alaska. Talk about opposites attract. It’s like fire meeting ice. It was so fun to write.

Speaking of fun, I just wrote The End on my latest novel, tentatively entitled The Game Warden, about wounded warriors fighting intrigue and poaching in Africa.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

The best place is my website, http://www.annadelmar.com. I can also be found on FB and Twitter or you can contact me directly anna@annadelmar.com. I really enjoyed our hike today. Thanks for the chat. And now, let’s get down from this mountain with all of our bones intact, shall we?

The Asset Banner 851 x 315

Embedded Links:

The Asset first chapter: http://www.annadelmar.com/pages/excerpt.html

Wounded Warrior Series: http://www.annadelmar.com/pages/home.html

The Asset: http://www.annadelmar.com/pages/books_asset.html

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Spotlight on: Daco

Special Interview:

Does Golden Boy Mayor Bobby Baumgartner Really Have the Midas Touch?

 

By D.S. AUFFENORDE

Exclusive to the Kensington City Examiner

After having interviewed Alexa Manchester and the superhero Electromancer, I caught up with the mayor of Kensington City, Bobby Baumgartner, as he was exiting his gold Lamborghini on his way to a city council meeting. I was trying to get to the bottom of just who this mysterious Electromancer is, and have been stonewalled at every turn. As the frontrunner in the next election for prime minister of Britannia, if anyone has the inside scoop, it would have to be The Mayor.

DA: Mr. Mayor, I’d like to ask you a few questions about Electromancer.

BB: Ma’am, if you wouldn’t mind, please take your hand off the hood of my car. You’re leaving fingerprints everywhere and I just had my car detailed.

DA: [After I took my hand off, the mayor pulled out a monogrammed handkerchief and wiped down the exterior.] Now about Electromancer …

BB: Fiction, rubbish. A creation of you media types.

DA: Why, thank you for the plug.

BB: I beg your pardon?

DA: Never mind. What do you know about Electromancer?

BB: Never met anyone by that name. Is she a registered voter?

DA: Sir, she’s the superhero who flies around your city and puts out fires with electricity, so I hear.

BB: Balderdash. You’re not from around here, are you?

DA: Mr. Mayor, your critics say that you’re obsessed with power, fame, and gold. They call you King Midas of Britannia. How do you respond to that?

BB: I’m a public servant sworn to do the public good. I will say this—the real King Midas has gotten a bum rap. What’s so bad about the Midas touch? Everybody wants it.

DA: Tell me about your relationship with Alexa Manchester. You’re engaged, right?

BB: It was announced in black and white in the social column. I placed the notice myself, right after I made the announcement to all of the city.

DA: Did Ms. Manchester accept?

BB: That’s irrelevant. Next question.

DA: What is the police department and your administration doing to capture the criminal mastermind known as Momo?

BB: Momo. Balderdash. Doesn’t exist. A creation of media types like you.

DA: No disagreeing with that, sir. But that’s not what Electromancer and Ms. Manchester believe. How do you respond to that?

BB: Alexa has suffered a great shock recently with the explosion at her power plant The Mick.

DA: You mean because of that magical element they call Electromite?

BB: A harmless rock. I’ve never believed the claims of Alexa’s late father, Mickey Manchester, that Electromite would solve the world’s energy crisis. Balderdash.

DA: Mr. Mayor, there have been reports that outlying areas of Kensington City have been overrun by grasshoppers. Any truth to that?

BB: [At this point, The Mayor suddenly turned green, coughed, and expectorated in the street.]

Before I could ask The Mayor another question, a matronly woman who identified herself as Henrietta Hensinger approached The Mayor and accused him of violating two city ordinances prohibiting spitting on the streets and in flower gardens. Miss Hensinger then berated The Mayor for ten minutes over his plan to demolish the train station known fondly by Kensington City residents as the Sugar Express Train Depot. After Miss Hensinger left, I attempted to resume my interview with The Mayor, but he declined further comment, except to say that he had to look into this grasshopper report. Once again, I found myself stymied by the lack cooperation among the citizens of Kensington City. Fortunately, you won’t be stymied if you read the chronicle of events in the thrilling, superhero-romance Electromancer.

Follow my investigatory column to learn more about just-who-the-heck is Electromancer.

CoverElectromancer

Daco

Genre: Romance, Fantasy,

Superhero, Paranormal, Thriller/Suspense

Publisher: Crimson Romance

Date of Publication: 2-1-16

ISBN 10: 1-4405-9687-5

ISBN 13: 978-1-4405-9687-2

eISBN 10: 1-4405-9688-3

eISBN 13: 978-1-4405-9688-9

ASIN: B01AOH7BFA

Number of pages: 234

Word Count: 70,000

Cover design by Fred Machuca,

Illustration by Ricky Ostendi

Book Description:

With a heart as pure as platinum and electricity at her fingertips! 

She soars like a falcon and travels at the speed of light!

She’s … ELECTROMANCER!

When arch villain Momo threatens to destroy the world with The Big Zapper—a weapon of mass destruction the likes of which has never been seen before—it’s up to Alexa Manchester and her new electricity-harnessing superpowers to stop him.

With a little help from her sexy chauffeur, Sigfred Sawyer, and some exciting encounters with the mysterious and handsome Blue Arrow, soon Alexa’s love life is charged up, too. And to defeat the seemingly invincible Momo, it might just take the naturally super power of love to save the day.

Offering all the Kabam! Pow! Zap! of beloved comic book sagas with the beating heart of a love story, this over-the-top, genre-blending send-up is sure to delight superhero fans and romance readers alike.

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/5GE2uOWM_3MAmazon BN KoboIndigo Googleplay iTunes

Readers of both comic book sagas and romance novels will find the sparks that fly between Alexa and Sigfred very electrifying indeed.

~ Colleen Sargent Library Journal

Excerpt from Chapter 6

Sigfred couldn’t be sure whether the mayor’s proposal pleased or displeased her, but it wasn’t his place to ask. He could do one thing—help her get that blasted ring off her finger. He went to the pantry and retrieved a bottle of olive oil—cold pressed extra virgin, of course, because this was Yurdlemon’s kitchen.

Let me help you get that off,” he said.

No, I’ll do it myself.” She paused suddenly, staring at the big green stone as if transfixed. “Maybe I’m not sure I want it off.” She shook her head. “But I do, I do. Oh, I don’t know what I want.” She sighed. “Wait! Yes, I do. I want to talk about last night.”

Of course, if you wish.” He waited for her to speak, but she seemed stumped.

Then she said, “What did you think about last night?”

He cleared his throat and said, “Yes, right. It was quite—”

Sigfred!” She slapped her hands down on the sink and looked back at him. “It was nothing like quite, it was more like Oh-My-God in the highest order. No offense.”

Yes, quite.”

Don’t keep saying quite! You could say yes, shocking or even jiminy crickets or holy ‘expletive omitted,’ but there was nothing quite about last night. I mean you were there, you saw everything.”

He couldn’t think of an appropriate response—at least, not one that he could articulate to his employer.

Am I right, you did see everything?” she asked.

Yes,” he said. “It was unintentional, of course, Ms. Manchester. I found you lying on the floor next to The Magpie.”

Her eyes widened, and her eyebrows arched upward in disapproval. “I didn’t mean that, Sigfred. I’m talking about my hands shooting those bolts of lightning from my fingertips—pure electricity!”

He cleared his throat again. “Ah, yes. And there was that.”

It’s ridiculous. Absurd. People don’t emit electricity. Gladys says I should see a doctor. That I must have been exposed to the Electromite. Am I cursed?”

It doesn’t seem to be life-threatening. On the contrary, you’ve become stronger by it, or so it seems. If I’m not mistaken, you saved the child from drowning because of it. Perhaps it’s not a curse, but a gift.”

She seemed to consider this, absentmindedly pulling at the mayor’s ring.

Just a moment,” he said. “I think I can assist you with that little problem you’re having.” He opened the bottle of olive oil and drizzled some over her ring finger. Then, very gently, he began working the ring back and forth. He thrilled when he touched her, but she didn’t seem to react.

I can fly, you know,” she said, her tone surprisingly casual.

Yes, madame. I suspected that’s how you saved the boy.”

What happens if I try to fly, and then these magical abilities suddenly vanish?”

Perhaps they won’t ever vanish.”

Yes, perhaps you’re right,” she said in a quiet, serious voice. “And that would mean I haven’t been infected at all. Instead, I’ve been inalterably changed. It would mean that there’s no cure. It means my body and spirit have been transformed into something … alien. It means I’m not Alexa anymore.”

You’ll always be Alexa,” he said, reaching up and tipping her chin toward him with slippery fingers. His eyes locked on hers, and he spoke with hushed solemnity. “Nothing can ever change that.” He wanted to call her lovely Alexa, kind Alexa, beautiful Alexa, but of course, that was impossible.

When I was inside The Magpie, I heard my father’s voice. Is that crazy?”

Not at all, Ms. Manchester.”

She studied his face. “You don’t think I’m crazy?”

Not at all.” And he meant it. Things went silent as they looked into each other’s eyes. Sigfred had just swayed imperceptibly closer to her when a sudden dull thunk interrupted them. The ring had finally fallen off, clattering into the sink. The moment was lost. He realized, with some awkwardness, that he was still touching her face and dropped his hand.

She colored and looked away, speaking a bit brusquely. “My father called me Electromancer. I get the ‘electro’ part of it, but what’s a ‘mancer’? Have you any clue?”

You’ve got me there, madame.”

Mancer? It must mean something.”

Almost like Romancer.”

Her jaw dropped. “Oh, Sigfred. Not you, too.”

He stiffened. He wasn’t about to explore his feelings with her or to take the liberty of allowing his romantic thoughts about Alexa to go unrestrained. It was his utmost duty to remain her servant and protector, always physically near but emotionally distant. But when she’d transformed into this Electromancer, he had to admit to himself that she was absolutely and without a doubt the sexiest woman alive. Any red-blooded male would be hard pressed to deny that fact.

What are you going to do about the mayor’s proposal?” he blurted out. So much for knowing his place. “He’s not worthy of you.”

Bobby Baumgartner is the mayor of Kensington City. He might be prime minister one day.”

I don’t care if he’s prime minister, king, and president of the Americanas combined. He’s beneath you.”

And just who are you to talk about rank?”

Her words stung, the pain more intense than the damage those thugs had inflicted the previous night. “Quite right, madame,” he said. “My station is lowly. But I’m one thing the mayor isn’t. I’m a man of integrity.”

I saw the way you looked at me last night. I may have been Electromancer, but I know when a man is gawking at me.”

I wasn’t gawking. I was appreciating the qualities of … You’re a beautiful woman, madame.”

You mean, Electromancer is beautiful.”

No, madame. I mean you. Alexa Manchester.”

She looked at him in surprise.

What’s the meaning of this?” Chef Yurdlemon bellowed from across the room. “Who is invading my kitchen? You are trespassers.” He pointed at Sigfred. “Especially you, Sigfred Sawyer.”

Sigfred nodded slowly. He was trespassing, though not in the way Yurdlemon meant.

This mess with the olive oil is all my fault,” Alexa said. “I was using it to try to get this ring off. It was stuck on my finger. Sigfred was just trying to help me.”

You used my cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil to remove a ring?” Yurdlemon cried. “Such olive oil is not for ring removal. Such olive oil is to make a divine dinner as only I can make it. The olives for that oil come from a small orchard in Sicily that produces only two hundred cases a year! Do you know what that costs? More than a Chateau Latour Bordeaux. More than a fine Sauternes. I need it for my dinner preparations. Oh, everything is ruined now. Each and every minute of preparation is accounted for. There won’t be time enough left in the day, not now. Not when I’m forced to return to the market, where I can only get inferior olive oil.” Chef Yurdlemon grabbed the sides of his head and looked as if he were about to sob. It wouldn’t have been the first time.

DacoAbout the Author:

Daco is an award-winning author of the espionage-thriller series featuring CIA operative Jordan Jakes. Her debut novel, The Libra Affair, was a 2013 #1 best seller. Of The Libra Affair, Publishers Weekly said, “The keenly sharp intelligent female characters soar in this edge-of-your-seat adventure…”

Her short story The Pisces Affair was a 2015 Global Ebook Awards double gold medalist (Best Thriller Fiction and Best Science Fiction), a 2015 Shelf Unbound Notable 100, a 2015 Royal Palm Literary Award winner, and a Publishers Weekly “PW Pick”.” In its review of The Pisces Affair, Publishers Weekly wrote, “Jakes is a lively and witty narrator with the wits and skills of James Bond, and readers will savor her fresh perspective on being a woman in the male-dominated spy world.”

Her story The Virgo Affair is part of Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded (Diversion Press, October 2015), an anthology, including numerous best-selling authors.

Electromancer (F+W Media, Inc./Crimson Romance, February 2016), is her first superhero novel, featuring Electromancer and Blue Arrow.

Upcoming works include The Scorpio Affair, a Jordan Jakes novel, and The Ophiuchus Affair, another Jordan Jakes short story.

Daco holds a B.A. and M.A.S. from The University of Alabama in Huntsville and a J.D. from the Cumberland School of Law. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Authors Guild, Alabama Writers Forum, Florida Writers, and Alabama State Bar.

Website: http://www.authordaco.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorDaco

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Daco.Author/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6959775.Daco

Google+: https://plus.google.com/111619918307592399080

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daco-s-auffenorde-64619039

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRC3Fj

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Focus

FocusIn my taekwondo classes, we emphasize the aspect of focus when learning a technique. Focus on stances. Focus on hand position. We also discuss a broader perspective of focusing on whatever goals have been set.

There is so much to this theme it’s difficult to just stay with one point.

When I’m competing in tournaments, I’ve learned to focus on my performance. I don’t look at the judges, except when bowing in and accepting my score. When I start my form, I focus on a spot above their heads. I try to tune out any distractions. When I change directions, I don’t look at the audience or other competitors. For the two plus minutes I’m moving through the form, I don’t think I hear crowd noise or music except as a background rush of white noise.

I focus on my moves. I think about the technique I’m doing and how I’ve trained to execute it the best I can. Then I think about the next move. If I make a mistake or don’t land properly after a jump kick, I try to recover a quickly as possible and move on. I don’t let the judges know I’ve erred by reacting.

In sparring, I’m focused on the opponent, trying to anticipate and counter his movements. Again, background noise get muffled and only the voices of the judges get through.

When I write, I do so either in as much of a quiet atmosphere as possible or with music playing low. (Usually jazz or classical.) This makes it difficult to write outside although if I focus, I can manage it. I have problems writing at home although it should be much quieter there…well, except for the cat who meows when he thinks I should pay attention to him. However, there seems to be more distractions at home. Or at least I allow distractions to…well, distract me.

In college, I could concentrate on homework unless somebody’s radio was playing, with one exception. The guys across the hall liked to play various hip-hop songs that were composed before rap became so popular and so stupid. The ‘music’ was a simple two, three, or four beat rhythm repeated for several minutes. For some reason, I could focus on my studies with that reverberating through the doors. I think this is similar to classical. The ongoing beat was constant. It never changed. Classical music all sounds the same to me (I know it’s not, so don’t any music aficionados write me nasty emails) so, for me, it doesn’t change too much either. The only interruption on some of those long nights was the NPR announcer announcing the previous and next symphony in a voice that sounded as if he’d swallowed a handful of Valium before his shift. Seriously, listen to late night NPR. The guy sounds as if he just woke up. Of course, if you’re playing hours and hours of classical, I can understand it. (Oh lighten up, I’m joking. I actually enjoy classical music. However, I don’t apologize for calling rap stupid. I mean, have you listened to some it? lol)

How do you focus on your tasks? Do they vary day to day or with individual projects?

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Adult Truth #21

Adult Truth #21

#21Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.”

…although I do change pants after I’ve been fishing. Just something about being outside near the lake water and handling bait…well, pants, in this case, need to be changed.

This truth reminded me of consistencies in stories. We’ve all seen examples of the man driving up in the red car and driving away in the blue car. Where the door is closed at the beginning of the scene and open at the end of the scene without anybody entering the room during the scene. I’m sure most of us have caught ourselves doing something like this. We’re so into the moment, so excited about writing the coolest scene ever and upon rereading it, discover the guy who wore dirty pants is wearing clean pants five minutes later without any indication given that he changed clothes.

When writing Alpha I discovered, after several editing rounds, that I had Mallory driving through the intersection of Grand Avenue and Second Avenue. Noooo, avenues in Des Moines go east-west and streets are north-south. While this is a minor example, there are more egregious examples and we’ve all caught them.

Writers have to be aware of these in all forms. Physical limitations are also a problem. My father, a notorious catcher of movie mistakes, read something in a recent thriller. The bad guy had been captured by the hero. The hero is standing in front of the bad guy aiming a gun at the bad guy’s head. The bad guy is on his knees. Then the hero binds the bad guy’s hands behind his back with flex cuffs. Really? With the gun still aimed at the man’s head? With the bad guy not making a move to disable the hero? Unless the hero happened to be Mr. Stretchy Limbs, I don’t think so.

I recently read a book with a time problem. In one scene the kid was seven when the major incident occurred and he and his dad made his way to a shelter. Three years later, the kid says he’s twelve. (I’ll wait while you get your calculator.)

Another book I read was supposedly set in 1981. As the story progressed, the characters kept mentioning things and using technology that clearly put the story much later than 1981, if not present day. I went back and studied the first few chapters to see if I was mistaken or if I had missed the time change. I could not find any information except a short list of events that happened in 1981. This was to put the reader in the correct time frame. The story had other problems, but this one was major.

Writers have creative license to fictionalize actual places, but let’s stay realistic. Unless you’re writing an alternate version of history, don’t put the Washington Monument in Miami. However, if you have an oak tree growing up next to exit 14 along Interstate 35, where there isn’t one, I don’t think there’s going to be too much protest.

There could be a legitimate protest of the way I have arranged downtown Des Moines because I’ve kept the building where Mallory’s office is located even though that particular block and those around it are completely different from when I wrote the first draft. I chose to keep my geography because I didn’t want to have to constantly update. Also, the arrangement is not an intricate part of the story. Future stories may have a few updates but I don’t think I’ll change office buildings. (Okay, I can’t say never because in the next story she moves her taekwondo club to a new location.)

Critique groups, editors, and constant rewrites are three keys to avoiding consistency problems. You don’t want the reader eagerly looking for the next mistake rather than enjoying the story.

So, go change your pants and start writing.

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