Sunday, November 24, 2013

What's Next for Miles Stevens ?

In book one of the Miles Stevens series, MELTING SAND, Miles and his CIA partner, Terri King, are sent back in time from the year 2050 to stop geopolitical dominos from tumbling toward a 2027 nuclear war in the Middle East.  You’ll need to read MELTING SAND to find out how Miles and Terri fare in their mission.  I won’t give it away here, other than to assure you that Miles does return!
I’m now beginning the second book in the series, and I’m looking for reader feedback.  Specifically, what disaster should Miles be sent to stop next? 
The event challenging Miles in book two can occur any time before the year 2050, the year in which he and his CIA handlers are based.  It should be worthy of the involvement of Miles and the CIA’s newly formed Department of Historic Intervention (DHI).  Some ideas I’m considering include the following, all taking place in the year 2030:
1. A series of biochemical attacks of U.S. installations around the world -- The unknown perpetrators are randomly selecting sites and altering their delivery systems to keep the U.S. military and intelligence organizations on their heels, their ultimate target being Washington, D.C. 
2. A cyber-attack targeting military intelligence and financial I/T systems of the U.S. and its allies -- The impact from these attacks cripples U.S. defense systems and is rapidly bringing worldwide financial systems to a halt.
3. Orbiting satellites are tumbling to earth, crashing into major cities, killing thousands -- A newly formed terrorist group gains access to laser-guided technology capable of redirecting these satellites to targeted locations on earth.  The terrorists are ramping up their demands of the U.S. and its allies to stop their onslaught.   
So, there you have it.  You can vote for one of these three, or give me one of your ideas for the challenge Miles should face next.   
I look forward to reading your suggestions, and by commenting  below you're registered in this month's GIVEAWAY for a chance at a $20 Amazon gift card.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Short Story. . . Hmmm

I’d always wanted to write a novel.  I don’t know why.  Maybe I envisioned myself attending cocktail parties in a tweed sport coat, discussing character development with groups of my admiring readers.  Well, I’ve self-published three books, and the closest I’ve come to this daydream was at a book fair where I was mistaken for someone else.  I guess my sport coat threw them off.
I’m still chasing the novelist’s dream, but I have recently discovered a challenging, fast-paced, bite-sized writing experience – short stories.   Definitions vary, but a short story is typically defined as something comfortably read in one sitting, usually 1,000 to 5,000 words. 
I’d always thought that “real writers” wrote novels, but I may have been living in a fool’s world.  There are several famous authors who’ve come by way of the short story: Poe, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Bradbury, King (as in Stephen), O. Henry, and Asimov to name just a few.  
I’ve found writing short stories can be rewarding for many reasons.  Here are but a few:
1.  Short stories provide immediate gratification, and I’m big on IG.  My three novels have been around 90,000 words each, taking 8 to 12 months to write.  I can kick out a 2,500 word short story in a week or less, including editing.  It gives you the chance to explore and write about a range of subjects in a short period of time.   And if one of them sucks, well, it only took a week.
2.   You learn to be concise.  You can’t waste words when you need to set scenes, develop plot(s), and build characters in less than 5,000 words.  It’s a good exercise for all writers, novelists and short story writers alike.
3.   There are tons of writing competitions to benchmark your skills and receive critical feedback. Weekly, monthly, and annual short story competitions can be easily found -- ranging from small prizes to major recognition from publishers.
4.   Short stories are popular.  While it’s true magazine publishers have diminished in recent years, there remain several venues for short stories: literary magazines, online literary journals, consumer magazines, and books of short story collections. This isn’t to say that finding a publisher for a short story is any easier than for a novel, but at least there are many avenues to explore.
5.  We have become a mobile reading society with smartphones and notepads everywhere, and short stories are a perfect fit.  They’re easily read on a commute to work, or while jogging on a treadmill, or over a quick lunch at a coffee shop.  There’s no need for bookmarks – one sitting and you’re done.
6.   Posting short stories to your blog or website (yours or from guest authors) is a great way to add variety and interest to your site.
So, give it a whirl.  Pick a topic and write away.