Friday, December 16, 2011

In Depth With Author MJ Goodnow

Today we sit down with author MJ Goodnow once again in an expanded interview. Pour a warm cuppa and enjoy a more personal view of MJ as well as more detail and news about his professional life. 

Where are you from?  Parts Unknown, does that count? 
I am from Connecticut originally in the armpit called Norwich. I spent my childhood between New York and Connecticut in a constant gleam of travel and the non-structured environments of being tossed between two families. My biological family and adoptive family. 

Tell us about your hometown and growing up.
Norwich was, well, old and run down in my days as a kid. But, my family lived in the outskirts on top of what is called Snake Hill. A winding, turning and churning hill that somebody, even a soldier would have a tough time literally, climbing. I was the constant in my neighborhood for 21 years before the dust cleared and my mother Rosa passed. I was victimized, brutally, by bullies in and outside of my neighborhood.

Tell us about your family.
I can tell you I had at one point in my life my mother Rose and her husband Wallace as my parents. My brothers Paul-Steven and Wally Jr passed when I was ages 5 and 9.  Rose, fortunately, was my God-mother and saved me from an abusive and disturbing mother and drugged aunt. My Uncle Lenny, from the biological side, was my God-father, who was too young to step in and help me not be taken. My grandmother Amelia was divorcing my grandfather at the time and couldn't get to me in time before the adoption had ended and Rose and Wally now had me.

 On Writing:
 When and why did you begin writing?
 A lot is made of my former teacher Wally Lamb at Norwich Free Academy as my mentor, which is true. But I actually began in my seventh grade secondary school Teachers Memorial in Norwich, with a thought provoking and heartfelt teacher I remember to this day. Mr. Almadia. He loved most of my stories and poems.

Later, I did meet Wally Lamb, as a freshman in High School, who saw the beginning of the few short stories I had that would ultimately become the Regime Guard Series.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
 I guess I have to say when my first book was published by Weaving Dreams Publishing, and penned also with Marie Pacha.
What inspired you to pen your first novel?
Regime Guard goes back to the night when Wally, my brother, passed. I remember just being in tears and my mind began, if you will, that he was still with me, but as a spirit. I looked outside my window that night and swore I saw him, but when I turned my head back to my bedside, THEY were there. Whether it was imagination, or childhood schizophrenia, I swear I saw four characters who would later become part of me, in a literal sense, and part of my work. Being always prepared to possibly go home one day as each book is finished. It was told to me by THEM, the stories and things that happened, so their I was, later, writing it.

 Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
 It was more the belief in what occurred the night my brother was known to have died, that it influenced me. Also, the constant bullying and harassing helped in some way as some form of revenge with success.

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
 Because, I have made anything possible that "could" have happened or "did" happen be part of my writing. Even dreams and night terrors. My religious beliefs also paved the way for what would become the Regime Guard Series.
Do you have a specific writing style?
No. I enjoy doing things from any type of point of view that I can conjure. It's sort of like with each of my works, every point of view is made. Even if the character lives, dies or is just an "extra" within the works.

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
 My message for readers to grasp is that anything can happen, anytime, any place. Also, as I always say, believe. If you believe in something so strongly and remotely understand what it is your believing, it can come to pass in any form. If you like it or not.
How much of your work is realistic?
 Evolution of the Fallen is possible. For anyone who reads it, the can understand it is possible to happen to individuals in those situations. Regime Guard is based upon my own personal beliefs, that there is always something out there to destroy evil.
What is the hardest part of writing?
 I don't edit. I never edit my own work because I rather have someone edit it because I cannot catch all of my mistakes.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
 Evolution of the Fallen had a formula for it, its why it is written like a textbook almost.

Regime Guard was generated from my thoughts, dreams, night terrors amongst the many other things that had happened. It became it's own plot and it's own characters without me doing anything but sit their and write about them/it.

You also have been involved in song writing; tell us about that and how it’s different from novel or article writing.
It is like poetry. Songs are poems, set to music, or some type of sound. Whether it be rock, rap, or whatever. Putting songs together isn't hard for me. But if someone challenges me to write one in five minutes, they can go to hell. Because, just like my novels, songs take time to write and think about, before any music is made.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?
Publishers and agents are very hard to come by that will actually like your work, or even you, as a person. It takes a very special person to deal with my abilities as an author because things in my work(s) can come and go without notice. Multi Genre Author, my peers call me, and controversial. I use that as a force and drive to be a multi genre author, because I can make you sick to your stomach, shed tears, or even make you laugh.
We’ve heard about your published novels in our last interview. Tell us about your current projects in the works and when we can expect to see them.
I have Volume II to the Regime Guard Series that Marie Pacha and I are working on. Alongside that is a book with a lead character with autism. Then, lastly, a horror based on bullying and terrror, wrapped into one nutshell.
Do you see writing as a long- or short-term career?
 I see this as a long term career, not some kind of short thing at all.

 How does your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
 My friends and family love what I do. It's just having the time and space to do it is problematic. But, I work when I can and don't when I cannot.
Is there something you would like to say to readers of this blog?
 People like myself and people I know amongst the social networks will be forces in the publishing field to be reckoned with. Many of whom now are represented and/or have good publishers who can market those books to bestsellers. People, like myself, are just waiting, and when the waiting is done, then we strike, like a bolt of lightening.
Love and Light,
 MJ Goodnow

There we have it a more in depth look at an author's life. If you enjoyed this article please be sure to comment and let us know :). More to come soon as regular post resume in the NaNoWriMo Aftermath :)  Happy Scribbles! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

OneWord/60 Seconds: Shephard is a website for getting the muse warmed up. Each day you get one word and sixty seconds in which to write what it inspires. This was my entry today.

He gazed across the room and thought. Look at them all, sipping lattes, chatting about nothing important. Carefree, like sheep grazing in the field. One stray off to the side, head in her laptop working with diligence on a horror novel. Appropriate for this day, it was almost time The earthquake would come and he would be the shepherd of their souls.

More of my OneWord entries:

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Coach NaNo Novel 2011

The wait is almost over for November first and the beginning of NaNoWrimo. Thank goodness! My Sis and writing partner Rose Wade and I have our novel plotted, cover mocked and our muses are psyched to get started. We even took a big step in choosing the nom de plume we'll co-author under. M.L.Brogan.

This year we're putting our own mythology into an old legend. I'm really excited about what we've got sketched out for these mysterious creatures of the night. Wanna lil peek?

The Coach
M.L. Brogan

Two centuries have passed. It is time for the Coachman of Death to allow his hooved beasts, the Keres, to find new souls to take their place and end their enslavement to the Coach. To the living, the Keres appear as feared creatures of legend. To the condemned, they are the beginning of an inescapable nightmare.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

5 Ways to Boost Your Word Count Without Cheating

Happy NaNoWriMo Site Launch Day and Fellow Writers Blog Hop! *whew say that 5 times fast :) To celebrate the gear up for November let's talk about 5 ways to boost your word count.... without cheating.

The daily word count needed to reach is 1,667 words. That doesn't seem like an unreasonable amount of words to write in an entire day. (Are they crazy? )  But there are days that life will interfere with our lofty noveling goals. Try one of these when your fingers start to slow.

1. Sprinting
Meet up with other Wrimos i person or online and see who can write the most words in a set amount of time. Most sprints are 10-20 minutes long. This is great for a tweet-up. You'll be amazed at how many words you can get down with a couple hours of sprinting. Not to mention the fun! 

2. Long Lost Friend /Relative
If you feel your scene is dragging or you just can't get those words out. Try having your character run into an old friend or relative while their out and about. Or even a phone call from them. You can add tons of words as they reminisce about old times or that Thanksgiving when Aunt Mable's cat ate the stuffing. Even if it's something you may edit out in the next draft it will breath some new life into your muse and pad that count! 

3. Disaster Strikes
A hurricane heading in, a freak F5 tornado, earthquake, flood, a 3-10 car pile up. Any one of those can add at least a couple of pages worth of wordiness. You have the before, during, and effects after that might even bring out some qualities you didn't know your characters had. 

4. Kill'em
Let's face it. Death is wordy. Not matter how or who gets bumped off you've get at least 4 scenes off a corpse turning up. The death itself, the discovery, the aftermath, and the funeral, lots and lots of words. 

5. Use Your Senses
You have 5 senses taste, touch, scent, sight, sound. Every single environment your characters walk into, or crash into in some cases, holds each of these elements just waiting for you to detail them. A car crash could have the scent of smoke and gasoline in the air. They would see broken glass, dented and crushed cars, hear someone crying for help or a sirens approaching, maybe a car horn. Taste blood from a gash, or if gas is thick in the air it will leave a taste on your tongue. They may feel the ache of injury or the rough edges or the broken plastic of the dash. Talk about filling the pages, just let your nose guide you.... literally. 

Okay there you have it 5 ways to get wordy and pad that word count. Now who's ready for November?  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cóiste Bodhar The Black Coach

A wail cuts through the night, a warning, the black coach is coming for him. The dying man pulled himself from his bed. He fought with his weakened body to reach the door and lock it tight. He called his wife to push the dresser over, blockade them in. Maybe it would stop him.

The banshee’s wail called the Dullahan from slumber. The large chest took a deep waking breath; he could feel the moon high in the darkened sky. It was time once again to ride. He walked out to the barn hidden deep in the black forest. The nightmares that would pull him through the night stamped impatient to run.

No ordinary horses were these. Their coats shone black as oil, red eyes shaped like almonds, they were evil souls cursed to live eternity as demon spirits in his service. He fastened them in their harnesses and led the beasts to the coach.

His half-rotted flesh began to work the straps and buckles. The nightmares screamed into the night anxious to be on their way. Hooves dug at the earth impatient and sparked flame. He stroked the beat’s neck, he felt it too, the call of the dying.

The  Dullahan climbed aboard and took the reins. The nightmares reared and screamed as they took to the unseen road.

The living did not see him but felt the cold chill down their backs as he passed. The night became darker, thicker with dread as he road toward his destination. His arm drew back to crack his bone whip, the spine snapped and spurred the beasts into a full run.

Men woke and cried out with terrifying dreams, women wept in their sleep. Death was coming.

The dark coachman pulled the beasts to a stop, their destination before them. He stepped down to earth once more and it trembled beneath his boot.

The slowing beats of his soon to be passenger’s heart pulsed in the Dullahan’s veins. He was the harbinger, nothing could stand in his way. The gate opened at his approach. The front door on the modest cottage swung inward.

The dying man cried out for mercy as the candles snuffed leaving him and his wife in darkness. A loud scrape echoed in the room as the dresser moved aside, pulled by an invisible force. The locks he was so sure were strong enough to hold tumbled and turned, the final door opened with a creak of bone on bone.

The dying screamed as he watched the dark creature walk toward him. The barrel-sized chest taking deep breaths, beneath the cloak’s hood there was nothing but darkness. The wife looked into it and felt the emptiness there, as though she stared into the pits of hell itself. She covered her own mouth to hold back her horror.

The Dullahan reached into the dying man’s chest with its black hand and tore out his soul. The man’s corpse gave one last breath in life. The spirit struggled in the grip of death as he was escorted out to the black coach. The coach’s door opened beckoning the soul to enter and be taken to his fate. 

The wife cried out as her husband’s essence stepped inside. The dark coachmen growled low, her skin turned to gooseflesh, her hair stood on end. The Dullahan turned toward her, she screamed and begged him to not to take her.

The coachman dowsed the wife with the blood of the dead. A mark, she would live this night and maybe the next, but at the banshee’s next cry he would come for her first.

He mounted the coach and cracked his bone whip.  Cóiste Bodhar and its headless coachmen rode into the darkest part of night to carry their passenger to Death.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Author Chat with Mandi Casey

We have another special guest this week. Gladiator's Pen welcomes author Mandi Casey to the Ludus as she tells us a bit about herself and her new book Bizarre Life of Sydney Sedrick. So kick up your feet and visit a while.

Tell us three little known things about Mandi Casey 
Well, the obvious thing about me is that I love to write. I have 3 amazing dogs that act like naughty toddlers when they don’t get their way. And lastly, I play a lot of Frisbee golf. The courses in Wisconsin are very beautiful and full of wooded areas. I love the sunbeams coming through the tops of the leaf-filled branches.
Bizarre Life of Sydney Sedrick is your latest book. Was there a part of the book you found harder to write than the rest?
Probably the ending was the hardest for me. I didn’t want it to end, I was really enjoying this story.
Do you have a writing routine or ritual?
I try to write every day, but that doesn’t always happen. I tend to give myself a word-count goal to meet every week. That doesn’t always happen either, LOL.
What is your favorite coffee house drink?
I’d have to say the caramel high rise at Caribou Coffee. It’s Sydney’s favorite also ;)
Do you have a favorite scene from Bizarre Life of Sydney Sedrick you’d like to share?
 I love when Sydney meets Blake, the story’s hero. He’s a pureblood werewolf, the heir to the Midwestern Werewolf Pack, and he instantly thinks Sydney belongs to him as his mate.
What inspired you to write about Vampires and Werewolves?
 I’ve been a big fan almost my entire life. The paranormal genre is what I really enjoy reading.
 Are you a fan of the classic monsters?
 I am, I do prefer the classic monsters and how there was usually some mysterious, dark romantic element to the stories.

If you could live inside of your book for a day would you, and why?
I’d love to meet my character’s in real life. Sydney and I are a lot alike in our values, so I think we’d get along great. The dark romantic intrigue in the story and the war for power of the city between the vampires and werewolves would be very action packed, and I’d love to be in the thick of things.

 Where can we find you and your books?
I’m on Face Book, I also have a blog at My book will be release in October 2011, and will be available through;; and 
Do you have any news or up coming events you would like to share? Or even just a message for your fans.
 I am currently working on the 2nd novel in the Sydney Sedrick series, this one will be a little hotter, have a bit more edge to it, and you’ll all find out what Sydney finally decides where Blake is concerned.

Thank you so much Mandi for sharing with us We're looking forward to Sydney's adventures. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Alberta Ross Talks About Not Following Rule One and Giveaway

Gladiator's Pen welcomes guest Alberta Ross to the ludus. Thanks to parents who gave her a love for reading, music, and a curiosity of the world around her she became a world traveler for the first part of her life. For the second stage of her life she found a thirst of knowledge, and  the time has come for Alberta to share all of that though her pen with prose.

Alberta has penned the first two books of The Sefuly Chronicles, Ellen's Tale and The Storyteller's Tale. Today she will be sharing some of the wisdom she has gleamed from her writing experience.

So pour a cuppa and enjoy your reading then be sure to comment for your chance to win one or both books of The Sefuly Chronicles. Details will follow Albert's post.

How I didn’t follow rule one
By Alberta Ross

Rule One
 There is a right way to plan a new world, whether on this planet or another, in this time or some other, making sure there is a logic which works for that world.  If it be magical, fantastical or horrific there must be an underlying logic to be able to suspend our reader’s belief.  Some plan it out for months, with complicated notes and graphs.  Having to plot not only the geography of a place but its history, customs and legends as well is hard work but done well is an amazing achievement.  Everything melds and connects and is satisfactory, no holes, no gaps, seamlessly created the right way.

The Wrong Way!! 
 I will tell you about the world I created and the numerous problems that arose, many self-inflicted.  The Sefuty Chronicles are not set in a fantasy world; there is no magic to contend with, no strange beasts to accommodate.  This world is not set on a strange planet that has evolved its own ways.  My world is Earth projected into the future.  The southern part of this world dried up and burnt, whole starving populations began to move north.

We all know about this world, Earth, so logic must be applied even more ruthlessly.  My lack of forward planning became apparent very quickly in the writing.  It wasn’t so much that I was building a world, I was destroying one.

I took away fossil fuel.  We think we know what that would mean: no petrol, so no cars, no gas/electricity for heating and cooling – very unpleasant.  For a short story I might just have got away with it!

Ellen Tale was, of course, meant to be a short story!

However, when we think it through then we can see that the world loses the ability, overnight, to feed the population, well the Western world anyway. 
No man-made fertilisers, no tractors, lorries, ships or planes, no refrigeration. 
How to sow, tend and harvest crops?  How to process foodstuffs?
What would happen then?

I had caused Earth to suffer catastrophic climate change.  My thinking was that very quickly there would be major wars over dwindling resources.  I made all the defenders of land and water make extensive use of landmines.  I was basing the Great Climate Change Wars of my invented world’s history on the wars I have witnessed in 60+ years and projecting them only a little further into the future.  2060 is not so far away!

So now I have a starving world, wrecked by war, and a decimated population.  Everything, as I said before, is connected.  I removed one aspect of our life, fossil fuel, and added one, climate change; but one thing cannot be changed without a cascading fall of domino-like consequences.

In Ellen’s Tale, Ellen was the link between the City and a village.  As the short story expanded I found I was in trouble again because I did not know what to expect in each place.  Back to drawing board big time.  I had to stop halfway through and have a major rethink.

Because of the back history, these two places had been separated by major warfare and isolated from each other for fifty years.  I then had to consider how each would have changed socially and culturally.  How much of what we know now would change by 2111?  Without the planning at the beginning I had painted myself into various corners which proved difficult to get away from. 

For instance
 A village is imprisoned within a ring of landmines and there is no escape for fifty years.  Food is grown but the harvests are completely reliant on external circumstance such as pests, weather and local expertise.
How would our present day social obligations and rules change? 
How would population numbers be controlled?
How would those who cannot contribute to survival be dealt with?
Without contact with any government (remember those dominos, there is no radio, no computer, no communications) who rules the roost? 
How do those in the cities manage?
 There is no fossil fuel to run the infrastructure.  Warmth, food, security at the moment all rely on fuel, and so the list of cascading dominoes goes on.
Food supplies to large urban areas rely on transport links.
Enormous populations crowded into small areas are a sneeze away from pandemics – our healthcare services rely on fossil fuel.

By the time The Storyteller’s Tale, the sequel, was started I had made my plans, organised my histories, started the different cultures and begun to really think through the consequences of my actions.  I know my world well now but I have had to untangle myself in the process. 

 Moral of this tale?  Think it through in great depth before you start and
 Apply rule 1) at all times!

Now for some Giveaway fun!
Here are the details for Alberta's Book Tour Give away
 Every comment to her blog tour gives you one chance to win, so find all her tour stops and make sure you say hello. You can get EXTRA entries by mentioning the tour on Twitter, Facebook or your own blog. Just let Alberta know where you've spread the word

At the end of the tour she'll draw 2 winners for the complete series so far and 3 runners up to pick the book of their choice.

Where can you find Alberta Ross and The Sefuty Chronicles?

Alberta’s official website 
where Alberta blogs about writing and self publishing
blogging about anything she fancies
Alberta can be followed on Twitter at

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Magical Book Signing at Raintree

Yup that's me... sorry if I cracked your screen : D

This past Saturday, I did a book signing event at Raintree Books. It's a wonderful new/used book store in Eustis, Florida. Being able to sign here was a very special moment for me. Raintree was the first book store I remember going to.

At about  7 or 8 yrs old. I can remember finding out that magic was real. My mom and I walked into the small storefront and looked at all the books in the little nook right where my table sat on Saturday.

Right in the heart of Historic Down Town Eustis, Florida 

There's a long counter that curves around a corner on the other side of the small storefront. You follow that counter around the corner and the magic happens. The small store becomes this huge one.

With rows and rows of books to explore. They have something for every subject you can imagine. The first time I saw it I was sure there was a wizard in there somewhere.

From the outside the shop looks average size, not big at all. Until you walk around that magical corner into pages of wonder.

Raintree's small storefront where the magic begins.....

Not only did I get a day of signing books. the chance to meet readers, and see my books on a store shelf for sale. I was given a chance to relive that special magic again.

And see a few other first time visitors experience it too. It was a magical afternoon at Raintree Books. I can't wait to go back.

Poof you have a book store 3x as big as the front part.
There has to be a wizard in this place somewhere. Maybe some
fairy dust involved? 

Something that makes every writer's heart skip Their books
on a store shelf. Truly awesome sight. :) 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Libraries Go EBook With Overdrive

Libraries across the nation have found a way to make EBooks accessible for check out by patrons though Overdrive. That's right you can borrow an ebook for 14 to 21 days on a checkout to your favorite EReader or right to your computer.

Each library has it's own ELibrary site. Lake County, Florida has theirs at  . It is set up like an online store. You choose the book you want to borrow, add it to your chart, then check out. Within seconds you're reading your selection on your favorite device. 

There are only 2 copies available for each title so it is first come first serve, but you can place a title on hold. Instead of add to e cart you click place on hold just as you would searching the print book catalog. As soon as the title is available for you to borrow your Overdrive library will send you an email. Click the link in your email and check out your next favorite read. 

Overdrive library sites are easy to navigate for browsing or a specific search for a title, author, or series. Will these ELibraries take the place of your local library with that libraian who shushes you? Not a chance. 

Libraries are a place with many adventures in and out of the pages. There are many more services, classes, events, author meets, and much more for all ages that you can't get from a website. Did you know you can check out DVDs and music CDs at your library? Audio books, games for Playstation, Wii, XBox and more are available to be checked out for a week at a time as well. 

Libraries are combining with technology to better serve the patrons of their communities. Especially if you're a writer, your local library is an important tool we should never forget. The Lake Library System has been a tremendous supporter for local authors.Support your library today with a visit either virtual or in person today. 


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fellow Writers Blog Hop: Remembrance 9/11 the Day My Writing Found a Voice

September 11, 2001 changed our nation, not just the nation but the people in it. Every person that could was watching every stage of the event take place. News of the first plane hitting the South Tower, then watching the second plane hit the North Tower. The disbelief and horror of it all was compounded by the towers sudden collapse. 

For days and days America and the world around her were thick with emotions. These kinds of events are what changes a person and how they think or do things. As a writer I was fairly new at the game still. I dabbled in fan fic and wrote a few short stories for for fun nothing serious. 

My writing was passable but it lacked impact, feeling. In a way the surge of emotions brought on by 9/11 empowered my pen. I began to write more with heart than head. Emotions poured out on the page. I dealt with fear and worry by giving it to my characters Letting them express what I couldn't.  

I'm sure I wasn't the only one who found their writing, effected in this way or others. There were some great stories and music written as this event in our history gave the writer the voice they needed to create. 

The face of our nation changed inside and out. 9/11 took a great deal from us that day. But though the tragedy we were given gifts. We were reminded what real heroes were supposed to be like. We found a unity and strength almost forgotten. This day should be remembered as well as those who gave so much and how it changed us. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tough to Be a Kreative Stylish Blogger on Fire

 I have been absent from posting for a time now, due to illness, stress and gremlins. And mustn't forget the ogre attack. That was quite the dramatic event, thank goodness my gladiator Muse and I were able to beat them back. Then there was the hydra! Five heads is a lot of bad breath.....

Well instead of any more excuses as to why I haven't been posting let's just kick off a new posting goal with some fun. During my hiatus I was given three great awards by three fantastic people and bloggers.

The Kreative Blogger Award. Was bestowed by Rose Wade of Outlaw's pRose. Thank you my Sis-in Heart and Bestest friend :)

The Stylish Blog Award by Don Smith of Geezer Sayz Thanks so much Don for your kindness :) Geezer Sayz always gives me a smile.

The Blog on Fire Award by Kathleen Doyle of Writing, Reading, And Life  Thank you Kathleen! Love reading about your journey with your first book :)
 I'm going to cover them all in one post since all three awards have the same rules. Those rules are to post 7 things about yourself, then chose 7 blogs to pass the honors to.

I love these blog awards because it gives us a chance to break the mold if you have a subject themed blog. Mine is mostly writing, though I do step out of the box once in a while :)  But we can share apart of ourselves with our readers and fellow bloggers. Okay, okay before the ogres come back for round two .....

7 Kreative Stylish and Firey things about me

1. Some of you know this but I found my long lost Sister-in-Heart on the Russel Crowe Fan Fic Board. Yes, I play in fan fic land :) Hey wait you got 2 on that one ... ooo you're sneaky. Rose and I started writing together on RCFF then chatting and we haven't missed a day since November of 2007. Love ya Sis!  (she's the keeper of my sanity some days just so you know how important she is :)

2. One of my favorite places in the wold is St. Augustine, Florida. It's the oldest city in the United States and one of the most haunted. Walking down the streets you can feel the history of the place. You might even get lucky and have a ghostly experience or two :)

3. I am a green belt in Tae Kwan Do.

4. For being Kreative, not only to I write, but I love to play with graphic arts. I do book covers, banners, buttons, avatars, web backgrounds....  you can check that out at EV Designs

5. One of my favorite stories is The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe. Poe may have hit the bottle of Absinthe a bit too often but he really knew how to chill a reader.

6. My Style is pretty casual. I'm happiest in jeans and my favorite NaNoWriMo tee. I do love to dress up though. I like deep rich colors in my clothes and everything else. I'm def. not a pink girl :P

7.  And as for being Kreative and Stylish while on Fire, I was a volunteer fire fighter for over 10 years. After the Wildfires in 2000, the volunteers of my station were given The Distinguished Service Award by Governor Jeb Bush.

Alrighty then... *looks around for Jim Carrey, then shakes head.... Now it's time to nominate 7 other worthy bloggers.  To my Nominees pick the award you think best suits your blog and style and go for it!  

1.  Rose Wade and Outlaw's pRose 
3. Tessa of Tessa's Blurb  
4. Amanda of Simply's Blog  
5. Michelle of Crafts From the Moon  
6. Lisa McCourt Hollar of Jezri's Nightmares 
7. MJ Goodnow of Red Sector N 

I hope you enjoyed this little foray into blogging awards. Next post coming up will be back to our usual fun :) Coming up soon, I promise! 

Until then ... Happy Scribbles :) 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Character Recipe

A cup of action hero, a dash of debonair,  a pinch of mystery, or a sprinkle of good looks what makes a character unforgettable?  There are characters we watch faithfully every week on TV, read every book written about them. Even some we write and just can’t stop at one story.

These characters have something that draws us into their world. It’s different for everyone. The same as everyone has a favorite ice cream flavor, they have a favorite character or character type.

There’s no perfect recipe in fact you don’t want any character to be perfect. It’s those, flaws and vulnerabilities that make us fall in love. To find out what it is that will give your character the right quirk you need to ask them questions.

Yes, I’m asking you to go a lil crazy and talk to imaginary people for a few minutes. You might even have fun doing it. Sit down and ask them a few things about their personality, their wants, needs and goals. Do they think they can achieve the lofty goal you’ve set out for them?

You might even ask what they don’t like, do they have a secret you haven’t been told yet. Or about an event in their past that doesn’t even take place in the book or story. Is it something that they just want to tell you or is it something that could better build your plot?

You might be surprised at the interesting things characters will tell you about themselves. Or even another character in their story, yeah who figured they like juicy gossip as much as we do.  J

To help in plunder for the right spice to add to your recipe here’s a short questionnaire to ask darlings.

1. What kind of childhood did the character have?
2. Was there an event during the early years of life that impacted their future?
3. How do they deal with conflict or change?
4. How do they feel about falling in love/ relationships?
5. What do they want most that doesn’t have to do with the goal of the story?
6. Do they have something they hate/ dislike?
7. Do they believe in God/ faith?
8. What would make them change sides even temporarily? (ie… from a good law abiding person to committing a crime)
9. Do they have keepsakes of their past?
10. Is there someone in their story besides the obvious villain they have concerns about or don’t quite trust? 

This post is part of the Fellow Writers Blog Hop that takes place the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Want to read more great blogs about this months topic Character Building? Just click the Fellow Writers logo at the top of this post or go to that page of this blog for the linky listing of all participating blogs.  Happy Hopping! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Author Chat with M.J. Goodnow

Gladiator's Pen welcomes author MJ Goodnow to the Ludus. He is a man with a message to inspire others. So get comfortable and refill your cuppa as we chat.

Tell us about M J Goodnow
 Well, I was born in New London, Connecticut and made my way around the tri-state area of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Eventually settling in Minneapolis.
I studied to become a Jesuit Priest before I realized the priesthood wasn’t for me. Now I am a Deans List student at Ashford University, a father and an author.
When did you begin writing?
 1990, to be exact.
I was a student of the game at Norwich Free Academy. It started with 5 or 6 short stories and became what is now Red Storm Regime.
You’ve recently released two novels Evolution of the Fallen and Red Storm RegimeEvolution of the Fallen centers around four mentally challenged teens. What inspired the idea for this novel?  
As a young adult counselor at an agency in Connecticut, I saw the horrors of mental illness and trauma. I too suffer from PTSD, which in-fact, is the reason I write. To let go, get it out, and to find recovery through my writing and hopefully inspiring others.

Red Storm Regime you penned with Maria Pacha. Please tell us a bit about this story.
Red Storm Regime, or the codename RG is, was, and what it is. A glimpse into the mind I carried when I was a reckless teenager living  with PTSD and having been staring into walls, passed those walls and to the now.

Do you find it difficult to Co-author a novel?
No, our worlds seem to never collide with it’s story and necessary evils. There are times when words “no” and “yes” are used for deliberate purposes of the story.

These books are very different Evolution of the Fallen is a YA and Red Storm Regime is Sci Fi / Fantasy. Do you have a preference on a specific genre you like to write in?
I by my peers am considered a multi genre author. So be it.

Do you find one genre harder to write than the other?
I do, especially with research and insight into something I do know. If I don’t know about a certain thing, I don’t write about it. If I do, for instance Evolution, I’ll put my head on the chopping block to advocate for something I strongly believe in.
Inquiring minds want to know… What your favorite coffee house drink is
A bit of Columbian regular coffee with a mix of french vanilla. I am weird, geesh.
Do you have a writing space or routine? 
Late nights and early mornings are specific times for me.

Is there a message or something you want your readers to be able to get out of your books?
There is always pain and suffering, but we always must rise against it, to defeat it.

Tell us 3 things people may not know about M.J. Goodnow
I am an ordained minister
Black is my favorite color
I have two children and a loving fiance
Where can we find you and your books? 


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mark Everett Stone Shares Some Things to Do In Denver When You're Undead

Gladiator's Pen welcomes Mark Everett Stone to the Ludus. He's here for a chat and to celebrate the release of Things to Do in Denver When You're Undead. So refill your cuppa and enjoy our visit.

What do you think makes a good story?
I don’t believe it’s just one or two things. It’s a combination of all the elements…plot, pacing, dialogue, character development, efficient use of metaphors and similes, etc, etc.  It’s like cooking a great stew, if all the ingredients are there…wow, you’ve had a memorable meal. If one or two ingredients are off, no big deal, you still have a satisfying meal, but if you screw up or miss too many of the important ingredients, well…you have a mess.

Tell us about Things to Do in Denver When You’re Undead
It’s the story of Kal Hakala, a Finnish-American agent with the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, an ultra-secret government organization that combats Supernatural creatures. The book delves into his past, his obsessions and his hatred, things that make him a great agent, but a very damaged human being. I like damaged people, they’re more…real to me somehow.

How did this story idea come to you?
I was lying in bed trying go to sleep when I began to think about a movie I’d just seen, Things to do in Denver when you’re dead, starring Andy Garcia. Now, I do like a good zombie book, so I idly added the ‘un’ to the ‘dead’ and, viola, the seed was planted. It was all gravy after that. I added the Finnish element to the story because I’m a Finnish-American, and decided on a dark, sarcastic tale.

Tell us about three things on your writing desk
1) The remote control to the tv. I find that the background noise of semi-quality television helps me write and provides inspiration when I need it. Not that I steal from what I’m listening to, even commercials can help jog the creative processes. Well, they do for me, but I’m a little twisted, so there you go.
2) A Christmas pic of my family. I know it sounds cheesy and contrived, but they’re my real inspiration. If I’m feeling down, or blocked, all I have to do is look at my wife and kids and wham! baby, I’m back.
3) My kindle. I read when I need to decompress. I wish I could read more, but I have a very busy life with 2 kids driving me to distraction.

Do you have a writing routine? Do you think it is important to have one?
Damn skippy I have a routine. I think it helps me maintain discipline when writing and discipline is very important for me or I’d never get anything written.

What made you choose writing for a career or did it choose you?
Writing snuck up on me, clubbed me over the head, hog-tied me and has never let me go. Hmmm…there’s an S&M joke in there somewhere.

What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
Vote a straight Republican ticket. Then, after I finished the Bar, I’d shoot myself in shame.

Do you have anything new you’re working on? Can you tell us about it?
Sure, I love talking about myself, it’s my favorite subject! The sequel for Things to do in Denver when you’re undead is almost finished. It’s called What happens in Vegas, dies in Vegas. Vegas is more action-oriented than Denver because I have no need for a lot of plot exposition, I can just dive on in and have fun. That was the one thing I wanted when writing the sequel was to have as much fun as possible, really sink my teeth into creating an enjoyable book.

What is the one thing you want readers to get out of reading Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead?
Hey, if the book can make someone forget the outside world for a few hours, be entertaining and fun, then I’ve done my job. I don’t expect it to appeal to everyone, that’s foolish, but I hope there are people who put it down with a smile on their faces.

Where can we find you and your books?
Camel Press,, B&, Smashwords, etc. Hopefully it will catch on enough that it will go mainstream and hit stores across the U.S. I know that’s kind of out there, but a man can dream, right?

Thank you so much Mark for joining us. Looking forward to reading Things to Do in Denver When You're Undead. For more about Mark Everett Stone and his books check out his blog at Mark's Blog  

To purchase you can click one of the buttons below. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fellow Writers Blog Hop : Writer's Flashback

Fellow Writers Blog Hop   This month the Fellow Writer's Blog Hop topic is Writer's Flashback. To take a look at something written maybe several months to years ago and share how our writing has evolved since then. I know my writing has changed a great deal in some ways.

Here is a piece of a short story I had written for a contest about 7 years ago, called The Beast. The Beast is about two firefighters trapped in the middle of a forest fire. One is a full time paid firefighter, the other a volunteer. It's okay if you cringe... I did a bit when I reread the entire story. *shivers at the horrors in her writing* Okay it's not really that bad, but I'm sure like myself you shake your head a few times.

             The fire burned through the under brush. It moved as if it were alive. The two firefighters were cut off from the rest of their crew when the wind changed. Watching the orange glow pulse and breathe they tried to cut a trench around them.  The heat was intense and the air itself felt hot as it flowed in and out of their lungs.
            Jeff looked over at Gabby the young volunteer who was stuck out here with him. He was a career fireman with enough years experience to know their chances were slim to none. Still he watched her work furiously on the fire break.
            Gabby knew the flames could still jump any break they could cut. She had been on enough calls to know they were in serious trouble. The only thing she could do was remember her training. She went over and over the protocols in her head. If this was the end she would have peace of mind knowing she had done all she could to save them. 
            The break was finished a four foot wide, one foot deep trench.  The forest was filled with smoke and the roar of the orange beast coming for them. It wouldn’t be long. Sitting back to back Jeff reached into the yellow Nomax suit and pulled out the picture of his wife and daughter. “Do you have anyone at home?”
            Gabby fought back the fear as she realized he, the twenty year veteran, didn’t think they were going to get out. “Just my mom and my cat.” The smoke was getting thicker and the roar louder. Gabby thought the beast had eaten most of the forest and was still hungry. Or maybe trees and wildlife were not what it craved.
            A fire scene is noisy. Not because of the sirens, yelling, or engines running. The fire its self has a voice. It can whisper or scream.  Sucking the air around it to breathe the beast feeds on what ever gets in its path. Its pallet isn’t picky, metal, wood, glass, plastic, flesh, it’s all food. 
            The fire’s voice was all they could hear sitting in their little circle. It drowned out the shouting of the other firemen trying to find a way for a rescue. The popping of pinecones and crackle of burning tree trunks sounded like cackling laughter. The beast was joyous in its destruction.
            Gabby hugged her shovel and flapper the only weapons she had against her enemy. “What do you do when you’re not putting wet stuff on red stuff?”
            Jeff smiled but he could hear the edge of fright in her voice. “We have a houseboat on the river. We spend a couple of days fishing. The kids love to Jet Ski. What do you do in real life part-timer?”
            “I work in a flower shop but I spend a lot of time with my nose in a book. I love to read. That’s probably why I only have my mom and my cat.” They laughed not because it was funny. Laughing was the only way to dispel some of the fear with out screaming.
            Suddenly a tree fell across the break line. Without a thought or word they jumped to their feet and started to push the chard log back over the line. Gabby grabbed her flapper, a large square piece of rubber on a broom handle, and began to beat at the flames around the line.
            Jeff stood on the other side with a shovel throwing dirt to smother the little smoldering embers falling from the burning tree tops around them. The beast was giving birth to her children, making little clones of flame to join in its feast. It would come and gobble them up too and grow in size and strength. The beast was already huge. He looked back at Gabby as she slapped the flapper on the earth then rubbed kill the little beasts. For the moment they had won the battle.

*Whew... I survived how about you? How has my writing evolved since this literary masterpiece (kidding :)?  My grammar has improved is a big one. I don't use as many useless words such as very, really, and. I believe my ability to describe a scene, to pull my reader into the story has improved. At least I hope :)  

One thing that stands out for me is an issue I still have some problem with, tense switching. I drive myself and my dear Sis up a tree some days catching myself mixing past and present tense. ACK! Even though it still happens, I consider that part of my writing having grown also. Why? Because I recognize it now. I didn't to begin with. Sometimes knowing is half the battle. 

I know a year from now my writing will have evolved even more because of the knowledge I gain along the way. Every story we write we learn something. It's how we grow and become the next Stephen King or Nora Roberts. Every once in a while it's a good thing to take a look into our past. Pull out an old dusty story even if it's unfinished and see what we have learned since that point. 

Your turn! Go dig out something from your early writing days. Has your writing blossomed into something more beautiful than the ugly sapling you first planted? 

Be sure to read more great blogs sharing on this topic by clicking on the Fellow Writers Blog Hop badge at the top of this post :) Happy Scribbles!