Writing Wednesday: Point of View

I believe that for most writers, the way not to get read/sell your book is:

1. Don’t have a good idea.

2. Don’t translate good idea into a good story with interesting characters.

3. Point of view.

Point of view is your voice as a writer. There are writers who have such a good point of view, they can write about pretty much anything and people would want to read it.

It also one of the most difficult topics to teach. I hope this slideshare helps a little bit.

We have one slot left for our Writing At Scenic Workshop on 23-24 September. We’ll do a 20% discount if you mention this blog post!

Talk Tuesday: What Is Your Dream Place To Live? House Hunters?

My wife looked at me the other day and said “A boy from the Bronx shouldn’t end up in this house.” The one to the right we’re currently renting.

To the left is the view of the Intracoastal from a house we rented years ago. I started counting how many places I’ve lived one day and it go confusing. Not just in locales, but also in various apartments, houses in the same locale. The Army can do that to you. But even after the Army, my wife and I have this bug where after 3 years we’re ready to move. She was an Army brat, born in Ft Leonard Wood, spent time in Berlin (was there for Kennedy’s speech), school in Monterey at Ft Ord, etc etc. After West Point, I lived a number of places. Also, in Special Forces, we traveled a lot– my first year in Group I was gone around 340 days. When you’re deployed for six months or so, that’s kind of living somewhere. But none of those places are ones I’d want to go back to.

We like watching those house hunters shows. Not only because they show you interesting places– we were watching Bordeaux, France yesterday– but you can tell a lot by the couple right away. No need for long therapy sessions.  You can see the relationship right there. You can tell who makes the decision. Who is willing to compromise what they want, etc. etc.

I know there are people who are living in the same place they were born. I was talking to an older lady down the street the other day and she told me her grand-daughter was going to the same elementary school she did. I was born in the Bronx and was out of there when I was 17 and don’t have much desire to go back. Living in Manhattan would be different, but way too busy for me now.

As a writer, I’ve been extremely fortunate in being able to live wherever. I could complain and say when you can choose anywhere, it’s hard, but that, as Cool Gus would say, is whiny. I can’t say I’ve lived any place I didn’t like, although Ft Bragg isn’t a tourist destination.

So where would you like to live? No practical concerns like job or cost, just being able to live there?

Time for the Navy to go Battlestar Galactica. Cyber War.

Two high-tech destroyers run into civilian ships in two months?

17 June the USS Fitzgerald hit a container ship. Seven sailors dead.

21 August the USS McCain hit an oil tanker. Ten sailors missing.

I don’t believe these are accidents. This is cyber-warfare.

I have no proof. I just have logic.

These are ships that are designed to seek out and destroy targets in the chaos of warfare. But can’t “see” other ships several times their size during peacetime? Our Navy is highly trained and the best equipped in the world. Once maybe. Twice in two months goes beyond coincidence.

There are those who want to blame training. Cut backs. Whatever. Blame, blame, blame. Faux “News” is blaming Obama. Of course. But perhaps, yes, he is at fault, but not in the way they think. He authorized the use of Stuxnet against the Iranians years ago. That was an act of war. But it wasn’t the first cyber warfare. I’ve been researching this for my next book, Hallows Eve, where one of the missions is Zero Day. I had never heard that term before– now I know too much that I really wish I didn’t know. We are unbelievably vulnerable to cyber attack across a wide array of targets. Someone showing that they can take over a Navy warship is telegraphing a very potent message. Especially in that part of the world.

I’m not saying the Iranians did this. My money is on the Chinese. A show of force. We know the Chinese have hacked into California’s power grid several times. But even the North Koreans might have the power.

Just as Russia did a show of force during our election. None of those countries can project military power at long range like the US. But the Internet? Heck. We’re all standing next to each other.

What happened to Flight MH 370 which disappeared on 8 March 2014? A test run to see how easy it is to take over the controls of a civilian airliner? We also had an Osprey crash off the coast of Australia earlier this month. I’ve been searching for a follow up on that, since the wreckage was discovered, but in vain. No clue if its connected to the two ship collisions.

Here’s the thing. If planes and ships are getting hacked, the powers-that-be WILL NOT announce this news. Can you imagine the panic? If military planes and ships can get hacked and crashed, the world would grind to a halt. No one would fly. It would make 9-11 look minor.

Did you know that the largest unit in the Israeli Army is now Unit 8200? Ambitious youngsters no longer want to get into their elite Special Forces, Shayetet 13. They want in 8200. It is their signals intelligence unit. Think cyber war unit. And it is the LARGEST.

When I say the Navy has to go Battlestar Galactica, for those unfamiliar with the series, especially the superb reboot, it means we’ve got to start getting our military unplugged. Go back to basics. The Army has to stop relying on GPS and computers for targeting and communications. Every industry, every business, every person, has to seriously consider how vulnerable they are to cyber attack. How to counter it. What to do when, not if, the attack comes. And we’re not just talking by other countries. I have no doubt that a number of industries and businesses have already been held hostage by cyber blackmail. What will X Airlines do if someone takes control of one of their planes? Pay and keep it quiet.

There is a war between countries, waged by terrorists, waged by greedy individuals and groups, waged by our own country, going on every second. We have got to wake up and take it seriously.

There’s a barely watched series on Amazon Video titled Cyberwar. I highly recommend watching it. Here is the trailer.



The Mindset Needed To Survive

This builds on the acronym SURVIVAL from last week. The elements of life, the stages of disaster and more.

Are you finding these slides useful? Let us know!

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for specials that are only announced via its release. You can sign up on my home page.

Also, Prepare Now-Survive Now is free on all platforms via my freebies page. A condensed version of my two longer books, it gives the nuts and bolts of some of the key elements of survival.


Writing Wednesday: Plot III. Narrative Structure

There is a template for story. Actually, there are many. I give one example here. Do you have to follow it? No. Should you understand it as a craftsperson writer? Yes.

Remember, we can only break rules if we know them first. The trend that I’m seeing, is less and less emphasis on a narrative, linear flow to story. But we have to remember the reader who has been programmed for story a certain way.

Cool Gus Says: 12 Years In History

These are times, places, people, etc that Cool Gus finds interesting. He hopes you do too!

We’ll have one every Saturday. Also, in the future, Cool Gus will start telling his own stories, but more on that later.

Cool Gus says history is pretty cool. Not as cool as bacon. Or chasing a ball. Or a nap. Or bacon. But still . . .

Talk Tuesday: What Book Cover Really Stands Out In Your Memory?

I saw this cover in the New York Public Library one day while meandering. I spent a lot of my childhood in the library. For some reason it called out to me. I pulled it off the shelf and was immediately sucked in:  In a hole in the ground lived a Hobbit. It’s pretty amazing that this Tolkein guy managed to compress three movies into one book!

I was thrilled when I saw there were three more books!

Another book cover that comes to mind is Hyperion. I was in Davis-Kidd in Nashville, meandering, and saw this mass market paperback. Something about it– the creature I learned was the Shrike– the imagery. I made an impulse buy and have since read all the books in the Dan Simmons’ series. So many great ideas in the Hyperion universe. I also like the story of how Dan Simmons was “discovered” by Harlan Ellison at a workshop.

I saw an announcement last year where Syfy is making Hyperion into a mini-series but have heard nothing more. I’d say with the success of The Expanse and the ability of CGI now, it should be a lock.

What book cover stands out for you?