Special Give-a-way

Avoid Last Minute Gift Panic

December 21 – 23, 2012

Did you just realize that since the world has not come to an end, there are gifts you need to buy?  Don’t panic.  Here is an easy solution – give the gift of reading.  You can gift all three eBooks for $6, or purchase them individually.  Not bad.

  1 The Life of Meyer, Book 1 in the Meant to Be Series is $0.99 from Kindle from December 21 -23.

2.  The CouplesBook 2 in the Meant to Be Series is FREE from Kindle December 21 – 23.

3.  Finding Each OtherBook 3 in the Meant to Be Series is $4.99 on Kindle.  

~~ Amazon Prime Members may borrow these books at no charge. ~~

Click to purchase Kindle eBooks

Your friends and family will thank you!!!

All of us from Village Drummer Fiction wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year.  We pray 2013 will be a happy, healthy, and prosperous year for all of us.

 

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When the Writing Bug Bit

Many people ask me why I started on this new career as an author.  They wonder if I’ve always had the writing bug.  When my boys were young, I used to write short stories for them.  They were always the heroes.  I’m sorry I did not keep those stories as they grew older.  That, however, had not put the writing bug in me.

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, Writing Bug, blog
Writing Bug

It all started when I was asked to write an article for a blog (http://memoirsfromnam.blogspot.com/) about my experiences in Vietnam.  I submitted the article and it was published.  The blog owner, a published author, asked how long I had been writing.  I replied that I hadn’t ever been and she replied that I should.  That was about a year and three months ago.  My wife has often told me that I am a great storyteller.  (We’re talking about family history kinds of stories.)  She encouraged me to take some time to try writing a novel.   Since then I have written and published Meant to Be and The Couples.  My third novel in the Meant to Be series, Finding Each Other, is currently being edited and I have over 20,000 words written for my fourth book in the series.

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, Writing Bug, blog

There is NO cure!

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, Writing Bug, blog

The only relief is writing!

I may not have always had the writing bug, but now that it has bitten me, I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing.  I love writing.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a fully formed story in my head and spend the next four hours writing it down.  Other times, I will be doing something completely unrelated to my writing and a new character or plotline will fill my imagination.  I then have to stop what I’m doing, open my laptop, and start writing.   I don’t do outlines.  My process includes first developing the characters and then they tell me their stories.  The stories they tell me always provide twists and turns.  I follow them wherever they take me.  Sometimes I am as surprised at the outcome of a relationship as I’m sure my readers will be.  Occasionally a subplot will be very interesting but not fit the main thrust of the book.  I save those for subsequent novels.

Meant to Be introduces the reader to Meyer and Joan, the main characters.   They meet in the library when they are 4 and 5 years old, respectively.   At the time, they had no idea the two of them would be spending a lifetime together.  Their friendship took off slowly due to their age difference.  Joan did not want to bother with someone who was not old enough to be entering kindergarten. They reconnected a few years later when Meyer’s family moved from Iowa to the Seattle area, where Joan’s family had moved the year before.

Joan and Meyer remain friends throughout their high school years until Meyer leaves for Viet Nam and Joan’s family experiences a tragedy that impacts Joan’s view of friends and family.  The interactions of three generations of friends and family help them reconnect so that they can celebrate the good times and get through the difficult and tragic times as loving partners.

I had so many ideas for future characters and storylines, I realized Meant to Be would never come to an end.  It was then I decided to break the book into a series.  The Couples continues the theme of people who may belong together and how the world around them helps, or sometimes defeats them, in their search for a life partner.  It follows the lives of couples, their friends, and their support systems, as they explore their relationships.

Meyer and Joan return in The Couples, along with several other characters from Meant to Be.  New people are introduced who also interact with Meyer, Joan, and others.  Anna and Michael, both of whom are techies, are the main characters.  Michael is emotionally hurting due to the sudden death of his fiancée a few weeks before their wedding.  Anna has to get over her poor self-image and learn to trust her feelings.  The book centers on their ability to help each other and to grow to become a couple.

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, Writing Bug, blog

Couples

There are several supporting characters.  One of them is suddenly confronted with the opportunity to become the mother of the daughter she gave up for adoption ten years earlier.  Another is a rape victim who is trying to rejoin society as a whole person.  Also there is a teenage boy musician who is trying to get past his unrequited love and finds happiness with a ranch girl. These and several others come together as a community to support each other in finding their life partner.

My hope is that the characters in these books are people that readers will want to know.  You will laugh, cry, and love with them as they seek the partner they are meant to be with for the rest of their lives.

What motivated you to become an author?  When did that writing bug bite?  This is my third major career, but I’m sure it is the last.  I will write for the rest of my life.  How many careers have you had?  Do you expect writing to be the last?

Happy Reading and Writing!

Richard Alan

Fibonacci Numbers, Rhododendrons & Writing (Fibo – Who?)

Fiction writers have more in common with writers of non-fiction than they might believe.   Here’s an example of non-fiction from the world of Fibonacci numbers and mathematics.

Richard Alan, Rhododendron, Village Drummer Fiction, blog

Rhododendrons

My wife and partner, Carolynn and I visited the Rhododendron gardens in Federal Way, Washington over the past weekend.  Many of the plants were in bloom and we’ll be returning in a week or so to see many others which hadn’t bloomed yet.   As we gazed at the intense colors of the blooms and the compact buds that were just opening, I was reminded of the Fibonacci series.

The numbers consist of the unending series:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89…

Fibonacci, Leonardo Pisano, lived in Pisa, Italy around 1200AD and gave his name to the Fibonacci numbers.

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, blog, Carolynn, Rhododendron

Carolynn at Weyerhauser Rhododendron Garden

Fibonacci numbers can also be seen in the arrangement of seeds on flower heads such as the Coneflower or sunflower.  Look at the way the petals of a flower are arranged.  You will find them in 2s, 3s, 5s and more, but no fours.  If you think you have found a flower with four petals look closer and you will notice that two of the “petals” are actually part of the reproductive parts of the plant!  For some reason, nature doesn’t like the number four.

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, blog, rhododendron

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, blog, rhododendron

Most daisies, for example, have 34, 55, or 89 petals which are the 9th,10th, and 11th Fibonacci numbers.

Richard Alan, Village Drummer Fiction, blog, rhododendron

I have enjoyed numbers most of my life.  One of the best definitions of mathematics is that it makes the invisible visible.  Every time we take a ride on a jet there was a team of engineers who used mathematics to design and build that plane so it will go safely through the air at 400 miles per hour.  We can’t see what they’ve done just looking at the airplane and most of us wouldn’t even recognize the Navier-Stokes differential equation that was used to design the wings; but without that equation and its proper use the plane would have never left the ground.

Did you know that it’s a good thing bees can’t read?  If they could, they might find out that, from an aeronautical perspective which considers their wing area and body size, the bee shouldn’t be able to fly.  Being illiterate the bee just flaps the heck out of its wings and flies on his merry way.

I could have shortened this drastically by simply writing the series.  Wouldn’t that have been boring?  I add to the facts by using imagery of flowers and leaves.  I then provide a definition of mathematics the reader most likely hasn’t thought of and then a humorous story about the bee.  These are obviously the same techniques I use when I write fiction.  Surely this makes the rather dry subject of Fibonacci numbers and mathematics in general come to life.  Would you agree?

 

All photos were taken by Richard Alan.

Developing a Character

Let’s start with a made up name.  How about Sally?  Picture Sally in your mind.  The Sally that I just pictured is eight years old.  She has sand colored short straight hair, sparkling blue eyes, and a smile that embodies her upbeat attitude.   She’s wearing a top that she asked her parents to buy for her when they visited the Monterrey Bay Aquarium.  It is light blue and has silk screened images of the Aquarium’s sea otters.   She has her running shoes on today because one of her friends just called and he asked her to meet him at the park to play softball.  As she rode her bike to the park she was reviewing what her older brother had told her about batting.  When she arrived at the park she was immediately greeted by her best friends from school.

otters, Monterey Bay Aquarium, blog

Now that we know what she looks like, what some of her interests are, and that she has many friends we need to have situation arise that further  expresses her character and allows the reader to learn more about her.  Consider the following two paragraphs:

A)  Sally greeted her friends and then stood patiently, while her friend Thomas told her about his trip to the Seattle Aquarium.  Conversations with Thomas always took patience because he stuttered a lot.  Thomas considered Sally his best friend because she liked sea creatures like he did and she always waited patiently while he talked to her.  She was the only one in their circle who always took time for his difficult speech.

B)   Sally greeted her friends and then avoided talking to Thomas, who wanted to tell her about his trip to the Seattle Aquarium. Conversations with Thomas always took patience because he stuttered a lot.  He desperately wanted to be Sally’s friend because they both liked sea creatures.  Of the friends in their circle, Sally had the least patience when he tried to talk to her.

Both paragraphs give us insight into Sally’s character.  The above paragraphs might lead to narratives that force them to go on an adventure as a team.  If I used paragraph A, I would tell a story about how Sally learns about stuttering and helps Thomas get over his speech impediment while they are on their adventure.  If I used paragraph B, I would tell a story about Sally having to develop patience and learn to become a compassionate person while they struggled to complete their adventure.

Which story would you like to complete?  Try writing two more paragraphs for each and then go back and see if you are being true to Sally’s A or B character.  How do you decide what your character’s personality is going to be?

Good Luck and Happy Writing!

I originally wrote this as a guest post for Darlene’s Book Nook.

I took the photo at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Virtual Book Tour and A Real Challenge

pump up your book, richard alan, tour, book tour, blog, author

Richard Alan’s  MEANT TO BE SERIES VIRTUAL BOOK PUBLICITY TOUR will officially begin on March 5 and end on March 23 2012. Please contact Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife(at)gmail.com if you are interested in hosting and/or reviewing his book. Thank you!

I am so excited to be part of a Virtual Book Tour.  Each day I participate in a different interview, blog, or guest blog.  There will also be giveaways.  I will try to keep you updated by twitter of the various stops I’m making during the tour.  Click on the image below for the schedule of events.

blog, blog tour, marketing, meant to be, richard alan

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While on tour the second challenge came out from Rachel Harrie’s Fourth Writer Platform-Building Campaign.

Prompt 1: 

Two people are sitting together under the remains of a concrete bridge. Their backs are against a rusted bridge support. One person’s leg is cut. The other person has wet hair.

Prompt 2: 

(Source)

Prompt 3

(Source)

Prompt 4

(Source)

Prompt 5

(Source)

Second Campaigner Challenge

Do one or more of the following:

  1. Write a pitch/logline for a book based on the prompts (less than 100 words)
  2. Write a short story/flash fiction piece of less than 200 words based on the prompts
  3. Write a poem with a twist using the prompts as inspiration (in less than 200 words)
  4. Write a story/poem in five sentences, each sentence based on one of the prompts
  5. Write a poem/flash fiction piece (in less than 200 words) about the water pear *without* using the words “pear”, “spoon”, or “droplet”.


Here is my entry:

Two people are sitting together under the remains of a concrete bridge. Their backs are against a rusted bridge support. One person’s leg is cut. The other person has wet hair.  Three children are in the midst of a large garbage dump.

“It’s not a bad cut,” he told his sister.  “Besides, the rain has almost stopped.  I see another garbage truck coming.  We better get out there and see if there’s something for us to eat.  I’m so hungry, my belly aches.”

On the other side of the world, my son runs along the pier chasing his ball.   He has thoughts of the cotton candy he ate at the fair yesterday.   He doesn’t worry about hunger and if anything, he could stand to lose a few pounds.

How will he react when he is kidnapped?  How will he manage to exist when he is left on a garbage dump on the other side of the world, to fend for himself?  After a life of not knowing hunger, will he have the physical and social skills to join with the other children in a desperate attempt to survive?

I welcome your critique of this piece.  Flash fiction is very new to me.  Now I can go and read other people’s entries.  There were so many wonderful flash fictions stories from the first challenge.  It was fascinating how many different themes came out of the same input.  I expect to see that here also and I’m really looking forward to it.

Until next time – Happy Reading!

Richard Alan

“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.
*  *  *

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.

*  *  *

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.

*  *  *

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

Richard Alan