HAPPY NEW YEAR

New Year Clock

As I complete my third year as an author of fictional accounts of a family’s saga, I want to take a moment to thank some of the people who have helped me develop this career.

None of this would have been possible without the encouragement and hard work of my wife and partner, Carolynn.  She creates the covers, listens carefully to my ideas, does the marketing, and provides a sounding board for the stories within the main story that are so crucial to my novels.  She’s the one who finds writer’s conferences for me, scans websites for writing tools and books, and still finds time to make a nutritious and delicious dinner for us each evening and a proper beginning to the Sabbath each Friday night. As we approach our golden years, nothing elevates my spirit more than the knowledge that she is my life partner. Firecrackers In The Sky - Sunset

My editor, Lisa Martinez, provides thoughtful criticism and crucial feedback as she edits my work. Much more than providing grammatical corrections, Lisa has insight into my writing style that helps bring a sense of realism and continuity to the situations that my characters find themselves in.  Much of the readability of my novels is due to her input.

I also would like to thank all the authors who took the time to write about their craft. The knowledge gained from two books in particular, have provided a solid foundation for my writing efforts. Steven King’s book “On Writing,” recommended by my son David, and Sol Stein’s book “Stein on Writing.” King’s book taught me that my creative process wasn’t as unique as I had imagined.  Stein’s book, among many other concepts, demonstrated that the non-fiction I had written during my firmware programming days wasn’t that far from my present day fiction writing as I had imagined. Those books are worth far more than their cost. In addition, I have found “The Emotion Thesaurus” by Ackerman and Puglist a fine addition to my writing tool chest.

I wish you all a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year and Great Reading in 2013.

MC900444925

“Letters from Long Binh” and “Soft Target” Reviews

I have actually found a little time to do some reading in addition to blogging, twittering, Facebook, website, and let’s not forget writing.   I wish there were more hours in the day.  I wanted to share with you two books that I really enjoyed: Letters From Long Binh: Memoirs Of A Military Policeman In Vietnam (Paperback) and Soft Target: A Thriller.  As always, your comments are welcome.

4* –  An MP’s View of Vietnam, February 28, 2012

This review is from: Letters From Long Binh: Memoirs Of A Military Policeman In Vietnam (Paperback) by Randy Mixter
This is a great story of a soldier’s time in Vietnam from a non-combat point of view. The author,Randy Mixter was a member of the military police. He sent letters home to his girlfriend (now wife) which he turned into this cleverly crafted volume. It also includes some of his wife’s letters to him. I found his stories to be very interesting as they were coming from the Military Police perspective. I was an infantryman in Vietnam and experienced the action in a different way.
Adventures such as finding a naked soldier with a prostitute take on added interest when the naked soldier puts on his uniform and is found to be a colonel! This memoir is stocked with stories that run the gamut of heartwarming to funny to sad. This volume should be on the shelf of everyone who has an interest in the Vietnam War.

3* – Soft Target – Good, but not as Good as Most of Hunter’s Thrillers, February 28, 2012

This review is from: Soft Target: A Thriller (Hardcover), by Stephen Hunter

Soft Target by Stephen Hunter follows the story of a terrorist attack at the Mall of America, the largest mall in America. The attack occurs on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which is traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Mr. Hunter has written many exciting novels of this genre. Soft Target follows the pattern of his previous novels and engages the reader with carefully crafted characters and suspense filled events. One of the characters from his previous novel, Ray Cruz, is a key player in this one. Unfortunately, this novel is not as good as his previous books.

One of my disappointments in the novel was treating the shoppers in the mall as if they were sheep to be herded around by the terrorists. With all the ex-military people in our country, I would have used some of them to help end the terrorist threat. As a Vietnam vet and Concealed Carry License holder, I for one would have at least taken out a couple of them before they got me, and I know plenty of CCL Vets who keep their skills up and would have joined me as well.

Overall, I did enjoy Soft Target. Just don’t expect it to be as good as Hunter’s previous thrillers.

HAPPY READING!

Challenge Accepted

I wrote in my last blog that I was participating in the Fourth Writer’s Platform-Building Challenge.   Today @RachelHarrie posted the first challenge.

“Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem.

Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:

  • end the story with the words: “everything faded.” (also included in the word count)
  • include the word “orange” in the story
  • write in the same genre you normally write
  • make your story 200 words exactly!”
Being someone who never backs away from a challenge, following is my 200 word entry.
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Shadows crept across the wall.  The orange sun set.  She was nervous.  Her fiancé was coming home.  They hadn’t seen each other since entering the Army.  The last time, eighteen months ago, was in Fiji, spent mostly in swimsuits.  She was proud of her looks, which made heads turn.

She drove Army trucks until the IED.  Badly burned, it was a miracle she survived.  Her soft skin was replaced with scar tissue.  What would he think?  She desperately wanted to be held by him.  Would he want to spend their lives together now?  She had written him about her disfiguration, suggesting he reconsider their relationship.

He replied that they would talk when he got home.

His car pulled up.  Looking sad, he walked to the door with a pronounced limp.  She opened it.  He immediately threw his arms around her, kissing her.

“I have something to show you,” he said, revealing titanium leg braces.  “I lost my legs below the knee.  If you want to breakup, I’ll understand.”

“Look at me.  What do you see?”

“I see the woman I want to marry.  And you?”

Crying, she replied, “I see my strong legged fiancé.”

Except for their love, everything faded.

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This was a very interesting assignment.  My first draft was 483 words.   I didn’t think there was any way this story could be edited down to 200 words without loosing its essence.  It took me a while, but I did it.  A lot of words can be superfluousness.  Live and learn.

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My next blog will have three book reviews and more helpful links.  Happy reading!

Richard Alan