There was an error in this gadget

Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Apology: May is Always the Month of Juggling Hell


This blog has been silent the last two weeks. While I juggle a lot in my life: a full time bill paying job, caring for an elderly parent, writing, studying martial arts and my role as an officer in the St. Louis Writers Guild, May is the month when things have always gone boom. That is because it is one of the highest pressure and busiest times at the bill pay job and it is membership renewal for the St. Louis Writers Guild (which falls to me as the VP of Membership). But, let me take a step back.

I use to be able to say that I had two full time jobs and two part time jobs--only one of which actually pays me anything. But, a year ago tomorrow life took a drastic turn. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my mother's health going downhill like an out of control speed skier who hit a mogul wrong at sixty miles per hour. In short--she had a severe hypoglycemic moment that led to two fractures in a leg (which went undetected by a certain hospital in St. Louis, but I won't mention them here--nor would I ever take anyone there), infections that eventually (because of antibiotics) led to C-Diff, compression fractures on her spine, having to relearn to walk. She has made remarkable progress having gone from 10 baby steps in August and being wheelchair bound to being able to walk everywhere (with a walker) and starting to drive again. I am the only child, so everything fell on to me.

Once she was discharged to home, I was living on sleep deprivation as I had to tend to every need. It was like having a 160 pound baby. Before anyone asks--no, insurance nor Medicare pays for custodial care. It fell to me--all of it. I did have to hire someone to care for her during the day while I was at work, but I was pretty much a prisoner at home. Unfortunately, home is the worst writing environment for me.  Further, she has no appreciation for writing. She actually doesn't read, except the newspaper, and considers writing to be frivolous.

During this time, my bill pay job became (and still is) overwhelmingly demanding. I can't go into things here. I will say I am surprised I didn't have a heart attack while I have been under constant stress for over two years--and was having to pull off the high stress job while sitting in the hospital rooms while she was recovering. Thus my two full time jobs became three and one of those was really at least two jobs in itself. (More like 6, but who's counting?)

So, this May, while I am now able to get back to a semi-normal life because she has improved so much, I was not prepared for the how this month would go and how much of my time would be drained away. On top of everything, I have been working on a new novel and was researching it.  In short, my Coffee with David blog had to take a back seat in the bus.  I am hoping June will be a better month. Tomorrow I will be announcing the winner of the book Katana and posting a new contest.

I will see you all here tomorrow for a new month on Coffee with David.

Thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Writing the Fight Scene Part 4 (Understanding the Trained Fighter Part 3)


How do the trained military fight? Like Law Enforcement, the fighting styles of the military vary with time and nationality. If you have a character that you are writing about that is in a particular branch of the military, or in a certain nation, or in a different time period than modern day, I would highly recommend that you conduct careful research into the martial art style that was or is used. For the purposes of this entry, I am going to exam the United States military of modern day. Again, before I start, I remind my readers that I am "painting" with a broad brush. Individuals may vary from what I describe below.

The military personal of the United States is (one of--to avoid arguments) the best trained standing forces of the modern world. With that said, most hand to hand combat training that the average soldier or sailor is given is limited. Depending on the Military Occupation the soldier or sailor, they may have had only a few days of hand-to-hand combat training. As I described in "Writing the Fight Scene-Part 2 (Understanding How Untrained Fighters Think)", this amount of training still limits the level of strategy that they will use in a fight.

Please do not misunderstand me. They are better trained than the untrained fighter, but their overall training is not focused, nor extensive, in hand-to-hand combat. In my post "Writing the Fight Scene-Part 2 (Understanding How Untrained Fighters Think)",I discuss how fighters think and strategize the fight. In that posting, I described the untrained fighter's level of strategy is that of a game of tic-tac-toe and that of a highly trained fighter to be the equivalent of a chess player. In the case of the level of training that the average military personal has would fall somewhere between the two--maybe closer to checkers.

With this stated, each branch of the US armed forces has a different philosophy of martial arts. Before World War II, the armed forces main focus on hand-to-hand combat was a mixture of boxing, wrestling, and - - -well, barroom brawling. After World War II, the five main branches (most think of only four, but for the purpose here and understanding the role of the US Coast Guard, I have broken it out into a separate branch) of the military went down different roads:
* The US Army and US Air Force hand-to-hand training is based mostly on Judo and Aikido;
* The US Navy Force hand-to-hand training is based mostly on Boxing;
* The US Coast Guard hand-to-hand training is based mostly on Boxing and Aikido;
* The US Marine Corps hand-to-hand training has been recently updated to be based on a mix of Karate,
Taekwondo, Jujitsu, Brazilian Ju-jitsu, Eskrima, and Muay Thai. (I have news for them-they just tried to reinvent Tracy's Kenpo, which is what I study.)

I used the qualifier of "mostly" on purpose. The reason for this is that the military do work on and improve their fighting methods. Some of this improvement comes from conflicts with other forces--in other words, war-- and from the exchange of styles between these five branches and their personnel seeking training outside of their basic training. Furthermore, I do not describe the training that Special Forces undergo with their fight training.

In my next posting in this series, I will discuss the "gym trained" fighter. This will include any fighter trained in a gym, studio, club, or dojo.

And thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Having Coffee with Debut Author Cole Gibsen

It is my pleasure to introduce you to a fun writer to know and to read: Cole Gibsen. Her debut novel, Katana, is like an all you can eat candy shop for a chocoholic--with accurate fight scenes (in my humble 3rd degree Black Belt opinion) not to mention she has her character use my favorite weapon --the Katana (a weapon I had started studying since I was 11). Take these facts; add in humor, a liberal dash of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and stir with a "Kill Bill" Katana and you get Rileigh Martin--the heroin of Katana.

So please sit back with a cup of coffee (or whatever beverage you wish to enjoy) and join us for a coffee with Cole and I.

David Alan Lucas: When you are starting to work on a new novel, what do you find brings the story into focus for you? A Character? A setting? Something else?

Cole Gibsen: Voice is usually the first thing I’ll focus on when I begin a new novel because it will be the first thing that resonates inside my head. I’ll usually have a particular character talking to me before their story unfolds. That’s not at all crazy…right? RIGHT?

DAL: What attracted you to YA fiction?

CG: For me, my favorite thing about writing for teens is the raw emotions and “firsts” they get to experience at that age. Now, you couldn’t pay me enough to go back in time and relive my teen years—but write about them? Yes, please!

DAL: In Katana, you have a very well developed voice that brings out the teenage heroin. How were you able to develop the voice?

CG: I adore teenagers. Maybe it’s because my own teen years were so rough, but I’ve always had a special place in my heart for that particular age group. Maybe it’s because of this that I’m able to relate to them.

DAL: What was the hardest part of writing Katana?

CG: The comedy. I have a quirky sense of humor and what is hilarious to me might be lost on other people. Writing KATANA, I was scared that people wouldn’t get my weird sense of humor. Luckily, for the most part, it seems that most people are just as goofy as me. This is cause to celebrate because, really, the more the merrier. This world can be too serious sometimes.

DAL: What themes in your fiction writing seem to drive you the most?

CG: Comic books! I love them! And if I can write a novel that has a comic book feel, then I know I’m on the right track.

DAL: Do you work on multiple novels at once? If so, how many?

CG: Oh, I can’t even imagine! I’m a one-novel-at-a-time-girl. I can’t imagine having any more voices inside my head than I already do.

DAL: What do you find focuses your writing?

CG: Opening the document. It’s amazing how many distractions will pull you away from clicking on the Word icon. But I find that once I have it open, I’m usually okay.

DAL: How easy was it to take the leap of faith to become a serious writer and chase this career? What did you find that you had to do to take the step?

CG: It wasn’t easy at all. I had a lot of self doubt that held me back from even attempting to write my first novel. It wasn’t until the economy bottomed out and I was forced to close my business that I decided to really give it a serious go. At that point I figured, I had nothing to lose.

DAL: What was your biggest fear when you decided to be published?

CG: My internal editor likes to whisper things like, “They’re all going to laugh at you!” and “This is complete crap!” My biggest fear was that my internal editor was right.

DAL: Who was the most influential person or persons in your writing career?

CG: One of my mentors is a fabulous St. Louis young adult writer by the name of Antony John. I don’t know where I’d be without his career advice and guidance.

DAL: If there was some advice that you could give to a fellow writer, what would it be?

CG: Perseverance. It makes me so sad when I hear about a writer throwing in the towel after a few rejections. I get it. I’ve felt that way myself. But in this business, you won’t get anywhere unless you grab the bull by the horns. It took me two books, two years, and over two hundred rejections until I landed my agent.

DAL: What advice would you give a fellow writer about pitching a story either face to face or in a query letter?

CG: The shorter the better. Get your hook in there and don’t bog down the rest with details.

DAL: When you plot your novels, from whose point of view do you plot from? The protagonist’s? The antagonist’s? The narrator’s? Some one else?

CG: Wait, what? I have to plot my novels? Kidding! I used to be a big pantser but I’m fast becoming a plotter. My favorite thing to start with, before I even think plot, are character bio sheets. Personally, I really have to know my characters before I can tell how they’re going to react and move the story along.

DAL: What is your writing schedule like?

CG: Wait, what? Other writers have a schedule? This time I’m not so much kidding. As the mother of a preschooler, my day consists of fitting writing between doctor appointments, dance class, gymnastics, and whatever else may pop up on the day planner.

DAL: If you could have coffee (or drink of your choice) with four other authors from any time period, who would you choose and why?

CG: I’d pick the writers who’ve inspired me the most with their writing whether it was a comic book, novel, picture book, or screenplay. Those writers would be; Stan Lee, Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss, and Kevin Smith.

DAL: How could my readers learn more about you?

CG: I love interacting with readers! You can find me on my website: www.ColeGibsen.com, Twitter: @Colegibsen, or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/colegibsen

Thank you Cole for taking time to share with us.

And thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Special Coffee With David: To Blog or Not To Blog is No Longer a Question

On May 5th, I will be giving a presentation to The St. Louis Writers Guild on Blogging. If you're in town  . . .



To Blog or Not To Blog is No Longer a Question

Kirkwood Community Center, 2nd floor
111 S. Geyer Rd.,
Kirkwood, MO 63122
Get map and directions
Date: Saturday, May 5, 2012
Time: 10 AM until noon
SLWG members attend for FREE; $5 fee for non-members
 
Whether you are using WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr every writer needs to be blogging, but it can be a strange and unfamiliar world. David Lucas, who writes for not one, but many blogs, will discuss why writers should blog, what a book blog tour is, how blogs can be a great way to market a novel, and how to draw traffic to your site. If you are a blogger, have thought about blogging, or have no idea what a blog is – this workshop will you navigate the blogosphere.

David Alan Lucas is a writer, poet, martial artist and a prolific blogger. He has blogged interviews of emerging musical bands for "Rolling Stone" type ezines, writing techniques, self-defense, and health care law. Some of his blogs about overcoming learning disabilities have been used by professors in universities both in the United States and Great Brittan.
 
His fiction includes Paranormal, Horror, Science Fiction, and Mystery/Crime Drama.

David is a Sandan (Third Degree Black Belt) in Tracy’s Kenpo under Tim Golby and David Hofer and brings his knowledge of martial arts, physical and psychological combat to his self-defense articles and his fiction writing.

David holds a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri—St. Louis and a Masters Degree in Business and Leadership from Webster University. He is also a certified paralegal.

When David is not writing he is reading, working with the community, traveling, camping, studying martial arts, or otherwise looking to get into some kind of adventure that will likely spawn other story and poetry ideas.

In David's "To Blog or Not to Blog, There is No Longer a Question," he will go into the does, don'ts and musts of blog writing. Many of these will be from personal experience.

David currently blogs actively on his own Coffee with David blog site (http://davidalanlucas.blogspot.com) as well as The Writers' Lens (http://www.thewriterslens.com) and he can be followed on Twitter @owlkenpowriter 

Thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First of the Month Book Giveaway


This month, it is my pleasure to bring you debut author, Cole Gibson by giving away her novel Katana. 

Do you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Do you like Kill Bill? Then you will like this book:

"Kill Bill meets Buffy in this supernatural samurai tale.
Rileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline gave her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn’t explain her dreams of fifteenth-century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings. While worrying that she’s going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she’s harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.

Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana—a deadly Japanese sword that’s also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she’s always been and embracing the warrior inside her.
***
"Fans of Carrie Asai's Samurai Girl series (Simon & Schuster) will be particularly interested, but even readers who dislike supernatural story lines will enjoy this tale of modern samurais."—SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

"An action-packed page-turner tempered with slow-burning romance."—BOOKLIST"--From the Barnes and Noble website.

On May 5th, I will be posting a Coffee with David interview with Cole. Won't you join us?
How do you win a free copy of this book?  To enter the contest, simply leave a comment or question on the Coffee with David blog between now (May 1st) and midnight May 31, 2012. Please include your email so we can reach you if you win. The more comments you leave, the greater your chance of winning the contest. If you refer others to Coffee with David who mention your name in their comments, I'll enter your name again in our random number generator along with theirs, also increasing your chances at winning! The winner will be chosen after midnight on Thursday, May 31 and the announcement made on Friday, June 1. Good luck and comment often.

Thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and The Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.

The Winner of New New Media is . . .


Thank you everyone for visiting and especially those who commented. The winner of this month's book, New New Media, by Paul Levinson is Andrew Beck!

Andrew, please send me an email to David@DavidAlanLucas.com with your mailing address and I will Fed-ex your copy to you.

Thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.