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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Lost Genre Guild Blog Tour!

I recently joined a group of like-mind individuals known as The Lost Genre Guild. Their mission is the promotion of speculative fiction written by Christians. They note how little, if any, speculative fiction resides on the typical Christian bookstore shelf. There is a bias against it among the CBA which most Christian bookstores are members of. Both because they have the opinion that it doesn't sell well (despite some facts to the contrary), and the potential for it to offend a segment of their market (some Christians believe fantasy is of the devil and that science fiction is only for the secular/atheist out there).

So for those of us who  not only feel it is okay, but believe that God has called us to write good speculative fiction from a Christian world view, groups like the LGG provide support, marketing power, and collaboration on such projects. In the short time I've been on board with them, I feel that I've not only gained support for my writing and marketing, but a whole new set of friends that understand where I'm at, because most of them are there too!

While I didn't get my hat in the pot this time around to be included on the list for the blog tour that is now on, I'd invite you to start off at the LGG Blog, then visit any of the following blogs to see the comments being posted.

Also, if you would like to hear what others thought about the Lost Genre Guild, just click their name.

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
KaitCarol Keen
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Christianity and Fantasy" article now available!

At the back of my book, Infinite Realities, I wrote an article on why I, as a Christian, write fantasy. Two of the three reviews I've received on the book so far, while liking the stories well enough, have praised the article. One of those reviewers, Lyn Perry, runs an on-line magazine called, Residential Aliens.

He asked for the rights to publish the article, and now it is up! So even if you haven't read the book, or scanned through the ebook version to read it, you can read it on-line!

Also, he re-posted on his site the original review he did for along with it. He did a great job with it all. Thanks Lyn!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Lies of Fantasy Fiction

There are those Christians out there in the vast Christian world who have it in for any Christian who write science fiction or fantasy, especially fantasy. One such example is the following:

The primary argument from folk like these is that since fantasy is describing events and beings that we know either don't exist, or we've never met any, that such authors are lying and thus sin from the Bible's point of view. As a matter of fact, if you look at the above site's several arguments, they are all based upon this presupposition that fantasy is a lie.

But there is a problem. He says that "Since fantasy is not true, then it is a lie." That's a logical fallacy; the converse of a statement isn't necessarily true. If I say all chickens have wings, the converse is not true: that all animals with wings are chickens. Same thing here.

Why? Well, think about it. What is the definition of a lie? If used as a noun, it is "A statement that deviates from or perverts the truth." If used as a verb, it is "Tell an untruth; pretend with intent to deceive." Not all untruths are lies.

How can you pervert the truth when what you are writing about doesn't exist? And inherent in the definition of telling a lie, is the intent to deceive. How can a fiction author be "lying," that is, intending to deceive their audience by pretending that what they are writing about is real, when the label "fiction" clearly tells the reader what they are about to read is not reality?

If I come up to you and say, "I'm about to tell you something that isn't true. Clouds are really cotton candy that escaped from someone's hands." Have I lied? No. I didn't pretend that it was true, I told you straight up that it wouldn't be. So you are not deceived.

The prohibition in Scripture to lying is specifically with the intent to deceive someone. When you pick up a book of fiction, especially fantasy, you would be greatly disappointed if what you found there wasn't other-worldly and unreal. Because, that's what the word "fantasy" means. People don't read it--unless they have a really low IQ--thinking that this stuff really happened, or could.

So, to say that fantasy authors are lying, is...well, a lie. We warn you ahead of time that this is not real by putting the labels "fiction" and "fantasy" on them. There is no intent to deceive and doesn't fall into the Biblical injunction of lying.

The other big argument is that it may draw people into accepting things like magic, Wiccan, black arts, and other sorts of evil. This is an argument used often against J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

Here's a question for you. How many people do you know that have converted to Wiccan or fallen away from Christ by reading her books? I bet few can point to specific individuals who actually did so (not just those kid quotes about wanting to become a witch—all taken from a site satirizing such things and thus wasn't true—so if using it, you are promoting lies). I mean a person or group of people you can point to and say, "Mary there was a Christian until she read Harry Potter, and now she's a Wiccan because of it." I dare say we could count such individuals on one hand if we could find them.

Truth is, the Wiccan's hated that series because they feel it is a distortion of everything they are about and promoting stereotypes they have sought to avoid. J. K. Rowling has done more to damage than help them.

Now, if you are a convert from Wiccan or something similar, I can understand not wanting to read something that could cause you to stumble if you are weak in that area--if you feel that just reading about a wizard, even a good one doing what is right, would cause you to dump Christianity and head back the Wiccans (which if that is the case, a fantasy novel is the least of your worries right now), then I suggest to stay away from fantasy! If you're an alcoholic, don't order that beer or stay away from bars.

But the vast majority of people know this is fantasy, know it isn't real, and will not be influenced to dump their faith simply because they read a good story they liked.

I liked reading Lord of the Rings, but I never had the desire to go and search for Middle Earth or seek out Gandolf to learn how to cast spells. I've never heard of anyone doing that either. And I was still a Christian after reading it.

Guilt by association doesn't work here either. Anyone that can do real magic, like the magicians in Pharaoh's court that Moses ended up having a "magic" duel with, are "evil" in how they use God's power, not the power itself to do supernatural things. Otherwise, you shouldn't drive an automobile, because it is the reason why thousands of people each month are killed. It must then be evil and no one should associate with it!

Evil magic is evil because of how a person uses God's creation and the attributing of it to something other than God in order to use it for selfish purposes. Otherwise, we would have to declare that all the miracles in the Bible are evil as well. What distinguishes them from evil "magic" isn't the supernaturalness of the event, but in how that power is used.

For these reasons, the argument that "Christian" and "fantasy" can't go together, is an "oxymoron," is silly. The fallacy of such arguments as it being a lie and the idea of guilty by association shows clearly the faulty logic these arguments stand on.

Read fantasy responsibly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Have an Outstanding Christmas!

Christmas--a word that draws various reactions. From one, the thought of presents under the tree. From another, a day off from work. For someone else, food, and lots of it! Still another, a day to enjoy family in a way that one doesn't often get to do.

But there is a couple other reactions one can find as well. Some see the term as devisive, or too attached to Christ to really "represent" those who celebrate it as non-Christians. And to a degree, I can understand that. However, popular usage in the past hundred years or so has made the term more generic in meaning despite Christ's name being attached to it. There are so many traditions, even some developed in the last hundred years, that neither originated with the Christian Church nor does it have any spiritual meaing other than that Christians have decided to attach to them.

You see that in popular Christmas songs, like I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas. Purely a secular song, nothing to do with Christ. Or the various Christmas shows that I watched as a kid and are still shown today, like Rudolf the Red Nosed Raindeer. Even the whole idea of some guy flying around the world in a red suit, squeesing down chimneys to deliver gifts has only vague connections to the real St. Nicholas of Myria.

I think it has primarily been in the last twenty to thirty years or so, that Christians have made the attempt to let everyone know that Christmas is Christmas because of Christ that the term has begun to stick in the craw of some folk enough to demand that "Happy Holidays" or some other more generic term be used, and no reference to Christmas is allowed. I'm certainly not against people using "Happy Holidays" if they wish, but I'm not too keen on institutions infrining on people's first amendment rights to say "Merry Christmas" if they so wish as well. Religious tolerance demands that no government institution, including schools, should prohibit the free excercise of one's religion. (Wording of the 1st Amendment.)

While certainly no such institution should force people to say "Merry Christmas" if it violates their religious sensitiblities to do so, neither should that prevent another from saying it if it validates theirs.

But as I contemplate the Nativity of Christ and prepare my heart and mind for its celebration, and the twelve days of Christmas that follow, I do turn to a more contemplative mood. For while there are many traditions that have arisen over the years around Christmas that have nothing to do with Christianity or the Church--and those are not all bad neither--it is true that the foundation of what Christmas is about is the gift God gave man on that day many years ago.

God did an amazing thing. He became man and began the journey to obtaining our salvation from death, hell, and the grave. Whether any particular person believes that or not, it is still the ultimate gift given to them by a loving God, interested in not just making pronouncments and judgments from afar, but being with us and one of us, so that he could redeem us.

He gave us the ultimate gift and it sits under the tree of every household in the world. Even if you don't have a tree or celebrate Christmas, it is there. The real question is, will you take a day off from your work, relax a bit, and pull that present from under tree and open it?

Believe or not, it is there and He waits. If you open it, you will have one outstanding Christmas.

Celebrate His Nativity!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another Review on Infinite Realities Posted

Author Deborah Cullins Smith has posted a review of my book, Infinite Realities. You can read it at her MySpace blog. Currently it is on top, but if she post something else you may need to scroll down. Once that happens, I'll post it here for reference unless another site I can directly link to it posts it. But for now, I want to make it clear that she wrote it and posted it.

Thanks, Deb, for the outstanding review!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaNo Winner for the Third Straight Year!

That's right. If you've been checking on my home page, you'll see that I've once again far exceeded the 50K word count goal for "National Novel Writing Month." I finished the rough draft of the third book in the reality series, clocking in at just under 67K. I plan on adding a piece I did earlier to it of about 3.5K, so the total word count of the pre-edited novel will be just over 70K. Not too shabby.

To add more word count in the last days, I'm exploring a spin off, not a sequel, from these books related to a new character that appears in this book. Not sure yet where it will go, but I'm exploring by just writing about him, see where it leads.

As usual, NaNo was a lot of fun, and so far the only way I get a novel written is to do it all in one month. I have four of them now. One will soon be coming out in print, I'm looking for a publisher with one, this one that needs a lot of editing, and my first novel which needs mucho editing, but I believe the concept is sound and worth doing, so at some point I've got to sit down and work on that one. I'm seriously thinking I just need to start from scratch and rewrite it, perhaps a good project for a future NaNo.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Christmas Sales on Infinite Realities!

I've decided to discount my book, Infinite Realities, that I sell from my web site as we approach Christmas. Amazon has never discounted it nor other major retailers. So, leading up to Christmas at least, I'm selling author-signed copies of my book from my web site at $6.99 plus $2.75 shipping. (Normal retail price is $9.99) I also have a few copies of Strange World's of Lunacy left as well if you want to add that to your cart.

This book makes a good gift for people of all ages. M. Keaton had this to say about the book:
The prose is direct, often conversational, allowing even younger readers to enjoy the book while the themes are sufficiently mature in scope to engage readers of any age.

Spread the word!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Using Open Office for Novel Writing

This information is based upon Open Office version 2.3.

Open Office is a suite of software applications, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, and database. It is an "open source" application which for the end user means it is free to download and use on your computer. It rivals MS Office for ability, and on the whole does a good job of it, actually improving in some areas. You can download and read more about it at:

One of the cool things for authors is the ability to set up Open Office's Writer (the word processor) to accomplish many of the task novel writing software claims to make easier. Task like easily navigating in your document, quickly moving scenes or chapters, automatic renumbering of scenes and chapters, as well as document wide task like saving to a Word doc file, printing, formatting, find/replace, etc.

However, it takes a little setting up to accomplish these task. But it is time well spent before beginning a big project like a novel.

Setting up styles

The first thing to do will be to set up some styles. There are three paragraph styles you will need. Novel Body, Chapter, and Scene.

Novel Body:

This should be the style the body of your text will be in. Naturally, you would want this to be in "Standard Submission" format. Open the "Style and Formatting" box by hitting the F11 button, or in the menu, "Format," "Styles and Formatting." A window box will pop open listing various styles.

* Right-click on a default style, like "Text body" and select "New".
* Give your new style a name, replacing the "Untitled" name it gives, such as "Novel Body" or whatever you prefer.
* Select a non-proportional font from the "Font" tab like "Courier New" and make it 12 point.
* Select the "Indents and Spacing" tab, set the first line indent to "0.5" and the line spacing to "double."
* Click "OK" and your new style has been created.


Do the same as above, right-clicking on "Heading 2". Modify this to select the font of your choice, you can left set it or center it. But in the "Organizer" tab, give it the name, "Chapter" and set "Novel Body" (or whatever name you gave it above) to be the next style used after pressing enter. In the "Indents and Spacing" tab make sure all indents are 0.0. Click "OK".


How you set up the scene style depends on how you intend to use it. The most common way would be to set it up as a heading, which will work for most functions.

In the "Styles and Formatting" box, right-click the heading style you would like to show scene headings as (recommend Heading 3), and select "New." Give it the name in the "Organizer" tab as "Scene" and select "Novel Body" in the "Next style" field. Make any other adjustments necessary and then click "OK" to save this style. If scene headings are going to be printed out, you will probably want to set this as italics and centered.

You will be able to show either scene headers you type like, "The beast rips him apart," or you can simply show numbered scenes that will change automatically if you move them. Once you are ready to print, but don't want to print those as headings, you right-click the style in the "Style and Formatting" box, and select "Modify." Then "Font Effects" and click the "hidden" box in the lower-right corner. Once you click "OK" those headers will not print out. Remove that check to once again show them.

If you are going to use the first paragraph of each scene as it's "marker," then right-click the "Novel Body" style we created at the top and select "New." Simply give it the name "Scene" and select "Novel Body" as the "Next" text to pop up. The first paragraph of each scene will have this style.

Setting up Header Hierarchy

Now that the styles are set up, it is time to make them part of the heading outline. Click "Tools" in the menu, and then, "Outline numbering." In the "Level" window on the left, select "1". In the center drop down box, select the "Chapter" paragraph style we created earlier. In the "Number" drop down box, select "1, 2, 3..." from the list. In the "Before" field, enter "Chapter " with the space on the end. Leave it blank if you only want the chapter number to show up, but no additional text.

Now in the "Level" window, click "2". Select "Scene" from the paragraph style drop down list. If you want them automatically numbered, select "1, 2, 3..." in the "Number" drop down box. If you want "Scene" for a title, in the "Before" field enter "Scene " with the space on the end. In the "After" field, enter a ":" or whatever you might want.

You have set up your outline headers so that Chapter and Scene paragraph styles point to a level in the outline and will show up in the Navigator as well as automatically reflect numbering based on what order they are in the document.

Saving for future use:

Naturally, you'll want to save this so you can use it anytime. If you have these styles set up as you want them, and there is no text in the Writer document at the time, save this as a template.

Click in the menu "File," "Templates," and "Save." Click on "My Templates" to save there, and give the new template a name, like "Novels".

When you want to start a new novel file, click on the drop down arrow to the right of the new button and select "Templates and Documents". Select "Novels" from the "My Templates" folder and click "OK" to open a file. Your novel styles will be available for use, without affecting Writer's standard defaults.

Using the styles for writing a novel

To make use of the new setup, open the Navigator window in your document if not already open. This shows up as a compass looking graphic in the tool bar, or you can click "Edit" and "Navigator," or hit F5. If the window is floating, you can dock it by dragging it to a side. If you can't see it, make sure the right side of the Navigator box isn't slid all the way to the left by clicking on a handle and dragging the window open. You should see a list of several items, the first one being "Headings" which we are interested in. Open it up far enough so you can see the four boxes on the far right of the window's toolbar that allow for movement of the pieces. They look like "text" with arrows beside them going up or down, right or left.

Now, you can either begin writing a novel, outlining, or you can take a novel you have already started and prep it.


To outline, start with a synopsis. Type that out first. You can start with a small one, and build to a larger one. You can even detail out characters here if you wish, for easy future reference.

On the first chapter, click F11 and double-click the "Chapter" style. You will see the "Chapter 1" appear, centered and formatted as you set up. You can either leave it at that, or hit enter, then give the chapter a title by using a standard header style, like Header 2. Center if need be.

Below that, summarize the plot point(s) this chapter should fill. Once done, hit enter, and then do this over for the next chapter.

Once done, you can go back to the top to detail out each scene if you so desire. Click under the chapter summary/plot point. Hit F11 and double-click the "Scene" style. Type out any heading desired, or just a summary of that scene's plot point.

Just write it!

If you're the type that just starts writing, when you are ready to begin the first chapter, hit F11, and double-click the "Chapter" style. The Chapter and # will appear automatically. Hit enter.

Then click F11, and double-click "Scene". If set, it will automatically pop in the scene number and text in. You can then enter a header, or if set for it, the first paragraph of your scene. Then type away.

Next scene comes up, do the same thing. Next chapter, double-click on the "Chapter" style. Once used in your document, you can also see them in the style drop down box in the toolbar that is opened by default in Open Office Writer.

As an added tip, you can also set in the "Text Flow" tab of the style, to automatically start a new page at each chapter. Hit F11, right-click "Chapter" style and select "Modify." Select the "Text Flow" tab, and check the "Insert" box in the "Break" section. Make sure "Page" is in the next drop down box, and "Before" in the far right one. Now when you double-click the Chapter style, it will add in a new page as well as the text with automatic number formatting.

Import it:

This is a more tedious process. Open your novel in OO Writer. Hit Ctrl-A to mark all text in the document. Double-click the "Novel Body" style in the style window, and all the text will be changed to the standard submission format.

Now, go through your novel and apply the Chapter and Scene styles to the appropriate spots. You may need to delete chapter number info if you have manually entered it before.

Navigating and Moving Text

Now that you have done this work, you should see in the Navigator, under "Headings" a list of the chapters and scenes in an outline format. If you do not, make sure you have the "Display" set to show at least 2 levels, but safest to set it for all ten.

To go to a scene in the Navigator, double-click on that scene. You are now there.

To move a scene or chapter, select that scene or chapter. Use the buttons at the top of the Navigator window, square text boxes with arrows pointing up and down, to move the scene or chapter to a new location. If you have the tips turned on, it will call them "Promote a chapter" and "Demote a chapter." By clicking on the button with the arrow going down, it moves your scene or chapter one section down. Likewise, the up arrow moves it up. Click on it enough times till it is where you want it.

You will notice that automatic scene or chapter numbers will adjust as you move it around. This effectively allows you to shuffle pieces any way you want within your document.

And since this is all one document (not chapters in individual files), you can easily get a word count for the whole project, or do a find/replace if you need to change something over the whole project, set formatting for printing, etc. Anything you can do in a regular OO Writer document, you can do here because that is what this is.

The down side is if you want a word count of a section in the middle of your novel. Or if your publisher/agent wants one chapter of your novel sent to them. It means first marking the section in question, and then running a word count, or doing a copy/paste into a new document to save separately.

You can get a word count of a chapter fairly easily if it is the last chapter in your document. When ready, double-click on the chapter in the Navigator. Hold down the "Ctrl-Shift" keys and hit "End". It will mark the chapter to the end of the document. Then run the word count.

You can use the master document feature in OO Writer, which has its benefits. You can drag and drop the chapters to move them around, but creating scenes in it becomes cumbersome because you will either have a separate file for each scene or keep the scenes in each chapter file, which means to move scenes between chapters requires a mark, cut and paste operation. If scenes are in each chapter file, it also means you lose the detailed "overview" of your whole project, chapters and scenes, that you get with it all in one document.

However, the automatic numbering will still work for chapters in the master document. Within a chapter file, it will always say "Chapter 1" but in the master document, they will be numbered according to their position.

In the master document, you can also easily edit the chapter file (each chapter is its own separate file) and get a word count of just that chapter, or send the file to someone who wants that one chapter without any fuss. The downside to it, is it is harder to move scenes from one chapter to another, and there are restrictions on what you can do in a master document. (You can't save it to one large file, for instance without the master document "features," but have to copy/paste the whole document into a regular Writer file.)

Some of the writer software duplication here is a bit crude, like story plotting and character notes. You may find it easier to keep track of those either in another Writer file, or other application like Excel or a database. But this can give you a free, novel-writing application with the flexibility of the big boys, but with a full featured word processor (unlike many of them). Just a little time investment to set it up.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

An Interesting Interview

Today, Abandoned Towers Magazine posted an interview with me on their web site!

A good range of questions were asked, and I did my best to answer them. Worth checking out if you want to get into the inner workings of my mind. Or maybe, just peaking in is all you want to do. Either way, check out the interview.

You can either use this link, or you can go to the Abandoned Towers Magazine, click on "Interviews" on the bottom left, then on "Interview with R. L. Copple."


Friday, October 10, 2008

FenCon is a lot of FunCon

As some of you know—and if you don't, well, now I'm telling you—I attended FenCon 2008 on Oct. 3-5. This is the first sci-fi/fantasy fiction convention I've attended. About a month ago, my publisher put out a call for anyone within range of Dallas, TX to come and help him at the convention. He had purchased a book table spot in the dealer room.

I thought about it (for less than a minute) and decided I could give that a go. Next thing you know, I'm signed up for FenCon. But not only signed up, I was encouraged to offer my services as a writer, editor, podcaster, and all around good guy, to sit in on any panels they might have need of. Low and behold, I'm classified as a guest, put on a panel for audio books, and my mug shot gets thrown on the list of guests.

So, Oct. 3rd rolls around, and I'm off to Dallas, about a 3.5 hour drive to the north side of Dallas. Nice trip except for the traffic once I came into Dallas. But a thankfully uneventful drive other than the nice scenery I took in on the back roads.

I found the hotel without any trouble, and figured I had better see if Bill, my publisher, had arrived yet or not. The first great thing of my convention was finally getting to meet Bill Snodgrass face to face. We've been working together for two years now via phone and email. And you know what the crazy thing is? Though I brought my camera, I didn't take any pictures, nor did I get any of Bill. All the pictures you see here are ones he took, and he never took any of himself! Sneaky. I was just so caught up in the uniqueness of the event it never crossed my mind to get my camera out and get a snapshot of him.

When I arrived, Bill already had the book table set up. For a publisher who has only five fiction, two anthologies, and about four non-fiction books, he made the table look fairly full. We had some consigned books from other people there as well, about four or five. And you can tell each of his books had about three to four facings. Throw in the candy and the tee-shirts, and we had ourselves a cozy corner to trap passer-by into our book-buying lair.

And that we did do. Between Bill and I, we chatted with several people. Made some friends, and hopefully some fans. The book table is where I spent most of my time, and I have the sales to prove it. Between Bill and I, we sold six copies of my book, Infinite Realities—the most out of the DEP table sales that weekend. Of course, it helps to have the author there to ask questions and sign the book for you!







But one of the coolest sales was to an English teacher of a charter high school. He mentioned that his class has been studying allegory, metaphor, and similes. They had just finished a section on the C. S. Lewis Narnia series. I mentioned my book was allegorical. He read the back where it mentions it has similarities to Everyman, and became interested because that was next on their list to study. He bought the book, and if he decides to use it, around 100 students could be studying my book! Awesome!

Another interesting development is I found out how enticing my cover really is. Most all the other DEP books have artist work for cover art, mostly depicting the characters in the book. We had an artist lined up to do my cover, and he was working on a scene where Sisko and Gabrielle are being pulled apart as Sisko is lead to his execution. That would have been pretty cool. But, the artist had some personal issues which derailed his attempts to do the cover art, and had to back out at the last minute. That left Bill and I without a cover and no time left to go find another artist short of waiting for a few months.

So, I had a photo of a gnarled tree by the water, and a picture of my wedding ring. Gave those to Bill, and he did the rest of the magic. Since the inscription written on the ring is in Hebrew, he had the idea of putting the Hebrew infinitive forms of "to give" and "to receive" above and below the ring. The result was pretty good, I thought. Mysterious, ancient feel, and probably some people wondering if some unknown author could pull off a book about a "magical" ring without being cliché. (So far, everyone's said it was originally good!)

But whether the artsy yet dark gnarled tree photo, the sharp lettering (one person commented on that), or the Hebrew words, among all the great artwork covers at the table, about five times at least people were drawn to look closer at my book. One person was just scanning, but upon seeing my book walked over to it and picked it up. So something there catches the eye and makes people want to see what it is. Bill did an excellent job with that one!

Our table was just two tables down from the author signing table. I didn't know there would be such a thing, or that little o' me would even qualify for it. But Saturday Bill commented that I should do a signing. I knew I wouldn't have a line or a lot to sign, but how cool would that be? So after a quick talk to the program director, next thing you know, I'm scheduled to sit for an hour at the signing table.

When my time came around, I sat next to Rachel Caine, a science fiction/horror writer who has written several books. Now, she had a line. Some people with a box or stack of her books. We chatted a bit when she wasn't busy signing. But another lady came and sat on my left. Found out she was Doris Egan, the executive producer of the hit TV series, "House." We talked a bit, as she wasn't as busy signing. I signed one book for a new friend we made while there. Her name is Michelle. We had a nice conversation for a while about writing and stories she's working on. Very bubbly personality.

So that was a cool new experience I wasn't expecting, to sit with such a crowd and do my best to act like I belonged. It was fun and enjoyable.

We did, however, do other things. One activity I participated in was the "Buzz Blaster" radio play. I saw the try-outs listed on the program for Friday evening, and thought I would give it a shot. As it happened, Bill and I went out to eat and came back too late to make it. So I figured that was out.

Saturday morning, I sat on my one and only panel, called "Reading with Your Ears," the similarities and differences between print books and audio book. My experience working with stories for Ray Gun Radio Podcast earned me a spot there, and I had a chance to share my vast store of knowledge with everyone. Well, okay, maybe not vast. More like a nice little storage closet full than a warehouse. But enough to fill my time on the panel. Everyone seemed to enjoy the panel and the members of the panel all had adequate time to speak their mind.

As it turned out, the writer and producer of the "Buzz Blaster" radio plays was also the moderator of this panel. When I mentioned in my introduction that I hosted the Ray Gun Radio podcast, his wife who sat on the front row, her face lit up. I didn't see his face, but based on how quickly he cornered me when the panel was over, they had obviously heard the show. Come to find out, they did need one more part for the "Buzz Blaster" radio play. Oddly enough, it was the biggest part of the whole show. Not Buzz himself, who ends up out of the show one third of the way in, but Buzz's sidekick Lefty. Ironically, the sidekick gets the girl and ends up being the "hero" of the show. Dave, the writer and producer, said in this tenth episode he wanted to kill Buzz off, but due to fan demand, didn't fully go through with it. But for practical purposes, it appears he's dead.

So I show up for the rehearsal, and directly after that we tape the performance with an audience watching. The hardest thing was to get your mouth to the one microphone everyone shared, without bumping into the mic, and keeping your eyes on the script while turning pages quietly. In case you're wondering, the paper cup was to produce the effect of talking over the radio. And, the tall one in the picture is me. The other is Dave, writer and producer, who had one part in the play.

One note: we are hoping to work out putting these into the Ray Gun Radio Podcast. Stay tuned!

Aside from eating, sleeping, working the book table, we also had a little fun. Saturday night was costume night, and there were plenty of very interesting people walking around. I would throw up a lot of pictures, but I don't want to put people's faces who I don' t know up on the web. So the one's selected here I figured was innocent enough.

There was a cross between Scotty and a storm trooper.



































And one lady who had more than once face. It was freaky when she walked away from you.




















And here is a whole group of costumed folks. This gives you an idea the lengths some go to dress up for this event.


Another item of interest was the guest of honor, Gregory Benford, a hard science fiction writer with some awards and books to his name. He stopped by the book table and chatted with me for a while, mostly about the demise of "Enterprise" since he was hired to work up a story arc, but couldn't get the cooperation of the producers for it. A fun guy to chat with, down to earth and very knowledgeable.

One last cool note. Had a chance to talk with Andrew McKee, one of the The Brobdingnagian Bards while they were waiting in the hall for their turn to go sing. Aside from other pieces of info, I had a chance to tell him about a song I had written for my up and coming book, "Transitional Realties." I told him when I had written it, they came to mind as someone who had the right sound I had in mind for it.

He said I could send it to him, and told me a few things it needed to be to work. More than likely he'll read it and say it's not for him, but I'm glad for the invitation and you never know, it just might strike a chord for him. We'll see.

So, left Dallas feeling pretty good about all that had happened. Met a lot of people, made some new friends, and hopefully some fans. Met Bill Snodgrass in person, and rubbed shoulders with some folks further along in the field than I. All in all a great weekend. And guess what? I'm already making plans to be at the next one in September 2009. Hope to see some of you there.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"The Carpool" laughs it up!

My surreal, humor, flash fiction piece, "The Carpool" is now in print at Everyday Fiction!

The interesting back story on this piece is that I originally wrote it to illustrate my article on humor. I thought it would be a good idea to illustrate some of the concepts I conveyed there. But after I wrote it, I though, "Hey, I bet someone would take this piece" and decided to send it to a magazine first.

So, read the article and then this story, and you'll see me illustrate some of the concepts there.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shake, Rattle, and Roll Now Online

Some of you may recall my flash fiction, "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" that came out a few months ago in the Strange Worlds of Lunacy anthology. The publisher of that anthology has placed that story in her online magazine, "Abandoned Towers" in her "Humor" section. So you can now read that story even if you haven't bought the anthology (though you probably should, because then you'll get my other flash fiction in it, "Baby Truth").

Read "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" here!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Infinite Realities Reviewed by Green Man Review

Green Man Review has reviewed my book, Infinite Realities. Seems I recall sending them a copy of it, so it appears they received it, read it, and posted a review. And, the review is good! They are the second reviewer who has liked the essay at the back even more so than the story itself, though both reviewers did like the story as well, but were impressed by the essay.

Thanks, Green Man, for the review.

Also, another bit of news. I'll be a "guest" for some panels at the upcoming FenCon in Dallas, TX, Oct. 3-5. I'll also be working at my publisher's book table, "Double-Edged Publishing." So if you happen to be there, drop by the table and say hi.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Humor is Your Friend

Writing humor can be tricky. What is funny for some isn't for others, and finding that universally funny situation and joke that works can be a difficult task indeed. Even the best and most experienced joke writers have times they think something is terribly funny, but no one else finds it so. Johnny Carson even turned that into laughs. When his jokes bombed and no one laughed, just his expression as he "squirmed" at the failed joke was enough to get a laugh.

I've had some successful funny material as well as some bombs. Culled from what I've learned both from other writers and my own experiences, here's some points to keep in mind when you want to introduce comedy into your stories or write a comedy.

  1. Keep it natural to your story.

The tendency is to throw in a joke, or force a funny situation or words into a story. Too often, these appear tacked on to both the character and the story. It's obvious they're designed to be funny, and if there's one thing that tends to make something not funny in a story, is when it appears the author is trying to put something funny for the sake of being funny, into the story.

What you want to have happen, however, is for the reader to simply get hit with the humor before he or she realizes its even coming. Most humor in story telling is the unexpected twist, the unforeseen odd situation that blindsides them, and the juxtaposition of the events naturally flowing from the story hits their funny bone. For the reader to not see it coming, to get misdirected in a way that what they expect to happen forms the foundation of making something funny, they need to be in the story, and not clued in, "Hey, now I'm going to write something funny! Watch out! Here it comes!"

  1. Make the humor serve the story, not the story, the humor.

Ever watch one of those old Kung Fu movies? They tend to be a string of fight scenes and the story is added in almost as an after thought, just to provide a backdrop for all the fight scenes. It doesn't matter if the fight scenes were natural to the story. The whole purpose of the plots were to fill in the brief gaps between fight scenes!

Sometimes, that's what happens to people attempting to write "comedy." A weak or nearly non-existent plot is tacked onto a string of jokes or what is believed to be funny dialog. The first rule (yeah, I know I put it second, but see, you didn't expect that...did you?) of writing a good comedy is to first write a good story. Then, find the comedy naturally inherent in the story itself. Some people have a knack of seeing this easier than others, but in most all situations one can find the odd turn of phrase or events that throws a hilarious moment before the reader when they least expect it.

Even when you want to intentionally write a comedy, what you look for is the plot and story line that is original and will create the odd situations that allow you to mine funny moments. I did this in "Confessions of a Zombie's Wife." Zombies aren't exactly comedy material, but a wife whose husband comes back from the dead and they continue to live their lives as married? Priceless. When you have something that surreal, the reader will actually allow you to use some groaners or more clichéd elements, simply because it is in such an usual situation, its funny to see them used where it oddly enough, is natural. Like the zombie, not being able to talk, using Charades to get his point across.

  1. Character is key.

Part of any good story is the characters and how they interact with one another. And it is in the interactions of characters where you can find your most hilarious moments. You put the right personalities together, conflicting with one another, and you can find some funny stuff.

Classic comedy has done this. Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, The Three Stooges, The Odd Couple, and countless others. Frequently you'll see in movies Jackie Chan produces, that the comedy comes from Jackie's interaction with another person who is usually very opposite his character. By doing it that way, the comedy can come naturally from who they are instead of feeling forced in.

  1. Remember, you're using words!

One difficulty in writing comedy is the lack of visual interpretation. If you are writing jokes for a comedian, or a script for a TV situation comedy/movie, you have the advantage of the live person who can give a funny bit the right effect. Half of a comedian's ability to make people laugh isn't just what he says, but how he says it and what he's doing with his or her expressions when they say it.

Take Bill Cosby's classic discussion between Noah and God. If you just read it, it's not nearly as funny.

God: Noah, I want you to build an ark and put two of every kind of animal in it.

Noah: Right.

Not so funny, but you hear how he says it, and you burst out laughing. It's very difficult to duplicate that on the written page. If you want to try an experiment, try writing a scene as if you were in the audience as a comedian is giving his or her routine, and see if you can make it funny. It can be done, but what you have to work with is much more limited than your standard comedian has at his or her disposal. Plus, you have the added affect in such a scene that the reader is expecting it to be funny, and so you have to work extra hard to really surprise them in a way that hits their funny bone.

And, you don't have the added benefit that a comedian has, the audience's laughter. Group dynamics being what they are, when some people laugh, others will tend to laugh easier. Soon, the simplest expressions can create rolling laughter. But in reading written comedy, the reader doesn't hear any laughter, and if you tell them people laugh at the joke, it will feel like your forcing the reader to believe its funny.

So, comedy within a written story relies much more on the unexpected phrase, turn of events, character clashes that result in funny outcomes, or the plot idea that is itself crazy and hilarious. For instance, and this happened recently--heard it with my own ears--my priest read the Gospel where it refers to the woman Jesus had cast seven demons out of. What did my priest say? The woman that Jesus had cast seven deacons out of! Such an unexpected twists throws an image into your head of Jesus grabbing deacons, one by one, out of this woman and tossing them into a heap. Though it would help in a live situation, you don't need facial expressions, body language, or intonation to help get the funny out of that. The unexpected image the reader gets is what causes the humor in writing, whatever literary device you use to create it.

So, come up with a great story, great characters, and look for the areas where those characteristics will naturally create funny images. An example you say? Check my published page for Dragon Stew, Confessions of a Zombie's Wife, Monkey Madness, and The Call of Nature. And more are on the way!


Saturday, July 5, 2008

I'm a featured author!

For July at least.

Yes, at Anthology Builders, where I've put three of my short stories that people can add to build their own anthologies (and currently my stories are in 5 anthologies there), I've been listed as one of six "featured authors" for the month of July, which means that any anthology bought with my (or one of the others) stories in it will get a $1.00 discount.

If you haven't checked this place out yet, it's pretty cool. You can select stories to create your own anthology, or buy one someone else has put together.

Here's the Anthology Builder's blog announcement

And here is the link to the anthology site

As well as my bio there

And the bio has a list of the anthologies my stories are in as well as a list of my stories there.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Space Opera Flies Into EDF!

I recently had a space opera piece, "The Captain's Chair" accepted at Everyday Fiction. Was a little surprized at how quickly it went into print, but into print it has gone!

Check it out and leave a comment there if you enjoyed it! Thanks.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Infinite Realities Gets a Review!

My novella, Infinite Realities, has received a positive review at by Lyn Perry!

Be sure to check it out. Especially if you've yet to get the book and read it, and are wondering if it is worth your while to do so.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Now, buy signed copies of "Strange Worlds of Lunacy" from my site!

I now have copies of this anthology I can sign and sell. If you want an author-signed copy, go to my published titles page.

Strange Worlds of Lunacy (2008 Anthology)

Strange Worlds of Lunacy is a compilation of the funniest fantasy and sci-fi humor in the galaxy, the known universe, and all nine-million planes of existence! (Okay, well, maybe just the surrounding 5 blocks.) More than 50 short stories, limericks, and poems by breakout authors and seasoned veterans alike. This antho will have you laughing so hard you'll wet your... "...a squeaky-clean bathroom buddy." ~ Colin P. Davies

My two flash fictions in this book:

Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Food feeds the mind and music the soul. But what happens when the two are combined into one "rising" reality? Lots of dough.

Baby Truth: Where do babies come from? No, don't give me any of that mother and father stuff. That's a cover. Now, tell me, where do they really, really come from?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I've been Anthoed!

No, really. My first stories to end up in an anthology are two flash fictions no one at this date (4/10/08) has seen or read short of the editors of the anthology and my family. Two flash fictions considered funny enough to be in the:

Strange Worlds of Lunacy: The Galaxy's Silliest Anthology

The two, crazy flash-fictions appearing in this side-splitting cast of stories are:

Shake, Rattle, and Roll
Food feeds the mind and music the soul. But what happens when the two are combined into one "rising" reality? Lots of dough.

Baby Truth
Where do babies come from? No, don't give me any of that mother and father stuff. That's a cover. Now, tell me, where do they really, really come from?

This one comes with an illo by Swedish artist Richard Svensson too!

These two flash fictions have appeared no where else but in this anthology, and only a small handful of people have read them. Mainly, my family and the two editors of the anthology. Oh yes, and I read them to my writer's club, but no one else!

Then, of course, there are tons of other stories in there that will have you laughing. You'll enjoy these stories for many a moon. Go buy a copy now! Not later--NOW! And then, of course, enjoy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's Horribly Good Fun!

My short story, Confessions of a Zombie's Wife is now in print at Fear and Trembling Magazine.

This story was written for a "duel" at my critique group, about zombies. Not being much of a horror guy myself, naturally I spoofed the genre and came up with something really off the wall. This will make for great April Fool's Day reading. You've never read a zombie story like this one, I promise you!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I get an illustration for Baby Truth!

Yes, learned this past week that "Baby Truth," one of the flash fictions that will be appearing in the Strange Worlds of Lunacy ~ The Galaxy's Silliest Anthology, along with "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" ended up with Swedish artist Richard Svensson doing an illustration. He also did the cover art for the anthology as well. Here's the illustration he came up with for "Baby Truth":

Are you ready for the anthology? Should be coming out sometime in April. Thanks!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Free Ebook of Infinite Realities!

Yes, now you can view an ebook of "Infinite Realities," the original and allegorical tale of Sisko, a fourteen-year-old boy who is gifted with the ability to preform miracles, but can't use the gift for selfish reasons without cursing himself.

This provides a good way to check out the book before you buy it, or you might consider it for gifts. Here's the link:

Infinite Realities Ebook


Monday, February 25, 2008

First flash fiction I ever wrote in print!

A flash I wrote way back in November 2005 has found its way into print at Resident Aliens! The editor has mentioned that he sort of liked first person, present stories. So I said, "Have I got a story for you!" It's the only one I've ever done, and really, it is more a stream of consciousness point of view in present tense.

I should add, Lyn Perry, the managing editor, is excellent to work with. I would encourage any fellow writers to submit there.

So, hold onto your hats, and enjoy "Space Talk"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Favorite of Mine, Now In Print!

I wrote a flash fiction last year that I titled, "Facing the Cave." It is intentionally an allegorical story about how Christ releases us from death's clutches, but cast into the context of a classical fantasy of a knight and a dragon's "battle." So, more than just being an entertaining story, it also holds a lot of meaning for me, which is why I guess it is one of my favorites thus far among my writings.

It is being published by MindFlights, an online/print magazine of science fiction and fantasy. Here is the link to the story: Facing the Cave

And, just in time for Valentine's Day, a poem I wrote last year on the romantic side.

Waters That Bind published at Haruah. Point your loved one to it and say it's part of your card.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

When Zombies Attack

A quirky "horror" story I wrote called "Confessions of a Zombie's Wife" was just picked up at Fear and Trembling Magazine!

This surreal humor piece will be run, I'm told, around 4/1. So, watch for it. You'll have a zombie of a time reading it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Silly Fantasy/Sci-Fi Anthology gets a Two-Fer

Well, if one story is good, two stories must be even better! Right?

Looks like that's what the editors at the Silly Fantasy/Sci-Fi Anthology decided. They had previously accepted my flash fiction, "Shake, Rattle, and Roll." Now they have also accepted my flash fiction, "Baby Truth." That should give the anthology double the silliness. Thanks Kelly and Lyn!

This image is my official evidence that I'm in the "Silly Club" from getting in the anthology. Yep, I'm feeling pretty silly. But am glad my stories are in the anthology. Look for it by April 1st.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Maybe I should change my name to Flash Copple

Yeah, it seems I've sold so many flash fiction stories, my pen name should be Flash Copple. And here's the next news on that.

Found out yesterday that a flash fiction titled, "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" has been accepted to appear in an anthology, due to come out around April 1st, I believe. It is called the "Silly Fantasy Anthology." It will be the first anthology my work has appeared in to date, and this is a story that hasn't been published anywhere else.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

"The Wheel of Curses" now in print!

Everyday Fiction has now published my flash fiction story, "The Wheel of Curses." This is a story based upon the world of Infinite Realites, my book, but from the perspective of Josh, Sisko's friend from chapter 2 of that book.

Do check it out. And if you like it, but haven't bought the book yet, it is on sale at, and Barnes and Nobles, as well as any bookstore can order it for you, or get it from the Double-Edged Publishing's bookstore.

Enjoy the story!